October 7, 2007

Is There Such A Thing As Repentance in the “Crossless” Gospel?

Dear Guests:

Just before I post my series on, The Tragedy of a “Crossless” Gospel in the Gold Mine of Souls I want to touch on a related issue.

In recent weeks there has been much written about repentance from the advocates of the “Crossless/Deityless” gospel. For the most part the writing has consisted primarily of inflammatory and harsh rhetoric. The casual reader may not be aware of the “Crossless” (Hodges, Wilkin, Myers, Grace Evangelical Society) position on repentance.

Both sides in the Lordship/Free Grace debate agree repentance has a role in salvation. They disagree sharply on the role and definition of repentance, but agree repentance is involved with the salvation experience.

The “Crossless” gospel advocates, however, are a glaring exception to this general consensus on repentance. The teaching of the Grace Evangelical Society, (which no longer represents the majority of those in the Free Grace community) and GES apologists entirely eliminates repentance toward God from salvation and conversion. They believe repentance is not a condition of salvation. Therefore, they do not believe a lost man needs to have any kind of “change of mind” toward God. Furthermore, Zane Hodges rejects the, “change of mind” definition of repentance. This teaching can be found in Zane Hodges’ books Absolutely Free and Harmony With God.

This is one reason why advocates of the “Crossless” gospel will allow for a lost man to consciously reject the Deity of Christ and still insist he can be born again by believing a promise of eternal life.

Hodges, Wilkin, Myers and the GES apologists insist the titles, “Christ” and “Son of God” do not infer or imply the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. They personally believe in the Deity of Christ, but when they deal with lost men, they personally assume a position of practical deniability of the Lord’s Deity in their approach to the evangelistic setting.

They consider a lost man’s rejection of Christ’s Deity a simple, “misconception,” that should be put on the “back burner,” and addressed only if and after the lost man becomes a believer.

Becomes a Believer? Believer in what; believer in whom? The “Crossless” gospel does not encourage the lost man to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead he is told to believe in a promise from any kind of Jesus, that in his mind will give him eternal life.

Jesus said, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins,” (John 8:24).

Is there such a thing as repentance in the “Crossless” gospel? Zane Hodges for the GES answers the question.

Thank God there is only one answer to the question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ That, of course, is the answer not only of Paul and all the apostles, but of Jesus Himself. The answer is: ‘believe!’ Repentance is not part of that answer. It never has been and never will be…” (Harmony With God)
Bob Wilkin wrote,
In order to proclaim the gospel clearly we must be exceedingly careful what we say, if anything, about repentance. The simplest course would be to say nothing about repentance.” (“Preaching and Teaching About Repentance,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, 4/1 [Spring, 1991]).

LM

8 comments:

  1. Sincere Seeker10/08/2007 1:46 AM

    Lou,

    Is being willing to give up one's known sins part of saving repentance? For example, if an unbeliever has been committing adultery and knows that adultery is wrong, can he be saved without being willing to give up his adultery?

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  2. Here is my abbreviated definition of repentance that will appear in the revised edition of In Defense of the Gospel.

    "Repentance is a change of mind where one recognizes he is a sinner before a just and holy God. When he agrees with the convincing and convicting work of the Holy Spirit that he is a sinner (John 16:8-9) and transfers his dependence to the Lord for his salvation—he has biblically repented. Biblical repentance is a change of mind that should produce the fruit of a change in direction from self and sin toward God. The fruit that should follow is distinct from repentance itself. This change of mind is what Acts 20:21 describes as, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

    I'll ask you to interpret that in light of your question; would that be OK? Then I'll have some comments later

    Then a question to you: The "Crossless" men believe repentance is NOT a condition of salvation; is that biblical?

    I'll get back here later today.


    LM

    PS: In my book I am adding a section to expose the egregious errors of the "Crossless" gospel and make sure readers understand the GES (Hodges, Wilkin) does NOT speak for the mainstream of the Free Grace community.

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  3. Sincere Seeker said: “Is being willing to give up one's known sins part of saving repentance? For example, if an unbeliever has been committing adultery and knows that adultery is wrong, can he be saved without being willing to give up his adultery?”

    Yes, that person can be saved, just as he is, if he believes on Christ who died for his sins and rose again.

    I believe that we must understand that every person that ever trusts in Christ is hopelessly mired in some sin issue! Sometimes they recognize their particular sin issue, as in the case of blatant immorality and other times they don’t, like in the case of the sin of self-righteousness. For God, not being willing to give up their sin of pride is just as dastardly as another person not willing to give up on their adultery. We easily see, with human eyes, the sinfulness of adultery but on the other hand, pride is a whole different animal. Be it known, though, that every person who has ever come to Christ was in some sort of compromising position with some issue of sin. Did they want to give it up? I don't know. I do know that they did have a change of mind about sin in a general sense or they would never have trusted in Christ's salvation.

    Even though I stated above that the adulterous person can be saved if he believes in Christ who died for his sins and rose again, IMO most people, with the above spiritual condition, will not trust in Christ because they don’t see sin as God does. A false or confused concept of sin, is the issue that keeps people from faith alone in Christ alone for salvation. (John 16:9) Thus, for the unbeliever, a change of mind about sin is paramount and is why God's Holy Spirit is convicting them of SIN.

    FACT: Much to the chagrin of the crossless guys, when a person doesn’t recognize their sinful condition they will not trust in Christ. You can hang the largest, juicy red apple of eternal life before them but if they do not see themselves as needing of eternal life, forget it. They won’t budge. Simply put, you don't think you need eternal life when you think you are okay in regard to sin.

    WHY IS THIS: John 16:8 says that when the Holy Spirit comes he will convict the WORLD (the unsaved) of SIN, righteousness and judgment. Why would He convict them of sin? Why doesn’t the Holy Spirit follow the lead of the Crossless folks and just only convince them of their need for eternal life? Why does He make sin, righteousness and judgment the issue and not just a focus on eternal life?

    Simple! Because, in the heart of the unsaved, God wants a change of mind on the issue of SIN. He does not ask them to throw off that sin (like moving out of an adulterous relationship first…). Discharging of sin as a prerequisite of salvation would make salvation based on works. You cannot make it otherwise. God is not asking them to change their lives first and then save them. It’s not “lets make a deal.” (Lordship Salvation) Nor is it; "let me see some proof of your change mind." (Works Salvation) Rather, the Holy Spirit works to convince the sinner of his sinfulness, (his need). God deems recognition of sinfulness as an absolute necessity for the sinner. Not for his salvation! No, but simply because without that recognition, on their part, there just isn’t any need to believe in Christ’s death for sins and His subsequent resurrection. Without a change of mind on the three key issues of John 16 they just won’t ever become convinced they need Him.

    In other words, with no acknowledgement or recognition of sin, no need is ever exposed to the sinner that necessitates his faith in the Savior. A change of mind goes hand in hand with believing in Christ alone for salvation.

    John 16:9 says “concerning sin, because they do not believe in me…” In other words, the unsaved will never trust in Christ until they have had a change of mind concerning sin. This change of mind is wrought by the working of the Holy Spirit. He does so specifically through the foolishness of “Cross” preaching (1 Cor 1:21; Rom 10:14) and generally through all teaching of the truth of the Word of God, His sword (Eph 6:17; Hebrews 4:12-13). A change of mind is not a work that the sinner must accomplish in order to merit eternal life. It is just something that God does in order to clear the slate for the sinner to believe in Christ alone for salvation.

    I have not commented on needed change of mind concerning judgment and righteousness. Conviction in those areas is also necessary for the unbeliever to be prepared for hearing and believing in Christ alone for eternal salvation.

    One thing for sure, sometimes the Holy Spirit can convince someone of these things in a very short amount of time. Unfortunately, we who evangelize know that it can sometimes take years for the Holy Spirit to accomplish this preparatory work in the minds of the lost.

    I have seen someone repent (have a change of mind) in a matter of minutes. For example, by simply hearing John 3:16 someone could becomes convinced of sin, righteousness and judgment (biblical repentence). With regard to sin, they may quickly see that God gave his only begotten son to die for their sins. With righteousness, they may immediately see that they deserved condemnation and that it was God who had to remedy the situation and now He provides eternal life through Christ. With regard to judgment they may also instantly see that Christ has removed condemnation because of His death. They may understand all three of those important issues with the simple reading of John 3:16 and thus believe in Christ.

    What is the essence of a change of mind?

    I’ll leave God the judge of minutia of when and how that takes place. Really and truly, repentance is nothing in and of itself. It is just something that He must accomplish in our minds in order to prepare us for faith alone in Christ alone. But, I will concede that a change of mind often precipitates some very interesting emotions. Anger, joy, peace, relief and fear (etc.) could all result from a change of mind. These emotions are NOT the change of mind, (repentance) rather they are just reactions to a different and new way of thinking based on understanding truth. Emotions, I cannot guarantee or even consider… for they could come from hearing a lie. One thing I can guarantee though is that when a person believes in Christ they have had a change of mind about their sin, God’s righteousness and God’s judgment. That change of mind on those issues has been a marvelous work of God. That change of mind may or may not precipitate emotions, good or bad.

    No one changes their mind, in a biblical, John 16, sense, without truth having first challenged and then conquered the lies they have believed. God the Holy Spirit doesn’t convince us of sin, righteousness and judgment without the Word of truth being preached.

    I would suppose that the great challenge to all of us is to work in concert with the Holy Spirit. Indeed this is one of the greatest problems that I have with the Crossless Gospel. The Crossless Gospel advocate does not see any need to team with the Holy Spirit to preach a message that addresses sin, righteousness or judgment. Where is sin, righteousness or judgment in “believe on Jesus as the guarantor of eternal life?” You can embrace that message without ever knowing that you are a sinner (Jn 16:9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me), that you deserve hell (Jn 16:11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.) and that you cannot make it to heaven on your own (16:10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer).

    I believe that where the Word of Truth is not clearly preached or where a lordship gospel or crossless gospel is preached the needed conviction from Holy Spirit is lost. His work is frustrated. Let’s work in concert with the Holy Spirit rather than against him. Let’s preach the full implication of the objective, historical, factual, provable gospel that Christ died for our SINS and rose again on a day in history. Let’s invite the lost to believe in Him for the salvation that they so desperately need.

    Naz

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  4. Bret:

    Welcome back from your trip.

    What an excellent post on repentance. I only had to time to peruse it. Tomorrow I will give it a careful read.


    Lou

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  5. Sincere Seeker10/11/2007 2:27 PM

    Lou,

    Do you have any further comments or an answer yet? I read your definition from your revised edition, and I can't tell whether the answer should be yes or no.

    "Is being willing to give up one's known sins part of saving repentance? For example, if an unbeliever has been committing adultery and knows that adultery is wrong, can he be saved without being willing to give up his adultery?"

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  6. Seeker:

    I understand what you are driving at and why, and I have no problem with your inquiry. I'm happy to give a more detailed answer as time permits.

    For us to interact there must be a two way street. If you are going to do what da Rosa does, which is dodge and/or answer questions with questions, then we might as well break off now.

    At the end of my initial reply, I asked you the following question, which is in line with the subject of this article and thread.

    The "Crossless" men believe repentance is NOT a condition of salvation. Is that biblical?

    Thanks in anticipation of your reply.


    LM

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  7. Seeker:

    I have been mulling this over. I still need an answer from you to my question above.

    I want to give you a full explanation and answer to your question, but the only way I can do it is verbally.

    There is just too much to write, because I have to cover not just doctrine, but application issues.

    So, answer my question here in the thread, then send me an e-mail if you want to chat. I'll send my cell number to you.

    OK?


    Lou

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  8. Seeker;

    I'd like to be wrong, and I am still giving you benefit of the doobt. It does, however, seem to me you are not interested in a two-way exchange.


    LM

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