July 24, 2008

A Non-Free Gracer Reviews Bob Wilkins’s Scavenger Hunt

Dear Guests:

There are a great many men outside the Free Grace community who see the same errors that those of us in the Free Grace community recognize in the Grace Evangelical Society's Crossless gospel. Below I am posting one man’s review of Wilkins's Scavenger Hunt Salvation Without a List. The writer is blunt, but bases his review on the article by Bob Wilkin.
I know that this has been mentioned before, but Saturday I got the latest copy of the Grace Evangelical Society’s Grace In Focus news letter. While it is not news to me that Bob Wilkin is a heretic, the boldness of his heresy is shocking. In an article he titled “Scavenger Hunt Salvation Without a List,” Dr. Wilkin states:
To be born again, eternally saved, all one needs to do is believe that Jesus Christ guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it..(passage list)..What about the virgin birth, the Trinity, Jesus’ bodily resurrection, Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, Jesus’' substitutionary death on the cross, Jesus’ sinless life, Jesus’ miracles, the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit, the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, the hypostatic union, and on son? Knowing these things certainly makes it easier to believe in Jesus for eternal life. But does it follow that we must believe these things to be saved? No.”
While most of us would agree that one does not have to understand the hypostatic union, the theology of the Trinity, or things like that to be saved, it does not follow that such things can be rejected and a person still be saved. Bob Wilkin has set up a straw man by defending his position by asserting that, “the apostles didn't believe these things when they were born again.” Some of the things Wilkin is referring to were not yet revealed when the Apostles were saved. Yet, once those things were revealed, the Apostles believed them. To assert that a person can deny those things and still be saved is error. At salvation a person may not have a full grasp of those things, but a person who is truly coming to faith in Christ will not deny them (2 John 9).

Now, we come to the biggest error of all. In his article, as seen in the above quote, Bob Wilkin denies that a person must believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus in order to be saved. He asserts that such belief is helpful, but not necessary. My friend, may I say up front, that his statement is nothing shy of soul damning heresy! The Bible is clear that in order to be saved we must, “believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,” (Rom 10:9). In fact, when the Apostle Paul is defining the Gospel that saves he includes the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures,” (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
Bob Wilkin is stripping the Gospel of its very heart by denying that a person must believe in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection in order to be saved. In fact, the Apostle goes on to chastise some of the Corinthians for not believing those things (1Cor 15:12-19). The results of denying the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus are tragic (we are still in our sins, we are false witnesses of God, our faith is worthless, we will perish, etc). In fact Paul stated earlier that we are only saved if we, “hold fast” the Gospel he preached (1Cor 15:2). Therefore the people Bob Wilkin is “winning to the Lord” apart from the message that Paul preached are lost in their sins. Apart from faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord from the dead there is no salvation.

I want everyone here to know that, as of this point, I consider the Grace Evangelical Society to be heretical and under the condemnation of God (Gal 1:6-10). In this group I put Bob Wilkin, Zane Hodges, and others who teach their blasphemous heresy. I pray that the rise Lord would open their eyes, and the eyes of their followers, *before their error costs them their eternal souls.

*I asked the author about the last line in his review. My question was: Are you suggesting these men, who I believe are born again, could lose their salvation over this error? His reply, “As for whether I believe people can lose their salvation, I don't. I am a strong believer in the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. It is my understanding that Gal. 1:6-9 refers to false teachers and not true Christians.”


  1. Hey Lou,

    I'll be AFK for a week but before I do that I wanted to comment.

    Thanks for posting this. While there are parts of the article I can not agree with it's good to see the agreement that we do have in the recognition of where The Gospel is defined in Scripture and what one must believe to be saved.

    The author wrote In fact Paul stated earlier that we are only saved if we, “hold fast” the Gospel he preached (1Cor 15:2). Therefore the people Bob Wilkin is “winning to the Lord” apart from the message that Paul preached are lost in their sins.

    On this point you asked him if he thought people could loose their salvation and he said they could not. His article leaves room for the error that people must "hold fast" for the duration of their life in order to be saved. I'm not sure he's actually saying that here.. but his tone and writing seem to go against that of Paul. Paul is brining remembrance to the Corinthians of the truth he preached to them before. That these things are true.

    If you "hold fast" is like me asking, "or do I need to prove this to you again?"

    To nail this shut, Paul's declaration includes the statement of fact that the Corinthians who had received the Gospel are saved. They had started to deny the Resurrection but Paul still stated they were perfectly saved.

    I'm in a rush, sorry if this is messy!

    Bless you!

  2. Hi Kev:

    I'm rushed this morning as well. Thanks for pointing out the item that I addressed myself.

    The writer does get his analysis right of the reductionism views of Wilkin and the GES.

    All of our efforts are helping to keep a broad base of evangelical Christians aware that the GES represents an extremist position that is far outside the balanced theology of the broader FG movement.

    Take care,


  3. Lou,

    I think Kev has made some good points. I did appreciate the author of the article going to 1 Corinthians 15 to define Paul's Gospel of salvation. Although the theme of the Gospel runs though the entire New Testament, it does not require a scavenger hunt to find the actual definition of Paul's Gospel. As Charlie Bing and others have noted, it is laid out no more clearly than by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.


  4. It is important to remember that Romans 10:9 cannot be separated from it's immediate context which speaks of Paul's Gospel (Rom. 10:15, cf. 10:14-17).

    The "word of faith which we are preaching" (Rom. 10:8) is in fact the Gospel message (Rom. 10:15; cf. 1 Cor. 15:1, 11).


  5. JP:

    Thanks for the helpful comments.
    Buried in work, more to follow later.

    Will you be at the Grace Conference? I'll be there on Friday morning only.


  6. Lou,

    Yes I'll be at the Grace Conference but unfortunately can only attend the evening sessions and the banquet Friday evening because of my class schedule. I'm sorry I'll miss you. Liam and I have seats with Charlie Bing and J.B. Hixson for the Friday evening banquet! So I'll still be able to have some great fellowship and hear Dr. Ryrie and Dr. Scudder preach as well.


  7. Lou,

    Great discussion. Very interesting article. You said:

    "At salvation a person may not have a full grasp of those things, but a person who is truly coming to faith in Christ will not deny them (2 John 9)."

    As for 2 john 9, there are two groups of people being considered, in this book. Deceivers (antichrists), and the Christians in the church. Verse 9 should be tempered by verse 8. Verse 8 proves that Christians can lose their works of righteousness (faith in Christ alone) by surrendering to the ideas of the false teachers. 2 john 9 is warning the church about being out of step from the truth that comes from God's Spirit.

    "Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching,..." 2 john 8-11

    I don't see where in this passage it is giving evidence that those who truly have been saved with less information will never reject the subsequent information scripture provides....

    You said:
    "before their error costs them their eternal souls."

    I don't know who this person is or why he believes that those who promote the "crossless" gospel are suspect to have never been saved, but, I care about what you think. What do you think? I saw Galatians 5:4 say that those who teach a mix of works and faith (which is not really applicable, either, to the "crossless" bunch), that they "have become estranged from Christ."
    Disruption of a bond of love, friendship, or loyalty. Estrange and alienate are often used with reference to two persons whose harmonious relationship has been replaced by hostility or indifference... [1]

    Even Acts 15:5 says: "But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, rose up, saying, 'It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.'" Now I don't assume all of those who believed error, were saved. But these scriptures, to me, point to evidence that many can be.

    Do you think one can be saved yet estranged?

    I have also heard you say in several comments to me or to the general public that the errors being taught by "crossless" advocates, have been evolving from bad, to worse. If there truly was an "evolution," then what were they like in the beginning? Where did they begin... did they ever start in a place of orthodoxy, at least for themselves let alone what they taught for everyone else?

    I ask this because according to Gal 2:4 the "false brethren" are people who passed themselves off as Christians, but who refused from the beginning to confess that salvation was God's gift through faith alone -- and for this reason, Paul would not recognize them as genuine Christians.

    Acts 15:1 also indicates that they were opportunists with their message, saying that they came into the church from outside of it, testing the church in their beliefs:

    "And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren" ... "Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined ... [to] go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question."

    The next question I would ask, is this: how should the "crossless" advocates be handled when they aren't adding to the gospel, but as you think, taking away from it? Where is this kind being addressed, in the NT?? The pre-gnostics?

    [1] http://www.thefreedictionary.com/estranged

  8. Amen. The gospel message is as clear as a bell and not confusing at all. The GES is continuing to make it confusing to others and leading them astray in spite of all of this clear scripture that rightly rejects their philisophical position.

    Praise God for the truth. He sets us free by His word and His word is truth. I don't know why so many professing Christians are so dead set on arguing with God on this. They will find out one day.

    Grace upon grace,


  9. Lou,

    I'm thinking now of your citation of 1 Cor. 15.

    I want to know, if in your studies, have you determined if either or both derivatives of the word "gospel" only apply to the truths that save? Or does the word "gospel" get used by the apostles to represent the entire whole of teachings that we today call "scripture" or "the Word of God" -- God's truth?

    I'm looking at the context of 1 cor 15, and the previous chapter establishes order and propriety in worship. He ends that section asking them if the Word of God originated with them, or can they submit themselves to the authority of Paul's commandments, his commandment being to "let all things be done decently and in order" -- end of chapter. Then he says, "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel...." Chapter 14, order in worship; next (15), order (in importance) in truth.

    Where is the gospel (that saves) differentiated from the gospel (God's teachings) that isn't necessary for salvation? Why doesn't Paul bother to make that distinction, before he goes into relatively unsaving information?

    Is it part of the gospel (that saves) that "After that he was seen by James, then by all the apostles." vs 7

    Is it part of the gospel (that saves) that "For I am the least of the apostles, ... because I persecuted the church of God." vs 9

    He isn't "preaching the gospel" here, although he is discussing it. He is reminding the church what was essential in the order of things already believed upon. I see this passage, and I don't know how anyone else can refrain from acknowledging it, that there is a continuum of relevance in the progression of this chapter before he discusses the controversy and necessity of resurrection in vs 12. The only other alternative is to conclude that the whole section, including his own personal relationship with Christ, is part of what saves.

    If it is important to delineate how much saves from how little doesn't (just like the free grace controversy, unlike those who add more (works) like Lordship), then why is this section fuzzy? Why did he go right from essentials into irrelevant information about himself? I can't come up with a good reason.

    I see Paul adjusting the message of Christ, to his audience, when he was actually preaching the gospel (that saves). He preached to Greek people, who had practically no exposure to biblical concepts. In Acts 17 he began talking to Jews and Greeks at the synagogue, showing them from the scriptures how resurrection is real, and how Jesus is the suffering servant prophesied in scripture. Many of them... weren't getting what that was all about. Their reply to all this was "It sounds like Paul is advocating a new god." So when he got to Athens, he changed his approach. He didn't introduce scripture at all. He reasoned with them that there is one God, first. At the very end, he concluded his message saying that this God has appointed judgment to a man of His choice, and this man is proven by his resurrection from the dead.

    And many believed and followed Paul.

    What do you think about this?


  10. I am not interested in speaking for Lou but if he permits this comment then we could clearly see that the image of the unknown god was an idol to be turned away from and a very bad example to be repented of.

    {Being then the children(creation) of God, we ought not to think that the Divine nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.} Acts 17:29

    Paul was stirred with holy anger toward this idol and the fire of the word consumed his soul to speak out against it and plead with those led astray by it as Lou in similar fashioned is rightly concerned about this.

    He reasoned with an evil idol to get their attention and called them to repent of their false imaginations that led them to their love of sin and false worship and observe what Paul makes clear by speaking of the resurrection that he makes plain in scripture in 1 Corinthians 15 that Lou posted on as being the gospel.

    They then began to sneer at Paul and his witness of what he would later right in scripture on the resurrection.

    He made the dividing line clear of who the true God of the Bible was and what He had done and many sneered at him, yet some believed and were saved.

    It is not healthy to call men away from the true testimony in any form to a lesser idol that is compatible with man. We are entering an age in the church where anything is begining to go and we need to call men and women back to the true testimony and to repent of their sin and take their burden of sin to the cross where only there they can find relief in the person of Christ.

    In proverbs we are told not to be wise in our own eyes, but to fear the Lord and depart from evil. The hour is desperate today. Men and women, hearken to the truth in Jesus name.

    Grace upon grace,


  11. Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.
    Acts 17:16

    Once again I take heart in the steadfastness on this issue here Lou.

    Grace upon grace,


  12. Thanks to each of you for the various comments. It is nearly midnight and I just got home from work. I'd like to reply to each of you, but I have to be up early on Friday.

    Jon, Sorry I'll miss you men at the evening programs. The banquet at Quentin Road BC is the best I've ever been to.

    Michele, I appreciate your input. I think you are under the impression the article is written by me. That is incorrect.

    Brian, thanks for the helpful notes and comments.

    Grace to all,


  13. Dear Sir:

    I saw an excerpt of your response to Wilkin’s “Scavenger Hunt”. I want to thank you, not only for what you wrote, but also for your honesty and integrity.

    I see so many dishonest Christians using “straw-man” tactics that it sickens me. I have little doubt that there are “Lordshippers” who, without the intellectual starch or moral honesty to debate the free-grace position, would delight in nothing more than to dishonestly represent Wilkin and Hodges as the torch-bearers of the free-grace movement, and then pretend that they have dismantled the free-grace position by dismantling the Hodges-Wilkin position.

    I was told you are not in the free-grace camp. I am grateful for the honesty of your comments. You are right. Hodges and Wilkin are heretics. And you properly put the heresy at the feet of the heretics, rather than using it to advance some cheap straw-man argument by which you could lay their heresy at the feet of the free-grace movement, and than dismiss free-grace theology in a patently dishonest manner.

    Thank you for your honesty, as well as your commitment to Calvary.

    Very Respectfully,


    Ronald R. Shea
    Founder and President

  14. Dr. Shea & Lou,

    You may know already that I have been sharing our faith with the LDS at one specific locale since 2003. In that way I might understand your burden.

    It was my job, indeed a privilege to identify heresy. It was scary in the beginning because I knew it made me unpopular. But the Word of God showed itself true and encouraged me and I knew it was critical for those things to be pointed out, to them. So I proceeded to show them things, such as in times beforehand God spoke through prophets but today He speaks all things through His Son, and, that the Holy Spirit does not depart from them when they sin (security through faith). I thought the best information I could share with them, was the information that they believed and promoted heresy. Because according to the Word of God, that is what it is. Not only was it unpopular but it also seemed that this message was so unpopular that no one could really open their eyes to just how evil it was. I had to show why it was evil, in more than just a few reasons, but by every reason and in every way. I employed all my mental ability into scriptures that explained it, and other illustrations and parables. I honed my knowledge, so that I could help them differentiate good from evil, and right from wrong. I became an expert. Time only afforded me more precision in the message. I was skilled by the Word to illuminate how wrong and evil it really was.

    I discovered as time went by, that there were fewer and fewer people involved in the material. The better I got, the less interest there was. Eventually I was there speaking to no one (though I never ran out of people who supported me from behind, because they already agreed with me).

    I prayed asking God, "LORD, where are the people? This is your message. Where are the people who need to hear this, because they need the answers of how to be released from their error. Send the people here that need this, LORD."

    And the LORD said to me, "If you want the people to come, prepare to love them like I do."

    And the love He gave runs so deep it is inexplicable, it consumed me (and still does). It was so powerful, that all I could manage to do for maybe a year, was just feel, be emotional, and, I could barely speak. It took some time till I could start to process what to do with the love. Now, I still share the truth -- I share it, the message has not variated, but, I would do anything for them, and I would fight to the death for their sake; I even defend their freedom to choose what they want to do with the message, no matter if it is to turn and walk away. Just as I am sure the Father does for each of us. This is most certainly a mystery, that the LORD endures us in this manner.

    Lou said:
    "I want everyone here to know that, as of this point, I consider the Grace Evangelical Society to be heretical and under the condemnation of God (Gal 1:6-10). In this group I put Bob Wilkin, Zane Hodges, and others who teach their blasphemous heresy." [emphasis mine]

    Unlike some perhaps I am not discouraged, at all, by this language, because I see God's handiwork, causing you to keep moving in your devotion to Him. You are devoted to Him, it is plain to me. You are moving, forward. I already see a mix of attitudes in this post, I see the beginnings of God's love welling up in you when you addressed him as "my friend." This is very encouraging! I like to think on the 1,256th day you will rise up once again and write on this topic, but there will be more richly revealed to you, a vision that you must choose or evolve to having primarily a ministry to theology or a ministry to people. I want to pray for you to be strengthened both now and later, that you might not dismiss it but revel in it. Meanwhile, I will wait patiently for you, till you are done.


  15. It is unfortunate for Wilkin to continue to teach these things. It is a travesty. The very people he has sought to refute for so long will not take him seriously or his arguments seriously when he is propagating this type of false doctrine.

    I truly wish there was more unity in the Free Grace movement. It appears that in the LS camp, they have more of a unity on these issues. It is furthermore unfortunate to know that we in the "traditional" Free Grace camp would actually agree with the LS camp regarding Wilkin and Hodges.

    We have actually found agreement with LS advocates on something. It is rather ironic and at the same time unfortunate.

  16. I agree that the FG community is giving a lot of credibility to the Lordship movement. They are being proven right in many of their warnings. Still, I do not agree with the Lordship movement on all areas, but do see their points and agree but I am mostly thankful for Lou's desire for balance here in the gospel message on all points. It is a good thing.

    Grace upon grace,


  17. Liam:

    It is sad to see a man (Wilkin) with gifts and abilities having been swayed into theological extremism through the influence of Hodges.

    I don’t see the LS agreement with us that the GES has goner into heresy as “unfortunate.” I have been working (at blogs, site and in private conversation) for months to help the LS camp understand that the GES faction of the FG community is a shrinking cell of theological extremists.

    I am helping LS men to recognize that the GES does NOT represent or speak for the broader Free Grace community. There has been great success with this, the evidence being that the LS men are openly acknowledging agreement with us that the GES has gone into a heretical, reductionist view of the Gospel.

    The REAL benefit of this is that we have divested ourselves of the stigma of being considered like-minded with the heresy of the GES. The LS camp cannot target non-GES Free Grace men with the legitimate criticism the GES teaching deserves. Now the LS camp has to deal squarely with the balanced biblical answers from men who are NOT identified with the heresy of Hodges, Wilkin and GES.

    This is great news, IMO!


  18. Brian:

    You wrote, "I agree that the FG community is giving a lot of credibility to the Lordship movement. They are being proven right in many of their warnings. Still, I do not agree with the Lordship movement on all areas, but do see their points and agree but I am mostly thankful for Lou's desire for balance here in the gospel message on all points. It is a good thing."

    IMO, we are not giving them credibility, we have recognized that they, like us, see terrible doctrinal errors in the GES.

    This does not negate the faith, plus works LS message they advocate.

    Thanks for recognizing that I am trying to present the biblical balance between the two extremes of Lordship Salvation and the GES's Crossless gospel.


  19. Liam/Brian:

    Go back and read Is "RE-DEFINED" Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

    You will note the last paragraph, "It is a serious misunderstanding to assume the Zane Hodges Crossless interpretation of the Gospel is widely held by men in the Free Grace community. Because of this I will continue spending time interacting with various non-FG groups to help them understand that the GES faction of the Free Grace community is an isolated, shrinking cell of people who have gone off to the far extremes that most in the FG camp reject and have separated from the GES over."

    I had been doing that for at least a month by that time.


  20. Great conversation, wish I was at my computer. I'm in a little Cafe in Alberta. I'm going to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller Alberta today. Going to see how the World explains dinosaurs. http://www.tyrrellmuseum.com/info/

    I have been wanting to go to the Grace confrence too.. but alas my membership to the FGA has yet to be approved. Maybe when I get back later this week the approval will be there.

    I'll try to get back to the cafe again soon.

    Bless you guys!!!!


  21. Hi Kev:

    I trust the Lord s blessing your travels and ministry.

    When you get back e-mail JB or Charlie. Mine took a while because of glitch in the computer system that processes membership applications. Probably the same thing has happened to yours.

    BTW, the FGA just announced that Dr. Charles Ryrie will be speaking at the FGA’s national conference in October!

    Take care,


  22. I confused the National Conference with the Grace Conference... I didn't know the Grace one was this weekend past... would have been great to be there.


  23. Hi Kevl:

    The FGA Conference is in October in Dallas. Visit the FGA site for details.

    Ryrie spoke at last weeks Grace Conference and will be at the FGA event as well.

    Good to see you're back.