February 3, 2009

If Anyone Eats of This Bread...

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

One of our new contributors *Jan H. has written the following article. She is addressing an aspect of the reductionist interpretation of saving faith that is coming from the Grace Evangelical Society’s Crossless Gospel.  I have divided the article into two sections. I trust you will be edified and encouraged by this series.

There are 3 key elements that must be preached in any gospel presentation: the deity of Christ, the cross of Christ, and the resurrection of Christ. This article will focus on the cross.

Concerning how one is saved, the question has been raised whether a person needs to have any further understanding of Jesus Christ than that He gives eternal life to anyone who trusts Him for it. Bob Wilkin has stated that some Free Grace adherents,
...limit the essentials about the Person and work of Christ-arbitrarily-to three points: Jesus’ deity, His death on the cross for our sins, and His bodily resurrection from the dead.”1
Is this true? Or is the traditional view correct, which says that the substitutionary atoning death of Christ on the cross is an essential, non-arbitrary component of a gospel presentation? Has the traditional view been requiring too much of people? Is God really glorified when anything other than simply trusting Jesus to give eternal life is expected? Have we gone too far? Or, worse, has the cross, as Wilkin states, been chosen arbitrarily among the myriad of truths unique to our Savior?

To answer these questions adequately we must examine just what the cross is about.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned,” (Romans 5:12).

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation...,” (Romans 5:18a).
In Romans 5 we are told of our sinful position and condition by natural birth in Adam. Through Adam’s offense judgment came to all men (vs. 18). The consequences of being born in Adam are that we are born dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), strangers from God (Ephesians 2:12), and children of wrath by nature (Ephesians 2:3). We are told that in us (in our flesh/sin nature) is no good thing (Romans 7:18).

God must deal with us according to the nature we possess. The nature we possess in Adam is the sin nature. The wages of sin is death (
Romans 6:23). The sinful Adamic nature must therefore be judged accordingly. Being in Adam from birth, we are in his position of death before God. This positional truth works itself out in physical experience as one day the spirit separates from the body. It also works itself out in the spirit as eternal separation from God in hell. This is the position and pending condition of the one who is in Adam. Because the wages of sin is death and all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, there is a death sentence for each person and it will be carried out with no exceptions.

Isaiah 59:2 tells us that our iniquities have separated us from God and our sins have hidden His face from us. Therefore, it is impossible to approach Him unless our sin issue is dealt with. Simply trusting Christ to give us eternal life without reference to the sin, which has caused our death is an unworkable proposition. It is like trusting the doctor to make us well without regard for and application of the treatment he prescribes. The fact that he can make us well is thus rendered irrelevant, for we will not deal with our desire for wellness on the terms of the one who knows what we need to make us well. So it is with eternal life. Christ can give us eternal life only in so far as His prescribed solution to our sin problem is accepted. If we do not accept His solution to the cause of our death, the fact that He gives eternal life is irrelevant.

With our sad condition of sin in mind, we may now examine God’s solution- the cross of Christ.
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,” (Romans 8:3).

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross...,” (Colossians 2:13-14).

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
 What happened at the cross is revealed in Colossians chapter 2. The price of our sin was paid at the cross. The wages of sin were paid out in full. The handwriting of requirements was wiped out, taken out of the way, being nailed to the cross in the person of Christ. Sin was judged in the person of Christ, who became sin for us. The judgment of God is completely satisfied in this one righteous act (Romans 5:18). Because of the cross the sin debt no longer exists. Apart from the cross it exists in full measure with the full weight of condemnation still resting on our shoulders.

One might think that because the cross is an established historical fact, we need not be concerned about the matter of our sin. Since it has been taken out of the way at the cross, why, then, can we not just come to Jesus as the giver of eternal life? Why must we go through the cross if the issue has been dealt with to God’s satisfaction?

If God’s acceptance of the cross work of Christ was the only variable in salvation, everyone would be saved. All would go to heaven. Salvation would be universal, irrespective of whether or not the gospel is believed by the sinner because God has accepted it as applicable and sufficient for every man. It is the man who must accept it for himself, which makes the difference.

The Bible gives many examples, which show our personal need to come to God on the terms, which deal with the sin which separates us personally from Him. The purpose of these examples is to show that His judgment against (our personal) sin is righteous and is met in the terms He dictates. In each example, we find the terms to be the shedding of blood and the death of a sacrifice. In the Old Testament, the sacrifice is an animal whose blood must be brought to God. In the New Testament the sacrifice is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We will now examine some of these passages.


(to be continued)

1. Bob Wilkin, Grace in Focus, Essential Truths About Our Savior, November/December 2008, p. 1.

*B. S. Psychology, University of Rhode Island, 1990. VBS skit writer/director. Authored and co-directed a missions inspired play for a missions conference and other dramas for other church functions. Served on the Missions committee of her local church, developed the teaching curriculum for the church’s VBS program. The lessons being delivered through the medium of puppets.

35 comments:

  1. Lou, thanks for posting this. Jan, Rachel and I both appreciated when you started commenting at IDOTG because you clearly "get it" with regard to the 'crossless gospel'. I'm not sure how much exposure you had to it before IDOTG but we're thankful that you see quickly through the smoke and mirrors.

    This article touches on one aspect that we have yet to receive a meaningful answer for from CG advocates. Namely, their claim that all we lack is life, therefore that's all we need to believe in Christ for. However, and here's the question -- if all SIN has actually been paid for (efficient as opposed to sufficient), then why do we still lack life? If SIN is the thing that caused us to lose that life in the first place, and SIN has been effectively dealt with, then WHY (in their view) do we still lack life? We didn't lose life because of lack of belief, we lost it because of sin. (Rom 6:23) Thus, sin is/has been the BASIC problem since the fall, not lack of belief. So why now, if sin has been dealt with, has 'belief' itself become the BASIC issue? It's illogical that God would go to such great sacrifice to Himself to remove the BASIC barrier only to impose a new and seemingly arbitrary one - belief. True, belief is key to HOW we appropriate God's solution, but the problem is and always has been our sin.

    I also like what you said about the CG as it relates to universalism. We've argued similarly before, and I know Lou has as well, and CGers have basically just denied it but without sufficient (if any) explanation. I agree it's not their intent, but CG soteriology opens wide the door to universalism nevertheless.

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  2. Hi Stephen:

    I appreciate your comments to Jan and I'm sure she'll get back to you shortly.

    It is obvious to any objective observer that the Crossless gospel is not yet full blown Universalism, but the CG is Universalim's first cousin.


    LM

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  3. Hi Stephen.

    Thanks for the compliment!


    I only touched on that point because I hadn't really thought too much on the universalism aspect of things, though it is evident that their view would land one there eventually if held to consistently. Hence we have been getting things like the Mormon Jesus and our Jesus being one and the same, etc. There are so many ways to get to universalism it is staggering!

    You make some excellent points that I will think on more.

    So why now, if sin has been dealt with, has 'belief' itself become the BASIC issue?

    This is an excellent question that it wouldn't have occurred to me to ask. I will have to remember it.

    I agree it's not their intent, but CG soteriology opens wide the door to universalism nevertheless.

    Yes.

    What I am personally having the most difficult time digesting is the assertion that the cross is arbitrary. It is right in-your-face obvious that it is impossible for the cross to be arbitrary. I don't like to think what kind of mental gymnastics must be executed to get to the cross being arbitrary.

    Not to mention, how would you like it if you hung bleeding and tortured for hours on a cross until you died for sins you never committed and then have someone who is supposed to be your friend come along and call it "arbitrary"?

    There is just no excuse for this.

    I really had never heard of the crossless gospel until I found IDOTG. I came here for information on LS and had basically ignored the CG part as that is not something I am faced with in "real life." We have LS leaning leadership in our church and our church is the best church in the area so there is really no where else for us to go, short of moving. The Lord does not seem to be leading us to leave the area at this time, so I must hunker down and do what I can. :( Hence, my involvement with IDOTG. The crossless thing caught my attention when Lou posted the GES's revised affirmation of belief.

    As for seeing through smoke and mirrors, as I know you know, it is the same basic principle of knowing counterfeit money from real by dealing with real all the time. The more familiar you are with the real, the more evident it will be when something comes along that doesn't match up.


    JanH

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  5. Jan: What I am personally having the most difficult time digesting is the assertion that the cross is arbitrary.

    Agreed, that's a toughy to swallow. When I was first exposed to and considered the CG, 1 Cor 1:17-25 was a key passage in keeping me convinced that the cross is more than just psychologically helpful. It is, as you say, in your face obvious that the cross is not arbitrary. The cross is in fact often a stumbling block and foolishness, it certainly was in Paul's day, yet he preached it anyway -- certainly not because he considered it arbitrary, or even that he thought the cross was all that helpful. Why then? Paul continues to elaborate in 1 Cor 2:1-5.

    I wrote an article about this last year at our blog:

    Paul and the Holy Spirit at odds with Redefined Free Grace

    Suffice to say, I find calling the cross "arbitrary" to the content of saving faith an illogical proposition.

    Keep in mind though that I'm the guy who REALLY likes orange.

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  6. Jan/Stephen:

    Some of the notes here reminded of The Hollow "Gospel" of the Grace Evangelical Society by Philip Evans. Here is an excerpt:

    What (Zane) Hodges has done is to redefine believing in Jesus in such a narrow way that it makes a mockery out of the Biblical truth of what it means to believe in Him. In Hodges’ deserted island scenario he pieced together the first part of John 6:43 with John 6:47 as follows: “But the only readable portions are: ‘Jesus therefore answered and said to them’ (v 43) and ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life,’” (v 47).

    Hodges wants us to believe that the unsaved man alone on the island who had never heard anything of Christianity could be saved by reading this portion of the Bible alone. What a gross mishandling of God’s Word and misrepresentation of the Gospel! His article treats the name “Jesus” like a talisman. Just know and believe in the name and you won't be disappointed, regardless of not knowing who He is and what He has done to secure our eternal salvation.


    Because of its extremist theology the GES has become irrelevant to any meaningful discussion of the Gospel. They just don't know it yet.


    Lou

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  7. When I was first exposed to and considered the CG, 1 Cor 1:17-25 was a key passage in keeping me convinced that the cross is more than just psychologically helpful.

    Other than leaving it out altogether, I can't think of a better way to make the cross of no effect than to treat is as arbitrary!

    Keep in mind though that I'm the guy who REALLY likes orange.

    Don't worry Stephen. For that we have Colossians 3:12-13.

    Hehe. :)

    JanH

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  8. Among many other excellent quotes in Evan's article are these three:

    Hodges does grievous violence to Christ by divorcing Christ’s person from His work, for what Christ has done for us is forever tied to who He is.

    At Kadesh Barnea those who were bitten by the snakes survived if they took one look at the bronze serpent on the pole. Likewise, one look of faith at the Lord Jesus Christ crucified and risen again is what saves. To deny that the substitutionary death of Christ is needed to be believed in order to be saved, is to teach that one can be saved without looking!

    To reject the cross of Christ is to reject God’s salvation.

    I must say I am astounded at the reasoning displayed by the GES adherents. They deal almost exclusively in hypotheticals, as though the Holy Spirit had some kind of limitation. He does not need to deal in “supposing it was like this, then what?” God's grace exists in reality, not in some hypothetical imagination. We do not benefit from this kind of thinking because, aside from where it leads, we are not going to be dealing with lost men on deserted islands. Obviously, we must deal with lost men in our lives on populated continents. And since we are here, what we know of the gospel goes with us and we can and must share it. And even if we were dealing with the man on the island, the fact that we are there too with our Biblical knowledge and the indwelling Holy Spirit voids the whole illustration.

    Good grief. This is ridiculous.

    JanH

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  9. Jan/All:

    The reason the GES Crossless advocates fall back on these hypotheticals is simple: Their views have been devastated from the Scriptures.

    This is why all of the GES extremists have rebuffed all attempts to meet to openly discuss their views. Hodges, Wilkin and Lewis were/have been asked to meet in private, more than once, but they refuse to do so. Why? Because their views cannot stand the scrutiny of Scripture. They do not want any more or new exposures of the true reductionism that they have fallen into. This is why you can’t even get an open, transparent answer from them to a simple, unvarnished question.

    In any event, there is plenty on record from GES Crossless advocates that fully exposes the heretical depths from which the heresy of their Crossless gospel rises from. Just peruse my article, Is the “Crossless” Label the Right Label?

    For example, “If a JW hears me speak of Christ’s deity and asks me about it, I will say, ‘Let us agree to disagree about this subject.’ At the moment that a JW or a Mormon is convinced that Jesus Christ has given to them unrevokable [sic] eternal life when they believed on Him for it, I would consider such a one saved, REGARDLESS of their varied misconcetions [sic] and beliefs about Jesus.

    The shrinking cell of GES followers have been seared in their conscience. They have become impervious to any reasoning from Scripture. IMO, loyalty to their departed hero, Zane Hodges, is given the preeminence over Scripture. How many times have we read these men force into or extract from the Bible whatever they must to float the reductionist heresy of Zane Hodges?

    These absurd hypotheticals like the deserted island scenario is all they have left to fall back on.


    Lou

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  10. That article by Phil is excellent! The comment thread is great too because it debunks one of the most frequent allegations made against us -- namely the false assertion that we are/have been unwilling to dialog and are only talking amongst ourselves. There were some objectors in that thread and neither of them had answers when confronted with the facts. I'm not happy about that or rubbing it in anybody's face, it's just the sad reality of those who either defend GES out of some irrational bond, or those who fail, or refuse, to actually understand the facts. Mike in that thread, for example, was quick to blame us for failing to interact with Wilkin directly yet when the simple facts were presented, even though done kindly, he simply disappeared. I hope Mike gained some clarity eventually, I really do, but since he didn't reply... who knows?

    Regarding hypotheticals: Hmm. Personally, I don't have a problem with hypotheticals so long as their purpose is to clarify "reality". Exaggeration for the sake of emphasis can be helpful to make a point. OTOH, GES believes that the DIS is also true in reality, that someone really could be saved that way, thus it's not SIMPLY exaggeration for the sake of emphasis -- it truly does reflect their view of reality. Frankly, I'm thankful for the Deserted Island Scenario (DIS) extreme hypothetical because it makes the reality of GES' reductions easier to point out. :-)
    I think this is why efforts are being made now to redefine and obfuscate what ZH meant in his series that included the DIS, claiming that it doesn't tell the whole story. To be fair, I'm sure there IS more to the story than was written down in the DIS and its immediate context, but I seriously doubt that any new details of "why" will change the bottom line of what we've concluded ZH wrote, taught, and believed. Flll in some gaps? Sure! Change the bottom line of ZH well published views? I doubt it. And if it doesn't change the bottom line then what's the point of claiming the new details are even relevant?

    It will be interesting to read how they attempt to explain that what ZH went to such great lengths to make clear with the DIS hypothetical isn't really what he meant at all and that "we've got it all wrong". I'm a fair-minded guy so I'll read their explanations with the eye of an honest skeptic, as I always have.

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  11. Stephen:

    You wrote, It will be interesting to read how they attempt to explain that what ZH went to such great lengths to make clear with the DIS hypothetical isn’t really what he meant at all and that “we’ve got it all wrong”. I’m a fair-minded guy so I’ll read their explanations with the eye of an honest skeptic, as I always have.

    Well, how ever the DIS is respun by the GES camp, the true crux of the reductionist controversy, that Hodges’s originated, continues to flow from his followers. That is their belief the lost can be justified apart from knowing understanding or believing in the deity, death and/or resurrection of Christ.


    Lou

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  12. Hi Stephen:



    Thanks for the various issues you touched on. 


    Phil’s article is among the top from 2008 and is why I refer to it every so often. BTW, Phil is writing an article to deal with a new exposure of the reductionist assault on the content of saving faith. It will be a point-by-point refutation of a classic reductionist error coming from the GES.



    I do remember Mike Messerli, from the thread in Phil’s article. That was his final visit to my blog. You and Rachel shared with him how both of you interacted directly with Wilkin. I asked him to answer some questions, ask other questions of Wilkin directly and he disappeared. I even asked him to act as my ambassador to Wilkin asking him (Mike) if he would approach Wilkin on my behalf to open a door so that I could ask Wilkin a few questions myself. I was going to be in Dallas (and was in Dallas) for three days and was willing to meet Wilkin. The response; silence.

    You can read how I addressed him over Wilkin and the CG starting here with four brief comments in succession.

    
As for, “the false assertion that we are/have been unwilling to dialog and are only talking amongst ourselves” issue; it would be more accurate to say that that is a blatant distortion of the truth. 



    Going back to Wilkin (2007) publicly clamoring for an open debate and then losing his nerve for it once Ron Shea agreed to meet him (Wilkin) in an open debate. See- Wilkin’s refusal to Go Through With the Debate he had Been Calling For.



    To (the late) Hodges, Wilkin, Lewis, Jim Johnson and select others in the GES camp receiving an invitation by FGA leaders to meet for a private academic discussion and all of them REFUSED to participate.



    To the recent calls by Antonio da Rosa for civil debate, which he lost his nerve for when you and Rachel agreed to and opened a new debate forum for that purpose. All of a sudden Antonio stopped responding to both of you once he realized you would debate him over the GES’s Crossless gospel from the Scriptures.



    The Scriptures is where the CG is thwarted. So, it’s back to what they must feel is the safe-haven DIS extreme hypothetical.





    Lou



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  13. Stephen/Jan/All:

    Here are samples from Hodges's two part article that appeared in the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society.

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

    People are not saved by believing that Jesus died on the cross; they are saved by believing in Jesus for eternal life . . . Let us always point men to Christ Himself as the object of faith, rather than to some concept that must be theologically clarified before it can really be understood.”

    The simple truth is that Jesus can be believed for eternal salvation apart from any detailed knowledge of what He did to provide it.

    A CROSSLESS Gospel!

    FWIW,


    Lou

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  14. “People are not saved by believing that Jesus died on the cross; they are saved by believing in Jesus for eternal life . . . Let us always point men to Christ Himself as the object of faith, rather than to some concept that must be theologically clarified before it can really be understood.”

    It it just this sort of thing that makes me long for the Lord to come for us quickly! Until He does we will never get away from this kind of despicable subtlety.

    JanH

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  15. Jan:

    In the meantime we will stand in defense of the Gospel against the Hodges inspired (GES) reductionist assault on the content of saving faith.

    I want to do what I can to keep this dangerous teaching that Hodges originated contained to the shrinking cell of Hodges followers in the GES.

    Lord willing not one more unsuspecting believer will fall into the trap of the Crossless gospel.


    Lou

    PS: Part 2 of your series will post on Monday morning.

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  16. Amen Lou, there have been far too many causalties, wounded, and confused already as the fallout of their strange teaching.

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  17. Stephen:

    Thanks for the note. And I do appreciate the efforts of you and Rachel in laying bare the reductionist errors of the Crossless gospel.

    I have no intention of standing idly by and see the GES ruin even one more unsuspecting believer through their Crossless gospel heresy. I have noted earlier that the GES has become irrelevant, but they just don't know it yet. This, however, does not mean we can let down our guard against any new attempts to break out of their shrinking cell of Hodges followers. God forbid the Crossless gospel were to gain any kind of foothold the like of which Lordship Salvation has managed.

    Anyway, the new articles in development are going to once again expose and devastate the egregious errors coming from GES.

    BTW, I also appreciate earlier in this thread how you exposed the on-going blatant falsehoods coming from GES members in regard to non-GES men attempting to speak directly to the GES Crossless gospel advocates. Here is that comment.

    That article by Phil is excellent! The comment thread is great too because it debunks one of the most frequent allegations made against us -- namely the false assertion that we are/have been unwilling to dialog and are only talking amongst ourselves. There were some objectors in that thread and neither of them had answers when confronted with the facts. I'm not happy about that or rubbing it in anybody's face, it's just the sad reality of those who either defend GES out of some irrational bond, or those who fail, or refuse, to actually understand the facts. Mike (Messerli) in that thread, for example, was quick to blame us for failing to interact with Wilkin directly yet when the simple facts were presented, even though done kindly, he simply disappeared. I hope Mike gained some clarity eventually, I really do, but since he didn't reply... who knows?


    Other guests can read your full comment and my follow up beginning here.


    Lou

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  18. Jan:

    Here is another one from Wilkin that I imagine you'll be concerned with.

    In the course of my (Wilkin’s) message I indicated that [the] object of saving faith was not the cross per se, but the promise of Jesus that the one who simply believes in Him has everlasting life. I said that the cross explains how Jesus can fulfill the promise and who it is that makes the promise, but that a person could believe in the cross and not be born again. We must believe Jesus’ promise to be regenerate.” (JOTGES Autumn 2005)‏

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  19. “In the course of my (Wilkin’s) message I indicated that [the] object of saving faith was not the cross per se, but the promise of Jesus that the one who simply believes in Him has everlasting life. I said that the cross explains how Jesus can fulfill the promise and who it is that makes the promise, but that a person could believe in the cross and not be born again. We must believe Jesus’ promise to be regenerate.” (JOTGES Autumn 2005)

    Oh, there's a lot in there alright.

    I would disagree concerning the object of saving faith on both counts. I would say the object of saving faith is Christ Himself, while the means of procuring salvation was His cross work‏ on God's end and faith on man's end.

    I will give him the benefit of the doubt when he says, "...how Jesus can fulfill the promise...." and assume he means how Jesus is able rather than how Jesus might, as though there were other ways He might choose from.

    But there is just nothing that can be done with "a person could believe in the cross and not be born again" except to condemn it outright.

    Wilkin is a hazard to himself and others. Talk about running with scissors.

    Interestingly, my own testimony refutes his idea that we must believe Jesus' promise of eternal life to be regenerate. I am sure that ground was covered when I heard the gospel but during the 4 years or so that I went without any discipleship or teaching I didn't get grounded in just what had happened when I trusted Christ as far as eternity was concerned. I knew I had a "personal relationship with God", but I didn't get the after death part and didn't even think of it until someone asked me years later when I was 14 or 15. They asked if I knew I would go to heaven when I died or else how I knew God would let me into heaven when I died. Something along those lines. I didn't have an answer. So they explained Jesus' death and it's relationship to my eternity- basically the same gospel I had believed at age 11. I knew I had trusted Jesus at that time and I then understood that I had been guaranteed eternal life since I believed when I was 11. However, it would not really be correct to say I had been believing Jesus for eternal life, per se, since that time since I really had no knowledge or understanding of that to draw on when asked. But the faithful witness of the Holy Spirit assured me that I had indeed gotten eternal life in heaven when I had believed years before and there was no need to to it again.

    (That is probably a badly butchered account and hopefully didn't come across as out in left field.)

    JanH

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  20. Hmm, that's actually pretty thought provoking Jan, I never thought of it from the perspective of someone believing in Jesus while not having the "after death part" in mind. If I may, what exactly did you believe in/about Jesus when you were 10-ish if the after death part wasn't in view to you at time? You've got me thinking down an entirely new direction so I'm really very interested in add'l testimony

    As I understand it though, to be consistent, GES theology would have it that you were in fact not in possession of everlasting life at that time since you weren't specifically believing in Him FOR everlasting life.

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  21. Jan,

    I too disagree with much that is in Wilkin's quote above.

    However, you said,

    But there is just nothing that can be done with "a person could believe in the cross and not be born again" except to condemn it outright.

    Wilkin said that kind of thing when he was at our church too, and both he and Hodges have written it in various articles. I believe Wilkin's point is that many people (e.g. most Roman Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.) do believe in the cross, but also add works as part of their salvation, and thus are not truly born again.

    For that matter, probably most Americans, maybe even most people in the world, believe that Jesus died on a cross. But simply believing that fact is not enough to save a person, and I think that's Wilkin's point.

    From there, of course, I completely diverge from Wilkin as I DO think the cross is part of what is necessary to be believed for salvation, whereas Wilkin has dropped that requirement altogether. Nevertheless, I must agree with his statement that "a person could believe in the cross and not be born again".

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  22. Well, as I remember it, what had happened was I had prayed one day and told God that I wanted Him to be my friend, but not like a "far away friend. More like the kind of friend you hang out with."

    Shortly thereafter a fellow I had never seen before and never saw again showed up in our apartment complex. We were outside playing and he recruited my friend's younger brother into helping him put tracts in mailboxes. We were in charge of the brother so we went to investigate what he had gotten into. The fellow asked if we wanted to know how we could have a personal relationship with God. Being that that had been a specific request of mine just a few days earlier, of course I wanted to know! He shared the Four Spiritual Laws tract with us. The Holy Spirit began speaking to me at law 2- man is sinful and separated from God. I was strongly impressed with the truth and danger of this statement. He went on to share law 3- Jesus died on the cross for our sin. This is how we are reconciled to God and we must accept this sacrifice on our behalf. I have no idea what words he used, but that was the message. I know he shared other things pertinent to the issue, but these were the facts that stood out as the most important. Then law 4 is the invitation to accept Christ crucified for sin and thereby be reconciled to God. Of course I wanted to do that and did it on the spot. He almost certainly went over the heaven aspect of it, but I don't specifically recall that. If I had a 4 laws tract I could look and see but I don't (I don't use that tract because I don't like the way law 1 is worded. It says "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." I think this is misleading and appeals to the flesh. I would prefer it to say "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your eternity," or something to that effect.) I would be very surprised if law 4 did not say that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. That might even be in law 2, where Romans 6:23 is quoted. I just don't remember if it is quoted in its entirety or only the first part there. What probably happened is that it was told to me and got lost during the years because the most important thing to me was to have a relationship with God.

    Remember I was not discipled at all in the next 4 or 5 years. So there was a great deal I did not understand. It had more than likely gotten lost in the shuffle and I just didn't know how to make the connection until I heard it framed that way. Once that was presented, there was no conviction of a need to do something else that what I had already done. While I think the intent of the question may have been evangelical, inasmuch I was fairly new on the scene and the person had not heard a testimony from me, what it actually accomplished was more like teaching me what had been given than evangelism. I knew perfectly well I had trusted Christ at age 11 and have never been impressed with a need to do it again differently or to do something else. Whatever else I accepted at the time besides I was sinful and separated from God and Jesus death on the cross reconciled me to God must have been satisfying to God because that very moment the Holy Spirit came and took up residence in my heart and has been there ever since. I would consider the issue a discipleship gap and not a gospel gap.

    I imagine if the fellow had asked if I wanted to know how I could go to heaven when I died I might have made a stronger, more enduring connection there at the time. The great problem is I just don't recall that part of things. That doesn't mean it was never there, but I don't remember it.

    If the GES would take the position I was not in possession of everlasting life at the time I trusted Christ then they have big problem in explaining my obvious salvation at this time, since I never did have another experience like the first one. They might try to get around it by saying I was saved the second time, when the connection was made. But then they must deal with the fact that my response concerning receiving Christ was "I did that. I know I did and the Holy Spirit is telling me I did. Therefore it must be that I would have gone to heaven since I was 11. How wonderful!", rather than, "I see I didn't trust for the right thing since I was unsure of my eternal state. Therefore I must specifically trust Jesus to give me eternal life right now."

    For the record, I should add that I don't ever leave the heaven part out of the gospel when sharing it and am not advocating that should be done. I am certainly not saying someone can deny eternal life in Christ as a result of the cross and still be saved. I am not even saying it wasn't shared with me at the time. I am just saying I have no specific recall regarding that aspect of things from the time I was saved. I got that end of things later and I do recall that.

    Perhaps the best way to encapsulate it is that I know for a fact I trusted that Christ paid my sin debt at the cross and I am reconciled to God through that work but I know for a fact I understood at a later date that the eternal result of receiving Christ was heaven.

    You might also say whatever the 4 spiritual laws teaches is what I accepted so if it says we have eternal life in Christ I believed that at the time.

    JanH

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  23. I believe Wilkin's point is that many people (e.g. most Roman Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.) do believe in the cross, but also add works as part of their salvation, and thus are not truly born again.

    Rachel,

    Yes. I see your point. If that is what he meant then I would agree too.

    I wouldn't consider that knowing Jesus died on a cross is believing in the cross. I would consider believing in the cross to entail what the cross accomplished regarding our sin. I would say Catholics, etc. who add works to the cross are not really believing in the cross.

    But when put the way you say, it does make sense.

    JanH

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  24. Yes, you are exactly right Rachel. I think it's a bit of a straw man though when that reasoning is use against TFG bcz TFG has never advocated that believing in just the fact of the cross saves, though sometimes folks will summarize the Gospel that way as metonymic of the saving work of Christ which includes his death (on a cross), burial, and resurrection. Nothing wrong with the use of metonyms so long as the hearer's understanding of it is correct.

    Also, while it's true that one could "believe in the cross" and not be saved because they were ALSO relying on their own works in some way, it's also true that one could "believe in Jesus for everlasting life" and not be saved because they were also relying on their works. I see that kind of thing as a bit of a straw man in our context because, used that way, GES simply agrees with us that ANYTHING + works != salvation unto everlasting life. Thus, that is clearly not even a point of contention between TFG and GES.

    To sum up, whether Wilkin means by his statement that belief in the isolated fact of the cross doesn't save, or that belief in the cross + works doesn't save, his statement has no bearing against TFG at least because we hold neither of the views the statement contests. This is fine so long as GES advocates only present this statement as a counter to those with whom these ARE issues, or when dialogging with someone whose views are unknown to bring their views out.

    Perhaps there's another way to take his statement that I'm not considering?

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  25. Thanks for sharing your testimony Jan, I really do appreciate it.

    In light of the details you've provided I would be interested to know what a GES advocate thinks of your testimony and invite them to respond on our forum, a link to which can be found in my profile and on our blog.

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  26. You're welcome Stephen.

    Perhaps there's another way to take his statement that I'm not considering?

    I was sort of wondering whether it might not be yet another attempt to be subtle. If he knows perfectly well how "believe in the cross" is generally used by solid Christians, he is introducing a new way of understanding the phrase- if he means just the bare fact of Jesus death on a cross as a sort of academic level of understanding. But, of course, we do not mean it this way. We mean the fact of His death and what that death accomplished, and that for each of us. And when we say "believe" we mean "trust". So I would say maybe he is introducing yet another redefinition for the sake of subtle persuasion to his crossless view. In effect, what he said, however you hear it, is "belief in the cross does not save." There is a sense in which that is true and another sense in which that is heresy. But since I have not heard him and was not there for the speech Rachel referred to, I cannot say for sure which way he is using it.

    You would know better than I.

    JanH

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  27. Guys,

    I'm afraid I'm going to have to poop out on the discussion for a couple of days. DH came home with a nasty bug last week and now I've got it. I can hardly think straight (although the word "OUCH!" is pretty clear).

    I will try to at least grunt at you or something in the next couple of days, but I won't be good for much of anything before probably Thursday or Friday, if it goes like DH's.

    If you think of it, I would really appreciate prayers that I wouldn't complain during this illness but would praise the Lord and wait with patience for His deliverance.

    Thanks.

    JanH

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  28. Rachel and I wish you good health. Rachel and the boys are comin' down with somethin' too, hopefully it'll steer clear of me but I'm not holding my breath... though maybe I should. :-/

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  29. Stephen:

    To Jan you wrote, "Thanks for sharing your testimony Jan, I really do appreciate it. In light of the details you've provided I would be interested to know what a GES advocate thinks of your testimony and invite them to respond on our forum, a link to which can be found in my profile and on our blog."

    Feel free to drop a link here as well.


    Lou

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  30. Jan:

    I'm just beginning to to get over a "nasty bug." No fun!

    Hang in there.


    Lou

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  31. Thanks Lou, I wasn't sure if you'd allow the link since GES advocates may reply there and I respect your conviction to not normally link to their views.

    Further, I don't know if you want them posting at IDOTG so I created a topic on a new forum asking anyone, but GES advocates specifically, about their view of Jan's testimony - is this saving faith?

    Anyone is welcome to comment -- You, Jan, whoever. Her testimony is, I think, thought provoking and that it merits some side discussion.

    Thanks again, now I'm headed to the hay.

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  32. Stephen:

    Thanks for giving me benefit of the doubt. I don’t mind linking to your new forum because you and Rachel will be not just biblically exposing and refuting the Hodges, Wilkin GES reductionist assault on the content of saving faith, but you will be able to moderate it as well. This way my readers will benefit from your effective refutation of the many egregious errors that have become the hallmark and legacy of the GES.

    In addition, it is evident that the Crossless gospel advocates, and those who want to unify with them at the expense of compromising the Scriptures, have had enough of their views being biblically trounced time and again. Last month we watched Antonio da Rosa calling for and open and honest discussion of the issues. You gave him an open opportunity and venue to do just that and invited him to follow through on his commitment to debate the issues. That is when he went silent, lost his nerve and disappeared (as is his custom) when his Hodges inspired reductionism is going to be laid bare and shown to be a radical departure from the biblical plan of salvation.

    I have been reverting my blog toward becoming a venue for what I originally intended it to be.

    1) A safe haven from the teaching and advocates of Lordship Salvation and the Zane Hodges’s Crossless Gospel. I don’t mind the occasional visit from some of those who hold, to LS or the CG, but I will never let them use my blog to aggressively propagate their errors. I remember one CG advocate assuring me he was uncertain of the Crossless gospel and I allowed him to begin commenting. Well, we found out in short order his original appeal was subterfuge to give him the chance to populate my blog with pro-Crossless teaching. I deleted most of his comments and banned him post-haste.

    There are still many who are susceptible to these aberrations of the Gospel and could fall prey to those views. I do not want my blog and/or ministry to be a conduit for the ruin of even one more unsuspecting believer.

    2) A growing on-line library of resources for those who seek further study and those who want to sharpen their knowledge and refutation of these twin assaults on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Thanks again for the caution here.


    Lou

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  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  34. Sorry, haven't been back in a few days. Been sick and wrapped-up with starting a new Wednesday night series at church too.

    I appreciate your blog Lou, good for you to stay on track with your original mission and vision for it. Your blog has been a hub of useful information for me in regards to both LS and GES. Judging by the hit count I'd say many others are hubbing from here as well.

    As to Antonio responding to the creation of TheoTalk, he actually did create an account on TheoTalk less than a week after it was created which I take to indicate some initial receptivity on his part to at least the concept, if not the specific implementation. He hasn't chosen to actually participate yet but that's his choice. For my part, I've provided an open forum for him and others to meet and dialog about... whatever matters to those who choose to participate. TheoTalk doesn't exist for the purpose of dealing with BW/ZH/GES, though I certainly hope those issues will be discussed at some time. The Theotalk forum, unlike most blogs, doesn't officially represent any particular view. Rachel and I will, as participants like anyone else, unapologetically represent our own views however -- "Theotalk" is neutral, "I" am not. Does that make sense?

    As to "moderation", that depends on what you mean. Since "The Forum" is officially neutral I'm not going to moderate any comments for their level dis/agreement with me or my views, that's one way in which I'm trying to distinguish the forum from our individual blogs. Antonio did say a few weeks ago, just before I created the forum, that "A debate on a moderated forum would be good as well." (emphasis added). In that sense, yes, I'm willing to "moderate" for the purpose of an orderly debate if participants on the forum want that.

    No one is banned, and no comments will be deleted unless they violate the basic rules of the forum. If participants are rude or unethical then the community itself will scorn them and render their participation ineffective.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me plug the forum here. I now return this comment thread to it's originally scheduled blogcast.

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  35. I am back. I have survived the yuck.

    Thanks for the prayers!

    JanH

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