March 1, 2009

Believing the Gospel, “May Indeed Frustrate God’s Grace?”

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Today I want to share with you another and new example of the troubling teachings of the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) as articulated by one of its members.

On February 25, 2009 Antonio da Rosa (photograph at right from da Rosa’s blog) posted an article that reiterates and reinforces GES’s escalating reductionist assault on the Gospel, i.e. the content of saving faith. The article exemplifies the crux of the doctrinal controversy in the Free Grace community.

What you will read from da Rosa reflects the teaching originated by the late Zane Hodges. It is a message that is being propagated solely by Bob Wilkin’s GES. I want you to give the following sample from his article a careful read, a discerning read. IMO, this will remove any lingering doubt that da Rosa, and all those who hold to the GES interpretation of the Gospel, have checked out on Scripture.

The blog where da Rosa posted this is
Unashamed of Grace. It is a group blog made up of a few contributors who openly advocate, sympathize with and/or defend the GES’s reductionist interpretation of the Gospel. Antonio da Rosa’s article is titled, Time Share Industry and Free Grace.  This is his final paragraph,

The legitimate offer of a free gift comes with no other requirement but to simply receive it. This is essentially what free grace is! The conditions placed upon the lost by well-meaning, but erroneous, traditional Free Grace people are unnecessary caveats, provisos, and codicils in the saving transaction. The requirement of these things may indeed frustrate God’s grace, and preclude people from eternal salvation (not to mention assurance!).
To what “conditions” does da Rosa refer to as, “unnecessary caveats, provisos, and codicils in the saving transaction?” It is clear that his position is that to call on the lost man to believe the Gospel, the saving message Paul preached to the unsaved at Corinth, *(1 Cor. 15:1-4) “how that Christ died for our sins...and that He rose again, according to the Scriptures” are, “unnecessary caveats, provisos and codicils…. that may indeed frustrate grace.”

Think of it, da Rosa’s view is that in personal evangelism to call on the lost to believe the truth of Christ’s deity and what He did to provide salvation is to hinder and has the capacity to frustrate God’s saving grace. On his worst day a balanced Bible-believing Christian could not conjure this absurd incongruity apart from intentionally setting out to strip the Gospel of its saving message. Through the reductionist teaching of Zane Hodges, however, the GES has zealously done exactly that to the Gospel.

When Antonio refers to “
traditional Free Grace people,” he is referring to a segment of men in the Free Grace community who would be very familiar to believers across wide cross section of evangelical Christianity. Men such as: Dr. Charles Ryrie, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer and Dr. Robert Lightner and a host of others the likes of which the GES is at odds with over the necessary content of saving faith. For example, Dr. Charles Ryrie wrote,
The issue is, How can my sins be forgiven? . . . Through faith I receive Him and His forgiveness. Then the sin problem is solved, and I can be fully assured of going to heaven. I do not need to believe in Christ’s second coming in order to be saved. . . . But I do need to believe that He died for my sins and rose triumphant over sin and death. I do not need to settle issues that belong to Christian living in order to be saved.” (So Great Salvation, p. 40. bold added)
Dr. Ryrie’s statement on the content of saving faith must be viewed as antithetical to the saving message of the Gospel of grace as GES has redefined it.

What does da Rosa, speaking for the GES, mean by, “
The requirement of these things may...preclude people from eternal salvation...”? That means if the lost man openly rejects the deity of Christ, His death on the Cross and/or Resurrection it must NOT be viewed as a hindrance to or preclude/prevent a lost man from receiving the gift of eternal life. This is why you will read statements by da Rosa, which accurately represent the reductionist teaching of GES, such as:
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.” (Excerpted from da Rosa’s **“REDEFINED” Free Grace blog from an article posted May 2006 titled, Believe Christ’s Promise and You are Saved, No Matter What Misconceptions You Hold. [bold added].)
In his article The Hollow “Gospel” of the GES, Phillip Evans made this important observation:
The fact that Bob Wilkin has not publicly corrected or rebuked da Rosa (who posts links to his personal blog on the GES blog), means by default that da Rosa’s quote above is indeed the official doctrinal position of the Grace Evangelical Society, namely, that one can be saved while maintaining a deliberate denial of the Deity of Christ. Pure unadulterated heresy!”
Why doesn’t Wilkin correct da Rosa’s extremism? (Wilkin and da Rosa pictured at the 2008 GES National Conference) The answer is revealed in stark terms by Wilkin who wrote,
Jesus made it clear that the only condition [for salvation] is being convinced that He guarantees eternal life to all who believe in Him. Add anything to that and you have a different gospel.” (Bob Wilkin, JOTGES Autumn 1998)
The following excerpt is from Pastor Tom Stegall’s expansive biblical review of the GES gospel, which appears at Brother George Zeller’s Middletown Bible Church website.
“In a subsequent book by Wilkin, Secure and Sure, he states no less than 113 times throughout the book in almost mantra-like fashion that a person receives eternal life simply by believing in Jesus for it, or some varied form of the same expression. Yet NEVER ONCE in his entire book, despite 113 occasions to do so, does Wilkin state that by believing in Jesus for eternal life he means someone must believe that Jesus is God-incarnate who died for his sins and rose again.” (Tom Stegall, The Tragedy of the “Crossless” Gospel, Part 1. Tom Stegall is Pastor of Word of Grace Bible Church in Milwaukee, WI, and a former GES member.)
As you study and compare the new article by Antonio da Rosa to numerous related quotes by him and GES you quickly understand why da Rosa once stated, then recently reiterated an attempt to justify his infamous statement on the Person of Jesus Christ, which is:


The view of GES is that the lost man does not have to know who Jesus is, in the sense of His deity. Nor does he have to be aware of or believe what Jesus did to provide salvation, but still can be born again. Therefore, da Rosa’s infamous
Mormon & Evangelical Jesus statement proves that, for the Crossless Gospel advocates, it does not matter if the lost man believes a promise of eternal life even if he believes it is being made by Mormonism’s Jesus, a.k.a. the half-brother of Satan. That would be viewed by da Rosa as one of his acceptable “misconceptions.”

At the pro-GES blogs there are individuals stating (in the threads) that if someone believed in the finished work of Christ and His resurrection, but did not believe in the promise of eternal life, they never received the gift of eternal life, were never born again. Can there be any remaining doubt that the reductionist soteriology of Bob Wilkin and the GES is the most egregious assault on the content of saving faith ever introduced to the New Testament church by one of its own?

I want to close this commentary with a special note and admonition to all who read the mounting documented proof of the reductionist soteriology coming from the Grace Evangelical Society’s membership.

As you become familiar with the
Crossless gospel please understand that the GES faction of the Free Grace movement has become an isolated and shrinking cell of theological extremists. This I trust is becoming increasingly obvious as you read various GES published works that are being exposed for your consideration. The GES does not speak for or represent the broad base of individuals who would identify with the Free Grace movement.

To those of you who have any level of God-given influence as pastors, teachers, or through a Christian service ministry, you would do well to caution and warn those whom the Lord has placed in your sphere of influence. You can protect your people from the GES reductionist assault on the Gospel, i.e. the content of saving faith, by equipping them to recognize what it is at first sight. It would be a genuine tragedy of the
Crossless gospel if even one of your acquaintances were to be caught up in these obvious and extreme errors.
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears,” (Acts 20:28-31).
Do all that you can, in the power of the Spirit, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and biblically resist the reductionist Crossless gospel of the Grace Evangelical Society.

Yours in the Defense of the Gospel,


LM


UPDATE: On Wednesday (3/11/09) da Rosa followed his having buried the comment thread were he claimed he had been “misquoted” and “misrepresented” by deleting the article in its entirety. His charges that he had been “misrepresented” were, of course, indefensible as it was irrefutably demonstrated to him. In any event, the deleted thread was archived prior to Antonio’s burying it. A new article is on the way that carries through and concludes the discussion that Antonio decided he could no longer continue and must bury. The new article will be introduced this evening.

I would like to direct your attention to Kev’s blog: On My Walk. There you may read his compelling documentary on, The Grace of a Man- Discussion Disabled.

*Phillip Evan’s noted, “In another article of Wilkin’s, he (Wilkin) argues that 1 Cor. 15:1-4 is ‘Paul’s gospel,’ or good news for how those who are already saved can grow in sanctification, and is therefore not the saving message that the lost must believe in order to become saved. Wilkin’s argument is a non sequitur.” (bold added)


39 comments:

  1. Hi Lou,

    As I think about this new flavor of communication coming out of the GES - that it is the "believing for Eternal Life" part of their take on the saving message that is the important part I'm reminded of the circumstances under which the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    You mentioned that he had preached this to the unsaved at Corinth. This is technically true, as he preached it to them the first time he was there and they were surely unsaved before they had heard the Gospel. However, the instance of his writing it in the letter to this Assembly was to remind those who had previously received it and had been saved by it of what it actually said.

    They had believed what he told them in the first place, and now he spends that whole chapter telling them that it actually was the truth. For if it were not true then they would have believed in vain and he(and all the other Apostles) would have preached it in vain.

    But the interesting point is that these people were at a point of having previously believed the full Gospel, but were now not sure about Eternal Life.

    Paul still calls them Saved. We are saved by Grace through Faith - or the reception of the Gospel.

    These people had received the whole message and Paul was able to be sure of their salvation, even if later they had been taught error. Which is the focus point for much of my own preaching.

    But what is interesting to me with regard to the current conversation is that Paul doesn't lift the result of Eternal Life above the Gospel. In fact, it is portrayed as it truly is - merely a result of reception of the message of Christ's work, not the focal point of the Gospel. Who Christ is by what He has done is the focal point.

    Just some thoughts,
    Kev

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  2. For the entirety of my involvement in this particular debate I have found Dr Ryrie to be a great encouragement to me, though it seems he is not very outspoken on the matter... if anyone knows why I'd be interested... or perhaps he has been more outspoken than I realize? Regardless, it's plain enough from what he's already written that his view of what the Bible teaches is the content of saving faith is not at all compatible with GES' view.

    I'm all for open discussion, disagreement, and debate -- among people who speak their view plainly and honestly (that's why I created the forum) -- but I don't get those who think we should regard GES' view as a legitimate nuance within FG -- our views on the cosf are mutually exclusive and I see no intellectually honest way around that conclusion.

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  3. Kev:

    I appreciate your input.

    It was my intention to reference Paul’s letter (1 Cor. 15) to the Corinthians as it appears. This was to show what the message was, which Paul was reminding them (now saved Corinthians) of that they received of him and believed unto eternal life.

    It is that Holy Spirit inspired truth of 1 Cor. 15:1-4 they believed that the GES faction of the FG community, contrary to the body of revealed truth, rejects as the saving message.

    In his previous article I appreciated how Phil reminded us of Wilkin’s reductionism when he posted the following from Wilkin, which appears in the Nov/Dec Grace in Focus:

    There is a difference Biblically between what we must believe to be born again and what the Savior had to be and do in order for us to be born again. The Bible distinguishes between these two. However, some who profess to believe in Free Grace deny this, saying that any essential truth about who Jesus is and what He did must be believed to be born again. These people 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.” (bold emphasis mine)

    This exemplifies the incongruity of the GES Crossless gospel.

    With that I want to remind our guests of pastor Dennis Rokser’s series titled, The Issue of Incongruity: Actual or Artificial?

    You wrote, “ Who Christ is by what He has done is the focal point.”

    Amen! Tragically it is that biblical content of saving faith that the GES, through the leading of Zane Hodges, have not only abandoned, but have assaulted through numerous egregious forms of reductionism.

    Thanks for the helpful comment.


    Lou

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  4. Stephen:

    Thanks for stopping by. I posted Dr. Ryrie’s excerpt from his classic So Great Salvation because it is based on the solid foundation of biblical truth. It, furthermore, speaks loudly and clearly that the GES has drifted far from truth.

    You also wrote, “…I don’t get those who think we should regard GES’ view as a legitimate nuance within FG…” That is the voice of ecumenical compromise at the expense of fidelity to the Scriptures.

    I joined your new forum a few weeks ago. I recall Antonio da Rosa calling for an open and honest debate of the issues. It was predictable that as soon as you proved the opportunity for Antonio, he lost his taste for that discussion.

    Not very different from when Bob Wilkin lost his nerve for the open and public debate he was clamoring for in 2007 when Ron Sea accepted the challenge.

    Antonio would not even answer Kev’s question from just a few short weeks ago. Kev’s question, which da Rosa dodged,was:

    “MUST a person believe that they are a sinner, that Jesus is God, that He was here in the flesh and died on the Cross for our very own personal sins, that He was buried, that He rose to life again and was seen in the flesh by a multitude of people in order to be saved?

    Can anything in this ‘list’ be unknown, unbelieved, or rejected at the moment of conversion and the person ACTUALLY be Eternally Saved at that moment?”


    Antonio will not answer that question with a clear, unvarnished, “Yes” or “No,” because the truth is that he has to answer, “Yes.” And if he were to answer honestly and transparently his reductionist heresy is once again confirmed and verified by him as it has been in other discussions.

    Thanks for the comments,


    Lou

    PS: You use the acronym cosf refers to the content of saving faith. I share that because my blog is averaging 200+/- hits daily. Many are first timers.

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  5. Good late-morning!

    When we first got involved, Jeremy Myers was still w/GES and participated briefly at our old Pursuit of Truth blog. Antonio showed up there as well but at the time we needed statements from someone who could represent GES officially. No offense to Antonio, but our church leadership wouldn't have cared what "Antonio" thought when the issue at hand that we were attempting to nail down and evaluate was the official view of BW and GES on the modern cosf. I was encouraged when Jeremy first showed up but was discouraged shortly after when it became apparent that he was going to play word games and not answer our questions before redefining them. It was at that time that Antonio asked me a yes/no question that I answered honestly and which he then ran away with and posted "half of" on one of his own blogs without so much as the courtesy of letting me know he was doing so. Considering that we had no bad history at that point it really puzzled me why he would do such a thing. Understand, I have long since forgiven Antonio for that specific action so I don't bring this up to beat him up with it, but the fact remains that AdR's hit-and-run, Jeremy's hesitancy to answer plainly, and our exposure of BW as needing to first redefine our church's Statement of Faith before he could claim he agreed with it, convinced us pretty early on that the "other side" didn't really want to talk about the matter openly -- those we interacted with kept trying to redefine the debate on their own terms and demonize those who held the more traditional (and I believe biblical) view of the cosf, complaining of misrepresenations while at the same time badly representing our objections to their view. How many times, for example, have we reiterated that our disagreement is NOT about what they preach or personally believe, yet I continue to read defenses/statements along the lines of "but we preach/believe forgiveness of sins and the deity, death, and res too!" Right, I'm not aware that any of "our" statements could be claimed to state otherwise, save possibly in out-of-context snippets. Though, I have to admit, Clearing the Haze of Always makes it evident that those who follow their view in practice to it's logical conclusion would have to agree that such info need not even always be presented to the lost, much less consented to, however rare they think such a scenario may actually be.

    I, like you, believe GES' views of the cosf have been soundly refuted at virtually every engagement yet I welcome continued discussion as my intent is to divide the Word of God correctly, not to win arguments.

    That said, while I am convinced that AdR and GES are demonstrably wrong in regards to their view of the biblical cosf, I would like to clarify that, so far as I know, AdR didn't so much "call for debate" as state that "A debate on a moderated forum would be good as well" in response to me suggesting a forum to him in the first place. He didn't say where or when. I maintain hope that AdR and friends will come to the forum where I have legitimate questions to ask, and in an environment where no one is prohibited from the discussion. I'm not sure who's banned from where so far as the blogs go, but I know for certain that no one is banned from the forum; It hasn't been very active yet, though I appreciate those who have created accounts there and posted already, but I maintain hope that it, or something like it, can yet be the environment for the open yet frank discussion of the matters that Rachel and I, and others, have desired from the beginning.

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  6. Here is a quote from AdR's March 2nd post on Unashamed of Grace:

    The title of your post is:

    Believing the Gospel, "May Indeed Frustrate God's Grace"

    Such is blatantly a misrepresentation of my statement. In all fairness, this my statement in context: I believe that to REQUIRE one to adhere to the subjective list of orthodox doctrines as a pre-qualification to believing in Jesus for the gift of eternal life may frustrate God's grace.


    Evidently, AdR and the GES have adopted a different view of what the gospel is than the one we hold. It would seem they see the gospel as "believing in Jesus for the gift of eternal life" rather than believing that Jesus died for you. It is from this perspective that AdR is able to make all the strange assertions he makes. Where we put the emphasis on the finished work of Christ on the cross to satisfy God's requirement for our sin, this has nothing to do with anything in the da Rosa/GES gospel. Worse, the cross is discouraged and condemned as an unsaving message!

    Truly astounding!!

    JanH

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  7. Bob Wilkin and Antonio da Rosa refuse to publicly give a direct yes or no answer to a simple question like:

    "Can a lost person be saved while maintaining a denial of the Deity of Christ, His death on the cross for our sins, and His bodily resurrection?"

    The logical follow-through of their teachings clearly show that they believe that a lost person could be saved while maintaining a denial of those truths. But they are afraid to directly state such.

    The reason for their cowardice is that they are self-condemned heretics, and are thus to be rebuked and shunned.

    When the light of Scripture is shone on their doctrine, it shows everyone who loves the truth that Wilkin's and da Rosa's doctrine is undiluted heresy.

    They hate it when the light of the truth reveals their heresy, and so they are left with the impotent cry of "misrepresentation". This is the typical tactic of other cultists as well.

    Those of us on the side of the Gospel have made no misrepresentations of their teachings. It is a fact that they do not see the requirement to believe in the Deity of Christ, His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins, and physical resurrection as the Gospel message.

    To believe in Christ for the reception of eternal life cannot be divorced from accepting Christ for who He claims to be and what He has done for us.

    To attempt to do so would be to make a mockery of Christ's precious shed blood for us. It would be to get in God's face and tell Him that we will accept eternal life on OUR terms and not His. For a lost person to have such an attitude would be for that person to remain lost.

    It is obvious that anyone wishing to come to Christ would be desiring to know and believe the truth. The Holy Spirit who tugs at the humble sinner's heart will certainly confirm to that person that the saving message is true.

    It is impossible for a person to reject the truth and be saved while maintaining that rejection.

    Wilkin's and da Rosa's doctrine is like a physician telling a dying patient, "I have the medicine here that will cure your disease. All you need to do is believe that it will cure you, but you don't have to actually drink it." The patient then "believes" in the cure, but doesn't take the medicine and then dies.

    Wilkin's and da Rosa's "gospel" is the "cure" that will spiritually leave the lost eternally condemned.

    But their teachings, if embraced, also harm those who saved. For it will rob the saints of their reward in the Kingdom of God. For us to mishandle the Gospel will not be taken lightly by Christ at the Bema when our works will be judged to determine our place of honor or lack thereof in His Kingdom.

    PE

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  8. Stephen:

    Thanks for the extended comment, I appreciate it. I also appreciate your clarification of how Antonio said , “A debate on a moderated forum would be good as well.”

    Before I forget I’m inviting you to post links with titles to some of the discussion topics open for discussion at your Theotalk forum. Maybe this will encourage Antonio to join you and Rachel there. I see he did register.

    More to follow…


    Lou

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  9. Stephen:

    Cyber-space is littered with numerous examples of Myers, GES and Antonio’s disingenuous tactics and political gamesmanship, such as you detailed. Examples of da Rosa’s poor behavior continue today. I leave comment moderation on 24/7 because he refuses to respect the ban I had to put on him here for poor behavior choices.

    To put his actions in the framework of his (Hodges inspired) reductionist assaults on the Gospel- I want to ask you about an incident that I don’t think you mentioned above.

    In addition to the examples you provided I recall once at his blog a man asked about the saving message. I recall you posted your view of how a lost man can be born again. Antonio deleted your reply to that man; isn’t that right? What was it that you posted that was offensive to him and needed to be deleted?

    I can’t recall the exact specifics. Would you share that here?

    IMO, it will further prove that the GES message is salvation apart from knowing, understanding or believing in the whom the LORD Jesus Christ is and what He did to provide salvation.

    Thanks,


    Lou

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  10. Jan:

    It is delusional at best for Antonio or any advocates of the Crossless gospel to claim “misrepresentation.” Stephen addressed this nicely in his comment above. His and GES views are found in numerous publications print and electronic. Rachel has documented scores of these examples

    When he writes, “ to adhere to the subjective list of orthodox doctrines,” it is just another example of GES misdirects away from the true crux of the controversy. In that remark he not only creates an absurd straw man he perpetuates a known and bold-faced lie about our belief in regard to the content of saving faith (cosf).

    Crossless gospel advocates do this to misdirect away from the crux of the doctrinal controversy, which is their reductionist assault on the necessary cosf. When we focus like a laser on their reductionist view of the cosf, that is, in one man’s words, “the soft underbelly of the ‘Crossless’ gospel” It is that discussion they want to avoid and doge at any expense.

    As you noted, the GES rejects that the lost must believe that Jesus (who is deity) died for their sins and rose from the dead. Hodges and GES say those things are “excess baggage” in an evangelistic encounter. Phillip Evans did a fine job on this in his first article at my blog. See The Hollow “Gospel” of the GES.

    You wrote, “Worse, the cross is discouraged and condemned as an unsaving message!”

    And hence my reason for and the obvious reason why the GES views the Gospel as though it, "May Indeed Frustrate God’s Grace.”

    More tonight to all, Phil I’ll get to your as well.


    Lou

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  11. Wilkin's and da Rosa's doctrine is like a physician telling a dying patient, "I have the medicine here that will cure your disease. All you need to do is believe that it will cure you, but you don't have to actually drink it." The patient then "believes" in the cure, but doesn't take the medicine and then dies.

    Phil-

    I made that same point in my bread article when I said:

    "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."

    The CG error really is that transparent.

    I don't think they believe what they do because they reasoned their way there. It is a matter of the will. What I don't get is how they are supposedly lovers of the Lord and God's grace but cannot seem to appreciate His cross work by which they have been bought. It's not like they are ignorant of the doctrine of the cross.

    I think I have said something of this sort before but I can't help saying it again: the whole thing is just preposterous. Not to mention tragic.

    JanH

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  12. Stephen,

    Your post was most excellent. Thank you for it. Mostly because it was very balanced and graceful.

    I am probably the exception in the group in that I do not agree that those who adhere to a Crossless Gospel preach the same thing we do. Preaching is different than opening your mouth and saying the words. There is conviction in preaching, where there is only noise in speaking.

    That aside, I do appreciate the history of your interaction with these men. I was aware of most of it but not all.

    Jan,

    As always it seems, your post is informed and clear. Thanks, it's just plain encouraging to see that other people see things the same as you do.

    Kev

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  13. Phillip, you wrote

    Wilkin's and da Rosa's "gospel" is the "cure" that will spiritually leave the lost eternally condemned.

    But their teachings, if embraced, also harm those who saved. For it will rob the saints of their reward in the Kingdom of God. For us to mishandle the Gospel will not be taken lightly by Christ at the Bema when our works will be judged to determine our place of honor or lack thereof in His Kingdom.


    Agreed. I'd love to Amen your post.. but I can't bring myself to say "Amen" under such terrible thoughts.

    Kev

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  14. Hello Phil:

    You wrote, “...their teachings clearly show that they believe that a lost person could be saved while maintaining a denial of those truths. But they are afraid to directly state such.”

    The GES has evaded this issue for years. As you noted the light of Scriptural truth reveals the gravity of their reductionist assault on the Gospel that was originated by Zane Hodges.

    Shrill cries of, “misrepresentation” is all they have left as well as the misdirects as they vainly attempt to steer attention from their egregious errors.

    You wrote, “ To believe in Christ for the reception of eternal life cannot be divorced from accepting Christ for who He claims to be and what He has done for us.” That is very well said.

    Actually all of your comment above is a compelling case for rejection of (Titus 3:9-11) and prayer for those in the GES to be recovered from the trap of the Crossless gospel.

    I’ll close this comment by repeating your illustration from above.

    Wilkin’s and da Rosa’s doctrine is like a physician telling a dying patient, “I have the medicine here that will cure your disease. All you need to do is believe that it will cure you, but you don’t have to actually drink it.” The patient then “believes” in the cure, but doesn’t take the medicine and then dies. Wilkin’s and da Rosa’s “gospel” is the “cure” that will spiritually leave the lost eternally condemned.


    LM

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  15. Stephen/Phil/Kev/Jan:

    I can boil down why da Rosa and the GES continues with the shrill mantra-like cry of, “misrepresentation.” The GES reductionist gospel advocates simply will NOT take ownership of what they believe.

    There is a biblically defined content of saving faith (cosf) and it is embodied in the Gospel. Part of the GES assault on the cosf includes separating the cosf from the Gospel.

    Balanced Bible believing Christians understand the Gospel call is for the lost men to be aware of and believe that the LORD Jesus Christ died for their sins and rose again from the dead, according to the Scriptures. It is this saving message that da Rosa, Wilkin and GES reject.

    For Antonio da Rosa, and what remains of the GES, calling on the lost to believe the saving message of the Gospel, may indeed frustrate God’s (saving) grace.

    Phillip Evans noted above, “The logical follow-through of their (GES) teachings clearly show that they believe that a lost person could be saved while maintaining a denial of those truths. But they are afraid to directly state such... .

    When the light of Scripture is shone on their doctrine, it shows everyone who loves the truth that Wilkin’s and da Rosa’s doctrine is undiluted heresy.

    They hate it when the light of the truth reveals their heresy, and so they are left with the impotent cry of ‘misrepresentation’
    .”

    To the remaining advocates of Hodges’s reductionist interpretation of the cosf: Take ownership of what you believe and teach!


    LM

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  16. Jan:

    Above you wrote, “The CG error really is that transparent.

    I don't think they believe what they do because they reasoned their way there. It is a matter of the will. What I don’t get is how they are supposedly lovers of the Lord and God’s grace but cannot seem to appreciate His cross work by which they have been bought. It’s not like they are ignorant of the doctrine of the cross
    .”

    It is my opinion, and my opinion by observation, that GES gospel advocates arrived at their position out of loyalty to Zane Hodges.

    The GES has consistently “REDEFINED” the saving message of the Gospel through reductionism by forcing into or extracting from the Scriptures whatever they must to force the Bible into conformity to the reductionist heresy of Hodges.

    No passage is spared their assaults if it is NOT supportive of the new reductionism of Hodges.

    The Crossless gospel of ZH is the most egregious form of reductionist heresy ever introduced to the NT church by one of its own.

    The shrinking cell of Hodges followers, isolated in the GES, have run roughshod over the Bible to prop up the teaching of their departed hero.


    Lou

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  17. Let’s look at the doctrine of Christ’s deity in light of the GES teachings.

    And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And He said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, ‘O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?’ And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Of a truth thou art the Son of God’.” (Matt. 14:28-33).

    From the Lord’s demonstration of His mastery over the elements the disciples recognized His deity. They worshipped Him as deity and the Lord received their worship as God.

    In spite of this and many more examples of His deity and being addressed as deity by the title, “Son of God” the GES insists the Lord’s title “Son of God” does not mean or infer His deity.

    This is a classic example of how GES reductionism assaults even the Person of the LORD Jesus Christ by stripping His title(s) of their obvious meaning. They embark on this mission to float the reductionist assaults on the content of saving faith that were originated by Zane Hodges and perpetuated by no other Christian ministry, that I am aware of, other than the GES.

    For a stunning revelation of this teaching originated by Zane Hodges and articulated by GES please read,

    The “Christ” Under Siege

    The “Christ” Under Siege: The New Assault by the GES.


    LM

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  18. Hello Jan, I don't recall reading your bread article, so it's interesting we both gave similar physician illustrations. I think you said it better though. :-)

    Phil

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  19. Phil,

    The bread article is here on Lou's blog February 3rd and February 9th. It's called "If Anyone Eats of this Bread..."

    Funny. I was thinking you said it better because you were more thorough. :)

    JanH

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  20. To All:

    I would like to direct your attention to Kev’s blog: On My Walk. There you may read his compelling documentary on, The Grace of a Man- Discussion Disabled.


    LM

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  21. Hi Lou, sorry I didn't get back sooner... I've been occupied turning 40 this weekend. :-)

    You asked above about an instance on AdR's blog and sharing the gospel. The man had posted a comment on an old article that I caught because of using an RSS reader to keep track of comments on the various blogs I frequented at the time. He was clearly hurting and uncertain of his salvation so I posted the following, or something very much like it. (Rachel's probably got the original on file)

    God wants everyone to know how to be saved. That's why He wrote it down in His book, The Bible.

    Simply put, God's "plan for salvation" is belief in Jesus Christ1. What this involves:

    * Recognition we are sinners
    * Realizing our sins set us apart from God
    * Believing Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sins
    * Trusting by faith in His finished work to save us


    I quoted it from here...

    http://kljc.calvary.edu/listeners/knowgod

    ... the web page of a local Christian radio station and where Rachel and I both went to college:

    You said: "The GES reductionist gospel advocates simply will NOT take ownership of what they believe."

    Yes, that's basically one my primary frustrations. I don't ask yes/no questions to bait anyone, but simply to get them to own their position and be clear about it. Matt 5:37 says to let your Yes be yes and your no be no. While the immediate context is oaths, I believe a more general principle that can be derived from Matt 5:37 is one of clear speech, to say what you mean and to say it clearly -- "ownership" and "integrity" in our communication.

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  22. Hey Lou, thanks for linking. I just noticed.

    Kev

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  23. Stephen:

    Thanks for getting back to me. The next time you turn 40, well 50, let me know. I typically wear a black arm-band for just such an occasion.

    I remember that your comment at the pro-Crossless gospel blog to the man who was seeking help and/or clarification about salvation. You wrote,

    God wants everyone to know how to be saved. That’s why He wrote it down in His book, The Bible.

 Simply put, God’s ‘plan for salvation’ is belief in Jesus Christ. 1. What this involves:


    * Recognition we are sinners

    * Realizing our sins set us apart from God

    * Believing Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sins

    * Trusting by faith in His finished work to save us.


    It was THAT message that da Rosa was compelled to delete. Why? To, in his mind driven by reductionism, protect that man from the very truths that he (da Rosa) insists, when the Evangelist proclaims and calls on the lost to believe, frustrates grace. And those things are: the necessity of belief in the cross and resurrection of Christ for the reception of eternal life.

    For da Rosa to cry “misrepresentation” is a façade and thoroughly disingenuous. He refuses to accept and take ownership of what he clearly believes. Frankly, it is repulsive that the followers of Hodges’s soteriology cannot even be honest or transparent enough to stop the evasion of what they believe, which has been thoroughly documented.

    As I have said before- this Hodges inspired assault on the content of saving faith, which the GES propagates is the most extreme form of reductionist heresy ever introduced to the New Testament church by one of its own.


    Lou

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  24. ...his Hodges inspired assault on the content of saving faith, which the GES propagates is the most extreme form of reductionist heresy ever introduced to the New Testament church by one of its own.

    Apparently it has been introduced beyond the New Testament church, judging by the removal of Stephen's comment to that lost person.

    Yet another way for the lost to remain lost.

    Did AdR ever give any answer at all to that seeker?

    JanH

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  25. Hi Jan:

    Thanks for the note above.

    I'm not sure, but don't think Antonio ever let that comment reach the seeker. It would in Antonio;'s mind "frustrate grace."

    Not sure if he gave any kind of answer to that man. Stephen?


    Lou

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  26. Hello Lou/Jan. Perhaps more transpired behind the scenes but this is what happened in that thread publicly.

    After deleting my comment, Antonio replied:
    You say you are really serious about getting saved. If you are, send me an email so that I can personally email you.
    [e-mail address removed]
    If you want certain assurance of everlasting life, knowing that you can never perish, email me.


    to which "Jeremiah" replied:
    I sent you an e-mail. I really
    appreciate your interest! I could use a little help.


    Then Rachel posted a comment challenging Antonio on why he deleted my comment if, as he was advocating around that time, that our differences are essentially a moot point since we all preach the same thing. Of course, Antonio deleted Rachel's comment as well.

    Finally, "Jeremiah" replied one more time:
    I have written you another e-mail but
    after writing it something became abundantly clear. I will send you another e-mail to let you know what it is. I would like to thank you for even being willing to help me. Jesus asked God the Father to forgive those who were brutally killing Him. He is most assuredly the only One who would take someone like me! Thank You Jesus! May God bless you for helping me, I will finally get some sleep!


    That's all I know of it. Apparently they had at least some limited e-mail exchange, and I'm thankful the man indicated he was helped.

    I'm the first to admit that Antonio is free to do whatever he wants on his own blog, so I'm not upset in the least that he deleted my comment and I do not hold it against him. In fact, I'm even thankful in a way because the incident crystallized that he believes our differences are not moot at all, that they affect our actual presentation enough that he sees them as more than mere nuance. In my understanding of the matters I'd say that Antonio's action indicates that, to borrow from Lou's title, "Preaching the Gospel, “May Indeed Frustrate God’s Grace”" Of course, I'm assuming the TFG understanding of the Gospel in that statement.

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  27. Well, I guess we'll never know then what Antonio told that fellow.

    Thanks for the full account, Stephen.

    He does seem to delete with impunity.

    JanH

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  28. On Wednesday (3/11/09) da Rosa followed his having buried the comment thread were he claimed that in this article he had been “misquoted” and “misrepresented” by deleting the article in its entirety. His charges that he had been “misrepresented” were, of course, indefensible as it was irrefutably demonstrated to him. In any event, the deleted thread was archived prior to Antonio’s burying it.

    A new article is on the way that carries through and concludes the discussion that Antonio decided he could no longer continue and must bury. The new article will be introduced this evening.

    Yours in His service,


    LM

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  29. Hmm. More deleteing, eh?

    Hey! You know what? If he keeps deleting at this rate, it could become a good thing!

    Must try and look at the bright side.

    JanH

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  30. Jan:

    The on-going deletions do have residual value.


    Lou

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  31. Thanks for this series on "crossless gospel". The teachings of GES seem to imply that one could be Arian or Nestorian and still be considered Christian. In one sense, exposing such doctrinal errors is like shooting fish in a barrel, since the theological errors are easy to see, even for a newbie (to theology, not to Christ) like me. But in another sense, that is what makes examples like this useful. They help demonstrate important things about detecting and responding to error without getting me bogged down in details that are confusing.

    So far, I have learned that glancing at an organization's blog and reading a few blog posts isn't necessarily enough to know whether they have sound doctrine. The GES blog comes across as fairly orthodox (and even fundamentalist), until you find alarming things like the passages you quoted above. I am finding myself starting by reading each organization's "what we believe" statement (not that GES even has one), and trying to parse what it there, and just as importantly, what is missing. This makes me slightly uncomfortable, but seems prudent.

    I was initially taken aback by your use of "reductionism", since I tend to equate "reductionism" with people like Dennett or Dawkins. But I think I get what you are saying -- that people want to grab onto a couple of isolated verses and then mechanically construct an entire belief system from that.

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  32. Joshua:

    You, just like many before, are at first taken aback at my use of terms like “reductionism” when I address what is coming from GES. When they begin to investigate a little further they find what you did and there is more.

    When you get into as deep as I have you find that Hodges, Wilkin and GES have openly assaulted the Person and work of Christ to float their Crossless/Deityless interpretation of the content of saving faith.

    Read this article below which shows how Bob Wilkin revised the GES’s original affirmation of belief to accommodate Hodges’s reductionism.

    See-
    GES Reductionist Affirmation of Belief

    You are also right that GES at first appears orthodox, but is a radical departure from the one true gospel of Jesus Christ. IMO the Crossless gospel is the more egregious form of the so-called “Easy-Believism” ever introduced to the NT church by one of its own.

    You mention that you start by reading an organization's doctrinal statement and find what is missing. The GES is missing virtually every element from the saving message that is necessary for the lost to be aware of and believe to be born again.

    Thanks for looking in on this one, warn the unsuspecting.

    Yours in Him,


    Lou

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  33. Wow, that thread is very depressing. Reminds of how I felt after reading Andrew Sung Park's "Wounded Heart of God": shocked that such anti-Christ teaching could thrive and attract followers while masquerading as Christianity.

    It seems that these things are like the heads of the hydra. Every time you chop one off, two more grow back. It seems that the truth is unitary, but lies are infinite. These deceivers assume that they haven't been proven wrong, so long as they can continue to fabricate new arguments.

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  34. Joshua:

    It is beyond counting how many times and ways in which the GES heresy has been devastated from the Scriptures, but they just keep chanting the same mantras and/or redefine, redefine and redefine.

    On thing I can assure you of is that GES is not attracting very many new followers if any at all. In fact GES has lost a great many that used to cooperate with them.

    Most venues that once hosted Bob Wilkin for his GES conferences have withdrawn from him over Hodges's reductionist assault on the content of saving faith.


    LM

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  35. Sorry to bump an old thread but this is very interesting to me. I don't remember when or how I came across Wilkin's free flyer but I've been getting it for a few years now. I normally don't get much substance out of them (the LS articles tended to be pretty good), truth be told, so I normally toss them after one reading.

    The article about the theological hydra became lost under the bed and I found it again a few weeks ago. I reread that article and one thing stuck out to me (apart from the somewhat brash tone): most if not all of the "true" Gospel passages it quoted come right out of the Gospels accounts. You know, before Christ even died, or even SAID that He would die, when by His own Word the salvation of Jews would be the first and foremost priority of the disciples, and well before Paul had received the revelation of the mystery, which he was then allowed to refer to as "my gospel." No wonder they're missing the boat.

    This also ignores the issue of what precisely "believing in Jesus" would have entailed a believer to do at that period in history. Water baptism was definitely a requirement (tho some will disagree)...does GES insist one is baptized after "believing in Jesus," else they're not saved? They were ALL baptized, those were

    I'd assumed GES was somewhat dispensational but after reading that egregious blunder, I now m doubt it severely and will do them the favor of taking me off their mailing list.

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  36. "those who were able," meant to say.

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  37. Frank:

    Hello and thanks for dropping in a note. The “free flyer” you refer to is I am guessing Grace in Focus. If that is the case there have been several very disturbing articles that perpetuate the reductionism that Hodges originated, which lead to the extremes that I discussed in this article.

    The Hydra Head article is the final, tragic legacy of Zane Hodges. There are several articles at my blog on the Hydra Head article by Hodges. Go to this link to review them. Later I am going to repost with new additions to the one series by Greg Schliesmann.

    As for what I believe is your referencing the necessity of water baptism for salvation you will find Bible based opposition to that from me. Actually it is not a subject that I wish to introduce and/or debate at this blog because for me it is settled and this blog is particularly dedicated to dealing with the errors of Lordship Salvation and the GES Crossless gospel. I trust you understand. If, however, you suggest believer’s baptism is a necessary first step of discipleship, I am with you.

    I can't speak for GES, but I feel they would not agree that water baptism is necessary for salvation. Just look at their system. They believe the lost can be saved apart from knowing, understanding and believing in whom Jesus is (deity) and what He did to provide salvation. This is the most egregious form of reductionist heresy ever introduced to the NT church by one of its own.

    Finally, there are scores who have asked Bob Wilkin (GES) like you to remove their names from the GES membership and/or mailing list. The GES is a shrinking cell of theological extremists that can’t be taken seriously in any discussion of the Gospel.

    Kind regards,


    LM

    PS: I threw a few links in above to guide you to articles that may be of interest to you. If you find this blog valuable on the Lordship Salvation and GES issues share a link back here with your friends.

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  38. Lou, I will check out your links. Just to be clear, I've no desire to debate anything here, either. Nor do I believe in the necessity of water baptism for salvation today - I oppose all who teach thus as preachers of false works gospels.

    However, I do believe a water rite clearly was required *at that time* they're focusing on for their salvation preaching...water baptism being clearly traceable back to the O.T. as a purely Israelitish ritual commanded by God, with John the baptizer picking up the thread at the long-awaited coming of their Messiah.

    My point is not to infer that Wilkin, et al, believe water baptism is necessary for salvation; I know they do not believe such. Rather, the matter is one of inconsistency.

    I'm baffled how so learned and otherwise sound thinkers like Hodges, Wilkin, et al, can "go to John" so much while, at the same time, ignoring the unique Jewish Kingdom nature of salvation during that specific period (according mostly to the other three gospels, such as Mark).

    Their approach sounds easy enough - just 'believe in Jesus' for eternal life and don't worry about WHAT SPECIFICALLY is to be believed - but it necessitates ignoring and despising much of Paul's instruction on salvation "according to the revelation of the mystery." Once I saw this breakdown in their thinking - and it took some time, capping with the flood of their crossless gospel articles - I decided I cannot support them with my attention, whatever few edifying bits might be left elsewhere in their flyer.

    And yes, the flyer I referred to is GiF. Forgot the name for a minute.

    Grace to you,

    F

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  39. Hi Frank:

    Thanks for getting back to me. I appreciate what you shared here again and the clarification for the previous. I have only a minute this morning, more later.

    The following link will take you to the Grace Family Journal where you will really enjoy reading the series by Ps. Tom Stegall titled, The Tragedy of the “Crossless” Gospel. That series is the forerunner to his new book on the subject.

    The link takes you to the 2007 page. You will have to go to the 2008 page for the rest. You will be able to download each of the parts from his series. It will be a PDF.

    If you go for the book you will have as comprehensive a document on this subject that can be found in any Christian circles.

    On the home page of this blog is Ps. Stegall’s introduction to his book. Tomorrow morning I will be posting the first of about seven excerpts from his book.

    Have a blessed Lord’s day.


    Lou

    PS: Like you I marvel at how learned men (Hodges/Wilkin) can falls into such egregious errors.

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