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.”
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.’In his article The Hollow “Gospel” of the GES, Phillip Evans made this important observation:
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].)
“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!”
“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,
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)