January 27, 2009

Is the Message of Salvation in Luke’s Gospel?

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Many of you are familiar with the on-going series by Pastor Tom Stegall, The Tragedy of the “Crossless” Gospel that appears at the Grace Family Journal (GFJ).

The series has reached its ninth edition and appears in a Special Edition of the GFJ. Today, however, I want to direct your attention to the eighth edition of the series, which appears in the Fall 2008 edition of the GFJ. The article addresses some of the incredible statements coming from the Grace Evangelical Society’s Crossless gospel advocate by Bob Bryant.

In the opening paragraph Pastor Stegall introduces the article with,

In seeking to defend one axiom of the crossless position, namely that the Gospel of John is the only evangelistic book in the Bible, Bryant explained at the last national conference of the Grace Evangelical Society why the Gospel of Luke cannot be evangelistic.
Following is an extended excerpt from the series:


Yet, it is incredible that those who hold to the crossless position have a completely different impression of Luke’s Gospel. Some crossless gospel proponents believe that an unsaved individual who is seeking salvation from the Lord may not even be able to find the “saving message” in the Gospel of Luke. For example, regarding the evangelistic use of the popular “Jesus Film,” which is based on the Gospel of Luke, Bob Bryant says:
To their credit, they go to the Gospel of John after presenting the life of Christ through the Gospel of Luke. But you know what? They had to, because there’s not a verse in Luke that they could go to (audience laughter). There’s not one, to my knowledge. And to their credit, and I mean this, to their credit, they come to the Gospel of John at the beginning and end of the film to present the message.
Does the Gospel of Luke omit the “saving message” that Bryant is requiring? It seems crossless apologists are setting up a false standard and then imposing it upon the rest of Scripture.

The Thief on the Cross

The message of salvation is also set forth in Luke’s Gospel through the account of the thief on the cross. In
Luke 23:39-43, Luke records a powerful lesson in deathbed conversion. It is never too late, in this lifetime, to receive salvation by believing in Jesus as the Christ. One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus expresses his unbelief, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us” (23:39). The unbelieving crowd gathered around the cross utter the same taunt of disbelief (23:37). Both the criminal next to Jesus and the unbelieving bulls of Bashan encircling the Lord express in ironic terms the whole point of Calvary. By not coming down from the cross and saving Himself the Lord Jesus actually was providing salvation! This transparent truth is recorded in all of the Gospels (Matt. 27:40-43; Mark 15:29-32; John 19:17-22) for the reader to understand the true meaning of Jesus being “the Christ.”

But amidst the people’s unbelief and blasphemies present at Calvary, something wonderful happens in the heart of the other criminal next to Jesus. He fears God (23:40) and recognizes that he is a sinner being justly condemned (23:40-41). He even believes in the innocence of Jesus, exclaiming, “
this Man has done nothing wrong” (23:41). He then expresses his faith in Jesus as the Christ, saying, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (23:42). To say that a man dying on a cross is “Lord” and will possess a “kingdom” is an obvious expression of faith in Jesus Christ. For the thief to say that the dying Lord will enter His kingdom also means that Christ must rise from the dead. Based on such a lucid example of faith in Christ, the Lord promises him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” (23:43). Has ever a greater promise been spoken? Can this great guarantee not be repeated to every soul in our day who believes in Jesus Christ? Is this not saving truth?

While this timeless story of salvation does not set forth the content of the “
saving message” in explicit terms, it contains far more than most crossless advocates are willing to admit. Implicitly, by way of the thief’s example, it teaches that the lost must recognize their need for salvation, that they are sinners before God and justly condemned (Rom. 1:18-3:21). It teaches the innocence of Christ and His deity (“Lord”). Through the rhetorical use of irony, the Lord’s death is a saving event and the very essence of what it means to be “the Christ.” The resurrection is implied, and the condition of faith alone in Christ alone is clearly illustrated by the thief’s example. There is no baptism, church membership, commitments to serve, or even coming forward at an altar call required. So, does this passage contain the “saving message?” Is this merely discipleship truth that is being conveyed which is non-evangelistic? Could a lost person be saved by reading the story of the thief on the cross, especially if he or she has also read the content of Luke’s Gospel leading up to Luke 23:39-43? Some crossless advocates aren’t sure. In fact, they’re not even sure if lost souls have ever been born again through the story of the thief on the cross. Bob Bryant explains this unfortunate doctrinal conclusion:
And I would hope, and would like to think, that perhaps there have been people that have read this story of the thief on the cross and have come to believe in Jesus for their eternal well-being, uuhh, I don’t know.

You can download The Tragedy of the “Crossless” Gospel, Part 8 in PDF form by visiting The 2008 Grace Family Journal and scrolling down to Fall 2008.


LM

January 21, 2009

Evangelism with the Jehovah’s Witnesses at My Door

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

On Monday morning a Jehovah’s Witness (JW) team knocked on my door. I always tell the cult groups that Jesus was God citing
John 1:1, 10:30; Col. 2:9; Hebrews 1:8.

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am,” (John 8:58).
To those passages the JW’s replied, “we believe Jesus was a God.” Did you catch that?  Just “a god.” That of course comes from their corrupted New World Translation of John 1:1.

I told them as long as they reject that Jesus Christ is one and the same as the Father, the Bible says they are dead in their sins and on the way to Hell. They maintained that Jesus was “
a god,” but NOT equal with the Father. I sent them on their way with another admonition that as long as the reject the Lord’s deity they are dead in their sins and on the way to Hell.
Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins...,” (John 8:21).

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I AM He, ye shall die in your sins,” (John 8:24).
The tragedy here is what happens when these unsaved JW's come to the door of a Grace Evangelical Society (GES) Crossless Gospel advocate. The JW’s open rejection of the Lord’s deity would have been an acceptable misconception for the GES Crossless gospel advocates. The JW’s “misconception” would have been put on the “back burner” and left there in that evangelistic setting I just had.

I can hear the GES gospel advocates say, “
Let us for the time being put this issue on the back-burner.” Why does the GES camp do that in their evangelism? Because they do not believe the lost need to be aware of, understand or believe in the Lord’s deity or finished work to be justified and receive the gift of eternal life.

The passages from John’s Gospel are clear: NO lost man can be born again who does not believe in the deity of Christ that, as I explained to the JW’s from the Bible, Jesus and the Father are one and the same. As we have seen, however, Crossless gospel advocates insist a lost man’s conscious rejection of the Lord’s deity does not hinder him from being born again. The Crossless gospel advocates, “...would consider such a one saved, REGARDLESS of their varied misconcetions [sic] and beliefs about Jesus.”1

Consider this stunning admission, “If someone asks me point blank, do I believe that one must believe that Jesus is God in order to go to heaven, I would say ‘NO!2

It is tragic to watch men who claim to believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God take positions that are wholly antithetical to the clear teaching of Scripture.  This is the tragedy of the reductionist errors that originated with Zane Hodges that are being perpetuated by Bob Wilkin and the theological extremists of the GES.

It is beyond any doubt that the
Crossless & Deityless gospel that was originated by the late Zane Hodges is the most egregious form of reductionism ever introduced to the New Testament church by one of its own.

Join those of us who have stood in defense of the Gospel against these GES inspired reductionist assaults on the Person and work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


LM

1) Antonio da Rosa: Believe Christ's Promise and You are Saved, No Matter What Misconceptions You Hold.

2) Ibid.

*
For additional examples of reductionist heresy against the Gospel, i.e. the content of saving faith from Crossless gospel advocates see the following articles:

Is This Heresy?

Can the Biblical Jesus & Mormon Jesus be “One and the Same?”

Clinching the Deal on the “Crossless” Gospel

January 18, 2009

The Issue of Incongruity: Actual or Artificial, Part 5

Welcome back to Pastor Dennis Rokser’s series The Issue of Incongruity that originally began on May 5, 2008. If this is your first encounter with the series I strongly encourage you to click on the title above, which will link you to the first of this now five part series. Each article will end with a link that will guide you through this compelling series.

Warmest greetings once again in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who declared, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15).

For those who may be just joining us for this series on the issue of incongruity, the bottom line subject being addressed in these articles is:
Does the Bible allow for an incongruity or difference between the CONTENT OF THE GOSPEL message which is to be faithfully PREACHED and the content of SAVING FAITH post-Calvary which must be BELIEVED in order to have eternal life today?”
Permit me to briefly review the three previous nails that have been pounded into the coffin of incongruity.


Nail # 1: 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain.
Note that THERE IS NO INCONGRUITY BETWEEN THE GOSPEL that was PREACHED by Paul and THE GOSPEL which was BELIEVED by the Corinthians! There was no MAXIMUM preached and MINIMUM believed!


Nail #2: 1 Corinthians 15:3-11
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures… Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
WAS THERE ANY INCONGRUITY OR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GOSPEL WHICH WAS PREACHED EVANGELISTICALLY AND WHAT THESE CORINTHIANS HAD BELIEVED FOR THEIR ETERNAL SALVATION?

The answer: NO! NEVER! Listen to it again:

Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach (What? “the Gospel”- vs.1), and so you believed (what? “the Gospel” - vs.1). NO INCONGRUITY!


Nail #3: 1 Corinthians 1:17-25
1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
• Was there any hint of incongruity or disparity between the Gospel which was PREACHED and what God required the lost to BELIEVE?

NONE!!! This so-called issue of incongruity is an artificial dichotomy, a straw man, a non-issue in the Scriptures. Furthermore, this verse makes it clear that “the Gospel” Paul preached and the saving content of faith are one in the same!


Nail #4: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

• What is the Gospel Paul declared called in verse 1?

… declaring to you the testimony of God

Dear friends, it is always important to realize that the Gospel declares what God has done for man, never what man has done for God. Amen? This is the message of grace.

• What was Paul determined to preach evangelistically when he came to Corinth?

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Note again that it is both the PERSON of “Jesus Christ” (His name underscores His deity and humanity in addition to His work) and His FINISHED WORK on the cross (“crucified” in the perfect tense) was the centerpiece content of the Gospel Paul preached to the unsaved Jews and pagan Gentiles in this immoral and idolatrous city in Greece.

• Was there any incongruity in Paul’s preaching between the PERSON of Christ and His CROSS-WORK?

Paul did not separate Christ’s PERSON and FINISHED WORK when preaching the Gospel. There was no incongruity between Jesus Christ’s person and cross-work in Paul’s preaching; in fact, Christ’s person and work are inseparably connected since Calvary. The message Paul preached was not a gutted gospel that was sliced of its substantive content that makes it persuasive and powerfully effective in the heart of the unregenerate by means of the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Paul preached CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED!
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:21 …it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

1 Corinthians 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified…

• Was there any incongruity or difference between the message Paul PREACHED evangelistically to the unsaved and what was expected for them to BELIEVE for their eternal salvation?

What saith the Scripture?
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
What does God require that a sinner’s faith be in for eternal salvation? Negatively, it is NOT to be in “the wisdom of men” and their messages of salvation by human merit and works. Positively, it is to be in “the power of God.” But what had Paul earlier highlighted as the POWER OF GOD?
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Their faith needed to be in “the Gospel” (1:17) which centers in “the message of the cross” (1:18a) which is the “power of God” (1:18b; 2:5).

This echoes a parallel truth written by Paul in Romans 1:15-16,
So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
These passages make it crystal clear once again that Paul PREACHED evangelistically to the lost the saving Gospel that focused on the PERSON and FINISHED WORK of JESUS CHRIST (“Christ and Him crucified”). In doing so, the Holy Spirit (2:4) used this message to open sinners’ eyes to receive the gift of eternal life by putting their “faith” in the Gospel (the message of the cross) which is “the power of God.”

Again I ask: Was there any hint of incongruity or disparity between the Gospel which was PREACHED and what God required the lost to BELIEVE?

NONE!!!

Dear readers, again God has spoken and He has not stuttered: NO INCONGRUITY!

Can you hear the hammer hitting the nail of 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 as it sounds out loud and clear … NO INCONGRUITY!

In my next article we will examine Nail #5: 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.

January 13, 2009

The Issue of Incongruity: Actual or Artificial, Pt. 4

This is a continuation of Pastor Dennis Rokser’s powerful exposé on the Grace Evangelical Society’s reductionist assault on the Gospel, i.e. the content of saving faith. You may begin the series with Part 1 and link from there to parts two and three.

Once again I greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who washed us from our sins in His own blood.

This is my fourth installment (originally published June 5, 2008) in a series of articles that is addressing the issue of incongruity. As previously stated, the issue boils down to this:
Does the Bible allow for an incongruity or difference between the CONTENT OF THE GOSPEL message which is to be faithfully PREACHED and the content of SAVING FAITH post-Calvary which must be BELIEVED in order to have eternal life today?”
As we seek to hammer shut the coffin of incongruity and burn this straw man, I previously set forth two scriptural nails worthy of consideration:
Nail # 1: 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain.
It is interesting to note that Paul not only “PREACHED” (aorist, indicative) THE GOSPEL, but also this message of salvation was “RECEIVED” by them. The word “received” (paralambano) is an aorist (completed action at a point of time in their past) active (they chose to receive the Gospel) indicative (the mood of fact) verb that highlights the reality of the Corinthians positive response and reception of the Gospel which had been preached to them.

But how had these believers “received” the Gospel? The end of verse 2 tells us, “unless you believed in vain.” The verb “believed”(pisteuo – to believe, trust) corresponds EXACTLY in its tense (aorist), voice (active) and mood (indicative) as “received.” These individuals had made a decisive decision in the past to choose to receive/believe the Gospel that was preached by Paul.

Note that THERE IS NO INCONGRUITY BETWEEN THE GOSPEL that was PREACHED by Paul and THE GOSPEL which was BELIEVED by the Corinthians! There was no MAXIMUM preached and MINIMUM believed!

Nail #2: 1 Corinthians 15:3-11
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Towards the conclusion of my article I wrote,
Now all of this exegesis and exposition prepares us to raise the all important question: WAS THERE ANY INCONGRUITY OR DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GOSPEL WHICH WAS PREACHED EVANGELISTICALLY AND WHAT THESE CORINTHIANS HAD BELIEVED FOR THEIR ETERNAL SALVATION?”
The answer: NO! NEVER! Listen to it again:

Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach (What? “the Gospel”- vs.1), and so you believed (what? “the Gospel” - vs.1). NO INCONGRUITY!

Nail #3: 1 Corinthians 1:17-25
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
This passage raises several pertinent questions that directly intersect with the false teaching of the crossless gospel and the issue of incongruity.

• What was Paul sent by Jesus Christ to preach?

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…(1:17a)
It is important to note that Paul has a definitive message in mind that does not involve the whole Bible or even the whole New Testament. But he was sent to preach a specific message of good news from God to man.

• What was the centerpiece of the Gospel Paul preached?

...not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. (1:17b)
The Gospel that Paul preached focused upon the cross of Jesus Christ. In keeping with my last two articles, the New Testament is abundantly clear that the substutionary and finished work of Christ regarding our sin penalty owed to God is an essential element of the Gospel that needs to be faithfully preached to the lost for their justification and to the saved for their progressive sanctification. No wonder Paul goes on to add…
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1:18)
There should be no debate that the cross-work of Christ must be an essential part of our preaching of the Gospel. Amen? But this is not where the real issue of incongruity lands. For there are those who would espouse that we should preach the death and resurrection of Christ when we PREACH the Gospel but that is not to say that a sinner must BELIEVE those truths in order to be eternally saved, justified, or receive eternal life. In fact, as previously stated in my first article, there are those who openly DENY that a sinner must believe in Christ’s death and resurrection to be justified before God. But what saith the Scriptures?

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1:21)
• What is the “the message preached” that Paul is referring to?

It’s the MESSAGE OF THE CROSS!

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1:17-18)
• Who is it that God saves and under what condition?

It is “those” of “the world” that “BELIEVE...” “the message” “PREACHED,” which is centered around the CROSS of CHRIST!

And the following two verses support the conclusion that the “save” of verse 21 is referring in this verse to eternal salvation for the lost , not salvation/sanctification for the saved. Thus, there was no MAXIMUM preached but MINIMUM believed. Neither was there any post-modern uncertainty as to what God clearly requires for the lost to be saved eternally.

• Was there any hint of incongruity or disparity between the Gospel which was PREACHED and what God required the lost to BELIEVE?

NONE!!! This so-called issue of incongruity is an artificial dichotomy, a straw man, a non-issue in the Scriptures. Furthermore, this verse makes it clear that “the Gospel” Paul preached and the saving content of faith are one in the same!

• How did the Jews and the Gentiles (as a norm) react to the message of the cross?

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach
Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks
Foolishness…
(1:22-23)

Again the Scripture makes it crystal clear that Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to “preach Christ crucified” to the lost. Again we are faced with the scriptural facts that the preaching of the Gospel entails both the person (“Christ”) and work (“crucified”) of the only Savior God ever provided.

Also it is important to observe that the natural man’s (1 Cor. 2:14) response or reaction to the preaching of the Gospel is one of utter rejection. In fact, for the Jewish mind to embrace a crucified Messiah was scandalous (“a stumbling block”). And for the Gentile to believe that the Son of God was crucified was moronic (“foolishness”). If you would like to hear a great exposition regarding this passage and these truths, I recommend you listen to the message that Dr. Renald Shower’s preached at the 2007 Fall Bible Conference at the Duluth Bible Church (this can be found under “resources.” If believing in the message of the cross was NOT necessary for a sinner’s justification before God and the receiving of eternal life but is only imperative for progressive sanctification in the life of a believer (as the crossless advocates propose), and if the message of the cross is a stumbling block and foolishness to the lost, WHY NOT ELIMINATE ITS PREACHING UNTIL SOMEONE HAS BELIEVED THE SUPPOSED MINIMUM – “believe in Jesus for eternal life”?
Would it not be logical to ask, “Paul, why not eliminate the unnecessary stumbling block of the cross and supposedly get more people saved?” Then after they have “believed in Jesus as the guarantor of eternal life” you can teach them this additional truth for their sanctification? YET PAUL INSISTED ON PREACHING THE CROSS TO THE UNSAVED AND WAS CONVINCED THAT GOD WOULD “SAVE THEM THAT BELIEVE” the message of the cross of Christ!

In addition, if Paul did decide to preach the Gospel anyhow (knowing it was viewed as a stumbling block and foolishness) would he not have been wise to qualify that the message of the cross he PREACHED was not essential to be BELIEVED? BUT PAUL DID NOT QUALIFY IT AT ALL!

Dear readers, again God has spoken and He has not stuttered: NO INCONGRUITY!

Can you hear the hammer hitting the nail of 1 Corinthians 1:17-25 as it sounds out loud and clear … NO INCONGRUITY!







Pastor Dennis Rokser

Please proceed to Part 5, the final installment of this series.

January 11, 2009

The Best of 2006

Dear Guests of IDOTG:



Looking back once again I am going to share what I believe are
The Best of 2006.

In 2006 I heard of blogs, but I was not sure exactly what a blog was. Once my book
In Defense of the Gospel was released I found out what blogs were very soon after. My book began a great deal of online discussion and debate. Friends informed me of these on line discussions at blogs and web sites and so I began to look in and participate.

The long story short is that I finally decided that a blog needed to be opened to provide what would be a home for
In Defense of the Gospel. Not simply a home for my book and my personal desire to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but to become a kind of safe-haven and place of resources for those who either were unsure of or had come to reject the works based, man-centered Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel.

It was not until mid-2007 that I began a joint effort to address the Grace Evangelical Society’s
Crossless gospel. This is, of course, the reductionist assault on the Gospel i. e., the content of saving faith which was originated by the late Zane Hodges. *The Crossless gospel is arguably the most extreme form reductionism that has ever been introduced to the New Testament church by one of its own.

Because I did not enter that discussion until 2007 none of the articles that address the
Crossless gospel appear in this The Best of 2006. You can, however, view many samples in The Best of 2007 & The Best of 2008 series.

With that said, let’s take a retro look back to what are IMO the best blog articles of the 29 that were published in 2006.


Introduction by the Author

This was the very first and is partially excerpted from my book
IDOTG. Ironically, this article attracted one of the advocates of the Crossless gospel. Here is a brief excerpt from the article, which has been edited in the new edition of IDOTG. I have posted the revised version in the thread of the article.

First, many have been alarmed at the increasingly meaningless presentation of a gospel that seems to ignore the person of Christ, the sinfulness of man and the pending judgment of God. This gospel calls men to salvation when they have been given only a vague idea of just what they need to be saved from. This is the so-called Easy-Believism gospel. Let me say I do not hold to an Easy-Believism approach and would admonish those who seek quick, easy decisions for Christ to rethink their position. My book, however, has been produced to address the other extreme, namely, Lordship Salvation.

The Relationship Between God’s Grace & Lordship Legalism. This is an article by Brother George Zeller, who has made several contributions to the original and upcoming revised and expanded edition of IDOTG.
Those who teach Lordship salvation are forced to redefine saving faith. It means more than just simple, childlike faith in Jesus Christ. They might say something like this: ‘We believe in Acts 16:31 just as much as you do, but you need to understand what the word ‘believe’ really means. ‘Believe’ means more than just believe. Saving faith involves much more.’ What does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Lordship salvation teachers would say that it involves the following: It means surrendering to His Lordship. It means turning from sin. It means submitting to His authority and to His Word. It means obeying His commands, or at least having a willingness to obey. It means fully accepting all the terms of discipleship.

Impossible Decision: John 16:7-11
Lordship Salvation adds a commitment to discipleship (i.e. ‘take up your cross, losing your life for my sake, etc.’) which requires a decision from a lost man, which is impossible for him to make. (John 15:5). This kind of Gospel message, which Dr. MacArthur advocates, frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21). The Holy Spirit does not yet indwell this lost man, he is not regenerated. He cannot make a decision of surrender to the Lord because he does not yet know the Lord.

John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel
Lordship Salvation conditions the reception of salvation on a lost man’s upfront commitment to what should be the results of salvation. A commitment to perform the ‘good works’ (Eph. 2:10) expected of the disciple of Christ is Lordship’s requirement FOR> salvation. The lost man is expected to make a commitment toward what he will do, or become, in ‘exchange’ for what Christ has done for him.

Lordship’s (Out-of-Order) Salvation
The regeneration before faith view under girds the Lordship gospel of submission, full-surrender, self-denial in exchange for salvation. The Lordship advocate believes the lost man has been regenerated (given new life, born again) prior to repentance, faith and belief. To reiterate, he does not believe in a chronological order, but he will insist regeneration has the ‘casual priority’ over, and is the trigger for: repentance, faith, and believing.

A Question Left Unanswered Read and see why the question has been left answered.

Well, those are my choices from 2006. I may add more in upcoming days, but I trust you will find these a helpful resource from the beginning days of the
IDOTG blog.


LM

*Bob Wilkin, through the GES continues to perpetuate the egregious errors of the Crossless gospel, but with far less effect since their reductionist assaults on the Person and work of Jesus Christ have been exposed and biblically refuted.

January 8, 2009

Upcoming Articles for 2009 & the One Disappointment from 2008

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

We are well into the new year 2009. For the Christmas season, which has just concluded I was anticipating a quiet time of discussion and debate in defense of the Gospel. Unfortunately, the holiday season was not as quiet as I would have expected.

Following the details of what you can expect as we open 2009 at IDOTG I will close 2008, which was an encouraging year for the defense of the Gospel, with a brief note on the disappointing change of heart and mind by one of our, now former, blog partners.



Let’s begin with Upcoming Articles for 2009:

You may recall from December I began reposting Pastor Dennis Rokser’s series
The Issue of Incongruity: Actual or Artificial? The Christmas season interrupted that series. On Tuesday (1/13/09) I will be posting Part 4 of 5 from the series for your consideration. Part 5 will follow later in the week.

Afterwards, I am going to start afresh the unfinished series by Greg Schliemann,
Zane Hodges: “Legalism is Not a very Nice Word.” I will repost part one through three, followed by parts four and five. This is the series that extensively addresses the last published article by Zane Hodges, The Hydra’s Other Head: Theological Legalism. That article exemplifies what is the lasting legacy of Zane Hodges. His legacy of assaulting the Gospel with the most egregious form of reductionist assaults on the content of saving faith that the NT church has ever been exposed to by one of its own (Zane Hodges & Bob Wilkin).

Then I will be posting two new series of articles. One by a new comer to the defense of the Gospel against both
Lordship Salvation and the Crossless gospel. I will formally introduce this new comer once the first in the series is published.

The other series will be produced by our friend Rachel from **
The Land of Reason blog. She will be writing a short series on some of the obvious errors and inconsistencies of the Crossless gospel as published by Zane Hodges. Rachel’s series will be posted jointly at TLOR and here at IDOTG.

Finally, many have asked when the revised and expanded edition of my book
In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation will be available. The work of revision is complete. A number of highly recognizable preachers/theologians have agreed to provide an endorsement for this new edition. I have received half of those endorsements, the rest will be submitted by the end of this month. Once I have them all in hand the manuscript will sent to the publisher for a fresh cover and be in circulation soon thereafter. When the revised and expanded edition nears release I will begin posting samples of the revisions, additions as well as the endorsements.


Now we’ll turn our attention to the one disappointment from the close of 2008:

As I noted above, 2008 was an encouraging year for the defense of the Gospel, but their was one disappointing event. That was the change of heart and mind toward the advocates of the Crossless Gospel by one of our, now former, blog partners.

This man took a new and tragic turn toward befriending and forming an alliance with the advocates of the reductionist assault on the content of saving faith, i.e. the
Crossless Gospel (CG). Until mid-2008 he was an effective voice in exposing and biblically refuting the Crossless gospel. His articles once addressed many of the extremes coming from advocates of the Crossless gospel. Statements such as these from Antonio da Rosa in his article Believe Christ’s Promise and You are Saved No Matter What Misconception You Hold, (May 2006):
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.’ If someone asks me point blank, do I believe that one must believe that Jesus is God in order to go to heaven, I would say ‘NO!’

“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.”
And arguably the most infamous of da Rosa’s statements,
“The Mormon Jesus and Evangelical Jesus are One and the Same!”
In another article that dealt with the dangerous statements coming from da Rosa, he gave a heart felt and clear caution to *Rose (another casualty of close cooperation with the Crossless gospel advocates) who, in recent years, has become an increasingly passionate sympathizer and supporter of the Grace Evangelical Society’s Crossless & Deityless interpretation of the Gospel. He wrote,
By defending da Rosa, you (Rose) are defending ‘doctrines of demons’, ‘myths’, and heresy. As the apostle Paul pleaded with the Galatian Christians concerning their acceptance of a perverted gospel, I plead with you: ‘O foolish Christian, who has bewitched you’?
As you can see he was powerfully exposing as well as refuting from the Scriptures GES’s anti-biblical teachings, which are an assault on the Person and work of Christ. He was following the biblical mandates to “note the man…admonish him,” to “mark” and warn others to “avoid” the advocates of the Crossless gospel (2 Thess. 3:14-15; Rom. 16:17). Then in this sudden, unexpected shift he has embraced, struck a friendship, formed an alliance with and begun running interference for the most extreme of the CG’s apologists, Antonio da Rosa. Why he has, we can’t imagine. It appears, however, he has developed what might best be described as a case of laryngitis in regard to the Crossless gospel and its advoacte(s).

This man has formed an alliance with GES by linking to, as an endorsement of, Bob Wilkin’s personal attack on Dr. J. B. Hixson. This attack is in Wilkin’s hostile and condescending review of Dr. Hixson’s excellent book,
Getting the Gospel Wrong.

Several of us, like Kevl, tried to help this brother see the dangerous turn he has taken and encouraged him to turn from it, but all of our attempts were rebuffed by him and in most cases ignored while he kept running interference and protection for heresy of the
Crossless advocates. I reminded him, Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful,” (Prov. 27:6).

Pray with us that this brother will awaken and withdraw from the advocates of the most egregious form of reductionist assaults against the Gospel, coming from the
Crossless gospel of Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and the GES.

Yours in His service,


January 5, 2009

The Best of 2007

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

This is a retro look back to what are IMO the best blog articles of 2007. There were exactly 100 articles posted at IDOTG in 2007, which made selecting the following for inclusion especially difficult. I chose articles, with a brief excerpt from most, that I believe made a significant contribution to the defense of the Gospel. This is not an exhaustive list and I may add more in the coming days.


The Technical Meaning of the term, “THE GOSPEL” a multi-part series by Greg Schliesmann.

Before Jeremy Myers’s article “The Gospel is More than Faith Alone,” I had never heard any evangelical deny that the term “the gospel” does have such a technical usage. In fact, Myers’s view contradicts prior statements from the Grace Evangelical Society (GES). Even while advocating the crossless gospel, GES has argued that there is both a “broad” and “narrow” usage of the term “the gospel.” They argued that the “narrow” sense does refer to the message the lost must believe to be saved. That is why Zane Hodges could title his book The Gospel Under Siege. Crossless gospel proponents, however, have come to realize the impossibility of arguing that there is a “narrow” version of the term “the gospel” that does not include the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

[Update: Bob Wilkin, Executive Director of the GES, publicly announced his adoption of Jeremy Myer’s view at the GES Regional Conference in Dana Point, CA: August 24-25, 2007.]

How Does the Lordship Advocate Define Repentance?
Lordship Salvation’s repentance confuses sanctification (growth of a believer) with justification, (God declaring/making a sinner righteous). For Lordship advocates anything short of a commitment to obedience is not repentance, and would leave the lost man dead in his sins, no matter he believed about his guilt before God or the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Upfront commitment to the kind of behavior expected of a spiritually mature Christian is the Lordship advocates definition of repentance.

What is the “Crossless” Advocates Stance on the Cross, Resurrection & Deity of Christ?
Did the late Zane Hodges and today does Bob Wilkin teach a ‘faith alone position’ on the Gospel? The initial reply would be, ‘Yes, they do.’ What we have been primarily concerned with, however, is what these men insist is unnecessary for the lost man to believe for the reception of eternal life. What the lost man must be convinced of and believe that will result in his being born again is the crux of the debate and concern among many in evangelical circles.

Special Edition of the Grace Family Journal by Pastor Tom Stegall
From the thread, Pastor Bret Nazworth noted, “Just got finished with Pastor Stegall’s first article in the special edition of the GFJ and it is a slam dunk. Once again he proves that GES is indeed preaching a crossless gospel. The fact that they preach a crossless gospel is not new information but the proof he presents is mouth-gapingly astonishing. Terrifyingly, they are aggressively using their writing and speaking to delete the CROSS and RESURRECTION from being Gospel CONTENT wherever they can. The best that they can concede is that the cross may be ‘helpful information,’ but they are equally quick to add that it is ‘not the Gospel’.”

An Example of Lordship’s Man-Centered Message
At face value that title is direct and can be supported biblically. The problem is that Pastor Steve Lawson is not only taking about the cost of discipleship for a believer, he teaches, just like John MacArthur, that there is a cost FOR salvation… .

It is what Lordship advocates insist are the requirements for salvation that is the error in their system. In Pastor Lawson’s text when he speaks of following Christ, self denial and cross bearing in the context of a born again believer needing to make those commitments to his Lord and Savior he is on biblical ground. When, however, he takes those same commands and presents them as conditions which must be agreed to in exchange for salvation he has checked out on the Scriptures and is preaching a works based message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

The “CHRIST” Under Siege: The New Assault by the Grace Evangelical Society by Greg Schliesmann.
In my first article in this series I discussed the attempt of Zane Hodges and the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) to remove Deity from the Biblical concept of Jesus as ‘the Christ.’ Hodges’s fraudulent arguments regarding the Samaritans in John 4 were exposed.

The purpose of this article is to show the Biblical concept of ‘the Christ’ involves Deity, and that this is necessary for salvation. Future articles will show the truths of His death and resurrection are equally important truths of the gospel necessary for salvation today.


I. The New Assault From the GES

In recent days I have become aware of new arguments from GES regarding the Lord’s titles, ‘the Christ, the Son of God’ that are troubling to many fellow believers…. The latest round of attacks from GES claims neither ‘the Christ’ nor ‘the Son of God’ is a title that involves His Deity.

Insights From the IFCA’s Interview with Dr. John MacArthur
This article is a brief discussion of, with links, to the transcripts of the IFCA interviews with Dr. John MacArthur. Following these interviews the IFCA received a significant number of resignations.

Boiling Down the “Crossless” Gospel
The ‘Crossless’ advocates, therefore, try to steer a lost person toward saying he believes a man named Jesus will give him eternal life. The unsaved man can be steered clear of or right over the death, resurrection and deity of Christ, and still be assured that by stating belief in that promise he is, according to GES teaching, born again.

Greg Schliesmann’s thread comment is especially compelling. He wrote, “I agree the conclusions of crossless gospel advocates in John 20:31 contradict the context. Some people misread John 20:31 to say ‘that you may believe the Christ, the Son of God is named ‘Jesus.’ That’s not what it says. It says, ‘that you may believe Jesus (i.e., the one I just presented to you who died and rose again) is the Christ, the Son of God’.

False Paradigms of the “Crossless” Gospel the first of a major two-part series by Greg Schliesmann.
False Paradigm #1:
The content of faith required for salvation has never changed. People in Old Testament times were saved without believing in Christ’s death and resurrection. Therefore, people living today are also saved without believing in Christ’s death and resurrection… . The point is, (GES) ‘Crossless’ gospel advocates have not only misrepresented what people must believe for salvation today, but they have also misrepresented what people in past ages believed in order to be saved.

The Joseph Zichterman Issue
This article, month by month, without fail appears in the top ten of hit counts at my blog. I strongly recommend your reading this article and especially the brief thread for important flow-up reactions, one by Brother Zichterman.

Is the Sermon on the Mount, “Pure Gospel?”
Dr. MacArthur says the Sermon on the Mount is ‘the way of salvation.’ Is Dr. MacArthur suggesting the Sermon on the Mount be given to a lost man as the plan of salvation?”

John Piper Discussion...
There have been numerous decisions/actions on the part of John Piper that have been quite disconcerting. The crux of the discussion really has to do with the fact that there is a big difference between what John Piper writes in his books and what he does in practice.”