February 19, 2009

Christ’s Resurrection: Part of the Saving Message? Part 2

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

We are now returning with the second and final installment of this two part series. If this is your first look at this series, please read part one of, Christ’s Resurrection: Part of the Saving Message?

Welcome back to my critique of Bob Wilkin’s latest article, Believing in the Risen Christ.

Wilkin’s fourth reason for apologizing for his prior
Statement of Faith is the most troubling for those who hold to the truth of the Gospel. He writes:
Fourth, the term ‘risen Christ,’ though accurate, has caused some to wonder if we are saying that to be born again a person must believe that Jesus rose from the dead.”
Let there be no misunderstanding. Wilkin does not consider belief in Christ’s resurrection to be necessary in order to be saved! With seeming relief, in reference to the resurrection he writes, “The statement doesn’t say one must believe that to be born again.”

In an attempt to make his case, he points out that several other adjectives for Christ could have been used, such as “
virgin-born,” “sinless,” and “soon returning King.” The implication being, if to be saved one need not believe all of these, then “risen” should not be a special case or exception that must be believed.

With the two sentences he wrote just before that last sentence quoted, he actually
destroyed his own argument by writing, “Actually, the least problematic part of that sentence is the statement that anyone who trusts in the ‘risen Christ’ has everlasting life. That is who He is.” (emphasis mine)

Herein lies the heart of the matter. To be saved, a lost person must believe in the only Jesus who can save. A Jesus that is still dead, or a Jesus who was a sinner, or a Jesus who was a mere man cannot save!
2 Cor. 11:4 warns that some preached “another Jesus” and “another gospel” that the Apostles did not preach.

Obviously, those false teachers would not be deliberately trying to point to an entirely different historical Jesus, for that would wipe away any veneer of credulity they might have in the minds of their listeners. No. Instead, they would be claiming to preach the same Jesus of Nazareth born in Bethlehem, but they would distort Him by claiming that He did not bodily rise from the dead (as Jehovah’s Witnesses do), or by claiming that instead of being God who took human flesh, that He was a man who attained godhood (as the Mormons do).

The cultists attempt to claim the same Jesus that true Christians do, but they distort the person and work of Christ, so that in effect they are preaching “
another Jesus” and “another gospel” which cannot save.

In an attempt to make his point concerning the aforementioned modifiers for Christ (
sinless, virgin-born, risen, etc...), Wilkin states, “The main modifier linked with Jesus that we see in Scripture is ‘the Lord Jesus’ as in Acts 16:31.”

Yes, Jesus is the Lord, but He would not be if those other things about Him were untrue. Since He is the Lord, He is also sinless, risen from the dead, and God in the flesh. For a lost person to claim to believe that Christ is Lord, while disbelieving who He claimed to be, what He did for us on the cross, and subsequent resurrection, is for that lost person to believe in “
another Jesus”...and remain lost!

Obviously, to believe in Christ is to trust that what He said concerning His Deity, work on the cross, and resurrection is true, for this goes to the heart of how He saves us!

If a person disbelieves the very thing Christ did to save us, and disbelieves His authority as God to forgive our sins, then how can it be said that this same person could be believing in Him? One does not rationally call Christ a liar and at the same time claim to believe in Him!

If people prior to the time of the cross and resurrection eternally perished because they refused to believe God’s word spoken by mere human prophets (see Luke 16), how can anyone post cross and resurrection escape the eternal judgment of Hell if they disbelieve the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest Prophet?

In his article Wilkin referenced verses in the Gospel of John, such as 3:16 and 6:35, which spoke of believing in Jesus, as if to say that believing in Jesus has no context other than believing in Him for eternal life.

I would point Wilkin to
John 2:19 where Jesus prophesied that He will rise from the dead, John 3:14, 6:51, and 10:11 where Jesus claimed that He would die for us, and John 5:18-23 where Jesus claimed the same purpose, power, and honor as the Father, with such claims being blasphemy if Jesus were not indeed God in the flesh!

I’m sure Wilkin would then make the challenge concerning the context of belief under which the first disciples were saved by. Yes, it is true that before the cross, Jesus’ disciples did not have a full understanding of what He was telling them. But they believed He spoke the truth to them just the same. Now that everything has been clearly revealed, the method (belief) remains the same, but the context has changed. In these last days God has revealed Himself to us through His Son (
Heb. 1:2), and it is mankind’s responsibility to hear Him (Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35). With a fuller understanding of what has occurred comes a greater responsibility to believe what has been revealed.

Wilkin’s doctrine is not merely that a person could be ignorant of Christ's resurrection and be saved, but that a person could hear the truth of the resurrection, reject it, and still be saved!

He clearly said as much when he stated in his November/December 2008 issue of
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)
Traditional Christians certainly do view those three points as essential beliefs in order to be saved – based on the Apostle Paul’s definition of the Gospel in 1 Cor. 15:1-4.

In another article of Wilkin’s, he 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.

Notice that Paul brought the saints to remembrance of what he had preached to them just before they had received it. In other words, the Scripture itself in that passage proves that Paul preached this message to them while they were lost!

This should be evidence enough to convince anyone that
Wilkin is twisting the Scriptures.


But I will directly answer his argument concerning sanctification. Yes, Christians must continue to hold to the truth of the Gospel in order to grow in grace and sanctification. However, this truth certainly does not contradict the truth that the Gospel must be believed by the lost in order to experience God's saving grace in the first place.
The same Gospel message that saves the lost is the same Gospel message that helps grow the saved as they hold to its truth.

The error that Wilkin has fallen into was a result of
taking his eyes off Christ and idolizing Zane Hodges. Zane was straight on the Gospel until the latter years of his life, when he fell into reductionism, teaching what is sometimes appropriately called the “Crossless Gospel.” For to Zane, one could deny not only the resurrection and Deity of Christ, but also His sacrificial death on the cross and still be saved.

Hodges led Wilkin astray from the truth, and now Wilkin is leading others astray. Unlike Hodges, now deceased,
Wilkin has a unique and precious opportunity to repent and be restored. It is my prayer that this occurs, and I encourage all who read this article to pray this for him also.

While false teachers cause harm to the body of Christ, there is some good that can come as a result of this. What I’m speaking of is the opportunity for Christians to examine their own understanding of the Gospel, and come to a more clear view of exactly what is required of the lost in order for them to be saved.

Though it seems like there is a church on almost every corner, precious few of them give a clear, uncompromised presentation of the Gospel, and those that do so often don’t preach it enough. With these words let me encourage every pastor reading this to repent before God if needed, and commit to regular preaching of the clear Gospel message to their congregations. This is not limited to pastors. We should all take this to heart, for as Christians we all ought to be preachers of the Gospel.

Yours in His service,


Phillip M. Evans


Brother Evans is author of The Hollow “Gospel” of the Grace Evangelical Society
He also authored the book, Eternal Security Proved.

February 17, 2009

Christ’s Resurrection: Part of the Saving Message?

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

What follows is the first in the new series by Phillip M. Evans. I am grateful to Brother Evans for addressing the latest assault on the content of saving faith that in this latest example comes from the Grace Evangelical Society’s Executive Director Bob Wilkin.

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I’ll begin my article with the answer to my title’s question. Absolutely!” I affirm that unless one has believed that Christ has risen from the dead, then whatever other belief that person may have concerning Him is not a saving belief. To state it even more explicitly, if a person dies having never accepted the Lord Jesus as their risen Savior, then they are forever lost!

In
I Cor. 15:1-4, the Apostle Paul defined the Gospel as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. He goes on to state in verse 17, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” To someone denying the resurrection of Christ, it is just the same to them as if Christ is still dead. Therefore, that person is yet in their sins (lost).

Bob Wilkin, the founder of Grace Evangelical Society (GES), posted an article Feb. 5th, 2009 on the GES blog titled
Believing in the Risen Christ.

Wilkin wrote his article to apologize for and change the following statement that appeared in one of the pre-pages of his GES Journal under the title “
Statement of Faith”:
Any person who, in simple faith, trusts in the risen Christ as his or her only hope of heaven, refusing to trust in anything else, receives the gift of eternal life which, once granted, can never be lost.”
According to Wilkin, this statement is “flawed for several reasons.” He then goes on to list four reasons, with his fourth being a direct assault on the truth of the Gospel.


First, Wilkin expresses concern with the word “trust.”

Though he admits that “
trust” can be a synonym for “faith,” he doesn’t like to use “trust” because to him, it “conveys a sense of doubt.” In an attempt to prove his point, he uses the illustration of someone saying, “I’m trusting him to do what he said he’d do. I sure hope he does.”

Using this illogical reasoning, any positive word at all must contain within itself the idea of its negative! Were he to be consistent, Wilkin could not even use the word “believe” that he prefers to use, since one could also offer the illustration of someone saying, “I believe he spoke the truth, and I sure hope he did.”

The greater reason Wilkin doesn't like the word “
trust,” is because to him it conveys a sense of commitment, and therefore smacks of Lordship Salvation, a doctrine that I also oppose.

However, let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater. It is true that the Gospel message is not about committing to or promising to God to stop sinning and serve Him in order to be saved, for that would be to erroneously change grace into works. It is equally true that there is indeed a simple commitment involved in a lost person getting saved. This commitment is not in addition to faith, but is synonymous with faith. It is simply the commitment defined as humbly acknowledging that Christ is the only One who can save you, and desiring of God to be saved, while believing the facts of Christ's Deity, His payment for our sins on cross, and His bodily resurrection. In short, it is to commit the safety of one's soul exclusively to Christ, believing the Scriptures concerning who He is and what He did for us, plus or minus nothing.


Second, Wilkin has a problem with the word “hope” in the phrase “only hope of heaven”.

While many have watered down words like trust, believe, and hope, this is not a compelling reason not to employ such words under the expectation that their true meanings should be understood. “
Only hope of heaven” is a wonderful phrase, for it underscores the blessed truth that Christ is the only One (Acts 4:12) who can save us.


Third, concerning the use of the word “heaven,” Wilkin states:
...heaven is a bit misleading. The believer’s future home is the New Earth (Revelation 21-22), not heaven. While believers who die do indeed go to heaven, that is not where we will spend eternity. We will spend eternity with the Lord Jesus on the New Earth.
While at first glance this appears to be technically correct, it fails to differentiate between the Holy City of New Jerusalem and the New Earth. New Jerusalem may or may not actually set ground on the New Earth, it may in fact hover over it. Being that New Jerusalem is a distinct and more special creation than the New Earth, and the place where God's throne will be located in eternity, many Christians, myself included, view the future appearance of New Jerusalem as Heaven come down to Earth. Since the faithful among the saved look forward to reward in Heaven (Matt. 5:12; Luke 6:23), which is reserved (1 Pet. 1:4) for them there, it is reasonable to expect that they will enjoy their reward throughout eternity therein, in addition to inheriting the New Earth.


Please continue to- Christ’s Resurrection: Part of the Saving Message, Part 2

In part two of this series Brother Evans will comprehensively address the fourth and most troubling point of Wilkin’s apology for the GES Statement of Faith. Here is a sample:
In an attempt to make his point concerning the aforementioned modifiers for Christ (sinless, virgin-born, risen, etc...), Wilkin states, “The main modifier linked with Jesus that we see in Scripture is ‘the Lord Jesus’ as in Acts 16:31.”

Yes, Jesus is the Lord, but He would not be if those other things about Him were untrue. Since He is the Lord, He is also sinless, risen from the dead, and God in the flesh. For a lost person to claim to believe that Christ is Lord, while disbelieving who He claimed to be, what He did for us on the cross, and subsequent resurrection, is for that lost person to believe in “
another Jesus”...and remain lost!

February 14, 2009

Bob Wilkin: “Trust(ing) in the Risen Christ (is) Flawed.

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved,” (Romans 10:9).
Many of you are familiar with the Grace Evangelical Society’s Crossless Gospel. This is a reductionist assault on the content of saving faith that was originated by the late Zane Hodges and perpetuated by the Grace Evangelical Society (GES). This teaching is arguably the most extreme reductionist interpretation of the Gospel ever introduced to the New Testament church by one of its own.

When you boil down the
Crossless gospel you have a view that insists the unsaved can be born again apart from being aware of, understanding or believing in whom Jesus is (Deity) and what He did to provide salvation by way of His cross and resurrection. Some of Hodges’s younger followers, such as Antonio da Rosa, have gone to alarming lengths to legitimize the GES’s reductionism. For example da Rosa has maintained and reiterated his extreme statements and positions 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.


*The Mormon Jesus and Evangelical Jesus are one and the same.”
In one discussion a Christian blogger verified that for da Rosa,
Denial of Deity is (in da Rosa’s words) ‘a legitimate nuance.”
Brother **Phillip Evans has reviewed a new article by GES Executive Director Bob Wilkin titled, Believing in the Risen Christ.  Wilkin’s article is a reiteration of the Zane Hodges (Crossless Gospel) reductionist assault on the content of saving faith, in this case, the resurrection of Christ.

Brother Evans has prepared a comprehensive response. Following is a sample:
Wilkin wrote his article to apologize for and change the following statement that appeared in one of the pre-pages of his GES Journal under the title “Statement of Faith”:

Any person who, in simple faith, trusts in the risen Christ as his or her only hope of heaven, refusing to trust in anything else, receives the gift of eternal life which, once granted, can never be lost.”

According to Wilkin, this statement is “
flawed for several reasons.” He then goes on to list four reasons, with his fourth being a direct assault on the truth of the Gospel.
Beginning Tuesday morning we will post the first installment of:

Christ’s Resurrection: Part of the Saving Message?


LM

*In upcoming days this egregious error from Antonio da Rosa will be the subject of a new article and additional special attention.

**Phillip Evans is author of
The Hollow “Gospel” of the Grace Evangelical Society
He also authored the book, Eternal Security Proved.

February 9, 2009

If Anyone Eats of This Bread...” (Part 2)

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Today we continue with part two of Jan’s two part series. If this is your first look at this series, please return to “
If Anyone Eats of This Bread...” for the first installment.

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world,” (John 6:47-51).

Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day,’” (John 6:53, 54).
In verse 47 Jesus says that all that is necessary for eternal life is to believe in Him. But in the later verses He describes what believing in Him entails. In the latter part of verse 51 we see that the bread that He shall give is His flesh, and that He shall give His flesh for the life of the world. He then goes on to say that in order to have eternal life we must eat His flesh and drink His blood, which He will give for the life of the world. Therefore, it is not only Himself but His offering of Himself to the Father on our behalf that we must accept. This is eating His flesh and drinking His blood. We know that this offering of Himself was the sacrifice foretold in the Passover. Jesus Christ is indeed our Passover, sacrificed for us.
...‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb....Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year....Then the whole assembly of the house of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh of it on that night....So you shall eat it is haste. It is the Lord's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast....Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt,’” (Exodus 12:3,5-8,11-13).
The Israelites were to kill the lamb and eat it. They were not to drink the blood, but they were to use it in another way. There was no guarantee of their firstborns living through the night apart from the observance of this sacrifice. They could not just ask God to give them life and omit the Passover sacrifice. They believed God would spare the lives of their firstborns through the means God had given -eating the sacrificed Passover Lamb and putting its blood on their doorposts. And so He was faithful to preserve all who did.
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat, this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes,” (I Corinthians 11:23-26).
On the same theme, we revisit the eating of Christ’s flesh and the drinking of His blood each month in our communion memorial. It is His death that we commemorate with the elements of bread and wine (grape juice). The symbols of bread and wine represent His flesh and His blood respectively (symbols and representations only- they are not His flesh and blood in any actual or transubstantial sense and do not impart grace themselves). When we ingest them we illustrate our acceptance of not only Himself, but also His sacrifice for us. Or, more precisely, Himself via His sacrifice for us. This picture alone makes it quite clear that it is His death on our behalf that we must accept. There is nothing arbitrary about it. It is of central importance to the gospel message.

These three passages taken together argue powerfully for the necessity of accepting the cross/death of Christ in order to have eternal life. But there is more:
...and the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat. Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering...’,” (Leviticus 16: 2-3a).
In the Old Testament we are told of the once yearly offering made by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. The conditions of entry into the Holy Place were very specific. Death was the result if the instructions were not followed. The first instruction given was that Aaron must enter the Holy Place with the blood of a young bull for a sin offering. He was not to enter the Holy Place without it. It was impossible to gain access to the presence of God without a blood offering obtained by killing an animal.
For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part in which was the lampstand, the table, and the show bread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All....But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance....,” (Hebrews 9:2,3,7).
In Hebrews it is confirmed that the High Priest entered the Holy Place only with blood for his and the people's sins. He did not deal with the person of God apart from the required blood or he would die. Blood was necessary to be accepted before God.
...but Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption,” (Hebrews 9:11,12).
Christ Himself entered the heavenly tabernacle with His own blood on our behalf. Because of this, we may enter as well. Yet today many are attempting to gain access to the presence of God apart from the blood of Christ by eliminating the need to believe in the cross work of Christ. But if, as Hebrews says, Christ Himself enters the Holy Place in heaven with His own blood, how are we to think we may enter without it? If the earthly tabernacle could not be entered without blood on pain of death, how is the heavenly tabernacle to be entered apart from faith in Christ's blood? The Bible does not teach this, but the opposite.

What has been shown here is that in order to approach God and live, there must be a sacrifice offered on the sinners behalf. Without that sacrifice the sinner faces certain judgment and death. The final sacrifice was made by Christ and not the sinner. The sinner is commanded to receive by faith the truth that this sacrifice was made on his behalf. It must be agreed upon by both parties- the sinner as well as the Father- that the sacrifice is acceptable for the offense. To fail to accept the sacrifice offered by God for man's sin is to approach Him without a sacrifice. We must come to Jesus for eternal life
through His death on the cross for our sin. It is not case that if the Lord is accepted then the cross is too, by default. Rather, if one does not accept what has been done to procure one's salvation, one has also not accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. Put another way, if the cross is rejected, the Lord is rejected. It is precisely the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, which must be accepted in order to gain the Living Lord Himself and the eternal life which, He gives.

If we do not preach acceptance of the cross- the eating of His flesh and the drinking of His blood- we do not give the terms by, which Jesus must be accepted. Hence, we do not properly allow for the sinner to accept eternal life. Paul said he determined to know nothing among the Corinthians but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He did not preach Christ apart from the cross.

The reception of eternal life depends on the acceptance of what has been done to procure it. Therefore it is incumbent on each evangelist to preach
Christ crucified, the offering for our sin and the means whereby we are reconciled to God. It is incumbent on teachers to teach others to do the same. The sinner must believe Christ has been crucified for him and he must accept that Christ crucified is acceptable and sufficient to atone for his sins. Anything less is not the gospel and will not save.


Many thanks to Jan for this excellent two part series.

February 8, 2009

“Take Heed...Watch & Remember,” Standing Ready in Defense of the Gospel

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

On Monday evening the second of the two-part series,
If Anyone Eats of This Bread… will be posted. In the interim I have a few thoughts to share that flow from the discussion thread under the first installment of the series.

Because the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) stands for an interpretation of the Gospel that has been purged of its saving content they (GES) have become irrelevant to any meaningful discussion of the Gospel. Through adoption of the late Zane Hodges’s reductionist assault on the Gospel, i.e. the content of saving faith, Bob Wilkin and what is left of the GES membership have isolated themselves into an extremist theological corner.

For many it is disappointing to observe what they have become through passionate loyalty to their departed hero (Zane Hodges) who had been Drifting Far Off the Marker in his understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Until they can be recovered from and repent of their errors, isolated in that extremist corner is exactly where it must be shown the GES dwells and where they must be contained.  With any new attempt by GES to spread their reductionist heresy out side their shrinking cell of extremists we must be ready to expose, refute and rebuke any GES attempt to reach beyond their own boundaries. It would be a genuine tragedy for even one more unsuspecting believer to be swept up into the heresy of the GES’s Crossless Gospel.

With that in mind there are several new series in production to remind all of us of the dangerous reductionist extremes the GES has become infamous for. One of these will be posting in just over a week. 

In conjunction with these new series I intend to bring back Phillip Evan’s The Hollow “Gospel” of the Grace Evangelical Society article. It is one of the articles that powerfully exposed the reductionist assault on the Gospel that was originated by Zane Hodges. Here is just one more excerpt from the article:
Look at the context of 2 Cor. 11:4. It’s about another spirit, another gospel! It isn’t about someone introducing a different historical figure who also happened to be named Jesus.

To blind the minds of people, what tactic do you think Satan would use – introduce an altogether different historic person but call him by the same name “Jesus” that brings false doctrines, or would he point to the same historical Jesus while twisting the truth of who Jesus is? In the first instance, Satan would have no credibility at all. What would be the point? In the second, he would have a grain of truth in that he would be outwardly pointing to the same historic Jesus, but at the same time denying the true nature of who Jesus really is. Obviously, Satan will use the tactic that gets the most results, as well as misrepresenting the nature of the particular historical Jesus that he hates the most. Without a doubt Satan has truly blinded GES concerning the Gospel!
Believers have a biblical responsibility and mandate to protect the church of Jesus Christ from any doctrinal assault whether it comes from within or without the church. (See- Perverse Things Draw Away Disciples)
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).
The GES Crossless & Deityless interpretation of the Gospel is the most egregious reductionist assault on the necessary content of saving faith that has ever been introduced to the New Testament church by one of its own, namely Zane Hodges.

With that let us continue to do all we can from the foundation of God’s Word to stand in defense of the Gospel against the twin assaults of
Lordship Salvation and the GES’s Crossless Gospel.


LM

February 3, 2009

If Anyone Eats of This Bread...

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(to be continued)

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

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