December 28, 2007

*Wilkin (Hodges) No Longer Relevant: The Biblical Mandate

Dear Guests:

At the new Grace Evangelical Society blog Bob Wilkin has posted an article titled,
Can we separate Jesus’ gift from His Lordship? No!

The following three paragraphs would have appeared in the thread under the article, but my comment has been blocked. I take no offense to that. It is a GES blog and Wilkin is within his rights to administer his blog any way he chooses.

Once your (Hodges’) “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel became understood both of your voices retroactively lost any meaningful impact in the Lordship Salvation debates.

Lordship Salvation corrupts the Gospel by addition; the “Crossless” theology of Zane Hodges corrupts by subtraction.

Furthermore, you men have not only lost any relevance in the Lordship debates, you have introduced “
division” and “offences” (Rom. 16:17) into the body of Free Grace believers through your “contrary” teaching on the Gospel.
Now, please read those three paragraphs again, and we’ll pick it up from there and shift the discussion.

In the opinion of many pastors and teachers in the Free Grace community the “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel is a departure from the faith once delivered (Jude 3). The Bible mandates what the response should be to brethren who are teaching false doctrine and refuse to be corrected.

In his classic
Biblical Separation, Dr. Ernest Pickering wrote,
What specific circumstances prevent our cooperative fellowship with other truly saved believers?

If the believer teaches false doctrine and refuses to be corrected
. While some hold the position that one believer should never separate from another believer on doctrinal grounds, we believe this position is incorrect. If a professing believer is teaching error and he cannot be persuaded to the truth, he must be excluded from fellowship. An example of this principle is found in 1 Timothy 1:18-20. Hymenaeus and Alexander had departed from sound doctrine. Paul said they were “delivered unto Satan” (v. 20); that is, they were excommunicated from fellowship (cf. 1 Cor.5:5, 13). Paul evidently entertained the hope that the two were genuine believers, and trusted that, if they were, the action would result in repentance. (Biblical Separation, p. 219. [emphasis his.])
Now, be sure to get this final statement from the paragraph above by Dr. Pickering. It makes all of his remarks above relevant to these blog discussions.
The principle applies whether the professing believer is in our own local church or in some other kind of connectional relationship to us, such as a denominational affiliation. (Ibid, p. 219. [bold added.])
Blogs are not church, but there are affiliations/fellowships that have developed in the blogosphere. Attempts to dismiss the Bible doctrine of separation from disobedient brethren are becoming common place. I have read GES sympathizers use the, “This is not church,” argument. It is, however, undeniable that blogs have become vehicles that are serving to form alliances, some of which are dangerous. Loose fellowships and alliances are being formed with the teachers of the heretical Hodges interpretation of the Gospel. This is a violation of the biblical mandates to separate from disobedient brethren who teach false doctrine and refuse to be corrected.

IMO, the two hallmarks of New Evangelicalism are: 1) Questioning the inerrancy of Scripture and 2) Eliminating the biblical doctrine of separation from a) unbelievers and/or b) disobedient brethren.

Those who reject the “
Crossless” gospel, but show an affinity for and defense of the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel, are showing tendencies toward the latter portion of New Evangelicalism. I have been saying this as a point of fact, and as a caution to those of you who are blurring the biblical lines for separation from disobedient brethren.

I have posted at a few of the GES blogs, but my goal has been to be a voice for the fence sitters and lurkers. It would be tragic for even one more believer to be deceived by the teachers of a “
Crossless” gospel. Many FG believers reject the “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel. Cooperative efforts with these teachers of a false gospel only serve to legitimize them and their aberrant teaching. 
 This is wrong and a danger to unsuspecting believers.

Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, Jeremy Myers, Jim Johnson, Antonio da Rosa and others (
such as Alvin, Trent, and Matthew) who are writing in support of the “Crossless” gospel have “departed from sound doctrine.” They refuse correction.

The Bible mandates what the response of believers must be to believers who not only refuse correction, but also aggressively seek to promote their false interpretation the Gospel. To do less than “
mark,” “avoid” (Rom. 16:17-18) and separate (2 Thess. 3: 6, 14-15) from them is a betrayal of the Word of God, and treason to the Lord Jesus whose Gospel they have corrupted.


For a related and expanded discussion see my article
Perverse Things Draw Away Disciples

Spurgeon's Stand for Doctrinal Purity is another related article.

*This article became a blend of two smaller articles.

December 21, 2007

The Heretic in Me: Jeremy Myers' Plea or Pronouncement?

In a comment in the thread under The Technical Meaning of “THE GOSPEL” Part 3 I posted the following to Matthew,

We are witnessing from men in the ‘Crossless’ camp a doctrinal-erosion-in-progress that can be seen through (their) own writings.” (12/20/07 @ 5:00pm)
I had not realized that just a day earlier the nature of my comment had already been realized in the starkest terms. If you will go to Grace Evangelical Society (GES) staff member Jeremy Myers’ personal blog, Till He Comes, you will find an article titled, The Heretic in Me.

In his article Jeremy reveals,
Long held doctrines that I’ve held unswervingly to for years and years are beginning to teeter in my mind.”
For example he writes,
But just as one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure, so also, one person’s heresy is another person’s cardinal doctrine. But I find these days that I have fewer and fewer cardinal doctrines…I do not hold to these things as firm as I once did.”
What are these “cardinal doctrines” that Jeremy no longer holds to? He lists six, including “the literal six day, 24 hour creation,” and a “future seven day Tribulation.”

Even Antonio da Rosa, who holds to the most extreme views of the Zane Hodges “Crossless” gospel, expressed grave concern to Jeremy. Antonio wrote,
When I read your (Jeremy’s) list, my stomach began to turn, literally. I began to get sick in my stomach, literally.”
Toward the end of his article Myers writes,
There is not a church in the country that would hire a pastor who has doubts about this list of doctrines.”
Who or what has lead Myers to the brink of what he acknowledged is viewed as heresy? Myers notes author/speaker Donald Miller’s book Blue Lake Jazz as a source that has contributed to his shifting positions.

Is it possible Myers is simply expressing more of what he has been lead to believe under the teaching of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin? Has Bob Wilkin contributed to the list of “cardinal doctrines” that Myers has noted he is now “shifting” his position on?

These are not mere nuances on minor doctrines. These are serious issues that Myers raises about his personal theology. He is “shifting” on major doctrinal truths.

Would it be wise for the remaining members of the GES to take note of where Myers is headed, especially since he is on staff at the GES? Do the positions Myers is suggesting he has adopted (or about to embrace) reflect the doctrinal position of GES Executive Director Bob Wilkin? Shouldn't Myers be taken under wing by someone who can help him recover to a balanced biblical position?

In Acts 18:24-28 we see the episode where Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos aside and “expound unto him the way of God more perfectly.” Shouldn’t someone take Jeremy aside for the same purpose? Someone has taken him aside and the obvious detrimental ramifications of what has been introduced to him are coming to the fore.

Myers is on staff at the GES. Why is Myers in a leadership capacity with the GES when he has admitted to having lost his theological moorings? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to encourage Myers to step down until such time he finds his doctrinal footing once again?

Until Myers can (if ever) be recovered he should not be among the leadership of any church or para-church organization in evangelical circles. Was Myers thrust into the GES leadership before he had grown from a “novice” (1 Tim. 3:6)?

No one, possibly not even Myers, may fully understand why he posted The Heretic in Me article. Is it a plea for help? Could it be his initial pronouncement of an adoption of what most across a broad spectrum of evangelical Christianity would call a radical departure from “the faith once delivered” on several levels?

These questions, for now, remain unanswered. What we know with certainty, however, is that Jeremy Myers is on shaky theological ground, and he may teeter to the point of toppling into gross heresy, if he has not already done so.

Jeremy is, in my opinion, one of the young men who has become a genuine tragedy and casualty of the teachings of Zane Hodges & Bob Wilkin.


December 19, 2007

The Technical Meaning of the Term, “THE GOSPEL,” Part 3

Dear Guests:

We are continuing the special series by Greg Schliesmann


Exhibit D: 1 Corinthians 4:15

For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”

Please notice that Paul has “begotten” the Corinthians through “the gospel.” The term “begotten” refers to regeneration (cf. John 3:3, 7; 1Pet. 1:23-25). This refers to the salvation of the LOST, not some sort of spiritual awakening of those already saved!

Paul’s idea of “the gospel” through which the Corinthians were regenerated in 1Cor 4:15 is certainly no different than “the gospel” aka “the message of the cross” we read about in 1Cor 1:17-21 and will read about in 1Cor 15:1-4.

Yet, again, crossless gospel proponents deny that the term “the gospel” DOES have a technical usage that refers to the essential message of salvation.

Exhibit E: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how 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…”

My comments about this will be brief as I have already made longer posts on this specific passage. Crossless gospel advocates correctly point out that v. 2 is properly translated “are being saved” and does not refer to salvation from hell. It refers to second-tense salvation of believers. However, Paul’s point is that the Corinthians initially “received” this message when he “evangelized it” to them at a certain time in the past. This certain time in the past certainly refers to the same thing as 1Cor. 4:15, when Paul begot the Corinthians “through the gospel”. Notice he says this is the message he delivered “first of all” (en protois).

I think the idea that “Christ died for sins” and rose again is ONLY “good news” for BELIEVERS, not “the gospel” for the lost is so absurd it hardly needs comment. I do not believe specifically emphasizes every aspect of the gospel, but it focuses on the foundational truth that counters the Corinthian heresy. But I believe this passage proves that the gospel message focuses on Christ’s “death for our sins” and resurrection, though this is NOT to the exclusion of Christ’s promise of salvation by faith alone which is implied when Christ’s DEATH “for our sins” is properly understood, nor to the exclusion of the essential facts that define WHO this Christ is. The very mention of “Christ” or “Jesus” as the main character of the message of salvation raises the question, “who is He?”

GES advocates love to claim that if we say this passage references the gospel brought to the lost, then we must say Christ’s burial and witness by 500 are part of the gospel. Instead, they insist this is just good news to believers–not “the gospel” for the lost. Antonio da Rosa has remarked that each of the clauses in v. 4, 5, 6, 7 begins with hoti, and somehow that is supposed to mean that they are equivalent as essential elements to the gospel.

But I wonder if they are so treacherous in their own application of this passage!? Let’s pretend for a minute that crossless gospel advocates are actually correct by contending that “the gospel” here applies only to believers. Do they seriously insist that believers must “hold fast” to the truths of who saw Christ first, second, and third and how many people saw him in order be sanctified? No, I assume not. I do not think they would tell a believer that he could not grow as a Christian because he forgot who saw Christ first, second, and third. Instead, if that question actually came up in their own congregations, they would probably get some common sense really fast. They would explain to believers the burial is mentioned as proof of His death, and the witnesses are mentioned as proof of His resurrection.

Allow me to make a second point. Paul says this gospel is “according to the Scriptures”. This phrase only modifies Christ’s death for sins and resurrection in v. 3 and v. 4 about the death and resurrection of Christ “He died for our sins according to the Scriptures” and “He rose from the dead according to the Scriptures”. Aside from that, we know the Scriptures did not predict anything referenced in vv. 5-10 regarding who saw Christ. In Romans 1:2, Paul indicated that the gospel was promised before in the Scriptures. The extra elements Paul mentions do not constitute the truths promised before in the Scriptures but serve as proofs of them.

Exhibit F: 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

Once again, the thing that separates the “lost” from the saved is “the glorious gospel of Christ”.
Again and again, we see that “the gospel” does not refer to general sanctification truth for believers which may include all of the NT and OT. No, it is a specific message that divides the lost from the saved. What is it that the lost “believe not”? What is it that Satan blinds them from? What message will save them if they but believe? The glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.

Yet crossless gospel proponents argue there is no such thing called “the gospel” that the lost must believe to be saved.

Please continue the series at The Technical Meaning of the Term, “The Gospel,” Part 4

December 18, 2007

The Technical Meaning of the Term, “THE GOSPEL,” Part 2


Does the term “the gospel” ever have a technical usage for the message the lost must believe to be saved?

Exhibit A: Acts 15:7-9

In Acts, six passages speak about preaching “the gospel” to the lost (8:25; 14:6; 14:21; 15:7; 16:10; 20:24). In Acts 15:7-9, Peter recounts the story of his evangelism to the household of Cornelius:

Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of THE GOSPEL AND BELIEVE. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by FAITH.”

Is Peter talking about “everything in the NT, if not everything in the entire Bible” when he uses the term “the gospel” in this passage (15:7)? Obviously not! He is talking about the specific message by which the lost are saved. The Gentiles were “saved” by “faith” in the “gospel”. It is upon believing “the gospel” that the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit (15:7). It is upon believing the gospel that their hearts were purified (15:8).

As a matter of fact, Peter was invited by Cornelius to preach the gospel because an angel appeared to Cornelius and told him to call for Peter “who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved” (11:14). By which words were these Gentiles saved if it was not the message Peter had it mind when he said, “God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of THE GOSPEL AND BELIEVE.”

The point is this: The Gentiles were saved through faith. Faith in what according to the context? The Gospel. The gospel here has a technical meaning for the message that the Gentiles were required to believe to be saved.

If Myers somehow wants to make a typically absurd GES-esque argument that “saved” (11:14; cf. 15:11) and “forgiveness of sins” (10:43) and “gospel” (15:7) and “believe” (10:43; 15:7) and “washed” (15:9) do not refer to the event in which these Gentiles were justified before God and saved from hell, and if he wishes to contend they were already saved from hell before Peter preached to them, he still must admit this is the event that they were placed into the body of Christ via the baptism of the Holy Spirit which Peter mentions in 11:16. The condition to be placed into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1Cor. 12:13), which is the essence of salvation in the church age is the same for us — to believe the gospel (cf. Gal. 3:26-27).

Exhibit B: Romans 1:16

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.”

Here is a passage that will fulfill Jeremy’s prophecy: “My prediction is that the passages he has in mind either use the term “saved” which in context does not refer to justification.

GES advocates have been very satisfied with their totally unsubstantiated claim that Romans 1:16 does not refer to the message preached to the lost. Rather, they argue it refers to general truths preached to believers for salvation from God’s wrath (even though the Bible teaches believers are NOT subject to God’s wrath).

To the contrary, I believe there are several proofs this particular verse speaks about the gospel brought to the LOST for first-tense salvation/ justification/ eternal life, not to a message brought only to believers supposedly for God’s wrath toward carnal believers! The most obvious, in my eyes, is that “the gospel” which is “the power of God unto salvation” is carried “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” This is concerning the evangelism of the LOST. There is no sense whatever that the gospel is “first to the Jew” among BELIEVERS who are “in Christ” where “there is neither Jew nor Gentile” (cf. 1Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27-28; Col. 3:11).

Let me summarize a couple points why this is talking about salvation from hell and evangelism to the lost:

1. “…for the Jew first and also for the Greek” refers to the early Church pattern of evangelism of the lost. To claim that spiritual truth among Church-age believers somehow applies to the “Jew first and also to the Greek” specifically contradicts the NT teaching that… “the new man who is renewed in knowledge [this does refer to sanctification truth] according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised…” (Col. 3:10-11). The NT specifically teaches that the new man is to be renewed in the knowledge of God’s word, but that there is absolutely no distinction between Greek nor Jew in this respect. How then could general revelation for believers be “first to Jewish church age believers, then to Gentile church age believer” in light of Colossians 3:10-11??? Such an idea also contradicts the general teaching about believers being positioned in Christ where there is neither Jew nor Gentile (cf. 1Cor. 12:13, Gal. 3:26-27).

2. Romans 1:2-4 also refers to “the gospel” which was promised previously in the “Scriptures”. This is significant for a couple reasons. First of all, there is certainly no reason to distinguish between “the gospel” of Romans 1:2-4 and 1:16. So in the very first chapter of Romans, Paul teaches that justification is by faith alone in the gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection. This is paralleled throughout the rest of the book where Paul teaches justification by faith in the same truths (cf. 3:19-26; 9:30-10:4; 10:16). These each refer to first-tense salvation.

Second, Paul states that the gospel was “promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures” (1:2). This corresponds with Paul’s point about “the gospel” being “according to the Scriptures” in 1Cor. 15:1-4. He is referring to the same gospel. Third, this gospel message emphasizes the Deity, humanity, death, and resurrection of Christ (1:2-4), all of which are preached, for example, in Acts to the LOST. It is simply implausible to suggest this “gospel” is intended only for believers to escape the temporal wrath of God, not for unbelievers to be saved from hell!

3. There is a change in pronouns between 1:15-16 from “you” (1:15) to “everyone” which are specifically identified as “Jews” and “Greeks” (1:16). Although Paul intended to preach the gospel to the Romans, so that they could gain a greater understanding of how Christ’s death and resurrection relates to their lives, Paul does not say in v. 16, “so that it can save you”. He reminds them of the importance of the gospel by stating “it is the power of God to salvation for EVERYONE who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” The implication is that the objective truths of Christ’s death and resurrection which is essential to the salvation of the lost (Rom. 1:16) is also the basis for everything in the Christian life (Rom. 1:15).

4. For some reason GES advocates are very adamant about claiming there are TWO conditions to “salvation” from God’s temporal wrath for believers when they get to Romans 10:9-10. They argue that “confess” means to live a life of discipleship in which one outwardly confesses Jesus Christ. They specifically point out this is in ADDITION to believing. And yet, Romans 1:16 — which they claim also speaks of salvation of temporal wrath for believers — only mentions one condition: “the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who BELIEVES.” This sounds like salvation by faith alone to me, not salvation by faith plus discipleship. Why the inconsistency?

5. Notice, also, that this passage is parallel to the next which is clearly a reference to the gospel brought to the lost for salvation:

Exhibit C: 1Corinthians 1:17-23
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.”

Notice that the message that must be preached to the lost and must be received by the lost for salvation is called “the gospel” (1:17). This gospel heralds the “cross of Christ” (1:17) and is actually called “the message of the cross” (1:18). This is “the message preached” by which it pleases God “to save those who believe”. Notice that this message specifically involves preaching “Christ crucified” (1:23).

On another forum, Antonio da Rosa indicated that it is insufficient to cite this passage as proof the message of the cross involves Christ’s death. Instead, I needed some exegesis to show “the message of the cross” by which Paul preached “Christ crucified” includes Christ’s death. Umm. Huh??

Can any exegesis possibly prove the “message of the cross” does not necessarily involve Christ’s death? There is little left to say to a person who chooses to be such a fool. I do not say this without love for Jesus Christ or the accursed heretic. Earlier I pleaded to him with this message:
For the man who so lacks fear before God that he would somehow divest “the message of the cross” of Christ’s death, whatever fear he does not have, I fear for him. O, I beg you not to shut your eyes, not to harden your heart, not to resist the utterly clear statements of Scripture on this subject.”
Paul points out that what separates those who are PERISHING from those who are SAVED is that the saved were saved via faith in the message of the cross which is also called “the gospel” (1:17, 18, 21)? Lest anyone claim that this only has to do with salvation of believers, let me point out the terms “saved” and “perish” (1Cor. 1:18) are articular participles that function like adjectives to refer to two GROUPS of people, without reference to progression/verbal aspect. Notice that faith in the “message of the cross” is what separates the “saved” from the “perishing.”

Furthermore, let me point out that the message of the cross is a STUMBLING BLOCK and FOOLISHNESS to the world! Even though the world was stumbled by this message, Paul thought it ESSENTIAL to preach to the world so that they could be saved! How utterly ironic–and how incredibly sad–that GES members would accuse people like me of STUMBLING the lost by insisting they believe in Christ Crucified!!

This point completely dismantles the crossless gospel argument that we “should” preach the cross only because it is a good apologetic for the offer of eternal life. Paul held up the cross of Jesus Christ to the lost even when it stumbled them. Zane Hodges said,
Most of us deplore efforts made by Lordship people to add provisos to the message of faith in Christ…We rightly reject such ideas. But in our own circles, there is a tendency to add theological information to our message of faith.”
By “add (extra) theological information,” Hodges explicitly includes “the cross” or “Christ’s substitutionary atonement,” or the insistence on telling the unsaved the must believe “Jesus died for your sins.” This is found in his How to Lead People to Christ Pt. 1, 2 articles.

Other GES advocates have accused us of stumbling the lost by insisting that the lost believe the message of the CROSS for salvation. Their posts can be found on virtually any of the Free Grace blogs. Yet, how utterly ironic that they have placed us into the same company as the Apostle Paul–stumbling the lost with the message of the CROSS by insisting that they believe the message of the CROSS for salvation! Paul indicated that YES, the message of the cross IS a stumbling block for the lost, and yet he did not offer them any other message by which they could be saved!

Please notice very carefully that the message of the cross was not confined inside the churches, but is specifically what “Jews” and “Greeks” heard and rejected (I’m thinking again of the parallel between Romans 1:16 and 1Cor. 1:17-21).

Yet crossless gospel proponents insist that there is no such thing as “the gospel” that the lost must to believe to be saved!

*Part 3, a continuation of the SCRIPTURAL EXHIBITS, is next in the series. Please continue the series at The Technical Meaning of the Term, “The Gospel,” Part 3

December 17, 2007

The Technical Meaning of the Term, “THE GOSPEL,” Part 1

Dear Guests:

Following is the beginning of Greg Schliesmann’s multi-part series, 
The Technical Meaning of the Term, “THE GOSPEL”

As I suggested earlier, please approach the series with this mind set: If the Holy Spirit shows me something that I may have misunderstood or misinterpreted I will respond to Him.


Before posting these verses, allow me to clarify what my intention IS and what it is NOT. My intention is NOT to exegetically identify the elements that comprise the specific message for salvation termed “the gospel.” I’m sure this will be done through a medium more suitable for such a study such as a more formal article. My intention is to briefly address a more basic question:

Is the term “the gospel” ever used after Christ’s resurrection as a technical term for the specific message that the lost must believe to get saved?

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, Myer’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.]

Next, let me clarify my intention is NOT to prove *every* instance of the term “gospel” is applied in this technical sense. Crossless gospel advocates often pretend that our view requires every instance of “gospel” to refer to the same thing. That is nothing but a straw man argument.

For example, we know that in 1 Thess. 3:6, Paul uses the Greek word for “gospel” in its very general sense of good news… “Timotheus…brought us good news of your faith and charity… .” That is obviously the general “good news” sense. But we will see when a message is referred to “the gospel” after Christ’s resurrection, it usually refers to this specific message preached to the lost, which the lost must believe in order to receive eternal life.

It is also important to point out that we are investigating the usage of this term after Christ’s resurrection. Only after Christ’s death and resurrection did the term “the gospel” refer to this message the lost must believe to be saved. In fact, the message of Christ’s death and resurrection was never called “the gospel” until Christ rose from the dead.

Even during Christ’s earthly ministry, the term “the gospel” was used in both a broad and technical sense. For example, the term “the gospel” was often used in reference to “the gospel of the kingdom” that Christ and His disciples preached to the Jews (Mt. 4:23, 9:35, cf. 10:7; Mk. 1:15). So even at that time, “the gospel” had a technical usage then for a different specific message that applied to that particular time.

This point refutes Myers’s entire methodology toward defining “the gospel.” In his article and supplementary “Word Study Chart,” Myers collects various passages that use the term “gospel” along with any nearby statement Myers believes to hint at its content. In conclusion, Myers lists over fifty statements or truths he believes are included in “the gospel.”

The unfortunate dishonesty that lies at the root of Myers’s methodology is especially apparent when he adds his own spin to the fact that there is an undeniable technical usage of “the gospel” in reference to the gospel of the kingdom during Christ’s earthly ministry. Myers starts by properly distinguishing the gospel of the kingdom from the gospel of grace. He asks,

Would you go to Matthew [i.e., accounts in Christ’s earthly ministry that use the term ‘the gospel’], and say that Paul preached the gospel of the kingdom?”

Myers correctly implies it is illegitimate to confuse the gospel of the kingdom with the gospel of grace.

After acknowledging this well-known Biblical distinction, Myers later on defies all logic when he concludes that “the gospel” includes both the gospel of the kingdom (from Christ’s earthly ministry) and the gospel of grace (from the Church Age) so that they cannot be individually distinguished! He lists them both, along with 50 other items, in his so-called “Word Study Chart” to prove “essentially, the gospel includes everything in the NT, if not everything in the entire Bible.” This, dear friend, is the sort of reasoning on which the GES hangs its contention that there is no such thing called “the gospel” that the lost must believe to be saved? But What Does the Bible Teach?

*In Part 2 of this series we will view the first set of Scriptural Exhibits that answer Greg's question; What Does the Bible Teach? Please continue the series at The Technical Meaning of the Term, “The Gospel,” Part 2

December 14, 2007

New Series by Greg Schliesmann

Dear Guests:

Earlier this year Mr. Greg Schliesmann wrote a comment that addressed one of the more egregious errors of the “Crossless” gospel. His comment appeared in the thread of a Crossless blog and had essentially been lost there. Last week I happened to find it and believed it is relevant to the current discussions. At my request Greg has taken that comment and expanded into a multi-part series.

Greg’s original comment was in response to several statements by advocates of the “Crossless” gospel that are as unusual and out-of-balance as you will ever read on the “The Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The first in the series will be posted no Monday morning. The balance of Greg’s series will follow on successive days.

To best appreciate what Greg has developed will require more than a cursory read. I want to kindly encourage every guest, especially those of you who may be on the fence or have already adopted the Hodges’ “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel, to approach Greg’s series as a study.

Please approach the series with this mind set: If the Holy Spirit shows me something that I may have misunderstood or misinterpreted I will respond to Him.


*Please view both of Greg's previous series:

False Paradigms of the “Crossless” Gospel

The “Christ” Under Siege

December 11, 2007

Is the “Crossless” Label the Right Label?

On going concerns have been raised by men in the Hodges/GES camp about the use of the label “Crossless” gospel. I am going to post a few notes to help my guests understand why the Zane Hodges interpretation of the Gospel has come to be known as the “Crossless” gospel.

Since the early days of the debate over the new interpretation of the Gospel that originated with Zane Hodges, the advocates of the so-called “Crossless” gospel have bristled over use of that label for their position. They often refer to the label as a pejorative. Pejorative defined means, “having a disparaging, derogatory, or belittling effect or force.”

Is the “Crossless” labeling a pejorative? Or is the “Crossless” label an appropriate choice that accurately defines the Hodges' interpretation of the Gospel?

Pastor Tom Stegall has been writing a series of articles under the title The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel. This series appears in the Grace Family Journal (GFJ). Pastor Stegall recently dedicated several pages to a discussion of why the “Crossless” gospel is the appropriate label for the interpretation of the Gospel coming from Zane Hodges and the Grace Evangelical Society. At the GFJ site scroll down to the Special Edition of The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel.  Download Part 4, and direct your attention to pp. 10-ff.

Pastor Bret Nazworth read Stegall’s Special Edition, Part 4. This was his reaction, which he posted under the Special Edition of the Grace Family Journal.

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.”

Tragically, the deity of Christ, the cross and resurrection are superfluous details to the non-believer. Use it if you want, but never present it as part of the saving message that must be believed!

By their definition and distinctions we who preach Christ crucified for sins and resurrected as THE Gospel to be preached and believed upon by the sinner are preaching “ANOTHER GOSPEL.” Yes, no matter which way you dice it up, when our messages are juxtaposed, one of us has and preaches “another gospel”.

One of our messages has to bring “anathema” by biblical standards. There is no biblical squirm-room on this matter because they are undeniably different messages.

The GES has left us no room for doubting which one they would believe deserves anathema (as being “another gospel”). To my knowledge they have not said this, but by all implications, this has to be true. Think about this carefully. The message that contains, faith in Our Precious and Exalted God and Savior, Jesus Christ’s death for our sins and His glorious resurrection is the message, that by their definition of the gospel produces ANATHEMA. This message is totally different from their message.

Unimaginably, the message that exalts Jesus Christ and His Finished Work on Calvary is the message that by their definition of the gospel has to bring anathema. Can you stomach that?
In the same thread Rachel made an important contribution in reply to Bret’s note,

Actually, Bob Wilkin has stated more than once that his version of the gospel is the only one, and all others are false (either that or his is false, but of course he doesn't think his is false). Wilkin debated Dr. Darrell Bock (Dallas Seminary professor) several years ago, here is the transcript.

On page 30 a questioner from the audience specifically asks him if “his gospel” is “the exclusive gospel.” He responds in the affirmative. The person presses him further, asking, “So therefore any one who is not adhering to the free grace gospel, in your opinion, would fall under the anathema of Galatians 1?” Now, obviously this person is asking about “free grace” in general, but in context he is referring to whatever Wilkin believes is “the gospel.” In Wilkins’s opening statement of this debate he indicated that the statement “faith alone saves but the faith that saves is not alone” is not the gospel. So this question references Wilkins's specific take on “the gospel.”

Wilkins’s answer:Yes. In terms of the anathema of Galatians 1, my view is, any one who is proclaiming a false gospel … a person hypothetically could believe a false gospel and not proclaim it. But if they’re proclaiming a false gospel, they fall under the curse, which I take it is the curse of God which falls upon the life of someone here and now. It’s not like the NIV translates it, ‘let him be eternally condemned.’ That’s not a translation; that’s an interpretation. It simply says anathema -- let him be under the curse of God. And so I take it what that means is if I know someone that’s proclaiming a false gospel, I don’t send money into their ministry, I don’t pray for God to bless their ministry. Instead I pray for God to bring them back to the true gospel.”

Also, the following statement from a journal article written by Wilkin is pretty clear: “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.”
(See JOTGES Autumn 1998.)
From the writing of Zane Hodges, Pastor Stegall demonstrates why his (Hodges’) position is appropriately labeled a “Crossless” gospel. Ps. Stegall writes,
After reading all that Hodges has written…one is baffled as to how the preaching of the cross can seriously be considered ‘essential’.”
Here is an example from Hodges,
I have heard people say this: ‘In order to be saved you must believe that Jesus died on the cross.’ . . . . usually implied is the idea that Christ's work on the cross is sufficient to provide for our salvation... Let me be honest, I don’t like this way of presenting a gospel invitation.” (JOTGES 14:1, Spring 01, p. 11)
Hodges, Wilkin, Meyers and da Rosa are on record claiming that a lost man can be saved apart from any knowledge, understanding or belief in the deity, cross or resurrection of Christ. Throughout the debate the Grace Evangelical Society’s most vocal apologist Antonio da Rosa has written some of the most extreme statements that reveal the true nature of the GES’s reductionist assault on the content of saving faith. For example: position that the cross and resurrection are not the conscious and necessary objects/content to saving faith, and my position that a man may be born again apart from an understanding of Christ’s death for sin.”

“Theologically speaking, ‘explicit belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection’ is not soteriologically necessary for the reception of eternal life.”

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.

I would never say you don’t have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. This has the import of the gospel proposition which makes it salvific! 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!

If I were talking to a Jew, he may very well ask me about the deity and humanity of Jesus. I would certainly entertain his questions and answer them to the best of my ability. But if such a one continued to express doubts or objections to this, I would say politely, ‘Let us for the time being put this issue on the back-burner. Can I show you from the Jewish Scriptures that the advent of Jesus Christ fulfills many prophecies?’ . . . Objections and denials of things pertaining to Jesus can surely preclude one from faith in Him for eternal life. If this Jew can put aside...the discussion of Christ’s deity, and Christ’s voluntary consent to die, and look in a considerate way at the prophecies concerning Christ’s advent in the Old Testament, His miracles, His teachings, His compassionate acts, His righteous and holy acts, and through consideration of these things, become persuaded that Jesus guarantees his eternal destiny through faith, why would anyone consider him unsaved?”

I do not believe that one must understand, assent to, or be aware of the historical Jesus of Nazareth’s deity in order to simply be justified and receive eternal life.

The Mormon Jesus and Evangelical Jesus are One and the Same.
For the “Crossless” advocates the finished work of Christ and His deity are stumbling blocks to their methodology of personal evangelism. They do not hesitate to jettison (“put on the back-burner,” according to da Rosa) these truths from the evangelistic message. They essentially agree to deny the cross, His bodily resurrection and deity on a practical level, if those truths are offensive to the lost man they are witnessing to.

No amount of complaining by any advocate of the “Crossless” gospel, can change the fact that their interpretation removes the finished work of Christ on the cross from what a lost man must know and believe for salvation. The “Crossless” gospel advocates repeatedly claim the label “Crossless” is a misrepresentation. You will read comments such as: 

Since I share the Gospel with the Cross and Resurrection it is a dishonest label.”
Since the gospel I share includes the Cross, crossless gospel is gross misrepresentation.”

Those of us who use the label “Crossless” have always conceded that these men believe in and would share the cross in an evangelistic setting. The crux of debate and controversy, however, is that they also believe a lost man does not have to know, understand or believe in the finished work of Christ to be born again. Because they dismiss the cross, His resurrection and deity from the Gospel to be believed for salvation, their system has been properly labeled a “Crossless” gospel.

In his Special Edition, Part 4 (p. 10) Pastor Stegall offers this note of acknowledgment
I recognize that labeling the gospel message of certain men within the Free Grace camp as a “crossless” gospel is a provocative statement. Some have already claimed it is a misrepresentation of their actual position, since these men still believe very passionately that Jesus Christ is truly God who became incarnate to die for all our sins and who rose gloriously from the dead. And in addition, not only do they personally believe these cardinal doctrines to be true, they often preach these truths with the utmost conviction as being the absolutely necessary basis of our salvation. For that I am truly grateful. I have been very careful to this point specifically not to claim that they never preach Christ’s person and work, or that they deny His deity, death for sin, and resurrection as the essential grounds upon which God can even provide the gift of salvation to mankind. What I have specifically objected to as unscriptural is their denial that these truths are essential for the unregenerate to believe as part of the gospel to the lost. In this, they cannot claim I have misrepresented their position; for in fact, their position is now well documented through their many published writings and recorded public teachings.

So how should we view their gospel preaching? First of all, we should admit that “while they” adamantly deny that the lost must believe in Christ’s deity, substitutionary death, and resurrection to receive the gift of eternal life, they also insist that these truths should still be proclaimed to the lost.
Pastor Stegall then proceeds to document “their many published writings.”  I join Pastor Stegall and do not question the “Crossless” advocates personal belief in the finished work of Christ. I believe they will speak of the finished work of Christ to a lost man. The crux of controversy and the reason for the “Crossless” label is simply because they believe and insist a lost man can be born again apart from any understanding or belief in the finished work of Christ.

In my book
In Defense of the Gospel I noted how in the early days of the Lordship controversy (1988-ff.), John MacArthur bristled at the label, “Lordship Salvation” when it was attached to his view of the Gospel. In The Gospel According to Jesus, MacArthur wrote,
I don't like the term ‘lordship salvation.’ It was coined by those who want to eliminate the idea of submission to Christ from the call of saving faith, and it implies that Jesus’ lordship is a false addition to the gospel.”
MacArthur has since those early days embraced the term. Does any one recall Hodges, Wilkin, Ryrie or any other Free Grace leader claiming we need to respect MacArthur’s wishes and use some other more agreeable label of MacArthur’s choosing? No one did that I am aware of! Yet there are some in the Free Grace community who want to concede to the “Crossless” gospel advocates demands to refer to their peculiar theology the way they insist it should be.

Based on the overwhelming evidence from their own writing the Hodges, Wilkin, GES aberrant interpretation of the Gospel will always, and only be referred to as the “Crossless” gospel by those of us who will not surrender the pure doctrinal high ground for the sake of unity. Whether those men like it or not, they need to get used to their theology being known and referred to as a “Crossless” gospel. In reference to the Hodges/GES interpretation of the Gospel the “Crossless” label is going to be used permanently and without apology.

If the teaching of Hodges, Wilkin and the GES on what a sinner must believe for salvation included belief in the finished work of Christ then the label “Crossless” gospel would be a pejorative. Since, however, it is on record that the GES teaches that lost men can be saved apart from believing in the finished work of Christ, the label “Crossless” is indeed appropriate and accurate term for their reductionist interpretation of the Gospel, and is going to be used permanently without apology.


December 6, 2007

The Simple Natural Meaning of the Terms

Dear Guests:

In recent days I have spent a great deal of time interacting with several advocates of the “Crossless” gospel at another blog: Rose's Reasonings.

That blog is, in my opinion, somewhat neutral on the doctrinal controversy, but supportive and protective of the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel. My fear is that continued close interaction and cooperative efforts with the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel increases the likelihood of adopting a personal belief in, and an unqualified endorsement of the “Crossless” gospel as an acceptable interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That would be tragic!

In a thread at Rose's blog Antonio da Rosa directed this question to her (Rose), the blog's administrator and host,

In what way must the lost man believe that Jesus died for his sins and rose from the dead for the reception of eternal life?”
He was replying to Rose's answer to the question that defines whether or not someone has adopted the teaching of the “Crossless” gospel. To remind others, the defining question is:

In this dispensation, speaking exclusively of the “norm,” and excluding the “exceptional” cases, must that lost man believe Jesus died for his sins and rose from the dead for the reception of eternal life (salvation)?

Rose's reply was a simple, unvarnished, “Yes.” Antonio is on record taking the negative view. He questions Rose because her affirmative answer presently put her on record in opposition to the interpretation of the Gospel that Antonio and the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) hold to.

The simple answer to Antonio’s question to Rose is: “The Bible way,” which is provided below. Antonio also answers his own question within his question itself. He does not, however, recognize the answer within his question because he does not define the terms (or apply them) “in the simple natural meaning of the terms employed.”

May I remind my guests that Antonio da Rosa, representative of the teaching of Zane Hodges, has written that the lost man can not only be unaware of, but can consciously object/reject the deity, death and resurrection of Christ and still be born again. According to Hodges, who originated “Crossless” gospel theology, the lost man can be saved apart from any understanding of or belief in whom Jesus is and what He did to provide salvation. (See JOTGES 14:1, Spring 01; How to Lead People to Christ, Part 1 & 2.) In addition to Antonio, others who hold to the teachings of Hodges include Bob Wilkin, Jeremy Myers and a number of lesser known persons who participate in or contribute to the “Crossless” gospel blogs.

In regard to Hodges’ teaching on the Gospel Brother George Zeller wrote,
This teaching is serious and cuts to the very heart of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:3-4). There are those even within the free grace group who are very concerned about Hodges' teaching on the gospel….
Visit The Teachings of Zane Hodges Here you will find some teachings by Hodges that have a number of pastors/teachers concerned.

The system of thinking, which has come to be known as the “Crossless” gospel is antithetical to many clear Scriptures that teach otherwise. Passages such as the following answer the question Antonio posed to Rose:
“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also,” (1 John 2:22-23)

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God,” (
2 John 9).

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,” (John 17:1-3).

“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).

“And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name,” (
John 20:30-31).

“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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” (Romans 10:9-10).

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how 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,” (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

In da Rosa's ’s latest article on his interpretation of the Judgment Seat of Christ he included this from *G. H. Lang,
It is a fairly sure sign that a line of exposition is correct when it enables numerous passages to be taken in the simple natural meaning of the terms employed...”
The answer to Antonio’s question is answered with a single, biblically defined word. The word is, “believe.” The answer appears within Antonio’s question, and is properly defined and applied in the inspired, inerrant, Word of God.

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,” (Rom. 10:9).

If the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel had taken the “simple natural meaning of the terms employed” in the Bible passages above, especially the word “believe,” those men would not have so quickly fallen into the trap of Zane Hodges’ “Crossless/Deityless” reductionist, non-saving interpretation of the Gospel.


*G. H. Lang stated out-of-balance views on a “punitive” Judgment Seat of Christ that were taken to great extremes by modern day writers. It will be worth watching to see if Antonio articulates these modern day views as his own.

December 1, 2007

Never Sacrifice “Doctrinal Purity” on the Altar of “Unity”!

Dear Guests:

Following is a repeat from my Heart to Heart series on Romans 16:17. I have taken this from a chapter in my book In Defense of the Gospel and revised it for use in the “Crossless” gospel controversy we find the Free Grace community engaged in.

I want this challenege from Spurgeon to remind my guests that we must never seek unity at the expense of doctrinal purity. Seeking and/or encouraging unity with the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel can only be done by sacrificing the doctrinal purity of the Gospel.

Compromising the fundamentals of our faith in order to be accepted by and retain fellowship with our peers is wrong. In his day, Charles H. Spurgeon valiantly fought against false teaching and the compromise of major fundamental doctrines in order to maintain unity. Many believe that this struggle led to his premature death. Although the majority of Spurgeon’s Baptist contemporaries agreed with his doctrinal stand,

They preferred unity above the maintenance of doctrinal purity. He attacked the position by saying, ‘first pure, then peaceable; if only one is attainable, choose the former. Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin. . . . To pursue union at the price of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus’.” 1

Following are excerpts from an article written by Charles Haddon Spurgeon in 1888. Spurgeon wrote this article to explain why he had separated from the London Baptist Association. From Spurgeon’s article, we learn that we must be willing to separate from those institutions and persons who have strayed from the major tenets of our faith, especially the Gospel.

The Drift of the Times Sound the Alarm!
Separation Not Alone Our Privilege But Our Duty

As soon as I saw, or thought I saw, that error had become firmly established, I did not deliberate but quitted the body at once. Since then my counsel has been, “Come ye out from among them.” If I have rejoiced in the loyalty to Christ's truth which has been shown in other courses of action, yet I have felt that no protest could be equal to that of distinct separation from known evil.

The Brethren in the Middle

The brethren in the middle are the source of this clinging together of discordant elements. These who are for peace at any price, who persuade themselves that there is very little wrong, who care chiefly to maintain existing institutions, these are the good people who induce the weary combatants to repeat the futile attempt at a coalition which, in the nature of things, must break down. If both sides could be unfaithful to conscience, or if the glorious gospel could be thrust altogether out of the question, there might be a league of amity established; but as neither of these things can be, there would seem to be no reason for persevering in the attempt to maintain a confederacy for which there is no justification in fact and from which there can be no worthy result, seeing it does not embody a living truth. A desire for unity is commendable. Blessed are they who can promote it and preserve it! But there are other matters to be considered as well as unity, and sometimes these may even demand the first place.

Separation A Duty

Numbers of good brethren in different ways remain in fellowship with those who are undermining the Gospel; and they talk of their conduct as though it were a loving course of action which the Lord will approve of in the day of His appearing. We cannot understand them. The bounden duty of a true believer towards men who profess to be Christians and yet . . . reject the fundamentals of the Gospel is to come out from among them. . . . Complicity with error will take from the best of men the power to enter any successful protest against it. If any body of believers had errorists among them but were resolute to deal with them in the name of the Lord, all might come right; but confederacies founded upon the principle that all may enter, whatever views they hold, are based upon disloyalty to the truth of God. If truth is optional, error is justifiable.

The Army of Intermediates Should Cease Being Politic

There are now two parties in the religious world, and a great mixed multitude who from various causes decline to be ranked with either of them. In this army of intermediates are many who have no right to be there; but we spare them. The day will come, however, when they will have to reckon with their consciences. When the light is taken out of its place, they may too mourn that they were not willing to trim the lamp nor even to notice that the flame grew dim.

Our present sorrowful protest is not a matter of this man or that, this error or that, but of principle. There is either something essential to a true faith--some truth which is to be believed--or else everything is left to each man's taste. We believe in the first of these opinions, and hence cannot dream of religious associations with those who might on the second theory be acceptable. Those who are of our mind should, at all costs, act upon it.

Separation, The Only Complete Protest

At any rate, cost what it may, to separate ourselves from those who separate themselves from the truth of God is not alone our liberty but our duty. I have raised my protest in the only complete way by coming forth, and I shall be content to abide alone until the day when the Lord shall judge the secrets of all hearts; but it will not seem to me a strange thing if others are found faithful and if others judge that for them also there is no path but that which is painfully apart from the beaten track. 2

Spurgeon’s sermon in print above is a penetrating reminder that there are doctrinal truths worth contending (Jude 3) over, and if need be making the difficult decision to “mark, avoid” and “withdraw” from brethren (Romans 16:17; 2 Thess. 3:4-6; 14-15).

The current debate over the “Crossless” gospel is one of those truths that meets the criteria for the biblical mandates to “contend” and/or “withdraw.”

To reiterate from Spurgeon, Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin. . . . To pursue union at the price of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus’”


1. E. Wayne Thompson, This Day in Baptist History, p. 529.
2. Sword of the Lord, September 9, 1994.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means---electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise--without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher, with the exception of brief excerpts in magazine articles and/or reviews.

November 27, 2007

Perverse Things Draw Away Disciples

False teaching can and does come from men within the body of Christ, His church. In the Book of Acts, Paul warns the elders of Ephesus that false teaching will come from both without and within the church:

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).
Zane Hodges is a modern day example of what the Apostle Paul, “with tears,” warned believers to “take heed” and be wary of. Over the years, from within the body of Christ, Hodges has risen and drifted into increasingly deeper and more extreme doctrinal errors. His views on repentance, the Gospel, and the Judgment Seat of Christ are striking examples of a radical departure from orthodoxy. Hodges has been teaching “perverse things” (diastrepho- distorts, twists) and consequently his teaching has drawn away disciples to him. Among the disciples who have been drawn away are: Bob Wilkin, Jeremy Myers, Joseph Dillow and Antonio da Rosa.

The distortion, twisting, redefining or dismissal of numerous clear passages of Scripture has been the hallmark of Hodges’ “
Crossless” gospel. His errors on the Gospel, repentance and the Judgment Seat of Christ are organized in such a way that they undermine the Word of God and arrest the development of young believers. Young men have been enticed and deceived by the teaching of Zane Hodges.
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” (Eph. 4:14).
Men like Tim Nichols, Jim Reitman, Jim Johnson, Jeremy Myers and Antonio da Rosa were at one time feeding and growing on the milk of the Word of God. Somewhere along the way, however, elements from the teaching of Zane Hodges were introduced, and the milk was soured. Regrettably, it appears no one took these men aside, like Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos aside and, “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Acts 18:24-28). Instead Bob Wilkin, who also succumbed to the teaching of Zane Hodges, hastened the slide of these men into error.

Doctrinal growth was checked, sidetracked and redirected toward the egregious errors of Hodges’ Crossless gospel. Today, we are witnessing the devastating effects that the teaching of Hodges has had on these men. These are the ones we know who have been drawn away, but there may be many more.

What we have been witnessing in recent months should serve as a wake up call to men in the Free Grace community. How many more of our young men have to be deceived and fall into the errors of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin before you will follow the biblical mandate to “
contend for the faith once delivered” (Jude 3)? While many stand idly by Hodges and Wilkin are doing all they can to introduce the “Crossless” gospel to unsuspecting believers in the Free Grace community.
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,” (2 Timothy 2:25).
I am grateful for men like George Zeller, Tom Stegall, Dennis Rokser and Greg Schliesmann who have defended the faith and body of Christ against the “perverse” teachings of Zane Hodges. There are others who are doing what they can from blogs and other venues to refute and rebuke the teachings of Zane Hodges.

The teaching of Zane Hodges has not only drawn away some of our younger men, it has crippled and marginalized the Free Grace movement. Make no mistake about it, the Free Grace movement is moving, but is, in my opinion, come to rest at the cross roads. If good men, who know the issue, what is at stake and have the answer, but do nothing, the Free Grace movement will begin to move once again. That move will, however, be in the direction of the trap and pitfalls of the teachings of Zane Hodges.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,” (Rom. 16:17-18).

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers,” (Titus 1:9).

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. . . . And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15).

I’ll close with the same question I asked in the previous challenge to men in the Free Grace Alliance and Free Grace community at large.

Where does your first loyalty lie, to God and His Word, or to your friends and fellowships?


For a thorough review of the "perverse” teachings of Zane Hodges, please visit George Zeller's The Troubling Teachings of Zane Hodges, Joseph Dillow and Robert Wilkin (GES)

Also read Watch & Remember…