January 30, 2008

Trivial & Fatal Misconceptions of “Crossless” Theology

At *Rose’s Reasonings a frequent visitor here named Glenn posted the following to Antonio da Rosa’s attention. The note from Glenn appears in the thread under A “Crossless” Call (1/22/2008 @ 10:10PM)

“As for why have I moved back towards the position of my youth, namely that one must believe that Christ died as their substitute in order to be saved? The reason has to do with the question of whether a Mormon can be saved by believing that Jesus provides eternal life in spite of their misconceptions. Here is your now famous quote: ‘At the moment that a JW or a Mormon is convinced that Jesus Christ has given to them unrevokable eternal life when they believed on Him for it, I would consider such a one saved, REGARDLESS of their varied misconcetions and beliefs about Jesus’.” Is Christ's Deity Essential By Antonio, at 6/13/2007 12:25 PM
Antonio, in part, replied to Glenn as follows,
What misconceptions are fatal and what are trivial, Glenn, and who would be the arbiter of such considerations?”
On the morning of Jan. 23 I was halfway to my vacation destination, knowing I would have little or no Internet access. From the hotel lobby I hurriedly posted this (revised) reaction to Antonio’s comment above. (See 1/23/2008 @ 9:22 AM)

It has been widely noted you believe that a lost man can be saved no matter what misconceptions he may hold. You said any “misconception” about the Lord’s deity should be “put on the back burner.”

That statement is all inclusive. We know from numerous notes by you and select “Crossless” advocates that this includes not just “misconceptions,” but open, conscience rejection of the deity of Christ.

Your stating, “The Mormon Jesus and the Evangelical Jesus are one and the same” clearly shows the depths to which you will go to run down and negate the Deity of Jesus Christ to uphold the reductionist teachings of Zane Hodges on the “Crossless” gospel.

My new contributor, Phil Evans in his article, The Hollow Gospel of the GES, documents that Hodges considers the cross, resurrection and even the deity of Christ “excess baggage” in a Gospel presentation.

These teachings are fatal to the Gospel and reduce your “Crossless/Deityless” message to a non-saving proposition to the detriment of the lost.

The judge (arbiter) of these egregious errors you have adopted and seek to spread is the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ whose name and Gospel the Hodges message has assaulted. Your interpretation of the Gospel has been “consistent;” consistently wrong! The GES’s abuse and twisting of the many clear passages of Scripture are on record and fully evidence the departure from a balanced biblical theology that the GES “Crossless” faction of the Free Grace community have gone.

Antonio, you ask what is “trivial.” The teaching of Hodges has trivialized the Lord's finished work on the cross. Trivialized the Lord Jesus Christ by the assault on His titles (the Christ & Son of God). You personally trivialized the Lord by equating Him to (as David Wyatt noted) a “cultic” Mormon Jesus.

The Hodges/GES “Crossless” gospel has been trivialized down to a “fatal” message for the lost, in that it does NOT save.
That was my reply, whch I did not want to leave buried in a thread outside my blog.


*Rose’s Reasonings is a blog that is often sympathetic to and supportive of the Crossless gospel and its advocates.

January 21, 2008

The Hollow “Gospel” of the Grace Evangelical Society

Zane C. Hodges, in his article How to Lead People to Christ: Part 1 The Content of Our Message presents “The Deserted Island Scenario” to make his case that a lost person does not need to know about the Deity of Christ, His death on the cross for their sins, or His resurrection in order to be saved. In part 2 of his article Hodges calls these doctrines “excess baggage.”

By inference then, he actually means one could be presented with and then consciously deny these truths and still be saved, for what does “
excess baggage” of any kind have to do with one getting saved? After all, no part of the Gospel message could legitimately be called “excess baggage,” could it?

Grace Evangelical Society (GES) led by Bob Wilkin has officially adopted Hodges’ redefinition of the Gospel, for the articles referenced above are published on their website. It also means that GES officially considers the doctrines of the Deity of Christ, His substitutionary death on the cross, and resurrection, as “excess baggage” as well.

Antonio da Rosa, who posts frequently at GES, has written on his personal blog that if he were witnessing to someone that objected to the Deity of Christ, he would put this issue “
on the back-burner.” What da Rosa means by this is that he believes one could get saved while at the same time denying that Christ is God in the flesh. How do I know this is what he means? Look at this quote from his article below, How I Might Do Evangelism...

As long as the listener is interested in continuing a conversation with me, I will point them to faith in Christ through His promise which guarantees eternal life to the believer. Being persuaded that Jesus is God is not the only psychological route that one can go by to become persuaded that Jesus guarantees their eternal destiny.” (emphasis mine)

Listen, one who denies that Jesus is God in the flesh is an antichrist! (See I John 2:22; I John 4:3; II John 1:7) To deny Christ’s Deity is to deny the very essence of who He is as the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. (See John 1:1,14) A lost person that denies who Christ claims to be, remains lost:

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins,” (John 8:24).

The fact that Bob Wilkin has not publicly corrected or rebuked da Rosa (who posts links to his personal blog on the GES blog), means by default that
da Rosa’s quote above is indeed the official doctrinal position of the Grace Evangelical Society, namely, that one can be saved while maintaining a deliberate denial of the Deity of Christ. Pure unadulterated heresy!

According to Hodges article above, one needs only to believe in Jesus as the One who guarantees eternal life in order to become eternally saved. While it is true that this is all a person needs to do, this is not a limiter (as Hodges asserts) on what one needs to believe concerning Jesus. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “
Sirs, what must I do to be saved”? (Acts 16:30, emphasis mine), they replied to him, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house,” (Acts 16:31).

Notice that the jailer did not ask what he needed to believe, but what he needed to
do. All one needs to do to be saved is to believe in Jesus Christ. Paul and Silas then spoke the Word of God to the jailer and his household concerning what they must believe concerning Jesus:

And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house,” (Acts 16:32)

What do you suppose the word was which they spoke to the jailer and his household? Could it be the same word they spoke in the synagogue in Antioch recorded just three chapters earlier in Acts 13, namely, the Deity of Christ, His death on the cross, burial, resurrection, and the forgiveness of sins for those who believe these things?

What Hodges has done is to redefine believing in Jesus in such a narrow way that it
makes a mockery out of the Biblical truth of what it means to believe in Him. In Hodges’ deserted island scenario he pieced together the first part of John 6:43 with John 6:47 as follows: But the only readable portions are: ‘Jesus therefore answered and said to them’ (v 43) and ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life,’” (v 47).

Hodges wants us to believe that the unsaved man alone on the island who had never heard anything of Christianity could be saved by reading this portion of the Bible alone.
What a gross mishandling of God’s Word and misrepresentation of the Gospel! His article treats the name “Jesus” like a talisman. Just know and believe in the name and you won't be disappointed, regardless of not knowing who He is and what He has done to secure our eternal salvation.

What if in his island scenario the ink was blurred at the beginning of John 6:43 so that the name looked like “
Josus”? Would Hodges still insist this man could be saved by trusting in Josus? Surely God would not let a little ink blur keep that poor soul out of Heaven, would He? Of course, Hodges would probably say that if God had sent that Scripture to the lost man, He would have kept the name intact. This really begs the question, for if God sends someone Scripture for the purpose of bringing them to a saving knowledge of Christ, He would have included the Gospel message preached by Paul and the other Apostles.

To believe in Jesus’ name is not to only know His name, it is to believe in who He is, for one’s name is the representation of one’s person. For Christ, this includes who He is and what He has done for us! If Hodges was intellectually honest here, he’d have to conclude that the lost man on the deserted island would really need to know the name “
Yeshua,” for that is what He was really called.

To believe in Jesus as the granter of eternal life is to have the confidence in Him as God in the flesh who died for our sins on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead. To believe in a Jesus any less than this is, such as the hollow one in Hodges’ deserted island example, is to have
an object of faith that cannot save. Hodges does grievous violence to Christ by divorcing Christ’s person from His work, for what Christ has done for us is forever tied to who He is. Note how John the Baptist identifies Him: The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.,” (John 1:29).

In Revelation 13:8 the Apostle John refers to Jesus as the
Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Hodges tries to justify himself by pointing to the following verse: “For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead,” (John 20:9).

Hodges wants us to believe that since the eleven disciples at that time (pre-Church Age) did not yet see clearly things they would later come to experience, that God holds us to that same standard today even though we are now in the Church Age. It is true that the Apostle John wrote his Gospel account for evangelical purposes as he stated in chapter 20:
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 20:31).

However, one must understand that the Gospel of John was written after the Apostles had received power from on high from the indwelling Holy Spirit and had ushered in the Church Age. They had already been preaching for years the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and the belief in Him for forgiveness of sins. Just because John makes reference in 20:9 back to a time when the Apostles’ understanding was less than what it later became, does not mean that our responsibility to believe what God has revealed in these last days can be retrograded back to that time in the past John was referring to. To state otherwise is nothing less than foolishness. Mankind’s responsibility is to heed the completed revelation of the Son. This is how God deals with us now, not through the filter of the 11 disciples’ understanding before they had seen our risen Lord!

Here is our standard:
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds,” (Heb. 1:2).

Ironically John 20:31, a verse Hodges quotes in part 1 of his article, includes one of the necessary beliefs that
Hodges calls “excess baggage,” namely, the Deity of Christ! The phrase “Son of God” means that Christ has the same nature as God. Surely this is what the Apostle John has in mind if you remember that this same John also wrote John 1:1,14. To state otherwise is to lack a basic understanding of what a Jew meant at that time when they called someone a “son of,” as well as what the Apostle John meant. Otherwise, why would the unbelieving Jews think that Jesus blasphemed when He called Himself the Son of God? (See John 10:36)

Also, note what came just three verses before John 20:31:
And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God,” (John 20:28, emphasis mine).

What did Jesus reply to him?
Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed,” (John 20:29, emphasis mine).

What was Thomas believing? He was believing in his crucified and resurrected Lord as God in the flesh!

It’s unbelievable that Hodges asserts in his article that the Gospel of John does not make it clear that one must believe in the substitutionary death of Christ for us. Concerning John 20:30-31 he writes:

This statement does not affirm the necessity of believing in our Lord’s substitutionary atonement. If by the time of the writing of John’s Gospel, it was actually necessary to believe this, then it would have been not only simple, but essential, to say so.”

Actually, early in the Gospel of John, Jesus did say so:
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life,” (John 3:14,15).

At Kadesh Barnea those who were bitten by the snakes survived if they took one look at the bronze serpent on the pole. Likewise, one look of faith at the Lord Jesus Christ crucified and risen again is what saves. To deny that the substitutionary death of Christ is needed to be believed in order to be saved, is to teach that one can be saved without looking!

The Deity of Christ and His substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection is not merely the basis of the Gospel as taught by GES, it is the Gospel! To believe in Jesus is to trust in Him as the One who accomplished the work of salvation on our behalf, to trust that He is the One who paid the price for our sins and rose from the dead. To deny these fundamental truths
is to call the Old Testament prophets, Jesus, the Father, and the Apostles liars.

No one can come to Christ unless he is drawn by the Father. When a person hears the Word of God and comes under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, if they then maintain a denial of the nature of Christ and His work of salvation via the cross and resurrection, they are also calling the Holy Spirit a liar. Do you suppose the Holy Spirit will then indwell that person and save them, thereby legitimizing their unbelief of the only work that can save them? Of course not! According to John 14:17, the Holy Spirit is called the “
Spirit of truth.” He will not lend any credence to the rejection of God’s work of salvation, for the cross is the only manner in which God bestows His mercy and grace.

To reject the cross of Christ is to reject God’s salvation. Such rejection is tantamount to rebuking (or mocking) the Holy Spirit, and is not merely a misconception as taught by Hodges, Wilkin, and da Rosa. I guarantee you that as long as a lost person does this they will remain lost. GES’s dismissal of the necessity to believe that Christ paid for our sins on the cross makes it unnecessary for GES’s followers to confront the cultists who teach lies such as the death of Christ is not sufficient to save from sins, or that his death was merely to provide universal resurrection as Mormon doctrine teaches.

GES makes a mockery of the following Scripture:
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him,” (II Cor. 11:4, emphasis mine).

The following quote is from Antonio da Rosa’s (He posts links to his blog on the GES blog, so his views are the views of GES as long as GES does not rebuke him) article titled “
Will the REAL Jesus Please Stand Up” posted August 6, 2007.

If one unique reference is all that it takes to limit that reference to a specific person, why is it that we say that Mormons refer to a wholly ‘different Jesus’ when they make reference to Him in (at least) 20 unique and distinct areas of agreement with evangelicals?
We all have or had misunderstandings and misconceptions about Jesus. How many misconceptions about Jesus does it take to make Him another Jesus? Can a simple misunderstanding preclude me from refering to the historical Jesus Christ? What if all I had was the gospel of John and I was misinformed and believed that Jesus Christ was born in Jerusalem, not Bethlehem. Yet I have read the gospel of John and make reference to Him from there. Am I necessarily referring to a ‘different’ Jesus because of this misconception?

First of all, the Gospel of John gives the correct birthplace of Christ:
Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was,” (John 7:42)?

But the issue at hand is that the Jesus of any cult, whether Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, LDS, or any other is not preaching another Jesus according to GES, as long as the cult can give at least one identifier that points to the correct historical Jesus. According to GES, anything else such as denying the Deity of Christ like the Watchtower, or claiming that Jesus is just another god among many, and is the “
spirit brother” of Satan as in LDS doctrine is merely a “misconception.” Unbelievable!

Look at the context of II 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!

My brother and sisters in Christ, Hodges, Wilkin, da Rosa and GES
pervert the Gospel of Christ by gutting it of the power of its saving message, and are leading others into grave error. Their false gospel will have lost people believing they are saved when they are not, and will have those of you that are carried away with them losing your eternal reward. I have written this in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, with God being my witness that I write the truth.

It grieved me to write this article, as I have profited from Hodges’ biblically based teachings of the past, though I have not always agreed with him on every point, but now
he has assaulted and undermined the very Gospel itself. Do not let the sophistry of Hodges and GES deceive you. Pray for the recovery of Hodges, Wilkin, da Rosa and those they’ve lead astray, but you stay true to the Gospel! I forever shall!

Phillip M. Evans © 2007

*Brother Evans in the midst of writing a book, but will be looking in on the thread and will reply to comments as time permits.

January 17, 2008

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

In the Chafer thread at Unashamed of Grace, Kevl of On My Walk, is discussing *Antonio da Rosa’s article in which he (Antonio) claims Dr. L. S. Chafer would support the GES “Crossless” gospel.

Early in the thread Kevin wrote,

There are many Jesus’ There are many gods. There are many religions. There is only one Christ Jesus who died on a cross for my sins, was buried, and rose from the dead three days later. Just one. No problem of confusion. It’s not all that hard to understand, but it sure separates the difference between professing faith and having it.
Matthew replied,
Yes. But the Gospels refer to only one Jesus. And only one Jesus offers eternal life.”
Now, I want to post a comment made by Antonio about the Lord Jesus Christ. Rose (**Rose’s Reasonings) wrote an article titled, Is Christ’s Deity Essential? In the thread that followed (6/15/2007 @ 7:08 PM) Antonio wrote,

The Mormon Jesus and the Evangelical Jesus are one and the same.”

This is among the most egregious and dangerous statements to date coming from Antonio da Rosa or any advocate of the “Crossless” gospel. The Mormon Jesus is believed to be a spirit (or half) brother of the Devil. To equate the Mormon view of Jesus with the biblical Jesus is as abominable a heresy as can possibly be uttered about Him.

When Matthew wrote, …the Gospels refer to only one Jesus,” he is correct because there is no other like unto Him. And there is no doubt that the Gospels do not infer or suggest that the Mormon Jesus is, “one and the same.” Yet, Antonio believes they, are one and the same.” Can anyone document where Dr. Chafer would support da Rosa’s view of the biblical Jesus being no different than the Mormon Jesus?

Wasn’t it enough that Zane Hodges and the GES trampled the Lord’s deity out of His titles, “the Christ” and “Son of God?” (See The Christ Under Siege, Part 1 & Part 2) Apparently not, for now da Rosa has assaulted our Lord and Savior’s person and character by equating Him to Mormonism’s false Christ.

When I read statements like the above from Antonio I am reminded that we can never relax and never allow for this kind of heretical mind set to gain any new ground in the hearts and minds of believers or the lost.

Those who through false teaching cause divisions are to be marked. It is biblical to personally identify false teachers and point them out so that others may avoid them. In Romans 16:17 Paul uses the word “cause” (poieo), meaning produce, construct, form, or fashion in reference to those who are the authors of division through their false teaching.

For the sake of those whom he is leading astray or who might be led astray by him if not properly warned from the Scripture, a faithful minister of Christ must warn against that man even though he pretends to, and perhaps to an extent does, preach the gospel. At best, this is a situation in which a disobedient Christian is behaving like a false teacher. . . . But when some man is the prime instigator, promoter, and advocate of an unbiblical position, we must expose that man as we denounce the sin he is promoting.” (Dr. Mark Sidwell, The Dividing Line: Understanding and Applying Biblical Separation, p. 65.)
There can be no lingering doubt that Antonio da Rosa is a “prime instigator, promoter and advocate of an (increasingly) unbiblical position” on the Gospel.

If we are going to live for and please God, we must obey His Word even on the difficult matter of separation from disobedient brethren. The Bible says,
And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. 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 Thessalonians 3:4-6; 14-15).
Antonio is the blogospheres most vocal advocate for the false “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel. He has refused instruction and correction. He is determined to see the Hodges’ GES view of the Gospel flourish and penetrate a wide circle of evangelical churches. The Bible mandates what every believer’s course of action must be, and that is to “withdraw” from him. We do not view him as a personal “enemy,” but a “brother” who has gone astray and we are to continue to “admonish him.”

Those of you who are “contending for the faith once delivered,” the “common salvation,” (Jude 3) don’t quit! The advocates of the “Crossless” gospel are determined to sow the seeds of their doctrinal errors far and wide. It would be tragic if even one more unsuspecting believer was swallowed up in this departure from the biblical Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


*See comment thread.

**Rose’s Reasonings is a blog that is highly sympathetic to the Crossless gospel and its advocates, especially Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and Antonio da Rosa.

Addendum: August 23, 2008

Antonio da Rosa recently made a visit to another discussion board. Predictably he tried to infuse the egregious errors of the GES/Hodges Crossless gospel into the threads. Fortunately, I was participating at this board and was able to expose his heretical views for all objective readers.

Antonio’s extremism was drawn out with his statement that the “Mormon Jesus and Evangelical Jesus are one and the same.” I dealt with this and I invited Rachel to address him because he used her name in his comments.

This was one of Antonio’s remarks about his view of the Mormon Jesus,
The Mormons and the Evangelicals refer to the same New Testament Jesus. Yes, they have widely divergent conceptions of the Historical New Testament Jesus. All of this talk about ‘ontology’ is a red herring.”
Following is Rachel’s reply to that remark by da Rosa
Did everyone catch that? Antonio dismisses discussion of Jesus’ very NATURE (ontology) with a hand-wave and considers it a “red herring”! How can Jesus’ nature be irrelevant to discussions of saving faith? Antonio’s remark is beyond unbiblical, and is in fact anti-biblical.

His example about identifying Lou falls way short, as all of his analogies have. A person’s occupation or hometown is not part of that person’s nature.

Antonio is not ontologically different than Lou, even if he lives in a different state and has a different occupation. It’s true that someone could still receive a copy of the book no matter what they thought Lou did for a living. But that’s not comparing apples to apples.

Let’s say someone sends an email to Lou Martuneac the bookshelf, asking the bookshelf for a book. When asked to clarify, the person says, “you know, Lou, that bookshelf who has a blog at (correct blog address) and lives in (correct city).” Clearly the person is referring to the same “historical” Lou that the rest of us are, but the fact is that Lou is NOT a bookshelf, and no bookshelf can send someone a book. The person may be thinking of the correct Lou, but the person’s “misconceptions” about Lou are of an ontological nature, therefore he really does not have the correct Lou and will never get a book.

“Crossless” advocates, such as Antonio, like to say that what matters is who Jesus is, not who you believe Jesus is. They say that Jesus is God whether someone believes him to be or not. Of course this is true, but the issue is that God has conditioned eternal life upon what we believe about Jesus.

Antonio said, When one trusts into the Jesus Christ of Nazareth from the New Testament (the KJV or otherwise) for eternal life he becomes regenerate.”

Notice that Antonio finds Jesus’ hometown more important to be believed for eternal life than the very nature of Jesus, his deity! This is preposterous. I guess in Antonio’s theology, believing that Jesus hailed from Galilee is a more serious error than believing that Jesus is a created being.

Finally, notice that Antonio claims yet again that we’ve taken his comment out of context, yet spends his entire post defending the very thing we say his comment means. The problem is that Antonio believes it possible for a person (such as a Mormon) to be born again even while being ignorant of or actively denying the deity of Jesus. Antonio’s statement that Lou referenced earlier summarizes such a view. If Antonio disagrees with this view, let him say so now.* Otherwise, the claims of “taking out of context” are simply false.

As I make it a general policy to not interact with Antonio, this will be my last comment here. If anyone doubts the veracity of what I’ve said, they should simply follow the link to Lou’s blog where we discussed this with Antonio (when he masqueraded as the Sock Puppet: fg me in that particular thread) and the links from there- Antonio’s own words bear these things out.


*It was at this point that Antonio disappeared from the discussion board. The morning Rachel’s comment was posted he was on line, but he has not been back since. Why? Rachel called on him to confirm or deny how his view was portrayed, which was done so accurately by Rachel. Faced with the proposition of confirming what is universally believed to be heresy, Antonio checked out.

January 16, 2008

The Crossless Gospel: Consistently “Refined”

Dear Guests:

Some of you may have noticed that the advocates of the “Crossless” gospel have been floating new labels to identify their reductionist interpretation of the Gospel.

In 2007 the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) and its supporters were attempting to portray the GES as though it was the voice of the broader Free Grace (FG) community. That attempt fizzled when various men, such as Pastor Tom Stegall, irrefutably demonstrated that Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin have devised a message that is a departure from the biblical plan of salvation. The GES interpretation of the Gospel came to be appropriately identified as a “Crossless” gospel.

In 2008 the attempts to portray the GES as if it is the voice of the FG community have continued. Many, however, have come to see that the GES has reduced itself to and become an isolated off-shoot in the FG camp. The GES has positioned itself to the far left of a balanced Free Grace theological center.

Once the deep differences in beliefs in the Free Grace community about the true nature of the “Crossless” gospel were revealed the GES initiated attempts to redefine what they want their system to be identified as. They have, therefore, invented the label(s), “Refined”or “Consistent” Free Grace Theology.

On January 16, 2007 Antonio da Rosa (aka- Sock Puppet: fg me), posted an article at the pro-Crossless group blog Unashamed of Grace. The full title of his article is, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer uses Refined (Consistent) Free Grace Theology phraseology.

The article itself has several problems, some of which Kevin at On My Walk has addressed. Kevin’s article is titled, Chafer Was a Proponent of the “Crossless” Gospel? IMO, Antonio is forcing out of context what Chafer wrote to declare Chafer would support his own “Crossless” theology. Even if Chafer took a “Crossless” view of the gospel, this would not make it any more biblical.

In the title da Rosa refers to the Hodges/Wilkin “Crossless” view of the Gospel as “Refined (Consistent) Free Grace Theology.” When you ponder “refined” and “consistent” in light of what we know the “Crossless” gospel to be you quickly see that the title of Antonio’s latest article at Unashamed of Grace is an oxymoron. The title is, “an incongruous, seemingly self-contradictory statement.”

By definition consistent means, “constantly adhering to the same principles.” Maybe Antonio uses “consistent” because he is under the impression the “Crossless” gospel is “consistent” with Scripture. This analogy has repeatedly been shown to be quite the opposite. Hodges has forced into or wrenched out of numerous passages whatever he must to produce his “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel.

Refined” means, “to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities.” The refining process is used to eliminate impurities. What are those “impurities” that Zane Hodges and “Crossless” advocates have sifted out of the Gospel to arrive at a “Refined” Gospel? Those “impurities” are the Lord’s death, His resurrection and His deity.

Once Hodges refined the Gospel to the “Crossless” interpretation it has become, the GES teaches that the lost man does not need to know, understand or believe that he is a sinner, nor does he need to know who Jesus is and what He did to provide salvation. Antonio da Rosa insists that a lost man can consciously reject and deny the deity of Christ and still be born again. We have learned from Jeremy Myers and da Rosa that belief in the finished work of Christ is not a condition for salvation.

While these men personally believe in the finished work and deity of Jesus Christ, in their evangelistic presentation they will practically deny these truths, if they become a stumbling block for the lost man. In the GES approach to personal evangelism, belief in the death, resurrection and deity of Christ have been “refined” out of what must be believed by the lost man for the reception of eternal life. Hodges views the truths about our Lord and Savior as “excess baggage that we bring into our encounter with unsaved sinners....” Hodges has sifted his “excess baggage” out of the Gospel.

Why does da Rosa title his view of the Gospel “consistent,” when it has been “refined” over and over by Hodges and Wilkin? A friend wrote, which is appropriate at this time,

What do you have left with all of this removed from the ‘kerugma’ of the Gospel? Practically nothing!”
The refining process of the GES has been “consistent,” in that it has consistently “refined” the Gospel down to a Crossless & Deityless, non-saving proposition.

The “Crossless” gospel is simply being repackaged by its advocates under a “Refined/Consistent” banner. They hope it will be widely accepted. The new label in no way negates the reductionism of their belief system that truly identifies it as a “Crossless” gospel.


For an important companion article, please read, Is REDEFINED Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

January 11, 2008

Upcoming Articles

Dear Guests:

By way of update I am preparing several new articles that will appear shortly.

In mid-2007 I wrote an article that was published at a major Christian blog. Events of recent weeks caused me to recollect that article. That article opens with this quotation,

Few people walk away from the faith suddenly. Usually it is an incremental series of compromises that eventually tear down the absolute authority of Scripture.”

The administrators of the blog where my article first appeared gave me permission to reprint here. My intention is to post that article on Monday morning.

Another article has been written by a man who is a new, first time contributor to the “Crossless” gospel debate. He will be addressing some of the most disturbing aspects of the Hodges, Wilkin, Myers, da Rosa, (GES) “Crossless” interpretation of the gospel. The article is thoroughly documented.

This new article will reveal and respond to the unusual claims and unwarranted deductions that GES men use to arrive at their reductionist, non-saving message. This is a powerful expose and poignant refutation of the GES interpretation of the Gospel.

I want to leave off for now with the following. An acquaintance of mine, who is a highly trained theologian and pastor of a local church, has been reviewing the Zane Hodges “Crossless” view of the Gospel. In a recent discussion he made this observation.

“I read Hodge’s document, How to Lead People to Christ about two years ago. Before I ever heard of the concept ‘crossless gospel’, I had determined from the reading of Hodges’ writings that he was heretical on the content of the gospel, repentance, and the nature of saving faith.

What I appreciate about Hodges is his consistency. He is consistently wrong! He dumbs down faith to mere assent. He eliminates repentance from faith completely. He removes the concept of Lord from Christ as an object of faith, and finally he completes his error by removing the necessity of the deity of Christ and the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as part of the content of the Gospel. What do you have left with all of this removed from the ‘kerugma’ of the Gospel? Practically nothing!

Hodges has been the champion of lost causes, and of causes that should be lost.”


January 7, 2008

Your First Step Won’t Be Your Last: Avoiding the Path to Compromise

Few people walk away from the faith suddenly. Usually it is an incremental series of compromises that eventually tear down the absolute authority of Scripture.”Pastor Mike Harding, a thread comment from the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron blog under, Are You REALLY a Fundamentalist?

A Christian does not go to bed one night in fidelity to the Scriptures and wake up in the morning a full-blown compromiser. If compromise is going to happen, it will happen over time. The first step of compromise is the hardest. Who hasn’t faced the choice to remain true to biblical principles or to take the easy road of compromise? The Spirit of God pricks our consciences when we face those choices. You know the voice; Scripture comes to mind, and if we listen, it protects us from making wrong choices. If we have taken that first step of compromise, subsequent steps become easier to take. The term “slippery slope” is a very good way to describe the road to compromise and modernism. Set one foot on the slope of compromise, and you’ll find the rest of the downhill slide quick and easy. 

 You’ve heard the expression—“One foot over the grave and the other on a banana peel.” In a small way, that statement illustrates the threat of the Church Growth, Seeker, and Emergent Church movements we find ourselves confronted with today. Those ministries are the “grave” in that they are led by men who run roughshod over the Word of God. The “banana peel” is listening to them. There is a strange allurement and attraction with cults and compromising ministries. Today, you may hold the high ground with both feet fixed on the absolute authority of the Bible. However, once you decide to keep an open mind about the philosophy and practices of organizations like Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek and Rick Warren’s (Purpose Driven) Saddleback churches and the movements they represent, you will have hung one foot over an open grave and placed the other on the banana peel. 

The Law of Gravity
It is easier to get pulled down into compromise than it is to pull the compromiser up to the high ground you occupy. If only out of curiosity you begin to interact with compromisers, to read them, and to begin a dialogue with them, you may be on your way to becoming one of them. You might like to learn who and what these movements are, if only to understand and refute them. Your motive may be good—you intend to hold your own ground—but that is not usually the way it works. Stand a 200-pound man on a chair and a 125-pound eighth grader on the ground. Let them clasp hands and see who wins the tug-of-war. You might think you have enough spiritual muscle to resist the force of gravity, which is the magnetic attraction of the Church Growth and Emergent movements, but we have seen enough examples of those who succumbed to the appeal to realize that anyone can be pulled down the road of compromise. If you show an interest in compromise, the compromisers will become interested in you
How does one start down the road of compromise? 
For most, it probably starts with some disappointment or disillusionment. For others, it may be the attraction of what appears to be a successful, exciting, and vibrant ministry or organization. In any working environment, even Christian ministries, there is the possibility that someone you trust and appreciate might one day let you down. I spent eight years on two different Bible college faculties. I loved my students, prayed for them, and poured my heart and soul into them. It would be na├»ve of me to think that I never rubbed one of my students the wrong way and offended him or her. Careless words and an insensitive heart are some ways I may have disappointed or discouraged a young person. If you’re out there, and I offended you, I want to make it right. Any Christian in a position of leadership, who truly cares for those in his care, should want to right any offense. 

There is no such thing as the perfect job or ministry because there are no perfect people. 
Because you interact with imperfect people, you will run into disappointment. There is never too much water that has run under the bridge to restore fellowship and to rekindle your joy in the Lord. I have spent many years in both full-time ministry and the secular workplace. It does not take long to learn that you are going to meet with discouragement in either sphere. I have been gainfully employed on Monday and unemployed on Tuesday. Twice in the last 25 years, I have known what it is like to wonder where the next paycheck is coming from. My wife and I have been in the grocery store with a short list, hoping we would not have to leave anything behind once we discovered our total at the checkout. I have looked at my wife and children and reminded God that they need to see Him work on their behalf and provide for them through me. Then reassuring truths like the following come to mind:

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread,” (Ps. 37:25). 

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” (Matthew 6:31-33).

There will be times of fear, concern, and worry; but they are also times of rich blessing from God. The trials that come in life are not easy to go through. Who hasn’t questioned God at one time or another when trials and difficulties have come? God is in the trials; He is teaching you things to build you into what He wants you to become for Him and His glory. The Lord is with you in the trials. He has blessings on the other side waiting for you; you would miss them if you decided to cut and run from the lesson God has for you. Lest anyone think I am some kind of spiritual giant who is impervious to worry and fear, let me tell you this: More than once, I have been afraid, I have worried, I have questioned God. But there is one thing I did not do: I did not quit! 

Don’t Quit 
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill, When the funds are low and the bills are high, When you want to smile, but have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest if you must, but don’t you quit. 

 Life is queer with its twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns, And many a failure turns about, When he might have won had he stuck it out. Don’t give up though the pace seems slow, You may succeed with another blow. 

 Success is failure turned inside out. The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell just how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far; So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.Author Unknown 
Don’t let those inevitable trials and disappointments that come in life and ministry turn your head. Don’t get caught up in the thrill and excitement of the Church Growth & emergent movements you see reported in various media. Big things don’t necessarily mean good things. Don’t measure success or blessing the way man does. Who wouldn’t want to have—or be part—a large following? If all of us were honest, we would admit that we would get more excited about preaching to (or being part of) a crowd of 10,000 than to a crowd of 10. That is the flesh speaking to us, and if you are like me, it can sound pretty good. We all need to remind ourselves that with God, whether it be 10 or 10,000, it’s all the same to Him. 

I have had the privilege of preaching at state-of-the-art venues where more than 3,000 were in the service. I have also had the privilege to preach in a 10-foot by 12-foot room under a sheet-metal roof with only a candle to light my Bible so three souls (through an interpreter) could hear the “wonderful words of life.” There I was, standing on a cold concrete floor, preaching from a Bible so poorly lit I could hardly make out the words. I don’t remember the text from which I preached or even what I said that night, but I still remember thinking to myself, The preachers back in America don’t get to do this.

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example,” (Phil. 3:17).

Preacher boys and Christian young men and women: Why don’t you decide to become the type of Christian who might be the example for other Christians to follow? I am not talking about turning into a high-minded, puffed-up, pharisaical snob. Set out to become a man or woman who, above all things, wants to please God with his or her life. While you are growing and maturing into that kind of example, look for and mark those among you who set an example you can follow and pass that example on to those who will one day follow you. 

Young people, you’ve got it all ahead of you. Don’t listen to the voices and movements of compromise. Keep close to the Lord Jesus Christ! He is the living Word of God! When men compromise the Word of God, they compromise their allegiance to Jesus Christ, whom they claim as Lord and Savior. Don’t listen to men who have already caved in and made the compromise. 

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus,” (2 Tim. 1:13, emphasis added). 

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, emphasis added). 

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession,” (Heb. 4:14, emphasis added). 

In personal life, professions, or ministry, any one of us might prefer the easy road rather than to face trial, struggles, and frustration. Many of us can look at our lives and find times when compromise might have been convenient and even a possibility we considered. Hold fast! Don’t do it! Stand firm! Don’t quit! 

In seasons of life, there will be times when the wind will howl and the waves will crash. In those tempests, you will hear the calls to give in, to take an easier road. Oh, but listen for a familiar voice! You have heard His voice before. “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). The winds will cease, the seas will calm, the clouds will part; and there will be sunshine again. Walk with Him, talk to Him, and trust in Him. “Hold fast” to the doctrine and to your profession of the One who gave Himself for you

Young people, there are godly men and women in Bible believing churches and Bible colleges and interacting with you at some blog sites who love you and want to see you go on to experience the best God has for you. If you take that first step of compromise today, you will wake up tomorrow morning ready to take the next step. With each successive step, your “first love” (Rev. 2:4) will eventually become a hazy memory, wiped away by a gradual slide into the shallow, murky waters of the modern church growth and marketing culture. 

Keep those movements and their advocates at arms’ length. 
Do not listen to them. Do not read them. If you want to understand what these movements stand for, consult someone who can counsel you from the Word of God. From a balanced biblical perspective, you can be shown just how far the Church Growth and Emergent movements has drifted from the moorings of Scripture.

The work of God that will count for eternity has been done and will be done by Christian men and women who did not quit, who did not compromise, and who did not retreat when the testing came. 

Yours faithfully, 

Lou Martuneac 
  Originally published at Sharper Iron, (May 23, 2007). Reproduced by permission.

January 5, 2008

Is There Genuine Concern for “The Heretic in Me”?

There are two recent developments related to Jeremy Myers’ personal revelations in his article, The Heretic in Me. The first item is not a major, but has to do with Jeremy’s unwillingness to discuss the doctrines he is leaning away from or toward. The second item, however, is a far more serious issue. I will follow those two items with a brief personal note to Bob Wilkin.

Discuss the Doctrine
In the thread under his Heretic in me article Rachel from Pursuit of Truth, kindly asked Jeremy the following,

Jeremy: I’m wondering, if you listed for us here the doctrines you are considering changing your mind on, why wouldn’t you discuss your ideas about them here as well? If you think there are some ‘compelling reasons’ to change your views, then why wouldn’t you share them here, and others can see them and either change as well or possibly present ‘compelling’ reasons from the other side? It does seem kind of like ‘hit-and-run’ for you to post that you are considering changing on some major issues, but then potentially not give any reasons as to why.
Another person asked Jeremy a question along the same lines of what Rachel asked him.

Both requests for clarification and discussion were unfortunately brushed aside by Jeremy.

Why does Jeremy post an article about his “leaning & teetering” on major doctrinal issues, such as Creation and Hell, and then refuse to discuss them? It would seem reasonable to me that Jeremy, who we trust would claim the Bible as his sole authority, should be willing to discuss his doctrinal positions. This at least allows for a better understanding of the direction he is headed, and/or recovery from a possible slide into heresy.

The Second Development
This is, in my opinion, a more serious concern. Jeremy has discovered, linked to from his blog, and begun participating at a blog that has an unfortunate reason for its existence. The blog Jeremy has linked to and commented at is titled, de-Conversion The blog’s subtitle is: “Resources for Skeptical, De-Converting, or Former Christians.”

The following is how de-Conversion describes itself and its requirements for becoming a contributor.
For the most part, we believe the teachings of Judaism, Christianity, & Islam, based on the perceptions and myths of a nomadic ancient Middle Eastern tribe, should be viewed critically - as should the holy books of these religions. This blog attempts to critically, but respectfully, address issues with these religious ideologies, especially Christianity. If you are a skeptical, de-converting, or former Christian, you may find these discussions interesting.

We also believe that whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds -when there is a significant lack of evidence on who God is or if he/she even exists.

Becoming a Contributor
If you are a de-converted Christian or a Christian with a healthy dose of skepticism towards the teachings of Christianity and would like to become a contributor to the de-Conversion.com blog, please email us at… . (bold added)
With those descriptions of the de-Conversion blog in mind please read Jeremy’s comment which he posted under the article titled, Christianity is Confusing.
I just found your blog yesterday and am enthralled. I am a pastor’s kid that went to a Christian grade school, a Bible College, pastored a church for five years, and am now finishing up a Seminary degree.

Recently, I have found myself not wanting to be associated with what has come to be known as “Christianity.” I don’t think Christ is pleased with us and what we have become. I find myself in agreement with much of what is written on this blog. And the things I disagree with, I understand (I think) where you are coming from.

This post really hit home with me. I am getting tired of doctrinal statements. Recently, I made it known to some Christian friends that I am questioning seven key doctrines that I have believed my entire life. WOW, did I ever get blasted! Apparently, I am now a heretic under the influence of Satan for even questioning the truth of these seven doctrines. I haven’t rejected them yet, I’m just questioning them. I wonder what would happen if I actually rejected a few?
Jeremy wrote that he is, “leaning, not holding firm, and teetering.” My question would be what are you (Jeremy) teetering toward? Does Jeremy’s interest in the de-Conversion blog give any indication of where he is headed? Could it be Jeremy is headed toward an Emergent Church mentality?
The emerging church (also known as the emerging church movement) is a controversial 21st-century Protestant Christian movement whose participants seek to engage postmodern people, especially the unchurched and post-churched. To accomplish this, “emerging Christians” (also known as “emergents”) deconstruct and reconstruct Christian beliefs, standards, and methods.
The Heretic in Me article and note at the de-Conversion blog should raise genuine concern among those who are close to Jeremy. IMO, any pastor/teacher who might have some influence in Jeremy’s life, has a genuine concern for him and senses the danger of where he may head doctrinally, should sit down with Jeremy and find out exactly what direction he is headed.

Personal Note to Bob Wilkin
Bob, I am putting aside my view of your “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel for the moment. Jeremy works along side you at the GES office. I am, therefore, going to ask you point blank: What are you doing to help and counsel Jeremy through this time of personal doctrinal upheaval he is experiencing? Are you cautioning him about the direction he may be headed? Of course I do not ask these questions for a public reply. Bob, God help you if you are either encouraging Jeremy's new direction, or doing nothing while this young man is floundering and may be sliding toward some form of doctrinal heresy and/or the Emergent Church movement.


January 3, 2008

The Technical Meaning of the Term, “THE GOSPEL,” Part 4

Dear Guests:

We are continuing the special series by Greg Schliesmann


Exhibit G: Ephesians 1:12-14

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, “THE GOSPEL” of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

Notice the phrase “the gospel” of your SALVATION.” Would crossless gospel advocates dare to argue that this refers to the “salvation” of believers from temporal wrath?

In light of yet another passage like this, how can crossless gospel proponents arguethe gospel” is just a general term for “good news” and never has a technical usage for the message of salvation by which the lost are saved?

We could go on. Some other passages to consider include Rom. 10:16; 2Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6-9 4:13; Col. 1:5; 1Thes. 1:5; 2Thes. 1:8; 2:14; 2Tim. 1:10; 1Pet. 1:23-25; 4:17.

I believe all of these show, beyond any doubt, that there is definitely a technical usage of the term “THE GOSPEL” that refers to the specific “message of the cross,” which is the wonderful news the lost must believe in order to be reconciled to God forever.

How important is this? I would like to present one more passage that demonstrates the importance of this issue and proves that the destiny for those who do not believe “the gospel” is eternity in hell.

Exhibit H. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10:

“Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not “THE GOSPEL” of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”

Notice that those who do not believe the gospel,” “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.” It is hard to imagine any language that could more clearly teach that those who do not believe “the gospel will go to hell.

The Punishment of Eternal Hell

This passage clearly refers to eternal damnation in hell for several reasons:

First, those who do not believe “the gospel,” “shall be punished with everlasting destruction.” This is not temporary punishment—it is everlasting.

Second, this passage describes the judgment of those who rejected “the gospel” including the persecutors of the Thessalonians. Some might wish to argue the passage describes punishment during the Tribulation, but the point of this passage is about God’s final judgment of the lost. Paul encourages the Thessalonians in the midst of their tribulations by reminding them that God will ultimately judge those who rejected “the gospel.” Jesus Christ will be glorified among (Gr. “en”) the saints and admired among all believers when He exercises His righteousness and vindicates them by punishing the lost with everlasting destruction.

If this passage dealt with the Tribulation, those who persecuted the Thessalonians avoided the very punishment Paul promised they would suffer. This passage must deal with everlasting damnation. The persecutors of the Thessalonians will be raised from the dead at the Great White Throne Judgment and punished with everlasting destruction when they are thrown into the Lake of Fire. At the same time, Jesus Christ will be glorified and admired among saints, including the Thessalonians

Even if this passage described temporal wrath of the Tribulation, that ultimately does not help crossless proponents (unless they believe in a partial rapture) because the condition for a person living the Church Age to escape the Tribulation is exactly the same for escaping punishment in hell.

Third, those who did not believe “the gospel” will be “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” The word “presence” is literally “face.” This means that the Lord’s literal presence will bring their everlasting destruction (this is the same idiom found in Acts 3:19). Every damned person will face the Lord before suffering the Lake of Fire, whether that person is living at the end of the Tribulation or whether that person is raised at the Great White Throne Judgment. According to Revelation 20:12, those who persecuted the Thessalonians will be raised to “stand before God” (Rev. 20:12). This short appearance before the Lord and the glory of His power will result in their eternal destruction. This aspect of the verse, as well, only fits with eternal destruction in hell.

It seems superfluous to point out even more reasons why this passage definitely speaks about the punishment of eternal hell for those who do not believe “the gospel.”

Believe “the gospel”

This passage not only speaks about the eternal damnation of the lost but it also identifies the lost by the fact they have “not obeyed the gospel.” By contrast, the saved are those who “believed.”

The phrase “them that know not God and that believe not the gospel” is an example of hendiadys. Paul explains the same people in two ways. The ones who do not know God are the ones who believe not “the gospel.” Paul speaks of knowing God in the sense that every saved person has known God by believing in Jesus Christ (see Mat. 11:7; John 17:3, 25; Gal. 4:9; 2Cor. 4:4-6).

Free grace believers should not be startled by the phrase “obey not the gospel.” This does not refer to obedience to a set of commandments. In this context, it refers specifically to the obedient response to one specific message of “the gospel.” That response is to believe it. This is clear from the contrast between the damned who have “not obeyed the gospel” (v. 8) and the saved which are “all those who believe” including the Thessalonians “because our testimony among you was believed” (v. 10).

Notice that the opposite of “obey not the gospel” (v. 8) is “our testimony among you was believed” (v. 10). Some crossless gospel advocates have argued there is a distinction between believing a message (i.e. the gospel) and believing in Christ. This passage, like many others, shows that Scripture speaks of believing a message as the condition to salvation. In contrast with the lost who did not obey the gospel, the Thessalonians believed Paul’s testimony of the gospel. Because of that, they are counted among the saints among whom the Lord will be glorified and admired when He avenges them by punishing the lost. There is no contradiction between believing the gospel and believing in Christ.

Paul speaks the same way in Romans 10:16: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel.. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?” Please notice again that the way to believe the Gospel is to obey it.

It is obvious from this passage that “the gospel” does have a technical usage for the specific message the lost need to believe in order to be saved. If the Thessalonians were not familiar with this technical usage, it would have been quite a terrible surprise to find out those who “obey not” an unidentifiable message were doomed to eternal destruction.

This passage is a real problem for those who cannot say “the gospel” refers to the specific message the lost must believe in order to be saved. Think again of Jeremy Myer’s conclusion—essentially, ‘the gospel’ includes everything in the NT, if not everything in the entire Bible.” If this were true, how could we ever be sure of escaping the doom that awaits those who believe not “the gospel” according to 2Thes. 1:8-10?

Continue at The Technical Meaning of the Term, “THE GOSPEL” Wrap Up