Thursday, November 27, 2008

Zane Hodges' Passing

It has been reported that Zane Hodges, the former Dallas Theological Seminary professor of New Testament, has passed away at the age of 75. Hodges is best known for his work in the "Free Grace" movement and his books such as "Absolutely Free." He was controversial in life and it is certain that he will remain controversial after his death.

Just last week I gave a message at Holy Epidemic in Melbourne, Australia called "Combating Easy Believism on the Streets." In that message I pointed out the fruit of Hodges' backwards theology as we have observed it on the streets of Dallas\Fort Worth, the home of Dallas Theological Seminary. I've seen seminary students and graduates argue the fine points of the Greek term for repentance while they are drunk. I've seen pastors walking out of comedy clubs, laughing at the same filth that the world laughs at, and then argue with us about what constitutes the Gospel. I've seen a free grace, KJV-only open-air preacher justify his adultery as a professing Christian because of this kind of theology. And this kind of thing just goes on and on.

This different gospel that Hodges (and others) proclaim reduces the glorious Gospel of Christ into nothing more than a general assurance that Jesus made a legitimate offer of eternal life and anyone who considers the offer legitimate is saved. Repentance was reduced in Hodges' theology to nothing more than "fellowship with the Father", eliminating the concept of turning from sin (and to the shock of other Free Gracers, he denied that it even meant "changing the mind about Christ"). The concept of the Lordship of Christ was thought to be limited to His deity rather than any claim of mastery, missing the obvious point that Christ's deity in no way lessens the duty of man towards Him but only increases it.

Hodges' theology affected me in Bible college when I took a theology course taught by a professor who was greatly influenced by this kind of thinking. This influence showed up in my own doctrinal statement where I wrote (as a false convert Baptist pastor) "Saving faith is intellectual assent to the facts of the Gospel". As if saving faith can be reduced to a number of bullet points that we merely say "uh huh" to.

In the days ahead, we're sure to read tributes to Hodges' scholarship. I read a blog this morning which praised his scholarship while admitting to disagreeing with his views on salvation. Maybe it's just me, but if his so-called "scholarship" led to errors in his soteriology, then isn't his scholarship flawed? He might have been able to defend his errant views well, but that does not make the man a great scholar. It only makes him a skilled manipulator of the text. There have been many of those kind of self-appointed scholars throughout history and history has not been kind to them.

I never met Hodges, never took one of his classes or heard him speak. But I was once a fruit of his theology. On this Thanksgiving Day, I have much to be thankful for. The Lord Jesus Christ, in His magnificent grace, rescued me from that false gospel and brought me to true salvation. He gave me the gifts of repentance and faith and in grace drew me unto Himself. I thank God that He rescued me from the blindness I was in and brought me to salvation.

Hodges is dead, but his soteriology is not. It probably will never totally die out. Free Grace proponents have made it very clear that they will be tenacious in their efforts to spread their theology within churches, seminaries, and even children's ministries. With Hodges' passing, I am reminded today how vital our work in Biblical evangelism is. How we must commit to being even more tenacious. How one day, we too will leave a legacy. Will it be a legacy of distorting the truth or boldly proclaiming it? Only time will tell.

69 comments:

Michael Spotts: . said...

Thanks for posting this, found it on SI. I agree, wholeheartedly.

Michael Spotts
www.theopenlife.com

tony said...

Dear pastor, as a new believer trying to follow the Lord please delineate the true gospel for us please. Especially how to know for sure that I am saved? Thank you. Tonyredul

tony said...

Dear pastor, what I want to avoid is the cult you called hodges' free grace gospel. And what I need to know is the biblical gospel you mentioned. As a new believer I need to stop and find the right one. Since I happen to attend a baptist church once a month. Thanks. Tony

Trevor said...

The other thing that Hodges is well-known for is editing one of two published versions of the Majority (Byzantine) Text of the NT. I don't know what everyone means by respecting his scholarship while disagreeing with his soteriology, but I guess I could see some sense in acknowledging his service to NT scholarship in the arena of textual criticism.

Oddly, I was more influenced by the politics surrounding that same Bible college prof than by his own teaching. I disagreed with his soteriology as long as he taught there, but after he was fired, I did more reading on the subject and embraced the Free Grace position. (FWIW, my initial encounter was with Ryrie, whose arguments I thought weak and half-hearted; Hodges I found somewhat more convincing, but the real heavy hitter IMO was Joseph Dillow, in Reign of the Servant Kings.)

I'd have to go back and review the issues, because it's been a long time since I involved myself in the debate, and I've traveled long and far since then--but my impression was that it was a position more consistent with classic Dispensationalism than Lordship salvation. In this respect, I don't think it's coincidental that MacArthur seems to hold a weaker form of Dispensationalism in his own teaching. (Which is not a reflection on the Master's Seminary as a whole--Thomas's commentary on Revelation is impeccable.) At the time, that was significant to me, and I think the course I took only made sense in light of my hermeneutical method.

Jon Speed said...

Tony,

The Gospel of Christ boils down to this:

We are sinners. The Free Grace camp would agree with this theologically, but there is division within the camp as to whether or not the lost need to be told that fact.

This goes further than to say that we're sinners only in a general sense. It's not something to gloss over as a point in a presentation. The Bible goes as far as to say that we are "dead in our trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1).

The Law of God reveals our utter lack of holiness. Consider this: have you ever told a lie (the 9th commandment)? Another way to ask the question is, "How many lies do you reckon that you've told in your life?" Most adults would have to admit to having told many, many lies, if not thousands in the course of their lifetimes. By any standard, that makes us liars and the Scripture says that "all liars" will have their part in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).

That's just one commandment. Have you ever looked with lust (had a lustful thought)? Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) that looking with lust is the same thing as commiting the actual act of adultery. God is so powerful that He sees our thoughts. He is so holy, that He sees our thoughts which are not in line with His laws to be rebellion against Him.

Have you ever taken the name of the Lord in vain? How many times? In Exodus 20, God says that He will not hold him guitless who takes His name in vain.

So, these are just three of the commandments and it establishes us as lying, blaspheming adulterers. If we took the time to look at each of the commandments in the spirit as well as the "letter", we would all be guilty on each point. Our sin piles up before a holy God and the Scriptures teach that someone who is lost is storing up wrath to be revealed on the day of wrath (judgment). Every word will be brought to light on that day of judgment.

The dilemma is this: how can those who are wicked (all of us, Galatians 3:10) be declared righteous before God? The Scriptures teach that one who justifies (declares right) the wicked is an abomination before God (Proverbs 17:15; 24:24).

The Gospel is that Jesus, God in the flesh, came to this world and was tempted in every way that we could be tempted and never sinned. He is the "Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world."

Jesus died on the Cross as a substitute and sacrifice. The Scriptures teach that His death can put us in the position of being declared right before God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states that Christ was considered sin for us that we might be declared right before God. This can only happen based on the death of Christ (Romans 5:8-9). Christ rose from the dead, proving His victory over death and securing our everlasting life.

Man's responsibility boils down to this: NOT to pray a sinner's prayer or perform a religious ceremony (walking an aisle). It boils down to repentance which is turning from sin and dead works and turning to Christ in faith.

Faith is not believing the right things about God. Biblically speaking, it is abandoning oneself to One who is trustworthy. Christ is trustworthy. Rather than trusting in any religious ceremonies or activities, it means complete and total abandonment to the One who alone can save you, and that is Christ.

In the end, this is a work that God does in us and usually strikes us out of nowhere. It is radical. So radical that the Scriptures teach that everything in our previous lives is gone and everything becomes new. So radical that such a faith transforms us into people who are willing to die for the sake of Christ. Historically, this is always been the way salvation has manifested itself.

If you're not sure whether you are "in Christ", I'd recommend starting by listening to a message which has been helpful to others who have had the same issue. Please listen to Paul Washer's message, "Examine Yourself". You can listen to it here: http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/visit.php?lid=12829

Hope this helps.

Jon

tony said...

Pastor John, thank you for your explanation of the historical gospel. You wrota: "It boils down to repentance which is turning from sin and dead works and turning to Christ in faith." Do I have to turn from each sin first before I turn to Christ? I have sin so much and forget most of it.

The Paul Washer sermon made it very clear to me that if I dont live a holy life then I am going to hell even if I believe in the Lord Jesus as Savior. I am still confused. I was taught in our baptist church that John 3:16 is enough.

How am I to know that I am truly saved? What am I to do to be saved?

Thank you
Tony

Jon Speed said...

Tony,

Repentance is not something you "do" in that it is a "work". Many in the Free Grace movement teach this erroneously, and it's only my personal opinion that this is because they have never experienced it. Scripture is very clear that this is a "gift of God". 2 Timothy 2:25 makes this clear.

I disagree with you about the Washer sermon. That sermon is pointing out that if you have participated in the typical Baptist ritual of walking the aisle for salvation and have no walk with Christ, the fruit reveals the true heart condition.

If you want to examine yourself, look to the book of 1 John and see if those marks of a true convert are present. Specifically, consider 1 John 3:4-13, as an example. If these evidences are not present, the Scripture itself here is clear; there is no reason to think that you are saved. To be clear, these actions do not save you, but this book was written for the purpose of self examination for professing Christians (1 Jn. 5:13).

I've made the Gospel as plain as I can in the preceding response. Please read it over again. If your salvation experience did not include repentance, and you were never taught that you needed to repent, you have good reason to question your own salvation. Check out Acts 3:19; 17:30-31; 20:21.

tony said...

Dear John,

To be honest, I believed the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior who gave me forgiveness and eternal life several years ago. I grew for at least 3 years and then stop going to church.

One of my sins after I became a believer is adultery. A friend reported to my wife and I confessed to her and to God and asked for forgiveness. But I did not have any remorse at all until today. I do not regret the adulterous affair I had for 2 years.

The Lord has not given me the gift of repentance I think.

Thanks
Tony

Jon Speed said...

Tony,

I would like to continue this conversation by private email, if you are willing. My email address is jon@lostcauseministries.com.

Thanks.

Jon

Trevor said...

This is a different Trevor from the one who posted above (though I do share his view that the Free Grace gospel taught by Hodges was correct - however, I am led to believe that Hodges did not get fired from DTS, rather he resigned).

I appreciate that the general opinion of bloggers here tends toward the anti-Free Grace camp, but I feel that Zane Hodges has not received fair representation.

His so-called easy believism is quite clearly NOT easy for people to accept. To simplify the gospel offer to 'believe only' or 'mental assent' to Christ's offer of eternal life goes against the grain of human nature, where we feel we have to earn salvation.

I believe that when we add conditions to the gospel offer - even conditions like turning from sin - we are trying to add something of our own efforts to our salvation, albeit sincerely.

If someone does determine to turn from sin at the moment they believe, then well and good, this is excellent and pleasing to God. But it is not a REQUIRED response in receiving the gift of eternal life.

Tony rightly highlights verses like John 3:16 to show that the gospel offer is faith alone, plus nothing else. I encourage him to stick with what he was taught of the gospel initially.

I am aware of the teaching of Paul Washer and find his views very dangerous to believers and non-believers alike. To say that our salvation is proved by our lifestyle after faith is to take us into a subjective realm of quantifying things.

For example, an easy way to defend Washer's views is to say that if a professing believer only experienced lustful thoughts once or twice a week, it is no cause for concern. But if his entire waking life consisted of lustful thoughts he is not saved. But all that this is, is taking two extremes. What about those in 'the middle'?

What if I had lustful thoughts three times a day, every day? What if I committed a lustful act once or twice a week? Should I be concerned for my salvation? This ultimately brings us to the logical outworking of proving salvation by lifestyle: where is the line we shouldn't cross? Three lustful thoughts a day are ok, but four proves you're not saved??

I urge you to see that this is not me making a straw man of such theology, but that such theology naturally leads into this absurd realm.

If God wanted us to look at our lifestyle in order to prove if we are saved, don't you think He would have defined the boundaries more clearly? If, in my less obedient times as a believer, I went to two pastors to tell them of my struggles with sin, one may be concerned for my salvation, and the other not. Yet, hypothetically, both those pastors could have identical theological views. It would be the difference in their emotional character, or their own previous struggles with sin, that would determine their response to my struggles. Hence we have a subjective approach (how much sin is too much?) to an objective issue (is he saved?).

It is much wiser, in my opinion, to see epistles like 1st John as Hodges did - they were not written to prove our salvation, but to prove whether or not we are living as a believer should. The question of 'Christian or no Christian' is not the issue - it is a question of 'good Christian or bad Christian', 'a lifestyle that exudes the grace of Christ, or a lifestyle characterised by the works of the devil'.

It is in this context that Paul makes statements like in 2Cor 13: "examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith".

"The faith" begins by an act of faith: believing Christ's promise of eternal life for nothing in return. That issue is settled once and for all. "The faith" continues by our grasping of more truths about God, and believing those truths - realising the freedom we have in Christ to obey God and follow Him. Hence, when we are told to examine ourselves, whether we're in the faith or not, we are examining our continuance in the life of faith, not whether we are a true believer or nor.

1st John has many expressions like "the truth is not in him", "by this we know that we know Him", "His Word is not in us", "by this we know that we are in Him", etc. The standard exposition of these statements deals with proving if we are saved or not. I encourage readers to get Hodges' commentary on John's epistles for what I consider very strong arguments to the contrary. Such comments deal with whether or not we are walking in the faith. Are we living in the flesh, as a carnal believer (1 Cor 3:1-4)? Then "the truth is not in us" - we are saved, but we have set aside our spiritual privileges in Christ to satisfy the flesh. And God will hold us accountable at His Judgement Seat. The danger of grace is that it may be abused: we may believe the gospel but reject to live the new life that Christ has provided for us. The danger of abusing grace is that we have to face Christ: and God is not mocked.

If a son is not on good terms with his earthly father, but wishes to correct things, he does not begin by asking 'am I really his son?' He knows his position. He simply seeks to spend more time with his father, to get to know him better. And this, I believe, is the correct approach to struggling believers with doubts: assure them of their position in Christ (if they profess to believe) and encourage - not scare - them into fellowship with God.

By encouraging professing believers to study their lifestyle, in order to see if their practices cause them to cross invisible boundary lines, merely traps them in square one, potentially for the rest of their lives.

And if we must address the issue, then simply ask the professing believer: 'did you believe?' That is correct: mental assent! Since when did mental assent to a fact become something 'cold' and lacking in emotion? Christ is asking us to give mental assent to His person, His suffiency to save. He is asking us to give mental assent to something which determines our eternal destiny. Such mental assent would, in almost all cases, lead to an emotional response as well. But it is the mental response Christ is seeking - otherwise we start to quantify everything again by asking 'how many tears did you shed when you were saved?', 'how guilty did you feel for your sin?' - 'just a few tears?', 'just a little guilt?', 'then you're not saved'.

I thank God for the work of men like Zane Hodges who presented the gospel in terms that everyone can understand, and should be able to see resonates with scripture:

"What must I do to be saved?"

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved".

Trevor said...

Just wanted to clarify a couple of points. First, the prof I was talking about who got fired was not Hodges but another prof Jon had alluded to in his original post, from a different institution. Second, although I did at one time accept the Free Grace position, I no longer agree with Hodges on the issue. As I said, I thought at the time (and I'm still inclined to think, though I haven't gone back and looked at it in a while) that the Free Grace view was more consistent with Classic Dispensationalism. But personally, I no longer hold to either one. Just wanted to make that clear.

Trevor said...

My apologies Trevor. I should have read your comments more carefully.

Jon Speed said...

Trevor (the Second),

Hodges' errant views may be very convincing, but they are not consistent with the Scriptures. We could debate the points of Hodges' theology all day long. I do think it's interesting that you already know that most of your arguments are straw men without me having to say anything about it. I won't even go there because all of it is based on human reasoning and logic and not the Scriptures.

The hinge to your argument is the concept of the carnal Christian. There is no such animal. 1 Corinthians 3:1-4, when interpreted using the standard rules of hermeneutics, reveals that Paul is addressing the Corinthians "as" carnal. This is a simile. He's not saying they "are" carnal, but that he has to address them "as" carnal. In other words, they were acting like unbelievers because of their popularity contests in the church. Romans 8:5-11 makes it very, very clear that someone who is "carnal" is someone who is an unbeliever. When considered in the light of 1 John 3, it is apparent to all except those with an ax to grind that 2 Corinthians 5:17 means what it says.

Matthew 7:21-23 makes it clear that those who profess and serve Christ but who live lives of lawlessness will go to Hell with the hope of Heaven. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 makes it clear that those who are justified no longer make a practice of sin. Galatians 5:19-21 likewise makes the point crystal clear.

True believers know the difference between the sin that they were formerly addicted to and the sin that they occasionally fall into. They know the difference between a life lived for the glory of God and the life that they used to live for self. False converts do battle with their consciences and know that their profession of faith does not match what the Scriptures say about what their Christian life should look like. They have come to accept as "normal" a life of failure and those who happen to be schooled in theology have become quite adept at presenting seemingly plausible arguments which deny the power of Christ to do what He claimed He could do; free people from their sin.

Blessings,

Jon

Trevor said...

Thanks for your quick reply Jon. You're right in that this kind of debate could go on for ages, but as you replied to my points (and I would expect no less) I feel I have a responsibility to address your comments.

It was incorrect to say that I see most of my arguments as straw men. My comment was this:

"I urge you to see that this is not me making a straw man of such theology, but that such theology naturally leads into this absurd realm."

Hence it was ONE area where I mentioned "straw man", and even then I was saying that I was not making a "straw man" out of something that related to YOUR belief.

You said that arguments that come (presumably) from men like Hodges can be logical, but not biblical. On the contrary, his logic (it would have been claimed by himself, and is by those in agreement) is derived from the Bible. Logic must match biblical teaching otherwise the Bible is not true. And I believe that the points that I made are both logical and biblical.

It is interesting that you use 1st Corinthians 3:1-4 to say there is no such creature as a carnal Christian. If Paul is using a simile in referring to them "as" carnal in verse 1, what is he doing in verse 3 when he is saying plainly "you are STILL carnal", and verse 4: "are you not carnal?" I don't see the use of a simile there. All I see is what you are arguing AGAINST: he is saying "you ARE carnal".

You rightly point out that the Corinthian believers were acting like unbelievers in their popularity contests. My point would be that this IS carnal behaviour - the same seeds of carnality that led to the man caught up in serious sin in chapter 5.

Furthermore, I believe that a proper contextual study of Romans 8 shows that Paul is concerned with victory within the Christian life, not proof of salvation. He has stated his struggles with the flesh in chapter 7, struggles that all believers experience. At the end of chapter 7 he is almost without hope - until he states the one hope of a victorious Christian life: walking in the Spirit.

The famous verse 1: "there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus" is not, as almost always preached, dealing with the heaven/hell paradigm, but the spiritual/carnal believer paradigm.

We as believers can stand condemned by the sin in our lives. 'Condemnation', though seeming such a strong word that it makes us think of hell, is used towards believers in 14:23 in the context of legalism - "he who doubts is CONDEMNED if he eats". Likewise, I believe that after his discussion of struggles with sin in chapter 7, Paul speaks of the condemnation brought about by sinful failure of a believer in 8:1.

Our only means of overcoming this sin is not by a self-determined effort to forsake it but by realising the gift of the Holy Spirit and the power He gives us, and allowing Him to fill us and use us.

So when Paul, in this context, says "to be carnally minded is death" he is not referring to a destiny of hell, but the realm in which the believer is operating - the flesh, that which is dead.

In verse 9 he encourages the Romans to see that they "are not in the flesh but in the Spirit" - it is a call to realise, to RECKON what is true about their new nature, and to forsake the practices that belong to the old nature. And when he says "if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His", he is comparing them to unbelievers, saying 'you shouldn't be like them. They don't have the Spirit. You do!'

But the very fact that he is exhorting them thus proves that believers CAN and DO act like unbelievers, as you pointed out with the Corinthian believers.

I am clear that you probably won't agree at all with my interpretation of the passage, but my point is merely to show that such passages may not prove your point if other interpretations can hold water.

And if other interpretations cannot be dismissed quickly then it is unfair to say we only hold the views because we have "an ax to grind" with other views. Using such language in debating the meaning of scripture is unprofitable, and can be turned on its head: I could equally say you don't hold my views because you've an axe to grind with the Free Grace gospel. But on the contrary, I believe you hold your views because you have genuine motivations for God's glory.

Please then afford me the respect that I hold my own views for similar reasons, and not because I WANT to come to an opposite view of men like yourself, Washer, MacArthur, Piper, Calvin, whoever. You and all these men would win a debate hands-down with me all the time, but in my own personal study of Scripture I have found that views of men like Zane Hodges make more sense.

You mention 2 Cor 5:17. Almost all believers I know would share your view of this verse. But “ALL THINGS have become new”? Is this referring to a TOTAL change in behaviour of a believer? If so, then no one is saved! For even the most godly of believers from the new birth have small struggles of some sort – hence even for them, “all things” have not become new.

In verses 2 and 3 Paul longs for leaving his ‘tabernacle’ of a fleshly body to be clothed upon with his heavenly clothing, “if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked”. What can this last statement mean other than the potential for his heavenly clothing being insufficient, reflecting a fleshly life?

Whilst we know that Paul was anything but fleshly, his words established a warning to all believers. Then in verse 10 he gives the true motivation for a believer living a spiritual life: reward or disapproval at the Judgement Seat of Christ (as opposed to the motivation of proving one's salvation).

Throughout the epistle Paul has been warning the Corinthians of their mistake in dismissing his apostleship in favour of the more outward charismatic ‘apostles’ who may have been slandering him, and boasting their own credentials. Paul’s approval should lie in the ‘unseen’ or ‘inglorious’ things (1:7-19; 2:4; 3:1-3; 4:5-12). Clearly there was enough in the Corinthians’ attitude to frustrate him to the point of mimicking his ‘usurpers’ by ‘boasting’ openly of all his sufferings for Christ (11:16-33).

It is in this context that we should interpret 5:17. If anyone is in Christ, he should be living in a new realm of understanding. He should not make the same mistake that the Corinthians made in embracing eloquent, charismatic ‘apostles’ who had an easy life. A believer should see life in a totally new light: the next life! The life that we have been born into by faith in Christ!

It is being born again that makes us “a new creature”. It is the new life that has entered us, by the Holy Spirit’s sealing (5:5) that equates to “all things have become new”. But the flesh remains the same and it is up to the believer to ‘reckon’, to take in, to understand his new spiritual surroundings, or else he will continue to make the same mistakes.

I need to spend more time looking at Matthew 7:21-23, but do have some initial thoughts that may suggest an alternate view. Only those who do the will of God the Father will go to Heaven, true. But what is the will of God the Father, and to whom, contextually, was Jesus applying the negative consequence?

Those in verse 22 were clearly doing something we COULD describe as the “will of My Father” – they were casting out demons and doing many wonders in God’s name. Hence, “the will of My Father” in THIS context cannot mean good works. The Pharisees and false prophets to whom Jesus was referring were outside the will of God the Father – why? Because they did not BELIEVE in Jesus as His Son.

You said that the above verses prove that living lives of lawlessness will send us to Hell. Rather, all they prove to me is that living ‘lawful’ lives send us to Hell!

I believe that in 1st Cor 6:9-11 Paul is typifying the behaviour of the world as over against what the believer should be. The world is full of fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, etc. Believers are washed, sanctified, justified. But to say that believers CAN’T do those things described of the world contradicts what Paul has already said – they have defrauded one another. Furthermore, in the list of sins is covetousness! Surely we can accept that believers can covet. And, in the light of Jesus’ definition of adultery beginning with lustful thoughts, we can accept that believers can be adulterers.

But I would go further and say that Paul’s purpose is to warn them against becoming, in continual practice, committers of any or all the sins listed. And since it is Zane Hodges who was the reason for your post in the first place I would recommend his suggestion that ‘inheriting’ the kingdom of God is a step further than ‘entering’ it. Those who enter are those who are saved. Those who inherit are those who obey.

Galatians 5:19-21 goes along the same lines – we may or may not exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. Paul is exhorting us to do so – not in order to prove our salvation, but in light of the Judgement Seat of Christ (“whatever a man sows he shall reap”).

You said the following:
“True believers know the difference between the sin that they were formerly addicted to and the sin that they occasionally fall into.”

I don’t follow. Is ALL sin not of the flesh? And while we remain in the flesh that we inhabited pre-conversion, will it not be the same sin that we fall into? I’m probably missing your point here.

You said:
“False converts do battle with their consciences and know that their profession of faith does not match what the Scriptures say about what their Christian life should look like.”

Perhaps they are TRUE converts but their battle exists because they are incorrectly taught that they should AUTOMATICALLY be living a changed life. The power of Christ to change them is realised AFTER entering the new life, not hand-in-hand with the act of faith. In expecting this power immediately, through faulty teaching, they become discouraged and ultimately fail. They will have to give account for themselves one day, but so will their teachers.

Or perhaps they are false converts because they have been presented with a gospel that includes “a turning from sin” as well as “faith-alone”. In doing something in addition to believing, they have unknowingly rejected the offer of eternal life, and thus will NEVER know the power of Christ to change them.

You said:
“and those who happen to be schooled in theology have become quite adept at presenting seemingly plausible arguments which deny the power of Christ to do what He claimed He could do; free people from their sin.”

Who is denying the power of Christ to free people from their sin? Certainly not Free Grace theology. Just because we hold to the existence of the carnal believer does not mean we condone or fail to see the tragedy in it. As stated above, the Judgement Seat of Christ should be the motivation for every believer to study himself to see if he is walking right with God – not the possibility of Hell.

My apologies for such a long post. I am off work unwell at present, and hence have the time today which I would not have had otherwise. So I recognise it is unfair to expect a response to all the points I've made.

But thank you for the time you have taken to reply to me, and the time taken to read this very long comment!!

God bless
Trevor

tony said...

Pastor Jon, thanks for the personal kind offer to discuss privately. Again I have repented of my adultery---I confessed the sin to the Lord (1Jn 1:9) and of course to my wife. But I was not sorry for it. I knew and know it is sin--awful sin. But still I don't regret it.

Yet I truly believe the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior--He Himself is the atonement for me--my sins (1Jn 2:2). I go to church but not consistently. I read the Bible a little bit sometimes. I don't serve in any capacity in any church.

Some 'urged' me to doubt my salvation: as never saved. Some urge me to supplement my salvation with works. What works? I don't want to work at all. I just feel it is enough to believe as in Acts 16:31.

Bro. Jon, your long clear gospel is not that clear to me. Hence I still have the same question, it seems that I have to do or be something--what exactly I have to do?

I am sorry for not understand your gospel presentation. Can you make it simpler?

Thanks
Tony

Jon Speed said...

Tony,

Let me blunt. I suspect that you are adding the sin of lying to your adultery. I suspect that you are a Free Grace proponent who is posing a scenario in order to score some theological points with friends. You've got the New Testament promise on it: liars will have their part in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 21:8). Having been a proponent of the kind of Gospel you're talking about, I know the tactics of those within that camp well.

But I've been wrong before, so in case I'm not, the answer to your question is, no, I can't make it any simpler. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

Friend, you have good reason to be concerned about your salvation. Works don't save you, but they are a natural outcome of a life that has come into contact with Almighty Creator God. Check out Ephesians 2:8-10. If you've experienced the grace of God that Titus 2:11 talks about, Titus 2:12-14 should be evident as well.

You claim that Jesus lives in your heart? You claim that the Holy Spirit lives in you? And there is no regret about making Christ one with a harlot? It defies common sense and the Scriptures.

You don't regret sinning against God? You don't regret blaspheming His name, taking the name of Christian upon yourself and giving the enemies of God occasion to blaspheme? I know atheists who (at the very least) have remorse over their sin such as adultery because of the damage it does to families. Your view of God is pretty low if you think the Lord of glory shed His precious blood on the cross just so that you can get your ticket to Heaven punched while continuing to sin your heart out.

Tony, if this is truly the case, I'll be praying for your salvation. If this is a theological exercise, I'll be praying that the Lord opens your eyes to the level that you'll stoop to in order to score theological points.

Blessings,

Jon

Lou Martuneac said...

Greetings:

I have only a moment, but if I might add a few thoughts and links…

You wrote, “Hodges is dead, but his soteriology is not. It probably will never totally die out. Free Grace proponents have made it very clear that they will be tenacious in their efforts to spread their theology within churches, seminaries, and even children's ministries.”

If I may assure you that the reductionist heresy that originated with Zane Hodges is NOT representative of a broad base of men in the Free Grace (FG) community. Hodges and Wilkin have assaulted the content of saving faith. If you can believe this- Hodges taught that the lost man does not have to be aware of, know, understand or believe in the deity, death and/or resurrection of Christ, but can still be born again.

His view came to be known as the “Crossless” gospel and is the official position of Grace Evangelical Society (GES). See- GES's Reductionist Affirmation of Belief for details.

Hodges became and Bob Wilkin is a theological extremist far to the left of most in the FG camp. The GES has become a rapidly shrinking cell of extremists.

They do pose a threat, but to reiterate- the Hodges, Wilkin GES faction do not speak for or represent the vast majority of godly balanced men in the FG camp. See Is "REDEFINED" Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

Now, here are some additional links for you and your readers.

Kind regards,


LM

1) Find the series, The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel Download the PDFs.

2) The Troubling Teachings of Zane Hodges

3) Is the "Crossless" Label the Right Label?

Lou Martuneac said...

Hope the above is helpful.


LM

tony said...

Pastor Jon

Seriously I don't regret and don't have remorse over most of my sins. Some sins yes, most of them not at all. Am I able to go to heaven? I have claimed John 3:16 promise. How am I to produce the feelings of remorse? I called the office and lying about being ill to skip work and not a bit bothered by it. Of course I doubt my salvation. Someday somehow I hope that I will be granted the spirit of repentance. I m just confused and not meant to score points.

Thanks
Tony

Jon Speed said...

Tony,

Thanks for your honesty. Sorry about the paranoia.

Again, I encourage you to send me an email.

I don't personally think that you can create repentance; it's an issue of God giving it and it seems like you understand that. The best thing you can do is prayerfully read the Word and ask the Lord to reveal where you stand with Him.

Jon

Jon Speed said...

Lou,

Thanks for taking the time to point out the differences within the FG camp. It's a shame that Hodges became the primary voice for the movement back in the 80's during the whole LS debate when MacArthur wrote "The Gospel According to Jesus."

It may be a shrinking cell, but that cell includes at least one very prominent evangelical leader in Tony Evans. It also includes the pastor of a church in Lewisville, TX who shared this Crossless gospel with me after I visited there. It also includes at least one guest speaker who spoke at a night class at DTS as recently as last week. Additionally, people in the Emergent movement seem to have been influenced by Hodges' shady definition of repentance. GES' tentacles are further reaching than any of us may care to admit.

This kind of heresy that Hodges embraced is the natural outcome of the FG teachings on Lordship, repentance and faith. Hodges only ran the teaching out to its logical conclusion.

Others have gone in other directions with it. Combined with extreme views of dispensationalism, the so-called "Kingdom Baptists" (Fort Worth, TX) started within the FG camp, but are now not a part of it because of their whacky interpretation of 1 Cor. 6:9-11. They say, in essence, that if a Christian "prays the prayer" they can go on to live a reprobate life (embracing the sins in this text) and will eventually go to Heaven, but they won't "inherit the Kingdom" (the Millenial Kingdom). So, they'll be cast into Hell for 1,000 years while Christ reigns on the earth. Afterwards, they'll be accepted into Heaven. I call it "Baptist purgatory."

This is what happens when we run our dispensationalism and the FG teachings out to their logical conclusions. Even more aberrant theology and whacky views of the efficacious nature of the Cross.

Jon

Lou Martuneac said...

Jon:

Thanks for the extended reply. My goal here was to make sure that those of you who reject the teachings of Hodges and Bob Wilkin (Grace Evangelical Society) on the Gospel, so as not confuse their views wit that of the broad base of Free Grace (FG) men that reject the egregious soteriological errors coming from Hodges and Wilkin as strongly as you do.

Myself I am an Independent Fundamental Baptist, but I do identify closely with the more balanced men in the FG community. Not on every issue, but many of them.

If you have visited my blog you likely noted that I do take a clear, uncompromising stand against Lordship Salvation as it is defined by some of its best-known advocates, such as John MacArthur, Walter Chantry and John Stott. But we are not here to debate that issue today.

I did use “shrinking cell” because it is, but as you noted there are men determined to propagate the Hodges/Wilkin/GES reductionist assault on the content of saving faith. I (and others) are determined to take a biblical, militant stand against its spread.

I don’t believe you and I would entirely agree on the doctrine of repentance, but I’m sure we both reject the teaching of Hodges on the subject. Not sure you are fully aware of how GES defines repentance. The teaching of the GES entirely eliminates repentance toward God from salvation and conversion. They believe repentance is not a condition of salvation. Therefore, they do not believe a lost man needs to have any kind of “change of mind” toward God. This is one reason why advocates of the Crossless Gospel will allow for a lost man to consciously reject the Deity of Christ and still insist he can be born again by believing a promise of eternal life. See Is There Such a Thing as Repentance in the Crossless Gospel for more details.

Ironically, Wilkin’s 1985 doctrinal dissertation is titled Repentance as a Condition for Salvation in the New Testament. At that time Wilkin held the “change of mind” view and believed repentance was a condition for salvation. The influence of Hodges eventually led Wilkin to abandon the position he defended in his dissertation. At the 1998 Grace Evangelical Society’s National Conference Bob Wilkin revealed he had a “change of mind” about repentance. Hodges and Wilkin defined repentance as “turning from sin” and also announced their view that repentance (by any definition) is not a condition for salvation.

As for the Millennial Exclusion (ME) “Baptist Purgatory” heresy, I do agree and understand that those flow from Hodges’s teaching. Many in the GES presently hold to a punitive Judgment Seat of Christ, but most are not comfortable J. D. Faust’s ME.

FWIW, I would classify myself as a Dispensationalist in the so-called classic tradition. Ryrie’s book Dispensationalism Today would reflect my view on the subject.

Kind regards,


LM

Jerry Szewczyk said...

John, Although I agree wholeheartedly with everything you posted, I think there exists a division that is causing great confusion, especially among new believers (as it seems "tony" has posted already). I firmly believe that God is the one that does the saving and we are but His instruments in the salvation process. The Lord can and will use whatever and whomever He sees fit to draw a believer to Him, whether that be Hodges' obvious departure from the true Gospel or books such as "The Purpose Driven Life". At some point, a true believer will encounter the exceedingly sinfulness of their sin and will cry out to Christ to cleanse and free them from it. This is only accomplished through the divine work of the Holy Spirit. Freedom only comes from the work and power of the Holy Spirit. Although we are required to preach to every living creature, only the sick require a physician. It seems to me that the "sick" today are the same as they were in Christ's day. The "broken" people. The ones that cry out to be loved... the forgotten ones... the despised ones. And it seems to me that these ones need grace... albeit tempered with law (only for the proud)but grace most assuredly. It seems Hodges has completely forgotten the law, making grace greasy.

Brian Vranicar said...

Jon, I was very disappointed to read your article. If you honestly believe that Zane Hodges advocated for drunkenness, adultery, and sin of any kind you have NOT understood his position. He would never say: "Well we're saved, now let's just sin like crazy!" Read his books, listen to his messages and I challenge you to make those same claims afterward. You are right however, that there are some Free Grace (Biblical) advocates who take advantage of the grace of God, and they will reap God's wrath for it to be sure and will suffer loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Cor 3:11-15). However, that does not in any way accurately portray Zane Hodges' position, or that of the Grace Evangelical Society and other ministries like them. Eternal life is the FREE gift of God given to ANYONE who BELIEVES in Jesus Christ for it (Gen 15:6; John 1:12; 3:15-16; 4:13-14; 5:24; 6:40, 47, 7:38; 11:25-27; 20:31; Acts 16:31; Rom 4:1-8; Gal 2:16; 3:26; Eph 2:8-9; Phil 3:9; Titus 3:4-7; 1 John 5:1; Rev 21:6 - and more!). There are SERIOUS consequences for not growing in the faith, but one of those consequences is NOT the loss of eternal life, or the proof that a person never had it in the first place. We don't save ourselves (Titus 3:5). God saves us and keeps us (John 6:35-40). It pains me to see you accusing a man of false teaching, without knowing what he teaches. If you heard from somewhere that he preaches taking advantage of God's grace by sinning all the time, I'm sorry because you got miss information. Zane Hodges was a great man and teacher of God's word. Jesus Christ paid the price in full, removing the sin barrier for all people and rising again from the dead (John 1:29; 1 Cor 15:3-4; Gal 1:3-5 - and many more). His offer of eternal life is simple: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47). Do you believe this?

Brian

Jon Speed said...

Brian,

I think you missed the point of my initial post. I did not make the claim that Hodges encouraged people specifically to go out and sin their hearts out. I AM saying that this watered down Gospel (if it can be called that) actually encourages antinomianism and using the grace of God for a license to sin. The proof of this fact lies in the many, many conversations we have had with people who either espouse this doctrine or who have been influenced by it on the streets of Dallas\Fort Worth and around the world.

However, I will just ask you one question. Does the Bible teach that there are false converts?

Blessings,

Jon

Lou Martuneac said...

Jon:

I want to address just one portion of Brian’s note to you. It is his subtle introduction of the reduction heresy of the Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and GES, the Crossless interpretation of the Gospel.

Please excuse, but the best way to do it is to link you to the current article at my blog. In it I show from GES’s current and previous official Affirmation of Belief how the GES have stripped the Gospel of the necessary content of saving faith.

The article is titled, GES Reductionist Affirmation of Belief.

Be sure to read the comment thread, especially those of Jan.

Kind regards,


LM

PS: To reiterate the GES, which has become a shrinking cell of theological extremists through its reductionist assaults on the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ. GES no longer speaks for or represents the broad base of men in the Free Grace community. See Is "REDEFINED" Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

Brian Vranicar said...

Jon, first of all I am a believer in Free Grace theology, however I would rather just call it Biblical theology. I will tell you this however, that there is nothing that has motivated me to serve Christ more than knowing I have eternal life by faith in Him. I also know many people who feel the same way. Fear is not a good motivator, but grace is an amazing one. And yes I believe the Bible does give examples of false converts (Gal 2:4). However, if you look at the context of Galatians, you will see that Paul is combating Judaizers who were saying that a person is justified by circumcision and following the Mosaic Law (Gal 3:1-5; 5:2), and not by faith in Christ (Gal 2:16). They were adding things to faith! They are not false converts because they believed in faith alone in Christ alone, but because they believed in a works based salvation.

And to address Lou's comment about the Crossless gospel, I want you to know that my pastor has been a very close friend of Zane Hodges' for twenty some years, and I have it on good authority from him that Zane never preached the gospel without telling a person about Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection. The only thing that we're saying is that the precise thing a person must believe to receive eternal life is that Jesus gives that life to anyone who believes in Him (John 11:25-27). I think we are also talking hypothetical here, because I do not believe there is a person in this world who believes in Jesus for eternal life, but does not believe He died on the cross or rose again from the dead. However, if in a hypothetical situation, a person did not know about Jesus' death and resurrection, but believed that He would give them eternal life, they would still be saved. Zane Hodges and other Free Grace advocates such as Bob Wilken, do not minimize the importance of Jesus' death and resurrection and firmly believe it. But it must be noted, that Jesus Christ's substitutionary death on the cross, and His resurrection were some of MANY things that made it possible for Him to give eternal life. But when it comes down to the point of faith, Jesus Himself always explains it simply by saying: "He who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47). I hope that helps explain the confusion.

I do have one question for both of you. Can you give me one passage in the Bible that explains everything a person must believe to be born again?

Brian

Jerry Szewczyk said...

This is exactly the kind of confusing debate that I was referring to in my previous post. For far too long people have taken specific scripture and used it to fuel a particular position which in turn has created division and confusion within in the church and the body of Christ. The Bible must be looked at as a whole... what is the message being conveyed...? why would one verse say that nothing created could remove me from Jesus' hand, yet another says that he that doesn't overcome will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. It is obvious that this verse is written to the believer yet Free Grace believers may think otherwise. Clearly, the gift of salvation is just that... a gift, which can be refused and even given back by the recipient. If the recipient of the gift decides to give back his free gift, the Lord is longsuffering in His mercy but He is very clear that He will hand over that believer to a reprobate mind. These are warnings to believers... not non-believers. We are even warned that if the true branches can be pruned cannot the ones grafted in also be cut off? It is as I said, mercy comes from our heavenly Father, grace comes from our Master Jesus Christ and the power to recognize and overcome sin comes from the Holy Spirit and from Him only. That is why Jesus calls Him the "Helper". God must win the battle so that the flesh cannot glorify itself. When men get into these crazy debates it only greases the skids of the highway to hell... and tickles Satan.

Lou Martuneac said...

Jon/All:

What Brain gave you above it pretty much the standard mantra of Crossless gospel advocates.

Read the link to how GES revised through reductionist their original Affirmation of Belief. This will show you how they have slid into a reductionist heresy on the content of saving faith.

No one who rejects the Crossless gospel in regard to the necessary content of saving faith have ever claimed that these men do not personally believe in the Deity and finished work of Jesus Christ. When CG men like Brian reference that, it is a misdirect away from the true core of the controversial teachings of Hodges and Wilkin.

Whether or not they always present the Lord's deity and finished work in an evangelistic setting it is up for debate by evidence of some of Wilkin’s own commentary.

The crux of the doctrinal controversy that originated in the mind of Hodges is that while they believe in the deity and finished work of Christ they insist that the lost man does not have to know understand, and key here is they do not have to believe any of it, but can still be born again.

If you want, and I recommend it, in depth documentation and commentary on the GES’s Crossless & Deityless gospel go to the Grace Family Journal and download the PDF’s by Pastor Tom Stegall titled, The Tragedy of the “Crossless” Gospel. You will have to pull these from the 2007 and 2008 web pages.

These articles remove any doubt whatsoever that Hodges and GES have fallen into a gross reductionist interpretation of the biblical content of saving faith.

Hodges introduced to the NT church a reductionist interpretation of the Gospel the like of which has never been seen in NT history. Many GES men actually believe God specially anointed Hodges to reveal the true Gospel, which they feel has never been rightly understood until Hodges developed his Crossless gospel.


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

Jon/All:

There is no confusion on the teaching of Hodges’s Crossless gospel.

Jerry wrote, “The Bible must be looked at as a whole... what is the message being conveyed...?”

Well said, and I have only a moment for this, but what Hodges/Wilkin/ GES have done is determined that there is no specific message called “the Gospel” that the lost must believe to be born again. See- Technical meaning of “the GOSPEL.”

Furthermore, they go to passages like Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Cor. 15:1-f. and twist them out of shape to force them into conformity with Hodges’s reduction assault on the content of saving faith. Any passage of Scripture that does not conform to their Crossless gospel is negated, ignored, or redefined to prop up the teaching of Hodges.

I know this sounds rough and almost unbelievable, but it is fact and thoroughly documented.


LM

Brian Vranicar said...

Lou,
I always find it amazing when people will conveniently skip over any of the arguments made and just simply condemn them as false. If what I said earlier is not Biblical, please prove it to me from the Bible. I do not believe God revealed any new revelation of the "true gospel" through Zane Hodges. I believe what Zane Hodges, Bob Wilken, and others like them preach is what the Bible says. Again, if this position is wrong, prove it to me from the Bible.

Jerry,
Inheriting the kingdom is not the same as getting into the kingdom. To overcome refers to serving Christ until the end, while receiving eternal life is by faith alone in Christ. Once the gift of eternal life is given it cannot be given back.

"This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day." (John 6:39)

It is not our job to keep ourselves saved, but instead it is Jesus Christ's job to keep us saved. If He loses even one person who believes in Him, then He has not done the will of the Father, and then He isn't God. Jesus is very clear, that anyone He gives eternal life to "shall never perish" (John 10:28-30). If even one person were able to give back eternal life and thus perish, Jesus lied and He did not do the will of the Father.

Brian

Brian Vranicar said...

Lou,
Also, once you have proven to me why my stance on what a person must believe to be born again is wrong, please explain to me what you think a person must believe to be born again.

Brian

Jerry Szewczyk said...

LM,

what you have said is irrefutable. the problem seems to lie in the fact that free grace believers want to point to people that preach the true Gospel and call them legalists. Now, as we know there is legalism in the church and because of this the line gets skewed quickly and easily. The Gospel must be preached with grace at the forefront. Jesus preached to everyone, however... it should be noted that only the sick, and the broken, not only heard Him but desperately needed Him. Remember these Jews knew the Law of Moses, they knew the perfect requirements of God's law. They also knew they couldn't keep these commands. they were looking for an answer. Jesus told them the key was His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would win the battle the same way that the Lord one the battle against Pharaoh, and the same way he did for Gideon. The Bible tells us over and over again that we are not to even try to claim the victory. Now, having said that, free grace believers would have a person believe it isn't important if a person continues to sin once they "believe". Yet, we are told "Be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect". So, if I cannot in my own power achieve perfection, yet I am commanded to be perfect, then I must, absolutely must rely on one who has that power... my "Helper". I must pray for faith and perseverance and for the Father to make good on His promise/covenant to His Son to not leave me alone but to send the Holy Spirit who will guide me and be a lamp unto my footsteps.

Jerry Szewczyk said...

Brian;

Your argument is not valid. I am sorry and this is the last post I am making on this subject. Jesus chose the 12. All of whom had the option to follow Him, reject Him as the others did after His "eat my flesh..." sermon, follow Him to their deaths or reject and betry Him as Judas did. Just as the Bible is a picture of human history from the end to the beginning so is this a picture of what various "Christians" look like. Judas knew Christ, he was saved... he seen the miracles, he went out and preached with the other 12 and baptized. yet, in the end he is called the son of perdition. He was handed over to a reprobate mind. Look at Romans 8:38-41. Look especially close to verse 39. The words "nor any other created thing" are to point out not just that there is nothing created that can separate us but that there is One that is the Uncreated One that can blot out our names from the Book of Life. Jesus will not wink at sin, even the sin of a so called believer. If you are struggling with this then it is my prayer that you ask Him to please send His Holy Spirit to you to win the fight that you nor I nor no other flesh can win. There is an excellent book by David Wilkerson called "The New Covenant Unveiled" that does a great job discussing a lot of the issues of sin in a believer's life.

Brian Vranicar said...

Jerry,
Correct me if I'm wrong, but are you advocating that a "true believer" cannot sin? I completely understand the fact that sin is VERY serious and a terrible decision. I can also say with complete confidence that you and I sin (1 John 1:8).

Read John 3:16 and the many other verses in John like it. Are we to believe that Jesus preached one gospel to some people, and then a different gospel to others? He clearly said that by faith in Him we have eternal life (John 3:16). Are we to then say that Jesus preached another gospel of believing in Him and following Him in service in a different place? Absolutely not! The only way to receive eternal life is by putting our faith in Jesus Christ (John 11:25-27). Once we believe in Christ, we're saved, and can never be unsaved according to Jesus.

Show me a verse that tells us that Judas was saved. You're right that he followed Jesus for a long time, however, the reason he was called the son of perdition is because he never believed in Christ. Isn't that obvious? He went along with the other things the disciples were doing, the only thing missing was faith in Christ.

Also, I'm sorry, but your exposition of Romans 8:38-39 is seriously flawed. These verses are clearly preaching that no "created thing" can separate us from "the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." To take from this text that Jesus reserves the right to take away our eternal life is no where to be found in the text! We must not take our theology to the text and then interpret it, but instead let the text speak for its self.

Again, if you're claiming that you don't sin, I'm sorry to say this, but I know you're lying (1 John 1:8). We will never reach sinless perfection until we are conformed to the image of Christ (1 John 3:2). People who advocate for this kind of doctrine, seem to always focus on the "big sins" of murder, adultery, fornication, but seem to skip over the "lesser sins" of anger, jealousy, selfishness and others like that, all of which are listed together (Gal 5:19-21). Are you honestly going to say that you never get angry, or you are never selfish? Sin is sin, no matter what it is, and every sin is terrible. If what you seem to be saying is true, then NO ONE is saved, not even Paul (Rom 7:13-25). I'm NOT in any way saying that we should just go out and sin all we want because we're saved anyway. However, I'm not going to go so far as to say that I don't struggle with sin. However, the Holy Spirit CAN give me victory over individual sins in my life (Rom 8:10-11).

Brian

Lou Martuneac said...

Jon/All:

I want to reply to this from Brian, who wrote, “I always find it amazing when people will conveniently skip over any of the arguments made and just simply condemn them as false...I believe what Zane Hodges, Bob Wilken, and others like them preach is what the Bible says.”

First, you are again trying to redirect attention from and dodge the crux of controversy. The controversy is NOT over what GES men may personally believe or preach. The issue is that GES insists the lost do not have to know, understand believe in who the Lord Jesus Christ is and what He did to provide salvation, but can still be born again.

Second, the teaching of Hodges and Wilkin on the content of saving faith has been repeatedly and by many men thoroughly trounced and refuted from the Scriptures. Earlier you simply repeated the GES mantra, which has many times been shown to be a facade and smoke screen for what you and GES have done to the Gospel of Christ. My link above to the GES Reductionist Affirmation of Belief proves how GES has fallen into a reductionist heresy in regard to the content of saving faith.

Jon, I have to link to several more articles to provide additional documentation of the egregious soteriological errors that were originated by Hodges. The work of proving the arguments for the Crossless gospel are false an anti-biblical has been done. For example:

False Paradigms of the “Crossless” Gospel

Heresy of the “Crossless” Gospel Verified & Affirmed

The “Christ” Under Siege

I can post many more that thoroughly document the teaching of Hodges, Wilkin and GES all of which have been proven to be a false gospel and an assault on the saving message.

I hope you and your guests are taking the time to read the articles I am linking to. They are very thorough and will erase any doubt or confusion about the egregious errors coming from the GES and Bob Wilkin.


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

Jon:

Jerry wrote, “…free grace believers want to point to people that preach the true Gospel and call them legalists.”

First, I want to reiterate that the GES does not speak for or represent the broad base of Free Grace people. GES is a shrinking cell of theological extremists.

Now I want to give you an example of just how theologically polarized and disconnected Zane Hodges had become through his Crossless interpretation of the Gospel.

His final article appeared in the GES’s Grace in Focus journal. It is reprinted at the GES blog and the title is, The Hydra’s Other Head: Theological Legalism.

That article is his legacy, and it is a sad and tragic legacy.

Here are links to just two of a growing list of articles that review and critique Hodges’s Hydra Head article

Zane Hodges: “Legalism” is Not a Very Nice Word

Stakes Through the Heart of Hodges’s Hydra Head Article


LM

fisherwoman said...

Trevor said:

"What must I do to be saved?"

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved".

Jesus clearly taught that believing in Him included repentance.

Mark 1:14,15 "and after John had been taken into custody (he preached repentance as well) Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

The command to repent is as the command to believe, they are both gifts of God.

Jesus' disciples preached repentance: Mark 6: 12 "and they went out and preached that men should repent."

Your belief will be accompanied by fruit of repentance (Matt. 3:8)

For the man who said he believed but has no sorrow over his sin:

2 Cor. 7: 9, 10 explains that one is made sorrowful to the point of repentace according to the will of God without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the wrold produces death. Colossians 3: 6 reminds us the wrath of God will come upon the unrepentant, as does 1 Cor. 6: 9,10; Rev. 21:8

fisherwoman said...

Also belief requires obedience to the Son (who commands repentance) : John 3:36 "He
who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

Trevor said...

Fisherwoman

I understand this sounds over-simplistic, but surely the fact that the word "repent" is not there in Acts 16:31 should tell us something.

Contextually there doesn't seem to be any reference to repentance, and the Philippian jailer would hardly have been aware of an 'implicit' meaning of repentance as described in Mark chapter 1.

Whether faith and repentance are gifts from God or not (and I don't believe they are) the fact remains that they are two separate words with two separate meanings.

If, throughout the gospel of John, repentance is not mentioned (even though he used the word at least 10 times in Revelation), nor in the context of Acts 16, nor on the many occasions when Paul mentions belief/faith as the avenue through which people enter new life, then that should warn us about the use of 'repentance' when sharing the gospel.

I'm not totally convinced of what the word means to be honest: whether to take the Hodges/Wilkin route of saying it refers to 'harmony with God' within the believer's life, or a simple change of mind full stop. I lean towards the latter with extra meaning only being added depending on the context (a simple change of mind/a change of mind put into action).

But whilst I can't be dogmatic about the term's meaning, I think its absence in many vital gospel references speaks volumes.

With reference to "godly sorrow working repentance to SALVATION", we can't just read the word 'salvation' and assume it means 'salvation from hell', just like 'death' doesn't necessarily refer to hell on many occasions.

fisherwoman said...

Trevor said...
Fisherwoman

I understand this sounds over-simplistic, but surely the fact that the word "repent" is not there in Acts 16:31 should tell us something.

Contextually there doesn't seem to be any reference to repentance, and the Philippian jailer would hardly have been aware of an 'implicit' meaning of repentance as described in Mark chapter 1.

Whether faith and repentance are gifts from God or not (and I don't believe they are) the fact remains that they are two separate words with two separate meanings.

If, throughout the gospel of John, repentance is not mentioned (even though he used the word at least 10 times in Revelation), nor in the context of Acts 16, nor on the many occasions when Paul mentions belief/faith as the avenue through which people enter new life, then that should warn us about the use of 'repentance' when sharing the gospel.

I'm not totally convinced of what the word means to be honest: whether to take the Hodges/Wilkin route of saying it refers to 'harmony with God' within the believer's life, or a simple change of mind full stop. I lean towards the latter with extra meaning only being added depending on the context (a simple change of mind/a change of mind put into action).

But whilst I can't be dogmatic about the term's meaning, I think its absence in many vital gospel references speaks volumes.

With reference to "godly sorrow working repentance to SALVATION", we can't just read the word 'salvation' and assume it means 'salvation from hell', just like 'death' doesn't necessarily refer to hell on many occasions.

December 8, 2008 6:37 AM

In John 3, Jesus states that whoever believes in Him shall not perish..but in the same exposition He states that those who do not believe have the wrath of God abiding on them. Belief in Jesus requires repentance, as Jesus stated, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3)

Jesus came preaching the Gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15)

Throughout the Book of Acts, there is a call to repentance and faith, which is the essence of belief. When Paul was before Agrippa, he testified that he had "kept declaring to (all) that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. (Acts 26:20)

Salvation , faith, and repentance are all gifts from God.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;" (Eph. 2:8)

" "All the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been oured out upon the Gentiles also." Acts 10:45

"Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life."


"For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. " 2 Cor. 7:10

If you're not saved from God's wrath you die in your sins and perish and face judgement and the eternal place of punishment is God's Hell:

John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. " John 5:24

"Inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment. " Heb. 9:27)

Read Luke 16 about a man who went to Hell.

Here's some good information on repentance:

http://www.bulletininserts.org/unrepent.html

Trevor said...

Thanks for the reply and the link Fisherwoman. I'll try to get to read it now.

I've no doubt there are many usages of the term repent in the spread of the gospel. My point was that there are probably even more cases where it is not mentioned.

Assuming repentance and faith do not mean the exact same thing then we have to determine from contexts what it does mean. I would lean towards saying that on many occasions 'repent' simply means to change one's mind - hence, in the gospel context, one changes one's mind from not believing in Christ for the gift of eternal life to believing in Him for the gift.

But I think there may be a case for saying that, on some occasions in the gospels, the term does not simply mean a change of mind about the issue of eternal life, but a change in behaviour -with a failure to do so resulting, not necessarily in Hell, but in a dire consequence within their lifetime.

For example, you mentioned Luke 13, where the Lord Jesus responds to questions about deaths brought on certain Jews by Pilate, and by a tower in Siloam that fell. I think it's important to see that He says "unless you repent you will all LIKEWISE perish". He is equating the results of their non-repentance to physical sufferings in this life. I stand to be corrected, but it does genuinely seem to me that Hell is not in this context. Perhaps He was referring to the Jews not changing their attitude and actions concerning who He was, and as a result the nation fell in AD70 with terrible physical sufferings.

If, in many contexts, repentance does refer to a change in behaviour, then I would suggest the possibility that eternal life is not the only issue in the context, but that blessing/cursing in this present life is also relevant.

As you can see, I'm not convinced of a precise meaning of the word, but I am convinced that if it means a change in behaviour, then it is NOT a requirement for salvation from hell.

You also used Ephesians 2:8,9 to show that faith is a gift. I disagree. The context of the preceding verses extol the GRACE of God, lifting us from deadness in sins to heavenly places. In verse 8 the gift is grace, not faith. God's grace is what is offered - faith is the avenue, and our responsibility. The gift is received through faith, which is different from saying the gift IS faith.

Anyone may reject this gift. It is up to them whether or not they will honestly assess the offer. In the same way (verse 10) any born-again believer may reject the path of good works which God has planned for our sanctifiction.

Hope this makes sense. I'm often not very good at articulating my views!

I'll read your link now.
God bless
Trevor

Jerry Szewczyk said...

Trevor;

Against my own words of not posting anymore on this subject because I do not want to continue to go down the path of division in the body of Christ I will post one more message in response to your last post. If you have been following these posts, you will see that I had previously posted that the Bible cannot be interpreted on a scripture by scripture basis but must be interpreted as a whole. What is it saying...? If scripture is clear in certain areas and yet seems to be uncertain in others what is the general context of the message? It seems clear here that the message of repentance (changing of the mind) is to see things as God does. This means we see things COMPLETELY as God does, even our sinful life. Which he finds detestable. He uses words like "rotting corpse", and "menstrual cloth" to describe sin. Jesus is very clear in Rev. that he that does not overcome will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. That no liars can enter. In a previous post someone challenged me to whether I was ever going to sin again.. well the answer to that is I have not achieved sinless perfection, but I run the race not looking back. Let me ask this question... name one sin you absolutely wake up and say that sin I must commit today...? Must you lie... or cheat... or commit adultery...? How about honoring your parents... do you need to get angry unjustly today? No... if you truly love God for all of the wonderful things He has given you and love Him just because He is... then there is NO sin you absolutely MUST do on any given day... the difference between the way we are today and the way were were prior to salvation is today we FALL into sin against our will as opposed to diving into it willfully on a daily basis.

Lou Martuneac said...

Brian:

Sorry I have been away on other business.

Earlier in this thread you asked, “Can you give me one passage in the Bible that explains everything a person must believe to be born again?”

Yes, I can!

Paul’s gospel to the Galatians in Acts 13:23-41 has it all: the deity, humanity, substitutionary death, resurrection, and justification by faith apart from works!

Acts 13:41 which uses “workthree times to drive home the point that unless someone believes in the Person and WORK of Jesus Christ they will “perish” according to the passage.

Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you,” (Acts 13:41).

I have NEVER heard or read advocates of the heretical Crossless Gospel respond to this verse anywhere! None of us who reject the reductionist heresy of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin on the content of saving faith have ever heard or read them, or any advocate of the Crossless gospel, deal with this passage.

If you are going to reply, focus your reply solely on the text of the Acts 13:23-41 passage, which fulfills your request to me above.

Kind regards,


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

To all Readers:

For a slam-dunk to support my brief reply to Brian’s question above see The Tragedy of the “Crossless” Gospel, Part 9. It is devoted solely to Acts 13:23-41.

Go to the Grace Family Journal and scroll down to the Special Edition and there you will find Part 9 of the series.


LM

Trevor said...

Jerry

You said:
"the Bible cannot be interpreted on a scripture by scripture basis but must be interpreted as a whole. What is it saying...?"

How does one understand the whole without building up an understanding of the individual passages first? Surely one's opinion of scripture as a whole can only be formed on "a scripture by scripture basis".

That is what I am trying to do by looking at individual passages and assessing what they mean, to whom they're addressed, etc.

And by this approach I see, particularly in the epistles, that faith alone in Christ (no implied extra meaning other than simple belief) is the way to everlasting life. And it is this that leads me to question what terms like repentance mean. I do not deny that repentance must be an important factor in anyone's life if they are to please God, but I am most definitely cautious of defining it incorrectly or applying it to the wrong circumstance.

You pointed out in an earlier post how the Jews, during the gospel period, would have had a very good knowledge of the OT Law. I agree, and there are certain Jewish 'flavours' to scripture that, if we understood them even today, would help us understand certain passages better.

But, likewise, there are people like the Philippian jailer who would have had little to no knowledge of OT scripture. So when Paul and Silas tell him to believe, what extra understanding does HE have to enable him to grasp that faith implies much more than simply believing something?

Or the woman at the well in John 4. Though she would no doubt be better versed in scripture than the jailer, she still believed that she was with 'the right crowd' as a Samaritan and not a Jew - hence she had fundamental misunderstandings of the OT. Does Jesus tell her to repent? No, He just reveals Himself as the Messiah.

I'm sorry that you are frustrated by the disagreements that exists on blogs like this, to the point that you don't want to add more comments. I agree that conflicting opinions within the body of Christ more often than not lead to the truth not being spoken in love.

But I'm sure everyone agrees, irrespective of the school of thought they are espousing in this post, that it is important to defend what they are convinced is biblical truth. I have no problem with people expressing their views firmly. It is whether or not we listen to others with humility that decides the spiritual benefit of the discussion.

I am aware that I could be misinterpreting what you're saying so I welcome your feedback.

Lou Martuneac said...

Trevor:

For clarification, on the crux of the “Crossless” gospel teaching of Hodges, Wilkin and the GES I want to share the following.

The controversy is over the GES teaching that a lost man can be born again apart from knowing, understanding or believing in the deity of Christ and what He did to provide salvation.

CG advocates will consistently cry the mantra of, “we believe in the deity and finished work of Christ,” but that is NOT what the controversy is over. We who reject the egregious reductionist teaching of the CG have always acknowledged that the Crossless gospel advocates believe in these truths. The controversy, to reiterate, is that they insist the lost do not have to be aware of or believe any of it, but can still be born again.

This is why we call their stripping the Gospel of it necessary saving content a Crossless and Deityless gospel.

Here are links to some articles that bring all of this out. The first is the series by Pastor Tom Stegall titled, The Tragedy of the “Crossless” Gospel. It is a multipart series that you can download in PDF for at the Grace Family Journal. You will find the series on the 2007 and 2008 pages.

Then you can view these for additional commentary.

GES Reductionist Affirmation of Belief

Heresy of the “Crossless” Gospel: Verified & Affirmed!

Read these an you will then know and understand why the “Crossless Gospel” is an appropriate label for the reductionist teaching of the GES.

Kind regards,


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

Jon/Trevor/All:

The real abusrdity of the Grace Evangelical Society's (GES) Crossless & Deityless interpretation of the Gospel, (i.e. the GES reductionist assault on the content of saving faith), can be seen through a multipart series that was written by Pastor Dennis Rokser.

The series is titled, The Issue of Incongruity: Actual or Artificial?

The series addresses many of the egregious errors in the teachings of GES (Hodges & Wilkin) such as:

1) Denying that the Gospel has a technical meaning anywhere in the New Testament, and claiming that it never is used in reference to the message of eternal salvation.

2) Gutting the Gospel of the necessary components of Jesus Christ’s deity, substitutionary death, bodily resurrection, etc.

3) Claiming to preach the person and finished work of Jesus Christ as part of the Gospel, but are not convinced that this is necessary to be believed in order to possess eternal life/salvation.

The critical question Ps. Rokser will focus upon boils down to the following:

Does the Bible allow for an incongruity or difference between the CONTENT OF THE GOSPEL message which is to be faithfully PREACHED and the content of SAVING FAITH post-Calvary which must be BELIEVED in order to have eternal life today?”


LM

tony said...

Dear experts, as I said I attend a Baptist church and the pastor taught that John 3:16 is gospel. A summary. And I believe that as I put faith in Christ as Savior I was granted eternal life and will never go to hell. I thought I was saved. And as I keep reading all the posts now I feel that I am not saved. I still struggle with 2 questions: 1) is John 3:16 enough to have certainty of salvation? or it is pending 2) I do something afterward.

I read the bible once in a while (in church), and am not a regular attender of Sunday worship. I pray several times a day. I dont plan to give money to church offering. Definitely I dont do evangelism. Dont believe when pastor mentioned 10% of income to be turned to him. Oh one more I dont believe in baptism either--I dont think to be dunk in water is necessary. Yet I cling to the cross as complete payment for all my sins.

I consider myself non denominational: am I saved or lost?

Sincerely
Tony

Jon Speed said...

Tony,

No one here can tell you one way or the other. None of us is God. I would encourage you to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5).

If you think you aren't saved, haven't you answered your own question?

Blessings,

Jon

Lou Martuneac said...

Jon/Brian/Trevor/All:

Do GES Crossless gospel advocates “always” present Jesus’ deity, atoning sacrifice, and resurrection in an evangelistic setting?

I am linking you to Clearing the Haze of “Always” by Rachel at her blog for documentation of the answer.

Be sure to read through the thread for additional comments by Rachel and others.

I also encourage you to visit a new blog, which is under development, FAQ’s on FG Theology.


LM

fisherwoman said...

tony said...
Dear experts, as I said I attend a Baptist church and the pastor taught that John 3:16 is gospel. A summary. And I believe that as I put faith in Christ as Savior I was granted eternal life and will never go to hell. I thought I was saved. And as I keep reading all the posts now I feel that I am not saved. I still struggle with 2 questions: 1) is John 3:16 enough to have certainty of salvation? or it is pending 2) I do something afterward.

I read the bible once in a while (in church), and am not a regular attender of Sunday worship. I pray several times a day. I dont plan to give money to church offering. Definitely I dont do evangelism. Dont believe when pastor mentioned 10% of income to be turned to him. Oh one more I dont believe in baptism either--I dont think to be dunk in water is necessary. Yet I cling to the cross as complete payment for all my sins.

I consider myself non denominational: am I saved or lost?

Sincerely
Tony

Hi Tony. I homeschool so don't have a lot of time to reply, but wanted to add:

Jesus told us that many will profess belief but will fall away because of various things in the parable of the sower.Matt. 13: 18-23) (riches, trials, troubles, temptations) but that true lasting faith would be evidenced by a life time of belief and repentance. We will bear fruit (John 15) to God and prove to be His disciples. (v. 8) and if we keep His commandments (not legalsim, but through faith are able to abide) (v.) He goes on to say the world will hate us because of of His name's sake. (v. 21) A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, you wil know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:18,20). Those who profess faith but practice lawlessness will be told to depart from Him (v. 23) IF we love HIm, we will keep HIs commandments! (John 14:15) Do you love the brethren? (1 John 3:16) Do you esteem His Word more than bread? (Deut. 8:3) Do you confess Him before men? (Matt. 32, 33) Have you died to self? (Matt. 10:38,39; Matt. 16:24, 25) )


Do you now love what God loves and hate what God hates? Is Jesus precious to you? Is He your greatest treasure?

tony said...

Bro, so I have to wait to see some of the things I could do before having a knowledge of salvation? All in your list or some? I see that I have some but not all. Do I have to wait till the end of life to have salvation or now? Since I dont have all the works does it mean I am not saved? Please elaborate. I really am still confused. You all have so strong rebuke for me. Deep in my heart I feel I am saved. But having very few works to brag about I feel unsaved, then.

Jon Speed said...

Tony,

Check out www.yougotourtract.com

Jon

tony said...

Pastor Jon, please make a thing clearer for me: I trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my savior and Lord at 22 years of age; based on John 3:16. What did happen at that point in time? Did I get saved? From your essay I got the feeling that I was not saved.

Jon Speed said...

Tony,

I don't know whether or not you were saved. That is not my call. Examine yourself.

Jon

tony said...

Pastor Jon, I remember hearing a sermon in which the pastor said something along this line: If king David had had a heart-attack and died while copulating with Bathseba, David will still go to heaven. Is he blaspheming, teaching heresy, or true? I am really confused in all these reading and listening.

fisherwoman said...

tony said...
Pastor Jon, I remember hearing a sermon in which the pastor said something along this line: If king David had had a heart-attack and died while copulating with Bathseba, David will still go to heaven. Is he blaspheming, teaching heresy, or true? I am really confused in all these reading and listening.

December 12, 2008 1:31 PM

If David had a heart attack before he copulated with Bathsheba, he still would have sinned in coveting. (he also stole, lied, murdered..etc) but David repented of his sin (Psalm 51) God had chosen David ( 2 Samuel 7: 14, 15)and David looked forward to Messiah. He was "in Christ". God had covenanted with David and the punishment was severe, but God's promise could not fail. David greatly sinned in these, but he repented grieviously.

"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." 1 John 1:8-10

However I think Jon can give a better answer than me!

Jon Speed said...

Tony,

I'm not sure why anyone would preach on something like that. It's pure speculation. The fact is, he didn't die when he was having sex with Bathsheba. I won't speculate on it one way or the other. It's never wise to go beyond what's written in Scripture.

What IS written is enough for everyone to seriously examine themselves. As even the FG camp admits, there are false converts. If there are, then we owe it to ourselves to examine ourselves to see if we are truly saved.

I'll caution you about one thing; you seem to place a lot of stock in what a man says (your pastor). Abandon that kind of thinking and consider only what the Scriptures (in context) say.

Blessings,

Jon

Lou Martuneac said...

Hate to say it, but I...

Jon:

Earlier in this thread Brian asked me this question, “Can you give me one passage in the Bible that explains everything a person must believe to be born again?”

I also noted that I have NEVER heard or read advocates of the heretical Crossless Gospel respond to this verse anywhere! Based on previous experience I was fairly certain that once I posted my reply to Brian he would not be back, and as expected he will not deal with the answer I provided to his question. No advocates of the GES's reductionist assault on the content of saving faith ever deal with that passage I gave Brian as an answer.

In a follow up comment I will discuss more of why they dodge discussions such as Brian has done here. But, here is my answer to his question.


Paul’s gospel to the Galatians in Acts 13:23-41 has it all: the deity, humanity, substitutionary death, resurrection, and justification by faith apart from works!

Acts 13:41 which uses “work” three times to drive home the point that unless someone believes in the Person and WORK of Jesus Christ they will “perish” according to the passage.

Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you,” (Acts 13:41).

To reiterate, I have NEVER heard or read advocates of the heretical Crossless Gospel respond to this verse anywhere! None of us who reject the reductionist heresy of the late Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin on the content of saving faith have ever heard or read them, or any advocate of the Crossless gospel, deal with this passage.

Brian: If ever you are going to reply, please refrain from another GES mantra comment, and instead focus your reply solely on the text of the Acts 13:23-41 passage, which answers your request to me above.

Kind regards,


LM

Lou Martuneac said...

Jan:

I have been dealing with the teachings of the Crossless gospel advocates for over two years. I have come to conclude that many of its advocates have been seared in their conscience.

What you find from the followers of the Crossless gospel is a consistent pattern of:

1) Ignoring or negating any Scripture that does not support their Crossless & Deityless gospel or,

2) Forcing into or extracting from the Bible whatever they must to float their reductionist assaults on the content of saving faith.

One such example is how the GES gospel advocates strip the Lord’s titles, “the Christ” & “Son of God” of their deity.

Greg Schliesmann wrote an excellent two-part series addressing this assault on the Lord’s deity, which is IMO is one of the most egregious errors that was originated by the late Zane Hodges.

You can read both by beginning with The “Christ” Under Siege.


LM

tony said...

Dear LM, would you mind give a biblical definition of born again please? And is it true that we must be born again in order to believe the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior? Thank you

Tony

fisherwoman said...

tony said...
Dear LM, would you mind give a biblical definition of born again please? And is it true that we must be born again in order to believe the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior? Thank you

Tony in John 3 Jesus explains what this is , "that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. " (v.6) and also in John 1:12-13 "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

THe Spirit gives life, the flesh profits nothing.

tony said...

Dear Fisherwoman, I know those verses and they are absolutely true truth of the Lord. I see that the Lord states the need to be born again but does not give a definition that is why Nicodemus (and some like myself) are asking for definition. Agree: flesh (sinful flesh) profits nothing.

Are you saying that born again is the same as belief/faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior?

Another question: does someone must be born again and then able to believe in the Lord as Savior and Lord?

Tony

fisherwoman said...

tony said...
Dear Fisherwoman, I know those verses and they are absolutely true truth of the Lord. I see that the Lord states the need to be born again but does not give a definition that is why Nicodemus (and some like myself) are asking for definition. Agree: flesh (sinful flesh) profits nothing.

Are you saying that born again is the same as belief/faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior?

Another question: does someone must be born again and then able to believe in the Lord as Savior and Lord?

Tony

December 15, 2008 8:06 PM

We are dead in in our sins (Eph. 2: 1) but Christ makes us alive when He regenerates our spirit. (v. 5)

Ezekiel 37 gives a picture of this:

v. 14: I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life"

God uses the preaching of His Word-it is the power of God to salvation. Romans 1:16

To those who believe He gives the right to become children of God.

Paul Washer has an excellent sermon on Regeneration and the new birth at: www.heartcrymissionary.com

Also, try and get the book by Charles Leiter called Justification and Regeneration from them. Or, if you send me your email, I can get you one for free!

Blessings, Betty

tony said...

Hi Betty, I will listen to the sermon. I ve listened to one of Washer's sermon to youth at a conference that says in essence if I don't produce good works I will go to hell despite profession of faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.

Betty, I have confessed Christ but very very little work I have to say. How much work and how long to have some certainty of salvation?

Tony

fisherwoman said...

December 16, 2008 8:00 PM
tony said...

Hi Betty, I will listen to the sermon. I ve listened to one of Washer's sermon to youth at a conference that says in essence if I don't produce good works I will go to hell despite profession of faith in Christ as Lord and Savior.

Betty, I have confessed Christ but very very little work I have to say. How much work and how long to have some certainty of salvation?

Tony
December 17, 2008 10:59 AM

God alone has the power to save, not of works that we should boast. (Eph. 2: 8,9; Romans 3:20; 28; Hebrews 6:1; John 6:29 ) What you ask is something akin to what so many cults and religions believe, that God will look w/ favor on work as righteousness. Romans 3 and 4 destroy that idea. The repentance unto salvation is (and this is because God enables) turning from sin and to God. The repentance after salvation (also of God-abiding in Him) flows from a new birth and heart-loving now what God loves and hating what He hates. Either the tree is bad or the tree is good. The sermon by Paul Washer does not say works are part of salvation, but rather that the fruit will be shown of new birth as growing in holiness.

Brian Vranicar said...

Lou,

You must forgive me Lou, for not responding to your latest post to me. I just read it for the first time this Wednesday. I am a college student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and just haven’t been on the site for a while. Before we start talking about this passage, let’s just agree to seek the truth together. I know myself, and that I can often come off very aggressive. We each should approach the Scriptures humbly and in a teachable manner. If I’m wrong, I need to change my view, and if you’re wrong you need to change yours. Let’s not get caught up in trying to win the argument, which I can so easily get caught up with. Let’s instead simply seek the truth of God’s word together. Let’s begin.

My initial question for you Lou, is why did you begin your “Gospel Defining” passage in Acts 13:23? Paul begins his sermon in Acts 13:16. Therefore, if this passage is the “Gospel Defining” passage in the Bible, we should also take into account what is said in verses 16-22. Under your own logic the lost person must also believe: that God chose the fathers of the nation of Israel, exalted Israel when they were in Egypt, and brought them out of Egypt (13:17); that God put up with Israel in the wilderness for forty years (13:18); that God destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan and distributed their land to Israel by allotment (13:19); that God gave Israel judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet (13:20); that Israel asked for a king, and that God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years as their king (13:21); that God removed Saul and raised up for Israel David as king, and God also gave testimony of David saying that he was a man after My own heart, who will do all My will. These truths are equally important in Paul’s sermon. So my question then, is if this is the passage where the “True Gospel” is defined, why are you not also including all these truths in your gospel?

Why is it just:

“the deity, humanity, substitutionary death, resurrection, and justification by faith apart from works!

”?

Furthermore, there are many more truths preached in Acts 13:23-41 that you do not include in your definition of the “Gospel”. Again, according to your own logic, in addition to the truths just talked about in 13:16-22, the lost person must also believe: that from David’s seed, and in accordance with the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior—Jesus (13:23); that John the Baptist preached, before the Savior’s coming, the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel (13:24); that John testified to the fact that he was not the Savior, but instead was not worthy to loose His sandals (13:25); that the word of this salvation has been sent to the family of Abraham, and those among them who fear God (13:26); that the people who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers…did not know Him, nor even the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath… yet fulfilled the Scriptures in condemning Him (13:27); that the people referred to in 13:27 found no cause for death in Jesus, but still asked Pilate that He should be put to death (13:28); that when all the prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled by these people, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb (13:29); that God raised Him from the dead (13:30); that the resurrected Christ was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and that these people are His witnesses to the people (13:31); that Paul and all the other witnesses declare to you glad tidings of that promise which was made to the fathers (13:32); that God has fulfilled this for the children of the fathers, in that He raised up Jesus, which is the point in time when Jesus assumes the role as the King-Son of God spoken of in the second Psalm (13:33); that God raised Jesus from the dead, and Jesus will never return to corruption, and that God will give Jesus the sure mercies of David (13:34); that God will not allow Jesus to see corruption (13:35); that David himself fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption after he had served his own generation according to God’s will (13:36); that the resurrected Jesus saw no corruption (13:37); that through Jesus is preached…the forgiveness of sins (13:38); that by Jesus everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses (13:39); and that those who did no believe the work that God had prophesied about would perish (13:41).

If this is the passage in the Bible that defines the gospel, then the amount of things a person must believe in order to be born again are in the mid 20s (I lost count).

I believe it would be wrong to interpret Acts 13:41 as talking about the finished work of Christ. This is not because I simply don’t want it to mean that. Instead, the passage cited by Paul in verse 41, is a reference to Habakkuk 1:5, and in the context of this passage God is referring to the impending Babylonian Captivity of Judah because of their sin (Hab 1:5-11; 2 Chron 36:15-21). Therefore, the work referred to here would more likely be referring to the impending judgment that would come on Israel if they rejected the Messiah Jesus Christ. And because they did reject Jesus, the judgment did come on them through the destruction brought on Israel by the Romans in 70 A.D. And Jesus Himself also prophesied of this temporal judgment that would come on Israel through the Romans (Matt 24:1-2; Luke 13:1-9; 21:20-24). Therefore, Paul is warning his Jewish listeners not to reject the Christ, which would result in their destruction. And again, this did happen in 70 A.D. due to the nation’s rejection of Christ. Therefore, I do not believe verse 41 is talking at all about the finished work of Christ on the cross. Instead, it is a very serious warning.

It seems to me that Paul’s sermon in Acts 13:16-41 is an attempt to prove to his Jewish audience that Jesus was the Christ they had been waiting for, and that by faith in Him they could be justified. He ends his sermon with the warning not to reject the Christ, which would result in their destruction.

And again, I am still wondering why you only pulled “the deity, humanity, substitutionary death, resurrection, and justification by faith apart from works” from this passage. Even in the specific passage of Acts 13:23-41 that you cited, there are many more things that you did not include in your final definition of the “Gospel”. Why not affirm that the unsaved person must know about and believe the ministry of John the Baptist (13:24-25), or the many people who saw the resurrected Jesus (13:31)? The same problem is seen in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. Christ’s death for sins, burial, and resurrection are NOT the whole gospel that Paul preached to them. He also includes the fact that the risen Lord was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve…then by over five hundred brethren at once…then by James, then by all the apostles…then by Paul (1 Cor 15:5-8).

All I’m saying is that we don’t find the content of saving faith clearly defined in these passages. And it seems to me that you had a preconceived belief of what the “True Gospel” is, and read that into Paul’s sermon in Acts 13:16-41.

We have one book in the Bible that tells us that it was written specifically to tell people how to have eternal life: The Gospel of John. I am not merely preaching the GES mantra, but instead am saying what I believe. John tells us that he wrote his gospel for the purpose of persuading people to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, which results in having life in His name (John 20:30-31). And over and over again in his gospel, we see the truth taught that whoever believes in Jesus is given eternal life (John 1:12; 3:14-16, 18, 36; 4:13-14; 5:24; 6:27-29, 35-40, 47; 7:38; 10:26-29; 11:25-27; 20:30-31). And Paul preached this to the Philippian jailor as well (Acts 16:30-31). According to your definition of the content of saving faith, the Philippian jailor was not saved, nor was the women at the well, and many others because they did not know enough truths about Jesus. We also see evidence that Jesus’ own disciples did not understand the fact that He had to die. A perfect example of this is Peter who not only didn’t understand, but tried to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem, all of which was after he received eternal life (John 2:11; Matt 16:13-23 – compare 16:16 w/ John 20:31). And we have evidence that Jesus’ disciples also did not understand His deity, all of which was after they were saved (John 2:11; 14:8-11).

I want to make it clear again that it is immensely important to believe all the truths that the Bible teaches. However, we are talking bottom line here. What is the essential truth that a lost person must believe to receive eternal life? I am convinced that anyone who believes in Jesus Christ for eternal life has that life based on His promise to us (John 3:16). And I’m not saying that we shouldn’t tell people about Jesus’ death and resurrection, His deity, or any of those truths. We are also probably talking in very hypothetical and unrealistic terms. I don’t know of a Christian out there who believes Jesus will give them eternal life, but doesn’t believe that He also is God, paid for their sins at Calvary and rose again from the dead. But bottom line is this: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47)!

Again, if I'm wrong on something, please let me know and we'll continue to seek the truth together.

Brian Vranicar said...
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