Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Eternal Security is Christ's Guarantee and is Necessarily Integral to the Saving Message of Christ

Jesus Christ has an intended guaranteed gift to the believer in Him: the immediate and present posession of eternal life. To believe on Jesus for anything else will not necessarily bring to the believer that which he has believed on Jesus for. For instance, many people believe in Jesus for many things: for temporal deliverance, for positive answered prayer, just to name a few. Yet, to the unregenerate, Jesus only guarantees one gift when a person has believed in Him for it, and that gift is the present possesion of eternal security; eternal life.

It is faith in Christ and His promise of said guaranteed intended gift that brings eternal life and assurance of it. My contention is that when Jesus is trusted for anything else but the intended gift of eternal security, that person does not appropriate eternal life. If they are trusting in Jesus for a gift that will take their perseverance to finally attain, they are not trusting in Jesus for the intended guaranteed gift of the gospel message. Therefore they lack eternal life.

Christ is trusted for the gift. The gift must be known, because faith in Christ must be purposeful for the intended results. Jesus has an intended gift that He guarantees. This gift is the immediate possesion of eternal security.

None of us would admit that faith alone in Jesus alone for the gift of, lets say, a donkey, would bring that particular gift, would we? Why would it not? Because that is not the gift that Jesus gives. There is only one gift that Jesus Christ guarantees to the believer in Him for it: eternal security. If someone is believing in Him for anything else but eternal security, they might as well be believing in Him for a donkey. Our faith in Jesus must be for the purpose that He has prescribed.


Reiteration: Many people believe in Jesus for many things: positive answered prayer or deliverance from temporal difficulties, etc. Jesus does not guarantee those things based upon faith alone in Him alone.

When we talk to potential converts concerning the ability, readiness, willingness and authority of Jesus to guarantee eternal life, we tell them that it is faith alone in Jesus for the purpose of receiving eternal life that they appropriate eternal life. It is the purposeful faith for the intended guaranteed gift of Christ's saving message (which is the present and immediate possesion of eternal security). Jesus does not guarantee anything to the unregenerate received by faith alone in Him other than the gift of the immediate possesion of eternal life.

If we are believing in Jesus for anything else BUT eternal security, then we aren't believing in Jesus for the gift that He offers, for that gift is nothing else but the immediate possesion of eternal security. Faith in Jesus for a donkey, faith in Jesus for an "eternal" life that may be taken away, faith in Jesus for a partially merited "eternal" life that we contribute to, or faith in Jesus for eternal life that will come in the future based contingently upon our perseverance will not bring those things NOR Christ's intended gift of the immediate possesoin of eternal security. Going to Jesus (by faith alone in Him alone) for anything else but His intended guaranteed gift of eternal security is like going to an Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water vending machine for hemlock. It is manifestly evident that you will not receive hemlock out of a water vending machine. The only thing that the machine dispenses is water.

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"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might still perish, but at least has eternal life for the time being." (Jn 3:16)

Is this a saving understanding of this verse?

"And I give them eternal life, and they might still perish; and someone might snatch them out of My hand." (Jn 10:28)

Is a hope-so confidence about living forever with Christ good enough?

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." (Jn 4:10)

Does it really matter if you know what the gift is?

Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; and whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him might thirst again; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life, well maybe." (John 4:13-14)

Could it really be said that the woman believed Jesus if she reinterpreted His words in this manner?

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (Jn 11:25-26)

Does it really make any difference if you “believe this” (Christ's guarnatees)? Can you believe Jesus or believe in Jesus in the manner He describes without believing “this”? And what is “this,” but that the believer is guaranteed life?

There are other problems with ambivalence regarding assurance of the immediate and present possesion of eternal life. If you believe you might lose the life, then you believe that it is conditioned on linear faith. But if linear faith is rewardable, then it is meritorious. If it is meritorious, then it is a work. If this line of reasoning is accepted, then the logical conclusion of the matter is that you believe that you are saved by works if you believe that you can lose it.

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Faith alone in Jesus alone will not save unless it is purposeful.

People could have faith alone in Jesus alone for a donkey. This would neither bring eternal life nor a donkey. Jesus does not guarantee a donkey when you believe in Him alone for a donkey, and He does not guarantee eternal life when you believe in Him for a donkey. Jesus says, "If you knew the gift of God and who says to you...". We are believing in Jesus FOR the immediate posseion of eternal life.


Do you see the enormity of the matter here? Many people have been fed the wrong gospel message! They have believed or are believing in Christ for something that He does not have nor dispenses! Their lack of understanding of the simple gospel message has subtly (yet fatally) turned the message of the absolutely free gift of the immediate and present possesion of eternal life by faith alone in Christ alone into a salvation that is contingent on perseverance in faith and obedience. The message they believe is neither the saving message of Christ nor is what they are believing in Christ for the intended guaranteed gift that He offers. Christ's gift is by GRACE through faith and is NOT contingent on perseverance.

Believing in Jesus does not start some kind of contract between God and the sinner that at the end of our lives, if we persevered, we will get eternal life. The believer in Jesus must know what He is believing in Jesus for. Each time that Jesus illicited faith in Himself, He gave the reason. The purpose for the faith is to receive, immediately, eternal life (which is eternal; can't be lost).

In the gospel of John, which is the only explicitly and expressly written book in the Bible written for the purpose of evangelism (John 20:31), the message of Jesus to the potential convert was that to believe in Him for eternal life was to guarantee their eternal destiny. To believe that you have eternal life, to believe in Jesus for eternal life, is to believe that you are eternally secure. If you do not believe that you have "eternal" life, "everlasting" life, if you do not believe you are saved at the moment of faith in Christ, then this reveals that you did not believe the saving message of Christ.

It is philosophically and logically impossible to believe the message of Christ and also believe that it is possible to lose your "salvation", for the guarantee of such is explicit in the gospel message, the saving message of Christ. Jesus in His message guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it. If you believe the message of Jesus you will by virtue of that faith, at that time, have absolute assurance of your eternal well-being. This is called assurance being of the essence of saving faith.

To believe one is "saved" is to believe just that, that they have been saved! If they believe that they can end up in hell, if they believe that they can perish, if they doubt that Jesus will raise them up, then how can they say that they have been truly saved? They can't. If they can't say that they have been saved, and have never truly been able to say that, then they haven't believed the message of Christ that saves. Faith in Christ for eternal life precludes the notion (at the moment of faith in Christ) that one thinks that they can potentially still end up perishing; still end up in hell.

Of course doubts may and most often do come later. That is why we grow in the faith. That is why we hide the Word in our hearts. That is why we progress in our disicpleship. I to this day haven't doubted my salvation is quite some time. Reason? I have grown and my faith in this aspect is strong. (I have many other issues I deal with, believe me, that I have weak faith, that I need growth in). People can and do get saved then fall under the false teachings of NOSAS (not once saved always saved).

If a person has never understood at one point in time (the point of punctilliar faith in Christ for eternal life) that they were saved (not saved after all you do, but presently saved), then they have not believed the message of Christ, for assurance is of the essence of saving faith. And this assurance is absolute, certain assurance that you WILL BE resurrected, that you ARE saved, that you HAVE eternal life, that you CAN NEVER perish, that you WILL NOT come into condemnation, and that NOONE can snatch you out of Christ's hands.

If the message is not about eternal security then it is a message about a "salvation" that is in some degree dependant upon the hearer, based upon some perseverance in faith, obedience, and good works; based upon some form of contract between the sinner and God.

Antonio


29 Comments:

Blogger Joe said...

if I understand you correctly, we must believe in Jesus and nothig else for our salvation and we must believe in Jesus for our salvation only.

It is an interesting postulate.

I will have to chew on it a bit to be certain that I understand it before I contradict it (or not).

By the way, how does the donkey feel about all of this?

November 16, 2005 4:37 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Well, I am saying that the message of eternal security is essential in the gospel message and is not a secondary consideration.

I am saying that the gospel message has 3 essential elements:

Jesus Christ
faith
eternal security

Jesus is the object, faith is the vehicle or agency, and eternal security is the content.

The donkeys are stubbornly opposed to my thesis.

JOE, thanks again for checking out my blog.

Antonio

November 16, 2005 8:59 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Antonio I appreciate what you're driving at, that as believers our eternal security is sure in Christ alone by virtue of the gift given by grace through faith in Jesus as Christ. I do think though, that the scripture offers many examples of believers who had no understanding of this concept yet they trusted fully in Christ. John even had to give assurance to those who doubted that they might know they had eternal life. Their faith that Jesus is Christ was sure but their understanding of all He has done and what that means to them was dim.

November 16, 2005 2:17 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey KC, thanks again for being a part of my blog. Your comments are appreciated.

You write:
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I do think though, that the scripture offers many examples of believers who had no understanding of this concept yet they trusted fully in Christ.
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Maybe we could discuss these. My assertion is that at the moment that faith in Christ is exercised (either for eternal life or throughout the Christian life for assurance) absolute assurance is gained. It is impossible to believe the promise of Christ, that He guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it, and at the same time doubt present possesion of eternal life and eternal security.

I am interested in the "many examples" that you describe. Please share with me them.

My point is, what are people trusting in Christ for? Is it the immediate and present possesion of eternal life/eternal security? Is it the future acquisition of eternal life based upon faith in Christ and perseverance in obedience? Is it the present possesion of "eternal" life that can be taken away based upon one's lack of perseverance in faithful obedience?

If Christ is not trusted for eternal security, then final salvation necessarily is contingent upon faithful obedience (works-contingent salvation).

Whenever Christ preached the message of eternal life, His message was one of eternal security. This is what He offered. This is the gift of God. Any other type of "salvation" other than the free gift of one's guaranteed destiny with Christ is one that is not fully based upon Christ, but becomes in one degree or another contingent on the performance of the individual in question.

Here is where Arminianism and Calvinism are exactly the same. If you do not bear fruit you go to hell.

Arminianism: do not bear fruit that perseveres till the end you go to hell (you lose your salvation)

Calvinism: do not bear fruit that perseveres to the end you go to hell (you never were saved to begin with, you had merely a superficial conversion)

Both are bear or burn theologies. Both condition ultimate salvation on perseverance in faith and obedience until the end. Did you see my quote from John Piper? He says that our salvation is contingent on the works that come from faith.

You write:
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John even had to give assurance to those who doubted that they might know they had eternal life. Their faith that Jesus is Christ was sure but their understanding of all He has done and what that means to them was dim.
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Often times in the Christians life (especially those who are immature in the faith, who are either newer Christians or ones who haven't progressed far in their faith for one reason or another) faith is easily broken due to circumstances.

Sin is a circumstance that can break one's faith in Christ's promise/guarantee of eternal life to the believer. The darts of doubt from the devil can do the same. Many circumstances can break one's faith in the guarantee of Christ which is His saving message.

John is talking to Christians and giving them encouragement to continue to exercise the faith in the Savior which they had already exercised for the appropriation of the immediate and present possesion of eternal security. To those who have lost track of "the testimony of God" which He has given about His Son, John is addressing.

My contention is not that saved people will always have assurance. My contention is much narrower than that when it comes to assurance. It is that noone who believes in Christ for eternal life (at the moment of the reception of the immediate and present possesion of eternal life) can doubt at the same moment that he indeed has eternal life.

Furthermore, those Christians who look to Christ's guarantee concerning eternal security (which is His saving message) in faith will not retain doubts at that moment as well.

The difference between strong and weak faith is this: weak faith can be easily broken and can be like a perforated line, transitioning between faith and doubt; strong faith is not easily broken, because it has been exercised sufficiently to guard against the doubts that arise from circumstances.

My point in this last post of mine is not dealing directly with the issue of assurance, but the topic of it does deal directly with assurance. My aim in this last post was to show that eternal security is a necessary element in the saving message of Christ for 2 reasons:

1) The immediate and present possesion of eternal security is the guaranteed intended gift of Christ in His message. This alone He disepenses/guarantees to the believer in Him for it. He does not offer any other type of salvation to the unregenerate. Eternal security IS the gift of God. The gift must be known, or else why is one purposefully believing in Christ? Is it for a donkey? or some unspecified salvation? Those things are not guaranteed by Christ to the believer in Him for it.

2)If the "salvation" that one is believing in Christ for is not the immediate and present possesion of eternal security then functionally, logically, and necessarily, this salvation becomes contingent upon one's perseverance in linnear faith and obedience until the end.

Either eternal life is divinely bestowed as an immediate and present possesion through the agency of faith alone in Christ alone, or it becomes a future acquisition based upon one's faithful endurance in obedience, which makes it works-contingent; a salvation by works.

Not to mention the fact that the guarantee of eternal security is the message we are believing in Christ for.

Thank you again for your participation. I hope that I have cleared up some of your questions (or maybe muddied the waters?)

God bless you!

Antonio

November 16, 2005 3:32 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Calhoun said...

Hmmmm, I'm with joe, I must also ruminat on your postulations, but I must warn you that I'm Pentacostal.

I don't believe in eternal salvation, but I do believe in eternal life.

Yes, Jesus gave us the free gift of salvation. No, god will never take it back, but you-betcha' that you can give it back.

When you leave this mortal coil, you will spend eternity somewhere, your position with the Lord decides whether you get smoking or non-smoking.

November 16, 2005 5:28 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Bonnie,

Thank you for your Charismatic comments.

I like to consider myself a charismatic in training. I do not ever want to be accused of putting God in a box. I want to see the supernatural, and I believe that God is still in that business.

Please drop by anytime, as I am very honored that you have come.

The Lord bless you!

Antonio

November 16, 2005 5:54 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Bonnie, I am curious as to your reading of the Bible. What would consist of "giv(ing) it back"? How is that accomplished? What are the different ways in which one can do that?

Whenever I ask that question, I get various subjective answers and I was wondering if you could give me something concrete.

The Lord bless you!

Antonio

November 16, 2005 5:58 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Calhoun said...

Antonio, these are just two of a hundred or so verses that I could quote.

Since your theology is Calvinist, while mine is Armenian, we could carry on this discussion until the Lord returns and I doubt we'd ever agree.

We are all in the body of Christ and as long as we carry on personal relationships with Jesus, we will meet on the other side.

But I'd rather get there and find out I did too much than to get there and find out I did too little!

God Bless You and Keep You!

2 Tim 2:11-13 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless. He remains faithful: He cannot deny Himself.(We-means us christians)

Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the ages to come, if they fall away to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

November 16, 2005 10:57 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
So you are a Calvinist in disguise, eh? :~)

I must wonder about your premise in this article. It seems to me that people are saved from the consuming fires of hell based on whether they are held accountable for their sin or whether Christ has taken their sin off of them. How does one have this sin cleansed? Is it not by crying out in simple faith ... after having agreed with God about our unrighteous state (sinfulness). We confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord (has the power over this sin) and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead. Is not that the gospel? Must an understanding of the security of the believer be present when we first believe?

I agree, it would be hard to stay a doubter in the eternality of that salvation, once you learn more about the great sacrificial work of Christ on the cross and study the Bible. However, isn't it the faith in Christ ... for forgiveness of sins ... and righteousness ... really all that is necessary? Obviously, understanding that this forgiveness secures your eternal destiny is the next logical step, but is it necessary for salvation?

November 17, 2005 7:42 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Bonnie, thank you for your reply.

And also, thank you for your scriptures. According to your reading of them, what would it mean to "deny Him" and "fall away"? Can you give me an objective and quantifiable answer as to what those things mean and if I do them then I lose my salvation?

Do I lose my salvation the first time I deny Him? Or how many times? Once I lose this salvation, can I get it back? Doesn't the verse you give from Hebrews say that it is impossible to renew them again?

What does it mean to fall away? How do I objectively know when i have so that I know that I have lose my salvation?

I am looking for a black and white, concrete answer, because without one, you could go the rest of your life thinking that you may have lost your salvation, and you would want to know objectively how this was done.

Thank you for your responses. They are really enlightening and educating to me!

God bless you!

Antonio

November 17, 2005 10:50 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Rose.

May I quote you?

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I must wonder about your premise in this article. It seems to me that people are saved from the consuming fires of hell based on whether they are held accountable for their sin or whether Christ has taken their sin off of them.
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Let me pose a few scriptural thoughts to you for you to consider:

1 John 2:2
2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

Is Jesus actually the propitiation for our sins (He is speaking to Christians) and only potentially the propitiation for the sins of the world in this verse?

That would be odd to take it that way. There is no sense in this verse by which you can take it to mean potentially in either case.

John could have said that if he wished. But he simply and plainly said that Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Jesus has taken away the sin of the world!

Now lets not jump ahead, ok? The plain and normal interpretation of these two verses is very clear. It would take us an act of eisegesis (a reading INTO the text rather than a reading OUT OF the text) to understand these two verses as being merely POTENTIAL, rather than ACTUAL.

....

I decided while writing this comment to actually construct a post on it, so please refer to my new post concerning this very subject.

Antonio

November 17, 2005 12:19 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

You state:

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We confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord (has the power over this sin) and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead. Is not that the gospel?
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Catholics and other cults confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that He was raised from the dead, but their gospel does not save.

Remember also, you cannot call upon Him in whom you have not yet believed! (Romans 10:14)

You can believe that Jesus was risen from the dead and also believe He is Lord and still be unsaved! Why? Because you may not be trusting in Christ alone for the gift of eternal security. Catholics, some other protestants, and cults believe that faith in Christ is not enough, that it takes rituals, ordinances, obedience, works, etc.

Faith in orthodox doctrines saves no one.

It is faith in the Person of Jesus Christ with the purpose of receiving eternal life that one is born-again. It is trusting in Christ alone for one's eternal well-being.

If you scan up in my comments to K.C., you will see that I give two reasons, enumerated, why I believe that faith in Christ for eternal security is the saving message of Christ.

Here it is again in a nutshell, but it may be beneficial for you to re-read my whole post and re-read my comment to K.C.:

) The immediate and present possesion of eternal security is the guaranteed intended gift of Christ in His message. This alone He disepenses/guarantees to the believer in Him for it. He does not offer any other type of salvation to the unregenerate. Eternal security IS the gift of God. The gift must be known, or else why is one purposefully believing in Christ? Is it for a donkey? or some unspecified salvation? Those things are not guaranteed by Christ to the believer in Him for it.

2)If the "salvation" that one is believing in Christ for is not the immediate and present possesion of eternal security then functionally, logically, and necessarily, this salvation becomes contingent upon one's perseverance in linnear faith and obedience until the end.


Antonio

November 17, 2005 2:33 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

I still question the necessity of understanding this doctrine for soul salvation and consequently I question the dismissal of others as lost based on their limited understanding.

One of the most perfect examples of salvation is that of the thief crucified with our Lord. His statements near death fulfill every requirement of belief. In his reprimand of the other thief his repentance was evident, his acknowledgment of Christ purity and deity followed by his decision to trust in him without knowing what and how. He simply asked, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom”. His trust wasn’t based on his understanding of God’s plan of salvation but in the knowledge of who Jesus is.

If we combine every instruction given in every account of those seeking salvation in the scripture the most we could derive would be repent, believe and confess that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead. Some might add the instruction for baptism but I won’t attempt to address that at present. It does no good to do more but does doing more negate this that is done? If we say one must believe in Christ must they believe more than that He is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead? I would even say that most acknowledge Him to be the savior of the world and yet lack any understanding in what this means. Just as the thief they believe in Him and only ask for mercy in whatever form He will dispense it.

I would close by saying that I find the closer we are in agreement the more likely we are to contend. ;-)

November 17, 2005 4:20 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

You are persuasive and I see your point. I'm just not ready to agree that someone must know everything entailed to be saved. What if a person had placed their faith and trust in Christ alone for their "righteousness"? (vs. eternal security)

What if they were afraid of "losing their faith" or "wandering from the relationship" and somehow had a misunderstanding about whether that would effect their righteous standing with God? Does that change the saving work of Christ in their life?

I continually find myself fighting for the broadness of the salvation message with people from all different angles, it's amazing. What is more amazing is that my family and many others I know think that there are many ways to God. They think I am narrow because I say faith alone in Christ alone. But then Christians on the web try to narrow it down even further. Interesting world.

Thanks for your thoughts. You help to stretch my mind.

By the way, I totally agree with you about the relationship aspect.

November 17, 2005 4:23 PM  
Blogger Bonnie Calhoun said...

I appreciate your desire for 'discussing' theology, but I must reiterate...you're theology is Calvinist, mine is Armenian....this 'talk' could go on till the Lord comes back. Meanwhile I've got a 50,000 word NaNoWriMo project to get done.

God Bless you, and you're welcome to visit my blog!

November 17, 2005 9:47 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Dear K.C.

you write:

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I still question the necessity of understanding this doctrine for soul salvation and consequently I question the dismissal of others as lost based on their limited understanding.
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What is the minimal understanding necessary? I have already enumerated for you what I believe is the minimal. And it is not something too hard to understand. It is very simple!

1) faith
2) Jesus Christ
3) eternal life (eternal security)

It is that simple!

Faith is the intermediate agency of eternal life, Jesus Christ is the object of our faith (the agency of eternal life) and eternal life/eternal security is the content of that faith/ or, possibly better stated as the purpose of the faith.

How simple is that?

I can express it in one sentence:

Jesus Christ is the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

That is the minimal understanding.

I am REALLY interested in hearing from you what you believe the minimum understanding of the saving message of Christ is.

You speak as to the theif on the cross. There is in embryonic form there the guarantee of eternal well-being, note Jesus says:

Luke 23:43

43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
NKJV

You must understand that Jesus was on the cross for 6 hours. The discourse that Jesus and the theif has, without a doubt, is not all contained there!

Luke's purpose is not to show how people are born again here. Please do not read into the text that which does not appear there.

John, in his gospel, has as its express and explicit written purpose that of evangelism. While the other gospels and the epistles give some salvific information, None of the attempt as their purpose to give the evangelistic message. They are already written to believers whom know the information in John already!

you write:

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If we combine every instruction given in every account of those seeking salvation in the scripture the most we could derive would be repent, believe and confess that Jesus is the Son of God and that God raised Him from the dead.
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It is to be noted that in the gospel of John, which is the only expressely and explicitly written book in the bible for the purpose of evangelism, the word "repent" and all of its cognates are completly absent. There is also no command to "confess Jesus" with the mouth.

Note here. If it takes confession of Jesus with the mouth, then you are requiring a work for eternal life. Confessing with your mout is not the same as faith alone in Christ alone. Many people confess Christ with their mouth as Lord. The JWs, the Mormons, the Catholics, just to name a few.

If you require that someone confess with their mouth, you are requiring a work for salvation.

Also, the Catholics, the Mormons, and other cults also believe that Jesus was raised from the dead.

Are you saying that they are saved too?

you write:

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I would even say that most acknowledge Him to be the savior of the world and yet lack any understanding in what this means. Just as the thief they believe in Him and only ask for mercy in whatever form He will dispense it.
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Well, what do they understand "savior of the world" to mean? If they import into that phrase the meaning of "the one who will reincarnate me as an alien" is that a sufficient understanding?

Are you saying that they can just believe anything about Jesus and that is sufficient?

Jesus made claims. He claimed to be the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. This was His message. To believe in Him for some unspecified thing, would be like beleiving in Him for a donkey.

Are you telling me that people are believing in Jesus for some unspecified and ethereal "mercy" that they do not have any idea about what it is? I sure hope this is not how you preach the gospel. I am convinced that it is not, K.C.

Antonio

November 18, 2005 1:58 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Hey, what about my question?

November 18, 2005 2:04 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Dear Rose,

you write:

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I'm just not ready to agree that someone must know everything entailed to be saved.
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I will ask you as well, what is the minimum understanding?

I am not asking much. Just asking people to believe that Jesus Christ guarantees their eternal well-being when they believe in Him for it.

Is that so hard? Can that be described as "know(ing) everything entailed"?

What are they believing in Jesus for if it is not for their eternal well-being, for ETERNAL life?

you write:

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What if a person had placed their faith and trust in Christ alone for their "righteousness"? (vs. eternal security)
----------

This is a good question and I am glad that you asked it. If a person believed that they had a completely righteous standing before God for eternity through faith in Christ, there is no reason to doubt their salvation. Still, the fact remains that Romans is written for Christians and John for the unsaved. For that reason, I prefer to follow the guidance of John in witnessing to the lost.

If justification alone is presented, a hearer might conclude that there is no inward work of the Spirit as is clearly indicated by the concept of new birth (Jn 3). This would not prevent His salvation, but it would result in a less clear idea of what God was doing for him. After all, eternal life is something inward, and is not merely a judicial declaration like justification.

you write:

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What if they were afraid of "losing their faith"
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Then they must necessarily believe that the faith it takes to be saved is a continual, linnear faith, rather than a one-time act of punctilliar faith, and thus they believe they must continue in faith for the rest of their lives and then by so doing receive eternal life.

That is not the gospel message.

The gospel message says that a one-time act of faith (as Jesus says "drink of this water and you will never thirst again") in Jesus will appropriate the immediate and present possesion of eternal life.

Jesus does not say "keep on drinking and then later you will be saved".

Jesus does not dispense eternal life in the future based upon a persevering faith! Jesus dispenses eternal life as an immediate and present possesion to the one who appropriates it by a one-time act of faith.

you write:

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or "wandering from the relationship" and somehow had a misunderstanding about whether that would effect their righteous standing with God? Does that change the saving work of Christ in their life?
----------

If someone at the point where he is hearing some message about Jesus thinks that his "wandering from the relationship" will be detrimental to his eternal well-being, he has not believed the saving message of Christ, for he, at this point, MUST NECESARILY BELIEVE THAT final salvation is contingent upon him not "wandering from the relationship"! Therefore it can be concluded that he is not trusting in Jesus alone for his salvation.

To believe in the saving message of Christ is to be certain that one has eternal life as an immediate and present possesion that is eternally secure (although that IS the nature of what eternal life is).

you write:

----------
I continually find myself fighting for the broadness of the salvation message with people from all different angles, it's amazing.
----------

I do not know what you mean here.

you write:

----------
What is more amazing is that my family and many others I know think that there are many ways to God. They think I am narrow because I say faith alone in Christ alone. But then Christians on the web try to narrow it down even further. Interesting world.
----------

You are not so narrow as to say "faith alone in Christ alone", you say "faith in the resurrection" and you say "confess that Jesus is Lord" and I would probably not be wrong to say that you would have the potential convert understand other things as well before you would consider him saved in your mind.

I say it is so easy that a child could get it:

Believing that Jesus guarantees you eternal life by faith alone in Him alone. That is it.

Antonio

November 18, 2005 2:15 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Antonio thanks for your response. First I will apologize for being dense which makes me even more grateful for your welcome and your willingness to dialog. ;-)

You said:

“You speak as to the thief on the cross. There is in embryonic form there the guarantee of eternal well-being”

This is indeed my point. While the thief had no certain knowledge of his own eternal destiny it was the grace of God and his faith in Jesus that guaranteed it even prior to his own knowledge of it, however I accept that you reject this as a valid example.

My statement concerning the combination of every instruction given to those seeking salvation was not intended to implicate that any of these instructions are necessary, rather to illustrate that no where was an understanding of the gift of eternal life set as a requirement for faith.

When I share the Gospel message it is to present the person of Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, crucified, raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God the Father. Yes I further explain His work on the cross, the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life but, my honest opinion based on my experience and, in part, the example I offered previously is that, no one who hears these things can accept them if they do not first accept the person of Jesus Christ.

You said,
“Also, the Catholics, the Mormons, and other cults also believe that Jesus was raised from the dead”,
and then ask,
”Are you saying that they are saved too?”.

I can make no judgment concerning the salvation for any other than myself. I can only say “if”.

I do respect you and your opinion and even agree in the truth that eternal life is by faith alone in Christ alone, however I find that faith to be in the person of Jesus Christ, not in the understanding of the gift.

I suspect we can only agree to disagree at this point.

I am grateful for the opportunity to discuss these things and please know your thoughts and comments on my site would be welcome as well. ;-)

November 19, 2005 4:48 AM  
Blogger J. Wendell said...

Antonio~
I don't have time to read the whole thread, not even Rosie's, so if I repeat something, forgive me. I concur with almost all that you are saying, but once one trusts the Lord for eternal life, that one grows to depend on Him for all things. Eternal life and daily food, and breath etc...

Good post.
brother John

Oh, and I love Joe's comment!

November 19, 2005 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Brian Atkinson said...

Antonio, What a wall we come against when we present the truth about the Truth. This is an age old issue that is not new. It is still the issue of faith vs. works. My question has always been, "What sin(s) are you not doing to keep yourself saved?" What a hopeless situation we would be in if we needed to depend upon ourselves for salvation. Can you imagine standing before a righteous and holy God without the finished work of Jesus? This belief has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years. I have been fired from jobs, not allowed to continue to teach personal evangelism or discipleship, and asked to leave the pulpit for teaching the truth from scriptures. Presently, I am persuing my Masters in Biblical Counseling and feeling conviction about starting a new church locally. Blessings, In Christ's Name. Brian

September 08, 2006 3:15 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Brian, thanks for your comments.

Please feel free to peruse even further and comment more!

Antonio

September 08, 2006 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Antonio,

I hope I'm commenting in the right place. Not sure YET how this works!

I appreciate your e-mail back to me. Of course, that wasn't posted for everyone to read. But I'm loving what I'm reading and agree completely with what you're saying... that Jesus Christ guaranteed to give me eternal life when I believed in Him alone for it. That is His gift. That is His promise. I believed in Jesus Christ for eternal life and I will NEVER perish..... in hell. I'm safe forever with Him. That's what I believed and He kept His promise. I'm going to be with Him forever, and it's going to be glorious!!! Until a person believes that he is forever secure because of Jesus, then he has not yet believed the saving message.

One thing you said though that I wanted to ask you about. I'm sure you can clear that up for me. You said...

"And this assurance is absolute, certain assurance THAT YOU WILL BE RESURRECTED, that you ARE saved, that you HAVE eternal life, that you CAN NEVER perish, that you WILL NOT come into condemnation, and that NONE can snatch you out of Christ's hands."

I don't know if I ever thought about being physically resurrected at the time I first believed in Jesus for eternal life. I do believe that now, but don't know if I even thought about it then. I recently listened to a tape by John Niemelä and he helped me to see the importance of the bodily resurrection, but I'm not sure I believed it at that time because I never thought about it at the time. So I do believe that the Bible teaches that God gives eternal life to all who simply believe in Jesus Christ alone for it, even though they may not understand the significance of the bodily resurrection at the time. I THINK you would agree with me. Am I right?

Thank you again for your wonderful blogspot. EXCELLENT!

Warmly,
Diane

December 02, 2006 5:25 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Diane,

you got this thing down!

hehe

Yes. I hear what you are saying.

I was merely covering all the bases with the statement you quote of me.

Let me put it to you this way:

Anyway you put it, one must simply understand that their eternal well-being is secure through taking Jesus Christ at His word in His gospel promise.

Thanks again for visiting. My blog has a menu of near 100 articles in the Table of Contents on the main page. You may post your comments on any one of them.

I get your comments in email so I know that someone responds.

Thanks for your participation!

Antonio

PS: I think you would be great with a blog of your own! It is very easy and it is free!

December 02, 2006 7:12 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

"Eternal Security is Christ's Guarantee and is Necessarily Integral to the Saving Message of Christ," "Nov 15 2005 03:20 PM"

Antonio, you and kc had a good discussion here, especially in kc's comment of "Nov 19 2005 04:48 AM," where kc said, "I find that faith to be in the person of Jesus Christ, not in the understanding of the gift."

That particular dichotomy you didn't respond to, in that blog at least.

We need to examine the idea of believing in Him "for" something.

Is Christ is a vending machine, where we believe in Him "for" item C1, but since He is not offering C1, we get a "sorry, try another selection" message, then, when we believe in Him "for" C2, we get C2, because He is offering C2?

That's turning faith into a transaction, a quid pro quo, a this for that.

Just as Lordship Salvation turns faith into an exchange of self for salvation, we cannot follow in their footsteps with some kind of other exchange.

The exchange I'm thinking of, in this case, is the of exchange my correct identification of what I'm wanting from Him, for what He is offering.

In this transaction model, God rewards the correct identification of what He is offering by giving it.

That would be salvation by intellectual effort or work, the intellectual work being able to successfully identify and narrow my exact expectation to the exact benefit to me that He offers, and that trusting Him would bring.

I'm not convinced that we are saved only by successfully identifying the exact benefit(s) that Christ will bring us, and presenting only those, with nothing else, to Him in proper correctitude. Salvation by proper requesting, requesting the proper thing?

Faith in Christ to save us is not the same thing as faith in the properness of a request. Faith in Christ is not necessarily asking God for something, even the right thing, but believing in the good news of what He has already done in Christ. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation."

I'm searching for a stark and arresting way to express a response to your thinking in this post. If that didn't arouse a response from you, I could try some other thoughts. All these things I'm saying should be considered a preliminary response. I may ramble on a bit in other posts too, and please consider that I wish to be open to correction myself.

December 19, 2006 8:23 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Larry,

thanks again for hanging around.

This is a subject that I have written on in a few different posts, where I take a few different tacts.

Let me ask you a question. What does faith in the Person of Christ mean?

Hopefully in the other posts on this subject, you will find other lines of reasoning I use.

Antonio

December 19, 2006 8:43 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

Hi Antonio --

As you probably know, authors can get a little syncretistic about their own writings, once they've piled a bit of words together.

As example in point, look how difficult over at Pxxxxx it is was to get associates of their pastor to even admit to as much that parts of his writings needed to be "clarified," instead of chucked! Once we start asserting, there is tremendous pressure on us all to not look stupid by having to retract. In all our discussion, can most people not count on our fingers the number of times anyone has actually retracted the smallest portion of an inch?

So I am honestly very squeamish about embarking on a systematization of "my own" definition of anything like "what does faith in Christ mean?" -- the question you asked me! What if I get all defensive and try to defend it, and syncretize it with everything that I've said since, at all costs, when I should 5 years (minutes?!) from now abandon it! That would not be good.

My antidote to this is to hold my own or others' systematic theology at arm's length and rally around the Scriptures, building upon what they could mean. I know everybody says that.

Let's start tabula rasa with faith in Christ, having only the Scriptures, as if "affective theology" and FG theology and Sibbes and Aames and all our more contemporary fellows, the lou's, the nate's, the bobby's (people we've both been interacting with the last month!) were just other voices following their lights and usually trying also to be helpful. Many of you have great intellectual capacity and have to be concerned to help those of us with less.

I prefer to discuss what verses mean, but I'm thinking these days that faith in Christ is, having met Him by His initiative, receiving Him, believing in His name.

Scripturally, when Paul asks how can they believe, unless they have heard, and how can they hear, unless someone is sent, I would think that faith in Christ, et ceterus paribus, should be thought of as coming that way. It comes from hearing (or reading, etc), then believing, good news of Christ, from a source sent from God, who (or whose words) function(s) in those very news as an ambassador for Christ Himself. Moreover, there is a dynamic in which receiving such an ambassador, in such a capacity, we have received Christ Himself, who by this means has saved us. As with 2 Th 1:10, which clarifies believing in the absolute sense, as the Thessalonians believing Paul's testimony to Christ.

Of course I'm not some kind of "it doesn't matter what you believe" advocate, as if the news that Christ is a great guy is just fine and enough. But saving a soul is actually an act of God, done by God and God alone. God, through Christ may come to the sinner in unconventional ways (Mt 10:40); also, for example, as in Mt 25:35-36.

December 20, 2006 1:30 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Larry,

I have to whole-heartedly agree with this statement of yours:
----------
It comes from hearing (or reading, etc), then believing, good news of Christ...
----------
Let me tell you what. The good news is that Christ promises eternal life to the one who believes He does so.

If you don't believe His promise of ETERNAL life, you don't believe His good news!

Antonio

December 20, 2006 8:14 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

"Eternal Security is Christ's Guarantee and is Necessarily Integral to the Saving Message of Christ", Nov 15, 2005, 03:20 PM.

You were saying, Antonio, in this post,

"If the message is not about eternal security then it is a message about a 'salvation' that is in some degree dependent upon the hearer, based upon some perseverance in faith, obedience, and good works; based upon some form of contract between the sinner and God."

If a message is being given that states that that our salvation is "in some degree dependent upon the hearer, ... perseverance in faith, obedience, and good works," then how do such purveyors account for the fact that they have given up solus Christus?

Their theory that good works are inevitable is not enough to support them. Here is why. Good works, however inevitable they are said to be in Lordship Salvation thought, are not actions solely done by Christ. Therefore if good works are necessary for salvation, no matter how inevitable they are, since they are done by the cooperation of the Christian and God, the conclusion must be that we are saved no longer by Christ alone, but by Christ plus our own cooperation in doing good works.

However inevitable they make them, having threatened others as if no one can be saved without good works, they are stuck with having to take partial credit for what they say they have that others don't.

They are stuck! They make good works as inevitable as they can, so as to avoid the criticism that they have left justification by faith alone. But even when good works are completely thought to be inevitable, they cannot be thought of as produced by Christ alone! If they were produced by Christ alone, then, there would be nothing to demand that others do!

So the same sword by which they have tried to chop others' faith with -- saying that you must work, or Christ won't save you -- turns and chops them, because when they cling to those very works! -- that they say are so necessary for salvation! -- they prove that they are trusting in something other than Christ.

January 01, 2007 8:25 PM  

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