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)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Believe Christ's Promise and You are Saved, No Matter What Misconceptions You Hold

If I was preaching to a JW, teaching to him out of the gospel of John, and I showed him that Jesus promises, guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it, and the JW believes the promise of eternal life given by Jesus that I have showed him in the gospel of John, when this man stands before Jesus, is Jesus going to say:

"You entrusted your eternal destiny and well-being to me when you believed my promise to guarantee for you eternal life, when you believed in Me. But since you didn't add to this requirement belief that I am God then I must throw you in hell"

It is precisely the good news of eternal life through faith in Jesus that saves. This man has believed Jesus' promise to guarantee for him eternal life! This man has entrusted his eternal well-being to Christ, but you would have him end up in the lake of fire for a lack of passing your doctrinal statement on the ontology of Christ.

Jesus is God, and had to be God in order to have an eternal sacrifice. This is true, and I would never place aspersions on this fact.

Yet one does not need know how a gift is provided in order to receive it as an absolutely free gift!

Jesus says, "Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has eternal life."

Let me make a comparison.

I say to you "If you would reach out your hands you will receive a hundred dollar bill"

Do you need to know how I earned that hundred dollar bill in order to receive it free?

Do you need to know that I am a forklift driver at Costco, which enabled me to earn the $100, AS A REQUIREMENT IN ADDITION to reaching out your hands in order to receive the money as a free gift?

Of course not.

Jesus is God, Jesus died and rose again, and He is innumerably other things as well.

He doesn't ask you to believe He is God. He asks you to believe that He guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

Like Paul, I try to tailor my presentation of Christ to the hearers. I am not afraid to preach the deity of Christ. I preach it. I am not shy to speak of Christ passion and resurrection, I HERALD it.

Yet, I will not get into debates concerning things peripheral to the reception of eternal life.

If a JW hears me speak of Christ's deity and asks me about it, I will say, "Let us agree to disagree about this subject." I will discuss with him Jesus' ability to impart eternal life by faith alone apart from works. This is where I want to zero in with the JW or the Mormon. They believe that salvation comes by faith AND works, and LOTS of works (not unsimilar to the Traditionalist religion).

At the moment that a JW or a Mormon is convinced that Jesus Christ has given to them irrevocable eternal life when they believed on Him for it, I would consider such a one saved, REGARDLESS of their varied misconceptions and beliefs about Jesus.

Both the Mormons and the JWs will say that Jesus IS "the son of God". Yet they will provide some other import other than monotheistic deity into it.

For John, the "Son of God" and "the Christ" have the import "the one who promises (guarantees) eternal life to the believer in Him for it".

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

If someone asks me point blank, do I believe that one must believe that Jesus is God in order to go to heaven, I would say "NO!"

How many requirements are there, Rose? How many points of doctrine need to be believed to be saved?

by the time you add them up, it is not just faith alone in Christ alone, but

1)belief in the deity of Christ
2)belief in the substitutional atonement
3)belief in the bodily resurrection
4)AND belief in Christ's promise to guarantee eternal life apart from works

here there are 4 requirements! To this many would add more!

I tell you this. Number 4 is sufficient!

Not that I don't preach the others! But when it comes to the PUNCH, the irreducible minimum, I am content to say that Jesus guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it, PERIOD.

The intention and purpose of evangelism is to get the prospective convert to the point where he is convinced that Jesus Christ has guaranteed his eternal destiny, his eternal well-being.

Anything we do in evangelism, anything that we say to the hearer of our gospel presentations MUST point to the sufficiency of faith in Christ's promise to save eternally.

We don't bust out with an orthodox creedal checklist and ask that the hearer initial at each doctrinal point in order to be saved.

The use and purpose of the gospel message is to CONVINCE the hearer that Jesus guarantees eternal life. NOT as a checklist for assurance of salvation or as the requirements for eternal life!

John wrote his gospel to convince the readers of the sufficiency of faith in Christ to save eternally, not as a belief-system checklist, that once adhered to, will impart eternal life.

Antonio

31 Comments:

Blogger Rose~ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

May 26, 2006 5:10 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Hi Antonio,
I don't really want to argue with you about this. But, you have asked me on the other blog to answer your question here, so I will and then I really want to move on. :~)

How many requirements are there, Rose? How many points of doctrine need to be believed to be saved?

I don't have a checklist, Antonio. All I was thinking was that if someone does not hear and yield to the awesomeoness of who this Person is, how could they ever be trusting Him for the awesome nature of their eternal destiny? How can a mere man or a prophet ever be percieved as having the ability to save somoene's eternal soul?

Also, I have seen others challenge your idea with this verse that you, yourself quote so often:

31But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20)

I can't really remember what your reply was to that. Also, I think of the woman at the well and what Jesus said to her:

If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

I find that so powerful and I think who it is is major there.

Was John presenting a checklist in 20:31? No, but who Christ is seems to be tied in with what He can do for any given individual. That is the way I see it.

Not that I don't preach the others! But when it comes to the PUNCH, the irreducible minimum, I am content to say that Jesus guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it, PERIOD.

You are quite the reductionist minimalist, aren't you? ;~) That is OK with me. I just disagree.

The intention and purpose of evangelism is to get the prospective convert to the point where he is convinced that Jesus Christ has guaranteed his eternal destiny, his eternal well-being.

Again, even in that statement, you tie Jesus to His title, Christ. Who He is is very important to all of us. You know this. I just think that Who He is is an essential part of our message to those who don't know Him.

Anything we do in evangelism, anything that we say to the hearer of our gospel presentations MUST point to the sufficiency of faith in Christ's promise to save eternally.

AMEN to that. The only difference in my view is they won't get the efficiency part if they don't get it that He is not an average person ... or prophet ... or angel.

Your friend,
Rose

May 26, 2006 5:11 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Rose~, I find your position a little strange.

I agree with the theological conclusion that only oen with the nature of Christ can save. However, the reasoning behind this conclusion is not simple.

Not everybody is very logical in their thinking. Even people who are often logical in their reasoning can be prejudiced.

A person who has been hardened to the doctrine of the Trinity through wicked teaching might be so enlightened by the Holy Spirit as to see that she can have eternal life through Christ.

Will this person be cast aside because she is prejudiced against the doctrine of the deity of Christ? Is rejecting the nature and status of Christ a sin that can exclude a person who trusts in Him for eternal life?

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

May 26, 2006 8:24 AM  
Anonymous bobby grow said...

Amen . . . to Rose's response here, it's right on!

May 26, 2006 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Howard said...

I have read your comment on belief and belief alone in Christ is what saves you individually.
I agree this is true for those that do belief and only God knows who they are. Remember The devil and his minions believe, their only problem is they do not put their trust in Jesus Christ to save them. Works is a by product of believe in the living savior. In Christ you are sanctified, made perfect for ever holy in the sight of God because of what his Son Jesus Christ did at the cross, only when you have excercised faith in the risen savior and you now trust him to lead your life. It is all Christ and none of me.
Those that are truly seeking God shall find him, he shall lead them to his son. The job today is by the holy spirit to bring you into belief of the risen savior. There is only one sin that Jesus said that would not be forgiven that is blasphemy against the holy spirit. The job of the spirit is to bring you to belief, and then you are sealed with the holyspirit of promise. Eph. 1:13
I agree that it is by belief and belief alone in the risen savior, thanking him forever to give us something we never deserved or still do not deserve today. He chose to give us life and I have accepted and am forever thankful.

May 29, 2006 1:31 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Howard, what is the difference between my believing that Antonio will not use bad language on his blog and my trusting that Antonio will not use bad language on his blog?

May 30, 2006 12:33 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Rose, the question that I really wanted answered is the following:
----------
If I was preaching to a JW, teaching to him out of the gospel of John, and I showed him that Jesus promises, guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it, and the JW believes the promise of eternallife given by Jesus that I have showed him in the gospel of John, when this man stands before Jesus, is Jesus going to say:

"You entrusted your eternal destiny and well-being to me when you believed my promise to guarantee for you eternal life, when you believed in Me. But since you didn't add to this requirement belief that I am God then I must throw you in hell"

Antonio

May 30, 2006 10:26 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
How can you show him what Jesus promises without telling him the gospel? (the death, burial, and ressurection of Jesus CHRIST)

How can you show him, and how can he believe anything if all he hears is "Jesus is offering you eternal life." What does that even mean without some explanation of who this Jesus is and what He has done?

So - to answer your question - NO - this situation, this hypothetical you present, wouldn't happen. Big, things like eternal life, have to have a context in a person's understanding, don't they? Can they truly believe an fallen, fellow man ... or an angel, could give them such a gift? Can a hindu, who believes in many gods, place a value on what Jesus says ... a value that would resemble faith?

I don't think so. Why take a chance on that? Why compromise the teaching of WHO Jesus is when presenting His gift? What is the point? Why are you even having this discussion?

Your friend,
Rose

May 31, 2006 11:43 AM  
Blogger Shawn L said...

Yes it does seem to be that the belief in the promise of Christ is being seperated from the person of Christ. This is a big concern as Christ died to bring us to God. Eternal life seperate from God himself is not eternal life

May 31, 2006 3:20 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Rose~, did the Samaritan woman not believe without being aware of Christ's death and resurrection?
Could not Nicodemus believe for eternal life on the basis of what Christ said to him?

Teh reason why I think this issue matters is because I think deep down a lot of people who claim to believe in justification by faith think that faith is a kind of secondary righteosuness. In place of being jsutifed by works, one is
justified by believing the truth. This is an utterly false idea.

If saving faith is simply the appropriation of eternal life, why should it necessarilly involve believing in particular doctrines? Does that not seriously detract from the simplicity of the gift of eternal life?

God Bless

Matthew

June 01, 2006 8:44 AM  
Blogger Bhedr said...

I can remember watching Tony Campolo years ago on the old Politically Incorrect show that used to come on after Nightline.

Bill Maher said something like,"Why do evangelicals always come on here and tell us that you must believe in Jesus or your going to Hell.I mean why can't Hindu's, Buddhists or Muslims or Jews be going to Heaven. They are just as sincere."

Tony Campolo answered by saying something like, "Interesting that you should say that. My friends was ministering in a Buddhist community and He talked to a monk about Jesus. The monk began crying and said, "I believe in this Jesus."

Bill Maher said something like,"So you don't have to be in the Christian religion and Jesus can be found in other religions."

Tony Campolo shook his head.

Bill Maher began to tell him that he liked him a lot and wished that other evangelical preachers were more like him because they don't dogmatically come on the show condemning everybody with their exclusivity. Everybody seated around him was agreeing.

In the book of Proverbs there is a verse that says,"When the righteous give way to the wicked, the water becomes muddy."

Elaine Pagels was brought up in the Evangelical faith. She had a Jewish friend who asked her if she was going to hell if she didn't believe in Christ. Elaine was upset that God would cast her friend into hell and she has been on the forefront bringing out the Gnostic Gospels and the Gnostic Epistles. Why? Because she struggles with God's justice found only in His Son. We must make the Son known or we lose everything that we believe in.

June 02, 2006 2:21 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Good response, Rose.

June 03, 2006 10:15 AM  
Blogger brett said...

Antonio, I've visited your blog a few times and often love what I read. I love your recent comment "Grace would not be grace if it could not be abused".

However I strongly disagree with this post and hope you will reconsider your views.

Where does the Bible say that salvation comes from trusting Jesus with salvation? Rather than explicitly saying that, it is infused in believing Jesus is the Christ, or Messiah. Part of being the Christ or Messiah is also divinity.

When Jesus tells people to "believe in me" is he merely asking that they accept that he was a real person standing before them? These statements are often clarified by attaching "Christ" to the name of Jesus.

When the Philippian jailer is instructed to "believe in the Lord Jesus" what is he asking him to believe? That he existed in history? No, the attaching of "Lord" to the name of Jesus shows that it is an acknowledgment of divinity.

Similarly, look at Philip's statement of faith in Acts 8:37; "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God". Or this statement by John; “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1Jn5:1)

We often treat “Christ” as if it were his last name, but rather it is a title synonymous with Messiah and encompassing deity and payment of sin. As Rose pointed out, John 20:31 makes it very clear that believing Jesus is the Christ is the means of salvation, and that "Christ" is a title which includes other things, including deity. “these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

June 04, 2006 12:44 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Brett, being the Christ involves a lot of things. I believe that Amillennialists fail to fully appreciate what it means for Jesus to be the Christ. However, I do not question their salvation.

The question is, in the context of saving faith, what does it mean to believe that Jesus is the Christ?

The Gospel of John (the author of the epistle you qoute, Brett) consistently identifies being Christ with providing eternal life.

If one believes that Jesus has provided one with eternal life, you have a Johannine belief that Jesus is the Christ.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

June 05, 2006 1:04 AM  
Blogger brett said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 05, 2006 12:22 PM  
Blogger brett said...

"The Gospel of John (the author of the epistle you qoute, Brett) consistently identifies being Christ with providing eternal life."

I just did a simple word search through the Gospel of John for "Christ" and I only found one instance that John directly identifies being Christ with providing eternal life, and that is John 20:31 where he also clearly states that Jesus' divinity is part of being the Christ.

In that first century culture it was well understood that being "the Christ" included divinity:

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (matt 16)

the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God." (matt 26)

She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world." (john 11)

these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (john 20)

June 05, 2006 12:34 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

'In that first century culture it was well understood that being "the Christ" included divinity:'

I am not sure that this is such a certain conclusion.
I fear that you may be reading Christian theological meanings into the title that would not have been understood in the first century (note that I am not denying the vlaidity of those meanings).

Christ is a functional title. It describes a role. The Gospel of John identifies that role with being the Resurrection and the Life.

John 11
25 "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26 and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world."

Being the Christ is about what Jesus does. If one affirms that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, then one has affirmed that Jesus is the Christ, regardless of any misconcpetions about His person.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

June 06, 2006 1:10 AM  
Blogger brett said...

Matthew, I am curious, do you believe the statement "faith alone in Christ alone" to be truthful in regards to soteriology?

June 06, 2006 1:59 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Yes.

June 06, 2006 4:21 AM  
Blogger brett said...

Sorry if it seemed like to simple a question, but I figured I better ask before making any assumptions.

The reason I ask is that the points you've presented here seem to be you trying to present the minimum of the Gospel, yet I don't see anything that disallows a works based salvation (RCC, LDS, etc). If we believe Jesus is the Christ, why can't we believe in other "Christs" also, or in our responsibility to good works in order to receive propitiation?

What I'm trying to say is that included in believing Jesus is the Christ/Messiah are a few things. Divinity and faith alone in Christ alone are two of those things.

June 06, 2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Only Jesus Christ (the person who was crucified for our sake and raised from the dead) provides eternal life. And it is a gift. The condition for receiving it is through faith. The Scriptures are clear about that.

If a person believes it is appropriated by works, he does not believe at all. Such a person fails to see the efficacy of Christ's gift of eternal life.

He believes that Christ is not enougth and he must add to Christ's work.

God Bless

Matthew

June 07, 2006 12:40 AM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

Antonio,

Do you believe in Hell? If so, who do you think goes to Hell? Is Hell set aside for just those who do not believe in God? Are their others in Hell beside the non-believers? What does God say about this?

I Corinthians 6:8-10

8)Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. 9)Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10)nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

The Bible is talking about believers in these verses. It says that the believers have the potential to not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:20-21

20)idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21)and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

It doesn't say, "those who live like this will not inherit the kingdomof God, *unless they believe*."

Luke 13:2-4

2)Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3)I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

"Perish," as in not inherit the kingdom of God, as in go to Hell.

You are correct, we must believe in God in order to recieve his eternal gift, but we are also asked to do certain other thing. As you like to call them, "works." It is obvious from the above verses that God wants us to live our lives in a certain manner. Yes, He wants us to believe. He also wants us to earn His gift. If not, then anyone who believes in God gets His gift...

"Almighty God, bless our arms when the time comes; be just as thou hast always been; judge now whether we be deserving of freedom; Lord, bless our battle!"

This is a quote from a believer in God. A prayer sent up to the Heaven's in hope for an answer.

-Adolf Hitler's prayer (Mein Kampf)

One of the most evil men ever to walk the earth. Is he in Heaven now?

June 07, 2006 10:39 AM  
Blogger brett said...

Matthew, I agree entirely with your most recent post.

You say that a person has not believed if Such a person fails to see the efficacy of Christ's gift of eternal life.

My point is similar; that you can not see the efficiacy of Christ's work if you do not believe Him to be God. The payment (death) of a mere man is not effective, only the payment (death) of God.

I can see that we are brothers both fighting for the Free Grace position. Thank you for your time and studies of the Scripture.

Brett

PS, I'd still like to hear back from Antonio

June 07, 2006 9:39 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

"My point is similar; that you can not see the efficiacy of Christ's work if you do not believe Him to be God. The payment (death) of a mere man is not effective, only the payment (death) of God."

If one fails to believe that Jesus is God yet trusts Him for eternal life, one has not failed to believe in the personal result of Christ's work. Yes, that would be a theologically inconsistent position. However, we are not saved by our theological consistency. We are saved by our simple trust in Christ, regardless of our misconceptions.

I fear you are confusing faith in Christ's work with the understanding of Christ's work.

God Bless

Matthew

June 08, 2006 12:28 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Pastor Jim, why do you think that failing to inherit the Kingdom is the same as going to hell?

June 08, 2006 12:29 AM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist,

"Pastor Jim, why do you think that failing to inherit the Kingdom is the same as going to hell?"

In short; the Bible.

What makes you think it is not? Show me anywhere in the Bible where it says someone will enter Heaven, whithout mentioning the "kingdom of God," or the "kingdom of Heaven." I could not find anywhere that it states that someone will "enter Heaven." God says enter the "kingdom of Heaven."

And, what about "perish?" Does that not mean, in Hell? Can you "perish" in Heaven?

I hope you are not missing the forest due to the trees.

June 08, 2006 7:54 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Perishing in the context of that verse refers to physical destruction. Like those who died in the tower of Siloam, the Jews would face God's judgment if they did not repent and believe the Messiah. This happened in 70 AD.

What you have given me is an argument from silence. Your assumption with regard to failure to inherit is quite arbitrary.

Is entering something the same as inheriting? I believe the two things are totally different.

In 1 Cor 15, it says that the kingdom cannot be inherited by flesh and blood. However, the Scriptures are clear that men and women in natural bodies will enter the Kingdom (the Millennium at least). These people enter the kigndom, but do not inherit it.

Likewise the Bible makes it clear that sharing in Christ's rule is conditional upon overcoming (2 Tim 2:12, Rev 3:21). In contrast, eternal life is a free gift to those that believe.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

June 09, 2006 12:20 AM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

Its like reasoning with a rock. You folks enjoy your close minded conversations and lives.

June 09, 2006 6:05 AM  
Blogger brett said...

haha... wow...

funny how everyone who thinks they're right thinks everyone else is close minded...

June 10, 2006 1:14 PM  
Blogger Ms.Green said...

I have to agree with rose, and as I said on a sister blog, I'm new here, and may be jumping in too quickly, but would like to point out that Scripture is clear that when we form God in our own image,into whom we "think" or "feel" that He is, that is a form of idolatry -which is the worship of a false god.
The Mormon Jesus is a false god, because the Mormon Jesus is a created being, a brother to Lucifer. Therefore, the Jesus that a Mormon places his or her faith in is not the Jesus of Christianity, and can therefore not give them eternal life.
"God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

An interesting note on a famous Mormon:Stephen Covey, author of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" wrote that Mormons should not seek "any kind of 'special relationship' with Jesus Christ". He also says that salvation by grace alone is a false concept and an apostate doctrine, and instead, Mormon truths can "equip people with godlike powers and capabilites".

July 08, 2006 9:09 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

test

March 03, 2009 4:48 PM  

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