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)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Free Grace Theology and Repentance -- A Reply To Matthew Waymeyer Part 3

Matthew writes:
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“In order to proclaim the gospel clearly,” writes Bob Wilkin, “we must be exceedingly careful what we say, if anything, about repentance. The simplest course would be to say nothing about repentance” (“Preaching and Teaching About Repentance,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, 4/1 [Spring, 1991]).
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It is interesting that Matthew states the current view of Bob Wilkin, that he denies that repentance is a condition for salvation, and then follows it with this quote.

You see, in 1991, when he wrote the quoted article, Bob Wilkin did believe that repentance was a condition for eternal life. He actually wrote his doctoral dissertation at Dallas Seminary on this view.

It is rather odd that Matthew would use this quote (which takes for granted that repentance is necessary for salvation) as an argument against Bob’s current position that denies repentance as a condition for eternal life.

Thus this quote was taken out of context.

Was Matthew only looking for “fuel” to flame his fire?

I really am pleased that Matthew has taken time to review some Free Grace materials rather than relying solely on reading its detractors (as the highest percentage of those opposed to FG theology do!). He has gone farther than most people who have entered the fray. Yet his analysis of Free Grace Theology leaves much to be desired. Although he has put forth some effort, he has not grasped (for reasons that could be multitudinous) many of the foundational tenets of FG theology and thus has often (although I will admit without improper motive) mischaracterized that which he is seeking to disprove.

Matthew writes:
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Ironically, one evangelist who did not follow this path was the apostle Paul.
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This is an assertion which the data thus far has not supported. We have seen that for both the Apostles John and Paul that faith alone apart from anything else is the passive instrument receiving eternal life and justification. There is neither jot nor tittle of repentance in the gospel of John, who, for an express purpose of evangelism, wrote his gospel. Likewise, Paul is silent concerning this issue in his extensive treatment of justification by faith in Romans 3-5 and his defense of his gospel in the book of Galatians.

Furthermore, not a single biblical passage conjoins a command to repent with a resultant of eternal life, justification, or eternal salvation. The silence from the Traditionalist on this point is deafening.

Matthew writes:
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In his sermon in Acts 17:22-31, Paul concluded his message by exhorting his hearers to respond to the gospel, proclaiming:

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31; emphasis added).

This, of course, raises an obvious question: If Paul exhorted his hearers to repent in response to the gospel, how can FG disciples deny that repentance is part of the message of salvation? Put another way, if FG theology is true, why did Paul command his hearers to repent?
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I think another more obvious question is raised: If John the Apostle expresses the sole condition for eternal life as believing in Jesus for it, if Paul proclaims justification by faith alone in Christ alone in his characteristically doctrinal epistles, why does Paul not mention “faith” alone into Jesus at all in this dissertation that Matthew calls a gospel presentation (with the elements of 1 Cor 15:3ff peculiarly absent)?

John MacArthur states “do not dismiss it [repentance] as simply another word for believing” (ibid., 178). John MacArthur and many Traditionalists rightly propose that faith and repentance are different, but erroneously assert that both are equally necessary for salvation. In light of the Traditionalist’s doctrine, is it not interesting that Paul, here in Acts 17, omits any mention of faith in Jesus as a condition for justification?

There are still other Traditionalists who contend that faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin. What becomes imperative for the lost is no longer simple faith but a “super faith”. Ed Sullivan used to say, “We’ve got a really, really, big shew for you tonight!” What the Lordship Salvation proponents require from the unsaved is a really, really big faith! It has become so loaded down with theological baggage that it’s simplicity is lost.

When I have spoken to people who adhere to this view, I get the impression that they are walking a tight rope. When I suggest that in their theology that a “super-kind of faith” is what makes saving faith saving, they deny it. But it cannot be! The Traditionalist has critically altered the essential nature of faith. Its value has morphed from the passive ideas of conviction, persuasion, assurance, being convinced, and taking one at his word to the volitional concepts of commitment, surrender, forsaking, giving, and obedience.

“…two men might believe exactly the same things in terms of content, yet if one of them exhibited what seemed to be a ‘fruitless’ Christian experience, his faith would be condemned as ‘intellectual assent’ or ‘head belief’ over against ‘heart belief.’ In a word, his faith was a false faith – it was a faith that did not, and could not, save…

What [is] really missing in false faith, so they affirm… [are] the elements of true repentance and submission to God. Thus, saving faith ought not to be defined in terms of trust alone, but also in terms of commitment to the will of God. In the absence of this kind of submission, they insist…, one could not describe his faith as biblical faith.

If there existed a theological Trojan horse, this point of view is it!

[The Lordship proponents] completely insupportable definition of saving faith… transforms the offer of a free gift of eternal life into a ‘contract’ between the sinner and God, and it turns the joy of Christian living into a grueling effort to verify our faith and acceptance before God.” (Zane Hodges, Absolutely Free! p. 27)

I say that it isn’t the kind of faith that makes saving faith saving, it is the object of the faith that makes saving faith saving.

It is not our turning from sins, our change of direction, our submission to Christ, or promise to obey that saves, it is trust alone in Christ who has promised eternal life as a present possession to the believer. Christ, the object of our simple faith, is what makes saving faith saving.

How is it that when we discuss faith as it pertains in the theological realm, that it takes a whole other significance than the way it is commonly and universally understood? How is it that the exercise of faith in the theological arena is experimentally ascertained by the subjective qualities that have been imported into this word? The simple concept of faith has been evacuated and its theological shell loaded with such ideas as repentance, submission, obedience, and contrition by those who deem that apathy in our churches ought to be fought with the inclusion of works on the front end of the gospel offer.

Soliloquy:

“I may not have true saving faith, I need to repent more, feel more contrition, change my direction, pick up my cross, obey Christ. I may not have the right kind of faith, the subjective elements of the fruit of my faith and repentance may show that I only have head faith and not heart faith.”

Repentance and the other importations in Traditionalism’s “kitchen sink” soteriology necessarily become the object of one’s confidence that God has been affected toward him. A simple look to the Savior cannot suffice, for faith alone in Christ alone has been abandoned for a synergy of reliance on Jesus and reliance on self. As long as faith in Christ is not enough, obsession over one’s own responsibilities to repent, submit, surrender, give, and obey can prevail.

The faith that the Traditionlist requires for eternal life is not the simple, every-day, kind of faith that we exercise. It is no longer taking someone at his word. It is no longer being convinced that something is true. It is no longer the passive result of being persuaded by circumstances, deliberation, communication, and/or evidence. In the realm of theology it has become an act of the will that includes everything with the kitchen sink. Traditionalism should be called “kitchen sink” theology in light of its burdensome addition of volitional acts of many kinds to the concept of faith.

Questions for Matthew:

In the text of Luke 17, did Paul preach his gospel (1 Cor 15:3ff)?
Did Paul mention eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification?

I will not dispute that Paul preached the gospel and mentioned eternal salvation in his discourse to the Athenians on that day, yet Luke did not include it.

But seeing that this is an obvious mere fragment of what Paul said, how can Matthew be so dogmatic and asserting?

Luke’s purposes were clearly dealing specifically with the issue of idolatry, and the Athenian's errors in practicing and promoting it. How this small fragment was used, associated, and precisely incorporated in the greater context of Paul’s unrevealed discourse, that assuredly contained the gospel and the condition to believe in Christ, is not Luke’s concern; althugh he alludes to it, he doesn't care to reveal its details. The Traditionalist on the other hand has filled in the blanks for us by use of assumptions, speculations, and the liberal importation of his theology.

Matthew’s posture is clearly a case of one assumption leading to another! In order to make his argument work, he has had to assume many elements. I just don’t think it is wise for him to glean a major theological doctrine from such an abbreviated discourse that in the end must have its blank spots filled in (by mere secondary assumption) to support his claims.

Can’t Matthew go to a gospel or an epistle to prove his point? It seems a particularly specious argument to make so much out of so little. There is no mention of the gospel in the text nor the requirement to believe in Christ. And in opposition to his doctrine, there is no command to repent with the expressly stated resultant of eternal life, eternal salvation or justification!

Many have praised him for his exegesis. I would rather call it sleight of hand!

19 Comments:

Blogger Joe said...

Whenever I enter into a dialog with someone over a doctrinal stand, I always assume (rightly or wrongly) that he/she has read scripture from beginning to end and has come to this doctrine as a result of such reading.

Therefore I come to you with the same assumption (of which I am certain).

Would you say that repentance is a result of one's salvation? Is it the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in one's life?

Is there a saved person who has not repented? Does he/she then continue in sin in order that grace may all the more abound?

August 16, 2006 5:33 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Excellent arguments, Antonio.

Joe, if 'sinning that grace may abound' was not a possibility for a saved person, why does Paul go to such lengths to show the folly of such a course? Why not just say 'a saved person would never do that.'

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

August 16, 2006 9:00 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Joe thank you for your comments. I appreciate you reading my posts.

Repentance ought to be an integral aspect of one's Christian walk. When we find ourselves in a pattern of sin, we must think about that sin as God does, confess it, forsake it, and attend the forsaking of it with positive good works.

Matthew,
good point.

All:

Thank you for reading my responses to Matthew Waymeyer's post on Free Grace Theology.

your questions, comments, and objections are welcomed (although your objections less so, lol)

Antonio

August 16, 2006 7:39 PM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

"Repentance ought to be an integral aspect of one's Christian walk. When we find ourselves in a pattern of sin, we must think about that sin as God does, confess it, forsake it, and attend the forsaking of it with positive good works."

Where do you get this idea from? What if we do not "confess it, forsake it, and attend the forsakng of it with positive good works?"

August 17, 2006 10:06 AM  
Blogger Jon Lee said...

Pastor Jim,

This view is clearly derived from the fact that Jesus was clear "he who believes in me has everlasting life". There is no call to repentance in many of the gospel verses. I would submit that we must take the least common denominator view if our Lord is ALWAYS honest, which of course He is. To put it this way: If I was ALWAYS honest and I said to you 2000 times "If you drink a glass of milk and eat an oreo - I'll give you my left foot". I then later said "If you eat an oreo I'll give you my left foot". Now, supposing you really want my left foot and I'm always honest, you just eat the oreo. Am I ALWAYS honest if I fail to give you my left foot based on the fact that you didn't drink the milk? That being said, I see that God calls all men to repentance, saved and unsaved because it is for there own good temporally and possibly eternally. That does not make it a condition for salvation. However, repentance is undoubtedly a condition for fellowship/discipleship.

In Christ,

JL

August 18, 2006 8:28 AM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

Jon,
You say,"I would submit that we must take the least common denominator view..." We'll start off with that because it is now obvious to me that you do not believe in the same God as I. My God (the One True God) expects more out of me than the bare minimum, or as you put it "the least." God asks me to take up my cross and follow Him. He doesn't tell me to "just sit back, relax, and wait here. I'll go do all the work. Don't you break a sweat." I feel that your mindset is a complete slap in the face of God.

Next, you say "There is no call to repentance in MANY of the gospel verses." But, it is in the gospel verses, correct? So, should we just disregard it all together?

Then you bring up the "left foot" analogy. I would eat the oreo cookie and drink the glass of milk, because that is what was instructed of me to do. Not once was it said to NOT drink the milk. As far as I'm concerned, from the rules you have given me, that is still something I must do. Now, if God tells me in order to be saved I must believe (which He does), I understand that. Believing is one of the steps I must take to be saved. Now He also tells me I should repent of my sins. Should I repent? He told me to. Even you say it is in the gospel. Or, should I say "look here God, you told me I had to believe so that is all I am doing, even though I know you told me several other times to repent."? You are being very flippant with your soul.

"That being said, I see that God calls all men to repentance, saved and unsaved because it is for there own good temporally and possibly eternally."

You want it both ways??? It is for their own good "possibly eternally?" What do you mean by that?

August 18, 2006 11:00 AM  
Blogger Jon Lee said...

Pastor Jim -

If you rightly divide the word you will realize that the possiblity of a full reward in eternity is a discipleship issue and that repentance is a discipleship issue. If you are called to repent as an unbeleiver it is a call to change your mind as to who Christ is - to believe in him for everlasting life. If you are called to repentance as a believer, it is a call back to fellowship with our Lord so that you may be saved from temporal destruction and work toward a full reward. Salvation and Discipleship are clearly two separate issues and people that do not see that are in danger of preaching a false gospel. You stating that I want it both ways clues me in to the fact that you do not distinguish between discipleship and salvation issues. Do you call Jesus a Liar because he says "whoever believes in me has everlasting life"? If repentance is an issue then he lied by saying "whoever believes", a trust worthy person would have said "whoever repents and believes" if (big if) that were true. It is not true. I do think Jesus is trustworthy. I'll take his word over yours, beings that He is my savior and you are a guy named pastor jim. As for being flippant with my soul - it has been saved from Hell. Has yours? I hope so. I recognize that my works could be burned up at the BEMA seat of Christ and I could suffer loss but I well never be in danger of Hell. It's not about my work and merit, it's all about the work and merit of Christ. If you have never recognized that the gift of God is eternal life (not temporary or probationary but eternal) which is accepted through belief in Jesus Christ and belief in Jesus Christ alone - you are not saved. That's bad news. The good news is that can change right now by laying it ALL at the cross and believing in Him for eternal life. This is true, not because I said it but because He said it!

In Christ,

JL

August 18, 2006 12:46 PM  
Blogger Pastor Jim said...

Jon, first you say...

"He who believes in me has everlasting life."

Then you say...

"If you have never recognized that the gift of God is eternal life (not temporary or probationary but eternal) which is accepted through belief in Jesus Christ and belief in Jesus Christ alone - you are not saved."

Which one is it? Must I believe in the Lord, or must I believe that "the gift of God is eternal life?"

I have put on here multiple times all of the verses which state that you can lose your salvation. I'm sure you know all of them as well. Its just that you like to neglect them and say they are really saying something different. So, you have a good life, and good luck with that slap-in-the-face-of-God mentality.

August 18, 2006 3:10 PM  
Blogger Jon Lee said...

Pastor Jim -

The gift of eternal life must be recognized - it is what you beleive in Christ for, possessing eternal life is the only way to avoid the second death (rev 20). Jesus Christ is my savior. Is He your savior? What has he saved you from? If you could lose your salvation then your trust is in yourself to maintain or keep it. My trust is in Jesus Christ. You have a beautiful family Jim - as an aside - what a blessing your little boy must be! I'm a father - it was the birth of my son that got me seeking. I don't want to have any doubts that I'll see my boy in heaven. I'm thankful for a God that gives me the sanity that comes from eternal security. If salvation could be lost - the most loving thing I could do is see my son come to saving faith and then kill him before he loses it. But, just as he provided for Abraham on the basis of faith, not deeds, so too has he provided for me. God Bless you Jim. I'll pray for you and your family.

In Christ,

JL

August 18, 2006 3:27 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
Thanks for posting this. You obviously put a lot of time into thinking this through.

I said "amen" in my head when I read this:

I say that it isn’t the kind of faith that makes saving faith saving, it is the object of the faith that makes saving faith saving.

Absolutely. Christ is the savior, it is His quality that allow such a non-works ariented thing such as faith to make all the difference ... because the faith is in Him.

One more thing:

I just don’t think it is wise ... to glean a major theological doctrine from such an abbreviated discourse that in the end must have its blank spots filled in (by mere secondary assumption) to support [one's] claims.

This is something that really bothers me about a lot of theological teaching, especially that which comes from the book of Acts ... I've noticed a lot of it comes from that book, but I am not sure why that book seems to lend itself to such abuse.

August 20, 2006 6:40 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Jon Lee,
Reading over your comments here has really been an encouragement to me.

August 20, 2006 6:42 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

You all,

thank you for your comments.

Jon,

excellent reasoning and comments!

Rose, when you pick out something I said and like it, it is really encouraging.

Be blessed you all!

Antonio

August 21, 2006 8:22 PM  
Blogger LostOrConfused said...

Hi,
I walked away from the Lord for about 10 years. I was miserable in my sin. I decided to repent and turn back to Jesus. I was so excited. Soon I realized that the gospel has changed and it seems people like me do not qualify any longer. I have no hope if what Jesus did for me on the cross is only good if I remain until the end.

I realized why I turned away in the first place. I couldn't hold out.
I am now uncertain if I am saved, ever was saved or how to get saved.

I thought God loved us so much that he sent His only son to save us from certain death because of our sin.

I have spent the last 2 weeks barely sleeping searching for comfort but I haven't found any. It seems like there is no one Gospel and that in order to be saved we must give up everything in life...children, jobs, joy. We must give up everything.

Then I thought if we have to give up everything it can't be free but the Bible said it was free.

I am very confused and don't know if I will ever recover from this.

I can't tell whether God really loves us or whether He hates us.

Thing is, I really wanted to be saved! I just don't know if anyone can be sure.

Forgive my comments but they are true...many of us will spend the rest of our lives wondering what the truth really is.

Sincerely,

Jeremiah

November 29, 2007 11:00 PM  
Blogger knetknight said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 30, 2007 11:10 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jeremiah,

You say you are really serious about getting saved. If you are, send me an email so that I can personally email you.

agdarosa@cox.net

If you want certain assurance of everlasting life, knowing that you can never perish, email me.

Antonio

November 30, 2007 1:58 PM  
Blogger LostOrConfused said...

Hi,
I sent you an e-mail. I really
appreciate your interest! I could use a little help.

Sincerely,

Jeremiah

November 30, 2007 5:02 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 30, 2007 6:42 PM  
Blogger LostOrConfused said...

Dear Antonio,

I have written you another e-mail but
after writing it something became abundantly clear. I will send you another e-mail to let you know what it is. I would like to thank you for even being willing to help me. Jesus asked God the Father to forgive those who were brutally killing Him. He is most assuredly the only One who would take someone like me! Thank You Jesus! May God bless you for helping me, I will finally get some sleep!

Sincerely,

Jeremiah

December 01, 2007 9:19 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I know this is an old blog post, but I thought I'd pitch in anyway.

I think there's a lot of misunderstanding in the word "repent" in both points of views (Lordship Salvation and Free Grace), which is what has caused a lot of people to get caught in the crossfire.

"Repent" really means to "change one's mind." What are we changing our minds about? Sin.

Before we came to know Christ, we were enemies of God. Why? Because we sinned. In other words, we broke God's laws, practicing lawlessness.

The Gospel, according to Paul, is (in part) that Christ died for our sin. One cannot understand why Christ died if he cannot understand what sin is--that it is the breaking of God's law, missing the mark, falling short.

By not repenting of sin (i.e, changing our minds about it), we are not acknowledging that we have broken God's law and are guilty. In other words, we are justifying our actions, rather than allowing God to justify us through the death and resurrection of His Son.

So, to repent doesn't mean to stop sinning. It means to acknowledge that we have sinned, and that our breaking of God's commandments is offensive to Him. If we don't acknowledge that justice must be satisfied, then why did Christ die, anyway?

Bottom line, repenting is a mental acknowledgment. We can't possibly stop our old ways without God giving us a new heart first, and giving us His Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we'd have to be perfectly good first, and only then would God save us for past sins. No, it's the other way around. We come to Him as-is, having changed our minds about sin, and He cleans us up through that wonderful process called sanctification. We don't have to be perfect. We just have to be willing. He does the rest throughout our lives.

And if you mess up as a Christian and fall into sin, you can always repent (i.e., acknowledge your sin and confess it, rather than justifying your actions and hiding), and come back to Him. He is still your Father, even if you've lived it up like the prodigal son. He's just waiting for you to come back so He can run up and embrace you. Once adopted, you can never lose your son-ship.

January 23, 2012 5:33 PM  

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