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, November 15, 2006

Is Public Identification with Christ Necessary for Entrance into Heaven?

The Scriptures pose one condition, and one condition only for the appropriation of eternal life and justification: Taking Christ at His word concerning His promise to guarantee the eternal well-being of all who simply trust Him to do so. Faith in Jesus Christ with the purpose of receiving His intended gift is the passive instrument of reception.

Yet, conditional language is found employed throughout the entire Bible. Blessings are promised for obedience and calamities and negative rewards indicated for rebellion and unfaithfulness.

In numerous places in our Sacred Text there are found beneficial consequent results conditioned on obedience and works, as well as negative outcomes for unfaithfulness. Many make these texts out to be salvific, to have a soteriological significance. But to do so by a plain reading of the text would be tantamount to works righteousness, works salvation (the favorable blessings are conditioned on works!). So how do they get around this? They import Perseverance of the Saints theology into those Scriptures which results in (1) equivocations, (2) necessary modifications of the text, and (3) most important to note, a perversion of the gospel.

Is confession of Christ necessary to go to heaven?

Matt 10:32-33
"Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven."

Notice the "therefore" beginning this verse. In inductive study of the Bible you learn to ask the question, "What is the 'therefore' there for?" This passage resides in the context of persecutions for one's faith (see 10:16-31). Confessing Christ means publicly identifying oneself with Christ by word and deed, even at the risk of one's life!

If entering heaven is contingent on such acts, then the same is conditioned on works!

There are many who equate the call to self-denial, self-mortification, giving up one's life, and doing all other kinds of hard works, with conversion, but by so doing they either explicitly or implicitly deny the freeness of the gospel. By no stretch of the imagination is the demand for self-denial and self-sacrifice an invitation to receive a free gift. The attempt to harmonize these polarities always ends either in hopeless absurdity or in theological sophistry.

In this respect the man on the street is often more perceptive than the theologian. If someone were to offer him a gift in return for self-denying obedience, he would readily recognize that offer as grotesquely misrepresented!

The Son of God never engaged in such contradictions. What was free, He represented as free. What was costly, He presented as costly.
(Zane Clark Hodges)

Question for the Lordship Salvation advocate: "Would you relegate a brand new, recently converted Muslim to hell because he has not come out to his family and/or village, proclaiming his identity with the Son of God?"

Where is room for development? Where is room for discipleship, and growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Now on to a treatment of 2 Tim 2:11-13

"This is a faithful saying:"

Paul uses this phrase 5 times in his epistles. This is his way of saying "Take great note of what is to follow, for its truth should be unquestionably relied upon, its veracity guarded, and its certainty cherished." It has an emphasis similar to Jesus Christ's "Most assuredly I say to you" (Greek :"Amen, amen, lego humin"), which has the force of "I solemnly assert to you." Paul is getting ready to share some very important encouragement and admonition with us. Perk up your ears!

"For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him."

This is another way of saying that every believer has eternal life and can never lose it. If you have believed in Christ for eternal life, then you have died with Him in a positional sense (Rom 6:5, 8; Gal 2:20; 5:24). And, if you've died with Him, you will live with Him, forever. Notice that there is no escape clause here. There is no such thing as one who has died with Christ who later loses his salvation.

"If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him."

[what happens when we are faithful]

Paul had spoken of his own endurance, using the same Greek verb, in v 10. There it clearly refers to persevering in the faith in spite of persecution and suffering (v 9). If other Christians follow his example and endure in the faith in spite of persecution and suffering, then they will rule with Christ.

The Lord Jesus also made it clear that only overcoming Christians will rule with Him. Compare Luke 19:11-26; Rev 2:26; 3:21. While all Christians will be in His kingdom, only Christians who endured in this life will be a part of His kingdom administration. Since serving Christ is what we will do in eternity (Rev 22:3), increased opportunity to serve Him is something which is extremely desirable.

"If we deny Him,
He also will deny us."

[what happens when we are unfaithful]

The second half of verse 12 is antithetically opposite of the first half. After the words "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him," we expect, "If we don't endure, we shall not reign with Him." That is precisely what verse 12b is saying. To deny Christ is to fail to endure in the faith. To be denied by Him is to be refused the privilege of ruling with Him.

At the Judgment Seat of Christ some believers will be confessed by Christ (Matt 10:33). He will acknowledge overcoming believers before God the Father and the angels as those who will rule with Him (Luke 19:17, 19). However, some believers at the Judgment Seat will be denied by Christ (Matt 10:33). He won't deny that they are saved. Remember, even if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He can't deny Himself. He will deny them in the sense that He will deny that they are worthy to reign with Him (compare Luke 19:22-26; Heb 11:38; Rev 3:4, 21).

"If we are faithless [or better "unfaithful": Greek = apistoumen]
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself."

Note that even if you or I are faithless, Christ remains faithful. Why? Because He can't deny Himself. He promises to give eternal life to all who believe in Him for it. Our faithfulness is not part of the equation! (good news for us!) It is His faithfulness that determines whether we stay saved or not. Since He will always be faithful to that which He promised, all those who have trusted in Christ, including unfaithful, apostate ones, will live with Christ forever.

The freeness of the offer of eternal life must be emphasized. If a passage in the Bible conditions a favorable result of any kind on works of obedience or faithfulness (excepting the works, obedience, and faithfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!), it manifestly cannot be speaking soteriologically!

Paul's beautiful and poetic saying is comforting, challenging, and alerting all at the same time.

(1) Eternal security is guaranteed
(2) Reigning with Christ is the reward for endurance and perseverance in our confession of Jesus Christ
(3) Significant loss of reward will be experienced for those who will not endure i their confession
(4) God is faithful to His promises. Our entrance into heaven is not conditioned on our faithfulness, but solely on God's! (Amen and Amen!)

(Portions of the treatment of 2 Tim 2:11-13 have been adapted and/or taken from an article by Bob Wilkin of the Grace Evangelical Society: may he get the credit and God receive the glory!)


Anonymous danny said...

Right on Antonio. A great article to go along with your post is this new one from Bobby Boy Wilkin.



November 15, 2006 9:18 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...


I haven't received that newsletter yet in the mail. Have you?

It is great that they have it on their website so quickly.

I also noticed at the end of Zane's article


This is my absolute FAVORITE book of Zane's! I am so excited about the new edition!


November 15, 2006 9:28 PM  
Anonymous danny said...

Hi Antonio!

I don't receive the newsletter by mail. I just check the site everyday. It was great reading all these new articles. Zane's was excellent as well! I know Grace in Eclipse is your favorite book, and I knew you'd be happy to hear about the new edition!


November 15, 2006 9:33 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Yes, I agree with Antonio that Grace in Eclipse is even better than Absolutely Free! and Gospel under Siege.

God Bless


November 16, 2006 5:01 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

"If we are faithless [or better "unfaithful": Greek = apistoumen]
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself."

The new co-pastor at my church denies our view of this. He said-

"This should not be taken as a word of comfort. It concerns not God's faithfulness to us, but to Himself. If we don't believe, God cannot deny Himself by accepting us."

How would you answer him, Antonio?

November 16, 2006 5:06 AM  
Anonymous danny said...

Hi Matthew!

I think your pastor should read this article by Brad McCoy at the GES site.


2 Tim 2:11-13 is a chiasmus. Does the pastor realize that?


November 16, 2006 10:14 AM  
Anonymous danny said...

I meant co-pastor, sorry.


November 16, 2006 10:15 AM  
Anonymous danny said...

Brad also did a paper on chiasmus that I think would be helpful to the co-pastor.


November 16, 2006 10:31 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Thanks. That was a good article, but I would have liked to have seen a little more interaction with other interpretations in it.

God Bless


November 17, 2006 1:08 AM  
Anonymous danny said...


How about the chiasmus paper Brad McCoy did? He can read that, and you can point out the ABBA construction in 2 Tim 2:11-13


November 17, 2006 10:27 AM  
Blogger Gojira said...

Hey Antonio,

Stop by and and anser of you were anathamized.



November 19, 2006 4:48 PM  
Blogger H K Flynn said...

Wow! Totally beautiful template! I was just adding you as a favortie blog on Technorati and was shocked by your beautiful pro blog! Yahooo!:)

November 25, 2006 8:43 AM  

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