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, July 12, 2007

Checklist Evangelists

The "doctrinal checklist" advocates' position on saving faith consists of believing in a death, and a resurrection, along with other, what they would consider orthodox, information. They make doctrine the object of faith and not Christ alone. For a lack of understanding of various teachings about Jesus, the "doctrinal checklist" advocates would relegate a believer in Jesus Christ to hell, even though that believer entrusted his/her eternal destiny completely into the hands of the Savior.

The "doctrinal checklist" advocates insist that the objects of their evangelism initial at each step so that they can be saved. A typical checklist would go as follows:

Hamartiology
[ ] Do you agree that you are a sinner?
[ ] Do you agree that because of your sin you deserve hell?

Christology
[ ] Do you believe that Jesus is fully God?
[ ] Do you believe that Jesus is fully man?
[ ] Do you believe that Jesus was sinless?

Soteriology
[ ] Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross?
[ ] Do you believe that Jesus' death was substitionary for sins?
[ ] Do you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead?
[ ] Do you believe that this resurrection was physical?

To this lesson in 'orthodox' doctrine, the "checklist evangelist" adds this invitation:

The Invitation
[ ] Do you understand that you must assent to all this information for forgiveness?
[ ] Do you repent of what you used to believe?
[ ] Pray this 'sinnner's prayer'
[ ] Do you believe what you said in the 'sinner's prayer' from your heart?

If the potential convert can initial at each of these places, the "doctrinal checklist" advocate would consider such a one saved.

Let me make something clear. Adherence and belief in each of these things falls short of receiving eternal life. Trust alone into Jesus alone for the gift of eternal life is not the necesary result of assent to each of these doctrines and steps to salvation. It is abundantly clear that one can check off each of these statements and still not believe Jesus' simple promise to give eternal life to the one who takes Him at His word for it.

All Christians except liberals would initial at each of the doctrinal points above, but we do not consider them all saved. Why? Because most of them are involved in some kind of works-righteousness.

Free Grace advocates point men to Christ in His promise. The "checklist evangelists" point men to a doctrinal checklist and then ask them to "pray a prayer". There is not one example in all of Bible of such a thing. Asking men and women to pray a prayer is as unscriptural as baptismal regeneration.

When Jesus evangelized, He directed men to faith into Him through His promises. He did not have them jump through theological hoops and a multitude of steps as necessary components of receiving eternal life.

The "checklist soteriologists" say I have gutted the gospel of its most significant biblical mandates.The only mandate that I can find concerning the salvation of man in the whole of the Bible is:

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).

I have written extensively on 1 Cor 15:3ff to which Lou Martuneac has not replied to my arguments in the least.

The Difference Between a Gospel Presentation and the Offer (Promise) of Eternal Life

The Use and Abuse of the Gospel Message

Another Look at 1 Cor 15:3ff / The Pauline Gospel

I have written about Romans 10:9, 10 to which Lou Martunieac still have not answered to my arguments or questions:

Does Romans 10:9, 10 Teach that One Must Understand the Resurrection for Eternal Life?

I have proven that the disciples, the Samaratans, and others in the Gospel of John were saved apart from understanding Christ's death on the cross and apart from believing in His resurrection (they even flatly denied it!) and have shown that John wrote his gospel to show that men and women today get saved the same way those in his narrative did!. His gospel was one of the last two books written in the canon. Did he forget to include your essential biblical mandates when he expressly, precisely, and clearly presented the terms of receiveing eternal life in his gospel?

Must One Understand Christ's Death for Sin to Be Born Again?

Has the Gospel of John failed to specifically and precisely express the terms of receiving eternal life? If so, John failed in his purpose (John 20:31)!

To the more information needed, "checklist evangelists", including Lou Martuneac:

I have spent countless hours developing a very strong argument on many different fronts. I have spent time in the text of Scripture and in exegesis. I have been in the Greek and have carefully made my case.

The "checklist evangelists" on the other hand have asserted much, proof-texted, and have yet to present a case for their position. Their charges keep evolving. They started with:

"Are you saying that someone can be born again apart from understanding the cross of Christ for sin?"

I showed that this was the case with OT saints, with those whom Christ ministered to in the gospels, and the disciples themselves.

Then they made it hinge on two other scriptures: 1 Cor 15:3ff and Romans 10:9, 10. I have written extensively on them. I have answered to everyone of their assertions and questions, but they have not shown the same consideration. They assert much but haven't laid out a single argument.

They quote Scripture as if it alone contradicts my position, yet you do so without an exegetical argument ensuing from the scripture. As if the mere referencing of a text proves anything!

Next they charge that I preach a cross-less gospel, which is a straw-man par excellence. It is nothing but a canard!

We have shown it to be untrue. The gospel I preach heralds passionately the deity of Christ, the death and resurrection of Christ, and numerous other details as well.

But their real contention is that I don't offer as the content of saving faith a series of doctrinal (hamartiology and Christology and soteriology) affirmations. I don't present a pile of information that must be believed in order for one to be truly born again.

I preach the gospel. THEN I present the promise of Jesus Christ to give irrevocable eternal life to all who simply believe in Him to do so.

They call this a radical departure from scripture? I trow not.

They say they frankly wonder why I preach the gospel. I am on record in all the aforementioned posts that I linked to above why I do. The elements in a gospel presentation present Christ as trustworthy, able, authoratative, and sufficient as the sole Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. He is worthy of our faith, He is qualified as our Savior, He is able to make good on His promise, and He is trustworthy so that we can entrust our eternal destiny to Him.

"Checklist Evangelists":

Imagine the final judgment. If you are right, here is a possible scenario before Jesus Christ.

A man is standing before Jesus Christ who did not understand Christ's death on the cross for sins or His resurrection. But having read the gospel of John and hearing Jesus' promise, he entrusted his eternal destiny to Christ by believing into Jesus through His promise to guarantee eternal life to all who believe in Him for it.

When he stands before Christ, He will say to this man:

You entrusted your eternal destiny to Me. You regarded me as the authoratative, sufficient, and unique Personage who dispenses eternal life to all who believed in Me for it. You believed into me as the Resurrection and the Life.

But because you did not understand the payment I made for sins, or how my Resurrection substantiated my substitutionary sacrifice, I must now send you to hell.

You did not follow all the steps and biblical mandates that I gave in order for you to go to heaven. Yes, you believed in Me for eternal life. But you lacked ADDITIONAL faith and understanding in my Person and Work. You must now go to hell.


This is the reductio ad absurdem of their position.

Imagine someone trusting in the name of Jesus Christ but Christ letting him down! GOD FORBID!

"...and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31)

Christ's "name" is everything who He actually is. This "name" represents everything who He TRULY is. Fill in ALL true Christology here: Everything that the Bible reveals Jesus to truly be and have done and everything that Jesus truly is that is not revealed in the Bible (including His substitionary death and resurrection)

It is by virtue of His "name" (everything that He truly is and has done) that we can have eternal life. It is who He is and what He has done that has qualified Him as the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. It is His name that gives Him the authority and the ability to dispense eternal life.

Jesus is uniquely qualified to dispense eternal life by virtue of His name. On this authority He may dispense it to whomever He wishes. It is through His wisdom and council with God the Father that they have decided to dispense eternal life to those and only those who believe in Jesus for this gift.

John 1:12
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name

Acts 4:12
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

1 John 3:23
And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ

Matt 12:21
And in His name Gentiles will trust.

John 3:18
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God

Acts 10:43
To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.

When we believe in the "name" of Jesus Christ for eternal life through the persuasion of the content of the gospel message, we are believing in Him in who He truly is in all capacities, whether or not we understand them or not.

Antonio

8 Comments:

Blogger Antonio said...

To those who do "checklist evangelism":

What I bring out in your position, is that you are pointing men to faith in the wrong things. You are pointing them to hamartiology, Christology, and soteriology as the objects of saving faith. The information that you deem is the contents of saving faith are not untrue doctrine, neither are they non-beneficial to the persuasion of a lost man to entrust their eternal destiny to Jesus Christ. Nor is the information unessential to the growing Christian into sanctification. The point of the matter is believing the gospel as articulated by Paul in 1 Cor 15:3ff falls short of receiving eternal life.

The point of the matter is that the men and women who are the objects of our evangelism can initial at each step of your doctrinal checklist and still remain unsaved. Why?

The assent to the deity of Christ, the death on the cross, and the resurrection does not necessarily lead faith in Christ alone through His promise, whereby He is the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

The basis of the Free Grace position is clarification, specificity, clarity, and precision in what actually the terms of eternal life are.

They obviously cannot be the beliefs that Jesus is God, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that Jesus rose again from the dead, becuase all Christians (except liberals) believe these things yet we would not consider them all saved.

We advocate evangelism as Jesus and Paul did. They couched the promise of eternal life (in other words the terms to receive eternal life, which is faith into Jesus Christ in His promise) in the message of the gospel, which has as one of its purposes, to persuade and convince its hearers that Jesus Christ is worthy, sufficient, authoratative, qualified, and trustworthy to receive our faith in for eternal life.

There is but only one object of faith which is the irreducible minimum to be believed: Jesus Christ in His promise of eternal life to the believer.

A brother in the Lord, who disagrees with my position wrote on another blog:

Just so you know where I am coming from on this, I do not believe that we should focus on a “bare minimum” Gospel. God the Holy Spirit uses us to provide information regarding Christ and His work on the cross and then the Holy Spirit uses that information to convict the unbeliever. We must be prepared to answer all the unbelievers questions regarding salvation and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

This is where the misconceptions of the Free Grace position come into play. Where have you read that we do not focus in on the "information regarding Christ and His work on the cross"? It is sad after spilling so much internet ink and so many hours at the keyboard that this misconception continues to be perpetuated.

Those in Free Grace theology FOCUS VERY CLOSELY on Christ's death and resurrection, His work and His Person when doing evangelism. We answer all the unbelievers questions regarding salvatoin and we let the Holy Spirit do His work.

But, even though we focus very hard on Christ, His work and Person, we do not point to the doctrinal checklist as the content of saving faith.

We FOCUS on the gospel message, but we TARGET our evangelistic hearers on Christ's promise. We POINT men SPECIFICALLY to FAITH in Christ in His PROMISE, which is a guarantee of eternal security to all who merely take Him at His word for it.

It frankly surpises me how much the Free Grace position is continually misaligned, mischaracterized, and misconceived.

I hope now there can at last be some clarity to those who have either intentionally or unintentionally misrepresented the Free Grace position.

Free Gracers FOCUS IN ON THE GOSPEL MESSAGE, the DEITY of CHRIST, the DEATH and RESURRECTION, but TARGET Christ in His promise as the single, simple object of saving faith.

Now you may not agree with my position.

But it should be apparent to all that I do not disparage Christ's deity, His crosswork, or His resurrection. I highly herald it, as does each advocate of Free Grace theology, focusing very hard on it in evangelism, as each advocate of Free Grace theology does.

But we don't point men to doctrine to believe as the TARGET of our evangelism. The TARGET is faith into Jesus Christ in His promise.

Grace and peace to you,

Antonio da Rosa

July 12, 2007 6:57 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

I left you comments on this and your other post on the group blog where you posted them.

July 14, 2007 7:23 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Myers said...

Hi all,

I am having a similar debate on my own blog (at www.tillhecomes.org) as Antonio is having here...and with some of the same people.

All I can say is that Antonio is awesome. His posts are clear and compelling, and his arguments are sound. Those who disagree have not yet been able to provide answers to his questions and critiques of their position. Instead, they simply continue to throw the same rocks over and over and over.

I encouraged those who make comments on my blog to just come read Antonio's. Why reduplicate what he has so well argued here?

Good job Antonio. Keep up the good work.

July 15, 2007 1:30 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Antonio,

I am replying to your question on Jeremy Myers forum, under a thread that may have died off, which is also pertinent to your current post.

I have some thoughts about your current post, but I want to address this "reductio ad absurdum" you keep using about Jesus seeming unrighteous for sending someone to hell if they believed His promise but didn't know anything about the one who made it other than that his name is "Jesus".

You said:

"Do you concede the hypothetical scenario above, whereby men are relegated to hell for lack of knowledge, understanding, or belief in doctrines pertaining to Christ, yet nevertheless sincerely trust in Jesus Christ through His promise, whereby they completely rely upon Him, entrusting their very eternal well-being to Him?"

Your question is based on a false premise.

I will divide your real question from your false premise:

1. Question: Do you concede the hypothetical scenario above, whereby men are relegated to hell for lack of knowledge, understanding, or belief in doctrines pertaining to Christ

Yes, I believe someone must know certain things about Christ other than that his name is "Jesus" to be saved. Rather than resting on the sort of human reasoning you displayed in your "reductio ad absurdum", I am resting on the Word of God.

The Bible teaches there is something called "a different Jesus" (2Cor. 11:4). What that means is NOT that there is some false variation to His name. What it means is that one must believe essential elements about Jesus in order for their faith to rest in the TRUE Jesus.

I believe someone will go to hell if they believe in only what they know as a non-crucified, non-resurrected, non-God Jesus. In that case, they do not believe in the true Jesus. If my next-door neighbor is named "Jesus" and I trust in him to make me stay alive forever based on "a message in a bottle" with John 6:43a and 47, that is not salvation.

2. False premise: yet nevertheless sincerely trust in Jesus Christ through His promise, whereby they completely rely upon Him, entrusting their very eternal well-being to Him?"

Unless they know essential elements about who Jesus Christ is, they do not trust the true Jesus Christ. To you, the only essential element about Jesus for salvation is that there is some entity named "Jesus". This contradicts several passages including 2Cor. 11:4 which talks about "a different Jesus". It also contradicts other passages that indicate we must believe certain things about Jesus for everlasting life.

Some observations about your question:

# 1. Your reductio ad absurdum is simply man-made reasoning, but it is also a two-edged sword that could be applied just as easily to refute your own position. Your reductio ad absurdum goes like this: a person entrusts his "eternal welfare" to Jesus but never believes He died for sins, that He was raised from the dead, that He came in the flesh, and that He is God. You paint a picture on judgment day where Jesus is made to look unrighteous for sending this person to hell since the person believed a promise from a dude named Jesus, but never believed certain essential elements that identify the true Jesus. Well, this sort of reasoning works just as strong against your own position:

Example A: let's say a guy gets John 6:47 in a bottle. Well, John 6:47 doesn't mention the name "Jesus". The guy trusts the promise anyway. He entrusts His eternal life to whoever spoke the message. In the picture you painted, how can Jesus send him to hell?

Example B: GES insists a person must believe in the name "Jesus" for eternal life, even though that is not His name in Aramaic or Greek. But let's say a GES missionary goes out to Fiji and evangelizes to tribal people in mountains. One of the tribal people accepts the GES message of salvation. As a very excited GES convert, he goes to spread the message to another tribe. Only, one problem. He never understood the correct pronounciation of Jesus' name and frankly can't remember His name. So he tells his tribal friends that his name is Yasoosoosibus. He does not tell them anything else about Christ, such as His death, resurrection, deity-humanity, but only that Yasoosoosibus guarantess everlasting life for all who believe in him. Now that is not Jesus' name in Aramaic or Greek or English. But actually, it's actually just a certain amount more distorted off the Greek than the English word "Jesus".

And now, sir, for your man-made reductio ad absurdum:

A man from this tribe in Fiji is standing before Jesus Christ who did not understand Christ’s death on the cross for sins or His resurrection. But having heard from a GES convert about the promise of eternal life, he entrusted his eternal destiny to the promise-maker by believing in Yasoosoosibus through the promise of eternal life for all who believe in Him for it.

When he stands before Christ, He will say to this man:

You entrusted your eternal destiny to Me. You regarded me as the authoratative, sufficient, and unique Personage who dispenses eternal life to all who believed in Me for it. You believed into me as the Resurrection and the Life.

But because you did not understand my name is Iesous, I must now send you to hell.

You did not follow all the steps and biblical mandates that I gave in order for you to go to heaven. Yes, you believed in the promise of eternal life. But you lacked ADDITIONAL faith and understanding in my correct name. You must now go to hell.

# 2. You criticized me for explaining Catholics, for example, do not truly believe "Christ died for sins" because they do not understand His death is the payment for sins, not their works, purgatory, indulgences, ect. But several "explanations" must be made to your own message. For example, the phrase "everlasting life" could mean many things. I said this when I shared the gospel with a Muslim woman once. She seriously asked what this meant. Her conception of it may have been serving as a sex-slave to some Muslim martyr for eternity in Allah's heaven. Other people might think it to mean physical life that goes on forever. People of eastern philosophy might take it to mean assimilation with the cosmos or eternal incarnation. You say "eternal well-being". But if it is an additional "explanation" for me to explain "Christ died for our sins" means that Christ's death was the only payment for our sins, it is also an additional explanation for you to say "eternal well-being". Even that could be understood as physical well being that goes on forever, assimilation into the cosmos, eternal incarnation, or a whole host of other ideas that do not involve reconciliation to the One true God.

#3. You interchanged the word "entrust" and "believe" as if they are both synonyms. Frankly, in the context of a promise, they certainly are. If you personally believe a promise with the intention of receiving the thing promised, you are trusting or entrusting. But Bob Wilkins, quoting Zane Hodges, has come out and said "trust" is not a valid synonym for "believe". If you agree with these men, why the inconsistency?

July 18, 2007 12:14 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Antonio, I already refuted this line of reasoning on Jeremy Myers forum:

"They obviously cannot be the beliefs that Jesus is God, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and that Jesus rose again from the dead, becuase all Christians (except liberals) believe these things yet we would not consider them all saved."

One part of my post stated:

Back to the epistlemological point, your own reasoning contradicts your position on another point. When you suggest that people believe X and remain unsaved, and that therefore, X is not an essential element required for salvation, you are overlooking how this applies to your own position. We could apply that just as well to say “people believe the Savior’s name is ‘Jesus’” yet remained unsaved. Therefore, it is not essential to believe the one who promises eternal life is named “Jesus”. And so, a person just has to believe “someone” promises eternal life via faith alone. That might sound rediculous, but so does your reasoning to me.

It's sad, Antonio, that your arguments are essentially all based on human reasoning rather than the Word of God.

July 18, 2007 12:19 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I can't speak for everyone, but I go to Word of Grace Bible Church and I want to say your "invitation" checklist is a complete misrepresentation of what we believe. I believe the only response to the gospel is to believe it, not to pray a sinner's prayer. Seeing as how we believe repentance is a change of mind inherent to faith, it isn't a separate issue or secondary step or even a word that must always be used in evangelism.

July 18, 2007 12:31 AM  
Blogger Jeremy Myers said...

I've got a little poll going on over at my blog about an evangelistic encounter I had today, and would appreciate your "vote."

You can find it at the Post entitled:
You Be the Judge

Thanks in advance for your input!

July 18, 2007 9:47 PM  
Blogger Paul G said...

Excellent Antonio!
I give you my vote!
It must be said, and you said it loud and clear.

July 19, 2007 4:57 AM  

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