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, August 14, 2007

Free Grace Theology - Majority/Minority Views

Some within Free Grace Theology believe that my position is a minority position. Very well. Grace, in itself, is a minority position in Christendom.

For what some in Free Grace Theology call the 'Majority' the issue is that there are theological requirements in ADDITION to believing in Christ for eternal life that a person must meet before he can receive eternal life. They are conditions that express multiple objects of faith. Without these extra conditions being met, faith in Christ would be invalidated, and one would be lost. They are non-negotionable auxilliary conditions to simple faith in Jesus for eternal life.

The emphasis of the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) and myself is biblical clarity and simplicity in the evangelistic appeal to faith, in other words, the invitation. We wish to evangelize the way Christ did in the book of John, which is the only document in the whole of the Bible that considers itself sufficient to reveal the terms of receiving eternal life. No other bible document does so (!); the others are written with a Christian audience in mind.

Jesus simply states that the believer in Him has everlating life. Jesus guarantees eternal life to every believer. This was His appeal to faith. It should be ours. It is simple, concise, and clear.

I have been FG for many years now. I have heard many appeals and invitations. Lou Martuneac and Larry Moyer, for instance, have people pray for salvation. This is unbiblical and the problems that this can spawn are multitudinous. Ask 10, what some would call, 'Majority' FGers, what the appeal should be, or how should one be brought to Christ at the end of a gospel conversation, you will get 11 answers, all of which have problems that can generate confusion.

If someone believes Jesus in His promise based upon what little they may know about Him, are the headed for hell unless they furthermore assent to ontological details about His person?

I would not want to be in the position of stating that anyone who simply trusted in Jesus for eternal life is lost for lack of understanding or knowledge of things about Him

What does it mean to believe in Jesus, for this 'Majority' position? For you readers out there, please define exactly what it means to 'believe in Jesus' for eternal salvation. Paul says that if one believes in Jesus he will be saved (Acts 16:31). Must 'believing in Jesus' include an assent to an array of orthodox doctrine? Why isn't 'believing in Jesus' simply trust in Someone for a specific purpose?

The appeals to faith by FGers have often times been unfortunately garbed in confusion, ambiguity, unbiblical wording, unbiblical practices, and a complexity that can net very bad results, such as false professions and assurance.

If anyone ought to know how to make appeals and invitations to faith in Christ alone for eternal life, it ought to be the FGers!

The 'minority' position emphasis is the simple fact that anyone who believes in Jesus for eternal life has it. The 'majority' position not only qualifies saving faith in Christ, it leaves much room for confusion, and can be damaging to certain assurance.

Can the 'majority' position find any scripture that contains all the theological conditions that must be met before one has eternal life? Of course not. A string of several scriptures must be put together and even then, there is ambiguity. The 'majority' position contains more than one condition for receiving eternal life. At the very least, there are 5 theological objects of faith making 5 separate conditions for receiving eternal life, all of which must be met: omit one and the faith in the rest are invalidated.

Antonio

PS: Some may take issue with the fact that I state that the 'Majority' puts forth several objects of faith (and quite frankly, they often garble what 'faith in Jesus' really is). Whatever the evangelist puts forward as the 'things that must be believed' necessarily in a sense become the objects of faith. Simple complete reliance upon Jesus for eternal life is not enough. Auxilliary conditions must be met, and faith will be invalidated unless one specifically meets these extra conditions. When the evangelist speaks in so many words, with ambiguities that have implied material, confusion can result.

The 'Majority' position states that one must believe A, B, C, D, E, and F to be saved. If one is required to believe these things, firstly, they are multiple conditions. How many theologically required conditions are there to be saved? Furthermore, if one is told that he must believe these things, they necessarily become objects of faith. This conclusion cannot be escaped and is mere common sense. The majority position requires that these things be believed. If they are believed, they are objects of faith. And if they are required, then they become co-conditions to "believing in Christ".

21 Comments:

Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

Antonio:

You wrote, "I have heard many appeals and invitations. Lou Martuneac and Larry Moyer, for instance, have people pray for salvation."

Would you be so kind as to provide a link to or specific reference to where I have stated or written that I, "have people pray for salvation"?

I just did a word search of my book (In Defense of the Gospel) and there is no such statement as I, "have people pray for salvation."

Have you ever "heard" me give an invitation that included my specifically asking lost, "people (to) pray for salvation?"

If you are unable to provide the references to where I wrote or stated that I "have people pray for salvation, then please try to avoid making this kind of reckless statement.

If you can't document, then do not attribute!


LM

August 14, 2007 8:50 PM  
Anonymous danny said...

Hey Antonio. I saw your comment over at Andrew's blog. I wasn't implying that the majority FG view is right. I think you already know that I hold the minority position like you. Like you said yourself weeks before, the majority do indeed believe that a person must understand various things about Christ before they can savingly believe in Him. I never said that they're right. A person can indeed believe Jesus' promise without understanding other things, though this doesn't happen often.

I agree with you that the bottom line is getting people to believe Jesus' promise. You and I present Jesus' Death and Resurrection and make it clear that those events allow Him to freely give eternal life. We make it clear that they are to believe His promise. Believing His promise is the bottom line.

August 14, 2007 9:07 PM  
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

Antonio:

Your, "pray for salvation" statement is such a broad brush I imagine you can force it into something I wrote in one of well over a thousand articles and posts I have written.

That may make you feel as though you did not cross a line.

In any event, I am looking to see you take the exact statement you attrbuted to me, and direct me to exactly where it appears in print or in an audio recording.

That exact statement is that I, "have people pray for salvation."

LM

August 14, 2007 9:37 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Lou,

this is your statement on soul winning from Unashamed of Grace, June 27, 2007:

Lou's evangelistic scenario includes 'praying to receive Christ'

"The lost man is under conviction, and appears ready to acknowledge his sin and receive Jesus Christ to save him from his sins. So, the soul-winner may ask a series of clarifying questions before inviting him to pray and receive Christ"

August 14, 2007 11:07 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Danny,

you are absolutely right,

but we are charged with a "crossless" gospel. Go imagine that.

When I was first saved, I remember going to a tract rack at my church. It was about 2 weeks after believing in Christ for eternal life. I wanted to share with others the message I had heard.

Upon browsing through the racks, I found a couple that said stuff life:

"Steps to salvation"

and they would list anywhere between 4-6 steps. This was very confusing to me, especially in light of the clear message I heard when I got saved.

I imagine that if I was confused with these gospel tracts that gave such appeals and invitations (and I don't consider myself a dullard) that many people do.

I got so hung up on these tracts that I actually called the church and asked to speak to the senior pastor, Dr. David Jeremiah. Of course they didn't put him on. But they put some other pastor on, and he didn't know coffee from tea when it came to gospel specifics.

I learned very quickly that we are entrusted with a message that has life and death consequences. Is God obligated to honor an ambiguous, confusing, and in often cases, misleading (at the least) appeal to salvation, and save these individuals in spite of the erroneous understandings that they have because of such appeals?

The Bible states that only those who specifically believe in Jesus by way of His promise have eternal life. If they are not in understanding that this is the single condition by which they may freely receive eternal life, we have not done our work in evangelism, but have failed.

God forbid that I should not preach the cross of Christ, its significance, and its sacrifice.

But God forbid even stronger if I do not clearly explain the simple condition whereby one receives the gift of eternal life.

Thanks for your friendship and fellowship in the gospel, Danny.

Antonio

August 14, 2007 11:22 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

This is Lou from His website

October 31, 2006
The Rich Young Ruler


"When I lived in Florida there was a period time when I was witnessing to a young man who worked at a fast food restaurant. His name was Tom and he was interested in spiritual things. My wife remembers how I would visit Tom late at night, actually in the hours just after midnight, at his restaurant and we would pour over the Bible. I was very clear about his sin, God’s wrath and his need to repent and by faith receive Jesus Christ as his only hope for salvation. After a number of weeks Tom prayed to receive Christ as his personal Savior."

August 14, 2007 11:29 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hodges, with whom I agree, says:
----------
Notice please! I have not asked him to pray, or to make a decision for Christ, or to do any of the many other things people often ask the unsaved to do.

All I have done is to ask if he has understood the truth we have discussed, and I have asked if he believes it. I absolutely insist that this is all the personal worker needs to do. I am encouraging the unsaved person to believe, but I can’t make him do that.

If he does believe, a prayer is unnecessary. If he doesn’t, a prayer will be confusing since I may direct him to say things he can’t yet understand or believe, because God has not yet opened his heart.

I should know about this problem. You see, when I was a little boy, I went forward in a meeting and said a prayer before I really understood what I was doing. Actually I was saved years later. But that prayer confused me, because I spent years wondering if I got saved when I prayed it. The pastor even thought I had because he came to visit my mother and told her so. But I wasn’t sure at all.

I now realize that no one is saved by praying a prayer. They are saved when they understand God’s offer of eternal life through Jesus and believe it. That’s when people are saved. And that’s the only time when people are saved. All of the excess baggage that we bring into our encounter with unsaved sinners is just that, excess baggage!
----------

August 14, 2007 11:31 PM  
Anonymous danny said...

Thanks Antonio. I'm also displeased with Evantell tracts that tell people to pray a prayer. FG people should definitely know better than that. The best way to write a tract is to give all the essential info on Christ, and then point specifically to His promise of eternal life, and make it clear that people are saved when they believe Christ's promise of eternal life. Right on Antonio.

I've read your story about the tracts at Shadow Mountain Church before. I think it's great that you saw the problem with those tracts after being a believer for only two weeks. I spent ages 14-17 in Charismatic Arminian churches. I was constantly praying for salvation for three years, being told by everyone that Romans 10:13 was the way to be saved. After discovering GES at age 18, everything changed! At some point I became convinced that I had irrevocable eternal life through Christ. I believed His promise. Bob, Zane, and you Antonio, led me to faith in Christ! Your messages at the GES message board were instrumental in helping me see the passive nature of faith and the simplicity of His promise. You're one of my inspirations Antonio. I'm 25 now, strongly FG for the past seven years.

August 15, 2007 1:09 AM  
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

Antonio:

You are, as I predicted, forcing something I said into what you want to attribute to me as having said.

You wrote, "I have heard many appeals and invitations. Lou Martuneac and Larry Moyer, for instance, have people pray for salvation."

I asked you to show me where I said/wrote that I, "have people pray for salvation."

Until you do that, you are twisting statements!

A few weeks ago you asked me why Sharper Iron will not let you post there. This kind of recklessness is exactly why you get banned and warned at other sites.

That said, I will give you benefit of the doubt in that you did not intentionally seek to misrepresent me by attributing to me what I did NOT write.

If you are going to attribute statements to another man you need to be precise and provide the sources. This you have NOT done in this article.

If you want to do the right thing and be honest with quoting and documentation, you need to retract or revise the statement in the article you attribute to me (and probably Dr. Moyer as well).


LM

August 15, 2007 9:28 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Lou,

There is no difference between saying "pray for salvation" and "pray to receive Christ". They are functionally the same. And unless you can make a persuasive case to distinguish the two, the comments stand.

Inviting someone to pray for salvation, or pray to receive Christ, is just the sort of garble, wish-wash, erroneous, unbiblical, and confusing appeal/invitation that I have been speaking against.

No one prays to receive Christ!

One merely "believes in His name" and he passively receives Christ (see John 1:12). One receives Christ when they believe in Him for eternal life.

The terms for receiving eternal life are clear: faith alone in Jesus alone. No one needs to pray to do so. And to invite someone to "pray to receive Christ" as your appeal or invitation of your gospel is to "invite" confusion.

Antonio

August 15, 2007 10:18 AM  
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 15, 2007 1:03 PM  
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

Antonio:

I hoped you would have made right a wrong. When you can't document, do not attribute.

In any event, the idea of lost man not needing to know he is a sinner, that Christ died for his sins, that He rose again and still the lost man can be born again is the height of a reductionist, disregard for the plain teaching of Scripture. (See 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Romans 10:9-10.)

The position you arrive at is due in part to viewing John's Gospel is such a way that for you it entirely negates the rest of the Bible on the Gospel and salvation.

It is unfortunate that you have adopted such gross error. I am not so naive to think you can be recovered from this egregious error overnight. Although the Holy Spirit is able to teach and correct, and I am hopeful He will one day show that you have adopted an extreme error coming from Zane Hodges.

Lord willing, as more men come out with the biblical answers to this out-of-balance view of the Gospel, no more unsuspecting Christians will be swept up into Hodges’ erroneous interpretation of the Gospel of Grace.


LM

August 15, 2007 1:21 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Lou,

Since you have not enlightened me to the difference between inviting people pray to receive Christ and inviting them to pray for salvation, I believe my comments are on the mark. I would imagine that any impartial party would agree.

I have sufficiently documented that you invite people to pray for salvation by praying to receive Christ. What is praying to receive Christ but praying for salvation?

I will continue to fight for clarity and biblical precicion in the appeal to faith. I suggest that you rethink your unbiblical practice of inviting people to "pray to receive Christ".

Antonio

August 15, 2007 3:22 PM  
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

Antonio/All:

Maybe I was slow, but now I understand what you are interpreting my "pray to receive Christ" comment to mean.

Let me clarify so that you (and others) do not continue with a misunderstanding of what I believe about prayer and salvation.

For the Record: Uttering a prayer of any kind does NOT SAVE ANYBODY!

When you wrote that I, “have people pray for salvation,” I strongly objected, because prayer does not save. I have never told a lost person that praying a “sinner’s prayer” will save him from sin, death and Hell.

My comment, “pray to receive Christ,” could be taken to convey an untruth, and it can be construed as though a prayer results in salvation. I know what I meant when I used that phrase, its use is fair commonly, and I don't automatically assume the worst when I hear it from other men. Never did it mean to me that a prayer to receive Christ was the instrument of salvation. That is works, and it is wrong.

To reiterate for the public record: I do NOT believe the act of prayer saves anybody.

Thank you for showing me that my terminology in those isolated incidences was not theologically sound.


LM

PS: I have edited the article The Rich Young Ruler to revise that confusing statement.

August 16, 2007 4:47 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Lou,

That was very humble of you. Inviting people to pray to receive Christ is an unbiblical appeal to faith. The quote of Zane Hodges in this comment thread illustrates this.

I would be thoroughly interested to hear how you do evangelism, and especially know how you lead someone to Christ at the appeal/invitation phase of it.

This appeal, invitation phase of evangelism is of great concern to the GES and myself. What is foggy from the evangelist is confused garble to the recipient.

Antonio

August 16, 2007 5:05 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
Majority and minority distinctions have no bearing on the truth. We must find the answers in the Bible. As long as we are basing our thoughts and positions on the Bible, we should arrive at the truth and then speak it in love. If we are on different pages, at least we are in the same book.

God bless.

August 17, 2007 12:16 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Rose,

Thanks for dropping by. I am always glad when you take the time to read my posts.

If we are on different pages, at least we are in the same book.

I believe I know what you are getting at. This is a clever saying, indeed. Clarity, precision and simplicity is the key, and people on different pages struggle here.

Are the different pages telling of different ways to do evangelism?

Antonio

August 17, 2007 4:52 PM  
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

Antonio:

Can a lost man be born again while
consciously denying the Deity of Jesus Christ if he believes in Jesus for eternal life?


LM

August 20, 2007 4:42 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Lou,

If a man were to believe that Jesus was the Christ and had given him eternal life by faith alone - yet he did not at all know or understand Jesus' death for sins and His resurrection - is his faith invalid so that he remains unsaved?

August 20, 2007 7:49 PM  
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 21, 2007 4:49 AM  
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

Antonio:

Try to show some genuine integrity and answer a question with an ANSWER.

Your misdirect tactic plainly indicates a theolgical loophole that you are trying to open for the purpose of evading an issue you'd rather not face squarely.

You would have at least preserved some integrity had you altogether ignored the question I posed.

One more attempt:

Antonio: Can a lost man be born again while
consciously denying the Deity of Jesus Christ if he believes in Jesus for eternal life
?


LM

August 21, 2007 4:51 AM  

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