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)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Are We Robbed of John 3:16? -- What does "believing in" Jesus really mean?

Introduction
What does it mean to “believe in” Jesus in its Johannine, soteriological sense? Is the answer simple or complex? Can it be arrived at easily, or does one have to do hours of research and write a series of journal articles to reach an answer? Will it be a response of common sense, or will the solution require a dissertation? Will it be sufficient to view one verse in context, or must we paste together a plethora of loosely associated verses and considerations?

Preliminary Considerations
When we use the colloquial expression "I believe in [somebody or something]" or "I trust [somebody or something]" it is shorthand for a much more precise and specific articulation. If I said, "I believe in the airline pilot" or equally it could be stated, "I trust the airline pilot," the intended meaning is clear: "I believe that the airline pilot is qualified and will get me from point a to point b safely." Or it could equally be articulated as, "I trust the airline pilot is qualified and will get me to my destination safely." In all of this it is important to note that each time we use the phrases, "I believe in _______," and "I trust ________," we have a specific content in mind, in other words, we are believing and trusting in someone/something for something specific and precise.

Now I really do want to emphasize the aforementioned (it cannot be overemphasized!) and I wish to discuss in the comment thread your objections to what I have stated. If you object, please give me an example that makes an exception to the above rule.

If I said the expression, "I trust the babysitter" it does not mean that I trust her in everything! I would not entrust her with my taxes or rely upon her for medical diagnosis. Nor does it imply that I know everything (or even the most major things!) about her that makes her qualified. It simply means that I have (through whatever communication or consideration) been persuaded that she is trustworthy. Obviously what is intended by this somewhat general sounding expression is in reality something very specific and precise: "I believe that the babysitter is well-qualified and able to sufficiently care for my children in a mature, responsible, and safe manner." We cannot take this any other way! These types of phrases are not used in any other way. These somewhat general sounding phrases are colloquial and in actuality convey implied, specific content based upon the context of the situation in which they are expressed and/or the named object(s) itself/themselves.

Contextual Consideration
Dr. J.B. Hixson, Executive Director of the Free Grace Alliance, states, “Many texts clearly explain the Christian gospel (John 1:12; 3:16, 36; 5:24; 6:47; etc.).” Taken from, “What is the Gospel?” (http://www.hixson.org/docs/Soteriology/What%20is%20the%20Gospel.pdf) Therefore, I wish to choose one of those texts that, according to Dr. Hixson, “clearly explains the Christian gospel.” Let us look at the ever famous John 3:16:

Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ, Son of God, the King of Israel, said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 (NKJV)


What is “believing in” Jesus shorthand for? What is the specific content of that belief? In a nutshell, according to the context, "believing in Jesus" means believing that Jesus gives me eternal life and I will not perish, or equally, trusting in Jesus for eternal life and deliverance from perishing. Essentially, “believing in Jesus” is entrusting one’s eternal destiny to Him; it is certain reliance upon Him for the promised result. It really is this simple, and as such lies unencumbered by any additional caveats or qualifications.

Much like:
  • Believing in the babysitter
  • = trusting the welfare of your children into the hands of the babysitter, and
  • Believing in the airline pilot
  • = trusting your own welfare into the hands of the airline pilot

  • Believing in Jesus
  • = trusting your eternal welfare into the hands of Jesus

    This is not complicated and it is not rocket science. Jesus states that anyone who simply and certainly relies upon Him for his eternal welfare is eternally secure.

    Facilitation of “believing in” Jesus
    This brings us to the question: Why would anyone become persuaded that Jesus could be relied upon for one’s eternal well-being? In a nutshell, understanding that Jesus is authorized, qualified, able, and willing to impart eternal life to all who simply “believe in” Him for it can persuade someone to believe in Jesus in the manner as we have so described above. No one can (or will) put their faith in Jesus unless they are first convinced that what He has promised He can and will indeed perform. Therefore, those who are the objects of our evangelistic conversations must be apprised of information that substantiates Jesus’ ability to impart eternal life to all who entrust themselves to Him. Pragmatically speaking, there may be a wide range of things that are absolutely necessary for the objects of our evangelism to understand and assent to in order to come to faith in Jesus. Therefore it behooves us to be liberal with information.

    Let me make a simple illustration.

    Imagine that I am in need of a reliable, qualified, and appropriate nanny. The simple testimony of a friend’s firsthand experiences with a particular person may be sufficient to persuade me to trust that specific nanny, but then again, it may not. I may need to see lists of educational credentials and employment references, and hold a few interviews with the candidate before I entrust my little ones to this person. Such will depend on my psychological makeup, the subjective factors of my personality, and other variables. But as soon as I am convinced of the qualifications of this nanny, I will believe in her, in other words, trust her.

    A single doubt about this person has the potential to preclude me from trusting her. Several doubts will make it even harder. If I don’t believe that she actually graduated with a child development degree from Harvard, as her resume states, trust in the person is precluded.

    The same goes with believing in Jesus for eternal life. Men and women will need to be persuaded and assent to a varying number of preliminary and supportive facts about Jesus and themselves before they will become convinced that Jesus’ promise is sure. The amount of information psychologically needed to become persuaded of Christ’s authority and ability to execute His promise is different with everyone. But just as someone can become convinced of the reliability of a nanny with the simple testimony of a friend, so it is possible that there are people out there who can become convinced of Christ’s reliability based upon a small amount of evidence, though we can confidently say that this is not the norm.

    An illustration of such a thing is found in John 4:

    “And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’” – John 4:39 (NKJV)


    Many of the Samaritans of Sychar “believed in” (pisteuw eis) Jesus based solely on the testimony of the immoral and adulterous woman, who stated, “Can this be the Christ?” and said, “He told me all that I ever did.” I admit, again, that this is not a normal occurrence, and that an average person will need to necessarily understand and assent to a varying number of preliminary considerations, in other words, psychological requirements.

    There are several things that I personally do not fail to share with those whom I have evangelistic conversations with. These elements will be the subject of an upcoming post.


    Final Question
    John 3:16 was stated by Jesus around three years before His essential, substitutionary death on the cross for the sins of mankind. He stated to His audience that anyone at that time who “believed in” Him had everlasting life and would not perish. In other words, anyone who entrusted their eternal destiny to Him would have everlasting life and never perish. This was His promise. This is the most used evangelistic verse in the whole Bible. Does this promise still apply to the present time? If it does not, then those of the Traditional Free Grace position necessarily, in some sense, misuse it (if they use it at all), for in line with their position, it is necessarily an inadequate passage relating to lost man the core consideration in the reception of eternal life*. How is it misused? When the statement was given by Jesus, it was a sufficient summary and promise providing for Nicodemus the unadulterated condition for receiving eternal life. Since, for the TFG saving faith includes many more conditions than simply “believing in” Jesus as articulated above, they cannot apply John 3:16 with its intended meaning and usage in context. They necessarily would need to supplement it with a variety of other additional information not contained therein.

    If asked the question:

    Is John 3:16 a sufficient invitation, summarizing the core appeal to men for the reception of eternal life?

    The TFG necessarily have to answer: No.
    But Refined Free Grace theology uncomplicatedly answers: Yes.


    Conclusion
    The bottom line in the ongoing debate between the branches of Free Grace theology is not an issue of what needs to be presented to the lost in the way of information which lifts Jesus up as the authoritative, qualified, and able Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him – as I would certainly agree with all Free Grace people that it should include the many elements that they require as objects and/or contents of saving faith. The crucial issue is the meaning of “believing in” Jesus in a soteriological sense. Does “believing in” Jesus in the soteriological sense (you know, faith alone in Christ alone) have the same meaning now as it did in each usage in the Gospel of John?

    Let us observe some pertinent points:

    1) The Gospel of John was written, by most evangelical scholars’ estimations, in the 90s, which makes it one of the last two books written in our canon. If by the time it was written, “believing in” Jesus meant something different than articulated in the book, it would have behooved John to clearly and unambiguously said so (it would have been quite simple for him!).
    2) The Gospel of John is the only book in the canon that has the express written purpose of being evangelistic
    3) The Gospel of John does not qualify its examples of pre-cross evangelism in its post-cross conclusion
    4) “The simple fact is that the whole Fourth Gospel is designed to show that its readers can get saved in the same way as the people who got saved in John’s narrative. To say anything other than this is to accept a fallacy. It is to mistakenly suppose that the Fourth Gospel presents the terms of salvation incompletely and inadequately. I sincerely hope no grace person would want to be stuck with a position like that.” (Zane Hodges, “How to Lead People to Christ, Part 1”)

    The bottom line is not information, as we will all basically agree on what information should be told to the objects of our evangelism. The bottom line is clarity in our evangelistic appeals/invitations. Can we legitimately use verses such as John 3:16; 6:47; 11:25-26, etc. as our simple appeal to faith after lifting up Jesus by our evangelistic conversations? Refined Free Grace says, “yes!” TFG cannot, for they esentially rob it of its sufficient and authoratative decree. It simply is not complete as an evangelistic invitation in their position.


    * As a matter of fact, there is not even one verse or passage that clearly articulates a statement providing all that is necessary to be saved in the view of TFG, this necessarily including John 3:16 and Acts 16:31. There is no verse that states, for example, “Believe that Jesus was man, that Jesus was God, that Jesus died a substitutionary death on the cross, that Jesus rose bodily from the dead, and believe in Jesus’ works then you have 1) eternal life, 2) eternal salvation or 3) eternal justification"

    204 Comments:

    Blogger Trent said...

    Antonio, I believe you make a good point and I look forward to the discussion that should follow.

    October 29, 2007 6:40 PM  
    Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

    Antonio,

    I would like to comment on the following statement in which you say:

    "The bottom line is clarity in our evangelistic appeals/invitations. Can we legitimately use verses such as John 3:16; 6:47; 11:25-26, etc. as our simple appeal to faith after lifting up Jesus by our evangelistic conversations? Refined Free Grace says, “yes!” TFG cannot, for they esentially rob it of its sufficient and authoratative decree. It simply is not complete as an evangelistic invitation in their position."

    I am wondering why you didn't include John 20:30-31 in the aforementioned Johannine scriptures? You did say "etc.", but I think you would agree that this passage is THE KEY EVANGELISTIC PASSAGE in John's Gospel narrative! Indeed, you write: "The Gospel of John is the only book in the canon that has the express written purpose of being evangelistic." If this is so, why didn't you cite THE KEY EVANGELISTIC JOHANNINE PASSAGE in your list of verses? If it is so IMPORTANT shouldn't we explain how it fits into our theology? Shouldn't we AT LEAST REFERENCE IT somewhere in our discussion? Especially when "The bottom line is clarity in our evangelistic appeals/invitations." Our answer is in the Bible, and in the Gospel of John, and in chapter 20, and in verses 30-31! Let's consider these! Let's focus on these! So how does it John 20:30-31 fit into your theology?

    October 29, 2007 8:50 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Hi Antonio
    The TFG would argue that John 20:30-31 the title Son of God has to be believed also in the sense of Jesus divinity. They would argue that the women at the well had this understanding of Jesus. That He not only was the Christ but was the Son of God. Let’s say she did have this understanding. But it’s without dispute that she did not understand the cross. So in TFG argument for the diety of Christ MUST be believed. If they are to be consistent they must say that the death, burial and resurrection does not have to be believed. Unless they argue the case that we can’t be saved the same way as the women at the well. Thus arguing for progressive revelation. And if this is the case, then the scriptures that you gave (John 3:16;5:24;6:47;11:25-27) would not be sufficient for eternal salvation. One could not believe Jesus simple promise in John 6:47 for eternal life. Thus TFG has changed the living water.
    blessings alvin

    October 29, 2007 9:26 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    I believe Zane Hodges in his message “Water That Produces Water” makes a strong case that the living water is the knowledge of Jesus person. That He is the Christ the One who guarantees everlasting life and with faith this knowledge springs up into eternal life. Zane argues that a spring is a source. And then goes on to ask “what could Jesus give the women at the well that would produce everlasting life?” He could give her the knowledge of His person. Then Zane goes on to ask “would this knowledge produce everlasting life?” Zane says “you bet.” Look at John 20:31b “that you might have life IN HIS NAME.” Zane goes on to show the Apostle John’s definition of “the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus gives the definition to Martha of what it means to believe in Him as the Christ, the Son of God.
    John 11:25-27 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
    Folks this is what it means to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.
    The women at the well was asking Jesus about His person when she said: “I know that Messiah is coming” who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Folks this was her way of asking Jesus if He was the Christ? And He gave her that living water that produces everlasting life by telling her. “I who speak to you am He.” With faith this living water sprang up in her into everlasting life!
    The living water hasn’t changed, it is the knowledge of Jesus person and with faith springs up into everlasting life!
    Blessings alvin

    October 29, 2007 11:13 PM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Antonio I really don’t have anything new to argue with and I hope you’ll forgive me because I’m certain we’ve discussed the Samaritan woman before but I couldn’t remember your position or find our discussion anywhere.

    If I recall correctly I had pointed out that the Samaritans did not believe in the resurrection. Old timers disease kicks in from there. Could I trouble you to discuss this once more or could you point me to where our previous discussion was?

    October 30, 2007 12:29 AM  
    Blogger Jim said...

    Antonio, obviously John 3:16 is still valid and applicable in the gospel presentation.

    It has been the focus of much ridicule by athiests, and traditionalist's alike.

    Perhaps before the offer of grace can be made though, there needs to be some groundwork laid; a foundation on which to rest the doctrine of free grace.

    Until a person sees their lost state as a hopeless sinner before a holy and just God, and trembles at the wrath abiding upon them, they will do one of two responses.

    1. They will either attempt to justify themselves by good works and reformation, or...

    2. They will see the grace of God as a license to sin with full immunity.

    Therefore we are remiss to offer the gift to a person who has not demonstrated a conviction from the Holy Spirit. Otherwise why would a man believe in Jesus, unless he sees his utter hopeless apart from Christ.

    Why do we need a Saviour if we do not realize we are lost? These verses grant us the assurance that our salvation is based on the promise of God's word alone and not our efforts at holiness or any such thing.

    God bless,
    Jim

    October 30, 2007 7:06 AM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    Hey Trent,

    thanks! You know, nothing is precluding YOU from participating! I was impressed by your Free Grace prowess on our trip to India. You have something to share!

    Antonio

    October 30, 2007 8:42 AM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    Hey Jonathan,

    Always a pleasure.

    To answer your question:

    The subject matter of this post is the usage of John's unique, technical expression, pisteuo eis, "believ[ing] in" Jesus. John 20:30-31 is not unrelated. But let us not jump the gun. These expressions, such as John 3:16, in their context, are self contained evangelistic appeals. As the text of my post states concerning John 3:16:

    When the statement was given by Jesus, it was a sufficient summary and promise providing for Nicodemus the unadulterated condition for receiving eternal life.

    Jonathan,

    do you believe that John 3:16 is a sufficient and authoratative decree providing for lost man in this time the unadulterated condition for receiving eternal life, viz. "believing in" Jesus? Is John 3:16 for another age?

    I am going to spend some time on John 20:31 in future posts. Yet, this post stands as a sufficient, self-contained treatise, even apart from the consideration of John 20:31. Why? We are discussing the usage of John's technical phrase, by which he denotes saving faith: pisteuo eis, in its contextual usages within his evangelistic treatise.

    These technical expressions meant something to those who they were given to -- in the instance of John 3:16, it was Nicodemus -- and they stand in John's gospel as self-sufficient articulations of the condition for eternal life: "beleiving in" Jesus.

    I have shown, in the context of where this technical expression is used, what "believing in" Jesus means. I have yet to hear from you that my conclusion on the matter is erroneous.

    Let us discuss this post as it stands, and when I get to posting on John 20:31, we can discuss it -- how these technical expressions of "believing in" Jesus inform our understanding of John's purpose statement. John 20:31 must necessarily be interpreted in the light of John's (and Jesus') evangelistic expressions; especially the technical phrase: pisteuo eis, which is unique to John.

    I have spoken at some length concerning John 20:31 already in the post: 'Whoever [simply] believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God' Do you believe this? And I look forward to considering that verse far greater.

    This post brings up many points that I wish to discuss with you, being my Free Grace brother on the other side of the debate. Point out to me what you consider the errors in my post. Bring up for discussion those things you believe are faulty reasonings.

    Let's not jump the gun. Let us stay on topic on this particular post in its specific material, and not jump ahead to another,though admittedly related, consideration.

    Let us expend our focus, for the time being, on the articulations and arguments of this post.

    I spent many hours yesterday constructing this post. I woudld find it honoring and considerate to discuss the merits of this post, rather than chasing a rabbit and red herring, which will, for would, for the time being, distract our attention from the merits of this post

    Looking forward to the discussion,

    Antonio

    October 30, 2007 9:06 AM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    Hey Alvin,

    Thanks for your comment. I agree with just about everything you said, except this phrase:

    "[the TFG] have changed the living water"

    You would have to be more precise and articulating than that.

    In all fairness, I would restate it to say:

    the TFG must necessarily discard the pre-cross, self-contained expressions of saving faith in the Gospel of John (such as John 3:16), as they were inteded to be given by Jesus in their contexts

    By their position, the living water in John 4, in the way it is offered, is insufficient.

    Antonio

    October 30, 2007 9:11 AM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    Hey Casey,

    thanks for your comments and that you have read my post

    You stated:

    If I recall correctly I had pointed out that the Samaritans did not believe in the resurrection.

    Where (and how) have you come to that certain conclusion? (and even if I, for the sake of argument, agreed with that, how does that affect things?)

    Antonio

    October 30, 2007 9:15 AM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    Jim,

    Nice to see you around! Long time, no talk. Thanks for the comments.

    the question is not:

    Is John 3:16 still valid and applicable in the gospel presentation?

    It is:

    Is John 3:16 a sufficient and self-contained evangelistic appeal and invitation providing for us the condition for receiveing eternal life ("believing in" Jesus) as it was so used by Jesus with Nicodemus?

    I have touched on the spirit of your comments when I stated this in the post:

    The same goes with believing in Jesus for eternal life. Men and women will need to be persuaded and assent to a varying number of preliminary and supportive facts about Jesus and themselves before they will become convinced that Jesus’ promise is sure.

    I hope that suffices to validate your comments.

    blessings to you!

    Antonio

    October 30, 2007 9:21 AM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    I wanna read this carefully, I really do.

    October 30, 2007 10:07 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Hi Jim.

    I am still pretty new at this blog stuff, but going to try and jump in here.

    you said "Perhaps before the offer of grace can be made though, there needs to be some groundwork laid; a foundation on which to rest the doctrine of free grace."

    I believe this is exactly where You, Antonio and I would agree. Most times, you will need to tell someone more then John 3:16 before the Holy Spirit convinces them of the Truth of John 3:16, though I believe that some, like a child might not need more. The question is not what I may need to share with someone to convince them that Christ can give them eternal life, but what must I do to have eternal life.

    It was extremely clear in India as we gave the gospel and shared how Christ died for them, many times they were leaning forward, wanting to know what that meant to them. How could they appropriate what they had done? When I explained it was a free gift, that he had done it all, and alls they needed to do was trust them for it, the joy many times shown almost like light from their faces.

    Jim says "Until a person sees their lost state as a hopeless sinner before a holy and just God, and trembles at the wrath abiding upon them, they will do one of two responses.

    1. They will either attempt to justify themselves by good works and reformation, or...

    2. They will see the grace of God as a license to sin with full immunity."

    As a child, I had no idea about any of this. My mother told me about a God who loved me and sent his son to die so that I did not have to and if I trusted in him I would have eternal life. Done.

    I did not know Jesus was God, I did not understand justification or sanctification or good works or sinning with immunity. I did believe John 3:16. According to Jesus, I had eternal life and I would never perish.

    #1 we agree. That person is not saved if they are not Trusting in Jesus Christ for eternal life, they are not saved.

    #2 is irrelevant for this discussion. They either have believed and have eternal life or they have not. If they have, then the discussion would change to how they will learn, hopefully by being discipled but possibly by being disciplined that they are not immune to punishment for Sin.

    Jim Says "Therefore we are remiss to offer the gift to a person who has not demonstrated a conviction from the Holy Spirit. Otherwise why would a man believe in Jesus, unless he sees his utter hopeless apart from Christ.

    Why do we need a Savior if we do not realize we are lost? These verses grant us the assurance that our salvation is based on the promise of God's word alone and not our efforts at holiness or any such thing. "

    I think I answered this above already. And of course, regardless of what a person might say, we don't know what they feel. They might say, "I don't need a savior" but if they will sit still and listen, I will share the gospel anyway, including Rom 3:23. As we covered at the beginning, some might need to be convicted, but are you adding to belief for salvation, a conviction of being a sinner?

    Grace and Truth,

    Trent

    October 30, 2007 10:53 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    P.S. yes, lets try and keep on topic.. *looks back to see how he did* :) I see these to often go off into left field instead of the participants covering the topic at hand. I hope I am not guilty of that...

    October 30, 2007 10:57 AM  
    Blogger Jim said...

    Antonio,

    I enjoyed reading your posts from India. That is really exciting and challenging.

    I agree with your premise here. If I believe in Jesus for eternal He will grant it. But there is definitely more to the story than that. My belief in Him is based upon knowing Who He is and why He has the ability to fulfill such a promise.

    Ultimately faith is simply trusting Christ alone for our salvation. It is the Word of God that brings about this faith.

    October 30, 2007 1:06 PM  
    Blogger Jim said...

    Trent,

    Conviction of sin does not save us. Why would I need the offer of eternal life Jesus grants if I did not see the alternative? If I realize without His free gift of grace I would be headed for hell, than the gift becomes much more precious.

    Conviction is simply the realization that our sin has condemned us. Faith is trusting Christ alone to merit us eternal life.

    Let's use an analogy:

    Consider the man who living on a remote island all his life has never been exposed to the gospel, the word of God, or any moral teaching.

    One day a bottle washes up on the beach with the single verse of John 3:16.

    While it is true that he may place his trust in God's only begotten Son and believe in Him for eternal life, he would none the less be left with many questions. Further, his sin would not have been addressed as the reason God had to send His Son.

    I don't think any of us stand or fall on one verse, no matter how complete that verse may be. Thankfully we have been given the whole revelation of Who Jesus Christ is.

    October 30, 2007 1:22 PM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    Hey Jim,

    Your last comment to me lines up to what I have posted in this article. Saving faith is nothing more than believing in Christ to secure one's eternal welfare. One will necessarily have to come to a positive conclusion, based upon his own cogitations and/or communication, on the authenticity of Christ's promise, and why such a matter is important in the first place.

    Now on to what you say to Trent:

    I don't think any of us stand or fall on one verse, no matter how complete that verse may be.

    There are several passages in the gospel of John that stand as self-contained and self-sufficient articulations of the condition for eternal life: "beleiving in" Jesus. "Believing in" Jesus in the sense that I have expounded in my article is the whole will of God on the matter of how one receives eternal life. Therefore, in this sense, we may stand or fall on these passages.

    But when it comes to the myriad other considerations (any other consideration beside the concise will of God on how one receives eternal life), I would agree with you: we have the whole testimony of Scriptures.

    I am sure that in all sides of the debate would agree that what Jesus told Nicodemus was sufficient and self-contained, giving to him the whole counsel of God pertaining to the specific and precise issue of how to have one's eternal welfare secured: by "beleiving in" Jesus.

    The questions now are:

    Does this apply to the present age?
    or do we have to supplement Christ's evangelistic examples by a number of other doctrinal considerations (along with their subpoints)?

    If it is the latter, it would be less than sincere to use John 3:16 in the appeal to faith (and more than confusing and less than sincere to use it in our evangelistic presentations), for it does not contain the information that the TFG consider is theologically necessary to assent to in order to exercise saving faith.

    Anyone can see what Jesus meant to Nicodemus when he said the words of John 3:16. Jesus was telling him that if Nicodemus wanted to be eternally secure that he must entrust that eternity into the hands of Jesus. Simple as that! No other considerations. It is a sufficient testimony on how to receive eternal life, without the additional doctrinal stipulations of TFG.

    So the TFG have to decide something. The meaning of "believes in" Jesus in John 3:16, by taking into account its context, is clear, as articulated in this article. Therefore they have two choices:

    Christ's claim in John 3:16 is insufficient or sufficient in its decree that "whoever believes in" Jesus is eternally secure.

    If they deem it is insufficient, then those who do so have been robbed of John 3:16.

    I am not robbed of John 3:16, and have no dillemma using it. But the TFG, if they were to be consistent, cannot genuinely use the verse. Why?

    For they would have to necessarily use it in a way removed from Jesus' intentions when He said the words therein. Jesus used it to express the condition for everlasting life. TFG could not use it that way, for they are not convinced that simply "beleiving in" Him, in the way Jesus describes for us in John 3:16 is sufficient as saving faith.

    Antonio

    October 30, 2007 2:04 PM  
    Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

    Antonio,

    After reading your comments to me I could echo the title of your post by saying: “Are We Robbed of John 20:30-31?”! Yet, for the sake of expression, edification, and exhortation, I will oblige and limit myself exclusively to John 3:16.

    I have no problem using John 3:16 in Gospel presentations as long as John 3:16 is presented within the broader context of Jesus’ person and crucifixion-resurrection work (as it is in John’s Gospel narrative presentation to a church-age audience). John 3:16 SUPPORTS John’s theme of belief, but I don’t believe it SUMMARIZES that theme. I take issue with the teaching of Zane Hodges when he states that:

    “Inasmuch as the key figures in John’s narrative DID believe in Jesus before they understood His atoning death and resurrection it would have been even more essential for John to state that the content of faith had changed. But of course he does not do this.”

    After spending quite possibly hundreds of hours studying John’s Gospel, it is my firm conviction that Jesus Himself modified the content of belief for eternal salvation as a natural result of His crucifixion and resurrection!

    There is so much more to be said regarding these issues! A roughly 250 word comment does not give nearly enough space to elaborate! In this regard, I have written a roughly 20 page thesis addressing and expounding on these issues that I am asking you post on your blog as per our agreement and consistent with the apostle Paul’s command in 2 Timothy 2:24-26.

    October 30, 2007 2:39 PM  
    Blogger Jim said...

    Antonio,

    I am reminded of that verse that says, "out of the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established".

    Even in creation there were three witnesses. How much more in salvation will God not give us many scriptures to stand upon.

    As christians, we come to John 3:16 with many presuppositions. Even a new babe in Christ who placed faith in Jesus solely on this verse will have questions that need to be answered. They will come back to this verse again and again as their means of assurance, but as the blanks are filled in concerning the person and work of Christ their understanding will grow. They will truly realize why it is the work of grace alone to save them.

    Are we not to preach the whole counsel of God? Does this not include repentance, holiness, etc.

    I guess I am trying to understand why the need to focus on the irreducible minimum time and again?

    How about a post on the way to live godly in Christ Jesus? Justification is merely the starting point for any walk with Christ. Sanctification is where the battle is daily fought.

    October 30, 2007 2:47 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Jim, thank you for your gracious manner. You and I are very close to agreement I think.

    You said "As christians, we come to John 3:16 with many presuppositions. Even a new babe in Christ who placed faith in Jesus solely on this verse will have questions that need to be answered. They will come back to this verse again and again as their means of assurance, but as the blanks are filled in concerning the person and work of Christ their understanding will grow. They will truly realize why it is the work of grace alone to save them."

    AMEN! Yes, I agree totally!

    Jim said "Are we not to preach the whole counsel of God? Does this not include repentance, holiness, etc."

    Yes! But not as part of an evangelistic message.. or at least not the norm. There may be people who need to be called out and have their sin pointed out. There may be prerequisites that certain people require before they Trust in Christ for eternal life, but they are not God's requirements.

    If I am alone on a desert isle, and there is a greek new testament with me, I would need to learn greek to read it and thus be saved. 2 prerequisites right of the bat. I would need to be able to see, and I would need to be able to read greek to have eternal life. silly i know, but I think it helps explain what I mean.

    Jim Said" I guess I am trying to understand why the need to focus on the irreducible minimum time and again?"

    Clarity of the gospel is important so that we give a clear message. Catholics believe in most of what you and I believe. But they do not believe in Christ for eternal life. Its also important (and I know you will agree) so that people base their assurance on God's word and not repentance or remaining faithful, or "gee, I just don't see how the earth was created in 7 literal days" (I have heard Christians teach that you were not a real Christian if you did not believe that. I do, but not everyone does)

    If someone like a JW Believes John 3:16, but cannot be convinced of the Trinity is he saved? If he believes that Christ, the Son of God was the sacrifice for his sins and died for him, and he puts his faith in him for eternal life, do you believe he is going to hell because he does not understand the Trinity?

    If you say no, then most if not all of the people I shared the gospel with in India are going to hell in spite of their belief in Christ which means he lied.

    If the Trinity is required knowledge for Salvation, or that there is only one God, not only is the bible deceiving, and unclear about how to be saved, how can a child believe? Shoot, I still don't understand it. I just know the Bible teaches it, and I know because I have studied it a lot. But I was saved before I studied it.

    Ok sorry Antonio, I am sure I got off topic some where in there. :)

    Love and peace in Christ.

    Trent

    October 30, 2007 3:31 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Jim said "While it is true that he may place his trust in God's only begotten Son and believe in Him for eternal life, he would none the less be left with many questions. Further, his sin would not have been addressed as the reason God had to send His Son.

    I don't think any of us stand or fall on one verse, no matter how complete that verse may be. Thankfully we have been given the whole revelation of Who Jesus Christ is."

    I think you are right on!

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    October 30, 2007 3:34 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Jonathan said "After spending quite possibly hundreds of hours studying John’s Gospel, it is my firm conviction that Jesus Himself modified the content of belief for eternal salvation as a natural result of His crucifixion and resurrection!"

    I have to admit, I am interested in how you came up with this, and would be willing to read your 20 pages, but I can't see how if this takes that much study and documentation, how can it be simple? I know many truths take a lot of study to get to. Revelations and the book of James come to mind but John clearly teaches that those who believe in him for eternal life recieve it. Is there a specific passage you would point to that requires this?

    John could have been a lot clearer, since he wrote it after Christ had died and rose again, and Christ could have clarified it easily as well. "NOW you must trust in me for eternal life, AND believe I died on the cross and rose again." Of course it was not an issue for his disciples, but he knew we would be discussing this now.

    I am sure I will learn a lot from your study. I have never done 20 pages of anything I don't think!

    October 30, 2007 3:55 PM  
    Blogger Jim said...

    Trent,

    I have enjoyed the discussion thus far.

    Certainly knowing all about who Christ is and what the Bible teaches are not essential for salvation. I came to Christ at the age of 12, and out of simple faith placed my trust in Jesus.

    However, it took a couple of years to fully be convinced (in those hours of darkness and doubt) that I was truly saved. How did this occur? By hearing more of the Word, reading the promises of God, and understanding more about the nature and character of God, as well as realizing that my fickle emotions and resolve were no basis for assurance.

    It wasn't until I was 14 that I came under the conviction to be baptized. This in itself was a huge step as I was quite shy and didn't want to publicly make a spectacle of myself.

    However, as a brother counseled me concerning full consecration and being fully committed to the kingdom of God, I realized I had no choice. Obedience required this step.

    We all would love to see everyone that responds to the gospel immediately run full ahead for Christ. I believe this is dependant largely on how much of the Word they are exposed to.

    The process of being discipled is a cooperative relationship between the believer and his Lord.

    Justification happens the moment we believe in Christ for eternal life.

    Sanctification is the process of being transformed by the renewing of our mind, our will submitting to God's will, and our heart loving the Lord without reservation.

    October 30, 2007 4:08 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Jim, I don't think I have much to add. :)

    I and I think Antonio will agree that the rest of the teaching of the New Testament (of which takes up a lot more then the book of John) is extremely important.

    There are encouragement to strive for rewards, and extreme warnings to Believers to be faithful and to not persevere in sin. But thats off topic for this post. :)

    October 30, 2007 4:13 PM  
    Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

    Hey Trent,

    Yes, the focus of my study in the Gospel of John was chapter 20. Like I said in my previous comment, there is so much more I could say but space does not allow right now. I believe Antonio will oblige my request that he post my paper since it is an interaction with Zane Hodges, and we had agreed to this in the past.

    October 30, 2007 4:59 PM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Antonio,

    Perhaps it was for the sake of argument but I cannot find it anywhere. That being the case I would like to offer my arguments once more for your critique. I know you are embroiled in numerous debates and I do not wish to try your patience. I will offer my argument here and when you can find time to respond I will be grateful.

    With respect to the Samaritans denial of the resurrection of the dead there are several online sources that offer translations on several original works. You might be persuaded by some listed at http://jewishencyclopedia.com/index.jsp . I searched for “Samaritans Resurrection”. It is my understanding that they held this position until sometime during the 4th century. If you would find me in error on this I would greatly appreciate it. If you find this in fact to be the case then I think a fresh reading of the account of the Samaritan Woman might be in order. I won’t argue from this point at present unless you wish to do so for the sake of argument.

    I appreciate your arguments regarding the reason in trust but when I read in John 4 the account of this woman I find that the Lord Himself stipulated in verse 10 that if she knew who He was then she would have asked for living water. I suppose it could be argued that the only thing she needed to know about Him was that He could give her the water but the events that follow lead me to believe that she accepted He could give it even before she accepted Him as Messiah. In verse 12 the woman questions His ability to do as He had said He could but beginning in verse 13 Jesus only reiterated His statements that He was able. At this point it would seem she was persuaded that He could and in verse 15 she asked Him to give her the living water. Please correct me if I’m wrong but as I understand your position this woman had demonstrated saving faith at this point. Would you say that she was converted at this point?

    I suppose we might haggle over why but the Lord then began to reveal His knowledge of her life. She first perceived He was a prophet and as He continued to speak she began to suspect He was the Messiah and then finally in verse 26 He plainly told her He was. Upon the disciples return the woman left and went into the city where she proclaimed her testimony and what I perceive to be her faith, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”

    Verse 49 records that many in the city believed on Him because of this woman’s testimony that “He told me all that ever I did”. While I suspect it is true of the woman at the well I have no doubt that these trusted in Jesus as Christ the Messiah “because” He revealed Himself to be. I have great doubt concerning their perception of the Messiah and how He might save them and the reality of all that would mean.

    We have a great promise in John 3:16 and it burdens my heart that any might doubt their eternal well-being as a result of failing to comprehend this but these did not have that great promise and I remain persuaded that it is our faith in the Giver and not in the gift that He requires.

    I am confident you know I have no less respect for you due to this disagreement and I am certain you will have a sound argument against my assertion but for the life of me I couldn’t find it or remember it! ;-)

    As always I look forward to anything I might learn from you.


    Your forever fan and brother,

    Kc

    October 30, 2007 5:23 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    KC, We put our trust in the giver for the gift. Like his example of the airplane pilot. We trust the pilot. For what? to get us there. We trust Christ. for what? Eternal life. Antonio is not trying to reduce Christ's part. HE is the giver of eternal life. without faith in him for it, you do not have it. Thankfully, he does not require us to understand everything about him though to trust him for it. If we believe in him, we "have" eternal life.

    Cause = Belief : Object of Belief = Christ : Result = Eternal life

    If this was not your point, sorry to waste bandwidth. I just don't think you guys are disagreeing on that point. :)

    October 30, 2007 6:09 PM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Trent thanks for engaging me on this. I hesitate to offer the following because it is grossly understated but I think it helpful in identifying what I consider the primary distinction between Antonio’s position and mine.

    Where I understand Antonio to say that saving faith is the belief that Jesus administers eternal life to those who believe in Him for it, regardless of one’s understanding of Him, I would say that saving faith is the belief that Jesus administers all things pertaining to God, regardless of one’s understanding of them. I then find Antonio’s position to require that one first be aware of the doctrine of eternal security where I maintain we must first be aware that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God.

    Again I know this is grossly understated but I hope it helps give some clarity to the reason for our discussion.

    October 31, 2007 12:33 AM  
    Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

    Kc,

    "I would say that saving faith is the belief that Jesus administers all things pertaining to God, regardless of one’s understanding of them."

    This probably does not bother you, but this is thoroughly ecumenical theology.

    If what you say is true, then Roman Catholics can be saved without repudiating their false soteriology.

    Catholics believe that all things pertaining to God are found in Christ. They are confused as to how they are administered.

    One simply needs to believe that Christ has secured the things of God.
    One can believe that one needs to be baptized, take the sacraments, obey the church, perservere in holiness. One could still believe that those gifts are withheld until one has come out of purgatory.

    The administration of the gift (justication by faith) is as important as the gift itself.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    October 31, 2007 6:04 AM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Matthew it may be I am not as familiar with Catholicism but I thought it was founded on a sacramental theology and administered through the RCC. Am I in error on that? I am uncertain of your argument in this, if any. In any event I honestly do consider that God can save anyone.

    October 31, 2007 9:19 AM  
    Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

    Yes, Roman Catholics hold that Christ has provided all the good things pertaining to God, but they are administered through their church's sacraments.

    Going by your comment, it would seem this sacramental theology would not be an obstacle to salvation.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    October 31, 2007 2:53 PM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    Casey,

    With all due respect brother, I don't see that your statements concerning the beleifs of Samaritans is germane to our conversation. I have no problems, for the sake of argument, just taking your word for whatever you say, and feel that it is at best, inconsequential. I believe that it is really irrelevent. Maybe you could construct some kind of argument that I can dissect, but I just don't follow you brother.

    Antonio

    PS: I have to say that I do share some of those concerns that Matthew has stated about some of the things you said.

    October 31, 2007 3:16 PM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    Jonathan,

    These are the facts:

    John uses the technical expression "pisteuo eis" (believ[ing] in) Jesus many times. According to the context, this post has arrived at its meaning. It means nothing more than entrusting one's eternal well-being into the hands of Jesus.

    John 20:31 is merely a summary of the purpose of the letter. Christ is not at all defined anywhere in chapter 20. It is soteriologically defined for us in John 11:25-26.

    The players in the gospel of John both "believed in" Him and "believed that" He was the Christ well before His crucifixion.

    "Believing in" Him has been well defined by John in many different passages in his gospel as entrusting one's eternal welfare into Jesus' hands. The weight of the evidence is overwhelming and this definition is well established prior to the crucifixion account.

    "Believing that" Jesus is the Christ in its soteriological sense has been well defined by John the gospel writer in the dialogue between Jesus and Martha in John 11:25-26.

    We see that for John, "believing in" Jesus and "believing that" Jesus is the Christ is functionally the same. They are both expressions of saving faith.

    John 20:31 summarizes all of the data in the whole of the the gospel of John, being informed, interpreted, and understood in the light of the overwhelming evidence for the soteriological meanings of "believing in" Jesus and "believing that" Jesus is the Christ that we find in John's gospel up to that point.

    You will note that not a single verse or passage in chapters 18 (the beginning of the passion narrative) through the end of the gospel re-interprets or supplements what it means to "believe in" Jesus and what it means to "believe that" Jesus is the Christ in the soteric sense. John does not provide a single editorial note adding a single further requirement to the conditions as expressed by Jesus Christ himself in His evangelistic dialogues that are found throughout the book. Jesus Christ does not add a single condition, or any discourse stating that simply entrusting one's eternal destiny to Him was now insufficient and needed to be supplemented by numerous conditions whereby one must assent to a list of doctrines.

    John spent alot of time developing Jesus' evangelistic methods and deliveries, Why? To have them all superceded by assumptions that are not at all explicit and made clear in the post-cross narrative?

    The way to everlasting life is of utmost importance! Why would John invest in 12 chapters (13-17 is upper room, and 18-21 post cross), carefully expounding Jesus' evangelism which expresses His single condition for receiving eternal life -- "believing in" Him -- only to have it superceded by, what has been called by the TFG, a dispensational change?

    In reality, Jesus instituted a change (not dispensational) in the expression of the invitation to eternal salvation upon His annointing as the Christ and inauguration of His ministry at His baptism. Was it only to be changed again after

    1) the cross?
    2) the resurrection?
    3) the ascension?
    4) or Pentecost?

    No TFG has really told me when the content changed again.

    The fact of the matter is that John takes great pains and goes into great detail the evangelistic method and condition of Jesus Christ. He does so because he is writing a book with an evangelistic purpose. He is going into this great detail because the way that people got saved in Jesus' evangelistic encounters is the exact way his readers can be saved: "believing in" Jesus!

    No verse or passage in John 18-21 nullifies, supercedes, or adds to the meaning of "believing in" Jesus and "believing that" Jesus is the Christ in its Johannine, soteric sense.

    Where is there a single verse or passage in John 18-21 that explicitely adds conditions to the simple one that had been thoroughly expounded in the previous chapters? Where does it now say, "Whoever believes in Me and believes that I am God, man, that I died substitutionally for sins and rose bodily from the dead, and trusts these works, has everlasting life and will not perish."?

    Furthermore, I am having a difficult time seeing in the gospel of John an explicit and clear statement on the substitutionary nature of Christ's death on the cross "for sins" (See Tom's articulation of the 5 requirements of saving faith in his first article). This consideration alone necessarily removes the gospel of John as a self-sufficient treatise on how to receive eternal life in TFG understanding. There is no verse stating that Christ's death is substitutionary "for sins" in this gospel.

    Furthermore, as the end of this comment, I would like to again emphasize my belief that the usage of John 3:16 by the TFG is inconsistent and confusing at best, and insincere at worst.

    You see, I too, present John 3:16 "within the broader context of Jesus’ person and crucifixion-resurrection work" (as you stated you do). But the Refined Free Grace theology position alone uses the verse in the way that Jesus Christ used it and in the sense that Christ intended His message to communicate to His audience. We use the verse as it was given: as a sufficient expression denoting the condition of saving faith: "believing in" Jesus.

    If the TFG was to be consistent, they would just come out and say that all the beloved evangelistic expressions in the gospel of John are not for this dispensation. This is logical conclusion of the traditional Free Grace theology, for they are not sufficient to express the condition for receiving eternal life.

    In closing, Jesus said:

    John 6:63
    "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life."


    To deem all of the evangelistic expressions in the gospel of John as spoken by Jesus as insufficient, is to directly contradict Jesus' assertion here. His words ARE life. When they are believed, it "will become in [the beleiver] a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

    If we cannot rely on Christ's words alone to express to us the condition for the eternal life He offers, where else do we have to go?

    John 6:68-69
    "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

    October 31, 2007 5:22 PM  
    Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

    Antonio,

    Thanks for your reply. I really do appreciate you getting back to me.

    Many if not most of the issues you brought up I have addressed at length in my nearly 20 page thesis that was the result of the agreement we had made that I listen to what Hodges has to say if you hear what I have to say and then we discuss it. I have submitted my paper to Charlie Bing for review and once I hear from him I can move forward with posting it.

    In closing, in both my comments to you I specifically cited John 20:30-31. Yet in your response to me John 20:30 was noticeably absent. You only referred to John 20:31. I am wondering why you didn't refer to John 20:30? I am also wondering (since you brought up John 20:31) how you understand John 20:30 and how it fits into your theology?

    Thanks Antonio

    October 31, 2007 7:21 PM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Matthew, Antonio I hope I can ease your concern. I consider that Sacramental Theology is an obstacle to the RCC in proclaiming the Gospel and an affront to the Gospel as well but I do not consider it an obstacle to salvation. I am persuaded that when God determines to reveal Christ in the heart of a man that nothing can or will prevent Him leaving the only obstacle to salvation the proud heart of the man that would reject Him.

    Antonio I apologize once more for being vague and I lack the time at present to be more thorough. In brief, the many Samaritans that believed on Christ because of the well woman’s testimony that, “He told me all that ever I did” did not do so “for” eternal life. They did not even believe in the resurrection of the dead. They believed “because” they were persuaded He was the Christ in spite of their ignorance of all that entailed. I hope that helps to clarify my argument above. Please let me know if my thoughts still seem vague.

    October 31, 2007 8:03 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Antonio I agree with your reticulation of my articulation.ha!ha!

    Jim
    I believe you need to reconsider the importance of this topic!
    Jim said:



    >Are we not to preach the whole counsel of God? Does this not include repentance, holiness, etc.

    I guess I am trying to understand why the need to focus on the irreducible minimum time and again?

    >How about a post on the way to live godly in Christ Jesus? Justification is merely the starting point for any walk with Christ. Sanctification is where the battle is daily fought.



    Jim your statement tells me you don’t really understand at all what is at stake here. I’ve got many relatives that you would call good Christians by looking at their lives. They believe in the cross and Jesus deity, but they have never believed in Him as “The Christ” the One who guarantees their eternal destiny. You see they believe they can lose their salvation! Jim if you don’t have the “bulls eye” in your sight your likely to hit anything BUT the target. I hope this helps you understand why the need to focus.
    Think about the multitudes of people who say they believe in the cross and the deity of Christ but are on their way to hell. These people have been told everything about being a Christian and the Christian walk but have never been given Jesus simple promise of eternal life! Thus that’s why we need the “focus” on what really brings eternal life! The TFG would say that you need more information to believe Jesus can keep His promise. I believe this thinking tends to blur the target. Antonio is doing a wonderful job of refocusing all of us on the main thing, the “bulls eye.”
    Blessings alvin

    October 31, 2007 8:07 PM  
    Blogger Chris said...

    Antonio,
    How do you regard the reply Jesus made to the expert in the law in his parable of the Good Samaritan?

    "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

    His reply after giving the example of the Good Samaritan was not "believe in me" but "go and do likewise."

    October 31, 2007 9:41 PM  
    Blogger bibletruthseeker said...

    Antonio,

    My name is Jim Williams and I have been following your blog and others on the comments regarding what one must believe to have eternal life.

    I lean toward the Bob Wilkin and Zane Hodges position, but I am puzzled by one verse and thought you might help me.

    In 1 John 5:13, John says These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

    This implies to me that John is writing to people who already possess eternal life, since they believe in the name of the Son of God, but are not aware they they posses eternal life so John is having to remind them. If this is true how does it square with "assurance is of the essence of salvation".

    Thanks,

    Jim

    November 01, 2007 4:44 AM  
    Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

    Bibletruthseeker, a person may have assurance and then loose it.

    A lack of assurance is not an indication that a person is not redeemed, but if they have never had assurance, they have never been justified.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    November 01, 2007 6:12 AM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Matthew I have presented this to Antonio before but I will ask you as well. I understand that your position is that to believe in the name of the Son of God is to believe that Jesus grants eternal life to those who believe in Him for it. Is that correct? This verse in 1st John indicates that these already believe in the name of the Son of God. They need no assurance in that yet they need assurance of eternal life. Wouldn’t this imply a distinction between belief in the name of the Son of God and the doctrine of eternal security?

    November 01, 2007 7:05 AM  
    Blogger Jim said...

    Alvin,

    You may be right. I know of many more people who hold the calvinistic thinking regarding "never was saved", then the ones who believe that can you lose it.

    Perhaps this is where the teaching of a Spirit led walk is important, as well as warning fellow believers of the bema seat judgement.

    November 01, 2007 7:14 AM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    Antonio,
    I have now read through your entire post and comments.
    You have made me think about this so much. I know I never commented on your previous post that we talked about at the Hawaiian Barbeque either, but I did read it on the plane -as I said- and had things written all over it.

    You have presented your argument very well. I follow you and I see how you get the conclusions that you arrive at.

    However, :~ ) it doesn't sit well with me. There is something about going back on the clock to a time when all of these things had not yet happened and saying that since there was ignorance of these things at that time, and people received eternal life, then - ignorance of them must be OK at this time. I don't know what to call this problem I am having with that logic - apparently some have called it a dispensational issue. I thought that at first also, but I think it may be more fundamental than that. A timeline issue? I am not sure what to call it, but you can be sure I am thinking!!

    John 3:16 - when Jesus spoke this, He knew all of the ins and outs of what he was saying to Nicodemus. He spoke about being born again and Nic scratched his head. He knew what He was talking about! Yet it was still yet unrevealed to even his closest followers what all of this was. The rest if His ministry and the writings of Paul fill in these details.

    Does this mean one must have a checklist of all these details that must be stipulated to ... in order for eternal life to come upon a believer? I am not comfortable saying that. But ... somehow.... there is some connection lacking for me with your appraoch to this subject.

    Thanks for making me think.

    November 01, 2007 7:14 AM  
    Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

    Rose, are you saying the content of saving faith can change?

    If so does not that not raise questions as to the objective efficacy of Christ's work?

    November 01, 2007 7:24 AM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    BTW,
    I appreciate Alvin's statement about the bullseye. That makes sense and explains why the discussion is important, but like Jim, I have oft wondered why why why the reductionism discussion? Now I do see that it is an importnat discussion and worthy of the time to think about - even hours and hours.

    November 01, 2007 7:24 AM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    Say that simpler, Matthew - graphic designer.

    November 01, 2007 7:25 AM  
    Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

    Kc, I do not see that these readers necessarilly lacked assurance at the time of writing.

    John is reminding them of what they already know.

    November 01, 2007 7:25 AM  
    Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

    If Christ's work always has the same power to save, how can there be any difference as to the faith needed in appropriating it?

    November 01, 2007 7:27 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    KC People can lose assurance. John in 1 John 5:10-12 reminds us how we were saved, and thus reassures his readers that if they believed, they HAVE eternal life. Only those who currently believe know they have it though. (vs 13)

    This is the argument the refined Grace people make. If you believe in Christ for eternal life, then you know you have it. If you don't know you have it, then you have not trusted him for it at that moment. So at one time, you had to know you had eternal life, and many Arminians and Calvinists have not had that moment because how can they know?

    was that clear as mud?

    :) Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 01, 2007 8:40 AM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Hi Chris

    Here is my two cents on the lawyer, even though I’m sure Antonio’s answer will be much better.
    First off this is a parable and Jesus didn’t start talking to them in Parables until they had openly rejected Him as their Messiah (The Christ) (Matt 13:10-13;Luke 8:9,10;10:20,21).
    In the previous verses Jesus told the seventy to rejoice because their names were written in heaven vs.20. And Jesus went on to say: “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have HIDDEN these things from the WISE and PRUDENT and revealed them to babes.”
    So then comes the Parable of the Good Samaritan and you have this WISE lawyer who is testing Jesus vs.25. He also thinks he can keep the law “what shall I DO.” He tries to “JUSTIFY” himself vs,29. This is a lesson for self righteous people, if they reject Jesus as “The Christ” the only other way to heaven is to be “PERFECT” by keeping the law. Just like Jesus told the the Rich Young Ruler there was only one thing he lacked if he wanted to be complete (perfect) and that was to give all he had and come follow Him. The law is a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ (Gal 3:22-25). It shuts their mouth (Romans 3:19,20). It shows them they are a sinner and that they need a perfect persons righteousness.
    Blessings alvin

    November 01, 2007 9:07 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Hi Rose.

    John 1:7 believe
    John 1:12-13 believe and become children of God
    John 3:15-16 Believe in Christ for eternal life and "NEVER" perish
    John 3:18 Believe and "not" be condemned.
    John 4:13-14 Drink of his water and "NEVER" thirst
    John 4:39,412 Many believed in him he is the Christ the Savior of the World
    John 4:53 Believed
    John 5:24 He who believes in Christ "HAS" eternal life and passed from death into life.
    John 6:29 The work of God that you believe in Him whom He sent
    John 6:35 He who believes in him will "NEVER" thirst
    John 6:40 whoever believes in him will have everlasting life and Christ "WILL" raise him up at the last day
    6:68-69 Christ has the words of eternal life. The disciples believe that he is the Christ the Son of the living God.
    John 9:35-38 Believe in the Son of God.
    10:25-29 Believe, have eternal life "NEVER" perish and "NEVER" taken from the Hand of Christ or his Father.
    John 11:25-27 Who ever believes will "NEVER" die

    I did not use a concordance, so I am sure I missed some, but it seems clear that Eternal life/Security is very clearly wrapped up in belief in Christ for it. Even the often quoted John 3:16 is very dogmatic about eternal security alone.

    As Antonio would say. "If you have a different condition, then you have a different consequence."

    According to John, Belief in Jesus = Eternal life.

    If I Trust in Christ for eternal life and I perish, then Christ lied even if no one told me about his death and ressurection and how he accomplished it.

    The people in India needed to hear context to help them believe. We started in Genesis, and went to the cross and ressurection. So.. do you have to know about the garden of eden and original sin to be saved? No, but an individual may need it before they can come to belief. Jesus used many things to bring people to Belief in Him, but Belief is all that is required for eternal life. If you are free to add one additional belief that is required, then why not more? After all, since the Bible only lists one, if that is not enough, who puts a limit?

    God's wrath on believers who live in sin is another issue, but lets make sure we know how others can join the family. :)

    I hope this in some way helped.

    Peace,

    Trent

    P.S. Keep in mind, that most people in the US believe Christ died on the cross. Many even believe he rose again. They do not understand what that means. They have not believe in him for eternal life. My focus is always to show them the free gift God gives for belief in Jesus Christ. I will tell them as much as I can to bring them to that point based on the time I have, their response and the leading of the Spirit. I am not sure why I added this after I was done, but it seemed right and I hope it helps someone.

    November 01, 2007 9:16 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Hey Antonio!

    You said "You know, nothing is precluding YOU from participating!"

    I hope I am not participating to much...

    Love in Christ

    Trent

    November 01, 2007 9:40 AM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    Trent,
    I am a faith alone kind of girl, OK?
    I am just working through the content of faith issue presently.

    November 01, 2007 9:54 AM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    Matthew asks If Christ's work always has the same power to save, how can there be any difference as to the faith needed in appropriating it?

    Matthew, the "faith needed" (your words) from a believer before the revelation of God's Son on the earth was not the same as it was after He arrived, right? Or do you not feel that the content of faith changed at that point?

    November 01, 2007 9:58 AM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Hi Rose
    The purpose of the signs in the Gospel of John is that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that believing we might have LIFE IN HIS NAME. The eighth sign in the Gospel of John is the cross and it is the ONLY sign that shows HOW Jesus saved us. But we can see in the Gospel of John that any of the signs were enough proof to believe in Jesus as the Christ the Son of God. The cross is not only important as a sign of evidence that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God but is also by which we are crucified with Christ buried with Christ and have risen with Him. The cross is paramount to the Christian! But in the Gospel of John it is just one of the signs used to prove that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. As you know repentance is never mentioned in the Gospel of John. And forgiveness is only talked about in one verse, and that’s not free gift language. It’s not that these things were not important to John, but they were not the issue when it came to the free gift of eternal life that Jesus was offering. The only issue was belief in Him as “The Christ” the One who guarantees your eternal destiny. You notice Jesus didn’t talk to Nicodemus about his sin, also Jesus would have already given the women at the well the living water if she would have asked. It had nothing to do with her sin whether Jesus gave it to her or not, she could take it freely (John 4:10;Rev22:17). John is concerned with the main thing in his book “life” because the main problem is not sin but “death.” And why was not sin the main issue? Because “behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!”
    Blessings alvin

    November 01, 2007 9:59 AM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Trent thanks for your thoughts and your kindness. If I understand your rendering properly the message here is that, “if you have believed in Jesus for eternal life then you can know you have eternal life”. Have I misunderstood? I would contend that these verses offer assurance to those who believe in the name or title belonging to Jesus (Christ, Savior, Son of God) that eternal life is their present possession.

    I appreciate you stating your position. My concern is that this position would seem to confuse a primary consequence of saving faith with the content and/or object of saving faith, hence the ongoing discussion. ;-)

    November 01, 2007 10:07 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Rose, I know. :) You are very clear on that. I just get carried away sometimes.

    Love in Christ

    Trent

    November 01, 2007 10:08 AM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    Alvin,
    Yes, that is one of the things that Antonio has greatly helped me with was seeing that the main problem is not sin but death. The question of 'why do people perish if Christ died for the sins of the whole world' is out there. The Reformed come up with 'limited atonement' to answer that question. The biblical answer is because these perishing do not have life - they have not been born again. So I get that part, Alvin! :~)
    Thank you.

    November 01, 2007 10:08 AM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    Trent, no problem! I appreciate your kind thoughts and the helpful verses you listed. I just wanted to make sure you didn't confuse me with someone else. :~)

    November 01, 2007 10:09 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    KC said "If I understand your rendering properly the message here is that, “if you have believed in Jesus for eternal life then you can know you have eternal life”. Have I misunderstood?"

    A little. :) I would say if you believed in him for eternal life at any time, you have it . If you Believe now, you know you have it. Is that clearer?

    "I appreciate you stating your position. My concern is that this position would seem to confuse a primary consequence of saving faith with the content and/or object of saving faith, hence the ongoing discussion. ;-)"

    If you Trust or Believe in Christ, As Antonio said, you are believing in him for something. I believe all 3 parts MUST be there. Faith in Christ for Eternal life. Faith in Christ for monetary blessings for example MAY even give it to you. But it won't give you eternal life. :)

    Grace and Truth

    Trent.

    November 01, 2007 10:17 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    KC said "I appreciate you stating your position. My concern is that this position would seem to confuse a primary consequence of saving faith with the content and/or object of saving faith, hence the ongoing discussion. ;-)"

    Could you state your position? What do you have to Trust him for to have eternal life in your understanding?

    November 01, 2007 10:29 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Hi KC. Let me try and assist.

    You said "In 1 John 5:13, John says These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.

    This implies to me that John is writing to people who already possess eternal life, since they believe in the name of the Son of God, but are not aware they they posses eternal life so John is having to remind them. If this is true how does it square with "assurance is of the essence of salvation."

    I would point out 2 things.

    1) I believe that 1 John 5:13 is clearly pointing at the immediate context. Note what he says starting in verse 6 through 12 in that chapter. He is pointing to Christ, not works.

    2) Now lets go to the beginning of the book and see what the purpose seems to be of 1 John. Starting verse 1, but especially verse 3-4. "... we declare to you that you also may have fellowship with us and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. AND these things we write to you that your joy may be full."

    It seems to be the the focus on 1 John is on Fellowship with God, other believers, and joy for believers. The end is just a reminder of assurance that is based on our belief in Christ.

    Thoughts?

    Peace and Truth in Christ.

    Trent
    Thanks,

    November 01, 2007 10:32 AM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Jim you said:


    >You may be right. I know of many more people who hold the Calvinistic thinking regarding "never was saved",
    > then the ones who believe that can you lose it.

    >Perhaps this is where the teaching of a Spirit led walk is important,
    >as well as warning fellow believers of the bema seat judgement.

    Jim I have both sides in my family. I have more then one uncle who believes you can lose salvation and I have a brother who is a five-point Calvinist preacher who believes if you don’t live it, you never had it. In both of these beliefs the problem is not the Holy Spirit’s leading in the life, but the believing that Jesus is “The Christ.” The One who guarantees your eternal destiny. Neither believes it! But they would all say Yes! Right down the list of all these other things. You could talk to them about the Spirit led walk all day long but until they believe Jesus simple promise they don’t have the Spirit to walk with. I have two uncles that believe they are so spirit filled that they tell me I need to start listening very careful to my dreams because God is telling me things. They speak in tongues and get slayed in the spirit. The ones wife is a Prophtess who believes she is called to be a pastor. I’m not even on their level when it comes to walking by the spirit. Jim what do they need? They need just as the masses out there that believe that Jesus is God that He died for all their sin, that He rose from the dead and that they have to work their way to heaven! As Jesus would say to them “one thing you lack.” Perfection!!! But we know the answer! They need to believe Jesus simple promise of eternal life before they can even get on the road to rewards.
    Blessings alvin

    November 01, 2007 10:49 AM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Here is a quote from my brothers chruch site on the net:

    We believe the bride of Christ consists of only those faithful church members in this age of grace.

    November 01, 2007 11:10 AM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    To All:

    Mr. Fly Guy is banned from this blog for many reasons.

    Mr. Fly Guy:

    Do not post a single further comment. You are not welcome to post here anymore. Cease and desist.

    Antonio

    November 01, 2007 12:29 PM  
    Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

    Rose

    "Matthew, the "faith needed" (your words) from a believer before the revelation of God's Son on the earth was not the same as it was after He arrived, right? Or do you not feel that the content of faith changed at that point?"

    The GES position holds that the content of saving faith in pre-New Testament times was essentially the same- faith in the messiah for eternal life.

    The only difference is that the name of the messiah is now made known. Thus, ontologically there is a no real difference between pre-NT and post-NT saving faith.

    Assuming the GES view on pre-NT saving faith is correct.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    November 01, 2007 1:13 PM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Trent that last quote was from Jim. ;-)

    In reply to your previous question I would say you must trust Jesus in all things regardless of your present understanding on them.

    November 01, 2007 3:07 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    KC, sorry about that. got confused and redid it to. ahh well.

    In regards to your answer... Would you like to reword that. That sounds like another of "how can I know I am saved?" Why do you believe that? Wow.. How do I know I am trusting him in everything. Finances? What are his promises to be about my wife? Children? Finances. Trusting him for everything would require a lot more information then the book of John gives. A lot more complicated then just trusting him for his promise of eternal life. If you did not mean it that way, please clarify because you definetely caught me flat footed with that one. :) Do I trust him to supply my needs if I don't work? (the last one is tongue in cheek to point out the difficulty in this as I understand it)

    Grace and Truth

    Trent.

    November 01, 2007 5:07 PM  
    Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

    Rose,

    I would just like to comment on your following statement:

    "There is something about going back on the clock to a time when all of these things had not yet happened and saying that since there was ignorance of these things at that time, and people received eternal life, then - ignorance of them must be OK at this time. I don't know what to call this problem I am having with that logic - apparently some have called it a dispensational issue. I thought that at first also, but I think it may be more fundamental than that. A timeline issue? I am not sure what to call it, but you can be sure I am thinking!!"

    As I understand it, these questions of yours have to do with what's called "progressive revelation", not necessarily dispensations, but progressive revelation. You can look this term up online or go to the Dallas Theological Seminary website and read their doctrinal statment for a fuller explanation of this, but basically it has to do with God revealing progressively more and more truth to man over time. Adam and Even had some revelation from God, Abraham had more, Moses still more, the disciples even more, the disciples AFTER the Resurrection even more, and now we have the completed Scriptures. Furthermore, in the future we won't "see through a glass dimly" (as we do now), but we will "see Him as He is" because we will be like Him. I believe, as the DTS website can articulate (which I would call traditional free grace by the way), that although salvation has always been by grace through faith, and on the grounds of Christ's finished work, the content of faith has varied through the course of time According To God's Progressive Revelation. Regarding this, I believe that Jesus Christ Himself modified the content of faith as a natural result of His resurrection from the dead. This is highlighted in John chapters 20-21. And so the content of faith today involves Jesus' substatutionary blood death for the sins of the world and subsequent bodily resurrection on the third day! I believe a careful study focusing on John chapters 20-21 will bear this out. Regarding this, have just finished a study of my own on this subject and am in the process of posting my conclusions. So you can read that too when I post it. But I would check out the DTS doctrinal statement on their website. I think it will steer you in the right direction.

    Blessings

    November 01, 2007 5:20 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Kc concerning 1 John 5:13 John wasn’t writing to them because they didn’t know if they had eternal life. John new that the antichrist were attacking upon this point as shown in this verse: 1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
    Kc to deny that Jesus is the Christ, is to deny the promise of eternal life. John wasn’t writing to them because they didn’t know this as this verse shows: 1 John 2:20,21 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I HAVE NOT WRITTEN TO YOU BECAUSE YOU DO NOT KNOW THE TRUTH, BUT BECAUSE YOU KNOW IT, and that no lie is of the truth. John is just reminding them of this promise as shown in this verse: 1 John 2:24,25 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. AND THIS IS THE PROMISE THAT HE HAS PROMISED US ETERNAL LIFE. THESE THINGS I HAVE WRITTEN TO YOU CONCERNING THOSE WHO TRY TO DECEIVE YOU. Kc the antichrist were trying to deceive them on this very point “eternal life.” And that’s why John is reminding them in 1 John 5:13.
    John says to let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning! Look at the beginning of Johns letter 1 John 1:1-3 That which was from the beginning which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the WORD OF LIFE—the LIFE was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that ETERNAL LIFE which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, THAT YOU ALSO MAY HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH US;
    The gift of eternal life is by grace, so their abiding (fellowship) was based upon this truth. They had to abide in the truth in order to have fellowship. If we lose sight to the fact that eternal life is a free gift, we move from the grounds of grace into the law. This as Paul stated “you have fallen from grace!” So we all need to be constantly reminded of this truth. As you can see in this discussion that this fact is under attack. That Jesus simple promise of eternal life is not enough.
    Blessings alvin
    PS I feel I'm talking to much,sorry I will take a break from this.

    November 01, 2007 5:21 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Alvin,

    You think you are talking to much? LOL That makes me a motor mouth. :) Glad for your input brother.

    Love in Christ

    Trent

    November 01, 2007 5:25 PM  
    Blogger Jim said...

    Antonio,

    Greetings, and I still owe you a call brother (tent making here in Colorado has been rather hectic of late, forgive me).
    Good post! It still amazes many of us that people keep coming back to believing in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, and as critically important as it is, but miss that believing the promise of eternal life is not as important.

    I was listening to Zane's 2 part mp3 presentation on the gospel and have already read his written works and over an over again he makes the point that it is the cross work and resurrection of Christ (which he says is very important) that enables us to believe in One who is able to save!

    How can so many people who criticize the refined free grace position on the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord, get stuck on belief in the facts and not understand it is the belief in the Person Who went though that for us to be saved...???...

    As Zane so eloquently put it, "we are leading people to Christ. We are leading them to a person who that can safely entrust their eternal destiny to."

    If I as an unsaved person were to agree with traditional FG brothers and sisters insistence of belief in all of their content, but failed to believe that Jesus gives me eternal life by trusting in Him alone for it - I would remain unsaved.

    In fact, I believed in the promise of John 3:16 and did not understand what soteriology was or what it was about the cross or resurrection that was so important. Are we all becoming like the pharisees who probably started with well meaning content until we have volumes of additional content that had to be included to be saved? This is very scary ground.

    Forgive me if I am a bit passionate about this. It seems that people are dividing over content that as far as I can tell (other than hypothetical situations which have no pastoral value) we all agree on and actually present.

    I preach the Cross and resurrection as part of any evangelistic appeal. Also, I believe that our Lord can save people even when the message is not perfectly crystal clear with all "content." In the last two months I have led several people to the savior. Thank the Father they responded to a simple Gospel! Now one of them is learning (through discipleship) all about Jesus the Messiah and His divinity, crosswork and what the resurrection means to their future.

    God is not unable to save those who put simple trust in His Son for eternal life.

    Thanks for this excellent place for irenic discussion.

    Your devoted brother,

    Jim Johnson
    Highlands Ranch, Colorado
    Rocky Mountain Bible College & Seminary
    Member Free Grace Alliance
    Member Society of Dispensational Theology

    November 01, 2007 8:01 PM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Trent and Alvin thank you both for your efforts on my behalf.

    Trent I hope this will help clarify my position.

    Were I to ask if you believe everything that Jesus taught I know your answer would be a resounding YES! I know that is true of Antonio and myself as well yet which of us can say we fully understand all He taught? My faith is the absolute certainty that ALL HE SAYS IS TRUE but my faith is in no way based on my understanding of anything He said but rather upon the conviction of the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ truly is the Son of God and has the full power and authority of God in ALL THINGS. I am therefore absolutly certain that all He said is true whether I fully comprehend it or not.

    November 01, 2007 8:09 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    I had to take my wife Sheelagh to the Hospital last night, she had a catscan and a ultrasound. They said her immune system was attacking her bladder. Tonight she is not able to go to the bathroom. She has had colon cancer in the past and is real scarred. Please lift her up! I'm taking her to the Hospital again now. I would really appreaciate your prayers she has had a nervous breakdown in the past, and is not do well at all.
    Thank you Love You In Christ,,,alvin

    November 01, 2007 8:23 PM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    To all,

    Everyone who has addressed me will receive a comment. My VW Vanagon went kaput! today and I have been dealing with the issues that have arisen because of this.

    I want to briefly recognize Chris, Jim Williams, and Jim Johnson who have posted on my blog for the very first time. Welcome! I appreciate your comments and I look forward to answering them.

    Please, also pray for Alvin's wife as he has indicated above! Free Grace theology is practical, and we must come together and pray for this beloved brother.

    Alvin please keep us informed.

    I really appreciate all of each one of your comments here. I know that there are many limitations to this kind of format, but I believe that we are achieving a forum for godly discussion. I am proud of all of you! (Disclaimer, this doesn't mean that I actually agree with you, lol!!!)

    No, you all have conducted yourselves with tact, civility, and love.

    Your free grace host,

    Antonio

    November 01, 2007 9:13 PM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    Jonathan,
    Thank you. The issue of "Progressive revelation" in relation to content of faith is touched on by Charles Ryrie in his book "Dispensationalism" on page 140. I read his book this fall.

    He says:
    "The basis of salvation is always the death of Christ; the means is always faith; the object is always God (though man's understanding of God before and after the incarnation is obviously different); but the content of faith depends on the particular revelation God was pleased to give at a certain time. These are the distinctions that the dispensationalist recognizes ...

    ... the Scriptures reveal differing contents for faith in the progressive nature of God's revelation to mankind.


    So I really appreciate what you are saying. I guess I was trying more than anything to put it into words what is the issue that I am having with the logic here. I think you are suggesting I call it a "progressive revelation issue." :~) Thank you.

    Antonio,
    No, we are not robbed of John 3:16, but I suppose I would say that it has a differeent context than it had when Jesus spoke it to Nicodemus. We know what it means now! Anyone who today trusts Jesus for eternal life will receive this context/meaning.

    What does "believing in" Jesus really mean? I am working on defining this for my own understanding and clarity and I thank you for the challenge that you have repeatedly gievn to do so.

    November 02, 2007 7:04 AM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    jk

    November 02, 2007 7:22 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Alvin brother, I am praying for your wife.

    KC, you said "Were I to ask if you believe everything that Jesus taught I know your answer would be a resounding YES! I know that is true of Antonio and myself as well yet which of us can say we fully understand all He taught? My faith is the absolute certainty that ALL HE SAYS IS TRUE but my faith is in no way based on my understanding of anything He said but rather upon the conviction of the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ truly is the Son of God and has the full power and authority of God in ALL THINGS. I am therefore absolutly certain that all He said is true whether I fully comprehend it or not."

    Yes, I do believe that now, however when I trusted in him for Eternal life, not only was that not in my mind, I don't know if I could have. I was a child. I did not know him like I do now. (And even now I know there are times I do not trust him totally for things. If I did I would not worry and have the grey hairs I have.) You are requiring more then even a checklist of beliefs. Eternal life is based on me believing that his promise of eternal life is true. Nothing else.

    Now to the most important question. Why do you believe that you have to trust Christ for everything or you don't have eternal life? What scripture would you refer to?

    November 02, 2007 8:41 AM  
    Blogger Jim said...

    Alvin, we are praying for you brother. Lean on His grace.

    November 02, 2007 8:52 AM  
    Blogger Antonio said...

    Rose,

    I don't have all the time in the world today. I am going to LegoLand with my children for my youngest's birthday.

    1) The Book of John is the second to last book written in the canon. What does that say about progressive revelation? It is the LAST WORD on the matter!

    2) If you leave objective hermeneutics behind, in other words, if you are going to interpret John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35-40, 47; 11:25-27 in some way OTHER than its intended and literal sense, what are we left with? You have been bold to say that what John 3:16 meant to Jesus, who has the words of everlasting life, and said His words are spirit and life, they no longer mean. They mean something different to us.

    You have left the realm of objevtivity and applied some ambiguous, and undefined process to your interpretation. You have left historical, grammatical, literal interpretation and imposed your own understanding on John 3:16 that Jesus, we both agree, did not intend.

    3) What is the evidence and argument for your 'enlightened' and non literal understanding of John 3:16?

    4) Where has John re-interpreted his pre-cross understanding of "believing in" Jesus with a post-cross editorial or progressive revelatory import?

    5) There are many things that we have learned about Jesus after His ascension and the starting of the Church. Why are you not importing all of these considerations into your undersanding of saving faith? Why have you arbitrarily included the death and resurrection and have dismissed other progressive revelations about Jesus?

    6) Why would John, as the second to last book in the canon, who had all the current progressive revelation information five such elaborate and detailed accounts of Jesus' evangelism, whereby Jesus has the words of everlasting life and His words are spirit and life, if these words no longer carried the weight as when they were uttered? Why risk the utter confusion? If John did not consider the way that the disciples, the samaritans, Nicodemus, and Martha received eternal life to be the same way that we receive it, why would he give such weight and priority to these accounts, only to change the content of faith by assumption in the latter part of his gospel? Where in his gospel does he state that people get saved differently than how his narrative states?

    7) I posted this question to Jonathan Perrault and his friends who have the same position:

    Suppose a man begins reading the gospel of John and when he gets to John 11:25-26, he entrusts his eternal destiny into the hands of Jesus Christ. The words and miracles of Christ that he has read up to this point in the narrative have persuaded Him that Jesus can be relied upon to secure and guarantee His eternal felicity and destiny. He believed in Jesus in the very same way that Nathaniel, Apostle John, Peter, Andrew (John 1:35-50) the disciples (2:11), Nicodemus (3:16); and the Samaritans (4:39-42) did when they received eternal life. Before getting much further in the narrative, this man has a heart attack and dies.

    Is this man with the Lord or is he in hades?

    Here are there comments:

    "It is my view that this man is hell bound along with any others who have sincere but misplaced notions of the basis of their everlasting life in this dispensation."

    JP said:

    "I agree with your conclusion brother. Thank you for your articulate thoughts above. In my study I came to the conclusion that the content of belief for eternal life changed/was modified after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, so as to now include His substitutionary blood death for the sins of the world and subsequent bodily resurrection on the third day. I believe this is evidenced in the concluding chapters of John’s Gospel.

    I believe this also answers the main question posted above."

    another said:

    "I would place your hypothetical man in the same position as someone who dies w/o ever hearing about Jesus, yet he believed as much as was revealed to him. I would say that neither of those people exist. I think if someone believes the “light” that is given to him, then he will get more light to the point where he could be saved.

    So, in answer to your question, I would say that that man is still “dead in his sins” and would thus be in hell, just like the person who dies w/o ever hearing of Jesus."

    Rose,

    do you want to attach yourself to those same comments?

    Are you willing to come out and say that you believe that someone who has believed in Jesus, certainly trusting and falling upon His mercy and grace alone, entrusting his eternal destiny into His hands, believing Him in His promise, is going to hell because he died before getting to the cross?

    Another stated this:

    "My quick answer is that he doesn’t live in the same dispensation as those referenced"

    This position robs Christians of our most beloved evangelistic expressions because they relegate them to another age, to another time, to a previous dispensation or earlier revelatory period.

    They cannot be used sincerely or properly by the TFG.

    The only way that they can use these verses is by re-interpreting them apart from their grammatical, historical and literal context.

    Jesus always stated unequivocally that anyone who "believes in" Him has eternal life and will not perish.

    TFG, of necessity, must state that Jesus' words are no longer valid, therefore, His words are no longer spirit or life, and His words are no longer the words of everlasting life.

    I seriously hope that you would not want to be in a position of robbing the church of its most loved evangelistic expressions because they were of a different dispensation/earlier revelatory period.

    Antonio

    November 02, 2007 9:47 AM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    Antonio,

    Quick thought - I don't mean to say the meaning of John 3:16 has changed, but it has been unfolded to us. It has become enriched. This is a good thing. I still see it literally and plainly, brother. I think it has a context. That is all I am saying.

    In your hypothetical... YES! I think the man is saved. I am working out what I believe to be the content of saving faith. I will post on it when I am comfortable, but if I am on to something, which I think I am onto a way of looking at this that sits right with me, then yes, he is saved.

    Another quick thought - John said "these things are written that you may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that believing you may have life in His name."

    Progressive revelation has brought us to a place where knowledge of Who He is is of utmost importance.

    My main objection to your view is not that you are saying the cross is not necessary to be understood, but mine is with the misconceptions that you say someone may have about the Person of Christ... that He may be an ordinary man or an angel or whatever. This is the emphasis of my issue with your position.

    I think the answer to all of this is found in that verse, John 20:31. I have a problem with the saying that "Christ" and "Son of God" (for soteric purposes) means the "one who is able to guarantee eternal life."

    By the end of John's gospel, He says that he wrote so that people would know who Christ is and that they might have life in His name. These are three separate components of his statement.

    1. Knowing who He is
    2. Believing
    3. Having life is His name

    One leads to the other to the other. The way I see your statements about believing that He is the Christ and the Son of God means believing that He guarantees eternal life... seems to skip over the necessity of knowing Who He is. IOW, it could be said like this, if you are correct:

    "these things are written that you may know that Jesus guarantees eternal life and that believing you may have eternal life in His name."

    This seems like a "loop" that skips over an important component of John's purpose. ("Loop" for lack of a better word. I have to think about that one some more too.)

    Gotta go for now, but thanks for the opportunity to dialogue. I appreciate your tone in this comment forum. I'll come back again and check out more things that you or others have to say here.

    November 02, 2007 10:30 AM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    "jk"

    Did I miss something? :~)

    November 02, 2007 10:31 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Rose, I appreciate your comment to Antonio. It helps me understand where you are at, and I am glad you think that man is saved. I would agree with you, and am suprised and disapointed in those in the Grace camp who disagree.

    In relationship to your comments that you are considering. I agree with you that you have to believe in Jesus the Christ for eternal life. Jesus the gardener is not the provider of eternal life. So the person is important, however I firmly believe that one can have misconceptions about him and still be trusting in Jesus the Christ for eternal life. They can also be lacking knowledge about him.

    For example, his deity. When he calmed the waves in Mark, his disciples said "Who is this man?" Yet they had already believed in him.

    The animists and Hindu's who believed in him for eternal life this past month, I am sure have many misconceptions based on their frames of reference that I hope will be cleared up as they are discipled.

    I am willing to bet, that with my limited knowledge, I still have misconceptions about him. I doubt any human could take in everything about him, but I love what I do know.

    On the other hand, who but a child could believe a Man who was just a man could give them eternal life.....

    I personally do talk about him as the Son of God personally because that was his title he used in evangelism.

    November 02, 2007 12:00 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Hello,
    Reading here, I am curious. Why does anyone think John 3:16 is a statement that Jesus made?
    Art

    November 02, 2007 3:34 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Thank you all for your prayers. Sheelagh has a deasease of the bladder and will have a scope done Monday. She is now able to pee, but they had to take her off the pain medication. She is in pain and her mental health is failing. Were just trying to hang in here and lean on the Good Lord. God Bless you all,,,alvin

    November 02, 2007 3:46 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    The people who are in this discussion believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and thus since it says Jesus said something we believe that.

    November 02, 2007 5:43 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    I too believe the Bible to be the Word of God without error. Why do you think the Bible says Jesus said John 3:16? How do you explain verse 13, "the Son of Man who is in heaven?"

    November 02, 2007 6:27 PM  
    Blogger Ender said...

    Interesting stuff, Antonio. I'm thinking about how we can present the gospel as it was intended in the Scriptures. I want to share the message of God's free grace, and I'd like input and ideas from you, Matt, and others.

    November 02, 2007 7:31 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    well, I expect its the same one who came down from heaven like it says in the first part of the verse. I believe Jesus Christ is speaking of himself. Some other references to ponder; John 8:16 (I am with the father who sent me), John 14:6, John 6:29, John 6:35-40,47, John 4:13-14, 8:38.

    Who do you think is speaking there if not Jesus Christ and why?

    I am guessing that you do not believe in the Trinity, and think the Messiah is a lesser being but look forward to your response.

    The bigger question IMO though is, do you believe Jesus Christ when he says "who ever believes in me HAS everlasting life" (John 6:47)

    November 02, 2007 7:32 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Enders, if I can be included with the others you mention for input... :) http://www.sola-scriptura-truth.blogspot.com/ is where I share how I did it in India. I would be interested in your review, thoughts and suggestions.
    Keeping in mind that this is for people who many times had never heard of a God of love or Jesus Christ.

    November 02, 2007 7:34 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Hi Trent
    I do believe in the Trinity. I think John is the one who said John 3:16, years later, when writing the Gospel of John, after Jesus was back in heaven.
    Art

    November 02, 2007 7:51 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    did you check those other references though? Christ said he was with the Father in at least one other place. It says in VS 10, Jesus answered and said to him.. then it gives the verses following, so I believe it means what it says.

    The reason I questioned your belief of the Trinity is that since Jesus is God, he is Omnicient. Though he limited himself by becoming Man as well, he never ceased being God. Do you hold to the traditional belief of the Trinity?


    You also did not answer my question. :) Do you believe Jesus Christ when he says "who ever believes in me HAS everlasting life" (John 6:47)

    Welcome to this blog by the way. I am a guest myself. :)

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 02, 2007 8:01 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Alvin, I can't imagine the difficulties you are having but God knows. I will continue keep you both in prayer. Remember, this world is not our home, we're just a passin through.

    November 02, 2007 8:09 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Trent,

    I am familiar with the verses you mentioned.

    As to John 6:47, yes, I believe that verse, except that I think all such statements by Jesus during his earthly ministry are now properly seen in light of Jesus later opening his disciples' understanding in Luke 24:45,46 and in light of the gospel that Jesus himself gave to Paul (according to Galatians 1:12).

    November 02, 2007 8:23 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Since you said "Except", could you please explain how you understand it now in relation to other scriptures? :) I don't want to make wrong assumptions. Do you believe that by simply Trusting in the Christ for Eternal life we recieve it? If not, please explain how you interpret the verses to mean otherwise.

    November 02, 2007 8:49 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Hello again Trent,
    I've said more here than I expected to say. I posted a brief note because I thought it strange that so much is being argued based on the idea that John 3:16 is a quote from Jesus whereas I think the text actually indicates from 3:13 onward that 3:16 contains John's words, much later, after Jesus had gone back to heaven. I will respond though to your question in which you asked, do I believe that by simply trusting in Christ for eternal life we receive it? I think I'll probably then be done because I don't see myself coming here to persuade anyone about these things. Nevertheleless, considering that I am here and you specifically asked, I will tell you what I think. Based on the use I see at this and some other blogs, of the situation before Jesus' death, my answer has to be "no" because my view is that no one today can be saved without the knowledge of Jesus' death and resurrection. I don't think anyone today can trust Him for His gift of eternal life without this knowledge. Luke 18:31-34 convinces me this wasn't required before the cross but I do think the gospel Jesus himself gave to Paul now requires it. I understand that believing Paul's gospel is the way people today trust Jesus for his gift of everlasting life, the truth of Paul's gospel being truth that Jesus himself gave. I'm sure you know the Scripture references invovled.
    Art

    November 02, 2007 10:36 PM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Alvin my wife and I continue in prayer for both you and your wife. May God’s mercy and blessings be multiplied in your lives. Please continue to update us here when you can.

    November 03, 2007 1:20 AM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Trent please forgive me my late reply and my inability to properly convey my thinking here. I can understand how difficult, and even inappropriate in some cases, it would be to trust Jesus for everything and I apologize that my comments could be construed to imply that. I hope I can better relate my understanding this time and I appreciate your patience.

    It may help to clarify that I do not consider the object of saving faith to be a commodity, such as eternal life, therefore I do not perceive the content of saving faith as pertaining to personal gain. I understand the scripture to teach that the object of saving faith is Jesus and the content of saving faith as pertaining to Him rather than to men.

    To borrow an analogy from a brilliant young minister I love, let’s consider the trust you would need to have in an airline pilot. Now it’s one thing if you know your destination and you are certain that flying is the best way to achieve it. This time consider that you have no clue where, when or even how you should go. You only know you have to go somewhere and you cannot stay where you are or continue to trudge through the mud as you have been.

    Now consider the faith you would need in that pilot. You can’t simply trust him to fly you where you want to go. You have to trust him to know where you need to go, to know the best way to get there and to know exactly how and where to board and even when to depart. Even before all that you must first trust in him to know that there even is somewhere else to go or that flight is the best way to travel! In order to board that plane you must first trust him in all things. Though you may still have doubts along the way, before you board that plane you must consider that pilot as sole authority in all things on your journey and it no longer will benefit you to question his knowledge, power and ability or whether or not his instructions are correct. You can only question if you clearly understand them and continue to have hope in his power and authority. When you board you may even have a wrong destination in mind but because you trusted him in all things you will still get where you need to be even though you lack any further understanding.

    In this analogy the object of your faith is the pilot. The content of your faith is his power and authority in all things pertaining to the journey. Arriving at where you should be is consequential to having trusted him in all things.

    Trent I hope this will clear the misconception I caused with my previous comment and again I apologize and extend my gratitude for your persistence with me.

    November 03, 2007 1:30 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    KC,thank you for clarifying your position. I appreciate your honesty and candidness. I can see why you would not use John 3:16 and many other verses in John to evangelize based on that. I would like to comment on a few things you said and challenge you to consider them.


    1) Luke was written probably a round 70 AD, before the book of John. If you are stating that passage is adding conditions for eternal life, repentance is nessecary for Eternal life as well, then you are adding something else to the checklist of belief's. (unless you hold to the change of mind about who Christ is view) I see nothing there that changes the content of Faith clearly set out in the book of John.

    2) Galations was probably written around AD 50. Nothing in Galation 1:12 changes or adds anything either. To understand either of these passages this way you have to already know what you are after IMO>

    3) John was probably written around AD 90. Not only most likely sometime after the other 2, but long after Christ's Death and Ressurection. Whether Christ said it, (which I believe again you need to have a reason not to believe it, otherwise it seems clear to me he did) or God inspired John to write it, it states what it states. If I believe in Christ for eternal life, and I perish, God is a liar, and Christ is a liar. They also would be purposely deceiving millions of people. John does not clarify that these things I have written to tell you how people believed before his death and ressurection. He instead states long after the death of Christ, "...these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name."

    Christ does not say "who ever believes in me NOW shall have eternal life" or any other qualifications in regards to a change of content or time. God knew this discussion would be going on, and yet the book of John is extremely clear about what is needed for eternal life. NO qualifications, and its purpose is for unbelievers to have eternal life. Trying to use more difficult scriptures to change the clear meaning of others is not good hermanuetics (I am sure I messed up that spelling)

    If someone reads through the first half of John and is convinced that Christ will give him eternal life. Believes in him for it, and God says, nope, you did not believe some additional things that note only I did not list, I made confusing to make sure you would not get saved, what kind of God is that? I know some parts of scripture are harder to understand then others, but lets take the clear teaching as clear teaching and rejoice!

    You said "It may help to clarify that I do not consider the object of saving faith to be a commodity, such as eternal life, therefore I do not perceive the content of saving faith as pertaining to personal gain. I understand the scripture to teach that the object of saving faith is Jesus and the content of saving faith as pertaining to Him rather than to men."

    You trust someone for something. The analogy you borrow and you use to show your point shows that exact point. You cannot separate them I agree..


    You said "Now consider the faith you would need in that pilot. You can’t simply trust him to fly you where you want to go."

    Yes you could, but it would be more difficult to trust him, however, in this case I know where he is taking me/ giving me because he tells me what I am trusting him for. Eternal life. John is very clear that is the promise.

    You said "You have to trust him to know where you need to go, to know the best way to get there and to know exactly how and where to board and even when to depart. Even before all that you must first trust in him to know that there even is somewhere else to go or that flight is the best way to travel! In order to board that plane you must first trust him in all things. Though you may still have doubts along the way, before you board that plane you must consider that pilot as sole authority in all things on your journey and it no longer will benefit you to question his knowledge, power and ability or whether or not his instructions are correct. You can only question if you clearly understand them and continue to have hope in his power and authority. When you board you may even have a wrong destination in mind but because you trusted him in all things you will still get where you need to be even though you lack any further understanding."

    My challenge to you is to show this as the clear teaching of scripture. I want it clear so a child can believe. John is clear. This is a huge commitment! Who can know if they have eternal life based on this description? It requires a commitment from me instead of a commitment from God.

    KC said "Trent I hope this will clear the misconception I caused with my previous comment and again I apologize and extend my gratitude for your persistence with me"

    It helps me a lot understand where you are coming from. I am glad that we can disagree in such a polite way. My gratitude for your willingness to spend the time to write the post is immense. I do challenge you however to give a biblical response to back up your stance. If I am to be convinced it will be teh way I was converted to grace. By exposition of the scripture. I am stubborn I admit. :) Show me from scripture your arguement please and thank you again for taking this time to respond.

    November 03, 2007 8:26 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Ok... thats what I get for doing a post first thing in the morning. :) Art, the blog was in answer to you, not KC. Sorry for the confusion both of you.

    Please give me some Grace. :)

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 03, 2007 8:33 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    duh.. it was to both of you. I did not realize it was two posts. :) no wonder I was confused. *sigh* my points are probably confused as well. I will wait for you guys to ask for any clarification needed..

    I .. Need.. more... grace.

    Trent

    November 03, 2007 9:09 AM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Trent, I'm not sure I want to keep this going. I don't want to write long posts

    November 03, 2007 1:47 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Trent, that last thing posted when I signed in before I typed the rest of it. Sorry. I was about to say I will try here to be as brief as I can.

    Here is a list of things people today can know from reading the Gospel of John about the person John's Gospel calls upon us to believe:

    1. Jesus was God in human flesh - John 1:1-14
    2. Jesus was God's sacrifice for sin, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world - John 1:29,35
    3. Jesus was planning all along to be resurrected - John 2:21,22
    4. Jesus, as John explains years later 3:13-16, having been begotten by God into human flesh, was given by the Father so that people should not perish but have everlasting life - John 3:16
    5. Jesus was planning all along to give his flesh for the life of the world - John 6:51
    6. Jesus was going to lay down his life and take it again - John 10:17,18
    7. The high priest of the Jews prophesied that Jesus would die for their nation and for others too - John 11:51,52
    8. Jesus would die like a corn of wheat and bear fruit - John 12:24
    9. Jesus spoke of being "lifted up" and meant by this the kind of death he would die - John 12:32,33
    10. Jesus was sent by the Father to accomplish the Father's will and this included his coming death on the cross - John 6:38, 12:27,33
    11. The Holy Spirit was going to bring all these things to the remembrance of the disciples and guide them into all these and other truths - John 16:12,13
    12. Jesus did indeed die as he said he would - John ch. 20
    13. Jesus arose from the dead as he said he would - John ch. 21

    Looking back, John understood these things at the time he wrote his Gospel. This was after John had his understanding opened in Luke 24:45,46 as to why it had been necessary for Christ to suffer and arise from the dead (study the little Greek word for "behooved" there) and also having shaken hands with Paul about the gospel Christ gave to him (Gal. 2:7-9) which tells us Christ gave himself for our sins and is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes it - Gal. 1:4, 1 Cor. 15:1-4, Rom. 1:16). Prior to the cross, John didn't understand these things (Luke 18:31-34) but afterward he did, as anyone now can who reads John's Gospel with an open heart. When Jesus said, "He that believeth on me hath everlasting life," that was perfectly true back then when people weren't yet required to realize he had the cross in mind and it is still perfectly true now with all those statements he made back then having been brought to light. For me, this shows harmony between Paul's gospel and the Gospel of John which I view as vitally important.

    Art

    November 03, 2007 2:25 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Art, I think I understand what you are saying, but I still don't see where Christ or an Apostle states you have to do more then Trust in Christ for Eternal life. Yes, I agree and there is even more Truths you can learn from the Gospel of John.

    Yes, John did understand a lot more when he wrote the gospel, but what he wrote, he wrote so that a person could believe in Christ. He was saved before he understood all that.

    If you require a person to go through that check list to be saved, I think you are adding to the good news. Those are all things to teach a new believer. But after they are a believer.

    Understanding that Christ is God and that there is one God but Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God and the Father is God, is a tough pill to make an unbeliever swallow. Let them have the Holy Spirit to help them understand it.. at least as much as we can.

    The danger with implying that you have to do more then just believe in Christ for eternal life, is you are opening the bag. What other teachings should we add? Since the
    Bible is not clear that we need to add anything, it is very experiential. Christ said, "He who believes in me has everlasting life" I believe that. If you can show me a clear teaching where an apostle or Christ says " he who believes 1, 2 3, 4 and 5 has eternal life, then I think you have a point.

    Remember, John is evangelistic, and Paul is writing to believers. yes he discuss's eternal life with them at times, but he is speaking to those who have already trusted in Christ. There is harmony just like there is harmony between John and his epistles.

    Truths in the Bible to not automatically become things we must assent to or we do not have eternal life.

    One other thing. Christs death and Ressurection are powerful facts to share with someone to trust in Christ for Salvation. I totally agree. But when it comes down to it, I tell them. Jesus Christ said if you believe in him you have eternal life. Do you believe that.

    I tried to be brief to. :)

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 03, 2007 10:56 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Trent, rather sad, in my opinion. I think you are making distinctions that neither our Lord or John ever intended to be made. Sorry, but that's what I think. I've said enough.

    Art

    November 04, 2007 6:03 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Art, thank you for your polite discussion. As you leave, please consider this. John clearly showed that Jesus taught belief in him = eternal life. If that changed, and there is something else you need to believe, don't you think God would make sure it was spelled out as clearly?

    Let God's word tell you what it says, don't let someone else. Take the clear things of scripture and let them help you understand things more difficult. Put God's word, over people who are not perfect.

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 04, 2007 7:54 AM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Trent, Your farewell remarks, suggesting I should stop following people and follow God's Word instead, make me now think perhaps I haven't said enough after all. Please bear with me as I try to show you some things I have learned, not from men, but from God's Word.
    For one thing, I have learned from 1st Thes. 4:2, 1st Cor. 14:37 and 2nd Cor. 13:3 that Jesus continued speaking after he went back to heaven, especially through Paul.
    Do you believe these statements in God's Word about Jesus speaking through Paul? If you do, do you believe Jesus when he tells us in 1st Cor. 15:1-4 that the gospel is that Christ died for our sins and arose from the dead? And do you believe Jesus in Romans 1:16 where he says the gospel is the power of God to salvation? And do you believe Jesus in 2nd Thess. 1:11 that those who obey not the gospel will suffer flaming fire?
    If you would let this register, I think you would understand there is not any difference at all between believing in Jesus and believing the gospel that Jesus gave to Paul. The gospel is Jesus' truth, therefore, believing the gospel is believing him. And if you don't believe Paul you really aren't believing Jesus.
    I fear you don't really believe these later things Jesus said, but instead, divorce them from the way of salvation, based on John 6:47 which really has no validity today except to the extent it squares with the later teachings Jesus gave. Perhaps you might begin to see this by realizing there are many teachings Jesus gave during his earthly ministry that you don't follow, cannot follow, teachings he gave during the same time he said John 6:47. For example, you don't preach only to Jews like Jesus said in Matt. 10:5,6, don't cleanse lepers or raise the dead (Matt. 10:8), don't offer animal sacrifices (Mark 1:44), don't give or loan to everyone who asks of you, turning no one away (Matt. 5:42, Luke 6:30), don't submit to those who sit in Moses' seat (Matt. 23:1-3), and I'll bet you provide money for your purse, contrary to what Jesus said in Matt. 10:9. And further, I'll bet you don't do greater works than what Jesus himself did, like he said in John 14:12 that those who believe in him would do.
    Do you think the teachings of Jesus have always been the same? Surely you don't. How, Trent, can you select what you like from Jesus' earthly ministry and leave what you don't like? I think the only answer to all of this is that the later teachings Jesus gave, recorded in Paul's epistles, provide us with the grid by which all he previously said must be weighed. Without seeing this, I don't think you or anyone else can properly understand God's Word. The apostle John understood Paul's gospel long before he wrote the Gospel of John (Gal. 2:9). Unfortunately, I think you don't.

    November 04, 2007 7:27 PM  
    Blogger Bobby Grow said...

    Wow Antonio,

    now you have to debate both Lord-shippers, AND Free-Gracers . . . I think we need to define "what" or "who" eternal life is; and "what" faith IS relative to "who" eternal life is. In other words, Jesus, is eternal life . . . and faith is knowledge of HIM.

    Also if Jesus is forever incarnate in His orientation (i.e. the same yesterday, today, and forever)towards redeeming man . . . then thinking of eternal life in quantative terms vs. qualitative leads to an approach to salvation that focuses on ME instead of HIM; since it emphasizes "what" I get, instead of "WHO" he gets.

    anyway just some thoughts . . .

    November 04, 2007 9:09 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    The purpose for the signs in John’s Gospel was that you might believe in Jesus for eternal life. (John 20:30,31)

    Paul in his Gospel emphasized the eighth sign that you might believe in Jesus for eternal life. (1 Tim 1:16)


    There seems to be a consistency here!

    Paul received his Gospel from Jesus, same Gospel! (Gal 1:11,12)

    The core of both Jesus and Paul’s Gospel is eternal life.

    Jesus saved = eternal life (John 3:16,17)

    Paul saved = made alive (eternal life) (Eph 2:5)

    The “bulls eye” for Jesus is eternal life. That is what we believe in Jesus for! (John 6:47)
    The “bulls eye” for Paul is eternal life. That is what he was believing in Jesus for! (1 Tim 1:16)

    The eighth sign the cross just as the other seven signs in John’s Gospel are for the purpose that we might believe in Jesus for eternal life. Of the eight signs the cross is the ONLY one that shows HOW Jesus saved us from our sin. But is used for the same purpose as the other seven that we might have life in His name.
    Jesus offers eternal life as a gift, a gift is something you GET! A gift seems to be a very hard thing for some to understand and believe that you can take it freely!
    blessings alvin

    November 04, 2007 11:55 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    God bless you all for your prayers. Sheelagh is going in for a scope tomorrow by an urologist and her nerves have improved,,,,,,blessings alvin

    November 05, 2007 12:07 AM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Oversimplifications can be very dangerous.
    Take note, John 6:47 doesn't say,
    "believe on me FOR everlasting life."
    Rather, "believe on me HAS everlasting."
    And never does the Bible use "=" marks, saying,
    "belief in Jesus = eternal life."
    That may be a clever typo but it is quite misleading in the context here.

    November 05, 2007 5:49 AM  
    Blogger Art said...

    John 3:16 doesn't simply say, believe in Jesus for everlasting life. Rather, it is belief in him as the only "begotten" Son that the Father "gave." The only sense in which the Father "gave" the "begotten" Son is the cross. John knew this when he wrote John 3:16, and today, readers of John are expected to understand and believe this with John and Paul.

    November 05, 2007 5:50 AM  
    Blogger Art said...

    John 6:47 is an Old Testament statement by Jesus before the cross. John 3:16 is a New Testament statement by John, years later, after Jesus had gone back to heaven.

    November 05, 2007 5:51 AM  
    Blogger knetknight said...

    Antonio, you quoted me incompletely and I think the rest of my quote is important for your readers to consider.

    I said: My quick answer is that he doesn’t live in the same dispensation as those referenced so believing what they did is as insufficient now as would be if he had read only part of the OT and thought he could gain God’s favor by sacrificing animals. The answer seems as simple as progressive revelation.

    Does anyone here believe that someone who read the OT and came to the sincere but incorrect conclusion that sacrificing animals was the way to curb God's wrath would gain everlasting life? I'm sorry, but I simply see no evidence that "sincerity" is what gains you everlasting life. To disagree with that is "argument from outrage" and is not a logically valid position. The content of saving faith in this dispensation is clearer, more refined, than it was previous. Quoting examples of how someone was saved in a previous dispensation, as you did, is simply irrelevant. The book of John, like Acts, is a book that covers a time of transition which must be taken into consideration.

    As the Bereans,
    Stephen

    November 05, 2007 9:54 AM  
    Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

    Hi All,

    I agree with you Stephen, well said!

    The Gospel of John does narrate a time of transition (pre Crucifixion-Resurrection through post Crucifixion-Resurrection). To impose a pre crucifixion-resurrection Jesus on a post crucifixion-resurrection world is to disregard the culmination of John's Gospel narrative!

    November 05, 2007 12:04 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Art, I am packing up to move, and am not ignoring you. I will be responding after I have a bit of time to study the passages you bring up.

    November 06, 2007 8:08 AM  
    Blogger Art said...

    I appreciate that note, Trent. Thanks. Hope your move is a good one. To me, saying you're going to study those passages is excellent. May God bless your efforts and mine in seeking to be consistent and clear in all these matters. I will wait with patience, checking back from time to time.

    November 06, 2007 8:33 AM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Art maybe this is a little clearer and not so simplistic Notice the words that are parallel in these verses:

    John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not PERISH but have EVERLASTING LIFE.
    17. For God did not send His Son into the world to CONDEMN the world but that the world through Him might be SAVED.

    PERISH parallel to CONDEMN

    Everlasting life parallel to saved

    It is transparent in these words of our Lord that the concepts of verse 17 parrallel those of verse 16. The phrase "should not perish" (vs.16) is paralleled by the words "not...to condemn" (vs.17). Likewise, the phrase "should have everlasting life" (vs. 16) is paralleled by the words "might be saved" (vs. 17). The equation of "saved" with "having eternal life" goes back to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! Jesus said it first! What would we expect? Paul told us that his gospel "came through the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal 1:12). As far as Paul was concerned, this was the one and only gospel that God had given to men (see Gal 1:6-9). He preached what Jesus preached. (Hodges page 30).


    For Paul to be made alive was to be saved, as this verse shows:

    Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in tresspasses, MADE US ALIVE together with Christ (by grace you have been SAVED),

    To be “saved” and to be “made alive” both mean the same thing for the Apostle Paul. It is true that the divine blessings of “forgivness” and “justification” occur at the same time that we are “made alive” in Christ. But never uses either term as a functional equivalent for the “saved”/”salvation” concept. Never.
    (Zane Hodges Did Paul Preach Eternal Life? Page 27).

    Just as the ones in John’s Gospel were believing in Jesus FOR eternal life so was Paul as shown in this verse:
    1 Timothy 1:16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him FOR everlasting life.



    Blessings alvin

    November 06, 2007 12:03 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (1 John 5:1a).

    John understood the meaning of “The Christ” the same way as the women at the well.

    Jesus told the women at the well: If you knew the gift of God and who it was who said to you give Me a drink, you would have asked and He would have given you living water.

    Here are the two things she needed to know:
    #1. What the gift of God was. (one drink and you will never thirst, forever gift)

    #2. Who it was that was offering her the gift. (I who speak to you am He, meaning the Christ)
    note: nowhere in the narrative does Jesus tell the women that He is Jesus, but only reveals Himself to her as “The Christ.” We know though that it was Jesus offering the living water,,,the right Jesus not Jesus the gardener as Trent would say,





    This shouldn’t be a surprise, the Gift and the Giver are the same, they are bound up together in the person called “The Christ!”

    To believe in Jesus for His gift is to believe in Jesus as “The Christ” and to be born of God.

    The living water was not everlasting life but springs up into everlasting life. The living water was the knowledge of His person. Does this knowledge produce everlasting life? John 20:31b and believing you might have life in His name.
    The living water hasn’t changed.

    November 06, 2007 12:17 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    These one’s who seem gallant in their defense of Jesus death burial and resurrection as a condition for eternal life, but at the same time deny the crosses efficiency. This is a glaring contradiction, and to me makes these gallant warriors for truth less then what they seem.

    John 1:29b behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Did He take it away? Yes He did!

    2 Corinthians 5:19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the WORLD to Himself, NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESSPASSES TO THEM, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
    Why is He not imputing sin to the world? Because He took it away at the cross!

    1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself A RANSOM FOR ALL, to be testified in due time.
    Did Jesus leave anyone out? Not one person is left out, because He paid for ALL sin!

    1 John 2:2 And He Himself IS the propitiation for our sins, AND NOT FOR OURS ONLY BUT ALSO FOR THE WHOLE WORLD.
    Jesus isn’t potentially the propitiation for the sins of the world but IS!!!

    These gallant warriors for truth would say that Jesus propitiation is ONLY effective if you believe. Which would clearly deny the efficiency of the cross. I point this contradiction out to show that their fight for truth isn’t as noble as it seems.

    The living water that is offered freely to everyone can be taken freely! One only needs to believe in Jesus as “The Christ” the giver of life! Sin is not an issue when it comes to taking the living water. If you simply desire you can take it (Rev 22:17). Of course the gallant warriors will not like the simplicity of such an offer!

    Blessings alvin

    November 07, 2007 12:26 AM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Alvin,

    I do not see any contradiction, in fact I think both positions make logical sense. If Christ's death truly did pay for the sins of ALL men, then your position makes sense - the lost do not need to know about their sin or the payment of it, because, as you said, sin is not an issue. All the lost need is eternal life, according to your view, thus all they need to believe is that Jesus can give them that eternal life.

    However, if Christ's death only provided the payment for the sins of all men, but that payment must be applied by faith, then it makes sense that the lost must acknowledge their sin as well as accept the specific payment that covers their sin.

    So while you may not agree that Christ's death only potentially pays for sin, the conclusion that comes from such a premise is not a contradiction.

    November 07, 2007 8:46 AM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Rachel
    But if the premise is false in which I believe it is, then it is a contradiction. Because you cannot say you proclaim the cross and at the same time deny its efficiency.
    alvin

    November 07, 2007 8:35 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Art, thank you for being willing to continue the discussion. I know we both consider ourselves biblical literalists and both consider our stance the correct one, so your willingness to continue a see as a sign of your love.

    Art Said "For one thing, I have learned from 1st Thes. 4:2, 1st Cor. 14:37 and 2nd Cor. 13:3 that Jesus continued speaking after he went back to heaven, especially through Paul."

    Did he speak through the apostles? Surely. It is what the epistles are.

    Art said "If you do, do you believe Jesus when he tells us in 1st Cor. 15:1-4 that the gospel is that Christ died for our sins and arose from the dead? And do you believe Jesus in Romans 1:16 where he says the gospel is the power of God to salvation? "

    Yes, to everyone that believes. My questions is, where is the content clearly changed? Acts 16:25-34. The jailor asks "What must I do to be saved?" The answer was not a checklist, but the answer I read in John. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. " Vs 34 states his whole house hold believed! There are many truths in the New Testament. Just because they are there, does not add them to the content required for people to believe to have eternal life.

    Art said "And do you believe Jesus in 2nd Thess. 1:11 that those who obey not the gospel will suffer flaming fire? " I am assuming that you agree with me, that this is not a requirement for eternal life. The gospel is defined as many things in different places in the New Testament. good news is rampant through out, but not all of the good news is related to deliverance from hell.

    Art said "If you would let this register, I think you would understand there is not any difference at all between believing in Jesus and believing the gospel that Jesus gave to Paul. The gospel is Jesus' truth, therefore, believing the gospel is believing him. And if you don't believe Paul you really aren't believing Jesus."

    the gospel is many things. If you want to require people to believe anything defined as gospel in the new testament, then you will have around 70 points if I remember correctly. I think perhaps this is where the confusion comes in. Is the gospel always defined as something that gives eternal life when believed in. Is that your belief? If that is the case, lets start a study there.

    Art Said "I fear you don't really believe these later things Jesus said, but instead, divorce them from the way of salvation, based on John 6:47 which really has no validity today except to the extent it squares with the later teachings Jesus gave. Perhaps you might begin to see this by realizing there are many teachings Jesus gave during his earthly ministry that you don't follow, cannot follow, teachings he gave during the same time he said John 6:47. "

    Oh, I believe them, but I do not believe they are required to understand for eternal life. Pick one, and lets study it. No where is something added to belief in Christ for eternal life. It might help if you clearly listed every belief you think is required for eternal life, and quote the passage where it is stated.

    Art said "For example, you don't preach only to Jews like Jesus said in Matt. 10:5,6, don't cleanse lepers or raise the dead (Matt. 10:8), don't offer animal sacrifices "

    Of course not. These were clear teachings in vs 1 to the 12 specifically. Thats what I mean about context and clear teaching.


    Art Said "don't give or loan to everyone who asks of you, turning no one away (Matt. 5:42, Luke 6:30), don't submit to those who sit in Moses' seat (Matt. 23:1-3),"

    I follow those at times, and believe when I do I am gathering rewards in heaven. Of course they are pertinent, and I don't practice pure religion as described in James 1:27 either or at least not consistently, but that does not make it untrue, or not applicable. I know I am not perfect, so I am confused why you bring these up?

    Art said "and I'll bet you provide money for your purse, contrary to what Jesus said in Matt. 10:9. and further, I'll bet you don't do greater works than what Jesus himself did, like he said in John 14:12 that those who believe in him would do.
    Do you think the teachings of Jesus have always been the same?"

    again quoted out of context, it is spoken specifically to the 12. you are machine gunning verses at me out of context, and they do not prove a point. He taught many things, but his teachings on eternal life, yes have always been the same, and none of the verses you quote show otherwise.

    Art said "How, Trent, can you select what you like from Jesus' earthly ministry and leave what you don't like? I think the only answer to all of this is that the later teachings Jesus gave, recorded in Paul's epistles, provide us with the grid by which all he previously said must be weighed. Without seeing this, I don't think you or anyone else can properly understand God's Word. The apostle John understood Paul's gospel long before he wrote the Gospel of John (Gal. 2:9). Unfortunately, I think you don't.
    "

    Art, I was interested in checking all of those references, but not one seems to support the idea of adding something to "believe in the Christ for eternal life." as I quoted, even Paul said the same. Arguing from the possiblity that perhaps Jesus taught something else to the apostles that did is an arguement from silence because its not in the Bible. Yes, Paul taught many things, but he did not add to what Christ said is required for eternal life.. or at least thus far I have seen no verses given that say so

    I am catching up with the rest now, so if I am about to be proven wrong.. :)

    Thank you again for taking the time to post

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 08, 2007 9:37 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Art said "John 3:16 doesn't simply say, believe in Jesus for everlasting life. Rather, it is belief in him as the only "begotten" Son that the Father "gave." The only sense in which the Father "gave" the "begotten" Son is the cross. John knew this when he wrote John 3:16, and today, readers of John are expected to understand and believe this with John and Paul."

    I see 2 problems with this.
    1. many unbelievers, to whom John is written (and written after the cross) probably have no idea what that means.

    2. You are still arguing that John 3:16 was not spoken by Christ which is an argument that is not assured.

    If you just read those verses, you could believe in Christ for eternal life, and you would have no idea about any of the arguments you make. It says "Jesus said" it does not give a foot note statement for clarification. To argue that Jesus did not say it seems strange.

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 08, 2007 9:41 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Hi Stephen,

    You said "Does anyone here believe that someone who read the OT and came to the sincere but incorrect conclusion that sacrificing animals was the way to curb God's wrath would gain everlasting life? I'm sorry, but I simply see no evidence that "sincerity" is what gains you everlasting life. To disagree with that is "argument from outrage" and is not a logically valid position."

    The difference is Christ did not say that. I agree sincerity does not save, but Jesus Christ said " If you believe in me, you have Eternal life" and said it in about 17 ways in the Book of John. Also, show me where the Old Testament says "sacrificing animals gives eternal life"


    You said "The content of saving faith in this dispensation is clearer, more refined, than it was previous. Quoting examples of how someone was saved in a previous dispensation, as you did, is simply irrelevant. The book of John, like Acts, is a book that covers a time of transition which must be taken into consideration."

    Please clearly state exactly what you believe a person must believe to be saved, and quote your example of someone saved that way then. If this is a different dispensation and the book of John does not apply in spite of stating its purpose around AD 90, then I want to see how someone was saved. This is what I am after. Scripture that teaches what you are teaching, not just arguements.

    Thank you for being willing to post!

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 08, 2007 9:47 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    To the TFG people.

    I have no axe to grind. I believe in the death and ressurection of Christ and what it entailed. I sincerely believe what I am stating strongly as I have studied scripture and been convinced of this truth with out anyone's writings. I met antonio on the internet and was surprised to find that there were many Free Gracers, and many who actually agreed with how simples it was for a person to gain eternal life. I used to have a checklist as well. My evangelism was confused. Where can you show someone in Scripture what they must do to be saved? How many verses do you need? Yes, I tell them about the cross, but I offer them eternal life like Christ did. I used John 14:6 and John 3:16. I ask them, do you believe in Christ for eternal life? As my blog states sola scriptura. Don't convince me with mans logic, convince me with scripture and scripture in context!

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 08, 2007 9:57 AM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Alvin,
    It's only a contradiction if you're right. So you can't say you're right because it's a contradiction, and it's a contradiction because you're right. That's begging the question.

    The conclusion does not contradict the premise. My conclusion may very well contradict your premise, but that is to be expected. The issue lies then in the truth of the premises, not the logic of their conclusions.

    I don't see a contradiction. I proclaim the cross to all, because it is sufficient for all. I also proclaim that it is efficient only for those who believe in Him. I am not denying "the efficiency of the cross". I do reject the extent to which you believe the cross is efficient, but I am not denying the general efficiency of the cross.

    November 08, 2007 12:22 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Regarding the issue of John 3:16, I am confused as to why it is so important that we be able to use John 3:16 alone to witness to people. Is John 3:16 by itself sufficient to bring someone to salvation? Not without significant explanation. Why is that a problem? Even Jesus did not say this "verse" by itself, it was in the middle of a complete thought, besides the fact that this "verse" was in the middle of much other context. Why such emphasis on finding one verse or trying to find some one-liner that we can use to make the gospel "simple"? It IS simple. But that doesn't mean it has to be reduced to one sentence.

    November 08, 2007 12:37 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Rachel
    you said: It's only a contradiction if you're right.

    Rachel I like that! That's why I put the simple child like scriptures up above to prove what I was saying is true! For instance John 1:29 behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
    Rachel I could say amen to this verse, because I believe Jesus did take away the sin of the world. But you would have to twist this verse to fit your (sufficient,effecient)belief! You would have to change that verse to read "behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of those who believe.
    Rachel you said:
    I don't see a contradiction. I proclaim the cross to all, because it is sufficient for all. I also proclaim that it is efficient only for those who believe in Him. I am not denying "the efficiency of the cross". I do reject the extent to which you believe the cross is efficient, but I am not denying the general efficiency of the cross.
    Rachel I also proclaim the cross to everyone because it shows that all sins have been paid for, so sin is no longer a barrier for anyone.
    Rachel when you say:
    I don't see a contradiction. I proclaim the cross to all, because it is sufficient for all. I also proclaim that it is efficient only for those who believe in Him.
    Rachel I see this as double talk. Either the Lamb of God took away the sin of the world or He did not. You are trying to have it both ways which is a contradiction to clear scripture.
    alvin

    November 08, 2007 2:47 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Alvin, okay, so we disagree on what the Scripture is "clear" about. But my point is simply that it is inaccurate to say that my position is a contradiction. 1, my conclusion does NOT contradict my premise; and 2, IMO neither my conclusion nor my premise contradict Scripture. We can disagree on what Scripture actually says, but you cannot say that one reason why I am wrong is because my position is a contradiction. As I said earlier, the only way my position is a contradiction is if you are right and I am wrong. But since that's exactly what we are discussing, then the "contradiction" label can't be used as a proof. To do so would be to beg the question. You can't assume the truth of your position in a proof of your position.

    My point is simply that my position is not a contradiction. I need to do more study on this particular issue before I'm ready to debate it.

    November 08, 2007 5:55 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Trent,
    I don't understand your issue with "man's logic". We all have to use man's logic. You used it to decide what "believe in Jesus" means, what "the Christ, the Son of God" means, and how the other Scriptures relate to John's gospel. We have to use our brains to think and process the information we read, otherwise it is just raw information. So what specifically about "man's logic" is that you are wanting us to avoid?

    November 08, 2007 6:14 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Rachel, what I mean is that just because something is logical does not mean that it is true. Calvinism as an example is very logical. Each point is a logical step from the one prior. Each point works assuming the one before it is true. But if one of the points is not true, then what? Yes, using logic is not bad, as long as we are not more focused on that then what the Bible says.

    Based on our "logic" God is doing things all wrong. He chooses the weak and foolish to use as his tools. He sent his Son who is worth more then any of us, to die on the cross while we were yet sinners. His Son recieves the punishment that we deserve. Thats not fair! So logic does not automatically = truth. We need to make sure we do our best to let the Bible speak for itself, even if its not logical.

    So, now that I rambled... :) Yes, we want to use logical thinking but we need to make sure we don't let our logic take us away from what God is saying.

    I like to challenge people to read passages of scripture that they think back up something they believe (for myself as well) and ask if they could get what they believe if someone else did not already tell them what it was talking about. Like my catholic brother-in-law tell me John Chapter 3 is proof that you have to be baptized to have eternal life. What?

    As someone reminded me recently, you also want to use the clear teachings of scripture to help with more difficult. If nothing else you can always say, I am not sure what it is saying, but I know what its not saying.

    Can someone believe in Christ for eternal life reading the first 12 chapters of John? Yes. Will they go to hell because they did not get further? (its not hypothetical. try sharing Christ with children who trust you. My children trusted in Christ for eternal life before they understood death let alone ressurection) If they do so, then you have a problem because Christ made that person specific promises, that no apostle ever corrected. "You will never die, you will never perish, you will never hunger, you will never thirst etc" As clear as the Gospel of John is, I want clarity from Scripture before contradicting it, not just logic, or mans reasoning.

    Love in Christ

    Trent

    P.S. I always feel I have to add this because of things I have seen written. I DO believe the Cross and Ressurection are important, and should be shared when telling someone about Christ. It is how our Salvation was accomplished. It may help them understand and believe in Christ for eternal life. What I don't do is question them if they believe it. I ask them one question. Do you believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life. (I go into more depth in how I did it in India on my blog)


    P.P.S. I assumed you are not a Calvinist. Calvinists should not be concerned with what you have to believe since you are regenerate before belief, and once you are saved, you will believe what ever it is you must believe.

    November 09, 2007 8:48 AM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Hi Rachel
    I agree with what Trent is saying about logic and also going off of the clear scriptures. I would like to leave you with a few points to consider. First I would like to show a logical conclusion if in fact John 1:29 can be taken at face value. John the Baptist stated about Jesus “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Rachel if all sin has been “taken away” as the verse states. Then we should expect the reason for eternal condemnation at the Great White Throne of Judgement not to be because of sin. Because in fact ALL sin has been paid for on the cross. And this is just what we find when we go there, sin is not mentioned as sin ONE time.
    Here is the scripture reference:
    Rev 20:11Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,[a] and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their WORKS, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his WORKS. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.[b] 15 And ANYONE NOT FOUND WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE was cast into the lake of fire.

    What is mentioned here is their works of course their works have sin in them, but sin as sin is not mentioned which we would expect if “the sin of the world is taken away.” These ones at the Great White Throne will be given a fair hearing. Many of them thought that their works should have out weighed their sins. Like the ones Jesus spoke about in Matt 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?
    These people called Jesus Lord and they were trusting in their works, but Jesus didn’t deny their works but stated He never new them. At the Great White Throne all their works will be presented, but notice they are not condemned even because of their works but because they do not have life. Their eternal condemnation is not because of sin or EVEN their works but because their names are not written in the book of Life. They do not have life!
    My second point is concerning eternal corruption. People die in their sins as the scriptures clearly state. I believe this is speaking of their experience or condition. They are born a sinner and they die a sinner and when they go into hell they are a sinner. The law of sowing and reaping does not end with them but goes on and on reaping eternal corruption. For a believer this law is also in effect but only until the believer sees His Lord face to face then death is swallowed up into the fullness of eternal life. As we know some reap much quicker then others and we could expect this principal to be a factor in the eternal state concerning degrees of suffering.
    There is NO judicial condemnation for anyone, but there is the law of sowing and reaping that goes on and on and on, where the worm does not die. Jesus paid for all sin in full so there can be no judicial condemnation. But this does not mean that the lost are forgiven. Forgiveness is a personal issue. A Judge does not forgive but either finds the person guilty or innocent. Jesus paid it all, just as the old song proclaimed. This means sin is not a barrier between God and man and the living water can be taken freely!
    Blessings alvin
    PS. Rachel you don't need to respond to this post. I just wanted to give you some food for thought. I appreaciate your tone, thank you.

    November 09, 2007 4:52 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Trent, I thought you were going to "study" the references I pointed out to you. I think, instead, you studied how to answer me. Nevertheless, my "machine gun," as you characterize it, appears to have hit the mark with at least a couple of "bullets." That is, you do acknowledge that Jesus taught some things in his earthly ministry that you don't follow. So my question is still valid and I await your answer. What is your basis for deciding what still applies? I've given you what I think is a good answer, which you don't seem to like. So what is YOUR answer? How do YOU decide which teachings from Jesus' earthly ministry you should heed? It can't be that you exclude things spoken to the 12 because there are some things Jesus spoke to them that I think you probably do take as applying to you, such as the great commission (Mt. 28:19,20 to the eleven v.16), although even here I would point out you don't teach people to observe all things whatsoever Jesus commanded (such as animal sacrifices Mk 1:44 and raising the dead Mt 10:8, etc.). So my question is valid. How do you decide what you should heed and what you should not in the teachings Jesus gave?
    As to my understanding of Jesus' words to Nicodemus ending at John 3:12 and you saying this is "strange," I would suggest Jesus injecting the idea of being in heaven while talking to Nicodemus is what is really strange. Isn't it exceedingly odd to think Jesus would say this to that unbeliever? John breaks into the narrative of his Gospel again and again. Haven't you noticed this in reading John? I think it astoundingly strange that you, claiming all Nicodemus had to do was believe in Jesus for eternal life, say Jesus said so much more to him. How far in the chapter do YOU think Jesus' words go? I say v.13, and if I am right, John has undersanding when writing John 3:16 that he didn't have before the cross. And so he says the Father "gave" the Son He had "begotten," which can only refer to the cross. Seeking to dismiss this, you say John's readers wouldn't have understood this, but I disagree. These things "weren't done in a corner" (see this at Acts 26:26), and thus, I think you would have had a hard time finding people who hadn't heard at least something about that person in Jerusalem who was crucified and came back from the dead. So I think my point stands. John 3:16 doesn't simply teach belief in Jesus as someone who guarantees eternal life but as the "begotten" Son that the Father "gave," i.e., the cross.
    More to post.

    November 09, 2007 7:29 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Trent, a verse that absolutely convinces me salvation comes through faith in Christ's death and resurrection is 1st Cor. 15:2. You are correct, of course, in saying there are many gospels, because "gospel" is good news and the Bible is full of items of good news. But Paul isn't talking here about just any good news; he is declaring the good news he preached "by which ye are saved" (v.2), and is defining this as Christ's death for our sins, burial and resurrection (v.3,4). I realize you will say we are saved by Christ's death and resurrection without necessarily believing it. But notice this. It's BY this gospel that you are saved IF YOU TAKE HOLD OF IT, unless you have believed in vain. I really cannot improve on Zane Hodges' remarks about this verse, written by him in his book, The Gospel Under Siege. On page 91 of that book he explains that the Greek word KATECHO means to take hold, and in this verse, it means to take hold of this gospel, applying it by faith. He also explains that believing in vain here is belief in Christ's resurrection for salvation if Christ's resurrection wasn't real. Look it up. Read the passage and also read Hodges' remarks. I'm sure you have his book. Thus, Hodges makes my case in a powerful way, showing from 1st Cor. 15:2 that belief in these facts of the gospel are definitely involved in saving faith.
    Another text is 2nd Thes. 1:11 where those who obey not the gospel will suffer flaming fire. You said, concerning this text, that I would probably agree with you it isn't about eternal salvation. But no, I don't agree with that. I believe it most certainly is about eternal salvation for it plainly says these unbelievers will suffer flaming fire, being punished with everlasting destruction. And why? Because they obey not the gospel. I understand this to mean people are required to believe the gospel Paul preached in order to avoid this horrible fate.
    And now, Trent, I would like to ask you to prove your case. Begin please, by producing a text where Jesus actually spoke of believing in him FOR everlasting life. Nothing ambiguous please. Nothing where you draw this as an inference. John 6:47 doesn't meet the standard because it doesn't say "FOR everlasting life." It says "HAS everlasting life." So show me the text that does say it. And also show me that Jesus is the one who guarantees eternal life to those who believe in him - a text where it cannot be God the Father honoring the faith of those who believe in the Son and guaranteeing this life to them, but the Son saying he is the one who guarantees it. Prove your case if you can.
    Art

    November 09, 2007 7:34 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Hi Art, please continue to share in the grace you have shown thus far.

    You said "Trent, I thought you were going to "study" the references I pointed out to you. I think, instead, you studied how to answer me. Nevertheless, my "machine gun," as you characterize it, appears to have hit the mark with at least a couple of "bullets." That is, you do acknowledge that Jesus taught some things in his earthly ministry that you don't follow."

    Umm... huh? I do not call plagues onto Egypt either because that was a command to Moses. I try and follow his commands to me however. Paul told the generation before the destruction of Jeruselem that it was better for them not to marry. I attempt to understand everything within the context it is written. I studied each of the verses you posted and studied them in context before replying. If you feel I misunderstood one, then lets address them individually please.

    Art Said "What is your basis for deciding what still applies? I've given you what I think is a good answer, which you don't seem to like. So what is YOUR answer? How do YOU decide which teachings from Jesus' earthly ministry you should heed? It can't be that you exclude things spoken to the 12 because there are some things Jesus spoke to them that I think you probably do take as applying to you, such as the great commission (Mt. 28:19,20 to the eleven v.16), although even here I would point out you don't teach people to observe all things whatsoever Jesus commanded (such as animal sacrifices Mk 1:44 and raising the dead Mt 10:8, etc.). So my question is valid. How do you decide what you should heed and what you should not in the teachings Jesus gave?"

    I think that some of the things you brought up its pretty obvious that it was directed to the apostles ministry. If you are raising people from the dead, then I would like to meet with you. I do my best to deal with context. Yes I agree, somethings he spoke to the 12 were to disciples in general, and others are obviously to them specific. How do I determine it? Context. My challenge to you was to show me verses you believe show we must believe something other then in Jesus for eternal life, and you are bringing up verses all over that have nothing to do with it. (I see in the next post you do bring up one so I will take a look) but thus far, you question a lot, bring up verses about many different things out of context. Rereading this, it can seem harsh, but my tone is calm. :) Its just what I am seeing.


    In regards to John 3:16, I quoted another verse where Jesus did the same thing. I could easily understand it to be that he is still omniprescent God, and that even as Jesus Christ, his presence is in me, and in every other believer and everywhere else as well. But regardless, its God's word and says what it says and either means it or does not.

    November 09, 2007 8:08 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Art, I actually started reading this one first and almost missed your first one. This one I think is your first solid stab at proving there is more to belief in Christ then simply believing in him. :) Whether it is for eternal life.... :)

    Before I get into this, I just want to clarify 2 things.

    One, is that you require the following checklist of beliefs for someone to have eternal life, and if they do not know and believe each one they are not saved.

    1. Christ died according to the scriptures.

    2. He was buried.

    3. He rose again and on the 3rd day.

    4. He was seen by Cephas,

    5. He was seen by the 12,

    6. He was seen "after" that by over 500 brethren at once.

    7. "after" that he was seen by James

    8. Then by all the apostles.

    9. Then he was seen by Paul.

    Because this is the gospel that Paul is sharing. All 9 points.

    I bet there are millions of people who think they are Christians and don't know all 9 of those facts. And I bet there are millions more who know those 9 facts but have not trusted in Christ for eternal life. (many catholics, mormons and other cultists believe all 9 of those points for example) The ONE thing that this list is missing is something very important. Its the one condition Christ gave. No belief in Christ, then no eternal life. Its the point that every other religion and cult has a problem with. Faith alone in Christ alone for eternal life! Different condition(s), different consequence.

    Two, I assume you mean 2 Thess 1:7-8. I did not review that passage before as I could not find it at vs 11 and thought it was one I was familiar with. Yes, I would agree its eternal, but I don't have a problem with it. I know the good news Christ preached for eternal life. Verse 10 clarifies that he will be admired by his saints who believe. The good news Christ preached is John 3:16. If you don't believe he said that, there are other passages we can use but John 3:16 is God's word.

    As for your other requirements, John 3:16 specifically does not follow your rule for Jesus not saying it. John could have put in the verse in front (though I don't believe it). You are basing a theology on your opinion that Christ did not say a verse, and therefore it is not binding?


    John 1:12-13 believe and become children of God. Its not a quote by Jesus, but its God's word.

    John 3:15-16 Believe in Christ and have eternal life and "NEVER" perish. Stating that Jesus did not say it does not remove its validity. As Antonio argues, if you believe in someone, you are believing in him for something. These verse tell you what it is.

    John 3:18 Believe and "not" be condemned.

    John 4:13-42 Drink of his water and "NEVER" thirst. Many believe in him that he was the Chrsit the Savior of the World

    John 4:53 Believed.

    John 6:29 The work of God that you believe in Him whom He sent. (for what?)

    John 6:35 He who believes in him will "NEVER" thirst. (for what?)

    John 6:40 whoever believes in him will have everlasting life and Christ "WILL" raise him up at the last day (for this!)

    6:68-69 Christ has the words of eternal life. The disciples believe that he is the Christ the Son of the living God.

    John 9:35-38 Believe in the Son of God.

    10:25-29 Believe, have eternal life (its compared with the negative, but the point is obvious. They do nt believe in him and do not recieve eternal life. His sheep do)

    John 11:25-27 I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me (for what?)though he may die, he shall live, and who ever lives and believes in Me shall never die. (for that) DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?

    She answers it. She understood that he was the Christ who could do this!

    Galations 1:6. What is the gospel that they were turning away from so quickly? No clarification that the message of Salvation had changed once not long ago? Of course not, it was the same, but someone was changing it! Paul is not teaching a "new" gospel.

    Gal 2:16 a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believe in Christ that we might be justified by faith in Christ. Believe in him for what? John makes that clear, and they know because Paul is writing believers. John spells it out because its the book written for those who do not believe.




    Ok I will address 1 Cor Chapter 15 as soon as you affirm that is the checklist you hold to that people must believe for eternal life. If you have more points to add, please list the verses you use so I can address them as well.

    I would like to point out that 1 Corinthians 1:2 address the book to "The church of God which is at Corinth to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus called to be saints with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord both theirs and ours. He is writing to people who are believers. They have trusted in Christ for eternal life, or if you are correct they have believed 9 facts about Christ's death and ressurection.

    Whew.. ok I will wait for you to affirm that I am understanding what you are saying. :) or correct me.

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 09, 2007 8:59 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Trent, Since you say you follow what Jesus said to you, maybe you could expalin how you know what he said to you. Didn't he say, "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel?" (Matt. 15:24). Is that you? Paul said, "Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision" (Rom. 15:8) and that he (Paul) is the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (Rom. 15:16). Where then, in Scripture, is Jesus Christ speaking to you?
    Are you suggesting I have been taking all those Scripture verses out context by suggesting you don't follow them? You might want to explain that a little more if that's what you're saying.
    It's getting late here where I live so I need to stop for tonight.
    Later,
    Art

    November 09, 2007 9:09 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Well, Trent, I see you posted something more while I was in the process of posting that last thing. I'm sorry but I don't see that the verses you quoted from John make your case. (Like saying, I believe Jesus said he will give me eternal life and the reason I believe he said this is because I believe he said it.) I was expecting to disagree with you about what what these verses actually say, knowing what was coming. But now, more crucially, I see from this last post that you are are going to make discussion of 1st Corinthians 15 impossible by arguing the definition of the gospel Paul gives there includes all the details that prove the resurrection of Christ in verses 5 and following. I've been down this road with others and don't see this as a legitimate response but an effort to avoid facing up to the truth in verse 2. It's quite clear to me that this is where you are headed, and therefore, it does indeed look to me that this is where we need to stop. Frankly, it is too much work to write these things out with you obviously determined to make them futile. No one can be convinced of anything against their will. Maybe I should have expected this but it surprises and frustrates me to see it here at this point tonight.
    But I will tell you this, Trent. I think you might not continue to hold the view you do, I'm not sure of course, but I wouldn't be shocked if you changed your mind. I don't thnk you are open to doing that now but maybe before too long your thinking will change. I really don't know of anyone who ever held your view until Hodges changed his mind in just the last few years and my personal guess is that most true believers love our Lord Jesus Christ and appreciate the great price he paid for our salvation too much to abide for very long any system that makes the knowledge of his death and resurrection into just an optional matter for salvation. Already, I see indications, and expect to see a lot more opposition to it. My thought is that it is actually a fad, will be gone in a few years, and that the very stubborn few who cling to it will become insignificant and have almost no influence for our Lord.
    I hope that won't include you. I wish you well, my friend. No hard feelings on my end but I really do disagree with you.
    Please don't give me another farewell lecture about following God's Word rather than men. While you and I don't agree, my intention is indeed to study God's Word and follow it faithfully as best I am able.
    Art

    November 09, 2007 10:14 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Hi Art,

    You said "Trent, Since you say you follow what Jesus said to you, maybe you could expalin how you know what he said to you. Didn't he say, "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel?" (Matt. 15:24). Is that you? Paul said, "Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision" (Rom. 15:8) and that he (Paul) is the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (Rom. 15:16). Where then, in Scripture, is Jesus Christ speaking to you?
    Are you suggesting I have been taking all those Scripture verses out context by suggesting you don't follow them? You might want to explain that a little more if that's what you're saying.
    It's getting late here where I live so I need to stop for tonight.
    Later,
    Art"

    Since I know you don't believe this as you are representing it, why are you going so far off topic? Jesus was clear that he went to the Jews first, and then the Gentiles. Lets stay on topic. Ok, you don't accept the verses in the book of John. I did not include John 20 only because it was late and I did not get that far. I am fine referencing it. I see you have 2 posts, so I will look forward to discussing Corinthians with you.

    November 10, 2007 8:40 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Hi Art. Ok, I was disappointed to read your post. So you don't believe that people have to believe the passage that you use to prove more then belief in Christ for salvation, but pick and choose what must be believed from that list?

    I believe that all of that chapter is true, not just vs 2 & or what I pick and choose from it. What is your basis for choosing the verses you choose? Why is only part of it a valid part of what you believe must be believed in for eternal life?

    You also, do not address the fact that belief in Christ is not even mentioned there unless you assume vs 2 is that. If this passage is eternal life, its not adding to what you must believe, but replacing it with 9 points that as I mention cultists and catholics will believe. You do not receive eternal life by remaining faithful or holding fast to a belief. That is the lordship message. You do recieve deliverance or salvation of a different sort by remaining faithful. 1 Pet 3-9 describes this salvation gained in that way.

    What I am trying to do is show you the clear teaching of Scripture, of Christ and Paul is belief in Christ for eternal life, and that you have to be inconsistent, and vague to add anything to that.

    I am not sure Zane would agree with what you have him saying, but if so, then I would disagree. I put my faith in the Scriptures not in a person other then Jesus Christ. I believe his promise to all who believe.

    P.S. I started readinga top post of yours about John 20, so my response to that is me making my normal early in the morning mistakes, sorry.

    I hope you continue your study of the word of God, and please consider what your basis is for what you believe.

    Peace and Truth

    Trent

    November 10, 2007 8:56 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Art, one last point. You said "(Like saying, I believe Jesus said he will give me eternal life and the reason I believe he said this is because I believe he said it.) "

    Whether you want to argue this was Jesus, or John under the inspiration of God, it is true. If you are arguing against the inspiration of scripture, that is a whole new issue and way off topic. If I said "God said it" are you ok with it?

    Peace and Truth

    Trent

    November 10, 2007 9:01 AM  
    Blogger knetknight said...

    Trent, I'll pick up where Art left off 1 Cor 15. Maybe he'll come back because I think he had some good thoughts.

    Like Art, I view vv 3,4 as a brief summary of what Paul considered to be a barebones breakdown of "The gospel."

    * 3,4 are unique in that they are the only vv directly connected with the authority of existing scripture.
    * 3,4 are the only vv in this section that concern Jesus specifically.
    * The sentence ends at v5 so it's arguable that v5 is the only content we need demonstrate can be reasonably disconnected from vv 3,4.
    * Knowing that the Corinthians were being exposed to false ideas that denied the resurrection so it makes perfect sense that Paul immediately followed on the heals of v4 with a list of witnesses to the very event in question. This isn't content of the message itself, it's simply evidence to the Corinthians that vv 3,4 , esp. v4, are verifiably true. These witnesses are no longer available so vv 5-9 stand out as obviously temporal in value. vv 3,4 however are timeless, further singling them out as unique among the other items listed.
    * The argument that "using this passage as a proof text for the modern content of saving faith means that we must accept vv 5-9 as content" is inconsistent at best. In his JOTGES series about how to lead people to Christ, ZH says that one reason RFG should preach the cross is because Paul did. If that's true then RFG should also preach vv 5-9 as content in their salvation presentations, at least sometimes, "because Paul did". My point is that it seems even RFG accepts that, when "preaching as Paul did", they can draw the line at v4.

    Trent, I've observed your previous dialog with Art and appreciate the tone in which you've conducted the discussion.

    Stephen

    November 10, 2007 8:10 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Just a quick note to you who have been praying for Sheelagh. She had a nervous breakdown on Wednesday and had to be put into a mental ward. I would appreciate your prayers for recovery and protection.
    Blessings alvin

    November 11, 2007 11:24 AM  
    Blogger Rose~ said...

    Alvin,
    May the Lord be with you and your wife at this time. May you know his mercies.

    November 11, 2007 12:17 PM  
    Blogger knetknight said...

    Alvin, I'm praying for Sheelagh right now.

    November 11, 2007 12:27 PM  
    Blogger Kc said...

    Prayers continue here as well Alvin. May God bless all involved.

    November 11, 2007 3:45 PM  
    Blogger wjc said...

    Stephen, - You said:

    "Quoting examples of how someone was saved in a previous dispensation, as you did, is simply irrelevant."

    I find your comment rather amazing and would like to know if you hold that same opinion of the Apostle Paul who in Romans 4 specifically "quotes" Genesis 15:6 regarding how Abraham was saved - in a previous dispensation! Are his comments "irrelevant"?! I think they are not and are extremely instructive since Paul argues that Abraham received righteousness from God in the same way we do now - by faith. Not only that but Paul explains a key element to Abrahams faith - that Abraham believed that what God promised He was able to do and that principle remains unchanged.

    WJC

    November 11, 2007 4:47 PM  
    Blogger David Wyatt said...

    Bro. Alvin,

    I too am praying for you & your dear wife. God Bless.

    November 11, 2007 6:31 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    For those who think the content of saving faith is the same today as it was in the previous dispensation, could you give an OT example of someone being "saved" by believing the content that people in the gospels were required to believe? From what I have read, you (general you) maintain that the lost need to believe that Jesus can give them eternal life (and that once they have it they can never lose it). You also maintain that this is has always been true. (If I have summarized incorrectly, please correct me.)

    So, please share an example of someone in the OT (the previous dispensation) who believed that Jesus could give them eternal life and that they would never lose it.

    November 11, 2007 6:49 PM  
    Blogger wjc said...

    Rachael, - I don't think anyone who is posting to this blog maintains what you have stated, i.e. that the content of faith has been the same in previous dispensations (O.T.) as it is in the present. The means is the same – by faith, and the basis for obtaining God’s gift of righteousness is the same – by the substitutionary sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for us whether in the O.T. looking forward or now looking back the basis is the same but the content is not. God declared Abraham righteous when he “believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness”. The content was God’s promise that Abraham would have an heir that would come directly from him – Abraham.

    To your comment about eternal life “that once they have it they can never lose it.” Perhaps you haven’t understood the term “eternal” or “everlasting” life – if it doesn’t last forever then it has the wrong name as someone has said… Once you posses “everlasting” life it can never be lost - it had better last forever or it is something other than “everlasting”… Does that make sense?

    WJC

    November 11, 2007 8:02 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Hi WJC,

    Thanks for clarifying about the dispensations. So it is not that the content of saving faith has NEVER changed, only that it hasn't changed since Jesus' time?

    If that is the case (and by all means, correct me again if I am still wrong!), then okay. Can you give an example of anyone at all in the Bible who specifically stated that they believed that Jesus could give them eternal life and that they would never lose it?

    Regarding "eternal life", I do believe in eternal security. However, I do not believe that the name itself is an indicator of the doctrine. It is called "everlasting life" because it is the life that is everlasting, not necessarily my possession of it (although again, just to be clear, I do NOT believe that one can lose eternal life).

    November 11, 2007 10:30 PM  
    Blogger wjc said...

    Rachael, - Yes, Martha.

    WJC

    November 11, 2007 11:40 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    WJC,

    A little more explanation would be helpful. Where does Martha specifically say that she believes that Jesus can give eternal life that can never be lost?

    November 12, 2007 7:54 AM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    And when you find where Martha specifically says that, please also share where it states that this specific belief alone of Martha's is what resulted in her receiving eternal life.

    November 12, 2007 8:01 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Art, a friend and I spoke, and he pointed out a few things I would like to say to you that I think should be said.

    1) I can tell you are a student of the word. My intent was not to say you were not.

    2) I think we agree on a lot more then we disagree on, though of course the focus is on where we disagree and that can seem to widen a gap between us. sometimes its easy to get caught up in the middle of this and not see the bigger picture.

    3) I think the 1 Cor chapter 15 is EXCELLENT information to use in sharing the Gospel, and I use much of what it says in the first several verses. It is very convincing and my object is to give a person as much information as I can for the Holy Spirit to convince them of the truth of Christ's offer.

    Knet Knight, I am moving wednesday and trying to get everything done. I want to consider what you said and not do a quick response so please be patient.

    I would like it if you consider the verses I mentioned in Galations, as well as what Paul answered the Jailor as proof that Paul believed in the same message Jesus preached for salvation.

    Thank you for your grace and patience

    Love in Christ.

    Trent

    November 12, 2007 9:37 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Alvin, you and your wife are in my prayers as well.

    Joshua 1:9

    November 12, 2007 9:45 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Hi Rachel. I understood you to say that you do not believe you can lose eternal life, so I am a bit confused of the point that you are making, but in my opinion, Jesus was pretty clear in John 10:28-20.

    John 11:23
    Martha said "I KNOW he (Lazarus) will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. How did she know this? She knew he believed in Jesus Christ, and had no doubts of whether he had lost it.
    11:25-26 Jesus I think is pretty clear. Those who believe will be ressurected and never suffer the second death.
    11:27 Martha affirms that she believes.

    I think this is what WJC was pointing out.

    You are extremely gracious in your disagreement/questioning.

    Grace and Truth

    Trent.

    November 12, 2007 9:54 AM  
    Blogger wjc said...

    Rachel (sorry for mispelling your name), - What do you think the words "never die" mean?

    If you think that what is being discussed here is that someone must believe in "eternal life" alone for eternal life then I think you've gotten the wrong idea... Your questions seem to indicate that this is what you think is being said...

    It is obvious that the repeated appeal from Jesus to men is to "believe" in Him and His promise of eternal life. What did Jesus say to the woman at the well: "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that says to you give me a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water." He mentions two things that she needed to know - "the gift of God" and "who it is that says to you give me a drink"... Jesus then says: "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." SO the woman at the well needed to know who Jesus was and ask him for a drink of "the gift of God" - living water... The Apostle Paul says in Romans 6:23 that "the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord."

    November 12, 2007 9:57 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Art, one more things, as I peruse these topics to try and keep things in context, I noted something you said. I never studied how to answer you. The only book I have been reading in the past few weeks is God's word. (I am not counting a car magazing) I also do not search the web to see what else I can find. When I read and post, my Bible is open in front of me. If I happen to answer you in a way someone else has, or teaches, it is not my intent, it is just what I am gleaning from the passages. I am not trying to win a debate, but explain why I believe what I believe, and how I underestand other passages you present. I believe you were doing the same thing.

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 12, 2007 10:22 AM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Hi Trent,

    Btw, I did check out your blog. I'd probably be more inclined to visit there more often if you use different colors. :-) Seriously, I have a hard time viewing websites that use a black (or dark) background with white (or light) text. I'm seeing spots everywhere else after just a few minutes. But that's just me, I'm probably just a weirdo.

    Regarding my point about not losing eternal life, eternal security seems to be an item that most "refined free grace" people believe is a necessary component of saving faith. They/you seem to think that belief in eternal security is necessarily implied in belief that Jesus can give you eternal life. However, many people do believe that Jesus can give eternal life, but they also believe that eternal life can be lost/given back. So if belief in eternal security is required to be born again, then it would seem necessary that we find an example of someone explicitly believing such, OR an example of Jesus teaching that we need to believe such. If it is not explicitly stated, then, by their own standards, "refined free grace" people cannot insist that the lost are required to believe it to be born again.

    You said,

    "11:25-26 Jesus I think is pretty clear. Those who believe will be ressurected and never suffer the second death.
    11:27 Martha affirms that she believes."


    Jesus says that those who believe "in Me" will never die. Martha affirms that she believes "what"? She does NOT say in that verse that she believes that Jesus can give eternal life. Does she say that somewhere else? In 11:27, Martha affirms that she believes that those who "believe in Jesus" will never die. Yet we are still missing a definition of "believe in Jesus".

    Thanks for your kind words, Trent. I tend to be direct, but I try to avoid being rude. :-)

    November 12, 2007 12:44 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    WJC,

    No prob on the misspelling, happens all the time. :-)

    "Never die" means "never die" of course. But the only reason you will "never die" is because God grants you that ability. It is therefore an ability he could also take away if he desires. To avoid being repetitious, please see my response to Trent on this point above.

    What I think some people are saying is that all that is necessary to be born again is belief that Jesus can give you eternal life (and that it can't be lost). If that is not accurate, please correct me.

    When I said, "please also share where it states that this specific belief alone of Martha's is what resulted in her receiving eternal life", I was not saying that I think people believe that belief in "eternal life alone" is enough. I was saying that I need to see where it says in Scripture that 1)Martha specifically believed that Jesus can give eternal life, and 2)that it was THIS belief ONLY that resulted in Martha receiving eternal life (and not this belief combined with other beliefs she already held about her sin and need for a mediator to restore her relationship to God).

    You said,

    "It is obvious that the repeated appeal from Jesus to men is to 'believe' in Him and His promise of eternal life."

    I do see many places where Jesus appeals to people to "believe in" Him. But can you give an example where Jesus appeals to anyone to believe in His promise of eternal life? Where does Jesus say, "Believe that I can give eternal life"?

    You said,

    "What did Jesus say to the woman at the well: 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that says to you give me a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.' He mentions two things that she needed to know - 'the gift of God' and 'who it is that says to you give me a drink'"

    The key here is, knowing "who Jesus is". What is necessary to know in order to know who Jesus is? What factors are required to properly (i.e. savingly) identify Him? Verses 25 and 29 indicate that she had decided He was the Messiah, the Christ, the Promised One. This carries a wealth of meaning, certainly the idea that sin separates us from God and we need someone (a divine Messiah) to bridge the gap. Verse 42 references the same idea, it seems to indicate that she had told her people (and they now also believed) that Jesus was "the Savior of the world". You seem to be glossing over the required knowledge of "who Jesus was" as if she merely needed to know his name. This is the crux of the debate: what information is necessary to know enough of "who Jesus was" for God to grant you eternal life? I have yet to see an example of anyone whose sole knowledge of Jesus was that He gives eternal life, and that person was immediately justified.

    Btw, did Jesus specifically tell the Samaritan woman that she had to believe that He gives eternal life? I'm still looking for that example.

    November 12, 2007 1:24 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Thanks for the verse Trent and everyone for the prayers. Sheelagh seemed to be doing quite a bit better yesterday.

    Concerning living water:
    1 Corinthians 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was CHRIST.
    Isaiah 55:1a Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters
    Jesus offered the living water to the women at the well (one drink and she would never thirst). Jesus told her there was two things she needed to know (1 What the gift was. 2 Who it was that was speaking to her.)
    Once drank in faith this living water would spring up into everlasting life. Jesus gave her that living water when He said to her “I who speak to you am He.” Meaning the Christ the giver of eternal life! Jesus gave her the knowledge of His person “The Christ.” Does this truth produce eternal life? John 20:31b and believing you might have life in His name.
    The Apostle John proclaimed in his Epistle 1 John 5:1a Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God
    Then in Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the Bride say “Come!” And let him who thirsts come, Whosoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
    I don’t believe the way of salvation has ever changed! It has always been and is “The Christ” believing in Him for life. The only difference now in this dispensation is that “The Christ” is Jesus of Nazareth.
    Acts 4:10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead,
    Vs.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.
    Also I would point out. Jesus Christ is not like His first name is Jesus and His last name is Christ but Christ is His title. The proposition made by Jesus all through the Gospel of John is to believe in Him for eternal life. This is the core of the Gospel, and the Gospel was preached to Abraham. Paul tells us there is only one Gospel of Grace and was given to him by Jesus (Gal 3:8). Paul tells us that he is a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him (meaning Jesus the Christ) for everlasting life.
    Verses to ponder (1 Tim 1:16;Gal 1:6-12;3:8) Also the word “save” to Paul at it’s core meant to be “made alive” Eph 2:5. Paul received his gospel from Jesus and to Jesus saved at it’s core meant eternal life (John 3:16,17). Notice parallel (eternal life and saved).
    Zane Hodges makes a great observation when he said: It is true the divine blessings of “forgiveness” and “justification” occur at the same time that we are “made alive” in Christ. But Paul never uses either term as a functional equivalent for the “saved” /”salvation” concept.
    Never
    Blessings alvin

    November 12, 2007 2:23 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    I loved the way Zane answered a question concerning eternal security. The message was “Water That Produces Water.” He said: The one thing that the women gets first in the discourse. Is whatever this gift is it’s permanent. I won’t have to come back here and I won’t have to draw water. When she finally realized it was what Messiah gave she obviously new it was permanent.
    Then Zane said: Draw your own conclusions!
    That’s great stuff! Jesus didn’t need anything to draw with because He is eternal life. But His proposition is (John 6:47 Most assuredly I tell you he who believes in Me has eternal life.) If you believe Him you know you have eternal life, or you haven’t believed His promise.
    Blessings alvin

    November 12, 2007 3:02 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    While I'm here I would like to say I think Rachael is making some good points. She's being told to consider the woman at the well and Martha's response to Jesus. In addition to her good comments, I've noticed the woman at the well wasn't really told to believe anything, but that she could "ask." Thus, not the best text, in my judgment, for the case being claimed. And regarding Martha, I'm not sure her words need to be taken the way they are represented. Did she really say or mean, "Yes Lord, I believe you guarantee eternal life to everyone who believes in you for eternal life and this is all and excactly what it means that you are the Christ?" I don't see her necessarily saying or meaning exactly that. And even if she did say or mean that, who is Martha to define anything? I don't think Rachael needs any help on this. I think her comments are very good.

    November 12, 2007 6:52 PM  
    Blogger Art said...

    Trent, I've checked back here several times and have noticed the comments you left for me. I appreciate you saying you were disappointed after my departure. Thank you for your respectful tone, most of the time, in your comments to me.
    Also I appreciate knetknight saying maybe Art will come back because maybe he had some good points. But I really didn't intend to get into the lengthy exchange we've had, and as things are, I don't think continuing would be good.
    I recall that Paul said, "Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up to the faith that should AFTERWARD be revealed" (Gal. 3:23) but what I've seen, Trent, is that you don't seem to be open to any such thought as "the faith that should afterward be revealed." What I've gotten from you, instead, is that the content of faith is exactly the same during the earthly ministry of Jesus under the law and now today afterward. When I've tried to show you numerous things that have changed since Jesus' earthly ministry, you've said I'm off topic and taking things out of context.
    Trying to show you that John 3:16 contains information John later understood when he wrote the Gospel of John has gotten nowhere. You have Jesus telling Nicodemus that God "gave" His "begotten" Son, skipping over the meaning of "begotten," when in fact, God had not yet done this when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus. You have Jesus injecting the exceedingly difficult and unnecessary subject of omnipresence into his conversation with this confused unbeliever, you dismiss the change in pronoun at verse 13 and disregard that John repeatedly breaks into his narrative like this in other chapters. Why? I think because you don't want John 3:16 to say something John and his readers later understood.
    Nor can I discuss 1st Cor. 15 with you wanting to inject all the details (v.5 and following) that prove the resurrection of Christ into Paul's definition of the gospel. And that failing, I could see you getting ready to argue 1st Cor. 15 is about sanctification rather than salvation (despite this being in contrast to "yet in your sins" (v.2,14). I just don't see any good prospect in trying to continue this.
    My feeling is this. If you handle this passage like that, what will you do elsewhere? "Propitiation through faith in his blood," (Rom. 3:25), righteousness imputed "if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus from the dead, who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:24,25), "Jesus Christ raised from the dead according my gospel" (2 Tim. 2:8), assurance of life beyond the grave "if we believe Jesus died and rose again" (1 Thes. 4:14). We could talk about all these Scriptures, and more, and propbably get nowhere.
    That is why I stopped, Trent, and am not motivated to keep going. Again, no hard feelings but we do disagree on some serious stuff. In your judgment I am promoting "another gospel" and probably under the curse of Galatians 1:6-9. These aren't minor differences. But of course, you have to study God's Word, realizing you are accountable to Him and I have to do this too. The way things are now, I just don't think I can contribute anything more that would be profitable to you. But I do wish you well my friend. I will look again at this thread from time to time because I'm interested but don't intend to be further involved in the discussion here.
    Art

    November 12, 2007 7:04 PM  
    Blogger knetknight said...

    Trent, just a quick note that I am around and watching, I totally understand about you moving. I'm juggling other responsibilities too and am not the fastest to reply. Rachel is my wife so we talk about a lot of the stuff she posts before she posts it so a bit of "me" is in her posts already.

    November 12, 2007 9:04 PM  
    Blogger John said...

    Rachel said: For those who think the content of saving faith is the same today as it was in the previous dispensation, ...

    Hi Rachel, I love reading your posts, I admire your searching heart.

    My understanding of how pre-Christ Jews were justified was that it occurred based on their belief in the “future” Messiah, just as we are justified by our belief in Messiah who has already come once and will come again.

    The Jews of that day most likely did not know the Messiah’s name, or that there would be a cross or even that he was deity. Many people (pre-Christ) who awaited the future Messiah thought of him as an anointed one much like David. This was the position the Samaritans held i.e. the woman at the well. They just knew that God was providing a means for justification via a future Messiah.

    John

    November 13, 2007 12:59 PM  
    Blogger John said...

    Dear Art and Rachel,
    Concerning your comments on the woman at the well in John, specifically the words “ask” and “living water”.

    I thank you for you post. It brought questions to me and I have benefited greatly from searching out the answers. I appreciate your desire to accurately know what God has written for us.

    I would like to approach this apparent contradiction in two ways.

    First we know that justification is by faith alone and that faith is passive, that is to say it is not a work. Therefore we can not ask for (work towards) justification. Since we know this to be true it means that we are not properly defining one of the two words “ask” or “living water”. At first I thought it must be “ask” but after consulting Dr. Niemela I now understand it was the words “living water” that I did not properly define. “Living water” is not everlasting life. “Living water” is message of life, that is to say the Gospel presentation. Jesus said (and I paraphrase) “if you (woman at the well) know the gift, and the gift giver, the next logical thing would be for you would “ask” how do I receive the gift?” If she would ask, He would give the message and she would either believe or disbelieve.

    So we come to the second way of approaching the challenge. Allow me to share with you Dr. Niemela’s comments. He has an amazing way of showing the truth of scripture.
    ---Quote:

    The main issue is that Living Water does not equal everlasting life. It is related to everlasting life, but it does not equal everlasting life. Please note verse 14, "The [living] water that I will give him will become within him a spring of [living] water springing up into everlasting life." Let us try to equate living water with everlasting life. You will see the problem when I replace "living water' by "everlasting life."

    "The EVERLASTING LIFE that I will give him will become within him a spring of EVERLASTING LIFE springing up into EVERLASTING LIFE."

    It does not really make sense for everlasting life to spring into everlasting life, does it?

    Some expositors have attempted to say that Living Water here equals the Holy Spirit, because of John 7:39, but that does not work precisely because John 7:39 says that the Holy Spirit was not yet given in John 7. Since the HS was not given by John 7, Jesus should not be understood as making a promise in chapter 4 that the upper room discourse tells them that it would not be fulfilled until later. The key passage (among others in the upper room discourse) is John 16:7. That passage says that the Holy Spirit CANNOT come until Christ goes away.

    Let's take another look at John 4:10. Jesus says (as I will loosely paraphrase it) If you know the gift of God and if you knew Me to be the giver of the gift of God, you would have asked and I would have given you that which springs up into everlasting life.

    Let me explain my paraphrase. I do not think that she knew that the gift of God was everlasting life. She did not know that Jesus was the giver of the gift of God. But, if she did know the gift and the Giver, she would have asked Him about Living Water, which is that which results in one being given the gift of God by the giver of God. How do I say that? Remember John 4:14, where Living Water springs up into everlasting life. Another way of saying this is that when one receives the Living Water, the desired RESULT is that they receive everlasting life.

    In other words, Living Water is the message that springs up within a person to become everlasting life. Someone can say, I know that everlasting life is God's gift and I know that Jesus is the giver of God's gift (everlasting life), but I do not know what is necessary for me to receive everlasting life by Jesus giving it to me. Living Water is Jesus' message to the woman about what she must believe in order to receive everlasting life.

    With this approach, Jesus is saying, If you knew that God gives everlasting life as a gift and if you knew that I am the one that gives that gift, you would not necessarily know how to receive the gift of God from me. Since you would not know that, when you ask, I will tell you the message that (when believed) gives life. Living Water is the message of life. It is the message that gives life.

    Let us test this hypothesis. Note John 4:25 in light of 4:17. Jesus has told her all things about herself in 4:17, as she told the men of Sychar in 4:29. What I see her saying in verse 25 is, "It seems that you are the Christ (the One who will tell us all things). Have I correctly figured out who You are? Jesus' answer in 4:26 says, "Yes, you have figured out who I am." I think that it is at this point that she understands both the gift and the giver. John does not tell us all that was said right then, before she left her waterpot to tell people in the town about Jesus the Messiah.

    However, we gain an insight into that content, because later the men of the city call Jesus the Christ and the savior of the world (John 4:42).

    In a nutshell, Jesus says in 4:10, if you knew the gift and the giver, you would ask Me and I would tell you how to get the gift of God from Me. Under this approach, asking is active. However, asking does not equal believing. It is the vehicle by which Jesus tells her how to receive the gift of God. Likewise, we saw that Living Water does not equal everlasting life, but it is the message by which (one who believes that message) receives the gift of God.

    I hope that this helps. If you have further questions, you may ASK. I know that you know the gift of God. I know that you know that Jesus is the giver of the gift. I also know that you believe the message by which Jesus gives people that gift. Therefore, you are different than the woman (who is an unbeliever at the beginning of the passage). However, my advice to you is the same as Jesus' advice to the woman. If you have 99% of something figured out (that is to be believed) but you want to figure 100% of what is to be believed (about something) the solution is to ASK. Why? Asking is the means to coming to understand content that was not understood. Until one understands something, how can he/she believe it? Jesus was saying to her, "There are three things that need to be understood and believed. When you understand the first two, you will be interested in understanding the third. I will be happy to answer the question that you ask then, so that you can believe the message of life (the Living Water), that which gives the gift of everlasting life (when believed).

    End quote---

    Well, this cleared up the challenge for me, I hope it is beneficial to you also.
    John

    November 13, 2007 5:27 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Hi Alvin,
    You quoted Hodges as saying:

    "The one thing that the women gets first in the discourse. Is whatever this gift is it’s permanent. I won’t have to come back here and I won’t have to draw water. When she finally realized it was what Messiah gave she obviously new it was permanent."

    I think it's debatable as to whether or not the woman "obviously knew" that the gift was permanent. But for the sake of argument, let's say Hodges is right and the woman did think that. That still doesn't solve the problem. Your side says that belief in eternal security is required. Nowhere does Jesus state that she needed to know that, or that this belief of hers was part of the required saving content. As I asked earlier, what about people that don't think the gift is permanent? You said they don't have eternal life. Fine, but why? Where does it say explicitly that you have to believe that you'll never lose the gift before you can receive it?

    You said,

    "Jesus gave her that living water when He said to her 'I who speak to you am He.' Meaning the Christ the giver of eternal life!"

    Okay, so when Jesus said that the woman needed to know "who He was", you're saying that she needed to know that He was the Christ. Alright, I agree with that. Two things though: 1)You say that all she thought about "the Christ" was that He was the giver of eternal life. Where is the evidence that the Samaritans (or the Jews) considered "the giver of eternal life" to be the main definition of "the Christ"? Additionally, where is the evidence that this specific aspect of the definition is the one that Jesus was looking for in order to give her eternal life? And 2)Even if that IS the specific def Jesus was wanting her to believe, where is it stated explicitly that this is the only thing she needed? You are assuming that she had no other spiritual understanding. Even if you can somehow prove that "the giver of eternal life" is the only part of the definition of "the Christ" that Jesus required her to believe, it could very well be that that part of the definition was the only thing LEFT that she needed to believe, thus Jesus concentrated on it. No doubt she already had an understanding of her sin (Jesus even points it out in their conversation) and therefore her need for a Savior/Redeemer. As I said earlier, verse 42 seems to indicate that she not only believed, but told her people, that Jesus was "the Savior of the world".

    So, even if you can prove that both the Samaritan woman AND Jesus thought of "the Christ" ONLY or PRIMARILY as "the giver of eternal life" (which you have definitely NOT proven yet), you still have a long way to go to prove that this was all she needed. It could very well have been the LAST thing she needed.

    November 14, 2007 8:57 AM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Hi John,
    You said,

    "This was the position the Samaritans held i.e. the woman at the well. They just knew that God was providing a means for justification via a future Messiah."

    I do think that most people considered that the Messiah would be deity. But I would agree that they didn't know about the cross, mainly because it hadn't been revealed. But your comment here is interesting. You say that they all were expecting God to provide for their justification. This clearly implies that they already understood their sin problem and that they needed God to fix it, and that He would do so through the Messiah.

    We still believe this today, as you pointed out. The only difference is that we now know who the Messiah is AND we now know the method of justification. It would seem that, in order to be justified, the lost are required to believe whatever God has revealed about how they need to be justified. In the OT, they believed that they needed justification (i.e. were sinners) and that God would somehow provide a way. Today we believe that we need justification (i.e. are sinners) and that God already has provided a way, which is the death and resurrection of Jesus. The content hasn't been "modified" so much as it has simply been specified.

    November 14, 2007 9:03 AM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    My main point with asking these latest questions is this: whenever "my side" brings up evidence for our position, "your side" dismisses it out-of-hand because it either doesn't explicitly say, "believe that Jesus died and rose again to have eternal life", or it uses more than one verse to explain what is necessary to be believed. My point here is that your view fails your own standards of required evidence. You do not have even one explicit statement to "believe that Jesus can give you eternal life to have eternal life", and to even get that idea you have to use more than one verse (and the posters here have even used verses from outside of John *gasp*).

    Part of the reason why it takes US in the 21st century a little digging to understand what is meant by the words in the Bible is because of major cultural differences. Not only that, but the society of the Ancient Near East (people in Bible times) was that of a "high-context society", while ours is a "low-context society". They assumed that their audience knew a lot, and didn't bother to explain much. OTOH, our society explains every little detail and assumes that the reader knows nothing, or at least a very minimal amount of information. This is why you don't see Jesus constantly explaining, "Believe in Me for everlasting life! Now, what I mean by 'believe' is (x), and when I said 'in' I meant (y), and 'Me' refers to (z)..." etc. We would love that wouldn't we! LOL But that's the difference in societies, and you're simply not going to get that from the Bible.

    Does this mean you have to be an ANE scholar to understand the Bible's basic message of salvation? Of course not. But it does mean that we were never intended to find ONE little phrase or "verse" (of course there were no verse markings in the original) that lists every thing we need to know in a neat little package that Americans in the 21st century can see. Why is it so bad that it takes a little study, or at least some explanation? And as I've pointed out, even your view of the "simplest gospel" requires some study and explanation. So to reject our view because it uses more than one verse, or because we don't have a passage where Jesus gives us a detailed list of the content of saving faith, is to reject your own view as well.

    November 14, 2007 1:30 PM  
    Blogger John said...

    Some clarifications.
    The active step (the work) we take in receiving justification is to evaluate the evidence. The passive step (not a work) is to reach a conclusion or to be persuaded into belief or disbelief based on the evidence evaluated.
    Some people require very little evidence to reach their conclusion such as a child who is hearing the message from their parent. Others may require a tremendous amount of evidence. From this perspective I see no challenge to presenting as much biblical information as possible to the prospect. What I have a challenge with is a person telling the receiver of the message that they must know more then what the bible says is the minim content of saving faith, and that if they do not know X, Y or Z the assumption is that they are not saved. Most people present the message in a manner similar to how it was presented to them originally, and we as disciples should try to do the job correctly so we do not start a domino effect of incorrect teachings.

    Does God want us to know all about His Word? Yes, certainly, and that is a discipleship step (earning rewards via good works) that we should all take. But to say we must know these additional things for justification is going beyond what Jesus taught us.

    Many people (as I used to) confuse discipleship and the many commands that God has given us with what is required for justification. They are two entirely separate things.

    There are many verses outside of John to show that belief/faith alone justifies, i.e. Acts 16:30-31, And (edit: the jailer) brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they (edit: Paul and Silas) said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…

    It is my opinion that in those days everyone knew that justification would be eternal. There was no need to tell someone that which they already knew. I will exaggerate to illustrate my point. I live in America and when I give someone directions to the local store I do not tell them they are currently in America, they already know that. If they do not know that then I give them directions to the hospital.

    John

    November 14, 2007 2:42 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    John,
    You said,

    "What I have a challenge with is a person telling the receiver of the message that they must know more then what the bible says is the minim content of saving faith, and that if they do not know X, Y or Z the assumption is that they are not saved."

    I think we all would agree with this. The question is, what exactly IS the minimum content of saving faith? That's the crux of the debate.

    Again you said,

    "Many people (as I used to) confuse discipleship and the many commands that God has given us with what is required for justification."

    I'm sure we would all agree with this as well. But again, the issue here is, what exactly IS required for justification? This is what we are discussing.

    You said,

    "There are many verses outside of John to show that belief/faith alone justifies..."

    I think pretty much everyone here believes that faith alone justifies us. The question is, what is the required content of that faith today?

    You said,

    "It is my opinion that in those days everyone knew that justification would be eternal. There was no need to tell someone that which they already knew."

    Yet not everyone at all times knows that justification is eternal, so surely if it is absolutely required, then God would have made that abundantly clear, right? Also, if you're going to allow that some required content isn't explicitly stated, because they "already knew" it, then I can just as easily argue that they all "already knew" and understood their sinful situation as well as their need for a Savior, in addition to believing that the promised Messiah would be divine (and actually, I AM arguing that).

    So as I said previously, even if everyone then DID know and believe in eternal security, if it was absolutely required for all people to believe, then it would have been stated explicitly, according to the standards set by "your side". The fact is, it's NOT explicitly stated, so it should either be retracted as part of the required content, or the "explicitly stated and in only one passage" requirement should be retracted.

    November 14, 2007 7:52 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Rachel you stated:
    I think it's debatable as to whether or not the woman "obviously knew" that the gift was permanent. But for the sake of argument, let's say Hodges is right and the woman did think that. That still doesn't solve the problem.

    I said:
    First off I don’t understand at all how you can read the story of the Women at the Well and not see that she believed the water Jesus offered was permanent. Jesus makes the claim that the water He will give her will be the last drink she will ever need to take vs. 14. The women clearly wants this water so she will not thirst again and won’t have to come back to the well to draw vs.15. So it’s clear to me that this water that Jesus is offering her, she believes will forever quench her thirst. At this point she doesn’t understand what the water is, but the one thing she believed was it’s permanent. Because she asks for it!


    Rachel said:
    Your side says that belief in eternal security is required.
    As I asked earlier, what about people that don't think the gift is permanent? You said they don't have eternal life. Fine, but why? Where does it say explicitly that you have to believe that you'll never lose the gift before you can receive it?

    I said: I believe the essence of eternal security is in Jesus simple promise to give eternal life to the one who believes Him. The doctrine of eternal security is based upon many evidences from scripture. This is like the debate going on between whether a person has to believe in the cross and deity of Christ in order to receive eternal life. The cross is HOW Jesus saved us. The doctrine of eternal security is all the evidence that supports that were saved forever. This does not have to be known in order to believe Jesus promise. You can simply take Him at His word. You don’t have to know the HOW before you can believe. This is like saying I need to understand the law of aerodynamics before I could believe enough to fly. I could simply take the word of someone I trust and get on the plane! Never having seen it fly or how it can fly. So my confidence would be in the one telling me. Jesus said He came from the Father to give us words of eternal life. I can with childlike faith simply believe what He is saying is true. So a person believing in Jesus promise of eternal life in essence believes in eternal security.
    If people say they have believed Jesus promise of eternal life but at the same time say they can lose eternal life if they stop believing or anything else that depends on them. They believe something other then what Jesus promises. To me it’s clearly a contradiction, it’s like saying I believe John 3:16 but I can still perish. This person clearly does not believe what Jesus is saying. If they have NEVER believed Jesus promise of eternal life that can never be lost then they believe something that Jesus doesn’t offer.

    Rachel asked:

    Nowhere does Jesus state that she needed to know that, or that this belief of hers was part of the required saving content.

    I said: When Jesus said to the women at the well “If you new the gift of God.” “If” is a condition! Before she could ask, she needed to know what she was asking Him for. All through the Gospel of John Jesus is making the proposition of eternal life. Before we can believe in Jesus we need to know what we are believing in Him for. I think Gordon Clark made the statement “We can’t believe in a person with out a proposition about that person.” The proposition Jesus makes over and over is “to believe in Him for eternal life.” As Jesus explained the gift to the women at the well “one drink and you will never thirst” she believed and asked Him for that water. She simply took Him at His word and asked for it. But she needed to know one more thing “who it was that was offering her this forever gift.” When Jesus finally told her who He was “The Christ” He had given her that living water that springs up into eternal life. What did she know? She knew the gift Jesus offered was eternal life vs.14. She knew that Jesus had told her “one drink and she would never thirst” vs. 14. Believing in Jesus as “The Christ” she believed in the right person for the right thing. She had asked and He had given.

    Rachel said: So, even if you can prove that both the Samaritan woman AND Jesus thought of "the Christ" ONLY or PRIMARILY as "the giver of eternal life" (which you have definitely NOT proven yet), you still have a long way to go to prove that this was all she needed. It could very well have been the LAST thing she needed.

    I said: The living water is offered again at the end of the Bible Rev 22:17. If someone was to ask you “what is the living water?” What would you tell them and where would you go to prove it? Would you tell them this living water is many things or would you tell them just as water is the staple of life, the living water that Jesus offers meets our most basic need, life eternal! See we can complicate it by bringing in all these other things, but I believe Jesus made it very simple as simple as the giving and receiving of a gift.
    Draw your own conclusions, you can make it very complicated or:
    2 Cor 11:3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the SIMPLICITY that is in Christ.
    Blessings alvin
    please don't take this harshly, I mean it in a very loving way,,

    November 14, 2007 9:01 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Alvin,
    You said,

    "This is like the debate going on between whether a person has to believe in the cross and deity of Christ in order to receive eternal life."

    Actually, this IS part of the same debate. I am trying to show that your (arbitrary) standards of evidence would cause you to reject even your own view.

    I realize and understand that your view is that because the gift is eternal, then our possession of that gift is eternal. All I'm saying is that that is not necessarily true, and in fact I would say significant numbers of people do NOT believe that. Not because they don't want to or what have you, but because they truly believe that the doctrine of eternal security is false. Despite the fact that YOU think the name itself is clear, it obviously is NOT clear. Surely God knew of this confusion, and if believing that the gift is yours forever and can never be lost is REQUIRED, surely it would have been stated explicitly as something that needed to be believed, rather than kind of "assumed" as "part of the package". Because if you're going to say that an item is required belief in order to receive eternal life on the basis of it being "obvious" or "clear" to you, even though it's not explicitly stated, then we have to be allowed to bring in other items on the same basis. So as I said earlier, your side needs to either retract the necessity of believing in eternal security, or retract this "explicitly and in only one passage" standard.

    You quoted me as saying,

    "So, even if you can prove that both the Samaritan woman AND Jesus thought of "the Christ" ONLY or PRIMARILY as "the giver of eternal life" (which you have definitely NOT proven yet), you still have a long way to go to prove that this was all she needed. It could very well have been the LAST thing she needed."

    Your answer to this was basically that I am making it too complicated. First, all I did was ask you to prove your case and highlighted some specific points that you need to prove. I'm not sure how that makes it too complicated. Second, "simple" is relative. Reading this blog is "simple" for me, but it would be a gargantuan task for my 4-year-old. I find nothing complicated about the lost needing to believe that they are sinners, that Jesus as God died to pay the price for their sin, and that He rose again. This is not a matter of "whose gospel is simpler?" This is a matter of "whose gospel is biblical?"

    Your side has made some claims, then insisted that our side produce evidence in line with certain (arbitrary) standards. All I am asking is for your side to prove your claims using the same standards, or to retract the standards.

    November 15, 2007 9:19 PM  
    Blogger Anton said...

    Rachel,

    Excellent description about the salient points of the opposing views. You have a God given gift of being able to cut through the clutter without losing important information!

    November 16, 2007 2:27 AM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    First off I would ask is there anywhere in scripture that I’m not aware of that eternal life is not eternal?
    Second is there anywhere in scripture where a free gift means something other then a free gift?
    (gift “dorea” denotes “a free gift,” stressing its gratuitous character; it is always used in the NT of a spiritual or supernatural gift, John 4:10)
    Thirdly does Jesus teach eternal security to any unbelievers in the Gospel of John?
    Here are a few observations.
    John 3:16 spoken to Nick at night. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should NOT PERISH but have EVERLASTING LIFE.
    Questions: What does it mean not to perish? Is everlasting life everlasting?
    John 4:10 spoken to an unbeliever (gift of God,ask,given, this water will thirst again contrasted to water that I give will NEVER THIRST,springs up to EVERLASTING LIFE).
    What does it mean to never thirst? Is everlasting life to be understood as everlasting?
    John 5:24 spoken to unbelievers vs.19 then Jesus answered and said to them (Jews vs.18). Most assuredly, I tell you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me HAS EVERLASTING LIFE, and SHALL NOT COME INTO JUDGMENT, but HAS PASSED from DEATH INTO LIFE.
    Is this everlasting life expected to be understood as everlasting and does “has” mean the believer posses it? What does it mean not to come into judgment? What does Jesus mean by has passed from death into life?
    My observation: Jesus here is teaching unbelievers eternal security. He is guaranteeing the one who believes (past,present,future). Past, they have passed from death into life when they believed. Present, they have eternal life. Future, they will never come into the judgment. Do you agree?
    John 3:17; 5:34 spoken to unbelievers what does Jesus mean by saved?
    John 5:39 You search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me, 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you might have life.
    Question: What did these Jews think eternal life was? And how did that compare to the eternal life that Jesus was offering?
    John 6:27 Do not labor for the FOOD WHICH PERISHES, but for the FOOD WHICH ENDURES TO EVERLASTING LIFE, which the Son of Man will GIVE you,
    Question: What did Jesus mean when He said “the food which endures to everlasting life? And when He said He would give it to them, did He really mean He would give it?
    John 6:35 spoken to unbelievers: And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall NEVER hunger, and he who believes in Me shall NEVER thirst.
    Question: Does never here mean never?
    John 6:37 ALL that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by NO MEANS CAST OUT.
    Question: Does all mean all here? What does “by no means cast out?”
    John 6:39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of ALL He has given Me I should LOSE NOTHING, but should raise it up at the last day.
    Question: Does all mean all? What does Jesus mean by He will lose nothing?
    John 6:40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that EVERYONE who sees the Son and believes in Him may have EVERLASTING LIFE; AND I WILL RAISE HIM UP AT THE LAST DAY.
    Question: Does everyone here mean everyone? Is this verse telling unbelievers if they believe that HE will guarantee their eternal destiny?
    John 6:47 speaking to Jews vs.41 Most assuredly, I say to you he who BELIEVES in Me HAS EVERLASTING LIFE.
    Question: Is everlasting life, everlasting? And what did Jesus mean by has?
    John 6:50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and NOT DIE.
    Question: What did Jesus mean by the one who eats of this bread will not die?
    John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If ANYONE eats this bread, he will LIVE FOREVER
    Question: What does live forever mean here?
    John 10:27 My sheep here My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I GIVE them ETERNAL LIFE, and they shall NEVER PERISH; neither shall ANYONE SNATSH THEM OUT OF MY HAND. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and NO ONE is able to SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY FATHER’S HAND.
    Question: What does Jesus mean by give them eternal life? And what does Jesus mean by they will never perish? And what does Jesus expect them to believe by telling them no one can snatch them out of His hand or the Father’s?
    Rachel here is one who is already saved but Jesus wants her to state what she has believed.
    John 11:25-27 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, THOUGH HE MAY DIE, HE SHALL LIVE. And whoever lives and believes in Me SHALL NEVER DIE. Do you believe this? She said to Him, “YES, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
    Question: Is Jesus guaranteeing Martha’s and everyone who believes eternal destiny here?
    So Rachel we have seen that Jesus taught unbelievers eternal security in the Gospel of John and He expected them to believe it. We also see in the previous verse speaking to Martha she clearly understands that she is eternally secure. She knows if she dies Jesus will resurrect her, and spiritually she will never die. She KNOWS she has as a present possession eternal life that she can never lose.
    Also, even though Peter would deny Jesus three times Jesus wanted him to know that He was going away to prepare a place for him. Remember there were no chapter breaks John 13:37-14:4.
    blessings alvin

    November 16, 2007 3:03 AM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Rachel the ones who reject eternal security are like the ones Jesus said: You search the scriptures, for in them YOU THINK you have eternal life John 5:39a.
    They have come to the conclusion that God will do His part if they do their part.
    But this is not the eternal life that Jesus gives.
    What they have should be called temporary life or probationary life.
    Blessings alvin

    November 16, 2007 6:13 AM  
    Blogger Anton said...

    I think its a stretch to say that those who heard Jesus understood everything He said. In fact commentators have noted that John's theology is of a much higher order than that in the synoptics. In fact they include many teachings that are not in the other gospels because understanding about the teachings came at a much later date.

    An analogy would be if I was writng an autobiography about my business organisation and was explaining how the initial reactions to my products/services were. Take a (hypothetical) bulk buying scheme:

    My Success Story

    This is how my first customers reacted to my new concept:

    Anton: If you sign up you'll get stuff at dealer price.
    Marge: you mean lower than street price?

    Anton: No, I mean dealer price.
    Marge: Ok sign me up.

    After a few weeks:

    Anton: Hi Marge! How are things!
    Marge: Gosh, I can't believe the savings I'm getting after signing up.

    Anton: Well i did tell you: dealer price
    Marge: Yes! But I had no idea!

    I hope I was able to get that idea across. Consider:

    ANE inhabitants have a totally different idea about the after life than do Christians today. Ask an Orthodox Jew of today (not a Liberal) what his concept of salvation is and be prepared for a surprise.

    The concepts that Jesus put forward are easy for us to understand today, but they had the Samaritan woman, Nicodemus AND the disciples totally flummoxed (Jn 4, Jn 3, Jn 14), even though they struggled to maintain their composure

    Jesus says in Jn 7:38 that “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”. John, following the principle of "omniscient author", says:

    39 “He spoke this concerning the Spirit which those who believed in Him would receive, for the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

    And believers today who read those verses are able to understand the teachings whilst reading Jn 7, though it is apparent to the disciples only in Jn 20:22.

    Joh 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.

    However, there is a common starting point for all men, be they ANE denizens or Manipuri or Los Angeleans.

    I work with a group that reaches out to Karen tribesmen on the Myanmar border with Manipur. Trent, we could get in touch for some exchanging of notes if you wish. We've done some Bible layout and publishing for the languages of that region and I may have tips for you. Kudos for the your efforts in that dangerous region. I'm interacting here because of this startling (for me!) news about your trip.

    All Scripture references from the ESV.

    November 16, 2007 9:33 AM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Anton,
    Thank you for your kind words. Your insights are helpful, and your ministry work is encouraging.

    Alvin,
    You do not need to prove eternal security to me, as I said I already believe it. You are saying that because the gift is eternal, then my possession of it must be eternal as well. I am rejecting that premise because it doesn't logically follow. In addition, I think most here would agree that we all already have "everlasting life", that is, we will all live forever no matter what we believe. It's just a matter of where. So clearly Jesus is not offering us the ability to merely "live" forever. So what must be shown is that Jesus specifically requires the lost to believe that his gift can never be lost. Continuing to show me verses and verses where the Scripture says things like eternal/everlasting life, "never die/thirst/hunger", etc. doesn't advance your argument. The issue is, does the fact that the life is eternal also mean that my possession of it is eternal? I don't think it does, so proving that it does is where you should focus your efforts, not on repeating that it does. I am primarily thinking of people who think that you can lose eternal life if you stop believing ("he who believes has eternal life", not "he who has ever believed at any point in time has eternal life"). They are not saying, "God does his part and I'll do my part" other than the "my part" that we all agree we have to do, i.e. believing. These people DO believe that Jesus will give eternal life if they believe in Him, but they do not believe that their possession of it is necessarily eternal. I also find it rather interesting that to attempt to prove your case you needed to use many different verses ("past, present, future").

    You said,

    "...we have seen that Jesus taught unbelievers eternal security in the Gospel of John and He expected them to believe it." (emphasis mine)

    No, we have not seen that Jesus expected unbelievers to believe eternal security. At MOST we MIGHT have seen that some unbelievers did believe it. But we have definitely NOT seen that Jesus expected them to believe it as a requirement for receiving eternal life. Jesus saying that "no man can snatch them out of my Father's hand" is a statement of fact (that doesn't actually address the possibility of the person "jumping" out of the Father's hand). It does NOT say explicitly or even implicitly that believing that fact is required to receive eternal life.So it still remains to be seen what ONE PASSAGE states EXPLICITLY that eternal security is part of the required content of saving faith. Again I will say, either show the one passage that states it explicitly (NOT just the "name" everlasting life), OR retract the requirement, OR retract that standard of evidence.

    Also, you still haven't answered this:

    "So, even if you can prove that both the Samaritan woman AND Jesus thought of "the Christ" ONLY or PRIMARILY as "the giver of eternal life" (which you have definitely NOT proven yet), you still have a long way to go to prove that this was all she needed. It could very well have been the LAST thing she needed."

    This is a major pillar holding up the building of your view, and it is shaky at best.

    November 16, 2007 12:26 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Rachel you said:

    >Alvin,
    >You do not need to prove eternal >security to me, as I said I >already believe it.

    Rachel when you say things like this you contradict eternal security.

    >The issue is, does the fact that the life is eternal also mean that my possession of it is eternal? I don't think it does,
    so proving that it does is where you should focus your efforts, not on repeating that it does.<

    >You are saying that because the gift is eternal, then my possession of it must be eternal as well. I am rejecting that premise because it doesn't logically follow.<

    >I am primarily thinking of people who think that you can lose eternal life if you stop believing ("he who believes has eternal life", not "he who has ever believed at any point in time has eternal life"). <

    Rachel, birth happens at a point in time, just like passing from death to life or one drink and you will never thirst. At the moment one believes Jesus promise of eternal life, one is born into the family of God. Once you are a child of God you are always His child. So it's not a matter of keeping on believing that makes you a child of God it's at the moment you believe you become one.


    Let's look at John 3:16
    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
    Rachel if a person said they believed Jesus promise as stated in this verse, but said they thought they could still perish.
    Has this person believed Jesus promise?






    Rachel you said:
    >Also, you still haven't answered this:

    "So, even if you can prove that both the Samaritan woman AND Jesus thought of "the Christ" ONLY or PRIMARILY as "the giver of eternal life" (which you have definitely NOT proven yet), you still have a long way to go to prove that this was all she needed. It could very well have been the LAST thing she needed."<

    The unbeliever is dead in his trespasses and sins, separated from the life of God. The first thing an unbeliever needs is life. As "The Christ" Jesus meets the most basic need.

    blessings alvin

    November 17, 2007 7:57 AM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Alvin,
    Regarding John 3:16, Jesus states that the one who believes "in Me" will never perish. Where does Jesus require us to believe that we will never perish? Jesus is stating something that is true (that the believer will never perish), but He does not explain for us what exactly it means to "believe in Me". He does NOT say there, "whoever believes that he will never perish will never perish". Jesus does not state there what it is that we are to believe, just that we need to believe "in Me". I do not see any promise there that Jesus says we are to believe.

    Otherwise though, you're getting a bit off track. My whole point with the eternal security thing is that your side claims it (eternal security) is a required component of saving faith. Yet nowhere is it stated "explicitly and in one passage" that believing in eternal security is required. Your answer was that the name "eternal life" makes it clear that the gift can never be lost. I have demonstrated that that is not true (to reiterate the reasons: 1. "eternal" describes the life I'm given, not necessarily my possession of it 2. many MANY people believe that Jesus can give them eternal life, but also believe they can lose it, thus if such belief is required, it should be stated explicitly rather than just "assumed" by the title). You then repeated that eternal security is a true doctrine. That is not an answer to my point, so I will say it yet again: it still remains to be seen what ONE PASSAGE states EXPLICITLY that eternal security is part of the required content of saving faith. Either show the one passage that states it explicitly (NOT just the "name" everlasting life), OR retract the requirement, OR retract that standard of evidence.

    I said,

    "So, even if you can prove that both the Samaritan woman AND Jesus thought of "the Christ" ONLY or PRIMARILY as "the giver of eternal life" (which you have definitely NOT proven yet), you still have a long way to go to prove that this was all she needed. It could very well have been the LAST thing she needed."

    I'm sorry, but you did not even attempt an answer to this. Simply stating your view that "the Christ" means merely "giver of eternal life" is not an answer. If that is your answer, then honestly I don't know what else to say.

    November 17, 2007 1:07 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Rachel you said:

    Regarding John 3:16, Jesus states that the one who believes "in Me" will never perish. Where does Jesus require us to believe that we will never perish? Jesus is stating something that is true (that the believer will never perish), but He does not explain for us what exactly it means to "believe in Me". He does NOT say there, "whoever believes that he will never perish will never perish". Jesus does not state there what it is that we are to believe, just that we need to believe "in Me". I do not see any promise there that Jesus says we are to believe.

    I said:

    If you believe what Jesus is saying in John 3:16 that makes you the one that He says will not perish. To not believe it would be not to believe what Jesus states about the one that believes. If you do not believe any part you are not believing Jesus statment of fact about the one who believes. Other words you have not received Jesus words in this verse.

    Rachel said:

    My whole point with the eternal security thing is that your side claims it (eternal security) is a required component of saving faith. Yet nowhere is it stated "explicitly and in one passage" that believing in eternal security is required.

    I said:

    As I stated above only the one believing Jesus statement of fact is receiving His word about the one who believes not perishing.

    If you have believed Jesus statement in John 3:16 then you have believed what Jesus has stated about the one who believes has eternal life and will not perish. This is eternal security stated explicitly to the one who is a believer. If you have received Jesus words then you know this is true about you.

    Rachel you went on to say:

    Your answer was that the name "eternal life" makes it clear that the gift can never be lost. I have demonstrated that that is not true (to reiterate the reasons: 1. "eternal" describes the life I'm given, not necessarily my possession of it 2. many MANY people believe that Jesus can give them eternal life, but also believe they can lose it, thus if such belief is required, it should be stated explicitly rather than just "assumed" by the title).

    I said:

    Rachel if eternal life is not eternal then it has the wrong name.

    When you say "eternal" describes the life I'm given, not necessarily my possession of it. Rachel eternal life is a gift at the moment you believe your born again. You cannot be unborn, Jesus is not an indian giver. At the moment of birth you are forever part of the family of God. Just like your born into your earthly family. you can never change that. Even if your family were to disown you, you would still be their child you can never reverse your birth. Even if our faith fails He cannot deny Himself.

    You said:2. many MANY people believe that Jesus can give them eternal life, but also believe they can lose it, thus if such belief is required, it should be stated explicitly rather than just "assumed" by the title).

    Rachel if they have believed Jesus statement about the one who believes will not perrish, but also believe that the one who believes can perrish this is in direct contradiction to what Jesus states about the one who believes cannot perrish, thus they have not believed Jesus statement about one who has believed making them not a believer of Jesus stated fact about the one who believes.



    Rachel you said:

    You then repeated that eternal security is a true doctrine. That is not an answer to my point, so I will say it yet again: it still remains to be seen what ONE PASSAGE states EXPLICITLY that eternal security is part of the required content of saving faith. Either show the one passage that states it explicitly (NOT just the "name" everlasting life), OR retract the requirement, OR retract that standard of evidence.



    John 3:16
    16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
    Rachel the believer that Jesus is talking about in this verse, what is true of him/or her is that they will not perish and they have everlasting life. The one who has received Jesus word is a believer and knows this is true about himself to say other wise would be to contradict what Jesus has stated about the one who believes.
    Rachel notice in John 3:18 it's the one who does not believe in Jesus name that is condemned.
    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.
    John the one who penned this also said in his epistle 1 John 5:1a Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God
    John tells us what it means to believe that Jesus is the Christ in Jesus conversation with Martha.
    11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
    27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
    Rachel to believe in Jesus is to believe that if you die He will resurrect you and if you live and believe you will never die this is eternal security, guarenteeing the one who has believed eternal well being. So yes John 3:16 is explicidly stating that the one that is the believer what is also true of him is that he will not perish but has eternal life, this is eternal security. If the one reading John 3:16 does not believe this about himself then he is not a believer in the sense in which Jesus states. So not to believe this would look like this "I believe I could perish" thus contradicting Jesus words about the one who believes.
    blessings alvin,,,,,John 3:16 truly is "GOOD NEWS" to the one who believes it about themself.

    November 18, 2007 6:56 AM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Anton, I would love to. I have just moved into a new home and am attempting to bet settled in. Perhaps we can have a phone call together and talk? Have you visited my blog and seen the pictures? I have not left this post, just don't have the time to be very involved at the moment with all of the Bible Scholars we have here! :)

    Grace and Truth

    Trent

    November 18, 2007 10:29 AM  
    Blogger Anton said...

    Hi Alvin,

    As I had hinted, there are different aspects of the issues that have to be taken into consideration:

    1) The ANE view of the afterlife: ie what were the Jews believing Jesus for?

    2) Is there a minimum content of faith which is common to all people groups of the world: ie. what is the general revaltion that Paul hints at in Rom 1:19?

    3) Was John written to unbelievers or believers : ie is the Gospel of John evangelical or confirmatory in its purpose?

    Since you are already discussing issues related to the third point, allow me to jump in with a few bits of information. First : my motives. I am a friend of Free Grace. I've come here through the site at GES and have been blessed by all the material found here, but it seems that the different groups in Free Grace are facing a log jam with "content of faith". It is important that we sort the issue out before we proceed further, as it has bearing on both evangelism as well as apologetics.

    John was written to the church in Ephesus, who have been exposed to the teaching of Paul first, and then Peter. As new understanding came, the teachings also developed. Now John has the job of unfiying the teachings of both these apostles who have died, and what better way than to go back to the original words of Jesus.

    Joh 20:31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

    The crux of the matter is the word believe which can either be pisteuvshte (aorist) or pisteuvhte (present). I'm no Greek scholar: rather, I'm a businessman, as you may have guessed!

    Back to the Greek: If it is the aorist, it would signify that the letter was addred to unbelievers, in order for them to come to saving faith.} If present, in order for them to continue to believe.

    The argument that it was wriiten to unbelievers hangs on the plain meaning of the above verse: But then, a parallel can be seen in Rom 1:15, which we know was written to believers by reading further into the entire book!

    Rom 1:15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

    An inductive study of John will also reveal the same conclusion: the Gospel of John was written to believers.

    In my previous analogy, I gave the example of a company head who sells his service and describes his methodology. What if he has recorded the actual converstations and then plays back these recordings to the happy customer, this time in an endeavour to sell her shares in the firm?

    The Upsell

    Or "How I convinced my customers to become shareholders". This is how it happened:

    Anton: Hi Marge, how are you?

    Marge: I am well and my bank balance is healthy too, thanks to you!

    Anton: Great! What do you think about my words to you that you would benefit from signing up?

    Marge: Think? I think you're a Prophet! You just seem to have the aptitude to foresee things.

    Anton: Well, Marge I am predicting that the business is going to take off, especially with the new ideas that we have in the pipeline. How would you like to be a part of its future success, by investing in the company? Listen to what we talked about last time in the matter of the bulk buying scheme. Do you believe in our capabilities, based on the past promises?

    Marge: Based on your past record, and the success rate of your predictions, you've got a believer in me, I'm a fan for life. Sign me up.

    Now, I hope I got THAT idea across. See:

    Joh 13:19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.

    Joh 14:29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.

    Please do a word search in your e-bible for passages where the phrase "you may believe" occurs in John. You'll be surprised!

    The Sayer article on Pyro is outstanding. The book of John is about exciting dogma allright, but its also about perfect prophecy and fulfillment, for a purpose. IOW, John contains both forth-telling as well as fore-telling.

    BTW, did you try to google "Jews AND eternal life" and did you read the stuff on the Jewish sites? If you did, wasn't it confusing? Instead, let's try a Christian site:

    http://www.bibletexts.com/glossary/eternal-life.htm

    Happy reading!

    Brothers and sisters, lets work together on this. As has been stated, this is the most important better understanding of doctrine since Luther. Lets get the finer points right.

    Trent, you can message me at anthonygoh at the rate of gmaildotcom. (using the normal convention for the address). BTW, as we are not in the US, and as we work in sensitive areas, please keep confidential any location and ministry details that are passed on to you.

    Blessings to all, and may God be praised and glorified in all our interactions.

    November 18, 2007 10:45 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Alvin,
    You said,

    "If you believe what Jesus is saying in John 3:16 ... Other words you have not received Jesus words in this verse ... only the one believing Jesus statement of fact ... If you have believed Jesus statement in John 3:16 ... "

    Alvin, you're not getting it. Look at what I am asking and what you are answering. It is not the same. In John 3:16, what does Jesus say we need to believe? Does he say, "believe what I'm about to say", or, "believe my words in this verse", or, "believe the following statement"? No, he says "believe in Me". That's it. He then states a fact about the one who does believe "in Me". Jesus could have said, "he who believes in Me has my righteousness imputed to his account". Would that have meant that the lost are then required to believe that they will have God's righteousness imputed to their account? No, it is simply a statement about the one who believes. But it does NOT define or list for us what exactly it is that we need to believe in order to have what Jesus describes. It is simply a fact that John 3:16 says NOTHING about what specifically the lost are required to believe. It merely tells us we need to believe "in [Jesus]", and once we do, we will have everlasting life. But in no way does that verse tell us that we need to believe THAT we will have everlasting life. Jesus simply says, "believe in Me". He does NOT say, "believe that I can give you eternal life". And according to your side, that's exactly what you need, or you can't claim it's required.

    You said,

    "This is eternal security stated explicitly to the one who is a believer."

    Assuming for the moment that you are correct that John 3:16 is "eternal security stated explictly", it still is not stated explicitly as a required component of saving faith. THAT is the whole issue here. You can find passages all day long that state every spiritual truth as explicitly as possible, but until they are stated as explicit requirements for saving faith, then you're not even an inch closer to proving your claim.

    So at the risk of being repetitive (but at the same time desiring to be clear and to maintain focus), I will say once again: it still remains to be seen what ONE PASSAGE states EXPLICITLY that eternal security is part of the required content of saving faith. Either show the one passage that states it explicitly (NOT just the "name" everlasting life), OR retract the requirement, OR retract that standard of evidence.

    John 11:26 is another way of saying John 3;16. "He who believes in Me will never die.". Where does it say, "He who believes that he will never die, will never die"? "Will never die" is a description of the one who "believes in Me". It is NOT a definition or listing of what is needed to believe. Beyond this, I've already covered this issue with Martha, so here is what I said earlier in this discussion:

    "Jesus says that those who believe "in Me" will never die. Martha affirms that she believes "what"? She does NOT say in that verse that she believes that Jesus can give eternal life. Does she say that somewhere else? In 11:27, Martha affirms that she believes that those who "believe in Jesus" will never die. Yet we are still missing a definition of "believe in Jesus".

    I need to see where it says in Scripture that 1)Martha specifically believed that Jesus can give eternal life, and 2)that it was THIS belief ONLY that resulted in Martha receiving eternal life (and not this belief combined with other beliefs she already held about her sin and need for a mediator to restore her relationship to God)."


    Then, this still has not been answered:

    "So, even if you can prove that both the Samaritan woman AND Jesus thought of "the Christ" ONLY or PRIMARILY as "the giver of eternal life" (which you have definitely NOT proven yet), you still have a long way to go to prove that this was all she needed. It could very well have been the LAST thing she needed."

    Anton,
    Interesting that you think that John is for believers rather than unbelievers. I have been exploring that possibility myself. "Crossless" gospel or "Refined Free Grace" advocates have just assumed that the purpose of John's gospel was evangelistic. What I am finding is that certainly some do think that, but that it is hardly a universally accepted fact. Yet arguably their entire position on this issue crumbles if John's purpose is NOT evangelistic. I have a group blog that you (and everyone) are certainly welcome to check out and post at. Very soon I am planning to post an article there with my thoughts on the purpose of John. I think it is becoming clear that, at the least, John did NOT intend for his gospel to be a stand-alone document. More on that at my soon-to-come blog article...

    November 19, 2007 1:19 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Anton you said:
    1) The ANE view of the afterlife: ie what were the Jews believing Jesus for?
    I said:
    I believe the Jews were believing in a justification that was by faith alone and the object of that faith was the Messiah"The Christ" for eternal life and resurrection. Gal 3:8 And the scripture, forseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the GOSPEL to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." (We know that at the core of the Gospel is the gift of eternal life, Paul said he was the pattern to those who would believe in Jesus for eternal life). John 11:24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Then Martha confirmed that Jesus was the resurrection and the life. Job 19:25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I KNOW, that in my flesh I will see God, Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. 2 Samuel 12:22 " But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." (This is eternal life)
    In John 11:25-27 Jesus as "The Christ" is resurrection and life, this is what the Jew was believing in God for.
    Jesus didn't mention resurrection to the women at the well, He only offered her eternal life through the living water. Of course we know that anyone who had eternal life would also be resurrected. Just as anyone who had eternal life had justification of life. At the core is eternal life and that is what Jesus gives to the one who believes.
    You said:
    2) Is there a minimum content of faith which is common to all people groups of the world: ie. what is the general revelation that Paul hints at in Rom 1:19?
    I said:
    Romans 1:19 Shows that people are without excuse because God has made Himself known through creation. I believe that minimum content here is for the purpose for man to seek God. Acts 17:26 And He has made from one blood[a] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
    And if they seek Him I believe God will send someone with the gospel. Acts 16:9b "Come over to Macedonia and help us."
    you said:
    3) Was John written to unbelievers or believers : ie is the Gospel of John evangelical or confirmatory in its purpose?
    I said:
    John says that the signs were written for the purpose that the unbeliever might have life. The unbeliever can take of the living water and be saved just as the ones in John's narrative (John 4:10; Rev 22:17). Jesus also speaks to the believer in the narrative concerning abiding and the abundant life. So I believe the book was sent to believers for the evangelization of the unbeliever.
    You said:
    The argument that it was written to unbelievers hangs on the plain meaning of the above verse: But then, a parallel can be seen in Rom 1:15, which we know was written to believers by reading further into the entire book!
    I said:
    I believe the gospel that Paul is proclaiming in Romans is a full gospel (good news) for the believer. From warning them of the wrath that "is" revealed for both the unbeliever and believer who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Showing how the believer can escape the wrath of God by the life of Christ, being saved from the power of sin (Romans 5:9 we shall be saved from wrath through Him.) Romans 10:9-12 speak of a salvation (deliverance) for believers who call on the name of the Lord (confession is something we do with our mouth, it is a work). By confession and belief they can experience this type of salvation. So the gospel that Paul is proclaiming to the saints at Rome is a full gospel so the parallel is unfounded I believe. He is not writing to unbelievers on how to have eternal life but is writing for the purpose that they might experience the life they already have in Christ.
    I said concerning these verses:
    &&&&John 8:24
    Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”
    Joh 13:19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.

    Joh 14:29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.
    The apostles already had eternal life but they had not yet believed that Jesus was "I am He" in the sense that He would die for their sins. Could a person who had eternal life die in their sins?
    I believe to die in your sins is speaking of your experince. So I believe a believer could die in his sins. I think a good example of a believer dying in their sins would be like Ananias who lied to the Holy Spirit. We know that Ananias was a born again person so all his sins were forgiven in Christ. So dying in your sins for a believer would have an effect concerning rewards. For an unbeliever to die in their sins would be the natural consequence of being seperated from God. For the believer to walk in the flesh is to be seperated from the life of God in your experince, thus if you died in that state it would be "dying in your sins."
    alvin

    November 19, 2007 4:10 PM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Hi Rachel
    We both seem to be saying much but not communicating. If I have been unclear I apologize.
    I think what can cause confusion first off is that our definition of eternal security is different. If I read you right you believe a person can’t simply believe Jesus promise but has to “keep on believing.”
    If that is your belief it would be impossible to have any kind of security until you die.
    If this is true it would contradict God’s word which tells us we can know (1 John 5:13).

    I will return to the simplicity that is in Christ.
    A little child can be told John 3:16 and know that if they believe Jesus promise they will not perish and have eternal life.
    This is eternal security, it is explicit in Jesus statement that the only condition is to believe and what is true of the one who believes is that he will not perish but has eternal life. So it follows that if you have believed Jesus statement you KNOW you will not perish but have eternal life. This is eternal security.
    If a person has NEVER believed this they are not saved.
    You cannot believe in a person without believing a proposition about that person. Jesus makes the proposition over and over again in the gospel of John that the one who believes in Him has eternal life. To believe in Jesus therefore in John’s sense is to believe in Him for eternal life. This is what John 20:31 is speaking of when it says “and believing you might have life in His name.” So the believer isn’t simply believing in Jesus to believe in Jesus but is believing Him for eternal life as even Paul stated in 1 Tim 1:16 as a PATTERN TO THOSE who are going to BELIEVE ON HIM FOR EVERLASTING LIFE. I have no problem going to Paul because he got his gospel from Jesus.
    If I am not being clear again I apologize, and would ask if someone can articulate this clearer feel free to do so.
    Blessings alvin

    November 19, 2007 6:47 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Alvin,
    You said,

    "If I read you right you believe a person can’t simply believe Jesus promise but has to 'keep on believing.'”

    That's not quite what I believe. Regardless, it is not true that such belief precludes a person having security. If someone holds the view that "whoever believes in [Jesus] has everlasting life", then if that person currently believes in Jesus, they can be 100% confident that if they were to die right now, they would be in heaven. But I don't want to get into that too much because it is not my point.

    You said,

    "I will return to the simplicity that is in Christ."

    Remember that I said earlier that this isn't about "whose gospel is simpler", rather it is about "whose gospel is biblical". Claiming that because your gospel is "simpler" it is therefore automatically and obviously truer and closer to Christ is fallacious.

    You said,

    "A little child can be told John 3:16 and know that if they believe Jesus promise they will not perish and have eternal life."

    I disagree. I have told my 4-year-old John 3:16 (he's even memorized part of it!). Frankly, he doesn't even have a clear concept of "eternal life", let alone have the ability to think that this verse is telling him that if he just believes that Jesus can give him eternal life that he has it. Tell any child, for that matter any one at all, John 3:16, and you'll need to explain it, no matter what your interpretation of it is. As I've noted at least 2 other times on this blog (and have yet to see a response to), even Jesus did not speak the words of John 3:16 by themselves. The words were spoken in context with explanation and analogy, besides the fact that they were spoken to a high-context society in which many things were taken for granted/implied/needed no explanation. I maintain that there is no way anyone would read John 3:16 and think that they need to believe that Jesus can give eternal life in order to have eternal life, unless they have that preconceived opinion. The reason? There is nothing in John 3:16 that says that.

    You said,

    "This is eternal security, it is explicit in Jesus statement that the only condition is to believe and what is true of the one who believes is that he will not perish but has eternal life. So it follows that if you have believed Jesus statement you KNOW you will not perish but have eternal life."

    Okay, first you say that the only condition is to "believe". Then you say that "if you have believed Jesus' statement..." You are correct with the first statement about the condition of belief. But then you suddenly add content to that belief (we have to believe "Jesus' statement") without any explanation or warrant from the text. As I noted in my previous post, Jesus does NOT say, "believe the following statement" or "believe the words I'm about to say in this verse". All he says is, "believe in Me", then goes on to describe one (of many) of the possessions of the one who "believe[s] in Me". John 3:16 does NOT contain ANY explicit statement about what is required for saving faith. John 3:16 does NOT tell us explicitly what exactly we need to believe in order to receive everlasting life. As a result, it requires explanation and other verses in order for its truths to be properly (i.e. savingly) understood. This is true for BOTH views of this debate.

    You said,

    "You cannot believe in a person without believing a proposition about that person. Jesus makes the proposition over and over again in the gospel of John that the one who believes in Him has eternal life. To believe in Jesus therefore in John’s sense is to believe in Him for eternal life."

    I accept your first sentence in this quote. However, I reject your conclusion because it is not logical. Jesus makes many propositions in the gospel of John "over and over again". Which one is stated explicitly as THE ONE that the lost MUST believe in order to receive eternal life? Just because Jesus makes a proposition several times in no way automatically means that it, and ONLY it, is the one we must believe to be born again. Such a standard would leave us in quite a quandary. Yet again, you still need to show what ONE PASSAGE states EXPLICITLY that eternal security is part of the required content of saving faith. Either show the one passage that states it explicitly (NOT just the "name" everlasting life), OR retract the requirement, OR retract that standard of evidence.

    You say you have no problem using Paul. Fine, but then our side gets to use Paul too. And also, if your side gets to use verses outside of John to explain your view, then no more ranting (by your side in general) about how my side uses different verses to patch together our view. You can't have your cake and eat it too (but maybe you can have some pumpkin pie! ;-) ).

    Oh yeah, and don't forget about this:

    "So, even if you can prove that both the Samaritan woman AND Jesus thought of 'the Christ' ONLY or PRIMARILY as "the giver of eternal life" (which you have definitely NOT proven yet), you still have a long way to go to prove that this was all she needed. It could very well have been the LAST thing she needed."

    November 20, 2007 9:55 PM  
    Blogger Anton said...

    1Co 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,
    1Co 15:2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.
    1Co 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
    1Co 15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
    1Co 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
    1Co 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.
    1Co 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
    1Co 15:8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

    Hi Rachel, I've been at your group blog. Very nice, but I could not get information about what your position is. Are you holding that the minimum content of saving faith is 1 Corinthians 15: 1-8? If so, how is it different from Alvin's view that John 3:16 is the definitive verse for "minimum content of saving faith"? Just as Alvin is mistaken in assuming that John 3:16 is addressing "minimum content of saving faith", aren't you mistaken that 1 Cor 15: 1-8 is addressing the same isue? Rather isn't it addressing the outworkings or details of saving faith:

    1Co 15:12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

    ... rather than "minimum content of saving faith"?


    IOW, Paul is speaking to saved people, and giving them additional information about their belief. Paul is not dealing with content of faith issue, but with doubts about resurrection...

    Paul is using a hypothetical argument based on the claim that the dead are not raised. The content of one's saving faith is not the issue here, but that if God does not raise the dead then Christ is not raised and there is no salvation. His point is the essential nature of the resurrection of the dead to the Gospel. Without the resurrection, there is no Gospel.

    And I like:

    It does not say what it is that a person must believe about Jesus in order to receive that gift. And remember, any evidence you attempt to provide must meet your own rules: it can’t be a hodge-podge of different verses patched together (preferably just one verse), no Greek (has to be simple), and the less of “man’s logic” the better.

    Let's stick to that in YOUR reply.

    November 20, 2007 11:30 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Anton,

    You quoted me as saying the following at my group blog:

    "It does not say what it is that a person must believe about Jesus in order to receive that gift. And remember, any evidence you attempt to provide must meet your own rules: it can’t be a hodge-podge of different verses patched together (preferably just one verse), no Greek (has to be simple), and the less of “man’s logic” the better."

    I don't plan to stick to that because I believe it is an arbitrary, nonbiblical standard. I insisted that the "crossless"/RFG people stick to that because that is the standard they hold us to, then claim that we supposedly have no evidence for our view. What I am showing with that article (and have continued to show here) is that their own view fails their own standards. It is my contention that if they would allow us to use the kind of evidence they are allowing for themselves, their case would crumble immediately. My point is really that no such evidence exists in the Bible. There simply is no one verse or passage where Jesus or anyone says explicitly, "Here is the list of items to be believed in order to be born again." They accuse us of doing the very same things they do to prove their view. So I am not interested in applying those same rules to my reply, in fact I am saying quite the opposite, that such rules should not be applied at all, in fact CANNOT be applied, as BOTH views would fail to pass that kind of test.

    Regarding my group blog, remember that it is a group blog, so not everything is posted by me. However, it is my position that the content of saving faith (today)includes an understanding and belief in personal sin, and the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus. I do maintain that 1 Cor. 15:1-4 gives us the content of saving faith (but that isn't the only place), but I don't think that Paul's purpose in writing that was specifically to list the required content. The fact that he was writing to believers doesn't mean that what he wrote wasn't the gospel. In fact, he indicates that he had already told these things to them, these were not facts he was introducing now that they were born again. Sort of like Vince Lombardi's famous "this is a football" speech. Paul was simply reminding them of the gospel they had originally received.

    Otherwise, my view isn't so much that the minimum content of saving faith is 1 Cor. 15, more like 1 Cor 15 is ONE place where the minimum content of saving faith is discussed. I believe that the emphasis of what must be believed for saving faith is all throughout the NT. It is the "crossless"/RFG side that insists on ONE VERSE or passage.

    November 21, 2007 8:53 AM  
    Blogger Anton said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    November 21, 2007 12:31 PM  
    Blogger Anton said...

    Rachel. I take your point. I agree that the conditions set were inappropriate, and really, anybody following them was almost certain to fail in offering any valid interpretation. I did not realise that these were set by your opponents in view of the fact that it was often overstepped by them. A barrage of verses does not a proof make!

    Grammatical-historical hermeneutic requires historical context. The text offers a certain amount of information, but is almost invariably incomplete. So far I have found very little historical information in Alvin's views. Its unproductive to deprive ourselves of historical context under the pretext of labelling it "man's logic". Its not just logic or reasoning: rather it's a fact that we are not living in the same circumstances as the original writer and his readers, and no one would make the statement that meanings do not also change with circumstantial changes. Without historical context, we willfully deprive ourselves of associative information. On top of that, when we use modern definitions for ancient words we further lose some more of the meaning of the original words.

    Another factor to take into consideration is that the final arbitration on the meaning of the text is in the hands of the author: we cannot force OUR wishes for what we want the words to mean on to the text! We need to take HIS intent into full consideration in order to fill in the blanks of the ideas, the function which is normally done by the high context that you mentioned.

    Not to make any totally despair of getting anywhere near to the content of the text, but still neccessary for the mentioning is that the Greek employed for conveying the content had to jump through an additional hoop in conveying Hebrew thoughts, which follows different terms for expression of ideas. We would do well to keep all these factors in mind even if they are not deployed in the particular text being studied. What is on our side is the fact that the Ultimate Author, in keeping with his character of Grace, also provides us the means of understanding His message!

    I do have a problem with YOUR minimum content of faith offering. What I put on the table as an alternative is untried and new, but I have learnt in the past that "thar is gold out on them limbs"!

    If Paul contends that the Gentiles had enough conveyed to them in general revelation in Rom 1:19 to secure for them salvation, and that the Jews were advantaged only in terms of having a headstart by virtue of possessing the "oracles" (Rom 3:2), then the people who followed Jesus were already saved!

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)John 10:27
    "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

    They were His sheep even before He called them!

    Ask yourself the following questions:

    1) What was the filter John the Baptist employed to deny baptism to certain sections of the Pharisees?

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)Luke 3:7
    So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, ho warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

    2) Were the believers who took John's baptism saved?

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)Luke 7:27-30
    27“This is the one about whom it is written,
    ‘BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU,
    WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.’
    28 “I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)Acts 19:3
    3And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" And they said, "Into John's baptism."

    This position offers many solutions to the problem of the millions of people with no access to the Gospel in the past and to a lesser extent, today (we see its application all the time in the field) and the problem of "age of reason" as an obstacle to understanding. I do not want to digress overmuch and do the wild eyed prophet routine... just to let you know that ruling out John's Gospel as evangelical has implications.

    I have been debating with Orthodox Jews on other fora and the insights offered were pretty revealing! Not that all have to go that route. Thank you for a coherent and insightful post... I will read it again and return with some request for further clarification. You will not mind, I hope, to be put into the hotseat!

    November 21, 2007 12:53 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Anton,

    I look forward to your next post and further discussion. I am a bit unclear though, on what is your position on this issue? What do you believe is the minimum required content of saving faith for the lost today?

    Regarding me being in the "hotseat", LOL! I've been doing online debating for several years now. Most of my debating time in fact has been spent with atheists, pagans, and a variety of other nonChristians (actually anti-Christians), including a former friend/Christian. And on their "turf" at that! Actually I enjoy it, it forces me to understand and "own" my beliefs, whether I keep the ones I have or change them. So no problem there!

    But I have been challenging the other position because their view so clearly fails even their own tests. Yet I realize (as the atheistic evolutionists love to tell me) that proving their view wrong doesn't necessarily make mine right. So I'm more than happy to explore the bases for my own position. The main reason I haven't yet is that the situation in which I was first introduced to the crossless/RFG gospel necessitated that I simply point out their errors to those who were unaware but also already agreed with my position. If you want to know more about that, feel free to email me.

    I will review your questions and get back with you on my answers.

    November 21, 2007 1:39 PM  
    Blogger Rachel said...

    Anton,
    Just to be clear, I would still appreciate you explaining your position on what you hold to be the minimum content of saving faith.

    You said,

    "1) What was the filter John the Baptist employed to deny baptism to certain sections of the Pharisees?

    New American Standard Bible (©1995)Luke 3:7
    'So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, ho warned you to flee from the wrath to come?'"


    I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't quite understand your question here. Can you explain further? In particular, I don't see how Luke 3:7 indicates what kept John from baptizing certain of the Pharisees. Can you explain your thought processes here?

    You said,

    "2) Were the believers who took John's baptism saved?"

    Generally speaking, yes, I think so. The reason is because they believed what God had revealed about the way of salvation. Acts is a book of transition, thus its events cannot necessarily said to be normative for today (though they might be, just not necessarily). I am guessing you will say though that the reasoning I have applied to say that John's disciples were saved should then be applied today, especially regarding those who have never heard of Jesus/the gospel.

    I am entertaining the possibility of such a view (whether or not it is yours), but I do not see it as likely. Mainly because there is a difference between needing to believe ALL of what God has revealed, vs. needing to believe only what God has revealed TO YOU personally. This is where the Acts-as-transition point comes in to play. John's disciples in Acts 19 were in effect still in the age of the Law, because they had believed ALL that God had revealed up to that point, they simply had not heard of the new, more detailed revelation. This is not the same as someone in Africa not hearing/believing ANY of the gospel that has already been revealed.

    Let me give a personal example. A friend of mine grew up in Africa. Missionaries came to her people at the time of her great-grandfather, who was saved and passed down the legacy. She says, what about all my ancestors who had never heard? Are they all doomed to hell? She has decided that they are not, that if they believed as much as they could know, then they were saved. However, she says, such is NOT true for her next-door neighbor. Essentially, her view is that people are required to believe as much as is possible for them to know of the gospel. This is the possibility that I am considering. Although at this point I still maintain that belief in the minimum content I listed previously ("the gospel") is necessary for ALL people today, and that if someone who has never heard responds to the light they are given, God will ensure that they get more light until they are told of the gospel in order to savingly believe.

    One other point regarding those who have never heard... is it God's fault that they do not know? Not once, but TWICE in human history ALL people on earth knew of the truth and what God had revealed. Now we have entire people groups who have never heard. How did that happen? Someone failed to pass down the truth, and/or someone failed to receive it. Neither is the fault of God.

    You said,

    "If Paul contends that the Gentiles had enough conveyed to them in general revelation in Rom 1:19 to secure for them salvation..."

    Could you explain this further? As yet I do not see where Paul says in Rom 1:19 that "general revelation [is enough] to secure for them salvation". Rather, I see Paul conclude in Rom 3:26 that, "...for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."

    November 22, 2007 9:39 PM  
    Blogger Anton said...

    Hi Rachel

    You wrote:
    I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't quite understand your question here. Can you explain further? In particular, I don't see how Luke 3:7 indicates what kept John from baptizing certain of the Pharisees. Can you explain your thought processes here?

    Before i state my position, I will clarify what i meant when i said God provides us the means to understand His Words, here is how He does it.

    Because Jesus was obedient, God was well pleased:
    Matt 3:13-17
    13 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

    And this was in fulfilment of:
    John 1:51 And He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

    And:
    Genesis 28:12 He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

    In other words, God provides us wonderful information AND understanding (grammatical, historical, philosophical, scientific... the whole works!) because of the complete obedience of Christ, from baptism to crucifixion! See:

    Acts 4:13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.

    He also repeats His teachings, so that we see the same motif in differnt passages of Scripture. The angels go up and down incessantly.

    Okay this is where I lay out my views for all to consider so here goes (be gentle!):

    The filter that John (and Jesus: see Luke 18:8! ) employed to filter out the saved was their mindset, as exhiblted by their question:
    Luke 3:10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?”

    IOW, they were asking the wrong question! There is NOTHING a person can do to be saved! This interpretation is supported in the following article (provided by an insightful lady, in another thread!):

    Quote
    The problem with this sort of objection is twofold. First, when appealing to the commands of Christ (like the Sermon on the Mount), they are correctly understood as commandments; yet they are not commandments alone, but a mirror that demonstrates our inability to meet up to God's standards. Romans 3:19-20 tells us, "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." The primary purpose of the law, and of the Sermon on the Mount, was condemnation, not salvation.

    http://www.tektonics.org/af/baptismneed.html

    Contrast this with the mindset of a justified person:
    Luke 18: 13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    November 23, 2007 9:54 AM  
    Blogger alvin said...

    Anton you said:

    Okay this is where I lay out my views for all to consider so here goes (be gentle!):

    The filter that John (and Jesus: see Luke 18:8! ) employed to filter out the saved was their mindset, as exhiblted by their question:
    Luke 3:10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?”

    Anton, John was preparing the way for Jesus. He was proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom to the nation Israel. He was calling them to a baptism of repentance. So of course they would be asking “then what shall we do?” But even though they repented and were baptized they still weren’t forgiven and born again until they believed in Jesus (Acts 19:4).
    Remember that’s also what the Philippian jailer also said “What must I DO to be saved?” The answer “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!

    Acts 19:4 Then Paul said to them, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they SHOLUD BELIEVE ON HIM who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

    Anton I agree with what you said about the law and the Sermon on the Mount. I think I was gentle.
    Blessings alvin

    November 24, 2007 11:18 PM  
    Blogger Anton said...

    Dear Alvin, good point.

    Although we were discussing people groups without information about the resurrection, your example has valid reasoning even though it was a post resurrection scenario. Consider:

    1) The GES sites has great information about the possibilty that the jailer had the Gospel already preached to him.

    2) GES also points out how one can drift from one category to another in discussing terms like "repent", "believe", what they mean and whether they are things people "do", as in the category of "work". A good grounding in the topic is very helpful in both evangelisation and apologetics and edification.

    3) I learned the whole idea of the concept of "pre-gospel" from the GES site, for which I am very grateful and I thank the wonderful people there for their service to God and His people.

    4) I'm praying that God gives light to Free Grace adherents in the matter of "content of faith" and it's great to see brothers and sisters struggling with the Word and I hope God touches us soon like He touched Jacob when he contended with Him. One hamstring is a small price to pray for getting in on the know AND the action ... 8o)) .

    Thanks for the kindness too!

    November 25, 2007 10:32 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Anton, I sent you an email some days ago. Did you get it? I am close to being caught up. Post on my blog or email me please.

    December 04, 2007 12:11 PM  
    Blogger Trent said...

    Hello Antonio if you are still tracking this.

    Hi Knet Knight, sorry it took so long, but I am going to try and respond. :) Yes, first I agree, Art is definetely a Scholar.

    KK said "Like Art, I view vv 3,4 as a brief summary of what Paul considered to be a barebones breakdown of "The gospel."

    * 3,4 are unique in that they are the only vv directly connected with the authority of existing scripture.
    * 3,4 are the only vv in this section that concern Jesus specifically.
    * The sentence ends at v5 so it's arguable that v5 is the only content we need demonstrate can be reasonably disconnected from vv 3,4.
    * Knowing that the Corinthians were being exposed to false ideas that denied the resurrection so it makes perfect sense that Paul immediately followed on the heals of v4 with a list of witnesses to the very event in question. This isn't content of the message itself, it's simply evidence to the Corinthians that vv 3,4 , esp. v4, are verifiably true. These witnesses are no longer available so vv 5-9 stand out as obviously temporal in value. vv 3,4 however are timeless, further singling them out as unique among the other items listed.
    * The argument that "using this passage as a proof text for the modern content of saving faith means that we must accept vv 5-9 as content" is inconsistent at best. In his JOTGES series about how to lead people to Christ, ZH says that one reason RFG should preach the cross is because Paul did. If that's true then RFG should also preach vv 5-9 as content in their salvation presentations, at least sometimes, "because Paul did"."

    I can see your points, however, it is not obvious, and does require assumptions, one of the major ones is there is something other then Trusting Christ for eternal life. You also have to explain why you have to hold fast to be saved if you consider it to be discussing eternal life.(unless you believe you can lose your salvation, or are of a more lordship persuasion) I think it is clear he is speaking to believers, and telling them like James, that they need to hold fast to the truths they know to be delivered and persevere. If you continue through verses 18 and further, through 33, I think the context is clearly much more then simply eternal life. Holding fast to the truth is a separate issue then the one time belief for eternal life and has different results.

    You said "My point is that it seems even RFG accepts that, when "preaching as Paul did", they can draw the line at v4."

    Although I learn and read from many scholars, I do my best to remain consistent and not believe something regardless of who might. I am a firm believer in Acts 17:11 as are you I would imagine. I preach the Cross and Ressurection to unbelievers because Paul did it "evangelistically". I also use some of the signs given in John to prove Christ is who he claims. I use his words and his promises.

    Thank you again for your patience and your grace.

    Trent

    December 06, 2007 2:32 PM  

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