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 01, 2007

'Whoever [simply] believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God' (1 John 5:1). Do you believe this?

NOTE: THIS IS AN EXPANDED AND EDITED VERSION OF THE ORIGINAL POST BEARING THIS NAME (edited October 2 / 3pm PST)

Introduction:
The Apostle John has stated that anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born again (1 John 5:1). Question: If one fulfills the condition of simply believing that Jesus is the Christ, will he be born again? For the epistle writer John, such belief is saving faith, so yes, John teaches that if one believes that Jesus is the Christ he is born again! But would those of traditional Free Grace theology and Duluthian proponents (let alone Lordship advocates) consider it a truism that whoever simply believes that Jesus is the Christ is born again? We shall see.


The Position of Traditional Free Grace
According to traditional Free Grace people (from now on TFG), saving faith consists of at least 5 conditions:

1) Believe that Jesus is God
2) Believe that Jesus is man
3) Believe that Jesus died a substitutionary death on the cross
4) Believe that Jesus rose again from the dead
5) Trust in Jesus’ work for eternal salvation

For the TFG, believing that Jesus is the God-man, who died a substitutionary death on the cross and rose again from the dead, is not enough. You must furthermore personally appropriate and trust these elements and Jesus’ work for eternal salvation. Usually this is called the “two-step”. Belief in the gospel facts is not enough (they do not want to be accused of intellectual assent). According to TFG, one must choose to trust these facts (Christ’s attributes) and Jesus’ work as additional steps.

We have already discussed in prior posts the confusion that this kind of approach may spawn. To briefly summarize, such a position can engender confusion on many different levels.

Trust and faith is the same thing. To distinguish between them, as many TFG do, can create confusion. Believing is not mere mental assent while trust is personal appropriation. Neither are the exercising of 'trust'/'faith' acts of the will, as most TFG teach. ‘Trust’ and ‘faith’ are nothing more than understanding certain propositions to be true; it is the passive result of being convinced that something is true. If I were to say, “I trust the babysitter,” this would be equivalent (and shorthand for) “I believe that the babysitter will perform her duties to my satisfaction.” We must beware making distinctions between trust and faith, as TFG often does.

TFG make saving faith complex. It is multi-conditional. Such complexity can net uncertainty and confusion. Saving faith, for TFG, cannot be contained in a simple proposition, like “faith alone in Christ alone”. TFG teaches that there are a number of conditions and at least two steps to saving faith. A misunderstanding or omission of any of these will invalidate the beliefs in the rest.

The understanding of saving faith by the TFG is technically and biblically inaccurate. If a lost man were to ask them were in the Bible does it give these conditions for eternal salvation, they could not turn to any single passage to show them. They would need to hop around the Bible, stringing a multitude of passages together. In the end, not a single passage they would turn to clearly states that the conditions that the TFG offer for the reception of eternal life do indeed appropriate salvation. This, itself, is a most major problem. They do not have any concrete biblical support, but base their position on a series of implications, allusions, and conjectures. No passage can be turned to that clearly states that upon the fulfillment of the TFG’s conditions one receives eternal salvation.

The TFG require lost men and women to be at a level of theological astuteness that nullifies the simplicity of Jesus Christ in His promise. The assent to doctrine, and this in its correct and minute forms, has become a co-condition to uncomplicated reliance upon Jesus for everlasting life. Children and common people could be precluded from saving faith. The Spirit states, “Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17). Eternal life is there for the simple taking, but the TFG significantly qualify this offer by insisting that the one who desires the water of life check off on a series of theological statements before he is allowed to approach the Fountain.

Assurance of salvation becomes confusing and frustrated. If a person is evangelized with the TFG method, where can he later turn to in the bible if he loses assurance of his salvation? No scriptures will be found that will line up with his evangelistic experience. We are to find certain and complete assurance in the objective word of God. But there is no verse or passage in the whole of Scripture that states, “Believe that Jesus is the God-man, who died a substitutionary death on a cross, rose again from the dead, and trust His works, and you will be eternally saved.” Since the TFG has to make his evangelistic appeal and invitation a conglomerate of many passages, how is the one struggling with assurance going to come to the understanding that he has fulfilled all the conditions? Suppose that there may be more in the Bible that the evangelist didn’t find or relay. Aren’t there 27 books in the New Testament? The evangelist only turned to a few!

These are only a cursory consideration with the problems of the TFG understanding. Much more can be said.


Do Traditional Free Grace People Believe that Whoever Believes that Jesus is the Christ is Born Again?
By virtue of their position, it is impossible for a TFG, genuinely and without qualification, to answer this question in the affirmative. It is just not possible.

We all are aware of Lordship Salvation’s importation of works into the concept of saving faith. This is well documented. I call this approach “kitchen sink” theology. Lordship proponents have evacuated the simple concept of faith and its theological shell has been loaded with such ideas as repentance, submission, obedience, and contrition by those who deem that apathy in our churches ought to be fought with the inclusion of works on the front end of the gospel offer.

In order for the TFG to, without qualification, state that “whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1) they would have to import into the concept of “Christ” their smorgasborg of doctrines, conditions, and steps that they impose upon the objects of their evangelistic endeavors, prove to them that these considerations are essential soteric information contained within the understaning of the title "the Christ," and make sure that the lost are consciously aware of this specific import. Such a task, in reality, could not legitimately be done.

Why can't this endeavor be honestly accomplished? The TFG position could be falsified with a very simple argument. The TFG attempt to connect the death and resurrection (2 out of their 5 conditions for saving faith) with the concept of Christ as necessary soteric understanding and then require the lost to be consciously aware of this specific import based upon their mere linking of this information to the concept of "the Christ" fails when one realizes that men and women who were the objects of Jesus' evangelism in the Gospel of John were born again by believing that Jesus was the Christ apart from the perceived affirming of such considerations.

It can be proved from the gospels that people believed that Jesus was the Christ without the conscious understanding of such import. In other words, the disciples and the common folks believed that Jesus was the Christ (and thus were born of God according to 1 John 5:1) not understanding, assenting to, or even knowing about Christ’s substitutionary atonement and resurrection (not to mention His deity).

A few instances should suffice:

Andrew and most likely the Apostle John believed that Jesus is the Christ (John 1:40-42), and according to the writer of this gospel, whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God and has eternal life (John 20:31; 1 John 5:1). It should be of great note that this occurence happened very early in Jesus' ministry. Phillip and Nathanael affirmed His messiahship very soon afterward (John 1:43-49). Following these events, Jesus started attracting disciples. His disciples are shown to have believed into Him at the time of His first sign miracle (John 2:11).

Another example would be the Samaritans of Sychar. The woman at the well first believed that Jesus was the Christ (John 4:29), based solely upon Jesus' prophetic statements about her life. This woman went into the village and told the inhabitants about Jesus. As an interesting side note, she states, "Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" (John 4:29). This does not indicate that she affirmed or was consciously aware of Christ's deity. Next, many of the people of the village believed into Jesus as the Christ. Of great note is John's statement, "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). Based solely on this immoral woman's testimony of Jesus' prophetic gift, "many of the Samaritans" believed in His messiahship. Please note that this woman's testimony did not include an explanation of the hypostatic union of Jesus and the substitutionary death and physical resurrection. These Samaritans heard, through a severely tarnished vessel, a simple attestation to Jesus' ability, which supported His claim that He was able to guarantee their eternal well-being. As a result of the evangelistic edeavors of Jesus, many Samaritans believed that Jesus was the Christ (John 4:42).

These events happened within the first year of Jesus' ministry. This is an important consideration because Jesus did not reveal to anyone His death and resurrection until His third year of ministry (Matt 16:21; Mk 8:31; Lu 9:22). It is important to note here that even after giving them this information that they did not believe such would be the case, evidenced by Peter's reaction to Jesus' statements: "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!" (Matt 16:22).

It is important to note further that after Jesus had died (thus fulfilling part of His prophetic foretelling in Matt 16:21) that the disciples did not believe in Christ's resurrection, even after it was reported to them by two different sources! A short quotation is in order:

Mark 16:10-15
She [Mary Magdalene] went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

What can we make of this information? We must certainly conclude that the disciples and the common folks of Jesus' time believed into Him as the Christ, and thus were born of God (1 John 5:1), having no conscious understanding or knowledge of any import of Christ's substitutionary death or resurrection. Furthermore, what makes this information so much stronger is the fact that the disciples, in actuality, consciously and verbally denied TFGs import of soteric information into the title, "the Christ". The disciples wilfully contradicted Jesus' statements concerning His death and resurrection! These particulars cannot be overemphasized. The disciples consciously disclaimed this information yet still believed that Jesus was the Christ [and according to John's simple assertion, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 John 5:1)].

In John 20:9 we read, "For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead." This is an important verse that needs to be brought to our attention. What we see here is that the disciples believed that Jesus was the Christ apart from understanding all the concepts that are connected to and associated with the title, "the Christ".

In a personal correspondence with Zane Hodges, he wrote:
"The fundamental error [of Traditional Free Grace theology]... is the assumption that one must know everything about a person to be able to believe who he is. That is illogical and wrong. Do I have to understand the President's powers, or his personality, to believe he is the President and trust Him for something?"

The common folks and the disciples believed that Jesus was the Christ. The import that they gave to the title, "the Christ" was obviously and verifiably not the doctrines that TFG regards as required soteric information. Thus the death and resurrection are not a/the soteric import of the title, "the Christ" which makes believing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ salvific.

Premises:
1) John says in 1 John 5:1, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God"
2) The disciples of Jesus and many common folks believed that Jesus was the Christ (and therefore according to premise number 1, were born of God) apart from any understanding of His death and resurrection (even consciously and wilfully denying such!)

Conclusions:
3) The understanding that Jesus died a substitutionary death and rose bodily from the dead is not the specific, soteric import of the title, "the Christ".
4) Men and women can believe that Jesus is the Christ [and thus be born again (1 John 5:1)] apart from understanding or consciously affirming the death and resurrection of Christ.

Zane Hodges, in his journal article, "How to Lead People to Christ: Part 1" (www.faithalone.org) states:

[John 20:30-31] does not affirm the necessity of believing in our Lord’s substitutionary atonement. If by the time of the writing of John’s Gospel, it was actually necessary to believe this, then it would have been not only simple, but essential, to say so.

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. 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.

Let me repeat. Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the Gospel of John teach that a person must understand the cross to be saved. It just does not teach this. If we say that it does, we are reading something into the text and not reading something out of it!

The gospel of John shows how Jesus, Himself, evangelized. He did so through communication and miracles. By these things He showed Himself to be the Christ that was to come. When anyone believed Him to be the Christ, they were born again. John is explicit in both his purpose statement for his gospel and in his epistle that anyone who simply believes that Jesus is the Christ is born again (John 20:30-31; 1 John 5:1). Jesus did not require anyone to assent to His propitiatory work or His resurrection as a requirement for understanding Him to be the Christ! The gospel writer John did not require this either. John taught that through Jesus Christ's words and miracles we are to believe Him to be the Christ in order to therefore have eternal life. John asserts that, like those in his narrative who believed that Jesus is the Christ and were thus assured of eternal life, we too must believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ.

Logically, if Christ’s death and resurrection are not the specific notions in the term “the Christ” which makes the belief that “Jesus is the Christ” soteric, TFG people cannot, without reservation and qualification, agree that anyone who simply believes that Jesus is the Christ is born again. Why? Because it has been abundantly shown that people can come to that conclusion apart from a conscious understanding of those things!

If the disciples were born again, apart from any knowledge, understanding, or assent to Jesus’ propitiatory death and physical resurrection (they were even in conscious and wilful denial of them!), by believing that Jesus is the Christ, how is it that the TFG require such understandings as components of saving faith (rather than viewing them as valuable instrumental material used to bring people to faith in Jesus)? The more accurate answer by a TFG would be that they, in fact, do not believe that 'whoever' simply believes that Jesus is the Christ is born again. At least such an answer would be forthcoming and honest!


What is the import of “the Christ” that makes it salvific?
There seems to be a lot of importing and connecting of various theological ideas (in)to the term “the Christ” (and whether valid or not would be the determination of much study we will not do here). The Jews of Jesus’ time were looking for the Christ (Hebrew: Messiah) who would be a Savior, restoring to Israel its prominent position among the nations. The Christ was to be the seed of Abraham, from the line of Judah and the son of David. He was to be born in Bethlehem. ‘The Christ’ literally means ‘The Annointed One’. The ideas of teacher and king have been associated with “the Christ”. Other’s have stated that deity is an imperatival characteristic of the title “the Christ”. What is permissiable or impermissable to import into the term “the Christ”? Yet, a better question is:

If there are so many ideas, associations, and information connected with the term, “the Christ,” how is one to decide which items must be consciously understood and assented to in order for one to exercise saving faith, in other words, to believe that Jesus is the Christ and therefore be born again?

Who is the objective arbiter of such a consideration?

The TFG people have been attempting to link components of their soteric doctrinal checklists to the term, “the Christ” so that they may state that such is required, necessary content to saving faith (in other words, what it means to believe that Jesus is the Christ in a soteric sense). By such argumentation, they are attempting to state that merely because there is an association of certain ideas with the title, “the Christ,” that a conscious acknowledgment of such is necessary for eternal salvation. Their argument basically says that because they can link certain considerations to the title "the Christ," that they must be affirmed if one is to believe that Jesus is the Christ and thus be born again. But if this is the case, why are they not insisting that all such associations be consciously assented to for eternal life? This would be the consistent position! The TFG reasoning has obvious flaws.

In a personal corresondence with Zane Hodges, he stated:
"...the promised Messiah... was also the King of Israel (note John 1:49). There was no such person as a Messiah who was not Israel's King. Must one believe that, too? In fact it can be argued that in Nathaniel's statement, 'Son of God' is defined AS "King of Israel." [AdR: Note the apposition] The Messianic sonship was the sonship promised to David's kingly descendants in 2 Samuel 7:14, it is the sonship the writer of Hebrews has in mind in Hebrews 1:5 which cites 2 Samuel. Psalm 2:7 shows that THIS sonship was not eternal. If a person does not believe all this, he even misunderstands the title "Son of God" in its Messianic sense. Is he saved???"

Yes, many things have been associated with the term “the Christ,” and I am not at this point willing to do such a through study as to exhaust them all. I am sure that there are many legitimate associations, connections, and possible importations into the term “the Christ”. Why does the TFG not require them all?

Let us have an experiment
Let us take some of the things that have been associated with the title, "The Christ" and put them into proposed 'saving propositions'. Will they work?

Would you consider the beliefs that Jesus was the seed of Abraham, from the line of Judah, the son of David, and born in Bethlehem to be saving faith?

Would you consider the belief that Jesus is the King of Israel to be saving faith?

Would you consider the simple belief that Jesus is God to be saving faith?

None of these, by themselves or taken collectively, can be considered the content of saving faith. Why you ask? Roman Catholics, Lordship Salvationists, and rank Arminians all believe these things, but they are not all saved! So what to make of this? Either these considerations are not at all involved in saving faith (the soteric import of the title, “the Christ”), or there needs to be the addition of more import and information into the term “the Christ”, that when added to these affirmations would equal saving faith.

Since it can be proven that people believed that Jesus was the Christ and were thus born again apart from any understanding or knowledge of Christ’s substitutionary death and His subsequent physical resurrection (as well as His deity), we must state firmly, that no such considerations as these can legitimately be considered the soteric content of the term “the Christ”. Therefore, the TFG’s full laundry list of doctrines is not necessarily affirmed by merely believing that Jesus is the Christ.

This cannot be overemphasized. The TFG cannot honestly assert and agree with the Apostle John that “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1). To them, if they are being black and white honest, this is not enough soteric information! For the TFG, there must be included, in any consideration of saving faith, Christ’s death, substitutionally, for sins, and His subsequent, bodily resurrection. Since many believed that Jesus was the Christ apart from such knowledge and were thus born of God, we can certainly conclude that this information cannot be the soteric content of the title, “the Christ”.

What then is the specific import of the title, “the Christ” which makes believing that Jesus is the Christ salvific?

The gospel writer John imports specific, objective soteric content into the term as evidenced by John 11:25-27. In John 11:25-26, Jesus asserts to the be the Guarantor of eternal life and resurrection to all who simply believe in Him. He asks Martha if she believes this. In vs 27, Martha answers that question with "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God..." mirroring the purpose statement in John 20:30, 31. John persuasively shows that to believe that Jesus is the Christ, is to believe that He is the Guarantor of eternal life and resurrection to the believer in Him.

Therefore, to believe that Jesus is the Christ, in its Johannine, soteric sense, is to believe that Jesus guarantees you eternal life simply by faith alone in Him.

The TFG position is identifiably inconsistent and doctrinally legalistic. As inconsistent, it subjectively regards it’s particular associations with the title, “the Christ” as necessary, conscious saving faith content, while arbitrarily dismissing other and stronger imports and connections. As legalistic, it is biblically impossible for the TFG to require an understanding all of their theological baggage that they have imported into the trunk of “the Christ”. Their understanding of saving faith precludes them from affirming the apostle John’s simple, yet profound statement that “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God”. Furthermore, to take their position to its logical conclusion, they would have to deny that the common folks and the disciples, whom Jesus evangelized, had everlasting life when they believed that Jesus was the Christ!

The refined Free Grace theology position has much going for it. In light of so many proposed links and associations with the title, “the Christ,” found within Christendom, this position has objectively and convincingly shown, by biblical support, that the author who penned 1 John 5:1 has given a simple and specific soteric content to this title. We are not left wondering how, exactly, believing that Jesus is the Christ can receive eternal life. For John, what makes believing that Jesus is he Christ salvific is that as the Christ, Jesus dispenses eternal life to all who simply believe in Him to do so.

There is a simplicity to the notion that all who believe that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. There is a purity to the idea that whoever desires may take the water of life freely. It is a shame that such unadulterated virtue, as these convictions are, can be so woefully misrepresented because of one’s traditions.

In a personal correspondence with Zane Hodges, he stated:

Some people seem to believe in salvation by correct theology rather than salvation by faith in Jesus. A tragic error! But the simple fact remains that no one has ever believed in Jesus of Nazareth for the gift of eternal life, who did not get it! Thank God for that!

30 Comments:

Blogger Jeremy Myers said...

Antonio,

Excellent, as always. Keep 'em coming.

October 01, 2007 9:16 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

This really is an excellent post.

October 02, 2007 12:47 AM  
Blogger interested spectator said...

You wrote, "None of these, by themselves or taken collectively, can be considered the content of saving faith. Why you ask? Roman Catholics, Lordship Salvationists, and rank Arminians all believe these things, but they are not all saved!"

This argument seems to be flawed. Perhaps I am mistaken, but this appears to be begging the question. You are assuming that what these groups believe is not saving faith in order to conclude that what these groups believe is not saving faith. It would appear that you are assuming as a premise to your argument your conclusion. To say that someone is unsaved (one of your premises) is the same as saying that what they believe is not saving faith (your conclusion).

October 02, 2007 7:24 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jeremy and Matt,

thanks for the encouragement.

Interested Spectator,
Why is it that you will not reveal your identity? I do not wish to interact with people who don't even have the fortitude to identify themselves on a simple blog.

Just as a small note. This post is to people who understand that Roman Catholics, Arminians, and Lordship Salvationists believe a false gospel of works, and are thus unsaved. They have yet to exercise saving faith. Since they affirm that Jesus is God, that Jesus is the King of Israel, and that Jesus was of the seed of Abraham, the line of Judah, and the son of David and born in Bethlemem, as the article states, these considerations, by themselves or collectively cannot be saving faith. I have furthermore stipulated that, hypothetically based upon my argument, they could be elements of saving faith that need supplication, or they have nothing to do with saving faith. The bottom line is that simple belief in those things does not receive eternal life.

If you plan on responding to my statements, be prepared to identify yourself or be ignored. You will not be taken seriously, so long as you wish to hide your identity.

Antonio da Rosa

October 02, 2007 11:03 AM  
Blogger interested spectator said...

I'm sorry to hear that you don't take kindly to pseudonymous interaction. I guess I'm just the type of person who is more interested in a person's ideas than in their identity. That's what I like about blogging--the sharing and exploration of ideas. Ignore this and/or delete as you wish.

Should you have a change of mind regarding pseudonymous interaction, I'll be happy to respond to your reply. Peace.

October 02, 2007 11:54 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Interested Spectator,

We are discussing biblical and holy considerations in this post. Why do you find it appropriate to remain anonymous when discussing and interacting with the issues in the Word of God? Do you find your comments about them so trivial and valueless that you have spurned attaching your identity to them?

Serious issues require serious advocates. It is difficult to take you serious when you do not consider the matters at hand serious enough to divulge your identity.

Antonio

October 02, 2007 3:11 PM  
Blogger interested spectator said...

Antonio, I don't want my participation to detract from the discussion of your post(s). Since I have no interest in participating without a pseudonym, I will honor your wishes and no longer participate on your blog. Suffice it say that I see no connection between my identity and the seriousness of the subject matter being discussed. Please delete this comment and any of my prior ones in this thread so as not to detract from the discussion. Peace.

October 02, 2007 3:41 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Interested Spectator,

After thinking this over, if you are not willing to include your identity, but wish to correspond, and you can do so being polite and gracious, I suppose I have no problem. I do feel however that revealing yourself would only add that much more credibility to any statements you would give...

Antonio

October 02, 2007 4:02 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Hi Antonio,

In context, do you understand 1 John 5:1a to be a description or a prescription? And Why?

October 02, 2007 5:33 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

If you will indulge me, I would like to ask you a question first.

What difference would it make?

John's statement is very emphatic:

"Whoever [there are no exceptions!] believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."

So, no matter what else can be stated about a person, if he or she simply believes that Jesus is the Christ (and obviously in the soteric sense that John has imported into this title) they are among the redeemed, regardless of any other consideration.

Thanks for your visit,

Antonio

October 02, 2007 5:57 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Let me ask you another questiun, JP:

Did you read the total of my appended article? If not, could I persuade you to finish reading it before we continue a dialogue?

Thanks, man!

Your forever fg brother,

Antonio

October 02, 2007 5:58 PM  
Blogger Free Grace Guy said...

Well, Antonio, talk about covering all the bases.

Mr. Hodges' argument about John's failing to mention the cross and resurrection in the context of saving content is irrefutable despite the Duluthian claim. Why would he spend an entire book explaining how people God saved in a "previous dispensation" if that was NOT how they got saved in THIS one? Shouldn't he have shown the new way? I think my questions answer themselves. Great, great job.

Tom <><

October 02, 2007 8:26 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Hi Antonio,

In answer to your questions, the difference is between a correct or incorrect application. A correct application of a Scripture must be based on the correct interpretation of that Scripture.

And yes, I did read your expanded and edited version of your post.

Talk to you later!

October 03, 2007 2:33 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Let me ask you a question, what is wrong with this:

John's statement is very emphatic:

"Whoever [there are no exceptions!] believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."

So, no matter what else can be stated about a person, if he or she simply believes that Jesus is the Christ (and obviously in the soteric sense that John has imported into this title) they are among the redeemed, regardless of any other consideration.


Now unless you want to argue that regeneration precedes faith, for John, the consideration if one is born again or not is determined by if this individual believes that Jesus is the Christ.

We know that 1 John 5:1 does not speak of regeneration preceding faith, for John 20:31 states that as a result of believing that Jesus is the Christ one obtains life (in other words, born of God) ("that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ... and believing, have life in His name")

I am desiring to discuss my arguments of this opening post. If you have problems with it, please share them that we may discuss them.

In 1 John 5:1, John has described for us what the lowest common denominator is for considering one born again. As long as anyone, without exception, believes that Jesus is the Christ (apart from any other consideration) he is born of God. Therefore, fundamentally, whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.

Antonio

October 03, 2007 3:03 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Tom,

I think you have a point about dispensations.

You see, I don't believe that dispensations directly have anything to do with the contents of saving faith.

I do not wish to dispute with anyone what the contents of saving faith were in the years B.C.

But we have a change occurring when Jesus Christ comes onto the scene. I believe that whatever the content was prior to the baptism of Jesus (and I do believe that Bob Bryant has done a good job of discussing this in the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society), after the baptism, it became belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ (whatever legitimate imports are given to this title, and believed about it, the one that MUST be acknowleged, and the only one that is salvific, is the specific soteric content that John gives to it: that as the Christ, Jesus guarantees irrevocable eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it).

This is interesting to note. Why? Because this is a change that occurred within a dispensation. At the baptism of John, we are still in the dispensation of Law.

I do not believe that the content changed because of a dispensational change. Rather the content changed because at Christ's baptism, the Messiah was now inaugurating His ministry.

It was at the advent of Christ's ministry that one now consciously believed upon Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ who guarantees their eternal destiny through faith in Him for it.

There has been no dispensational change. There is not a shred of evidence that shows that how one received eternal life at the time of Jesus' ministry on earth is different than how they receive it now.

Dispensationalism has nothing to do with the content of saving faith, no matter what anyone says. Let them prove such by a well-reasoned and considerate exposition of some biblical texts.

I have been reading some of Greg S.'s stuff lately. And I am telling you, it is nothing but implications, conjectures, and allusions.

There is not one scripture in the whole of the bible which states that one must believe that Jesus Christ died substitutionally on a cross for the sins of the world in order to receive eternal life, eternal salvation, or justification.

I also read Tom Stegall's new article today. Man, he should have read this article here first before he wrote his. So many flaws in argumentation. It really was a poorly written treatise.

Their arguments are of a sophistication that makes them suspicious. As I read their stuff, I can't believe how many non-sequiters they commit. Their conclusions do not necessarily follow their arguments.

All I can think about as I read their stuff is the thread used to fashion the Emperor's New Clothes.

Antonio

October 03, 2007 9:08 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jeremy and Matthew,

Pretty soon here, I am going to have to abandon my blog for a small time. I am leaving for India in a week from today.

Please continue to pray for our ministry.

Antonio

October 03, 2007 9:14 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

What a shame. I will be praying.

October 04, 2007 12:49 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Any chance that you might be able to answer those questions before you go?

If I posted that, it would remind people to pray for you.

October 04, 2007 12:50 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

I mean, it is a shame you wont be blogging.

It is wonderful you are going!

October 04, 2007 12:51 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Hi Antonio,

The following is my understanding of 1 John 5:1. Also let me add that I believe the context of 1 John concerns believers and addresses fellowship with God and with each other.

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him” (1 John 5:1, NKJV).

Since a proper application must be based on the proper interpretation, let’s briefly try to understand this verse by properly understanding two key terms.

First, let’s look at the word “believes” (NKJV). In Greek, this word is a present tense, active voice, participle. Concerning the Greek participle, Mounce writes, “The present participle is built on the present tense stem of the verb. . . . It describes a continuous action . . . [an] ‘on-going’ nuance” (Basic of Biblical Greek, p. 246). For this reason, D. Edmond Hiebert (Bibliotheca Sacra, April 1990, p. 217, An Expostional Study of 1 John, Part 9: An Exposition of 1 John 5:1-12) translates this Greek participle as “believing”.

Second, let’s look at the phrase “is born” (NKJV). In Greek, this verb is in the perfect tense, passive voice, and indicative mood. Mounce writes that the Greek perfect tense “describes an action that was brought to completion and whose effects are felt in the present” (Basics of Biblical Greek, p. 225). Similarly, Daniel Wallace writes, “The force of the perfect tense is simply that it describes an even that, completed in the past (we are speaking of the perfect indicative here), has results existing in the present time (i.e. in relation to the time of the speaker)” (Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 573). For these reasons Hiebert (Ibid) translates this phrase as “out of God has been born”. Similarly, the NET Bible renders it as “has been fathered by God”, and the Jerusalem Bible reads, “has been begotten by God”.

Now let’s put it all together. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by Alfred Marshall literally translates 1 John 5:1 as follows: “Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ of God has been begotten, and everyone loving the [one] begetting loves the [one] having been begotten of him.”

So what does this mean? A. T. Robertson aptly writes, “The Divine Begetting is the antecedent, not the consequent of the believing”. Similarly, Dr. Norman Geisler says, “First of all, this text says nothing about how one becomes born of God.” (Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, p. 484)

I believe Greg Schliesmann sums it up well when he says that 1 John 5:1 is a summary DESCRIPTION, not a detailed PRESCRIPTION.

We also need to remember that, as someone has said, “No man is an island, but no Scripture is either.”

October 04, 2007 2:44 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey John,

thanks for the reply.

Let me ask you a few questions:

1) Do you believe that eternal life is the result of a simple act of faith (punctilliar) or the result of a linear, continuous faith?

I ask, because your desription of the present, active participle is a very general, basic, first year Greek statement that can be very misleading.

Dan Wallace has this to say about your description of the present participle, "... but the present participle, by itself, can hardly be forced into this mold," and states that "caution must be exercised" when considering the present participle.(Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics, p 616).

When all the evidence is considered concerning John's use of the present, active participle, "pisteuwn", it can be clearly shown that for John, this is a general, gnomic usage, simply denoting "whoever believes". This is how John uses this particple (which he uses 43 times).

The following (not exhaustive) is a list of how 15 translation commitees and/or translators rendered the present participle in 1 John 5:1

NIV: Everyone who believes
NKJV: Whoever believes
NASB: Whoever believes
ASV: Whosoever believeth
KJV: Whosoever believeth
HCSB: Everyone who believes
RSV: Everyone who believes
NRSV: Everyone who believes
Darby Translation: Everyone that believes
Weymouth: Every one who believes
21st Century KJ : Whosoever believeth
Wycliffe: Each man that believeth
ESV: Everyone who believes
NASBE: Whoever believes
NJB: Whoever believes

It seems to me that they understand this precisely the way that I do, generally, denoting simply "whoever believes" (NKJV).

Let's get down to the nitty gritty.

I agree that the verse is describing, for John, what is the fundamental concern on how a Christian is identified, and that it is not prescriptive.

Let me ask you the next question. Can you answer affirmatively, as John has in 1 John 5:1... can you answer "yes" to this question:

Do you believe that WHOEVER believes that Jesus is the Christ can accurately be described as having been born of God (note the perfect tense of my question)?

The epistle writer John answers an emphatic, "yes!".

Let us test John's emphatic statement. It is, in fact, an assertion. He is asserting a truism about the one who believes that Jesus is the Christ.

Let us have an interview with John:

John, would you consider someone who had black skin and believes that Jesus is the Christ to be born again (remember, the perfect tense is an action in the past that has present results)?

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God!"

John, would you consider someone who didn't understand or believe that Jesus would die on the cross or that He rose from the dead (as Peter did) yet believes that Jesus is the Christ to be born again?

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God!"

John, would you consider someone who didn't understand or believe that Jesus was equal with the Father (as all the disciples did when they were first born again) yet believes that Jesus is the Christ to be born again?

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God!"

John, would you consider someone who was ignorant of much theological doctrine yet sincerely believes that Jesus of Nazareth, who raised Lazarus from the dead, and walked on water, and healed the sick, and gave sight to the blind, and made the lame whole, and cleansed the leper, is the Christ to be born again?

"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God!"

JP,

Fundamentally, for John, the Christian is sufficiently and accurately identified as whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ. So, according to this simple statement, regardless of what can be said about a person, if he believes that Jesus is the Christ, he is a born again Christian.

And why would we think otherwise?

Jesus prescribed how men and women are to be born again (in other words receive life): "believe that Jesus is the Christ... and believing you might have life in His name" (John 20:31)

Antonio

October 04, 2007 5:32 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Antonio,

I want to comment on your statement, "There is not one scripture in the whole of the bible which states that one must believe that Jesus Christ died substitutionally on a cross for the sins of the world in order to receive eternal life, eternal salvation, or justification." If by "one Scripture" you mean one Bible verse, I would say that the Greek text has no verse divisions. Furthermore, as I stated above, we need to remember that "no man is an island, but no Scripture is either". (I am quoting a prominent Free Grace scholar from a personal correspondence.) And so with these things in mind, I would answer your statement by pointing simply to the book of Acts. In this book alone there are many Scriptures which state that one must believe that Jesus Christ died substitutionally on a cross for the sins of the world in order to receive eternal life, eternal salvation, or justification. See, for example: Acts 2:14-38, 3:12-26,4:8-12, 5:28-31, 8:30-35, 9:15 cf. 20:24, 10:34-43, 13:23-39, etc. (I am not even half-way through Acts but I will stop.) Notice in the last passage I cited from Acts 13, we see an example of Paul's witnessing technique. He has no aversion to quoting from different Scriptures, yet you do. This I do not understand. While the apostle does encapsulate the saving message in Acts 16:31, Paul goes on to fill in the details in the very next verse.

October 04, 2007 5:37 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Hi Antonio,

Yes, I believe a person becomes born again at a point in time. But I don’t believe this is what the apostle is referring to in 1 John 5:1 (see my comments above regarding this). Rather, I believe John is speaking of characteristics that can only be true (but are not necessarily always true) of those who already have been born again (in the past): “Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ of God has been begotten, and everyone loving . . .” (1 Jn. 5:1a, Marshall, “Interlinear Greek-English New Testament”). So, as a Christian, who should I consider my brother (1 Jn. 4:21)? Fundamentally, everyone who confesses that they believe that Jesus is the Christ (1 Jn. 5:1, cf. 1 Jn. 4:15). I see this as the SUMMARY CONFESSION OF FAITH of a believer, not the SPECIFIC CONTENT OF FAITH for the unbeliever.

October 05, 2007 2:44 PM  
Blogger Gojira said...

Hi Antonio,

Just wanted to say hi. The Hodges book we had discussed by email that one time -- it is a very good book. He makes some good points. Have a good one my brother.

Doug

October 05, 2007 5:26 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Bro. Jonathan,

Good points brother. I like the taking of the Scripture in its context.

Bro. Antonio,

Praying for you as you take the Gospel to India!

October 05, 2007 6:59 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

JP,

Thanks again for your comments. I believe that it is a good discussion.

I made a blanket assertion: there is not one scriptural passage that enjoins men to believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross, substitutionally, for sins, that has an explicitly stated result of eternal salvation, justification, or eternal life. Not one. And I stand by that assertion.

You have brought forth some verses for me to consider. So I will.

Acts 2:14-38
This is Peter’s famous sermon on that great birthday of the church. I can see that Peter mentions Jesus’ miracles, wonders, and signs, which attest to Jesus’ messiahship (Acts 2:22). I also see that Peter mention’s Christ’s death and resurrection. When I do evangelism, I do the same thing. I present Christ’s miracles and wonders. And I present His death and resurrection. Likewise, like Peter, I point to the fact that Jesus is the Christ. For Peter, this is his main and ending point:

Acts 2:36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." I can see myself stating something similar, “In light of my preceding testimony, let all here in the village of Keikhu in India, know assuredly, that God has made this Jesus, who did the miracles, who died on the cross and rose again, both Lord and Christ. And all who simply believe that Jesus is the Christ will have eternal life in His name.”

Nowhere in the text are we met in this text with an explicit command, enjoining the Israelites to believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose again, for the express purpose of receiving eternal life. You are reading this into the text, JP. It is not there! Show me where! Are we met with, “Men and brethren, believe that this Jesus who I preached to you died on the cross for your sins, and as a result, you will receive everlasting life, justification, and eternal salvation!”? Of course not.

What we are met with is Peter leading people to the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ! He is using the same signs that John did to show that Jesus is the Christ. He is using that information to persuade his crowd to believe in Jesus. He is not providing his commentary as a checklist of doctrines that one must consciously assent to as a necessary theological requirement in ADDITION to believing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ (which is the only theological requirement and condition of saving faith).

Furthermore, it is interesting to note, that there is not even a shred of speak concerning Christ’s death as a substitution for the sins of Israel. This is one of Stegall’s 5 conditions!

It is a logical fallacy to suppose that just because Peter mention’s Christ’s death and resurrection that he deems them necessary content to saving faith. As we have mentioned in the text of this post, the Christ was to be King of Israel. Peter also mentions this in the text of his sermon here in 2:30 (see also 2:34-36). Why aren’t you demanding the lost to assent to this also as a necessary, theological requirement for eternal salvation? Peter, like his Apostolic brother John, speaks of Jesus’ miracles, signs, and wonders. Why aren’t you demanding the lost to assent to this also as a necessary, theological requirement for eternal salvation? Again, your reasoning is faulty. Just because Peter mentions it, doesn’t make it a requirement for saving faith.

In such a case as this, we must employ the hermeneutical principle of the law of affirmation, which states that we may only affirm identity and equality if such is stated. Nowhere in the Bible is it affirmed that believing that Jesus died on the cross substitutionally for sins is either saving faith, or one of many components of saving faith. This is true of this passage as well.


Acts 3:12-26
This is, of course, Peter’s second sermon in the book of Acts, at the occasion of healing a lame man in Solomon’s Portico. Peter is taking the usual tact. He is explaining things about Jesus, that prove who He is, and then enjoining men to believe in Him. I do the same thing. I tell men and women about Jesus of Nazareth. I lift Jesus up in such a way that I show Him to be able, qualified, and authorized to impart eternal life to all who simply believe in His name for it. Peter here does the same thing. He speaks about Jesus, proving by what He did that He is the Christ, and then speaks about faith in Him. It is interesting, as well, that when Peter heals the lame man, he says, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). It is by belief in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that one is eternally secure.

Peter adds something else here. He refers to Jesus as the prophet whom Moses wrote about (3:22-23). The Christ was to be a prophet, indeed! Jesus fulfilled this role, and so therefore is the Christ. And when anyone understands to be true that Jesus is the Christ, he is born again. Peter mentions that Jesus is the prophet that Moses spoke about! Why aren’t you demanding the lost to assent to this also as a necessary, theological requirement for eternal salvation? Just because Peter gives prominence to something in his sermons, doesn’t make it required, theological necessity for saving faith. And again, in this passage, nowhere are we met with a command enjoining the lost to believe that Jesus died on the cross substitutionally for sins for the express purpose of receiving eternal life. You have read this into the text.

This is sufficient. I have grown weary making these arguments. Having read each scripture that you have referenced, there is not one single passage that enjoins the lost to believe in the cross of Christ for sins as a requirement for saving faith. Not one. My challenge is to prove me wrong. Show me any passage that conditions everlasting life, eternal salvation, or justification on believing that Jesus died a substitutionary death on the cross.

I have read Greg S.’s stuff on Lou’s blog. There are a lot of words! But his arguments are grasping at air. They are nothing but allusion, intimation, and conjecture. We have shown his faulty arguments both in the opening post, and in this comment thread.

You wrote this in your comment:
” Notice in the last passage I cited from Acts 13, we see an example of Paul's witnessing technique. He has no aversion to quoting from different Scriptures, yet you do. This I do not understand.”

I just read the entire passage. I approve of Paul’s witnessing technique here. What would ever give you the impression that I did not? I have no aversion to quoting from different Scriptures. As a matter of fact, I use all kinds of Scriptures to show that the Jesus born of Mary and legally the son of Joseph is indeed the promised Christ. You seem to be having more misconceptions about my position.

In closing, for Peter, Paul, and John, anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God, and there are no exceptions.

As for your last comment on 1 John 5:1, I suggest that, if you haven’t already, a class on logic. What John has done for us is given us a solid and exceptionless assertion. He has stated that whoever, everyone, anyone, anywhere, at any time, who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a Christian. This is airtight. John considers ANYONE who believes that Jesus is the Christ to be a born again Christian. This is his fundamental definition of a Christian.

Let us ask John another question:

John, who are our Christian brothers?

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ”

So you are telling me that if someone believes that Jesus is the Christ that this person is indeed a born again Christian?

“Yes!”

John’s statement in 1 John 5:1 is clear and unambiguous. It is subject to the rules and laws of logic. There are no qualifiers or modifiers to this statement. It is an ABSOLUTE statement of truth.

And what is that absolute statement of truth, JP?

That no matter who you are, what you do, or any other consideration about you, if you simply believe that Jesus is the Christ, you are to be regarded as a born again Christian.

As a statement of truth, it cannot be falsified. In other words, providing the premise is true, the conclusion is sure, no matter what. Therefore, if we were to add anything to the premise, the conclusion would be sure. Only if we were to subtract from the premise would the conclusion be negated.

Providing that someone believes that Jesus is the Christ, the certain conclusion is that this person is indeed a born again Christian.

Add to the premise “whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ” ANYTHING ELSE, it DOESN’T MATTER WHAT, providing the premise is true, the conclusion is sure. This can be amply demonstrated through logical proofing. If someone, anyone, believes that Jesus is the Christ he is a born again Christian.

And again, I leave with:
Why would we think anything otherwise?

The same author has prescribed for us how we are to receive etenal life, being born again:

“…believe that Jesus is the Christ… that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31)

October 05, 2007 7:21 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Why is John 5:1 quoted but not 5:5-6?

1 John 5:5-6 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is He who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.

Clearly, this is appositional to "the Christ" (cf. John 20:25-31).

-- Greg

October 05, 2007 11:02 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Hi Antonio,

I'd like to continue our discussion on 1 John 5:1a, and later I'll comment again on Acts.

“Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ of God has been begotten, and everyone loving the [one] begetting loves the [one] having been begotten of him.” (1 John 5:1, Marshall, “Interlinear Greek-English New Testament”)

1 John 5:1a is not a COMMANDING REQUIREMENT FOR the new birth, but a CHARACTERISTIC RESULT OF the new birth. (Please reference the Greek exegesis by noted scholars I have set forth above.)

In 1 John, what does the apostle John say are three CHARACTERISTIC (but not automatic) RESULTS OF the new birth?

1)BELIEVING (1 Jn. 5:1a, cf. Rom. 1:17, 2 Cor. 5:7, Gal. 2:20, Col. 2:6, 1 Tim. 1:19-20 and 1 Cor. 5:5, 2 Tim. 2:13, Heb. 3:12, 1 Pt. 1:8 – Notice the believing and loving characteristics of the Christians to whom Peter writes)

2)CONFESSING BELIEF (1 Jn. 4:14-15, 21-5:1a, cf. Jn. 12:32)

3)LOVING (1 Jn. 4:7, cf. Rev. 2:4)

October 07, 2007 2:44 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Hey Antonio,

I finally was able to read your comments regarding the Bible verses I cited in Acts.

Right now I would like to simply speak regarding a quote of mine you disagreed with in which I said,

”Notice in the last passage I cited from Acts 13, we see an example of Paul's witnessing technique. He has no aversion to quoting from different Scriptures, yet you do. This I do not understand.”

To this you responded,
"I just read the entire passage [in Acts 13]. I approve of Paul’s witnessing technique here. What would ever give you the impression that I did not? I have no aversion to quoting from different Scriptures. As a matter of fact, I use all kinds of Scriptures to show that the Jesus born of Mary and legally the son of Joseph is indeed the promised Christ. You seem to be having more misconceptions about my position."

What gave me the impression that you have an aversion to quoting from different Scriptures in your witnessing technique is when you stated in this post on 1 John:

"If a lost man were to ask them [TFG] were in the Bible does it give these conditions for eternal salvation, they [TFG] could not turn to any single passage to show them. They would need to hop around the Bible, stringing a multitude of passages together. In the end, not a single passage they would turn to clearly states that the conditions that the TFG offer for the reception of eternal life do indeed appropriate salvation. This, itself, is a most major problem."

I seem to remember having read other comments of your in which you state similar sentiments.

October 08, 2007 2:53 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Brother Antonio,

Once again, we have to understand Acts 2 in context, because a text without a context is a pretext!

Peter is preaching to a JEWISH audience. It has been said that Judaism was a bloody religion – and it was! For the sins of the people there were yearly sacrifices, daily sacrifices, sin offerings – ex abuntanti – in abundance! If any culture was familiar with substitutionary sacrifices, it was Israel! For according to the Law: “WITHOUT THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD THERE IS NO REMISSION OF SIN” (cf. Heb. 9:22). Furthermore, in Acts 2 Peter was preaching to the very Jews who had crucified Christ (Acts 2:22-23, 36)! These were the Jews who had heard John the Baptist proclaim of Jesus: “BEHOLD! THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD” (Jn. 1:29b)! These were the Jews who had heard Jesus say, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd GIVES HIS LIFE FOR THE SHEEP. . . . As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR THE SHEEP. . . . Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received fro My Father” (Jn. 10:11, 15, 17-18). These Jews didn't have to be reminded of what Jesus did and said, they knew full well - and that’s why they crucified Him! Therefore Peter simply emphasizes the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (Acts 2:22-36), and tells Israel to “REPENT!” (change their minds from unbelief to belief concerning this Man they had crucified) “FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS” (Acts 2:38) – emphasizing again the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God!

I will address the second passage in Acts that you responded to the next time I comment.

October 08, 2007 7:05 PM  

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