Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13-14)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Question and Answer with a TFG

Where is the Biblical evidence that people now receive eternal life differently than Peter, Andrew, Nathaniel, and John (in John 1:35-50); the disciples (John 2:11); Nicodemus (John 3:15-16); the Samaritans (John 4:39-42); people listening to Jesus (John 5:24; 6:35-40, 47); and Martha (John 11:25-27) which is clearly expounded for us in the only expressely evangelistic book in the Bible? In other words, where do we learn that the content of saving faith is different or changed?

Asked this question recently, a Traditionalist Free Gracer stated:

"...I am concerned that the standard of evidence being requested is too high. You are right, there is nothing that specifically says that the required content has changed. Frankly, there are many things that we believe that are not specifically stated in Scripture." http://blog.jessecamacho.com/free_grace/?p=32#comment-158


Needless to say, I find many things about this answer both telling and troubling at the same time! Why are the TFG's so up in arms with so little actual Biblical support? This person has admitted that there is not a single, specific biblical mandate for the modification of the content of saving faith. Furthermore, the door is opened to tradition by stating that there are many deep convictions that Christians hold that are not stated specifically in Scripture. I can't think of any. Is the Trinity an example? Well the word itself is not used, but cannot we prove from the bible, using specific and clear verses that:

1) God is one
2) Jesus is God
3) The Father is God
4) The Holy Spirit is God
5) These 3 Persons are distinguished from each other

Aren't these tenets of the doctrine of the Trinity clearly defined in the Bible? But the TFG don't have any specific support in the Scriptures or anywhere they can turn to in order to defend their supplementation to saving faith. The answers they do give are a patchwork quilt of scriptural hop-scotch, none really providing any definitive support. Their articulations have been handed down for generations, never questioned. When tradition is challenged, reactions become visceral and quickly leave the realms of reason and logic. Why can we not look at the bible fresh, with an open mind, and not suppose that we can not be wrong? This is what I have done several times in my life, changing and refining my positions. I was once a 4 point dispensational Calvinist like Chafer and Ryrie. I was once a traditional Free Grace advocate. But I have continued to learn, continued to question, continued to look at the available data with an open mind.

In my last post I asked these questions:

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?


Anytime you ask a TFG for biblical support of their position you get journal articles, dissertations, complex arguments, machine-gun apologetics (rapid-fire proof texting) -- but no simple biblical proof. The reception of eternal life is the milk of the Word! It doesn't take a theological degree to ascertain from the scriptures what one must do to have life! It doesn't take the theological astuteness of a Calvin or Luther. The answer is clear: one must simply "believe in" Jesus as described in my last post and he will both have everlasting life and certain assurance of its possession. It should not take a dissertation in order to tell someone what one must do to have eternal life and prove it to them.

I have recently read a 20 page argument that the Gospel of John, in the end, modifies the doctrine of saving faith that John goes into great detail expounding for his readers in the first 12 chapters of his book. The arguments were confusing and many of the conclusions were simply non-sequitor. This 20 page article failed to do what John could have done in a sentence or two: clearly state that the content of saving faith (that he gave elaborate testimony to in his 1st 12 chapters [13-17 being the Upper Room Discourse]) had changed, precisely defining for us the new content.

The most important question that can ever be answered is "What must I do to be saved?" or equally, "How can I have eternal life?"

The answer to this question is a matter for the milk of God's word. It is not something deep and inaccessible. It is clearly articulated for us in the Bible.

Jesus of Nazareth, the King of Israel, that is, the Son of God, the Christ, who has the words of everlasting life and whose words are spirit and life says:

"He who believes in Me... shall live"
"Whoever... believes in Me shall never die"

"Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)

Jesus asks that we simply and certainly rely upon Him for our secured and guaranteed eternal well-being by believing in Him.

22 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

There are simply no credible arguments against the consistent FG position.

November 08, 2007 12:55 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Antonio,

I refuse to interact with you about this on your blog (for those who don't know, it is my quote that is the subject of this article). In your first post on our blog you said you wanted to "play fair", that you would "interact with material [we] post" and that we should "proceed with integrity". You have done none of these. Clearly you are still reading at our blog, yet you copy and paste over here and ignore our questions. You misquoted Stephen, he called you on it (over here even), and you've ignored it. If you want to discuss what we say over there, come over there, but don't bring it over here.

As a result of your actions, I am deleting the links to your blog that you posted in your first post. I tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, but you have so far proven otherwise. If you want to dialogue about this or any other comment that is made on our blog, then do it on our blog. You know where to find us.

November 08, 2007 5:35 AM  
Blogger Jeremy Myers said...

Antonio,

Well written post, as always.

Another thing I find most troubling about this "debate" is that while we keep calling for the discussion to be centered on Scripture, the other side seems content to discuss everything BUT Scripture.

For example, who cares if you interact here or over at another blog about these issues? I am fairly new to the blogging world, but it appears to be common practice among bloggers to comment about other blogs on their own blogs as you have done here. And you even posted a link to that blog, which is more gracious than most other bloggers would do.

Of course, now I'm talking about a periphrial issue! Ha ha.

Anyway, thanks for the good post.

November 08, 2007 9:53 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

Rachel, I am confused about why you are upset. I just went over to your website based on the link here, and enjoyed what you had to say as well as the spirit you offered it in. I only have so much time to respond and how many sites I want to register/track and its easier to do it here. I assume Antonio is the same. Please consider sticking around and give time for Antonio to respond to people.

November 08, 2007 10:59 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Jeremy,
There you go again, not addressing me directly. I find this habit of yours peculiar. What is up with that?

Yet, I'm obviously NOT content to "discuss everything BUT Scripture". On our blog I currently have several questions dealing directly with the theological issue at hand. I have even asked you specifically to answer them. Yet only Jim has even attempted an answer, and even then he has not attempted to answer most of them. If "your side" really wants to discuss the theological issue, then go discuss it. I'm waiting.

Trent,
I am "upset" because of the whole story. Here it is. A friend started a blog and made my husband and me administrators as well (btw, "me" is the correct grammar in that sentence). Eventually, Jeremy "stumbled across" our blog and posted. We began dialoguing with him. Then Antonio came over completely on his own (I guess he found the link from Jeremy's blog or something) and said:

"I am willing to dialogue, debate, and answer questions, and offer a few myself. If we can all play fair, and try to esteem each other better than ourselves, and move in a manner of humility, I believe we can make great strides in understanding. Again. It would be great for you, Rachel and Jesse, to interact with the two above named posts. I, too, would be willing to interact with any material that you post here. Let us all proceed in our integrity."

He also posted no less than 4 links to his blog in that one first post. Then Antonio posted a question on our blog, asking for our answers. 3 of us answered him. And he never responded. After a few days, it was like, "where's Antonio?" He'd posted this question, ostensibly wanting to discuss it, and we obliged, but then he disappeared. I finally went looking for him over here. And that's when I found that he had indeed read our answers, but for some strange reason, rather than discussing our answers in the same place where he asked the question, he copied and pasted them over here and followed up by basically saying, "OMG can you believe what they said??"

He then pasted an answer of my husband's on his blog, but chopped off major portions of it that were important to understand. My husband posted on his blog and pointed this out, as well as included the rest of his answer. Yet Antonio still has not said a word about any of that.

Yet he apparently has time to read everything being written back at our blog, because this quote of mine he used in his article is from the comment thread of a completely different article, one that he never even posted on.

So, clearly Antonio has time to read and think about things that are written on our blog, yet he can't keep track of posting over there so he has to do it here? Sorry, I don't buy that. Especially in light of his first post there where he said that he would interact with stuff we post there. Implied in that is that he would interact with our stuff at our blog, not bring it back here.

It would be different if he had never posted at our blog, never asked a question at our blog that deserves discussion, and never stated that he was willing to interact with stuff we post there.

You say that Antonio supposedly doesn't have time to keep track of other blogs he posts at. Then he shouldn't go post at other blogs, state that he wants to interact there, and ask discussion questions there. Such actions make it appear like Antonio is trying to force us to discuss the issue on his blog, where he has a measure of control and can delete comments or whatever else at will.

And, I never said I wasn't planning to "stick around", it is just this one issue/quote that I am refraining from discussing here. I appreciate the invite, Trent.

November 08, 2007 12:12 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Hi Antonio,

I would like to comment on a specific quote from your post in which you say:

"I have recently read a 20 page argument that the Gospel of John, in the end, modifies the doctrine of saving faith that John goes into great detail expounding for his readers in the first 12 chapters of his book. The arguments were confusing and many of the conclusions were simply non-sequitor. This 20 page article failed to do what John could have done in a sentence or two: clearly state that the content of saving faith (that he gave elaborate testimony to in his 1st 12 chapters [13-17 being the Upper Room Discourse]) had changed, precisely defining for us the new content."

I believe you were referring to the roughly 20 page paper I emailed you late last week? Is that correct? If so, I'm wondering why you didn't cite my name or even a link to my post (which I specifically gave you permission to do) where I have a link to my paper? Especially after the agreement we had made and you even reminded me of in the following manner. You said:

"You had wrote this to me earlier:
----------
I would also like to submit a proposal for your attention. You were interested to know what I disagreed with concerning the teachings of Zane Hodges. You know that I am reasonable. In the public forum I believe that I have responded in a professional manner with reason and tact. I am troubled that others of higher reputation have not. In light of this, after I listen to Zane I would ask you to consider allowing me to post my comments about his teachings on your blog. At that point, anyone (including yourself) who wants to interact with my comments may do so. After this, we can of course talk openly about these issues more in person. I believe such an exchange would be profitable. Do not feel pressured to accept this proposal. We can continue to interact on a more private level if you desire. (Although I may state my thoughts as comments in some of the blogs, of course.)

Let me know what you think!

Pressing on,
Jonathan
----------
To which I responded:

Sure man,

give me something.

Your brother,

Antonio"

I am hopeful that you will honor our agreement and interact with my paper in a more scholarly fashion than simply the paragraph generalization you have posted (which I quoted above).

In Grace,
Jonathan Perreault

November 08, 2007 12:19 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

Rachel, I am obviously lacking information so will step away from this discussion.

I would welcome you to take a look at my blog that I hope to get more active as time goes on. I hope it becomes a fun place to be. :)

Grace and Truth

Trent

November 09, 2007 7:52 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Trent,
Where is your blog?

November 09, 2007 8:26 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

www.sola-scriptura-truth.blogspot.com

I think you can get at it from my details, but I am still very new at this so perhaps I am wrong.

Thank you for your interest. :)

Love in Christ

Trent

November 09, 2007 9:26 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 09, 2007 1:38 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 09, 2007 1:40 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Antonio,

You said:

"The most important question that can ever be answered is 'What must I do to be saved?' or equally, 'How can I have eternal life?'"

If you think this is so important I am wondering why you didn't interact with my paper that highlights the answer to this question? Maybe you disagree with my conclusions? Then why did you agree to post them in the first place?

November 09, 2007 4:56 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

The point of the WHOLE bible is whole souled worship of God, recognition of his sovereignty and his right to rule.

How does what appears to be in this blog, a single minded focus on our rewards, give glory to God?

How does preaching with rivalry give glory to God?

November 10, 2007 3:58 PM  
Blogger Crossless said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 11, 2007 7:20 AM  
Blogger Crossless said...

By the way, have any of you hugged a veteran today?

November 11, 2007 7:21 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Antonio,

Although we disagree on the issue of the gospel, I implore you as a fellow brother in Christ to delete the above comment by "crossless" that links to his blog. I had the unfortunate experience of visiting...

Jesus declares: "And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36).

Similarly, the apostle Paul declares: "But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks" (Eph. 5:3-4).

November 11, 2007 9:27 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Crossless,

Your blog is vile and is not Christ-honoring. I do not mind you leaving your comments here as long as you do not link to your blog or use any crudity here. I have deleted your post with your link.

Antonio

November 21, 2007 11:06 PM  
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 22, 2007 5:44 AM  
Blogger Daniel Wilson said...

>>In other words, where do we learn that the content of saving faith is different or changed?

Content of saving faith?

Brethren, we are not called to accept certain content about the historical Jesus as we would take in content about a subject for some academic test.

We are called to believe God the risen Son, to trust Him absolutely, to place our faith in Him, to rest in Him, to abandon ourselves to His complete and perfect will.

No theologian can know enough about Jesus to pass heaven's entrance exam. But a young child can trust Jesus and be admitted by God's grace!

November 24, 2007 9:10 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Daniel,

I understand what you are saying. However, there IS some kind of specific content that is absolutely required in order to savingly believe. What does it mean to "believe in Jesus"? Must one believe in His work on the cross, His deity, His resurrection, His miracles, His specific words in such-and-such passage, etc.? Your paragraph brings up questions. You said we need to believe in "God the risen Son" and that we need to "trust Him absolutely". So then must the lost person believe that Jesus is God and that He rose from the dead? Must the lost person believe in faith alone? Or could the lost person know nothing or even deny the resurrection, yet still be born again? What about an Arminian that believes you can lose your salvation? You see, it is vital that we identify what it is specifically that must be believed in order to truly "believe in Jesus". This is the crux of this whole debate.

November 24, 2007 12:23 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Daniel,

thanks for joining!

You write:

"We are called to believe God the risen Son, to trust Him absolutely, to place our faith in Him, to rest in Him, to abandon ourselves to His complete and perfect will."

I agree with everything but the last remark, "abandon ourselves to His complete perfect will" IF you mean by it obeying him with works as a means of eternal life. If you mean merely abandoning ourselves to his will for eternal life, in other words, believing in Him for it, then I agree, or if you mean in our lives subsequent to receiveing eternal life, then i agree.

You say we must believe God, the Risen Son, but what specifically to be born again? Everything? There is some content behind believing Him, no? I put forth that the content is believing Him in His promise.

Must we trust Jesus for everthing to be born again? I hope not! My life often betrays a failure to trust Him in all things. But if I am convinced that He can be trusted to guarantee my eternal well-being, then I have trusted in Him in the thing that brings everlasting life.

Antonio

November 25, 2007 11:13 AM  
Blogger Daniel Wilson said...

Let us not confuse knowledge with faith. Knowledge aids faith but the two are not the same thing.

>>Must the lost person believe in faith alone ... What about an Arminian ...

One may well become a child of God before knowing enough to be an Arminian, Calvinist, Dispensationalist, Lordship Salvation-ist, Free Grace-ist, Baptist, Methodist or any other -ist.

>>What does it mean to "believe in Jesus"?

Yes, there indeed is a good question, for we know that he that believeth hath eternal life.

In John 9 (prior to the cross), Jesus sought out the man blind from birth whom He had healed just hours earlier. Because of the miraculous healing, the man knew God was with Jesus and had just gotten himself excommunicated from the synagogue over that confession.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?

37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.

38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

The key issue here? Christ's deity. The fruit of that belief? Worship -- a voluntary subjugation to One infinitely greater.

But after the resurrection, that greatest of all the signs of Christ's deity, the sign of which Christ said "There shall no sign be given but the sign of Jonah" ... After that sign which so far outshone all 7 John previously records and all those he supposed would fill the world with books to record that by comparison they were nothing ... After that sign, what is/are the key issue(s) to proclaim to a lost world?

"ye shall be witnesses unto me" (Acts 1:9) ... "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name" (Luke 24:47) ... "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God" (I John 4:2) ... "My LORD and my God. ... because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed:" (John 20:28-9)

It is Christ as the ONE TRUE GOD ... the ONE with whom we have to do ... the ONE who is to be worshiped ... the ONE to whom we must yield.

One may submit to Christ without knowledge of many things. Christ's earliest disciples followed Him without an understanding of the cross, but when the fact of Christ's sacrifice was known that strengthened their faith a hundred-fold. He who, with knowledge, denies the resurrection is either mentally impaired or denying Christ's deity.

>>My life often betrays a failure to trust Him in all things.

Who among us does not have that temptation?! Un-Christianizing the one who struggles with faith is not where I'm going.

Declaring that faith in Jesus and submission to Him are inseparable ... yes there I will stand. Only a fool would acknowledge One to be omnipotent and yet shake his fist in His face!

As I have quoted in a couple other posts, this from I John 5 says far better than all I have just written what it is to believe in Jesus: "1Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: ... 18We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not"

Glory be to the name of Jesus for salvation from sin! He was manifested to destroy the works of the Devil! Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!

November 26, 2007 2:27 AM  

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