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)

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Simplicity of Christ vs. the Understanding of Theological Sophisticates

Guest post by WJC

It really should not be a big surprise that we have a situation emerging within the FG camp in which men who are theologically sophisticated, well educated, trained in the scriptures and in positions of spiritual leadership, are defining and requiring some rather complex propositional truths as fundamental requirements that must be heard and understood by the lost in order to receive eternal life. The unsaved must not only believe in the object of our salvation - Jesus - for eternal life but must have an understanding of the basis by which Jesus is able to save us. This is a rather sophisticated intellectual process that is required and I would like to draw your attention for a moment to some parallels that I think might be instructive.

Imagine for a moment with me that we are part of the mass of Israelites who are wandering in the wilderness and you and I have just experienced a horrifying plague of vipers which have suddenly come into our encampment and we along with countless others have been bitten by these poisonous reptiles. We are getting sicker by the minute and hundreds lie dying when the word comes around that Moses will raise a bronze serpent on a pole in the middle of the camp and if anyone will just look at that bronze serpent he or she will be healed from the bite of the vipers and will not die… Suppose I said to you: “Now listen Joe, I don’t get it - this doesn’t make much sense – we just have to look at a bronze serpent on a pole and we will recover and live? What could that possibly have to do with our condition and our recovery? There has to be more to this story… We need to know where Moses got this idea. We need to know how this can possibly work cause I’ve never heard of such a thing… Maybe the heat is getting to Moses so let’s go see if we can get the scoop on what’s behind this bronze serpent on a pole thing!”…

Now if you’re honest you are probably thinking how ridiculous! Just look at the bronze serpent and then if you must you can check into the details later dude!! I would submit to you that the Israelites probably didn’t have many if any of the details. All they likely knew through that bleary mental fog and the searing pain that was spreading to the nerves of their dying bodies was that Moses said to look at the bronze serpent and whoever does will live – and that was enough…

What I’m getting at should be clear. We are living in a day when just as they did in Jesus day, some of our most learned and best religious men can complicate and obscure the grand simplicity of God’s plan, purpose and mission. If there is one thing that the scriptures and our experience should teach us - it is man’s natural propensity in his intellectual arrogance and pride to create clouds of sophisticated arguments and requirements that replace the magnificent simplicity of God’s wise plan. We see this very notably in Lordship theology and now we see a similar mentality emerging within the FG camp. I would suggest that it is spawned by the same spirit which wars against the mind of man to blind his understanding of the simplicity of God’s saving grace. It is the same spirit which permeated the legalism of the Pharisees of Jesus day and blinded them to who He was causing Jesus to ask them repeatedly “why don’t you believe me?”…

Much like the admittedly ridiculous example in my story we have a group of theological sophisticates who say that without a full understanding of the basis for how Jesus is able to save men the lost cannot be saved – i.e., reduced to the bare minimum, just looking to Jesus in faith for eternal life is not enough. Despite the clear parallel that Jesus gives Nicodemus in John 3 between the simple look of the Israelites to the bronze serpent in that wilderness camp for life – to believing in him for eternal life.

Even though Jesus alludes to His future crucifixion Nicodemus would not have understood that detail – only that Jesus was saying that He was here, visibly for all to see much like that bronze serpent was so that “whoever believes in Him, may have eternal life.”

172 Comments:

Blogger Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

Great illustration, I loved it. This is a good example of God's beautiful tension between knowledge and trust.

I could be misunderstanding things, but at least considering someone's latest blog entry, you and he are saying nearly the same thing.

Both of you (in my ears) are saying that theologically complex or at least nonintuitive concepts are not necessary for salvation. The question being asked, that you might be disagreeing upon, is whether or not the man coming into salvation might be able to reject them and still be saved. And especially whether or not they should be assured of it by those who are trying to share Christ.

Can the man reject important things and still be saved? Should we tell them as much? It's difficult to make up my mind about this. I keep seeing both sides of things and I wonder if you have alternated in your thoughts over it too? I'd like to hear about it in a future post, maybe.

Maybe God just intended this area to be gray, because it varies at level of the individual.

Hopefully I'm getting this and not missing the message....

Thanks,
Michele

July 25, 2008 3:49 PM  
Blogger Looker4522 said...

WJC,

Thank you for thoughts. The simplicity of the Gospel is a wonderful thing and helps to glorify God as He ought to be glorified.

It has become clear to me, as I have even asked directly, that many folks sincerely believe the saving message changed at some point in the NT era. I won't give a concrete date for the change, but the point that they do think it has changed is well attested by their own writings.

Thus, bringing up an incident (the talk with Nicodemus) which happened earlier in a different time period under a different saving message, is not at all relevant to many people today.

The fact that John recorded this incident as we have it decades(?) after the supposed changed in the saving message without directly mentioning the "new" message is readily explained. The account is historically accurate to them but not binding on individuals in the post-message-change era. Now people are held to a different standard - more has been given and more is now required.

In discussions with people that hold to a changing saving message, I see only two ways to discuss this subject with them which would be practical.

Due to their thinking, we ought to focus on accounts of events or teachings which occurred after the supposed change in the saving message. This would most likely be in the post-Ascension time period although the exact day the "change" occurred is a little bit fuzzy to me. I'm sure you'll think so too.

Anyway, as long as the support is garnered from this later period, then it cannot be argued that we have used an account anachronistically. (is that a word?)

Unfortunately, this pretty much leaves out the four gospels except for some summary ideas. But, who said this would be easy?

The second line of discussion which might be practical is to demonstrate that the saving message has never changed throughout history. It has always been simple faith alone in the Savior.

Thoughts anyone?

July 25, 2008 6:36 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Looker4522,

Thanks for your feedback on my comments. I’m well aware of the arguments that there has been a change in the content of the saving message but that does not mean that we should abandon the gospels or the pre-cross scriptures in order to argue the point. I personally think it is ludicrous to believe that some of the most poignant and moving dialogues between Jesus and lost men and women are no longer valid and somehow fall short of containing enough information to be efficacious! Just as it would have been ludicrous in my story for the bite victims to get all of the details of why Moses was doing what he did before looking to the bronze serpent for life! The bite victims were living in the post revelation to Moses and the post bronze serpent on a pole age and so what! They were dying and they needed to simply look at the serpent on the pole. Men today are dying and they need simply to look in faith to Jesus for eternal life!

That is just one of the many problems with this kind of theological sophistication (or better sophistry). I have a problem agreeing with a theological view which places in peril the sufficiency and beautiful simplicity of a transaction between the extended hand of the unworthy receiver and the unbridled gracious Giver of a free gift, or the thirsty hand reaching for a drink from the Giver of living water. That which by design God has made infinitely simple is replaced with a substantial proscribed formula of information without which the new birth is impossible. Even more problematic - the “formula crowd” can’t agree on what the irreducible minimum formula is!

Let’s be clear - I do not dispute (and neither do any in the Free Grace camp including Zane, Bob and GES) that we should use as much information about who Jesus is and what He has done on our behalf in our evangelistic efforts in order to bring men to faith in Jesus but that is not what this controversy is about. This controversy is about what the irreducible minimum information is upon which someone can be saved. Is it enough if someone reads John 3:16 and believes in the Son for eternal life? Some in the FG camp say emphatically “no”. They say this because they believe that the person does not have enough information. The information they point to is what forms the basis for how Jesus saves us and they argue that men are not saved without understanding that basis. We say emphatically “yes”! If a man or a little child understands that Jesus offers eternal life to the one who simply believes in Him for it - and they believe in Him for it then eternal life is theirs! There is no doubt that understanding the basis for how Jesus saves certainly helps in leading men to faith but it is not necessary for saving faith. Of transcending importance in this eternal transaction is the object of our faith and the gift offered. If we place our faith in the Giver of the gift – He will graciously and freely give us life everlasting as He has promised, it’s that simple.

In the engineering world of applied science it is universally recognized that simplicity of design is the result of true genius. There is also an axiom that is widely used and recognized in engineering and it is represented by the acronym K.I.S.S. – which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid… That’s an axiom that ought to be laid at the feet of most “theologians” today.

July 25, 2008 8:53 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Excellent!!! WJC, Very well put!

July 26, 2008 4:31 AM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

I agree.

I am glad you posted. I have been waiting a while for something new here.

July 26, 2008 7:16 AM  
Blogger wjc said...

Hey Alvin & Celestial Fundie,

Thanks for the encouragement! I live in a desert wasteland when it comes to free grace so it is so good to have a place to be amongst like minded friends - even if it is in cyber-space! Celestial Fundie, are you in the UK?! What's your theological landscape like there?

July 26, 2008 9:29 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Looker4522,

I really appreciate your thoughts and comments - You've helped me try to sharpen my focus in what I am trying to communicate...

July 26, 2008 9:34 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

WJC... I am thrilled to see that your article has been posted on Antonio's main page!!! I'm so glad you entered in to this debate. Your illustration is EXCELLENT!

What your illustration shows is exactly what the book of John teaches. The book of John is the KEY to this whole debate. God has given us a book that clearly tells us what we must believe to be eternally saved. The other books of the Bible do not contradict John or change his message. When I hear someone say that Paul is expanding on John's message that must be believed to be saved in this dispensation, I cringe. NO WAY!!! I can't defend that statement in a short format like I have here, but just go through a study in the book of John and it all comes together so beautifully.

I am so thankful to Bob Bryant for his excellent Bible Study (verse by verse) in John. It opened my eyes to see the purpose and the meaning of the 8 signs so clearly. This material isn't available to the public as far as I know, so I just thank the Lord that HE allowed me to be able to read it and use it. I'm in the process of going through it now in a ladies discipleship class, and those ladies are excited about what they are learning. We all have had our eyes opened to the book of John, and it's not because of the author of the material, but because of the author of the book of John... (God). The author of the material just helped us to get to that place where we saw it. It's the scriptures that have opened our eyes. That's a rule we have in our class. None of us (especially the leader) have any authority to determine the correct interpretation. Only the scriptures are authoritative. If we don't see it for ourselves in the scriptures, we don't accept it as true. Sometimes one or more have questions and just set it on the shelf (so to speak) to study it more later. If we don't see it for ourselves in the scriptures, we don't accept it. That's the beauty of our Bible Study.
But so far we're all seeing it. JOHN is crystal clear in the message of what must be believed to have eternal life. There's not a different list. There's one truth. John 3:16. The book makes that saving message the only message throughout.

I had a missionary friend once tell me that she was saved when she first realized that God loved her. My friend is a believer and has served the Lord faithfully for years. But she was not saved because she realized God loved her. I have no doubt that God was opening her understanding of Himself to her. That was probably pre-evangelism. Just like all the years I was in Sunday School learning the truths of God's Word. Yet I wasn't eternally saved until high school days. God used what I had learned as a child to bring me to the moment when He turned the light on for me...... John 3:16. My missionary friend got to the place where she too believed in Jesus Christ for everlasting life. Only Jesus was the way to be with God forever. There was no other way. It was faith in Him only.

So we don't ever have to wonder what exactly are we to believe to be eternally saved. We know. John tells us and Paul and the other writers of scripture affirm that.

It's FUN to talk about the Bible, isn't it!!! It's FUN to learn truth!!! Plus we have the wonderful opportunity to meet friends of like mind who can also teach us through great illustrations like you did, WJC.... and of course Antonio, Alvin and others. I'm glad to have this format for that purpose. I hope many other friends will join in and be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It's awesome to sit at His feet and learn.

Thank you for your helpful insight.

All because of His wonderful grace,
Diane
P.S. My husband is thankful for all of you, too!!!
:-)

July 27, 2008 3:31 PM  
Blogger Peggie said...

WJC,
Thank you so much for this great article. Antonio's site is where
we can come for a breath of fresh air.
I enjoy also the comments that others
have left here. They are such an encouragement to me. Thank you all!

July 27, 2008 5:51 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

looker4522...

You said....
"The second line of discussion which might be practical is to demonstrate that the saving message has never changed throughout history. It has always been simple faith alone in the Savior.
Thoughts anyone?"

Something came to my mind when you asked that question.
Bob Bryant presented a message at a GES Conference a few years ago on how people were saved before Christ came. It was printed in the GES Journal 2003. I thought it was excellent! It can be accessed at the following address...
www.faithalone.org/journal/2003i/bryant.pdg

I appreciate your comments.

July 27, 2008 7:07 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

In case that address doesn't work (as it didn't for me) try this on: http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2003i/bryant.html

BTW - Great article Diane, thanks!

July 27, 2008 7:21 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Oops: Seems to have been cut off... http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2003i/bryant.html

The end should be /bryant.html

July 27, 2008 9:07 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you WJC!
I tried your corrected address and it works great! So glad you pointed that out. I hope our visitors will take the time to read it.
:-)

July 27, 2008 10:21 PM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

WJC, I am in the UK. Thanks for asking.

The theological scene here is pretty terrible. For the most part Evangelicalism is both ecumenical and Charismatic.

Dispensationalism is pretty much restricted to the Plymouth Brethren.

Free Grace is pretty much unknown.

Even the Plymouth Brethren have some Lordship Salvation tendencies.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

July 28, 2008 4:48 AM  
Blogger wjc said...

Matthew, - Interesting circumstances you are in there. What must Darby think?!

I enjoyed your sermon on the Ark and the Mercy Seat on another blog site (I think it was you) - excellent!

Have you read Hodges article in the CTS journal on 1 Thess 5:1-11? If you're interested in eschatology this is a must read...

July 28, 2008 11:30 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

wjc...
Do you know the exact title of Zane's article in the Journal on 1 Thess 5:1-11... and/or the date of the journal entry? I would love to read it.... probably AGAIN since I read all journal articles. Thanks so much.

Diane
:-)

July 28, 2008 2:03 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Yes Diane,

Chafer Theological Seminary Journal Volume 6 (Vol. 6, Page 22)

FYI - the article is footnoted as follows:

Zane C. Hodges updated his earlier article, “The Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11, ” in Walvoord: A Tribute, ed. Donald K. Campbell, (Chicago: Moody, 1982), 67–79. Used as the basis of this revision by permission.

I think it's a superb article establishing the fact that the apostle Paul taught the pre-tribulation rapture...explicitly.

July 28, 2008 2:54 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Oops! The exact title is:

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and the Rapture

July 28, 2008 2:58 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

wjc...

Thank you so much for the title of Zane's article, "1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and the Rapture".

I also love his book, "Jesus God's Prophet!" After reading and rereading that book, I'm 100% convinced that the rapture takes place immediately before the 7 years Tribulation. I always believed that before, but this book just gave me even more evidence for that truth. It has to do with the way he explains the word "parousia."

I look forward to His soon coming!

All because of LIFE freely given!

Diane
:-)

July 28, 2008 5:01 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Diane, & Looker,
I had read that article by bro. Bryant a few years back & I remember bing very impressed by it. I had forgotten what most of his argument was, so I will go back over it. Thank you both for the links, revisions & corrections! God Bless you all.

July 28, 2008 7:53 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Some thought on the centurions faith…

There is a great passage of scripture in Matthew 8:5-13 where we meet a Roman centurion who comes to Jesus and says “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” And Jesus responds and says “I will come and heal him.” To which the centurion answers “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Then the scriptures tell us that “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”. And Jesus ultimately tells this man “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” And his servant was healed that same hour.

My question is this: What was “great” about the centurion’s faith that it caused Jesus to marvel? Did this centurion possess a deep knowledge of the scriptures? Was he a learned theologian who had figured out all of the intricacies of who Jesus was and on that basis Jesus responded to him and healed his servant? I don’t think so… In fact Matthew, far from leaving it to our speculation, gives us the answer in the text. The centurion, for a Roman, demonstrates an amazing humility towards Jesus by saying “I am not worthy that you should come under my roof.” Then drawing from his own experience as a Roman soldier, he says to Jesus “…only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.” He then explains that he has experience as one under authority and in authority over others and as such he merely gives a command and it is done!

If we analyze this exchange the centurion explains why he believes that Jesus can heal his servant. Are his reasons complex? No! They come from his everyday experience as a commander. Drawing on that and perhaps accounts he has heard about Jesus healing of all kinds of afflictions he simply believes that Jesus has the authority to heal his servant. Is his explanation full of theological and doctrinal intricacies and nuances? No. May I suggest to you that Jesus calls this man’s faith “great” because it is simple? This centurion simply believed that Jesus had the authority to issue a command and it would be done! Its very simplicity is what makes it rare - and perhaps easily misunderstood.

Let me draw your attention to another passage in Luke 18:15 where we find the account of people who were bringing their infants to Jesus so that He might touch them and the disciples were rebuking these folks for doing so. The passage says: But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

This gives us some good and perhaps startling insight into the kind of response God desires from his creatures. It is not the learned man with depth of knowledge or understanding of complex theological truth that God says will enter the kingdom – no. Rather they are those with the humble, lowly and unsophisticated understanding of a child that Jesus says will enter the kingdom of God – in fact Jesus says the kingdom will be made up of children and those who are like these little children…

Is this not the essence of simplicity – childlike simplicity? We are all familiar with the ability of a child to readily accept something with the innocent nod of that little head…

So the faith of the Roman centurion and the faith of a little child are irrevocably linked – not by the complexity or the completeness of their theological or doctrinal content – but by their simple and undistracted ability to believe in the Savior – and what He is able to do!

July 28, 2008 8:02 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

Hi Diane. Zane's article on the Rapture that WJC refers to is available online at Chafer Seminary's website. A good number of back issues are available at their site. Let me give you the URL for Zane's article here.

http://chafer.edu/journal/back_issues/v6n4_2.pdf

July 28, 2008 8:29 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

wjc...

Thank you for another great illustration of simple child like faith. EXCELLENT!!!

Danny, thank you so much for your help. I've found the article and printed it up. Now all I have to do is read it. Can't wait. Thanks again.

David, I'm glad you will be going back over Bob Bryant's article on O.T. Salvation. I need to go back over it again, too. It's excellent.

Thank you friends for giving me so much help in learning God's truth. Nothing greater than to sit at His feet and learn!

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

July 28, 2008 8:55 PM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

WJC, Darby was not consistently Free Grace, but he thought his own times were pretty awful, so its hard to imagine his horror at the evangelical scene today.

I am glad you liked the sermon.

I am afraid I have to disagree with you over the rapture. I believe the rapture will be Pre-wrath and Post-trib.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

July 29, 2008 1:34 AM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

WJC, I did read the article. Much as I love Zane Hodges theology, I was not convinced by the arguments he presented.

I don't know when he wrote that, but I think an up to date article would need to deal with the Pre-wrath modification of the Post-trib position.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

July 29, 2008 1:42 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

wjc,

When I read this post, the question that came to mind is what is the purpose of this grace? Is the purpose of this grace simply to cover my sins? If so, then I can accept Christ, continue sinning, and each time His grace will cover me. Simple? Yes. Accurate? Not at all. While there is no price that can be paid for grace, it comes at a cost. Consider Luke 14: 27 and 28. When we accept His grace, we need to be aware that we are accepting all of Jesus Christ - His suffering, His death, and His resurrection. In order to be His disciples, we too need to be prepared to carry our cross. The difficulty that comes with the discussion of free grace is that while there is an emphasis on not being able to pay any price for grace, which is accurate, it neglects the truth that it comes with a cost. Thank you for posting.

July 29, 2008 7:52 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Matthew,

Thank you for being honest about your disagreement on the rapture. It's those kind of disagreements that always drive me to the Word for answers. I love the way God works that way in my life.

Have you read "Jesus God's Prophet" by Zane Hodges? I hope you are able to get a book (currently out of print) and study it. This book gives the reason the Tribulation begins immediately AFTER the rapture of the Church. The WHOLE PERIOD OF TIME, from the beginning of Christ coming (AT THE RAPTURE) to His appearance in the clouds at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation is the subject of Matthew 24:4-31.

Jesus SPECIAL WORD for this SPAN OF TIME is [parousia] (coming). When this word is used in Matthew, it ALWAYS, (always, always) refers to the full span of time, not JUST His appearance in the clouds at the conclusion of the Great Tribulation.

Pg. 25 of his book he says.... "Many readers have thought that Matthew 24:29-30 places the coming THERE. But this is a mistake." (emphasis mine.)

This passage definitely does NOT use Jesus' SPECIAL WORD for coming - [parousia]. This is significant. It's true that the Son of Man will "be seen" on the clouds of heaven at the end of the Great Tribulation for the first time, but that is not the same as describing His descent from the presence of God. His coming [parousia] BEGINS at the time when God's judgments begin. His [parousia] takes in the whole span of time when He first comes without warning, suddenly and unexpected and concludes with the SIGN of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven. The author of this book shows from scripture that Christ is present from beginning to end of this span of time.

If his conclusions are right (and I believe he proves it in this book), then the Church can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will be raptured BEFORE the Tribulation begins..... AND that the Tribulation will begin IMMEDIATELY after the rapture. I believe God wants us to know this. He doesn't want us to have doubts. God doesn't leave us wondering!!! Our hope is to be with Jesus at any moment.

Pg. 27 of his book he says.... "Students of Matthew's gospel should pay close attention to EXACTLY what Jesus said in Matthew 24:36-39. If they do, they will never think that His coming [parousia] begins only AFTER an unprecedented period of earthly trouble. That view is IMPOSSIBLE in Matthew 24:36-39. And THIS IMPOSSIBILITY is due to a brand-new feature of biblical prophecy that Jesus reveals. This feature is the totally unexpected arrival of Jesus from heaven while life on earth goes on as before! This is a new revelation by God's greatest Prophet." (emphasis mine.)

The author of this book shows that Jesus gives fresh revelation on His coming and on the end of the age in the Olivet Discourse.

I recommend this book for those who would like absolute assurance that the CHURCH will NEVER go through any of the 7 years of Tribulation. Our hope is to be with Jesus at any moment.

I hope it was OK to get off subject. Sorry to do that Antonio. I saw Matthew's comment and wanted to respond. It's always a joy to discuss God's Word. That's the way I learn.
Thank you.

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

July 29, 2008 8:51 AM  
Blogger wjc said...

Ron, - You seem to be making the common mistake of mixing the clear concept of salvation by grace - which involves a free gift without any cost - and discipleship. Far from synonymous these two concepts are very different and Jesus made a clear distinction between the two. The gift is free and as such cannot have any cost associated with it or it is not a gift. Discipleship on the other hand is extremely costly and for those who will follow there is great reward – those who do not will suffer great loss.

If you fail to separate these two great truths you end up with a hopeless contradiction of antithetical theobabble – a prime example of which is the statement: “The difficulty that comes with the discussion of free grace is that while there is an emphasis on not being able to pay any price for grace, which is accurate, it neglects the truth that it comes with a cost.” Sorry but this is nonsense…

July 29, 2008 9:41 AM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

Diane, I have not read that particular book.

However, I have read a lot of Pre-Tribulational books. In fact, the majority of the authors I read favour a Pre-Tribulational rapture.

I can think of a lot of wonderful Bible teachers who are Pre-Trib, but practically no sound Post-trib teachers and Pre-Wrathers are somewhat equivocal.

Nevertheless, I have yet to be persuaded that there is any promise to believers of escaping the tribulation.

Part of the problem. I think, is that there are simply too many arguments for the Pre-Tribulational passage.

If you doubted the truth of eternal security, I could direct you to one or two passages that clearly demonstrate that the believer can never be lost. However, if you doubted the Pre-Tribulational rapture, I could potentially direct you to dozens of passages and proof texts that Pre-Tribbers have suggested. There is a lot, but there is no text that directly states that believers will be absent during the tribulation.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

July 29, 2008 9:44 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Matthew,

Thank you for your gracious reply. I appreciate the fact that you hold your position based on what you really believe the scriptures teach. That's good.
But I hope you will continue to be open with the scriptures when considering this word "parousia" as defined by Zane Hodges. I don't know of any other authors who have taught the word "parousia" the way Zane has. His eyes have been opened to this truth as he studied. That's what the Holy Spirit does. Opens our eyes to truth. Is Zane right? I hope you will read the book (if you can find it)and prayerfully consider that question.

A pastor friend of mine started reading through his book, and when he saw what Zane said about the word "parousia" he just dismissed the book as flawed. The reason.... because he had always understood that word to mean "second coming" (coming in the clouds). He didn't give the book a chance to prove that the word did not mean only "coming in the clouds" but the whole span of time. Zane deals with that word "parousia" (coming) on pages...
16, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 41, 43, 49, 50, 53, 55, 58, 62, and 63.
My pastor friend didn't really consider the evidence. He just went with what he had always been taught. But we need to be a Berean and examine all the evidence. I'm sure that you do that, and I appreciate that about you.

Your questions and remarks are good for me. Thank you for making me think.

All because of His wonderful grace,

Diane
:-)

July 29, 2008 10:17 AM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

Diane, I do not see that the non-use of the word parousia actually affects the issue at all. Without some elaboration, I cannot see that this argument goes anywhere.

Pre-Tribulationalists are able to point out hundreds of minor incidental details which might imply a pre-trib rapture, but in themselves none of these arguments are in any way conclusive.

July 29, 2008 12:01 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Matthew,

I appreciate your insight. It makes me do more digging. So please know that even though we disagree on the timing of the rapture, I'm glad to have you as a free grace friend who makes me think. This disagreement would never divide me from my free grace brothers and sisters in Christ.

Let me try to express why understanding "parousia" as referring *ALWAYS to a span of time* makes me realize that the rapture comes before the 7 year tribulation.
When Christ comes the 2nd time from the presence of His Father, He uses His special word "parousia." When He comes in the clouds of heaven, He is not coming from the presence of His Father. That started 7 years earlier at the rapture. His special word (parousia) is not used when speaking of His coming back in the clouds because He's not coming back again the 2nd time here from the presence of God. He's been here the whole 7 years. When He speaks of His Second Advent, He's speaking of the whole span of time (when using that word "parousia"). So when He comes back the 2nd time, He begins by rapturing His people out.... then the 7 year tribulation..... then His appearance in the clouds.

Zane puts it this way on page 28 of his book..... "The beginning of the Second Advent has no sign. It suddenly overtakes an unsuspecting world that falsely thinks that all is well."

After consuming Zane's book, marking it all up, typing notes, rereading and rereading, etc., etc., I came to see how important that word "parousia" is in understanding that the rapture begins when He comes back the 2nd time. And I'm excited for His soon return. Maybe we won't even have to go through this next election!!!
:-)

I apologize for making a mess out of my explanation. I know it's confusing and not convincing at all to anyone else reading this.
I would never be convinced by what I just wrote. But if you can get a hold of the book "JESUS God's Prophet", maybe it will give you new insight into that word also.
If you come away disagreeing with him still, that's between you and the Lord. And I would never divide over that difference. As Dr. J. Vernon McGee once said.....
(paraphrased)..... "There's only been one person I've agreed with 100%, and that's myself when I heard myself on radio."
:-)

Thanks good friend for the discussion.
(I know we still disagree.... but still friends in Christ)

Diane
:-)

July 29, 2008 3:03 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

I think Zane is right on! I've also read that little booklet over and over and marked it up pretty good,,Ha!Ha!

We know when ever Jesus says something twice we better listen up!

But as the days of Noah were, so will the coming (Parousia)of the Son of Man be. For as the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away,so also will the coming (Parousia)of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:37-39)

The world is going to be caught by supprise, He will come like a thief in the night. Life will be as usual. That wouldn't be possible at the end of the Trib. Also, judgement will come in like a flood on the world. God's two Prophets will be in the first half of the Trib, because at the end of the three and a half years the world throws a big party which couldn't happen at the end of the last three an a half years because you have Armageddon.
Jesus coming (erchomenon)in Matthew 24:29-31 is with a sign, the sign being the Son of Man Himself all will see Him. But at His parousia no one sees Him.

I'll be the first to admit I'm no expert on this, but Zane has convinced me, and like Diane I'm looking for His close return!
The word Parousia is pronounced like this par-oo-see-ah isn't that cool!

alvin

July 29, 2008 5:27 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Alvin,

You said it so well~!!! Thank you for that. We always seem to come out at the same place in our understanding.
:-)
I think that means that the scriptures can be understood when we dig. And of course, I mean no disrespect to Matthew. I believe he's a digger, too. Very smart guy. There's plenty of work to be done on me to get me to the place where I understand the Word of God. I'm probably at 5% right now in my knowledge of the Word.... or less.
:-)
Whenever Zane Hodges has something to say, I take note. Not because I've got him on a pedestal. Not because he has all the answers. Not because he's necessarily right on everything. I know that he's just a man and can be wrong like any of us. But I've also found him to be a humble, teachable, and serious student of the Word who has devoted his life to the study of the Word of God. God has rewarded him with much insight. Sometimes I don't see something the way he's teaching it at first. But I have enough respect for him to examine what he says. Most of the time after examining it I come to see it like he teaches it...... (seeing it from scripture.... not just because he says it). But when I don't see it, I just set it aside for a while and come back and study it again later. There's a couple minor points in all these years that I've disagreed with him on. But even then I recognize that I may still be wrong..... just don't see it yet from scripture. And I know that Zane would want it that way for all of us. Scripture alone is the authority.... the only authority.

I think I've said way too much lately on Antonio's blog. WJC got me going..... but it was GREAT to read his articles. VERY HELPFUL!!!

God's best to you and your family.

Diane
:-)
P.S. Someone asked me.... "Who is wjc?" Then he said.... "It must be William Jefferson Clinton."
I sent him an e-mail with wjc's website profile.
:-)

July 29, 2008 6:01 PM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

Diane, being a Pre-Wrather, I have no problem with the coming being a span of time. As I see it, the church will be raptured some time during the second half of the 70th week and Christ and the church will remain in the air until Armageddon.

Alvin,

"God's two Prophets will be in the first half of the Trib, because at the end of the three and a half years the world throws a big party which couldn't happen at the end of the last three an a half years because you have Armageddon."

Pre-wrathers place Armageddon after the 70th week, following the vial judgments. The death of the two witnesses occur at the end of the trumpet judgments.

At the death of the two witnesses, the world will believe that their troubles are all over and will throw the party you mention.

"The world is going to be caught by supprise, He will come like a thief in the night. Life will be as usual. That wouldn't be possible at the end of the Trib."

Pre-wrathers believe that the rapture cuts short the tribulation. It precedes, rather than follows, the trumpet and vial judgments.]

There will be much suffering in the world during the tribulation (before the trumpets and vials), but it is unlikely to be far worse than that experienced in the Twentieth century. Probably a lot of the troubles that our Lord mentioned in Matthew 28 will be focused on the middle east.

So life will not be vastly different when the rapture occurs.

"Also, judgement will come in like a flood on the world."

Do you actually believe the rapture is going to bring in sudden judgment on the world?

Most Pre-Tribbers allow for a quiet period immediately after the rapture. Do you not think that the Beast will bring in a temporary period of peace after his rise to power?

Surely the really destructive events do not occur until the trumpets and vials.

When Noah entered the Ark, destruction came upon the world. It was a complete and devastating judgment. Likewise, when Lot left Sodom, complete and devastating judgment fell upon the city.

Nothing like that is believed to occur after a Pre-Trib rapture.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

July 29, 2008 11:33 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Matthew

You asked:
Do you actually believe the rapture is going to bring in sudden judgment on the world?

Matthew the flood was judgment:
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. “For in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, “and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Matthew 24:37-39

The flood took them all away, that is judgment came upon the world. And Jesus said “so also will the coming of the Son of Man.” And then in the next verse it gives us the rapture.

Verse 40,41
Then two men will be in the field, one will be taken and the other left. “Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken the other left.

Zanes book page 30,31
We should notice first of all the word then. Its immediate reference is back to the preceding phrase about “the coming of the Son of Man.” The then refers to something that happens at the time when His coming begins.
Of particular interest also is the word Jesus chooses for taken. The Greek word paralambano [par-ah-lom-bah-no] is used here in its main New Testament sense. The word’s first meaning as defined by the standard dictionary [BDAG, P 767] IS: “to take into close association, take (to ones self), take with/along.” Other examples in Matthew can be found in 1:20-21 (Joseph “taking” Mary as his wife), 2:13,14,20,21 (Joesph “taking” the child Jesus to Egypt and back to Israel), and 17:1 (Jesus “taking along” the three disciples to the mount of transfiguration).
Therefore, the word paralambano (vss. 40-41) is a quite different word then the one in the statement “the flood came and took them all away (vs.39). The word rendered “take away” in verse 39 is airo [eye-row]. Obviously, in verse 39 the Lord is speaking about being swept away in judgment. But paralambano in verses 40-41 does not suggest that idea in any way. In fact, the shift to a verb with a different meaning suggests just the opposite.

Matthew asked:
Most Pre-Tribbers allow for a quiet period immediately after the rapture. Do you not think that the Beast will bring in a temporary period of peace after his rise to power?


The Beast does not come onto the scene until the middle of the Tribulation, when the King of the North is mortally wounded. Then he becomes the Beast that comes up out of the sea.

Matthew asked:
Do you actually believe the rapture is going to bring in sudden judgment on the world?


It will be like birth pangs which will become worse and worse like a child being born. A new age will be coming in Christ’s Kingdom.
The two Prophets have to be in the first three and a half years: This becomes plain when we consider that the story told here concludes with triumph of evil over good. And this triumph extends for three and a half days beyond the end of the period itself. But the 70th week of Daniel does not conclude that way. How it does conclude is made clear in Daniel 9:24.
In that important passage we read: “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make and end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.”
Clearly, none of this is true when God’s two witnesses reach the end of their three and a half year mission. For example, “everlasting righteousness” is not brought in at that time. Instead, the three and a half years are followed by a wild, worldwide celebration of triumph of evil. So the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-14 belong to the first half of Daniel’s 70th week. (Power to make War page 46)

Matthew you really need to buy both these books by Zane “Jesus God’s Prophet” and “Power To Make War.” You can get them through the GES book store.
alvin

July 30, 2008 2:05 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you Alvin and Matthew,

God's doing it to me again.... sharpening me by thinking on what both of you are saying. This is good stuff!!! I'm going to get both of Zane's books out again and study them AGAIN. But it does take much thinking to "get it." The pieces all come together beautifully when one digs deep enough.

BTW... It's true you can get Zane's book... "Power To Make War" at the GES store, but "JESUS God's Prophet" is out of print. I know because I tried to get more copies from Kerugma.
PLEASE PRAY WITH ME THAT GOD WILL MAKE IT POSSIBLE TO REPRINT AND PUBLISH THIS WONDERFUL LITTLE BOOK!
It is full of gems and a MUST READ for those who desire to see new biblical evidence for the pre-trib rapture. The truth is not new. It's been recorded in the scriptures all along. But God has used this author to point it out. It was very exciting for me when I first saw it!!! God truly does reward diligent study.

Also, Alvin.... I thought your illustration of the "fishies" was GREAT. Had to read it to my husband who loves to fish.
:-)

I know that I'm saying too much lately on this blog. I need to be quiet and just sit back and enjoy what others are saying. Thanks to all of you for making me think.

Looking up,
Diane
:-)

July 30, 2008 9:39 AM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

Alvn

"It will be like birth pangs which will become worse and worse like a child being born."

You got to admit it happens a lot slower than Noah's flood did!

I think the Pre-wrath model makes more sense of the comparison. On that view, the rapture is immediately followed by the devastation of the trumpets and vials.

God Bless

Matthew

July 30, 2008 12:46 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

I'm glad your husband enjoyed the illustration. I'm just like you Diane I don't just swallow everything hook line and sinker but search the scriptures to see if these things are true. And like you I feel I'm around 5% knowledge of the Scriptures. I have such high regard for a man like Zane Hodges who has given himself to the study of the Word. And his life exemplifies it in his desire to reach the common man. He has such a deep pool to draw from with all the years of study. But I still check everything he says to Scripture and I dig out my Greek books to confirm what he reveals about the Greek.
I believe you can see Zanes heart in the true story of Luis. And in his willingness to leave the prestigious position of a Greek Professor and go where he believed God was leading him, to teach the common man such as myself.
I've probably said way too much, so will listen for awhile!

alvin

July 30, 2008 12:47 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin, I always enjoy everything you write. Keep it up. I keep learning. Thanks so much.

Diane
:-)

July 30, 2008 2:13 PM  
Blogger JoW said...

WJC
I appreciated your original article on this page very much. It really struck home. I have struggled with this controversy in the last few months and you really got down to the basics in a clear way. Thank you.

I live in British Columbia and free grace people are pretty hard to find here too.

Maybe everyone else knows, but I am concerned about Antonio. Is he really very ill, or is he recovering? Or maybe he is on another trip. Because you posted after such a long break, I assume it was because he was unable to.

Jo Ann

July 30, 2008 2:16 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Matthew, here is some information for you from Zanes book. I don't feel qualified to really debate on this subject. This will be my last post, hope this helps your understanding.

Rev 11:10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make marry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

Thus, as soon as the 70th week of Daniel begins, God’s wrath begins to fall on all of mankind. The mediators of this wrath are two great prophets clearly shaped in the Old Testament mold. The miracles these men perform are not miracles of mercy such as the Lord Jesus performed on earth. Instead, they are miracles of judgment.
With the appearance of the two witnesses, an entirely new period of human history has been reached. No longer is God graciously delaying the advent of His wrath while He patiently waits for men to repent (2 Peter 3:8,9 and 14,15; Romans 2:4,5). The day of His judgment has arrived, both for Israel and for the Gentile world.
In this remarkable setting God’s wrath against Israel will be signaled especially by the miracle that shuts up heaven for three and a half years. That is precisely the period of time during which Elijah of old did exactly the same thing as a judgment upon his nation (1 King 17 and 18; James 5:17).
And God’s wrath against the Gentile world will be signaled particularly by the remainder of the miracles. For when these prophets turn bodies of water to blood and “strike the earth with all plagues,” they will awaken the memory of God’s wrath on Egypt and on Pharaoh in the time of Moses (Exodus 5-12).
John writes: “And if anyone wants to harm them , fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner’ (Rev 11:5).
We do not know how many enemies these prophets have cut down by the time their testimony is ending. The number could be quite sizable.
After all, a three and a half year drought is likely to wreak havoc on the world’s already strained agricultural resources. Added to this, the pollution of rivers and other bodies of water when they are turned to blood will gravely intensify the consequences of the drought. If the calamities of ancient Egypt are a precedent, the other “plagues” with which these prophets will “strike the earth” are likely to be momentous disasters indeed. (Power to Make War pages 47-49 Zane Hodges.)

This will be my last post, off to work I go!

alvin

July 30, 2008 2:54 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

wjc,

"Ron, - You seem to be making the common mistake of mixing the clear concept of salvation by grace - which involves a free gift without any cost - and discipleship."

The same grace that saves is the grace that compels me to be a disciple. My concern for your comment is that you even try to differentiate the two. That is what Bonhoeffer referred to as "cheap grace." We live in a society where we want it all. We want the grace, and then we want to live our life the way we desire. Exchanging my life for His? That is too much. Give me the grace, then let me do with it as I please.

wjc, I do not at all disagree with the concept that grace is free; my concern is not telling the whole story of what that grace means. "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?"

July 31, 2008 4:54 AM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

Ron, if grace is free, then surely it has no cost?

So if I receive it, there is nothing I have to do for it.

July 31, 2008 6:01 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Celestial fundie,

Receiving grace costs nothing; it iw what you do with it after you receive it that is important. I would suggest you do a word study on the word grace to see what it truly means. The definition that we have given for our English word does the original Greek word an injustice.

July 31, 2008 6:48 AM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

Grace is a broad concept.

Let's talk about eternal life.

What must a person do to receive eternal life?

July 31, 2008 9:55 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

celestial fundie,

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the moment you believe, you become accountable.

I appreciate the fact that you distinguished between grace and eternal life.

Now let me ask you a question: when does eternal life begin?

July 31, 2008 10:57 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Looker,

I have observed your comments on some of the blogs. I must say that I appreciate them. Your balance and wisdom is most noteworthy. I believe your questions lie within the heart of this debate.

Briefly, it would bend all credulity to assert that the gospel of John, written years after the Pauline Epistles with a deliberatly stated purpose of evangelism, would give such elaborate narration and testimony of and to Jesus of Nazareth's evangelism if it were not applicable to the time in which he wrote it.

Why go into such great detail Jesus Christ's evangelical practices in an evangelism treatise if those practices were now insufficient?

If Jesus' illustration of Moses' serpent to Nicodemus is left in want, there can be no reasonable justification for its inclusion! Yes, furthermore, there would be no teneble rational to incorporate the many invitations to simply believe in Him and have everlasting life for the discussion of Moses is compared to simply believing in Jesus.

Why risk the confusion? The evangelical narratives given by John, written after Paul's writings, in a book identified by its author to be evangelical, are there precisely because they illustrate the core soteriological truth:

Eternal life comes to those who simply look to Jesus for it.

It is a pleasure to finally interact with you, Looker. I hope to do so more in the future.

with warm regards,

Antonio da Rosa

July 31, 2008 7:04 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

He's ALIVE!!!

July 31, 2008 8:01 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

...and well - as usual!

July 31, 2008 8:02 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

WELCOME BACK ANTONIO!!!
HOW WE'VE MISSED YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

July 31, 2008 8:39 PM  
Blogger Looker4522 said...

Antonio,

I thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I feel very "outclassed" in some of the discussions as many folks posting have done far greater study than I have in regards to the Bible and especially the original languages.

I certainly agree that it bends credulity to think of John's Gospel as preaching a message of salvation for another time, but I am totally convinced that many wonderul people, honest, sincere and concerned with the Bible's message fervently believe it to be so.

I put forth a few ideas in regards to this, and they weren't accepted with open arms here. I didn't expect that they would be. Still, I think the avenues I suggested have some validity.

I am thinking of work of Habermas and Licona in The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. They posit the idea of a minimal facts approach - working from points of agreement rather than focusing on points of contention. Mr. Licona really fleshes out this concept in his book Paul Meets Muhammad - A Christian-Muslim Debate on the Resurrection.

I don't want to get into any debates over technique though. I realize its tough to garner quick acceptance for my concepts versus someone who can reply that you ought to use the whole Bible rather than restrict yourself to certain parts.

I am so glad you are OK Antonio. I was a little worried there for awhile.

May God continue to bless you sir.

July 31, 2008 9:13 PM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

Ron, when you receive it.

The New Testament identifies eternal life as a present posession. Though we may increase in our enjoyment of that life and will experience is fulness in eternity future.

I agree with you that the moment a person believes and receives eternal life she becomes accountable. There are consequences for failing to be a faithful disciple.

However, eternal life is freely given and by its nature entails living forever.

July 31, 2008 11:37 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Antonio, glad to see your back in circulation!

General observation

Many years ago when I went to a Evangelical Free Church I remember attending a bible study on Revelation. There were two men that were conducting it, the one had his doctorate and the other was a President of a Missions. I remember the later making the statement that unless you were obedient you would not be able to understand God’s word. The man saying this had not believed the child like verse John 3:16 but believed that you could perish. I have learnt from this you don’t waste your time listening to and reading those ones who are trying to explain the meat of the word when they haven’t even believed the milk. I have found that this narrows the field down considerably. I don’t have a problem with books like “Jesus God’s Prophet” the coming surprise! Because I know that Zane Hodges believes and understands the milk of the word, so I am very open to his teaching on the meat of the word. But I still check him out against Scripture to see if what he is saying is true. So far I have not been disappointed but have been very blessed by his teaching. I have noticed that God has shown him simple truths that are very obvious once you see them, but most overlook.

I wonder why . . . . not really!



Par-oo-see-ah . . . maybe soon

Al . . . vin

August 01, 2008 7:16 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin...
AMEN! You always say it so well.

August 01, 2008 8:11 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Dear Friends,

Today was another glorious day as God did it again for me. I was alone doing my Bible Study, preparing for my discipleship class tomorrow in the book of John. Where do I start to share this excitement with you? I don't know if I can, but I'll try.

I thank God for this debate (dispute) over the specific truth that must be believed to be eternally saved. Sometimes it got ugly which none of us feel good about. I know I don't. YET God has orchestrated things in my life to sharpen my understanding of the book of John. It's not that I saw any of this on my own. I probably never would have even thought about it apart from the debate. But like God always does for me, He takes what happens and turns it into blessing. He opens my eyes over and over again. Here's what I'm seeing in the book of John that keeps opening up to me. I see a truth and praise Him. Then He shows me another truth and I praise Him. On and on and on like that.

This is the short version! The full version is 54 pages.
:-)
I'm not going to prove it here. No space nor time. It's a full book study. But I'm going to just try to lay out the concept. I promise you, the evidence is there if you want to see it!!!

Purpose of the book of John...
"...these **SIGNS** 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" (John 20:31)
To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that He is the giver of eternal life.
(John 11:25-27)

EIGHT SIGNS recorded under inspiration of the Holy Spirit to prove that Jesus is the Christ (the giver of eternal life).

ALL the discourses and narratives are built around these signs and serves the purpose (as described by Zane Hodges) of either preparing for OR illuminating the meaning of the 8 signs around which the book is structured. I checked this out. That's exactly what God is opening my eyes to see so clearly. Even the reactions by the believing and unbelieving Jews show this to be true. Exciting!

1st sign........Water to wine
2nd sign......The royal officer's son healed
3rd sign.......The man at the pool of Bethesda healed
4th sign....... Feeding the multitude
5th sign....... Walking on water through the storm
6th sign....... Healing the man born blind
7th sign....... The raising of Lazarus from the dead
8th sign....... Jesus death and resurrection

Each one of the discourses or narratives that follow or precede the signs explain the signs. Sometimes there is an overlap in the discussion illuminating the meaning of more than one sign.

Tomorrow's class... we're in the middle of the 6th and 7th signs. Both of these signs emphasize the blindness of unbelief. We see the reaction of those who refuse to believe and those who do believe.

The book of John was given to show us how to have eternal life. And once we believe, there is great material in John to grow by... (the abundance of eternal life for the disciple). But FIRST we must receive the gift freely by grace through faith in Jesus, and THEN we can enjoy eternal life experientially as we grow in Christ. This book is telling us how to receive it. Once we have LIFE we're told how we can enjoy it . All the other books in the Bible are primarily discipleship books. They do contain the saving message, but the purpose of those books are not evangelistic. Paul and John are in total agreement. All the authors of the Bible are in total agreement. It's just that their purpose is different.

That's the SHORT VERSION!
:-)

Thank you Heavenly Father for filling my plate with a wonderful meal that satisfies my soul, which YOU promised to all who want to be filled. You are not the concealer. YOU are the REVEALER!!! I love you for that. I love you because you first loved me.

All because of HIS wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)
P.S. This is not about me. I see me fail God every day. I sin in my attitudes and my behavior. But this is about God's mercy and grace. He promised that His Word would not return void, and it doesn't. It is filling me up. I'm not taking man's word for it. I'm trusting Him as I read His Word, and He is faithful. So it is HIM alone who deserves all my praise. HE alone is worthy!

August 04, 2008 1:21 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Praise the wonderful Lord Jesus Christ, Diane! Thank you for sharing this with us. He is, as Thomas proclaomed, my Lord, & my GOD! How wonderful when we see Him face to glorious Face! May the Lord bless you all as you serve Him today.

August 04, 2008 6:21 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Great stuff Diane! I need to go through the book of John all over again and again and your posts just wet my appetite. I was thinking after reading what you wrote that I so often tend to zip past certain truths that are extremely significant and so unfathomably deep... One that came to my mind - John gives us at the very beginning where he tells us that the WORD which was in the beginning and through whom everything on earth and in heaven was created was with God, was God and now has become flesh... What a staggering concept that the one who was the very WORD of God that went forth and created everything out of nothing - the WORD which when spoken the worlds and the universe came into existence - this was Jesus the Christ! "In Him was life..." Jesus is the Word become flesh - all of that power, wisdom, life and truth resides in this promised one who humbled himself, came, and lived amongst us. He said "whoever believes in me, has everlasting life." The immeasurable power, love and grace of God flows freely from His Word in the flesh - Jesus - to any who simply look to Him and take Him at His WORD! Believe in Him for eternal life, only believe. And when His Word is believed, The Word that was there in the beginning and brought everything into existence gives life never ending to the one who has received it. In that instant, His promise, his word, cannot fail to create unending life - on that we can (and must) rely!

Thanks for your posts Diane - they are so instructive and encouraging to me. I love the book of John!!!

August 05, 2008 6:07 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi WJC,

Always great to hear what you have to say!!!
Yes, the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us and died for us so that He could freely give us the gift of eternal life. And He Himself is eternal life. Those who have LIFE have HIM!!!! It IS staggering!!! AWESOME!
:-)

As I've been studying through the book of John, God just keeps giving me nuggets of gold. One of the issues in the debate about the minimum content to be believed is.... "You must believe that Jesus is God or you can't be saved." Well, HE IS GOD!!! Chapter one tells us that. Yet I find that understanding that truth is not a requirement that must be believed to have eternal life according to the book of John. But why then does the book of John start out with that truth? Zane Hodges had some helpful information on that subject in his message at the GES conference this year (2008). In answer to a question at the end of his message he said... (taken from my notes that I wrote down)...

LOGOS - John 1:1-14...
"John is making a point of contact with the people he wants to evangelize. John is talking to a literate audience in Ephesus. This word (Logos) is used nowhere else in the New Testament. Logos was a key word in philosophy of their day. John would be saying... 'The Logos you have heard about in these philosophical discussions is the person I'm talking to you about.'"
In that message Zane builds the case for the type of people John was talking to. This was his 2nd message (continued from his first) at the conference. The name of that CD is...
"Miraculous Signs and Literary Structure in the 4th Gospel"

Another question that was asked of Zane.... "How does the last discourse fit with John 20:30-31 since there doesn't appear to be any signs?"
His answer... "John 13-17... To show that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the giver of eternal life. This is more than a man who is preparing for death. This is somebody with supernatural knowledge... knowing what is beyond death and where He is going, what the future of His disciples will be... showing that Jesus is indeed the Christ."

Q for Zane.... "Why absent any evangelistic verse in John 13-17?"
Ans.... "John 3:24... Jesus said this to unbelieving Jews--- 'If you do not believe that I am HE, you will die in your sins.'"
He also said... "Read John 14:6, 10, 11, 12 and 17:2. The discourse is a wonderful expression to show that Jesus is the Christ to the unbelieving readership."

Understanding the purpose of John is the key to this whole debate in my estimation. Isn't God incredibly wonderful to orchestrate these circumstances to give us a better understanding of His saving message and purpose for the book of John!
HE ALONE IS TO BE PRAISED!!!

Rejoicing in the only One who is worthy,
Diane
:-)

August 05, 2008 7:49 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

P.S. Sorry to be saying so much, but I just wanted to add this thought...

The FGA Affirmation #3 says...
"Faith is a personal response, apart from our works, whereby we are persuaded that the FINISHED WORK of Jesus Christ has delivered us from condemnation and guaranteed our eternal life."
The FGA Executive Council affirm the necessity of believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ FOR salvation.

I believe that the FINISHED WORK of Jesus Christ has delivered ME from condemnation and guaranteed MY eternal life. Praise God!!!
But it's not a little disagreement to make His finished work on the cross and resurrection a REQUIREMENT to be saved when the gospel of John doesn't make it a requirement. If you hold the position that the FGA holds, then what is to become of the book of John? It becomes nothing more than a history book... something written that doesn't apply today. We're not giving it its rightful place as God intended. We ignore the purpose for which it was written. Also, John 3:16 (a most beloved verse on assurance) is not sufficient to use for assurance any longer because it's not complete for today.

So in my estimation this is a BIG MAJOR issue that can not be compromised. ***WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE BOOK OF JOHN?***
I hope more discussion (in love) can be done and that eyes will be open to see what the book John is saying regarding receiving the free gift of eternal life found only in Jesus the Christ.

My disagreement is not personal against any of my friends in FGA. Many of them have taught me much, and I thank God for them. But they need to answer the question...
WHAT IS JOHN GOOD FOR? IS IT SUFFICIENT ALL BY ITSELF? IS JOHN 3:16 USABLE ANYMORE... WITHOUT ANY OTHER PASSAGES TO CLARIFY IT?

Sorry..... my P.S. is longer than I meant it to be. I don't mean to monopolize the conversation!!! Forgive me!

In Jesus' love,
Diane

August 05, 2008 8:20 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you David for your encouraging words.
:-)

August 05, 2008 8:35 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

CORRECTION...

I meant to say under my P.S. post....

"But it's not a little disagreement to make His finished work on the cross and resurrection a requirement to be ***BELIEVED*** to be saved when the gospel of John doesn't make it a requirement.

I left out the word "believed."
That was a HUGE mistake I made.
SORRY!

August 05, 2008 8:50 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

The Word of God is not a unit that is made with individual components; rather, it is a single piece of cloth intricately woven together. Man creates his own problem when he tries to justify his position based upon a single word, passage, or even book with looking at it within the greater context.

Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Of course God loved us that He sent is Son Jesus so that whoever believed in Him will have everlasting life. But if the only goal is everlasting life, then I may as well die the moment I believe. God forbid! The purpose of my believing is not for me, it is for those who may not believe. Yes, you can establish long coversations and arguments around everlasing life, salvation, and grace, but the truth is that none of them is to be looked at separately. Our mission as believers is to establish His Kingdom here in the earth. "Upon this rock, I will build my church." I pray that you look at the greater purpose, and not focus on individual expediency.

August 06, 2008 3:22 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Ron I don't think you get it.

If you got the Rock wrong, what are you building on?

The churches out there are filled with people who have confessed Jesus with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and have believed in their hearts that God rose Him from the dead but are still not built on the Rock.

When Jesus said upon this Rock I will build my Church, that Rock being the testimony that Jesus is the Christ.
What does it mean to believe in Jesus as the Christ?

You might think that it's really not that important. But that truth that was once delivered to the Saints was the promise of eternal life (1 John 5:10-13). And if you don't got that right then you can't even have fellowship in the truth (1 John 1-3).
Ron it all starts at the foundation, if your not on the Rock you can't even start.

Diane clearly showed above what it means to believe in Jesus as the Christ.
Do you believe this!
John 11:25-27
That's where you start Ron!

Martha was already upon the Rock but Jesus felt that it was still important to confirm those truths.



alvin

August 06, 2008 7:53 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Alvin,

You may find this unusual, but I absolutely agree with you. There are fellowships that are not based upon that foundation, but built on some other foundation. However, I am not talking about churches. I am simply saying that all of the Bible is inextricably connected, and as believers, we don't have the luxury of trying to take it apart and build some type of argument, movement, denomination, etc. on one of those components. We are accountable for ministering the entire Gospel. I don't want you to think that I am naive; I understand that these types of issues have been debated for centuries, and they will continue to be debated long after we are gone. We can only do our part to present the whole Gospel of the Kingdom to this present world.

August 06, 2008 8:44 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Diane, wrote:
"The FGA Executive Council affirm the necessity of believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ FOR salvation... But it's not a little disagreement to make His finished work on the cross and resurrection a requirement to be ***BELIEVED*** to be saved when the gospel of John doesn't make it a requirement."

I agree that this is not a little disagreement. I also agree that the FGA has made it clear that the meaning of "believing in Christ" doesn't separate the work of Christ, from His offer to believe in Him for eternal life. Does anyone know (the date and lecture/article) of when Prof. Hodges and Dr. Wilkin changed their view on what it means to believe in Christ for eternal life, - "To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that He is the giver of eternal life?"

Thanks.

Mike

August 06, 2008 11:07 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Mike,

I appreciate your post. I think you are in agreement with the FGA statement? Right?

To some it "sounds like" we're downplaying the cross work of Christ and His resurrection. We're not. Apart from His cross work and resurrection nobody could be saved. Apart from His virgin birth nobody could be saved. Apart from the shedding of blood nobody could be saved. Apart from His deity nobody could be saved, etc., etc.!
But *some* (not all) are missing the point. Here's the point.... A person is saved when he simply believes in Jesus for everlasting life (his eternal well-being). Believing all those other truths can GET YOU TO THE PLACE where you believe in Him for everlasting life. As Alvin calls it..... "the bulls eye!" Thomas was saved believing the same truth as you and me. His faith was in Jesus for eternal life. Later he learned that Jesus rose from the grave. Today (after the cross) we ALWAYS present that truth. But a person is still saved by believing exactly what Thomas did. That's what John is saying. The book of John is sufficient today to tell us what we must do to be eternally saved. In fact, that's the purpose for which it was written.

I THINK Zane and Bob have always believed that you're saved by simply believing in Jesus for eternal life. But as they study they are being refined (sharpened in their understanding). That's what happened to me. I simply believed Jesus' promise to give me eternal life when I believed in Him. My joy came from that promise. John 3:16 has always kept me from doubting my salvation. Jesus promised to save me when I simply believed in Him. Yes, I believed in His death and resurrection, but my confidence came from His promise to give me everlasting life just by believing in Him for it. Later my understanding has been sharpened through Bible Study. It's been brought into clearer focus.... but not changed (in this area).
I may be wrong about Zane and Bob not changing their minds, but I don't think so. Hope someone weighs in on this.

Mike, I would love for you or anyone else to please answer these specific questions. If I'm missing something in the scriptures, I will check it out.

***What is the purpose of John?
***What did Thomas believe when he was eternally saved for the first time?
***How can you ever use John 3:16 alone as the way to be saved if it lacks requirements to be believed?
***How can you use John 3:16 as an assurance verse when it's not complete with all the requirements to be believed to be saved?
***What do you do with the purpose statement of John 20:30,31
***Do you really think Paul is adding requirements to what John wrote in the Gospel of John? If so, what good is John today?

Thank you for your post. It keeps me thinking. Looking forward to your answers if you choose to do that.

A friend in Christ,
Diane
:-)

August 06, 2008 2:15 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane, keep up the Great work!!!


Ron,

Ron, your reply gives evidence to the importance of discerning the audience in which the writers are speaking too.
The Gospel of John is the only Book in the Bible that says it is written for the purpose that you (the unbeliever) might have life (John 20:30,31). The only condition that being “believe in Jesus for eternal life.”(John 3:16; 4:10; 5:24; 6:47; 11:25-27)

You gave Romans 10:9,10 in your earlier post insinuating that is the way an unbeliever is saved, when in fact Romans is written to one’s that already have eternal life. (Romans 1:7) This gives a confusing message and adds works (confessing, something you do with your mouth) to the condition of simply believing in Jesus for eternal life.
Also in your last reply your confusing the Gospel of the Kingdom which was offered only to the Jews “repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matt 3:2;10:5-7; Mark 1:4,14,15) That message had two conditions (repent and be baptized) and which the whole Nation of Israel had to do in order for Christ to set up His Kingdom.
That message will be given again when God starts dealing with the Nation Israel again,(Matt 24:14) but this time the whole Nation will repent and receive their King (Romans 11:26). The Gospel of the Kingdom will once again be offered during the Tribulation period. We can’t give that message now because we know the Kingdom will not be set up until after the tribulation.

I hope you can see by this how important it is to have the right message for the right audience.

If the question is what must I do to be saved, the only answer is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

If the question is what does the believer do to be saved (delivered) the answer is “call on the name of the Lord and you’ll be saved.” (Acts 7:59; 9:14,21) And he does this by confessing that Jesus is Lord and belieivng in his heart that God has rasied Him from the dead. (notice two conditions confess, and believe in the resurrection)

If the question is what is the Gospel? The answer is it’s the “good news” about Jesus Christ which takes in justification truth and sanctification truth (Gal 2:14-21).
Ron, you agreed with what I said about the churches being filled with ones who have confessed Jesus as Lord and have believed He rose from the dead, but yet are not on the Rock.
I believe the reason is because the message has been confused, giving the wrong message to the wrong audience.

Upon this Rock I will build my Church. That Rock being a testimony that Jesus is the Christ the One who gives eternal life.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
1 John 5:11

alvin

August 07, 2008 2:06 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin, EXCELLENT POST! I've already been finding my "closet" and looking up all those verses you gave. I've studied this before, but need refreshing. This is good stuff.

THANK YOU ANTONIO for your blog. This is where blogging can be very beneficial. I love to learn. And I'm learning from your blog. God is using it for His glory.

Thank you Antonio for giving us this place to learn!!!

Diane
:-)
P.S. Alvin and WJC.... I hope you are both teachers in your churches in some capacity! Are you?

August 07, 2008 10:16 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Alvin,

Thank you for your post. Again, let me state that you cannot separate the Bible into components, which seems to be the emphasis of your position. Certainly, if belief had been the only thing, Jesus could have merely turned to the thief and told him that he would be with Jesus without the thief saying a word. Yet, Jesus's response came after the thief asked Jesus to remember him. Your belief will immediately result in a corresponding action. And again, while salvation, eternal life and grace are separate, they are all one, just as Jesus was one with the Father. You cannot separate them.

Works cannot save, but faith without works is dead. Your premise would imply that I need only believe and then not do anything with that belief, which could not be further from the truth. Again, even the thief on the cross came to Jesus' defense as a result of his belief.

Regarding who the book is addressed to, who is the "you" that John refers to in his gospel? Would it be an unbeliever? If that be the case, do unbelievers only look at one book of the Bible? If that be the case, then who was the book of Isaiah written to? If we are discussing for study purposes, then I would agree with your premise of looking at who the letters were written to. However, you begin down a slippery slope when you single out words, Scriptures or books for evangelism or discipleship purposes.

I agreed with your premise about the churches, because people are trying to build their own churches. It wasn't the message, it was the intent. We can lay no other foundation that that which Jesus has already laid. If we try, it is no longer His work, but our own. That was why I said I agreed with your statement.

Again, let me say that I agree that eternal life begins the moment a person believes; it is also at that point that corresponding action will occur, which is why they cannot be separated.

August 07, 2008 10:48 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Diane, thanks for your kind response to my post. The questions you asked me (and others), are some of the same questions, I have had, since the beginning of the "crossless gospel" debates. I will try make time to respond to your questions.

You asked if I was in agreement with the FGA statement. I am not a member of GES or FGA. I do consider myself as free grace. I started out in agreement with GES. Come to find out, after listening to some of the objections and re-reading every article from the GES website - I was amazed at all the doctrinal changes that has taken place. I think many in the free grace community were like me (and some still are), in that our understanding of GES was from the older articles. Everyone in the free grace community ought to read every article on the GES website, starting from day one to the present. It would also be helpful for Dr. Wilkin to put some type of disclaimer after each article to clarify if GES still agrees with it, or not. Otherwise, the confusion by so many will continue in this debate.

Diane, you wrote: "I THINK Zane and Bob have always believed that you're saved by simply believing in Jesus for eternal life. But as they study they are being refined (sharpened in their understanding)..."

I think it is safe to say that all in GES and the FGA are still growing in their understanding of Scripture. Free grace believers on both sides of the current debate agree with the statement, "you're saved by simply believing in Jesus for eternal life." It's the new meaning to what it means to believe in Jesus for eternal life that is troublesome. Most in free grace (because of our repect for Prof. Hodges and Dr. Wilkin), did study their refinements to free grace theology, but when it was all said and done, still came away beliving that the Word of God was clear that you can't teach the Biblical meaning of "believing in Christ" if you separate the work of Christ, from His offer to believe in Him for eternal life. Many of us still agree with Dr. Wilkin's newsletter article (March-April 1998), “Easter Myth or Gospel Truth?" Notice the section: "Don't Uncouple the Resurrection from the Gospel"

“The death and resurrection of Christ are like the engines of a train. The promise of eternal life and of the forgiveness of sins to all who believe in Christ are two of the cars behind the engines. Over the course of Church history the death and resurrection of Christ have been uncoupled from His guarantee of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins.”   There are many people who believe Jesus died on the cross for them, that He rose bodily from the dead, that He's coming again, and yet they are not sure they have eternal life. They've uncoupled the cars from the engines. The bottom line is this: they don't believe His promise of everlasting life to whoever believes in Him. They feel there is more to it than that. They see the death and resurrection of Christ as necessary, but not as enough. They believe that something must be added to faith (or that faith must be defined in such a way as to include commitment, obedience, confession, etc.) in order for a person to have eternal life.
If someone believes that he must do more than believe in Christ for eternal life, then he doesn't believe Jesus' promise that "he who believes in Me has everlasting life."
     The death and the resurrection of Christ show why He can give us eternal life. He can give it to us because He is God in the flesh, He paid the penalty for our sins, and He rose from the dead triumphant over death. We cannot uncouple eternal life from the death and resurrection of Christ without destroying the good news in the gospel. The death and resurrection of Christ were not only necessary, they were enough. All we do is believe in Him for eternal life and we have it. The Lord Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He's coming to set up His kingdom and He's going to reign forever."

The reason the new "saving message" is downplaying the cross and resurrection is because Dr. Wilkin has "uncouple" the work of Christ from the offer to believe in Him for eternal life.

Mike

August 07, 2008 11:26 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

It's absolutely clear in John that faith in Jesus for His gift of ETERNAL LIFE is the ONLY condition to have it. It's offered to ALL who are willing to take it by faith. Ron, works play NO PART in it.

John 5:39-40...
Jesus says...
"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are NOT WILLING to come to Me that you may have LIFE.

August 07, 2008 11:35 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you Mike for your post. Good questions that I'm sure can and will be answered by GES. Not sure when, but I suspect somewhere along the line we'll see those questions answered.

Why is it so hard to understand that only believing in Jesus brings eternal life even for those who may not understand how He made it possible. That's what the book of John teaches. His death and resurrection is the greatest SIGN to believe in Him. Today (after the cross) we ALL preach His death and resurrection. Perhaps everyone comes to faith in Him today because of that truth. That is not the issue. But how can we teach that it's a REQUIREMENT to be believed when it's not. Don't we have to be true to the Bible's teaching?
Is it POSSIBLE that somebody in this age will be saved without realizing how Jesus provided for their salvation? Probably... just like in ages past. Under what conditions could that happen??? I don't know!!! That's God's work. I do believe though that children can get saved by simply believing that Jesus alone takes them to heaven forever to live with Him someday. How much they understand about their sin, the cross, His resurrection, etc. is probably different for different children. Only God knows.

I have not found any evangelistic material anywhere that is better than what GES publishes. It is the very best in my opinion. I give out their tracks and booklets to people all the time because of their wonderful biblical explanation of the free gift of eternal life. And the material ALWAYS gives the REASON He can be trusted to save. It is His death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection to Life. That's what they preach. That's what I preach. They are NOT downsizing the cross or the resurrection. If they were, I would not support them in any way. But I'm for what the Bible clearly teaches, and it's made clear in John. How can they teach what the Bible does not teach?

I like the way Bob Wilkin tells of how he likes to witness to people while flying on airplanes or in other places. He says something like this...
"Did you know that Jesus gives eternal life as a free gift to anyone who believes in Him?"
He starts out where Jesus started out in John. That catches people's attention. Then comes the questions. "Really? How can that be?" That's when Bob explains about sin and the cross and the resurrection. It's the greatest reason to believe in Him. Bob says that he's found that people will respond to that statement. But if you start out with sin, the cross, etc., *sometimes* people have a knee jerk reaction against you because they THINK they know what you're going to say.

So the accusations against Bob Wilkin and Zane Hodges are actually against what the Bible teaches and particularly against the book of John. Again... those questions I asked regarding the book of John need to be answered by everyone who is accusing GES. If John is teaching something different than what Bob and Zane are teaching, then you are right in your accusations against them.

Again Mike, thank you for your post. These questions need answers, and I suspect that GES will answer them.

To Jesus Christ alone be all the glory and honor and praise because of what He did for me on the cross of Calvary!!!

Always a learner,
Diane

August 07, 2008 12:41 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi Diane,

I saw the questions you asked in your earlier comment to Mike, and thought I'd give you some answers from my perspective that might help.

You asked,

What is the purpose of John?

I believe that John's primary purpose was to present Jesus to second-generation, non-eye-witness believers, in order to encourage them in their faith. Naturally such a presentation would also be useful for evangelizing the lost, so that is a secondary purpose.

One way we can see this primary purpose is from the fact that John's gospel is so different from the synoptics. This article states, "The Gospel of John differs significantly from the synoptics in content. It is so different that one may justifiably suspect that John wrote to supplement the synoptic portrayal of Jesus, including material omitted by them, in order to round out the picture of Jesus presented." The point is that John is writing to readers who are already familiar with the story of Jesus from the synoptic Gospels. Thus we cannot make any kind of "argument from silence" from John's gospel because he would have been assuming his readers to know certain main points very well.

We can see this from other aspects as well, such as in John 11 when John relates the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. John tells us that Lazarus was the brother of Mary, and in 11:2 John identifies which Mary by saying, "It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick." However, John does not tell us the story of Mary wiping Jesus' feet with her hair until AFTER this comment, in John 12. Thus it is clear that John assumed his readers to be familiar with at least this story, most likely from the synoptics, and thus very likely they would have been familiar with other main aspects of the life and story of Jesus.

W. Hall Harris said, "It is a bit surprising that John here identifies Mary as 'the one who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair,' since this event is not mentioned until later in 12:3. Many see this 'proleptic' reference as indication that John expected his readers to be familiar with the story already, and go on to assume that in general the Evangelist in writing the Fourth Gospel assumed his readers were familiar with the other three. Whether the Evangelist assumed actual familiarity with the synoptic gospels or not, it is probable that he did assume some familiarity with Mary’s anointing activity."

There are other reasons to think that John assumed that his readers were familiar with the general story of Jesus in the synoptics - the later date of John compared to the synoptics, as well as the view (held by many early church fathers as well as modern scholars) that John wrote his gospel to supplement the synoptics, possibly even at the urging of his own followers.

Additionally, the word translated "believe" in John's purpose statement in John 20 can either mean to come to believe OR to continue believing. Daniel B. Wallace says, "The twofold i{na-clause neatly delineates the purpose: that the audience embrace Christ and that they receive life because of this. One question remains, however: the main verb, “believe” has a textual glitch. It is either pisteuvshte (aorist) or pisteuvhte (present). If the former, it might be construed (though by no means necessarily) to mean “come to saving faith.” If present, the idea probably would be “continue to believe.” At issue is whether the audience is principally believers or non-believers, whether this gospel is principally evangelistic or confirmatory. ... [My own view is that] the purpose of the book is to confirm or strengthen Gentile believers in their faith."

Next, you asked,

What did Thomas believe when he was eternally saved for the first time?

Who can know what all Thomas believed? Thomas didn't write anything that survived to today, so we have no list of all that he believed. Thomas was likely an OT saint, so he was already "saved" before he ever even met Jesus. OT believers clearly would have understood that they were sinners separated from a perfect God, and would remain that way until God provided the final solution (God having outlined the temporary solution in the OT Laws), which they would then naturally be expected to believe/accept. Thus we can deduce that Thomas believed he was a sinner separated from God, and that only God could bring them back together - Thomas couldn't do it of his own merit. Thomas was probably waiting on God to send his Messiah, and when Jesus came Thomas identified Jesus as the divine Messiah. But again, as an OT saint, Thomas was already "born again" before identifying Jesus as the one sent from God. OT saints were not required to believe in the actual events of the death and resurrection because they were not yet actual events. Once those events were actualized, they naturally became part of the gospel, just as Jesus being the one sent from God naturally became part of the gospel once he was actually sent.

Then you asked,

How can you ever use John 3:16 alone as the way to be saved if it lacks requirements to be believed?

As I've argued on my blog and elsewhere, John 3:16 lacks ALL requirements to be believed. John 3:16 doesn't work for you either because it doesn't tell us anything at all that actually needs to be believed. All it says is that whoever believes "in Him" will have eternal life. Yet it does NOT define what it means to believe "in Him". We all agree that believing "in Him" requires some sort of content - it is not nebulous. But what exactly IS that content? John 3:16 does not tell us. The next step then would be to look at the context, which I have done at the article I linked to above on my blog.

Remember too that the culture John was writing in and to was a "group-oriented" culture. Our culture is the opposite, an "individual-oriented" culture. A group-oriented culture assumes much and explains little (or at least, "little" relative to an individual-oriented society). This is because a group-oriented culture experiences little change. It is a static group, with the same people having children who have children, and there are very few newcomers. So teachings, sayings, customs, etc. get passed down from generation to generation, and everyone just "knows" them w/o having to explain. We see some semblance of this in smaller groups in our culture, such as families with inside jokes or phrases which remind everyone of stories, or professional groups with a certain jargon, etc. For instance, if I came on this blog and said, "pass the corn", none of you would have a clue what I was talking about and I would need to explain the entire story. But with my family at (say) Thanksgiving, any of us can just say "pass the corn" and we'll all start laughing because we all know exactly what it means.

It is the same way with a group-oriented culture. It's sort of like one big family. So the expectation that John would provide a nice concise list of the exact requirements for saving faith is misplaced. When John says "believe in Him", he assumed that his readers knew what he meant - and they did. Unfortunately, we don't automatically understand as they did, so we have to dig deeper and look for clues, such as in the context, as I discussed earlier.

Similarly, you asked,

How can you use John 3:16 as an assurance verse when it's not complete with all the requirements to be believed to be saved?

Same as above. When we understand what it means to "believe in [Jesus]", then we can have assurance if we do in fact believe those things.

Your next question was,

What do you do with the purpose statement of John 20:30,31

See above in answer to your first question about the purpose of John.

Finally, you asked,

Do you really think Paul is adding requirements to what John wrote in the Gospel of John?

No. Paul actually wrote his letters before John wrote his gospel, which makes it even more likely that when John wrote "believe in Him" that his readers would have had at least some sort of familiarity with the specifics that Paul and others had fleshed out. In fact, Daniel Wallace holds the view that John was actually writing to Paul's churches in Asia Minor! In any event, Paul's letters predate John's gospel, so Paul couldn't have been intentionally adding anything to John's gospel.

August 07, 2008 1:40 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane,

Thank you for your response. You said "It's offered to ALL who are willing to take it by faith. Ron, works play NO PART in it."

The facts that they must be willing, and subsequently take it indicate the corresponding action. Your statement clearly explains why you cannot separate any part of the Gospel.

August 07, 2008 2:06 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Just wanted to add that in addition to being "group-oriented", ANE culture was also "high-context" vs. our "low-context" culture. I mixed-up the term "high-context" with "group-oriented" in my last comment, although there are many overlapping aspects of each. Hope that makes more sense.

August 07, 2008 3:03 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Rachel, and hi to your family also.

To my first Q... "What is the purpose of John?"

Your answer was that John was written to believers.
MY REPLY... Not according to the purpose statement found in John 20:30,31.

To my 2nd Q... "What did Thomas believe when he was eternally saved for the first time?"

Your answer was that he was born again before he knew of Jesus' death and resurrection. His faith was in Jesus, the Messiah for eternal life. You say that Old Testament saints were saved by believing something less than what we have to believe today.
MY REPLY... I agree with you that Thomas was born again without understanding about the death and resurrection of Christ. I disagree with you that the Bible has added requirements for people to be saved today.

To my 3rd Q... "How can you ever use John 3:16 alone as the way to be saved if it lacks requirements to be believed?"

Your answer... "John 3:16 lacks ALL requirements to be believed. John 3:16 doesn't work for you either because it doesn't tell us anything at all that actually needs to be believed. All it says is that whoever believes 'in Him' will have eternal life." Then you went on to explain that you needed more content.
MY REPLY... John 3:16 has everything a person needs to be born again. "...whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
That's the requirement to be born again..... the ONLY requirement.

To my 4th Q... "How can you use John 3:16 as an assurance verse when it's not complete with all the requirements to be believed to be saved?"

Your answer... "Same as above."
MY REPLY... Same as above.

To my 5th Q... "What do you do with the purpose statement of John 20:30,31?"

Your answer... "See above in answer to your first question about the purpose of John." There you say that the book of John was written to believers.
MY REPLY... It definitely is written to unbelievers because it says... "...these (signs) are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ...."
A person can't have eternal life until they believe that. That's the purpose for the signs in John... to bring them to the place where they believe. The greatest of all signs is the death and resurrection of our Lord. PRAISE GOD!!! These eight signs were recorded under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that people would come to believe that Jesus was the Christ, and thus have LIFE in His name.

To my 6th Q... "Do you really think Paul is adding requirements to what John wrote in the Gospel of John? If so, what good is John today?"

Your answer... "No. Paul actually wrote his letters BEFORE John wrote his gospel..." You also say... "In any event, Paul's letters predate John's gospel, so Paul couldn't have been intentionally adding anything to John's gospel."
MY REPLY... AMEN to that part that you wrote. Paul was not adding anything to John's gospel. Paul and John are in complete agreement. That's the point. John was written way after the time of the cross. He was writing in the church age and telling us exactly what we must believe to have everlasting life. Yet the saving message being recorded was before the cross. Why wouldn't John make it clear that new requirements are needed for today. He changed nothing. AWESOME!!!l My question for you would be this.... What good is John to you (or anyone) today if the message of how to be saved is not complete for us?

The book of John clears up all this debate for me. If everyone will concentrate on John there would be no debate because it would be obvious. And it would fit perfectly with all the other books of the Bible. The pieces all fit together beautifully.

Thank you friend for your comments. My love goes to your entire family and especially my dearest friend in your family from back home.

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

August 07, 2008 9:22 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Please see http://www.faithalone.org/news/y2006/wilkin1.html for a brief but solid refutation of the flawed view of Dr. Daniel Wallace with regard to the present tense for "believe". It seems strange that anyone who understands God's free grace would appeal to Wallace who says: "The present was the tense of choice most likely because the NT writers by and large saw continual belief as a necessary condition of salvation." Such a view is a classic Lordship position. As Wilkin clearly demonstrates, this view results in a number of hopelessly self contradictory passages. It is obviously an incorrect meaning ascribed to the present tense and should be rejected...

August 07, 2008 10:10 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

"Holy Scripture does not consist of individual passages; it is a unit and is intended to be used as such." ("Life Together," Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1954)

While I have not had the privilege of meeting any of you in person, I hope to at some point. My deep concern at the moment, however, is this unhealthy focus on a portion of Scripture to try to prove your point. There is no question that works cannot save; however, once a person believes, the works become evidence of what they believe. Evangelism based on telling a person to simply believe Jesus and you will have everlasting life is incomplete and dangerous. "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2:19) This is exactly why evangelism and discipleship cannot be separated. The person laying on their death bed? Absolutely. They would be similar to the thief on the cross. But how many situations like that do we encounter? Most of our encounters will be with people who are living. If you are not properly discipling those who you are telling to believe in Jesus for eternal life, you are doing a serious disservice to those you are ministering to, as well as the body of Christ overall.

August 08, 2008 4:12 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane, Great response, very clear!
I haven't taught sunday school in years, but use to have a youth group and teach the high schoolers. Also did bible studies like you are doing. Now I mostley do evangelism discipleship. And the blogging keeps me in the word.


Hi Ron

Sorry for the slow reply but we had quite the lightening storm here last night so had very little time for blogging.

You said: Thank you for your post. Again, let me state that you cannot separate the Bible into components, which seems to be the emphasis of your position.

Ron what I’m trying to emphasis is that a person needs to be able to discern Scripture and that can only be done by taking it in it’s context. If one did not do that, they might think that they had to keep the law (Matt 5:18; 24:20). That is just to give one example, but we know that a believer is free from the law by the body of Christ (Romans 7:1-4).

You said: Certainly, if belief had been the only thing, Jesus could have merely turned to the thief and told him that he would be with Jesus without the thief saying a word. Yet, Jesus's response came after the thief asked Jesus to remember him. Your belief will immediately result in a corresponding action.

Ron the moment the thief believed that Jesus was the Christ he was born of God or 1 John 5:1 would be a lie. When the thief opened his mouth he was being justified by his works before men, but he was already justified by faith before God which is a gift.
Ron there were ones in Scripture who had believed but were silent disciples (John 12:42,43; 19:38).
I will have to answer the rest tomorrow, got to get to bed.

alvin

August 08, 2008 5:44 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Diane,
 
For clarification, what was John referring to when he wrote,  "these" in John 20:31? The whole book of John, and/or the resurrected Lord (v.25), and/or, the signs (signs v.30)?
 
Do you see any connection to the response that Thomas gives in (v.28), "My Lord and My God" to the Biblical understanding of what it means to believe that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God?"
 
Is the Apostle John implying that Jesus is God by what he says in John 20:30-31?

Also, please explain to me how John 20:30-31 is the purpose statement for the book of John, and yet (I am assuming...) I John 5:13 is not the purpose statement for the book of I John (same Author, same grammar, and location/placement of statements)?

Thanks,
Mike

August 08, 2008 6:32 AM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

Ron, you quote James chapter 2.

Surely that passage indicates that it is possible for one to have faith without works, otherwise it would be unnecessary.

Certainly a faith without works is a dead faith, but that seems quite a different thing from saying it is non-existent.

Can you support your contention that faith is evidenced by works?

August 08, 2008 7:20 AM  
Blogger Peggie said...

Hello to all,
Andy Stanley said in one of his sermons on James 2. "If you see a
dead dog in the road, you don't say that it isn't a dog or that it never has been a dog, but it is dead or in the case of faith, it is inactive."

...the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2:19)
Jesus didn't die for the devils, and I would tremble also, if he
had not died for me.

August 08, 2008 8:38 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Celestial Fundie,

James 2:14 "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?"

James 2:17 "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."

James 2:18 "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

John 15:5 "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

Celestial, a lot of this depends on what your objective is. If your objective is to be right, then you will always be able to select individual Scriptures that, taken out of context, will support your argument. If, however, your desire is to know the truth, then when the truth is revealed to you, you will conform to it. All of us have a choice when in comes to truth - we can either accept it or reject it. Again, I have found no one here so far that argues the truth that belief in Jesus is the foundation for everlasting life. The problem becomes that one point taken out of context with the rest of Scripture.

The truth of the matter is before anyone comes to Christ, they are dead in their sins. Our spirits can be made alive only through Christ Jesus. Yet, our life does not end at that point; it is just the beginning. So how then do I live this new life? This is why it is of extreme importance to understand the Gospel in its entirety.

Alvin, thank you for your comment. I do not agree that the thief on the cross was justified by his works; I believe his works were a manifestation (or fruit, if you will) of his faith. He recognized the utter hopelessness of his own life, as we all do before we come to the Lord Jesus. So, from the abundance of his heart, his mouth spoke.

Again, works cannot save; however, works are a result of our faith. Just like you cannot separate parts of your own body, it is unwise to attempt to segregate portions of Scripture.

August 08, 2008 8:59 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

WJC,

You wrote, "...we have a group of theological sophisticates who say that without a full understanding of the basis for how Jesus is able to save men the lost cannot be save..."

Are you referring to the men in the FGA leadership like, Dr. Charlie Bing, Dr. Fred Chay, Dr. J.B. Hixson, Dr. Larry Moyer, and Dr. Radmacher? I didn't think you were when I first read your article, but afterwards I wasn't sure.

If not, which group demands a "full" understanding...? I am not aware of any group (even Lordship Salvationist) demanding a "full" understanding of anything to have eternal life.

Thanks for the clarification.

Mike

August 08, 2008 11:43 AM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

Ron,

"If your objective is to be right, then you will always be able to select individual Scriptures that, taken out of context, will support your argument. If, however, your desire is to know the truth, then when the truth is revealed to you, you will conform to it. All of us have a choice when in comes to truth - we can either accept it or reject it."

Well done for seizing the high moral ground. I am sure nobody who reads this blog regularly will dispute the sentiments in this statement.

I am simply asking you to prove what you are saying through the Word of God.

You quote James 2:17

"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."

If we take this at face value it would seem to indicate that one might indeed have faith without works.

Can you support your claim that if a person has faith they will do works?

August 08, 2008 12:21 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Celestial Fundie,

First, thank you for your comment. The purpose, however, was not to take the high road. It was simply to say that if we have a sincere argument or disagreement, it can be resolved if both parties are committed to conforming to truth. Otherwise, you simply have two parties saying "I am right and you are not."

Regarding your question, again I refer to James 2 - "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

Again, if you accept the Word of God as truth, your answer is right there.

August 08, 2008 1:16 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Mike,

It's so easy for me to be caught up into blogging and debate. I enjoy that. But I never want to loose my focus on my daily walk with Him. I don't want this to ever be about me winning an argument. He is the Teacher. I am the learner. I love sharing with others what He's teaching me. It's then up to whoever's interested to check it out. Same goes for me. Thank you for that opportunity.
:-)

Mike, in John 20:31 it's clear that John was referring to the signs. Look at verse 30.
As you read through John you will specifically see that he talks a lot about signs.

NOTICE..... (Here's some verses with the words 'sign' or 'signs')
John 2:11
*John 2:18* This is of special interest to me because notice... Jesus just drove out the money changers from the temple.
Quoting verses 17,18... "Then His disciples remembered that it was written, 'Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.' So the Jews answered and said to Him, 'What **SIGN** do You show to us, since You do these things?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'DESTROY THIS TEMPLE AND IN THREE DAYS I WILL RAISE IT UP.' Then the Jews said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?' But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had RISEN FROM THE DEAD, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said."
NOTICE that the death and resurrection of Christ was the greatest sign of all that would bring people to the place where they would believe in Him as the Christ, the giver of eternal life. His disciples believed in Him as the Christ (the giver of eternal life) before this sign. Any one of the signs were used to bring people to faith in Him as the Christ.
(continuing....)
John 2:23
John 3:2
John 4:48
John 6:2
John 6:14
John 7:31
John 8:28... (not actual word) John 9:16
John 11:47
John 12:37
John 20:30,31

Regarding Thomas' words.... He realized that the One who He had believed in for eternal life had truly risen. I think his words were an expression of worship. But the fact is, he was eternally saved BEFORE he understood that the Christ, the Son of God would have to die. How much he understood about his deity, I don't know. In Matthew 8:27 his disciples marveled that He calmed the winds and the sea. They said... "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" He was the Son of God. He was the Christ!

1 John 5:13 is referring back to verses 9-12. Starting with verse 11... "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 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, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God."
In other words.... don't stop believing what you believe.
I recommend Zane Hodges' commentary on "The Epistles of John." It's a great help.

Thanks again for causing me to think and dig. I'm the one who benefits from this.

God's best to you,
Diane
:-)
P.S. Peggie, thank you for that great post!!!

August 08, 2008 2:36 PM  
Blogger Peggie said...

Diane,
It's my pleasure. I'm enjoying reading your comments and others.

August 08, 2008 5:06 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

To the "purpose statement" question regarding 1 John 5:13 I am posting a rather lengthy quote from the commentary "The Epistles of John" by Zane C Hodges. It is too good to be missed...

************************************************************************************************
13 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, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

The reason John has been speaking about the “testimony that God has given His son” (verses 6-12) is to assure the readership that they do indeed have eternal life and to encourage continuing faith in His name.
Strangely enough, the idea has taken hold in some circles that the words These things refer to the contents of the whole epistle. This view is a centerpiece for the school of thought that treats the entire epistle as a test of its readers’ salvation. We have already noted how completely far afield this perspective really is (cf. 2:12-14 and the discussions there). So far from wanting the readership to engage in self examination to see if they are born again, the writer proclaims the high a level of their spiritual attainments (again, cf. 2:12-14,21).
The view, therefore, that the epistle is intended to test the validity of the readers’ eternal salvation, is an idea that grotesquely distorts the actual intention of the author, whose focus is on fellowship (1:3).
The phrase These things (Greek: Tauta) by no means refers to the entire content of the epistle, but rather to verses 6 through 12. Indeed, this near reference is consistent with John’s style elsewhere in the letter. Thus in 1:4, the words “these things [Greek: Tauta] we write to you” refer to what has just been mentioned in the prologue (1: 1-3). In 2:1, the statement “these things [Greek: tauta] I write to you, so that you may not sin,” refer to the previous discussion on sin found in 1:5-10. In the same way, the words of 2:26, “these things [Greek: tauta] I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you,” obviously refer to the preceding discussion about the antichrists in 2:18-25.
In considering this, it is important to note the progress of John’s thought in 5:6-12. A brief summary will help us do this.
According to verse five, the “world–conqueror” is the one who “believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” But when one believes this, he is believing in the one, indivisible Person of Jesus Christ whose messianic coming was marked by His baptism and His crucifixion (verse 6a). To this reality, witness has been borne by the Holy Spirit and the historical events of His baptism and death themselves (verse 6b-8). Furthermore, God has given additional testimony to His Son, and this testimony assures us that He has imparted eternal life to us in His Son, in whom alone this gift can be found (verses 9-12). It follows from this that those who have believed in the Son’s name can know, on God’s testimony, that they do indeed have eternal life (verse 13).
The words to you who believes in the name of the Son of God do not mean to those of you who believe. There are, of course, ways of conveying that idea in Greek (e.g., tois ex hymon), but none of them is used here. Instead the Greek (hymin tois pisteuousin) simply means “to you believers.” Never once, throughout his epistle, does John even hint that he thinks some of those he addresses might be unregenerate. Needless to say, he is not writing to the Revisionists, but about them (2:26).
John addresses his audience as “believers.” Although the Revisionists are telling them that they do not have eternal life, John is reminding them that they do. It is their world-conquering faith in Jesus as the Son of God that has given them this, and God’s testimony about his Son verifies this fact beyond all controversy or contradiction.
There are any number of statements in the Fourth Gospel that affirm this truth, but as an illustration it would be hard to do better than John 5:24, “’Most assuredly, I say to 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 to life.’” (The word in [NKJV] does not appear in the Greek and should be left out.)
What is striking here is that the Lord Jesus speaks of those who hear His word and who believe the one who sent Him! That is to say, if they accept His word as true they will be believing God! Thus he says, “’My doctrine is not mine, but His who sent to me’” (John 7:16). Similarly, “’ I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I hear from Him’” (John 8:26). And, “’I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak’” (John 12:49). So the words of Jesus are the words of God.
But what kind of testimony does God give in John 5:24? Precisely the kind of testimony that John appeals two in 1 John 5:9-12. Namely, that the believer “has eternal life” and is in no danger of coming “into judgment,” but has already “passed from death into life.” This testimony from God, spoken through the lips of His Son, is the kind of testimony John wishes his readers to rely on so that they will know that they have eternal life.
Of course, when they initially believed, they knew they had eternal life. In the same way, every believer knows at the point of saving faith that he has this life, because the promises he believes guarantee it (cf. John 11:25-26). But the believer is not immune to doubts and uncertainties after he is saved (cf. John the Baptist: Luke 7:18-19). The antidote to such doubts is always God’s promises to the believer. These promises can always be referred two again and again as a fresh source of assurance. And no book of the bible contains more of these straightforward guarantees than John’s gospel itself (John 3:16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:35-40, 47; etc.) In our text, John is recalling his audience to the testimony of God that they have already believed, and to which he himself testified.
The logic of John’s argument is evident. Since the believers he writes to have believed in the name of the Son of God (whose identity is attested by “the Spirit, the water, and the blood,” verse 8), then they should rest securely on the testimony that God has given about and through His Son. And this “testimony” (found in John 5:24 and in so many other places in John’s gospel) assures the believer that he does have eternal life. If Jesus said so, God said so--and there the matter should rest!
It should be said here that all true assurance of salvation and eternal life must rest on the “testimony of God,” for only that testimony has full reliability and solidity. The many professing Christians who think that a more stable basis for assurance can be found in the lives they lead are only deceiving themselves. There is never a time at all in our Christian experience where we are free from sin (cf. 1 John 1:8). To suggest that Christian experience can stand on some relatively equal level with the “testimony of God” as a grounds for assurances is nearly a blasphemy, since it compares human experience in its multitude of flaws with the flawless word of God.
Those who are willing to look at themselves with complete honesty will find more grounds to doubt their salvation than to be assured of it. Some even teach that this uncertainty is healthy! But this does not reckon with the fact that the apostle John expected his readers to know that they had eternal life. The irony that once Christian experience is made the grounds for assurance, as some hold First John does, John’s statement in this verse about knowing becomes a complete impossibility!
The apostle here seeks to reaffirm the assurance of his readership. It was the antichrists who called that assurance into question!
There is no word in the Greek text for the words continue to in verse 13 (which the NKJV places in italics), but there is no reason to object to their introduction for clarity’s sake. However, the statement of the Greek text is a shade more subtle than this, we could translate as follows:

These things I have written to you believers in the name of the Son of God…that you might believe in the name of the Son of God.

But if, as the verse also states, they can know that they have eternal life, why does he admonished them to believe? If the hearers/readers thought that this encouragement to faith was slightly redundant, since they already knew by faith that they were regenerated, they would be wrong. Nor is the reason simply so that they might not lose their assurance. That by itself should motivate ongoing faith, even though a loss of assurance does not result in the loss of eternal life. (For the security of the believer in God’s son, see especially John 6:35-40.) Still, the hearer or reader of this epistle might well wonder whether there was more to it than that.
As a matter of fact there was! This continuing faith was to have another object than the “testimony of God” about His gift of life. And the object of confidence is now stated.

14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.

One simple fact now becomes clear. The “name of the Son of God” (verse 13) can be believed in, not only for eternal life, but also for answered prayer. This, too, Jesus had clearly taught his disciples.
While they were in the Upper Room, the Lord Jesus taught his disciples the effectiveness of His name in receiving answers to prayer. He told them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name he will give to you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23b-24, italics added; cf. Also 14:13-14). Obviously, John’s shift to the subject of prayer after his reference to ongoing faith “in the name of the Son of God” (verse 13), is a natural one, inasmuch as the Son’s name was also the key to answered prayer.

************************************************************************

August 08, 2008 11:15 PM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

Ron,
"Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

I think we need a bit more here.

James is talking about a man who says he has faith.

If I asked you whether you had faith, I am sure you would say that you did. So the fact that he says he has faith does not indicate that he does not.

What in that passage leads you to the conclusion that James is talking about a non-existent faith?

August 08, 2008 11:23 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Celestial Fundie,

It appears we have moved from "Can you support your claim that if a person has faith they will do works?" to "What in that passage leads you to the conclusion that James is talking about a non-existent faith?"

Your comment "I think we need a bit more here" indicates to me that you do not appear to be satisfied with the truth in Scripture. As I mentioned earlier, when we come to the knowledge of the truth, we can either conform to it, or we can reject it. The issue is not whether you or I are right; the issue is will we accept Scripture as truth. Again, the truth is that the Word of God is one, not to be separated for our own expediency. Diane said it best in an earlier post - "I don't want this to ever be about me winning an argument." I could not agree more. At the same time, it is imperative that we come into the knowledge of the truth. Truth is not what sounds or feels right to us; on the contrary, truth is difficult to chew on the more we mature. We have a responsibility to seek truth, then pass that truth on to others. If you accept that fact that eternal life, salvation, and grace are interrelated, then there is no need for discussion about what is it that constitutes eternal life. This is because the heart that is pierced by the Gospel of the Kingdom will not only believe that Jesus died for our sins, but it will also submit to Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Eternal life is not the objective for the believer; obedience is.

August 09, 2008 8:44 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

WJC... Thank you for posting that portion from Zane's commentary on 1 John 5:13. It is good for me to review that again and be sharpened!!!

Ron, Have you read carefully Zane Hodges' commentary on James? Thank you.

Diane

August 09, 2008 10:20 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane,

I have not read any commentary by Mr. Hodges. I was not familiar with him until I heard about him here.

August 09, 2008 11:38 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Ron,

Would you be willing to read carefully Zane Hodges' commentary on James if I sent you a copy? I'm willing to do that if you are serious about reading it. Then it would be up to you to examine the evidence from scripture. That's what Zane Hodges' would encourage you to do.

If you would like the commentary but do not want to give your address over the Internet, just let me know and I'll figure out a way to get it to you.

Thank you, and God's best to you.

All because of His wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)

August 09, 2008 12:51 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Dear Friends,

OK... today I was thinking AGAIN (regarding the content of saving faith).... "How can I say it on the blog differently so that maybe somebody who "doesn't see it" will get it?" So I'm going to GIVE IT ANOTHER TRY. Sorry if I'm over doing it. I just feel compelled!
:-)

*****I don't know personally ANYONE who has come to faith in Jesus for everlasting life who hasn't believed that He died for their sins and rose from the grave.*****
Please read that sentence again because I want to emphasize it!!!
I always tell people about Jesus dying for their sins and rising from the grave. BUT..... is it possible that some have come to faith in Christ without understanding that truth, just like those people did before the cross? Have the requirements for salvation changed after the cross?

QUESTION? Why do some of our friends feel that, *(when it comes to believing in Christ for eternal life)* you CAN'T separate the PERSON of Christ from His WORK?

*****You may ask our GES friends...... WHY make it a point of dissension if you're always going to preach the crosswork of Christ to someone anyway? You may ask them.... What's wrong with telling people that they must believe in the Work AND Person of Jesus Christ to be saved? After all, if they believe in His work AND Person for salvation, then they ARE saved because they are believing in Him! So WHY make a big fuss about separating His Work from His Person as to the saving content? Isn't it only causing friction and harm to the free grace movement? WHY cause all this trouble over it? Since you yourselves preach the cross and resurrection today, why not just accept His cross work as part of the saving content? What's it going to hurt to do that? After all, we want people to believe that He died for their sins and rose from the grave, don't we? I know I do. I've taught that to my kids and grandkids from the time they were babies.

Here's WHY it's important.....
*****The whole Bible is God's Word and we must be true to all of it. The Gospel of John is part of God's inspired writings. It's there for a purpose. The purpose is recorded in John 20:30,31. Please scroll back if you're interested and read my post dated...
Aug 4, 2008 6:21 PM and
Aug 8, 2008 5:06 PM
(These posts were just things I've been learning in John.)
All the other writers (including Paul) are in complete agreement with John. We just have to recognize who their audience is and their purpose in their writings.

John was written to tell us how to have eternal life. No place are we told in John (or anyplace else) that the requirements have changed.
John was written long after the cross and resurrection.

HERE'S THE REASON WE CAN'T CHANGE THE REQUIREMENTS AFTER THE CROSS.....
*****If we make His WORK a REQUIREMENT to be believed in order to be saved......... then we've MADE THE GOSPEL OF JOHN UNUSABLE FOR IT'S INTENDED PURPOSE!!!!! IS THAT A BIG DEAL OR NOT?
For me..... THAT'S A BIG DEAL!!!!! Maybe we never thought about it this way before, but it's a BIG DEAL when we change the purpose for which God intended in His inspired writings.

GES and Zane Hodges always present the work of the cross as the means by which Jesus can save us. And they always proclaim His resurrection. But they are true to scripture. The saving message is what Jesus told Nicodemus and the woman at the well. And we CAN use John 3:16 as our assurance verse if we understand the saving message. If we choose to make His WORK a requirement, then we can't USE John anymore in bringing people to faith in Christ TODAY because it's not complete. It ruins John for the purpose in which it was intended. That's a BIG DEAL!!!

So rather than say....... "We can have eternal life by believing in the WORK and PERSON of Jesus Christ"....
why not say it biblically...... "Jesus Christ gives eternal life as a gift to all who will believe in Him, and He can do this BECAUSE He died on the cross to pay for our sins and He rose from the grave."
AMEN! Praise God!!!

August 09, 2008 7:43 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane,

That is very kind of you. I have read some of his work on the Internet. While I am not a follower of any particular movement, I do seek the truth, and I do not put limitations on who has the truth. If you would be kind enough to send it, I would respectfully read it. I am not saying I would agree with it, but I would read it.

You can send it to:

Ron Mosby
Family of God of Cincinnati
PO Box 31192
Cincinnati, OH 45231

Thank you once again.

August 09, 2008 7:44 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Ron,

Your book's been ordered and should hopefully get to you sometime next week... I hope. Let me know in a week or so if you don't get it. Glad you're being a Berean!
:-)

Your sister in Christ,
Diane
:-)

August 09, 2008 8:15 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane,

First, thank you for your kindness. I went back and reviewed your post of August 4. What I found was interesting. It reads "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." Notice that it says that you should believe that Jesus is the Christ. The same thing is said in 1 John 5:1 - "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

What does it mean to say that Jesus is the Christ? Clearly, there is some significance to Jesus being the Christ, but what exactly does that mean? Even Jews and Muslims believe that Jesus walked the earth, but do they believe that He is the Christ? I am interested in hearing your response on what the Christ means.

August 09, 2008 9:47 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Ron,

John 11:25-27 defines what it means to believe that Jesus is the Christ.....

Jesus said to her (Martha), "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (physical life-- resurrection). And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die (in the Greek that means to die unto eternity). 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.”

Martha's answer describes what it means to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. He is the giver of eternal life.

The whole book of John is about receiving eternal life, and once you receive it as a gift you can experience Him in abundance (discipleship... sanctification).
1 John 5:12..... He who has the Son has LIFE; he who does not have the Son of God does not have LIFE.

Thanks for your question. Hope you're enjoying the Lord this beautiful day.

Your friend in Christ,
Diane
:-)

August 10, 2008 12:31 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane,

I apologize I was not clear in my question. The question I should have asked is what is the meaning of "Christ?"

August 10, 2008 6:26 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Ron,
I'm probably not the best one to answer your question, but here's what I've been taught...

Christ in Hebrew is the word Messiah.
In Greek Christ means "Anointed One."
Savior also is a word used for Christ.

Here's the definition I found in a dictionary....

The Messiah, as foretold by the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Also it says.....

Christ...
n. - The appellation given to Jesus of Nazareth by the Christian world as the one fulfilling the prophecy in the Old Testament of a deliverer.

August 10, 2008 7:27 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane,

That is fine! Do you agree then, that to believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that He is:

"The Messiah, as foretold by the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Also it says.....

Christ...
n. - The appellation given to Jesus of Nazareth by the Christian world as the one fulfilling the prophecy in the Old Testament of a deliverer?"

August 10, 2008 7:40 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Ron...
To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that He is the Messiah, the O.T. Deliverer. I agree with those descriptions I posted above.
But John defines for us what he means to believe that Jesus is the Christ. The Jewish people are still looking for their Messiah to come... to "deliver" them from their present troubles and set up His earthly Kingdom. But the Jews don't have eternal life unless they have believed in Jesus alone to "deliver" them ETERNALLY apart from any works. John defines what exactly he means to believe that Jesus is the Christ in the book of John. It's found in John 11:25-27.
John's key words for having everlasting life is "believe in Him," "believe in His Name," "believe in Me," "believe in Christ."
To believe in Christ is to believe what He is offering freely as a gift. It's eternal life. The people who were saved in the O.T. are the people who believed in the coming redeemer (deliverer) for eternal life.
Again, a good paper to read on O.T. salvation was presented by Bob Bryant at a GES Conference a few years ago. It can be accessed at...
http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2003i/bryant.html

Appreciate your questions. I know that Antonio, WJC, Alvin, and others can do a much better job of answering your questions than I.

God's best to you,
Diane
:-)

August 10, 2008 9:12 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane, thank you for the link. Bob certainly writes a compelling article with many great points. For example, he states “Therefore, before Jesus came, people were saved on the basis of His death for their sins.” Later, he says “Genesis 3:15 alludes to Christ’s death for sins.” Finally, Bob refers to the story of Philip and the eunuch. “As Philip presented the gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch, he explained that Isaiah wrote about Jesus when he said, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter” (Acts 8:26 -35).” In each case, Bob refers to Jesus’ death. So Bob proves without doubt that one must believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the one who fulfilled all prophecy, including His death. Simply believing that Jesus existed is insufficient. Those who walked the earth with Him and persecuted Him knew He existed, but did not believe He was the Christ. Therefore, to say that one believes that Jesus is the Christ is to say the one believes that Jesus died for that person’s sins.

You stated “To believe in Christ is to believe what He is offering freely as a gift.” Would you, or any of the others you referred to in your post, kindly elaborate on this statement?” I want to make sure I understand what you are saying. The way I read that statement, there is an implied condition. Would you believe that Jesus is the Christ if no gift were offered?

August 11, 2008 4:16 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Diane, thanks for answering my question when I asked, For clarification, what was John referring to when he wrote,  "these" in John 20:31? The whole book of John, and/or the resurrected Lord (v.25), and/or, the signs (signs v.30)?

You said, "John 20:31 it's clear that John was referring to the signs. Look at verse 30. As you read through John you will specifically see that he talks a lot about signs."

I agree, that's why I have a problem with saying that John 20:31 is the purpose statement for the whole book of John.

I also asked - Is the Apostle John implying that Jesus is God by what he says in John 20:30-31?

All free grace believers use to teach that the signs were "also" given to show the importance of having "some" (not a full understanding, but some understanding of who Jesus is). There is a reason the Apostle John presents the Lord Jesus Christ as God, and it's not just in chapter one & the giveng of the signs. Why has the whole concept of Diety been taken away from John 30 & 31?

I went back and re-read every GES article. Just about every article needs to be re-written to fit into the new teachings of GES.

wjc - Thanks for your comments on I John 5:13. I apply the same reasoning to John 20:30-31.

Thanks,
Mike

August 11, 2008 8:08 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Ron,

You are definitely looking for answers, seems to me. That's great!
In your post regarding Bob Bryant's article on O.T. salvation you said...
"Therefore, to say that one believes that Jesus is the Christ is to say the one BELIEVES (my emphasis) that Jesus died for that person’s sins."

That's not what people in the O.T. were believing to have eternal life. That's not what Bob Bryant is saying in his article. It's just that O.T. saints knew that God would send a Deliverer to redeem them and THEIR FAITH WAS IN THAT DELIVERER ALONE.... no place else. When an O.T. person exercised faith in this One that God would send, he past from death to life. HOW He would redeem them was still unknown to them. I have lots of questions yet that I'm looking forward to God answering for me when I see Him face to face. I don't have all the answers. Perhaps God told some of them how He would do it, but we know that the apostles were saved BEFORE they understood the HOW. We also know what the requirement was in John from Jesus' own lips to those He spoke to about receiving eternal life. Bob Bryant's point is that the cross was ALWAYS the MEANS by which Jesus would save all people from the beginning of time. Their faith was in the One who God would send to give them eternal life.

I hope that Antonio, or WCJ, or Alvin, or others (don't mean to leave anyone out) will jump in here and help out. I'm only a learner like you. I'm sure others can explain it much better than I.

I may not be able to spend much time on the blog for about a week. We've got missionary friends coming to stay with us today for most of the week who are with New Tribes Mission. My missionary friend attended my discipleship class the beginning of summer and heard Bob Bryant's wonderful message on CD that he presented at the GES Conference this year entitled... "The Search for the Saving Message Outside of the Gospel of John." When she heard that tape she understood his point and agreed. I'm looking forward to some more profitable and fruitful discussions with her this week. So I may or may not have time to come back to the blog for a while. But I'll look forward to reading what others say.

Have a great week in the Lord,
Diane
:-)

August 11, 2008 8:12 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Mike,

Your post just came through as I was posting mine to Ron.
I'm not going to have time to comment right now, but I'm hoping that one of the others will be able to help you out. When I have time I'll be back.
:-)
I'm saying so much lately that probably many of you are wishing I would just go away!!!!!
SORRY! I get going and just can't seem to stop myself!!!

August 11, 2008 8:17 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane,

I apologize if my statement was not clear. I was referring to people today, not during OT times. Again, and let me emphasize, I am NOT looking for answers, I AM looking for truth. I would hope all, including Mr. Bryant, are seeking after truth, the kind that can be confirmed in the Word of God.

Diane and others, I am curious of one thing. If you teach/believe that one needs to believe in Jesus for eternal life, what do you teach beyond that? In other words, what do you teach beyond that moment that a person believes? If I came to you today as an unbeliever, and you said to me "believe in Jesus for eternal life," and I did, now what?

August 11, 2008 9:10 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Diane,
Thanks. I need all the help I can get.

You wrote to Ron, "Therefore, to say that one believes that Jesus is the Christ is to say the one BELIEVES (my emphasis) that Jesus died for that person’s sins. That's not what people in the O.T. were believing to have eternal life. That's not what Bob Bryant is saying in his article. It's just that O.T. saints knew that God would send a Deliverer to redeem them and THEIR FAITH WAS IN THAT DELIVERER ALONE.... no place else."

I agree with what Dr. Wilkin use to teach, Explain OT salvation by means of clear NT texts. Scripture accurately interprets itself. Thus the simplest way to explain OT salvation is to go to a passage like Rom 4:1-8. There Paul uses Abraham and David to show that OT people believed in the Messiah for eternal life. They knew salvation was a gift, not a debt. They knew it was by faith alone, apart from their works.

Abraham & David knew a lot more than you stated to Ron. King David knew alot about imputed righteousness- "...lawless deeds are forgiven...sins are covered...the LORD shall not impute sin."

Remember what Peter said in Acts 2 about what David knew - Look at verses 25-36 - "...knowing ... He (God) would raise up the Christ... (David) foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ..."

Why did Jesus say this to Nicodemus in John 3:10, "...to him (Nicodemus), Are you the teacher of Isreal, and do not know these things?"

John 5:38 & 39, gives the reason, you don't believe what God has revealed in the O.T.God's, if you did you would have believe in Me. "...You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.

Thanks,
Mike

August 11, 2008 11:29 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Ron and Diane,

Allow me to jump in here.

Ron stated:
---------
In each case, Bob refers to Jesus’ death. So Bob proves without doubt that one must believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the one who fulfilled all prophecy, including His death. Simply believing that Jesus existed is insufficient. Those who walked the earth with Him and persecuted Him knew He existed, but did not believe He was the Christ. Therefore, to say that one believes that Jesus is the Christ is to say the one believes that Jesus died for that person’s sins.
----------
Your logic is filled with non sequitors. To speak of the basis of eternal salvation does not imply nor demand that such is a consideration in the issue of saving faith.

There is no small difference between A) the content of information describing how eternal salvation is made available and B)the neccessary condition(s) to appropriate that salvation.

To illustrate:

A car dealership may be offering gift certificates to a restaurant.

This dealership made worked out a plan with the restaurant where it would get these certificates by advertising the restaurant at the dealership. This would correspond to point A above.

The dealership conditions the reception of those gift certificates on meeting certain criteria, such as being a licensed and insured driver, and taking a test drive in one of thier featured automobiles. This would correspond to point B above.

I do not say that it never happens, but being cognizant of the specifics on how an offer can be made available usually is not a condition of the reception of offers.

Antonio

August 11, 2008 1:22 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Mike wrote:
----------
You said, "John 20:31 it's clear that John was referring to the signs. Look at verse 30. As you read through John you will specifically see that he talks a lot about signs."

I agree, that's why I have a problem with saying that John 20:31 is the purpose statement for the whole book of John.
----------
Your logic is non sequitor.

Because the "these" = signs does not cast a shadow whatsoever on the widely accepted Free Grace (and certainly accepted within other traditions) understanding that John 20:30-31 is the purpose statement.

Certainly, John considers Jesus' signs to be of greatest importance in substantiating Christ's claim to guarantee the believer's destiny by simple faith in Him. But these signs are couched within a framework of context.

Logically, for John to say that the signs were written so that one may believe that Jesus is the Christ and have life does not preclude his providing of the other contextual material for the same purpose. The brief biological sketch that John provides of Jesus most certainly has been given to show the character and qualities of the Man who alone offers the most supreme of gifts. John shows Christ to be worthy of his readers' trust.

Antonio

August 11, 2008 1:33 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Antonio,

First, let me thank you for participating in your blog. I appreciate that.

I believe the word that you have been using is non sequitur. You used the term in your responses to me and Mike.

While it is not my intent to overload anyone's blog, this seems to be the best way to communicate. Please let me know if you choose to use another thread.

In the meantime, if you look in previous posts I have made, you will find three things:
1. I have already agreed that belief in necessary for salvation.
2. I have clearly stated that we cannot separate the Word of God into components, for life is much more than just salvation.
3. I have also indicated that unless people are desirous of the truth, it will do no good to argue back and forth. You will simply try to state why you are right, and God gets no glory from that. He delights in the truth.

Antonio, I will ask this question to you again. You minister to an unbeliever and tell them to believe in Jesus for eternal life. They say I will. Now what do you tell them?

August 12, 2008 4:18 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Antonia,

I am new to this format. Please explain what I said (the comment) that makes my logic non sequitor.

Thanks,
Mike

August 12, 2008 7:03 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Antonia,

I am sorry, but I am not following your illustration.

You wrote, "A car dealership may be offering gift certificates to a restaurant."

Why would a car dealership offer gifts certificates to the restaurant?

Wouldn't it make more sense for the car dealership to give the gift certificate to the potential car buyers?

Thanks again,

Mike

August 12, 2008 7:24 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Mike,

I believe Antonio meant the dealership would offer the gift certificates to the potential buyers as an incentive.

I would offer that we discontinue using such analogies and simply focus on the Word of God. Mike's point is well taken - the two do not equate. From what I have seen of Mike's posts, he also agrees that belief is necessary for salvation.

The question again is, what is next?

August 12, 2008 7:38 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Ron

Ron, you asked Antonio:

Antonio, I will ask this question to you again. You minister to an unbeliever and tell them to believe in Jesus for eternal life. They say I will. Now what do you tell them?

You show by saying “tell them to believe in Jesus for eternal life” you have misunderstood Antonio because he would never say that, and is not into decissionism. He would present the evidence and then “ask them if they have believed in Jesus for eternal life.” If they have not, then he would ask them what seems to be the problem? Then depending on their answer, he would try to convince them of Jesus being the Christ the One who guarantees the believers eternal destiny. This is what the Apostle John did all through his gospel, putting forth the evidence that Jesus is the Christ, once believed it’s impossible for that person not to have life. So they won’t have to be asked to believe, they will know they have believed and have eternal life based solely on Jesus testimony.
Assurance is of the essence of saving faith.

Then Ron you said “they say I will” this shows to me they haven’t yet believed, because it’s not a matter of their will to believe. You can’t believe something you really don’t, either they already have believed Jesus promise or they have not.

Before they can have success in discipleship they need to be born again. Then once they have been born again I’m quite certain Antonio would tell them about the overcoming life that is in them and the rewards of following Christ.

But I don’t want to put words in Antonio’s mouth, but I think I’ve read him enough to know his heart is to first make sure one is a child of God and then to make a disciple that is walking in the light. Children of God are born but disciples are made.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12)

Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John
(John 4:1)

...but of course brother Antonio is gifted at articulating the truth, so excuse me for butting in.

alvin

August 13, 2008 3:24 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Alvin,

Thank you for your answer. You said "Before they can have success in discipleship they need to be born again. Then once they have been born again I’m quite certain Antonio would tell them about the overcoming life that is in them and the rewards of following Christ."

First, Jesus Himself gave us a commission. He said "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations." He did not say "make sure they are born again first."

You then said "But I don’t want to put words in Antonio’s mouth, but I think I’ve read him enough to know his heart is to first make sure one is a child of God and then to make a disciple that is walking in the light." That sounds nice, but again, our hearts need to be aligned with the Word of God.

This is why you cannot separate the Word of God. It is not your job to make sure one is a child of God, because just as Jesus said in the book of John, "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

There is no question that eternal life comes the moment a person believes. Yet, many of the people that I read here seem to want to make a movement out of this one issue. This is error. You have no idea who believes and who doesn't, and it is not for you to judge if a person is a believer. If you are a believer, then people will know you are not by what you say, but by what you do because your actions will align with your beliefs.

Finally, in your statement, you spoke of the rewards of following Christ. Again, the danger in this is developing the attitude of what God can do for me. Nowhere in your comments do I see any indication of cost. This is why many believers struggle. Their attitude is if they do good, they should be rewarded. What was Stephen's reward for seeing Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father? He was stoned to death. Discipleship comes at a cost, and it is unjust to simply say to anyone "just believe in Jesus and you will have eternal life."

Alvin, if you and others look beyond the one book of John, beyond single Scriptures to prove your point, you will see that it is a life of obedience to Jesus that is the objective. The objective is not eternal life. That comes as a result of your belief, but that is not the objective.

August 13, 2008 4:42 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Ron,

...since my mind is on these subjects . . . I believe by your remarks about the book of James, you believe that . . . Faith if it is true faith it must have works.
I don't want to put words in your mouth, so correct me if I am.

It would be impossible for a person to KNOW they have eternal life at the moment they believe if works must be an evidence one has true faith.
Unless one also KNOWS at the moment they believe they will also persevere in good works. But we know that isn't biblical because the apostle Paul didn't even know that! He knew there was a chance he could be disqualified.
So Ron, the only other possibility since no one knows they will persevere in good works unto the end, is that they don't know if they have truly believed. And this is in direct disagreement with Scripture that clearly tells the one that believes he or she can KNOW the moment they believe that they have eternal life and will not perish. Will never thirst will never hunger, will never come into a judgment that will determine their eternal destiny.

Don't quote me on this but I think remember Zane Hodges using an example of DNA. And this is how I remember it. A child when they are born have everything coded in their DNA. But unless a child is properly trained and works hard there is no guarentee they will reach their potential. Just as in the Christian life when a person is born again, they have all that is needed for the Christian life. But if they do not get instruction on who they are in Christ and proper discipleship and without hard work they will not reach their potential.
And then as we know Scripture over and over warns the believer to put on Christ, not to walk in the flesh. Not everyone in Scripture took this instruction some sleep in Jesus. The believer still has to make the choice to follow Jesus or to walk in the flesh. And just as Paul will have to discipline their body and bring it into subjection.

Summary of verses:

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
(James 2:17)

Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. (Rom 4:4,5)

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Cor 9:27)



Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judment, but has passed from death into life. (John 5:24)

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. (John 6:35 emphasis mine)

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
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, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
(1 John 5:11-13 emphasis mine)

alvin

August 13, 2008 5:04 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Ron I think your missing the point. The gift of eternal life is offered freely, and has nothing to do with discipleship you will do for God but is simply the giving and receiving of a gift. Look at these verses, it’s all about the giving and receiving of a gift. It sounds like you don’t believe that? You sound like God wouldn’t give eternal life to someone who wouldn’t be His disciple. And you sound like taking the gift would be selfish, if you weren't willing to be a disciple in return.

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)

Ron there is nothing their other then a free gift offered. Jesus puts no other conditions upon the gift.

And that hasn’t changed:

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
And let him who hears say, “Come!”
And let him who thirsts come.
Whoever desires, let him take the water freely.

Ron, the water is free to the taking, It’s not the package plan, but it really is free! You seem to make that as if it would be selfish to do, if you weren’t willing to work.

Jesus offered eternal life as a free gift to everyone by simply taking it!
Jesus didn’t say the same thing about discipleship, but gave a warning!

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,
‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it- “lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it- “saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
“Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
“Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Ron, here is my question to tell whether you really believe that eternal life is a free gift that can be taken freely, as Jesus said. How about someone who want’s Jesus gift of eternal life, but does not want the cost of discipleship. Can they take the water freely? Yes or No?

alvin

August 13, 2008 5:58 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Alvin,

If someone said "I want Alvin, but I only want is left arm," can they take it without taking the rest of you? If you answer with the truth, you will have your answer.

August 13, 2008 6:29 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Ron you make clear that someone cannot take the water of life freely.

goodnight
alvin

August 13, 2008 6:54 AM  
Blogger wjc said...

Ron, - Is that how you give gifts? You pretent that it is a gift by calling it a "gift" knowing all the while that actually you are going to require that the person you are giving the "gift" to must pay for it - every last penny? Is that your idea of gift giving?

This makes a mockery and a liar out of Jesus to say that He offers a gift but it really isn't a gift - it isn't free - it will cost you everything! This is really a cruel hoax disguising a gift that really isn't a gift! And it suggests that somehow we can pay God back somehow through works in exchange for this "gift" that He offers... If you pay for something Ron, you've earned it - it is not a gift in any way shape or form. What did Jesus really mean when He said:
" 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”(Jn 4:10).
and:
14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.
(Jn 4:14).
What does the Apostle Paul mean when he says:
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
(Ro 3:21-24).
Fortunatley Jesus meant exactly what He said and God does not play these cruel games with us and with the simple concept of a gift. Gifts Ron are free and if it isn't free, without cost, it isn't a gift pure and simple. If you have not understood this - and it seems apparent that you haven't, then you have never understood the grace of God and His incredible loving mercy...

August 13, 2008 8:14 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Alvin,

You said "Ron you make clear that someone cannot take the water of life freely." I knew you would not answer the question honestly. Your statement is incorrect. Anyone can take the water of life freely. When they do, they take everything else that comes with it.

You want an unconditional benefit of eternal life. So, you single out Scriptures that will help you prove you are right. Yet, by doing so you yourself create a condition by ignoring the rest of what Jesus said.

Matt. 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

I have not disagreed for one moment that we must believe in Jesus for eternal life. Where there is a serious error is your doctrine of belief for eternal life only. This is no better than a doctrine of works only. Both have partial truth. Neither by themselves are correct.

Alvin, I appreciated your response. When I accept you, I accept all of you. You know that as well as I do, which is why you responded the way you did.

wjc,

Matthew 19: 16-17 says "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

Since Jesus knew that belief in Him was the only thing necessary for eternal life, what could have been the reason for Him withholding that answer from the young man?

August 13, 2008 10:34 AM  
Blogger wjc said...

Ron, - One more thing that needs to be addressed. You said:

"The Word of God is not a unit that is made with individual components; rather, it is a single piece of cloth intricately woven together. Man creates his own problem when he tries to justify his position based upon a single word, passage, or even book with looking at it within the greater context."

I have not seen anyone here attempting to use only one word, passage or book to justify their position but in analyzing what you said and the way you attempt to explain scripture in your posts suggests that your principle of interpretation actually:
A) Diminishes the importance of each and every word of scripture which we are told is "God breathed..."
B) Ignores the important fact that "passages" have subjects and that is a key principle of determining "context" and thus the meaning and
C) Ignores the fact that a "book" is written with "authorial intent" - that is to say the author has a distinct purpose for writing the "book" and that is an indispensable and critical key to understanding scripture.
God's word is an "intricately woven unit" as you put it in the sense that it is comprised of many parts written by many authors (through the revelation of the Holy Spirit) which do not contradict each other. By contrast, your apparent insistence upon ignoring the parts for the sake of your idea of a "greater context" only results in an artificial mixture of information full of erroneous contradictions.
So, for example, since you insist on ignoring the consistent internal evidence that discussions regarding discipleship in the scripture are made in the context of cost and rewards in contrast with the free gift of eternal life - which comes to us as a gift without cost, you have mixed two distinct truths which God never intended to be mixed and you're left with a hopeless man-made contradiction. By simply paying careful attention to the words, passages, and books, and thereby extracting the meaning of what the author meant to convey to us we can understand what God has said to us. Ignoring or minimizing those things only leads to confusion and the necessity of importing our own ideas into the text to try to force some kind of artificial solution or remedy...

August 13, 2008 11:12 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Ron, there is no dispute that when we are born again that we get all of Jesus. But to suggest that means that discipleship is a condition also included with the gift of eternal life is to wrongly divide the word of truth. You can’t mix something that is costly with something that is free and still call it a gift. I have shown clearly from Scripture that Jesus warned to count the cost when considering discipleship but eternal life was offered as a gift and to be taken freely.





“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it- “lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it- “saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
“Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
“Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:28-33)





Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)



And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
And let him who hears say, “Come!”
And let him who thirsts come.
Whoever desires, let him take the water freely.

Revelation 22:17



Ron, here is a couple articles by Dr. Bob Wilkins that might help your understanding, it’s called Condition and Consequence: A Key to Correct Interpretation. Bob shows that we should always ask the question “what is the condition and the consequence” when interpreting difficult passages.
Also, I believe in what is called “the analogy of faith” Scripture never contradicts Scripture. And you always interpret the more difficult passages by the clear ones.
http://www.faithalone.org/news/y2007/wilkin2.htm
http://www.faithalone.org/news/y1990/90nov2.html
Ron, I want to make everyone I lead to Christ a disciple of Christ because I know that’s the only way they can escape the power of sin and that they were bought with a price therefore we are to glorify Christ in our lives. But I make it clear that discipleship will cost but eternal life is free, paid for by our Savior!
alvin

August 14, 2008 4:20 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Ron, - Sorry it took me a while but I wanted to give you a good and thorough answer to your question about the Rich Young Ruler. This is not my answer but another of those lengthy quotes...

******************************

WHY DO YOU CALL ME GOOD?

If there is one human failing more than any other which distorts religious experience, it is our deeply ingrained tendency to think of ourselves as "good". It is not surprising that when "the tax collectors and the sinners drew near" to Jesus "to hear him," the Pharisees and scribes are scandalized and offended by this (Lk 15: 1-2). In the parable of the prodigal son, these self-righteous men are represented by the elder brother, who refuses his father's entreaties to come in and celebrate the prodigal's return (v. 25-32).
Again, this same self-righteous spirit is reflected in yet another story that Jesus told. In a parable memorable for drawing a telling contrast, our Lord recounts how a Pharisee and a tax collector went up into the temple to pray. The story is introduced by Luke the Evangelist in words which expressed its intended purpose pointedly: "And he spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others" (Lk 18:9).
There is something intrinsically timeless about the intention of this parable. Indeed, in every age of the church there are religious men and women who think of themselves as righteous and who entertain no doubt on that score. Virtually without exception, these people despise others whom they regard as their moral and spiritual inferiors.
Yet it must not be supposed that in this parable Jesus is thinking only of people who give God no credit for their moral attainments. On the contrary, they may give Him all the credit.
Listen to the Pharisee pray:

God, I thank you that I am not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess (Lk 18:11-12; italics added).

How remarkable! The Pharisee does not declare that his imagined righteousness was of his own making. Rather, he thanks God for it. In fact, he thanks God that he is not "bad" like other people.
The Pharisee, of course, was a religious elitist, a breed which continues to flourish right to the present day. He regarded himself as part of a divinely favored "in-group" (the Pharisees themselves), and he is grateful that his own moral stature rises so much above the level of the poor publican who had also come to pray.
But he was mistaken! The Pharisee was like other men, corrupt and sinful in his own proud, religious way.
The tax collector, on the other hand, took an attitude of humility and contrition in his prayer to God:

And the tax collector, standing a far off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" (Lk 18:13).

Our Lord's use of the contrast between these two men of prayer is powerful:

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he
who humbles himself will be exalted (18:14; italics added).

It is interesting to observe that Jesus uses here the great Pauline word "justified." Interesting, yes, but not surprising. Even Paul himself acknowledged that the gospel he preached was received "by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal 1:11-12).So the doctrine of justification by faith alone, apart from works, is not simply a Pauline construct. In the final analysis, it is the doctrine of Jesus Christ our Lord.
This doctrine is the antidote to one of our most deadly religious diseases: spiritual elitism and self-righteousness. Indeed, justification through faith alone is necessitated by an inescapable reality: "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Ro 3:10). Or, as Jesus Himself put it, "No one is good but One, that is, God" (Lk 18:19).
Let the statement of our Lord be squarely confronted. Wherever one looks in the world of men and women, in His day or in ours, one finds no mere mortal who is truly good. One finds only sinners - some saved, many unsaved. But sinners all, and without exception.
Yet some sinners are like the Pharisee in the temple. They are convinced that they possess a morality that raises them above the level of the herd. They may even ascribe this morality to God, and they may take it as evidence that they are truly born again. But they are wrong. No amount of personal righteousness can ever assure us of our standing before God. If we think that it can, we are self-deluded. We have forgotten the most basic fact of all about ourselves: we are not good. And if we are not good, we can never find true assurance in the presumption that somehow or other we are.
Indeed, the very conviction that our personal righteousness could be adequate to rest assurance about our eternal destiny upon it is the clearest of all indications that we have ceased to see ourselves in true Biblical perspective. And such blindness is an open gateway to pride, arrogance, and condemnation of others.
What is urgently needed, therefore, in the evangelical church today is a return to the spirit of the praying publican. We need to grasp again the humbling fact that not only at the moment of justification, but also throughout the entirety of our lives, we are sinners who need the mercy of God.

The Rich Young Ruler

Jesus met a man one time who had the spirit displayed by the Pharisee in the temple. Significantly, Luke records the encounter with this man in the same chapter as the parable we have been considering. The story is the famous one about a rich young ruler. However, between the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Lk 18:9-14), and the interview with the rich young ruler (18:18-23), Luke interposes a narrative about little children (18:15-17). This narrative itself cannot be ignored. As Luke reports it, the people are bringing their infants to Jesus "that he might touch them," but his disciples object to this (18:15). Jesus, therefore, summons his disciples and administers a memorable rebuke:

But Jesus called them to Him and said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such as the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it" (Lk 18:16-17).

"Your attitude toward little children is misguided," Jesus is saying to his disciples. "It is in fact a childlike spirit which one needs to enter the kingdom of God." This kind of spirit was precisely the one illustrated by the humble publican who cast himself totally on the mercy of God, and went down to his house justified. Of course, it was not the spirit of the haughty Pharisee, who thanked God for his own morality and rectitude!
Between those two men a great gulf was fixed. One adduced his own good works; the other relied in childlike simplicity on the divine mercy. Paul would have approved of a contrast like that, for he wrote:

...not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit...that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Tit 3:5, 7; italics added).

But the rich young ruler who now meets our Lord was a total stranger to truth like this. So far was he from possessing the childlike spirit needed to enter God's kingdom that he stands before us like the praying Pharisee, confident of his own morality and goodness. He opens his
interview with Jesus like this: "Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Lk 18:18).
Our Lord's reply appears to evade the issue the young man had just raised. Jesus says to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God" (Lk 18:19).
But that was the issue. The rich young ruler could not be given an answer that he could assimilate, unless this issue was settled first. The issue, in fact, was "goodness."
"Are you sure you know what you're doing when you call Me good?" Jesus is asking. "Do you realize that no one is good but God?"
The young ruler did not realize that. Tragically, he thought that he himself was good. Jesus soon draws this perception from the ruler's own lips. Our Lord continues: "You know the commandments: 'Do not commit
adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Honor your father and your mother'" (18:20).
The young man's response is easily the most self-righteous boast to be found anywhere in the New Testament. He replies, "All these I have kept from my youth" (18:21). How readily this man might have joined in the prayer of the Pharisee, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men."
But he was like other men. He was not the "good" man this boast makes him out to be. Only God was good! This man was selfish. Moreover, there was no hope for him in the law. Paul knew that fact when he declared: "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Ro 3:20).
This young man's heart had not been properly penetrated by the convicting work of the law. Perhaps he had not committed adultery or murder. Perhaps he had not stolen or perjured himself. But had he honored his father and mother from his youth? Had he never disobeyed them? Had he never failed to render to them their due? No young man walks the face of the earth who can make a claim like that.
Any failure collapsed all his claims under the law, as James puts it so forcefully: "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all (Jas 2:10). The rich young ruler was a lawbreaker no matter what he thought. Therefore, he was not good. The problem was he didn't know it.
Our Lord's next remark was cryptic: "You still lack one thing" (Lk 18:22). What did this man lack if he was to possess eternal life? No Christian reader of Luke's day was likely to miss the point. What this man really lacked was the childlike spirit needed to enter the kingdom of God (18:17). What he lacked was the full reliance on God's mercy by which alone he could be justified (18:13-14). What he lacked, in a word, was childlike faith.
Yet in our day and time the appalling answer frequently given to this question is that the young man lacked "submission to Christ," or "the willingness to sacrifice all," or something similar. But this conclusion flies directly into the face of the preceding context in Luke, and it dismisses as irrelevant the repeated statements of John's gospel on the theme of eternal life. Both of these mistakes guarantee confusion and misunderstanding.
Of course the young man needed faith in Christ. What else did Jesus' opening words imply? "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God" (Lk 18:19; italics added). How loudly do these words proclaim, "You need to think seriously about who I am"!
Of course, Jesus was good, because he was God. He was, in fact, the Christ, God's Son. And believing this truth, the young man would have possessed eternal life (Jn 20:30-31). But the young ruler is not at all ready to comprehend these facts.
Nor is anyone, really, for whom the thought still lingers that he is "good" in God's sight. Jesus therefore sends this man away with words intended to move his heart in the right direction: "Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me" (Lk 18:22). Clearly these words are an invitation to discipleship and to immense self-sacrifice. But we must not make them say something they do not say.
Jesus does not say, "The one thing you lack is to sell your goods and give to the poor." Neither does he say, "Selling your goods and giving to the poor is the way to acquire eternal life." No, what Jesus does here is more subtle than either of these things. Perhaps we may paraphrase His words like this: "You do lack something. What I suggest is that you give up everything to be My disciple and I guarantee you a rich reward in heaven for that."
What a masterstroke this is in our Lord's efforts to penetrate this self-righteous facade. On the one hand it probes him sharply on the question of his own goodness. On the other hand, it pushes him to consider the person of Christ.
How readily could his remorse at the thought of giving up all his wealth encourage a new self-assessment. Was he really good, if he preferred having his own money to relieving the needs of the poor? Was he really good if he preferred earthly treasure to heavenly treasure? Or could it be he was selfish, materialistic, and earthly minded? After all, Jesus had said, "No one is good but One, that is, God."
But another train of thought was now open to him as well. It might have gone like this:
Who does this man think he is? Does he imagine that I would give up all
my wealth for nothing more than a guarantee from him? How can any rabbi ask a man to put that much confidence in his bare word? The only person I could trust like that is God Himself!
But wait! Didn't he say, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God"?
"Could he possibly have been implying that he is God? But how could that be, unless (as some say) he is...the Christ?
No doubt Jesus knew that this man would turn his back on this call to discipleship, although among His "pupils" there were some who were unsaved (Jn 6:64). But before the rich young ruler would ever consider so drastic a step as this, he would have to come to a higher view of the person he had so glibly called "good."
Another way to express this is that Jesus knew that for this young man, trust in His Person would have to precede trust in His promise of
heavenly reward. But once he had obtained the gift of life, a gift that was absolutely free, the goal of heavenly treasure could still be reached by self-denying discipleship to the Son of God.
Such, indeed, was the course that Peter and the rest had chosen (Lk 18:28). And for their self-sacrifice, they would be rewarded many times over in the present life, and in God's kingdom they would receive an appropriate enrichment in their experience of eternal life (Lk 18:29-30). The life they already possessed by faith, could be possessed in the future even "more abundantly" (Jn 10:10).
Did the rich young ruler ever reach the conclusions to which are Lord's words directed him? Did he ever come to saving faith and to devoted discipleship to Jesus Christ? We do not know and must wait until Lord comes to find out. But according to Mark, Jesus loved this young man (10:21). We have every reason to be hopeful.

The Life of Faith

The rich young ruler, therefore, lacked faith. He lacked faith in this "Good Teacher" as God's Son, the Giver of eternal life. But naturally, then, he also lacked faith in Him as a Guide for living, and as the One who could be trusted for everything even if the ruler himself had nothing.
What the ruler really trusted was his money. In Mark's account of this incident, Jesus makes this fact plain to his disciples: "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God" (Mk 10:24).
Christian readers who found this story in Matthew or Mark or Luke could learn a great deal from it. Not only were they reminded that we enter God's kingdom by faith, and not by the works of the law, but they were reminded of something else too - a disciple also lived by faith.
In other words, Jesus Christ could be trusted for everything.One could make any sacrifice for him, even give away all one's money, and he would not wind up the loser. In the present time there would be His abundant supply (Lk 18:30), and at the end of the earthly road there would be treasure in heaven.
No wonder, then, that the Apostle Paul himself described the Christian life as a life of faith. His words are familiar and well-loved:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer a I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal 2:20; italics added).

His next words, however, urgently need to be heard afresh in the contemporary evangelical church: "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ died in vain" (Gal 2:21; italics added).
If the rich young ruler really could have earned righteousness by obedience to the law and selling all he had, there would have been no need for the Cross. Christ would have died in vain.
But for Paul, the death of Christ was not merely essential. It was the starting point for everything. Not only did it mean the end of every effort to secure acceptance before God by the law, but it meant a new kind of experience - a new type of life. Indeed, he wrote: "For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God" (Gal 2:19; italics added).
The law was no longer a functioning principle by which Paul lived. He had died to the legalistic way of life, and by faith found a righteousness from God that was apart from the law. But the justifying faith, which ended his relationship to the law, had also united him with the death of Christ. The Cross became the starting point of a new way of living to God. Paul now lived by faith in God's Son.
A life lived that way required continuing reliance on the power and sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ. The rich young ruler was not ready for a life like that, but the born again disciples of the Son of God were.

Conclusion

Some have thought that Paul and the rich young ruler were the same person. It is not possible to either prove or disprove this theory. But so far as their scriptural portraits are concerned, they are not the same person. The rich young ruler was a man who clung to the illusion that, under the law, he was "good." Paul was a man who had thrown that illusion away and accepted "the righteousness of God" which is "by faith in Jesus Christ" (Ro 3:22; see Php 3:7-9).
The rich young ruler turned his back on the sacrificial path which led to treasure in heaven, while Paul walked that path for many years and could anticipate triumphantly "the crown of righteousness" which the Lord would give him in a day to come (2 Ti 4:8).
The result of their fundamental differences was that Paul had a living Lord on whom he could rely. The rich young ruler had only his money.

***********************************

Absolutely Free
by Zane C. Hodges
Rendencion Viva

Ron, - If you're interested I have a copy I'll send to you. Just let me know. No library should be without it...

August 15, 2008 2:48 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

AMEN! Great reading and GREAT learning. Thank you all.

Diane
:-)

August 16, 2008 12:50 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Hi Jo Ann, - You live surrounded by all that green natural beauty... I'm jealous! Everything is dry, brown and fire prone down here...

Interesting thing happened to me just recently. We decided to try attending a church that was twenty five miles away but whose doctrinal statement was really clear - especially on salvation and grace. The pastor is an excellent teacher and every time he talks about salvation he is right on and adds none of the normal baggage that you hear all too often. I decided I needed to find out what his views were so I sent him an e-mail asking him directly whether he was free grace. He replied that he was and that he had studied under Radmacher!!! Kind of interesting in light of all this FGA controversy... Anyhow, needless to say - my wife and I were thrilled with that answer and are looking forward to getting more involved and connected in this church!

Anyhow, hang in there Jo Ann - your comments and your recognition of the simplicity of God's grace are a great, great encouragement to me (and I'm sure many others on this blog)! Thank the Lord for grace connections through cyberspace and thank the Lord for you Jo Ann!

August 16, 2008 1:55 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

Glad to see you back! I'm afraid I created a storm while you were gone, and you weren't here to calm it. I needed a gentle spirit involved in the mix. Oh well what's one ear anyway, I would have given it back...I tend to get right to the quick of it, maybe to quick!
Hope you had a good time with your missionary guest.

alvin

August 16, 2008 4:28 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Alvin,

I've been reading all of your comments on the blog this week. I would just print it out and read it later in the day when I found the extra time. I don't think you created a storm at all. In fact, I think your comments were extremely helpful in clarifying these important issues. I'm always learning from you, and I'm always glad to see your name appear on the blog. DON'T STOP!!!

My husband and I had a wonderful visit with our New Tribes Missionary friends. I actually got into a very good discussion with the wife about the content of saving faith and the book of John. She sees the issue clearly and it all went back to understanding the purpose of the book John. It was a good week.

WJC.... That article was great that you posted from Zane's book, "Absolutely Free."
This blog is like being enrolled in a Bible College. It's so helpful in my growth.
Also, I'm thrilled that you and your wife may have found a good free grace church!!!

Antonio, I can't wait for you to get back in full swing. I miss you.

I appreciate Ron's questions. I admit that I don't understand why he doesn't get the distinction between the free gift of eternal life and the costliness of discipleship, but if he's truly seeking truth, God will open his eyes to see. I'm glad you're still with us, Ron.

I'll be here reading the blog for a few more days and then off to Colorado on a vacation with my husband. YEA!!! I'll have to catch up on all your helpful posts when I get back.

Hope each day is filled with the joy of remembering that Jesus loves us with an everlasting love, and that He is ALWAYS and ONLY good!

Rejoicing in Him today,
Diane
:-)

August 16, 2008 5:14 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

Thanks for the encouragement!!! Sounds like fun “Colorado” rocky mountain high . . .someday I’ll be retired and be able to go , , , until then I’ll just have to sing the song…Ha! Ha!

alvin

August 16, 2008 6:26 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane and all,

First, I greet each of you in the name of the Lord Jesus. Diane, I will always be with you just because as part of the body of Christ, we are one. Do I believe you are teaching erroneous doctrine? Yes, but that does not supercede my love or concern for you.

Diane, you stated "I admit that I don't understand why he doesn't get the distinction between the free gift of eternal life and the costliness of discipleship, but if he's truly seeking truth, God will open his eyes to see. I'm glad you're still with us, Ron. The reason you don't understand is because you are trying to separate the Word of God when it should not be separated. There is no distinction between the free gift of eternal life and the cost of discipleship. That is the heart of your problem. Jesus never commanded us to get people saved, He commanded us to make disciples. No person can become a disciple unless they believe. You could not become an adult unless you were first a child, but the process did not stop at childhood. Under your doctrine, I can simply believe for eternal life and stop right there. That is error.

I am working on a response to the Zane Hodges excerpt. It will probably be too long to post here, but I saw immediately that Mr. Hodges makes a serious error in his liberal interpretation. I will do my best to summarize so that it is not so long. Please forgive me, but I am not aware of any other venues where we can have this discussion. I will honor any request to move to another thread or post if that is more appropriate.

August 17, 2008 4:55 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

wjc and others,

I read the excerpt by Mr. Hodges. Here are some responses:

Mr. Hodges stated “What this man really lacked was the childlike spirit needed to enter the kingdom of God (18:17).” The Bible does not say this is what the man lacked. This is the danger in teachings like this. The author has interjected his own opinion into the Word of God, and clearly the Word states we are not to add or take away from the Word of God. Unfortunately, Mr. Hodges, in his attempt to interpret the Bible, has created more questions than answers. For example, is Mr. Hodges implying that the Kingdom of God and eternal life are the same? Next, is he implying that Jesus is a liar? If belief in Jesus is all that is needed, why would Jesus avoid telling this ruler the truth? The ruler asked Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life. According to your doctrine, Jesus should have said "believe in Me only." Anything else would be a lie. But God cannot lie. So how do we resolve this dilemma?

Finally, I do not want to appear to imply that Mr. Hodges has no truth. Certainly most of what he was saying is true. Yet, the problem we have today is the same problem Paul fought against in his day. You have teachers who have a mingled seed, teaching part of the truth mixed with their own philosophy. Again, this is why you following an individual doctrine is not healthy for you or the body of Christ.

Please show me in the Bible where we are commanded to save people. I know Jesus commanded us to make disciples, but I have not seen where He commanded us to save people.

August 17, 2008 5:43 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Ron,

I do believe that we are at an impasse. I don't know very much, but one thing I do know.... God has given me eternal life. He who has the Son has life. There's nothing I can ever do to change that. My works (good or bad) have nothing to do with me getting it, keeping it, or proving that I have it. I HAVE ETERNAL LIFE! I HAVE HIM!!!

Once saved, I began my journey of discipleship.... learning at His feet via the Word. If I stop following Him (being a disciple) I'm still saved, but I will suffer the consequences of my choices. As His child God will discipline me with the goal of bringing me back into fellowship with Him. If I refuse, then the consequences of sinful choices will follow. Sin produces death. Christians are not immune to those consequences here on earth. If a Christian takes drugs, he will suffer the consequences of those drugs just like an unbeliever. If I refuse to return to the Lord (obedience) then I will not experience the blessings that He has for me in this life, and I will suffer loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ (rewards). But I will be saved (with the Lord) forever.

I learned a long time ago how to distinguish heaven/hell passages from discipleship passages. If there's a WORK involved, it's NOT talking about heaven/hell (not justification salvation). If it's FREE then heaven/hell IS the meaning (referring to justification salvation).

One other thought that just came to my mind. SIN IS NO LONGER THE ISSUE that keeps us from God. Jesus Christ alone removed the sin barrier that kept us ALL from God. God is propitiated!!! Jesus is the propitiation (satisfaction) for the sins of the whole world. He paid the price for EVERYBODY'S sin. PAID IN FULL~!!! People are not paying for their sins in hell. How can you pay for something that has already been paid for? People go to hell because they don't have God's LIFE. After Jesus paid for our sin and removed the sin barrier that kept us from God, He offered us LIFE (His life). Because He is JUST He was able to do that. Those who take His free gift of Life are saved forever. Those who don't take His free gift of Life suffer judgment in hell forever because they didn't have LIFE.

You should be receiving 2 commentaries soon by Zane Hodges. Even though you have determined that he is in error, I hope you will check out every point that he makes via the scriptures that he presents. I'll be praying about that. I won't be praying that God will open your eyes to see MY way... but HIS way. I don't matter. Of course you know that. The scriptures alone are the authority.

There's so much I don't know from the Bible. I'm sure I will be learning throughout all eternity. But one thing I know..... He who has the Son has LIFE, and He who does not have the Son of God does not have LIFE. I have LIFE. I'm the receiver. HE'S The Giver!!! And I praise Him for His wonderful, glorious gift!!!

God's best to you,
Diane

August 17, 2008 12:07 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Hi Diane,

You said, "Once saved, I began my journey of discipleship.... learning at His feet via the Word. If I stop following Him (being a disciple) I'm still saved, but I will suffer the consequences of my choices. As His child God will discipline me with the goal of bringing me back into fellowship with Him. If I refuse, then the consequences of sinful choices will follow. Sin produces death. Christians are not immune to those consequences here on earth. If a Christian takes drugs, he will suffer the consequences of those drugs just like an unbeliever. If I refuse to return to the Lord (obedience) then I will not experience the blessings that He has for me in this life, and I will suffer loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ (rewards). But I will be saved (with the Lord) forever."

It could not be better said. I agree with this. I will leave it at that.

Now, since we do agree on this, I am curious as to why the focus on belief as opposed to discipleship. This is not an argument! I just want to understand. Jesus commanded us to make disciples, so I would simply like to know the reason for the change in focus.

August 17, 2008 4:56 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Ron,

I'm going to ask one of our other friends to PLEASE JUMP IN HERE AND HELP ME OUT WITH AN ANSWER. I don't know how to make it any clearer than what I and others have already said.

But...........you know me... I'll try again! :-)
A disciple is a learner. Jesus wants us to make disciples.

Here's what comes first...... the saving message, then the conversion when believed.
Jesus said to the Samaritan woman (John 4:10).....
"If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
The living water that Jesus would give her is the *saving message* that springs up into everlasting life when believed.
Jesus went on to tell her in verses 13,14..... "Whoever drinks of this water [physical water] will thirst again, but whoever drinks [BELIEVES] of the water that I shall give him [BELIEVES THE MESSAGE THAT HE BRINGS REGARDING EVERLASTING LIFE] will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." [emphasis in brackets mine]
Notice..... one drink and she will NEVER thirst again. That's called being born again, passing from death to life. It's free. No conditions of work. Believe. Just simply receiving a gift.

Now God wants her to learn from Him and be His disciple. This is sanctification, and it is a process throughout life. Sanctification is not guaranteed. Sanctification is becoming more and more like Christ in our experience. Positionally we are perfect in His eyes, but not in experience. We are being transformed from glory to glory as we look into His mirror (the scriptures) and obey.... walk by faith. This is being a "disciple indeed" as the Bible calls it (John 8:31)!!!
In the future when we go to be with the Lord we will be experiencially sinless.

Ron, until you see this distinction, you will not believe anything I'm saying because you look at passages from a Lordship Salvation position..... through the eyes of works salvation. As long as you see FREE and COST as different sides of the same coin, we are at an impasse.

I truly do wish you God's best, and His best is that you see as He sees. That's God's best for me, too.

A friend,
Diane

August 17, 2008 8:00 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Just some thoughts to ponder on . . .

The question could be asked: Why does God give a broad call “repentance toward God” and a narrow call “faith in Jesus Christ” for eternal life? (Acts 20:21)

Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance.

2 Cor 7:10a For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation

Jesus didn’t come to destroy mens life but to save them (Luke 9:56) this takes in more then just the gift of eternal life but also the saving of the life.

Jesus allowed people to follow Him who He called disciples (John 6:60-68) but yet had not believed in Him for eternal life. Why?

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:27,28)
Notice the sequence “they follow Him, then He gives them eternal life.


Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31,32)

Here we have ones who believed Jesus, and Jesus goes on to tell them ONLY if they abide in His word will they know the truth and the truth will set them free. Just to have the gift of eternal life does not set one free, Jesus came to set the captives free and that is only done through discipleship which is to lose your life to gain it.

Also,
The Rich young Ruler asked Jesus “what shall I do to inherit eternal life.” (Luke 18:18) Inheriting eternal life as something you do has to do with works and rewards. Jesus will give eternal life to anyone who comes to Him as a little child in simplicity of faith.

“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ”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. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in your sight. (Luke 10:21)

Then in verse 25:
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I DO TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE?”
(emphasis mine)
sounds just like the Rich Young Ruler (wise, prudent, meaning self assured).

alvin

August 17, 2008 8:17 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin....
Thanks for posting those great verses!!

Ron....
I just reread your post to me saying that you agreed with what I said. I'm curious....
Why then do you think I'm teaching erroneous doctrine?

Diane

August 17, 2008 9:09 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

P.S.
Ron, would you please answer this one question for me with just a YES or NO. I appreciate that so much. Thank you.

Q.... Do you believe that a person is born again simply by believing that Jesus Christ has given him everlasting life?
Saying the same thing in a little different way....
Q.... Do you believe that a person will go to heaven by simply believing in Jesus Christ as the only way?

Thank you.

Diane
:-)

August 17, 2008 9:33 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Other things that need to be taken into consideration concerning dividing the word of truth is this point.

The word “save” is not used very often in the Gospel of John but when it is it’s speaking of simply believing in Jesus for eternal life.
Here are the three times it’s used:
“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.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
(Emphasis are mine to show perish in verse 16 parallels condemn in 17 and everlasting life parallels saved in 17.)

“Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. (John 5:34)

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9)

Then we see in Mark 16:16 another meaning for “save” that includes baptism.
“He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Notice that emphasis is put on believing not on baptism for the one who is condmned. The save here does not only include the gift of eternal life but the gift of the Holy Spirit that had not yet been given. The ones in Acts 2 had to repent and be baptized first before they would be given the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). But they already had eternal life the moment they believed that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 2:37 what shall we do?). (1 John 5:1a Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God).

Jesus Himself made the distinction that it is the one who does not believe who will be condemned. And this is consistent with the offer of eternal life as a free gift that anyone is invited to take freely. (Rev 22:17; John 4:10).
So in conclusion "saved" can mean more then just the gift of eternal life, and in discipleship the first step is baptism. And it should be for believers only, but we know that isn't always the case. In fact we have multitudes in our churches who have not believed Jesus simple promise of the gift of eternal life. That is why it is so important to rightly divide the word of truth.
I believe Zane has seen this problem and is refocusing the church on the gospel of John and Jesus simple promise of eternal life to the one who believes.
Those who mix something that is free with something that is costly confuse initial faith with the walk of faith and do the church a great dis-service.

Where art thou brother Antonio, I can always depend on you to keep me on the straight and narrow…heh..he

August 18, 2008 4:15 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Alvin,

It appears you choose to argue. Your comment does not make sense. You stated "Inheriting eternal life as something you do has to do with works and rewards. Jesus will give eternal life to anyone who comes to Him as a little child in simplicity of faith." Inheritance has nothing to do with works. Inheritance comes as the result of a promise. So, in your case, you end up refuting your own doctrine.

Diane,

I do not equate everlasting life with being born again. From your previous posts, I did not think you did either. My answer to question 1 is no. To be born again, a person must be born of the spirit.

My answer to question 2 is also no. I do believe, as you do, that by believing, a person will receive eternal life. That does not equate to the Kingdom of Heaven.

August 18, 2008 4:23 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane,

Sorry, I had not read an earlier post you made. In that post, you stated "A disciple is a learner. Jesus wants us to make disciples." We agree on that. My question was why the change in focus? You indicated a person has to believe first. Jesus knew that. He also knew that we can never really know who believes and who doesn't. What we do know is this - a disciple is one who believes, and confirms that belief with corresponding works. If I do what Jesus commanded me to do, then those who I am discipling will believe and inherit eternal life. It is not necessary for me to dangle a carrot in front of them, because I am presenting them with the whole truth of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

You did partially answer my question, and if you know of Scripture where Jesus commands US to bring people to salvation, I would appreciate that. Again, I am open to the truth, the whole truth.

August 18, 2008 4:35 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

And what ever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.
Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
But he who does wrong will be paid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.
Colossians 3:23-25

August 18, 2008 5:22 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Ron by your tone, you sound like the one who likes to argue.

When ever eternal life is spoken as a future possesion it is speaking of reward as these verses make clear:

So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or fathers or mothers or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, "who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time-houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions-and in the age to come, eternal life.

We have eternal life which is the life of Christ the moment we believe. This is speaking of a richer experience of that life as a reward for being obedient.

also Matthew 19:28,29
alvin

August 18, 2008 5:51 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

I’m sure others here could give similar testimonies showing that we want to make disciples and not just born again believers.
I discipled five young men for quite some time, some of them were my fellow workers. I worked in a plywood plant for 30 yrs most of it as a Lathe operator. Two of the young men pulled on my green chain. The Lord kept putting on my heart to go down and give them a break on my break. I didn’t really want to do that, but the Lord never let up. Finally I went down, that’s how I first met them. One was a young Indian man who was an alcoholic. I invited them to my house for a bible study. They told me later that when they would get through with the bible study they would go out and get drunk. I discipled them for quite some time before they came to saving faith. Then I encouraged them to follow Jesus in baptism and discipleship. My pastor asked me if I would help baptize all five of them, which I was tickled to do. Just like Jesus I want believers to not only have eternal life but to be saved from the power of sin in their lives. I want them to know the truth and the truth to set them free. They will only have victory if they know who they are in Christ. I have one man at work now who has believed in Jesus for His gift of eternal life, and I have been trying to disciple him. He was raised Catholic and worked in prisons, and has terrible language. His sin is easily seen and for sure heard. My Lieutenant keeps saying he’s not saved because of his language. We all have sins but some no one ever sees but God. My Lieutenant sometimes tells dirty jokes but he doesn’t seem to see there is no difference. My Lt. Believes you can lose your salvation. I have no reason not to believe that my co-worker is born again, but he is of yet to live as a son of God that Jesus might be seen in him.
Also if anyone has read Zane Hodges book “Here Walks My Enemy” the story of Luis. You will see Zanes heart concerning discipleship. Luis is a pastor at Zanes church.
This will be my last post on this thread, I don't want it to turn into an argument.

alvin

August 18, 2008 5:55 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Alvin,

Thank you for your last post. You stated "I’m sure others here could give similar testimonies showing that we want to make disciples and not just born again believers." That is our common ground, as that is the commission that our Lord Jesus gave us.

The reason that is so important is because we have no idea who believes and who doesn't. If we do as Jesus says and disciple, we know that those who take up their cross and lay down their own lives as a result of being discipled are believers because as Jesus Himself said, we will know them by their fruit.

Again, I agree with you that eternal life begins the moment person accepts Jesus as Savior. And I also agree that there are people that can accept Him as Savior, but not as Lord.

So, for my own understanding, I was simply wondering what is the origin of the change in focus from making disciples to asking people to believe in Jesus.

Please note that while I am always interested in reading, I don't reference any man for understanding. I am currently being trained (and have been so for over a decade) by Randy Shankle and Jeff Arrington, and I also have studied men such as Ron Sider, Mark Noll, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Oswald Chambers. Yet, even in those, I must always confirm what they have written with the truth of the Word of God.

Alvin, you can see that I am very passionate about the truth. This, however, does not supercede my love for the brethren. I have learned in my walk with Christ that sometimes it is better to be wrong and let someone live, than to be right and kill them in the process.

August 18, 2008 6:37 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin...

Thank you for sharing that wonderful testimony. I'll be praying for these men as God brings them to my mind. It's good for us to hear how God is working through His children to bring people to faith in Him. Also neat to hear how you reach out to disciple them in God's Word.
What a privileged place you're in!!!
Also thank you for all your posts. They help me in my walk with the Lord.

Ron....
Thank you for answering my questions. I appreciate that.
I probably won't be continuing our conversation any longer because I see we're truly at an impasse.

I wish you God's best,

Diane

August 18, 2008 7:39 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane,

While I am not sure how we got to an impasse when I stated I agreed with comments you made, I can respect your desire not to continue. God Bless you.

August 18, 2008 8:09 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

This quote came from one of our Baptist missionaries here in Arkansas whose wife, Kay, is dying of Lou Gehrig's disease. It was too good not to be shared.

QUOTE....
"Kay and I are learning that the only moment we have is right now and that the only moment we are ultimately responsible for is right now. He has proven that His grace is sufficient for this moment. Yesterday's grace cannot be banked and tomorrow's grace cannot be borrowed. Grace is for now and now is when we live in the fullness of His grace. The next moment belongs to Him who is eternal and in that we are secure."

August 19, 2008 12:22 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Diane thanks for the Great Post, very true, and great wisdom!!!
Amen!
When you know Jesus is in the boat,He makes all the difference even though the storm may rage!

I got picked for war games so I've been real busy with bad guys. Your post came to my mind several times, "garce for the moment." Thank you I needed to hear that good word.

alvin

August 21, 2008 1:46 AM  
Blogger Ron said...

Diane,

I did not know how to contact you to thank you for the books, so I pray you get this message. I did receive them, and because you were kind enough to send them, I will read them. As I have mentioned in the past, I am concerned with truth, and when I find truth, particularly Biblical truth, I must align myself with the word of truth. I will keep you informed.

August 29, 2008 8:44 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Ron,

I just got back from Estes Park, CO tonight and saw your post. I'm glad you received the books. I'm also glad that you're interested only in truth. Me too! Praying that they'll be helpful.

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

August 29, 2008 9:32 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Alvin,

Whoa!!! War games? Don't know what that is, but sure hope you're not in any danger!!!

Yes, God's grace is always there for us... moment by moment!
NEAT!
:-)

August 29, 2008 9:36 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

Glad to hear from you, and that you had a safe trip.
The war games are just practice for if the real thing does happen. We practice with miles equipment, so if you get hit a little voice tells you ... your dead...ha!ha!
I took a little break from the blogging, it was starting to get to me. If I could stay away from the Calvinism I think I would do all right. That subject draws out my emotions quicker then anything because of the past. I have a hard time being able to disagree without being disagreeable. I need to take your good advice and pray over what I say a day before I past it.
Diane, thank you for your kindness and example for me.

brother john

September 08, 2008 10:44 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Alvin,

Glad to hear that you're not really in danger... war games!!!

I understand about taking a break from blogging. I need that, too. But I think that you are always gracious with your remarks and very clear. I always appreciate what you have to say, and your explanations have been very helpful to me.

Calvinism! That's a subject that the young ladies in my Bible Study like to discuss. Tonight I was talking to one of the young moms in my class, and she put it this way. If God really picked only certain people to believe in Him, but not others, it would NOT bring glory to Him (as Calvinist like to say... "It's for the glory of God!). His character is love. It's not loving to create a person and then make it impossible for him to believe in Christ. That's not love. And GOD IS LOVE.
Yes, human beings are totally depraved. They are dead in their sins. But that doesn't mean they are unable to believe. It means that they are unable to save themselves. The great news is that Jesus died for everybody, and His gift of eternal life is offered to everybody. He's the only One who can save us. And He offers the gift of eternal life freely to all who will believe in Him.

All I can say is.....
JESUS....... YOU ARE AN AWESOME GOD!!!!

To Him be all the glory and praise!
Diane
:-)

September 09, 2008 8:25 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

Very well said! I agree completely! Amen!!!

alvin

September 09, 2008 11:33 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi All

I want to pick your brains a bit, and see what you think of this persons evangelizing. I hope you dont mind Antonio, if you do just delete it...thank you

Re: my evangelism. My "off the cuff" text for evangelism is indeed John 3:16. My outline is simple and direct from the text:

1)The World God Loved – I take this to be the whole race and say so I tie it in with 1 John 5:19 that the whole world lieth in wickedness and I move from the general ("world") to the individual – ("you, my listener") [I believe that God's love for the whole world – elect or otherwise – is real and should encourage the listener in the street to trust God and seek to know more about Him. In order to facilitate this, I tell them that there is something more that that they should know about the love of God.]

2) The Son God Gave I explain the need for atonement – the holiness/justice of God etc., I preach up the sufficiency of the blood of Christ to cleanse away every sin and the fact that it does so for the sins of all who trust Him. I dwell on the actual sufferings of the Cross and emphasis how God must hate sin if this is the price that its removal entailed.

3) The Promise God Made I emphasis the "whosoever" in this text to mean every single last person. I assure the listener that none who come in faith are ever turned away. While I explain faith as trusting God's word with the heart, I do not see the need to explain how the Spirit moves upon those who come as I do not see the need or generally find it helpful. (If I mention "God", I do not see the need to present the ontological argument or explain the intricacies of the Trinity. In this regard, a lot of my theological knowledge is on the "backburner" ) I am fishing for the souls of the men. I am desirous to woo them to Christ. I reason with them about the width of the offer and the benefits of coming and the folly of staying away. [In short, I sow the good seed and I leave it to God to use it as He sees fit.]

In my evangelism, I am quite happy to use language similar to that of AW Pink who closed his evangelistic meetings in 1927 with words like these:

"Why not believe in him for yourself? Why not trust his precious blood for yourself, and why not tonight? Why not tonight, my friend? God is ready, God is ready to save you now if you believe on him. The blood has been shed, the sacrifice has been offered, the atonement has been made, the feast has been spread. The call goes out to you tonight. 'Come, for all things are now ready.'" (Studies in the Scriptures 1927)

If you noticed in reading all that explanation of John 3:16 not ONE time do you find the gift of eternal life mentioned.
I have a Mormon friend who would agree to what was stated. And even has gone so far as to say he believes in the gift of eternal life. But when I pushed him more, he said "that doesn't mean you can just go do what ever you want. God does His part but you must do your part also."
How does Jesus evangelism fit into all this:
The Greek tenses in John 4:10 would permit the following interpretation of the NKJV rendering:
"If you [now] knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink', you would [already] have asked Him, and He would [already] have given you living water". (The Gospel Under Siege by Zane Hodges page 156)
Does a person have to be a disciple or willing to be a disciple before Jesus would give them the living water?

alvin

September 13, 2008 7:05 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

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 (2 Cor 11:3)

"Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1b)

I believe one of the biggest stumbling blocks out there is Jesus simple promise to give to the one who believes eternal life. They truly do not believe God would give eternal life as a free gift. They believe everything else but not that, it's just to simple.

And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"
And let him who hears say, "Come!"
And let him who thirsts come.
Whoever desires, let him take the water freely.

alvin

September 14, 2008 5:21 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Sorry but I’m not going to pursue this any longer. If someone wants to take it up that’s fine. I’ve decided to give up the blogging. I just don’t feel I have the temperament for it. This is a message I left at Roses site which might benefit someone here.
My goodbye words:
I feel led to make this final statement, and it comes straight from my heart. This all has laid very heavy on my heart. This might not mean anything to some of you, but I hope you at least think about it.
When I look into a persons eyes and share with them John 3:16 I know God loves them, and provided for them on the cross. Maybe that’s just words to some of you so it doesn’t matter. But I believe that’s where the rubber meets the road so to speak, and not just empty words to the majority of people. I know with my own wife it took much convincing because she had been told she was maybe not one of the elect. She had a hard time believing anyone could love her, so the thought that God might not love her was easy for her to believe when she couldn’t even love her self.
God Bless everyone, and so long!
alvin

September 15, 2008 4:26 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Oh Alvin....

PLEASE DO NOT STOP BLOGGING!!!
YOU HAVE HELPED ME SO MUCH IN UNDERSTANDING THIS VERY IMPORTANT SUBJECT... "THE BULLS EYE!"...
and more!!!

I saw your 2 posts and read them carefully, but I just haven't had a chance to sit down and reply, and put my own thoughts together. It's such an important subject, and I didn't want to quickly just write out anything. I'm still thinking through it.

I, too, become weary sometimes at blogging. I'm sure that happens to Antonio too. Forgive me, Antonio, for assuming what might not be true. But I was just telling my husband last night that if it wasn't for blogging with those people who understand the issues that are so heavy on my heart, I wouldn't have much of an outlet to discuss these issues. There's not many around me who understand. My husband does. I thank God for him.

SO PLEASE DON'T STOP BLOGGING. MAYBE TAKE A BREAK, BUT DON'T STOP. AND PLEASE LET US KNOW THAT YOU'RE NOT GOING TO STOP FOR GOOD.

Thanks so much. May the Lord fill your heart (and your wife's) with the joy of knowing Him and walking with Him through the good and bad times. It's so true.... HE LOVES YOU AND YOUR WIFE WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE!!!

Your friend always because of Jesus,
Diane
:-)

September 15, 2008 9:22 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin... I hope you'll help me out here. I was a little confused on your one post. You said....
*Re: my evangelism. My "off the cuff" text for evangelism is indeed John 3:16. My outline is simple and direct from the text:*
Then you listed 1, 2, and 3.

Were you telling about someone else's way of evangelizing? I think you were, but I wasn't sure. Forgive me for being so dense.

I (like you) want to make it clear what Jesus is offering to the person who believes in Him. Eternal life.
I think you were saying that you can give all kinds of true information and yet not get to the "bulls eye" that must be believed to be saved. Help me out by letting me know if I missunderstood your point.

And I sure hope you're still out there and that you changed your mind about not blogging. We all need your insight.... at least I do, and I'm sure many others who read but don't necessarily blog.

Thanks again.
Diane
:-)

September 15, 2008 1:46 PM  
Blogger Peggie said...

Alvin,
I'm with Diane on this. I would certainly miss your input. It is
so comforting to read comments that
I agree with and you say them much
better than I ever could.
God bless you, Alvin.

September 15, 2008 5:59 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Alvin, - I've been traveling so haven't been able to comment. Please, please don't quit - your comments are like taking that deep breath of fresh ocean air that just clears your head and restores your energy - so please don't quit!

We need you!!!

Your brother,
- Jon

September 16, 2008 6:13 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

ALVIN.... PLEASE COME BACK!
I'm writing this here on this post because I don't know if you've even seen Antonio's latest post. Just in case you have not, I decided to send you another message here on this post because it's the last one you entered in on.
PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON ANTONIO'S NEW POST.
WE NEED YOU. WE APPRECIATE YOUR INPUT.
Even if you think you said something offensive and you think you're not cut out for blogging... you're much appreciated. We all say things we're sorry for after the fact. But, hey.... that's what forgiveness is all about. God loves us and forgives us and amazingly keeps using us. And we really appreciate your input on these matters. So......
PLEASE COME BACK!!! Thanks so much.

Diane

September 22, 2008 12:00 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

"Both of you (in my ears) are saying that theologically complex or at least nonintuitive concepts are not necessary for salvation. The question being asked, that you might be disagreeing upon, is whether or not the man coming into salvation might be able to reject them and still be saved."

Recently some JW's came to my door. I went outside and conversed with them for a while.

I tried to answer their errors and give them some truth. Finally I presented the Gospel to them. They rejected it just like the Calvinists, Arminians, RC's, OC's, and others do.

And what is interesting is that they responded precisely in the same way as do the so-called fgs, that such a gospel means they can live as they like, and hence is wrong.

So, in answer to your query, I am not so concerned with the people you question, but with those who claim to be fgs but deny our understanding.

I am not convinced that a person who denies the gospel as presented by GES has really ever actually believed in Him for eternal life.

Gary

February 14, 2009 7:45 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

wjc

you said:

"This controversy is about what the irreducible minimum information is upon which someone can be saved. Is it enough if someone reads John 3:16 and believes in the Son for eternal life? Some in the FG camp say emphatically “no”. "

I sincerely hope you are correct.

What my concern is is it seems very hard to explain.

Let me phrase my concern by a question:

Is it possible for a person to actually believe any offer of the gospel and add to it these other things we are discussing?

Don't RC's, OC's, JW's all CLAIM to believe John 3:16?

Also, since most fgrs would agree on the answer for the above mentioned groups, that is not MY concern.

What concerns me is whether even professing fgers, Calvinists, etc., actually believe John 3:16.

In my view, one must believe the proposition God made, not some other proposition created in their minds, (which in my view actually means that they DO NOT believe the saving gospel.)

While I greatly appreciate your idea, I question whether it goes far enough.

Can those sophists who do add to the proposition God made actually believe what He said?

Does one actually believe John 3:16 when one has mental constructs in place which alter its meaning, and they actually believe the CHANGED proposition constructed in their minds?

Gary

February 14, 2009 8:19 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

"It will be like birth pangs which will become worse and worse like a child being born."

celestial: "You got to admit it happens a lot slower than Noah's flood did!"

I would admit no such thing! Are you at all familiar with labor pains?

I am sure that the flood took hours if not days to conver the earth.

Actually, remember, it took 40 days and 40 nights!

So, no, again EVERY argument you put forward has no merit at all.


Why do you INSIST on a teaching which contradicts all scripture on the second coming?

Why can you not see that one part of Christ's coming is preceded by many signs but another part has no signs preceding it at all?

This is SO OBVIOUS that it pains me that anyone who believes the Bible doesn't get it.

Gary

February 14, 2009 9:16 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Gary,

I hope people know that you're here at this particular post. It's an older post and unless they receive notice of your comment, no one will know. Hopefully wjc will receive that notice. I did. Good stuff being discussed!!!
:-)

I know a lot of believers whose testimony bears witness that they simply believed in Jesus alone to eternally save them, yet now argue that you must believe such and such if you're really saved. They didn't believe that stuff (by their own testimony) when they got saved (of course). I think there are lots of born again people who did simply believe in Jesus for His free gift of eternal life but later just got bad teaching that is EVERYWHERE in churches today!!!

The danger is that too many people now-a-days are only hearing the false gospel that saves no one!!!

Always good to see your name pop up on the blog. You are a blessing.

Your free grace friend,
Diane
:-)

February 14, 2009 9:51 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

RON said:

"Therefore, to say that one believes that Jesus is the Christ is to say the one believes that Jesus died for that person’s sins"

Now if you mean by this that anyone who so believes has eternal life and is eternally secure and can never be lost, then you agree with the free grace position.

While such a rendering is not very precise, it will do.

1Jo 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God:

One cannot be "unborn."

Gary

February 15, 2009 3:29 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Ron said:

"The reason that is so important is because we have no idea who believes and who doesn't. If we do as Jesus says and disciple, we know that those who take up their cross and lay down their own lives as a result of being discipled are believers because as Jesus Himself said, we will know them by their fruit."

This IS the problem Ron!

There are millions upon millions of professing christians who are as lost as the devil!

These person, by their behavior, YOU would say are saved, but by their testimony the prove they are lost.

You completely misunderstand the scripture you quote about "you shall know them by their fruit."

Here Jesus is speaking of the fruit "of teaching" and your fruit is quite evident to us all.

Gary

February 15, 2009 8:36 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

AMEN Gary!!!

Too many people have for so long been taught so bad. I'm so thankful for people like you who are not backing down on truth because you want people to go to heaven. You want them to be saved.
Bless you for that!!!

Diane
:-)

February 15, 2009 9:18 PM  

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