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)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I am Alive and Kicking (and Praising the Lord!)

Dear readers of Free Grace Theology Blog,

Thank you for your continued patronage. Things have been very busy in my life recently. My wife is opening up a restaurant for her company and has been working 13-hour days for the last month. I wake up at 3am, go to work, pick up my youngest children, drop off the carpool, get my kids on their homework, get them a snack, pick up my eldest son from cross-country practice, make dinner, clean up, get the kids bathed, do our devotions and bed-time reading, and get them to bed. By this time it is 8:30, I get a little time with the Lord and get to sleep, sleeping only about 6 hours, and wake up and start it all over again. You think that I would have some time on Saturdays… well, I work 12 hours also on that day which includes my second job. Add to this that my eldest son now attends a charter high school where he is only on campus two days a week and the rest of the time is independent study. It is my job to keep him on track and task, and help him with his home studies. Thankfully there is light at the end of the tunnel, in that the restaurant will finally open sometime next week, and my wife will not have to spend any more time training the front-end staff. She has been training over 80 individuals (servers, bussers, hosts) on all the points of fine dining service.

There are so many things to talk about.

Recently, Zane Hodges wrote an article in the Grace Evangelical Society newsletter addressing many people’s tendency in Christianity to test one’s profession in the Lord Jesus Christ by their adherence to various and arbitrary orthodox doctrines. This he calls ‘doctrinal legalism’. He did a great job of arguing (quite simply, by the way) that their touchstone passage (1 Cor 15:1ff) does not serve the purpose they have projected upon it. I highly recommend this article! You must read it!

I simply cannot do the article justice in a review, for the article is only two pages long, short enough for you to read under 8 minutes, and I would ask you to be the judge. If you want to be mailed this current newsletter, please call (972) 257-1160 and ask for one to be speedily sent out to you, and you can be signed up to be on their free mailing list.

I have been very busy, tired – and a bit burnt out from blogging. Yet I feel as though Zane’s article, the few recent phone conversations that I have had with Zane and Bob Wilkin, and some encouragement from the Lord has blown some more wind into my sails. I plan on writing and publishing something this week which will address current issues in Free Grace Theology.

Ok, ok! I can’t help myself. I will just give a couple of sentences from Zane’s article:

… recently another form of legalism… has achieved a heightened profile. This [theology] maintains that eternal salvation is by “correct doctrinal conviction.” It is not enough to simply believe that Jesus Christ gives us eternal life when we believe in Him for that. We must also believe certain orthodox doctrines which go along with such belief. But these doctrines are not in themselves identical with believing in Jesus Christ for eternal life. Instead these beliefs form a kind of checklist that measures the validity of one’s faith. [emphasis mine] I call this form of legalism theological legalism [emphasis his]. Basically it is salvation for the orthodox![emphasis mine]

Theological legalism [emphasis his] seeks to co-opt Free Grace theology. Indeed, it masquerades as this kind of theology. But this claim is false. [In this form of legalism] [g]race is not given freely to the sinner who believes in Jesus for eternal life. Instead, grace is denied to that sinner unless he subscribes to the relevant theological propositions [emphasis mine]. A recent book entitled Getting the Gospel Wrong prescribes five core essentials that one must believe to get eternal life. If a person fails to believe even one of the five, he has believed a gospel that cannot save him.

But at this point obvious problems emerge. Who determines which theological doctrines are necessary for eternal salvation? The Bible, we are told. But where in the Bible? No single place, we are told. Who then determines what the definitive list contains? The answer, of course, boils down to this: the theological legalist himself! Because if the legalist himself doesn’t tell us, no one will ever figure it out!

[Zane C. Hodges, The Hydra’s Other Head: Theological Legalism, The Grace Evangelical Society’s Grace in Focus September/October 2008


I read today someone from New Tribes Missions who wrote a brief response to Zane’s article. What I found did not contain any thoughtful response to Zane’s arguments, but an appeal to emotion. What I have found in this conversation from the other side is much too much emotion. This type of dialogue does not have any substantive profit... it only poisons the well (which often times it seems constructed for that specific goal!).

The Lord is using Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the Grace Evangelical Society to expose the errors of our Free Grace brothers and sisters who demand doctrinal conformity as a condition for eternal life rather than only simple faith in the glorious Savior for the gift He so desires to give men and women.

Let us not garble our message by ad hoc inclusion of sundry and arbitrary doctrines in our invitations for the lost to receive eternal life. Let us simply call upon them to entrust their eternal destinies into the able hands of Christ by simple faith.

Praise the Lord for such simplicity and graciousness!

48 Comments:

Blogger wjc said...

Antonio, - Can't wait to read the article by Zane - is it available online by any chance? I'm not surprised that you've already seen some emotional arguments against Zane's article. I've been appalled by how sloppy some people are at reading and accurately understanding what has been written. Much of what I've seen written against Zane are distortions of what he has said - some probably deliberate but others just mischaracterizations due to sloppy failures to read carefully what he has written. That is often surprising considering the stature and education of some of these detractors. Of course in the end, all of these folks who attack Zane have a theological axe to grind - whether they are full blown lordship proponents or theological/soteriological legalists...

September 20, 2008 8:44 AM  
Blogger MarkR said...

Hi, I am new to this blog and have been very saddened by what has happened in free grace circles. That being said I have recently read Zane Hodges article and I must say the clarity of the article and the simplicity has renewed my sense of joy in the gospel message. It seems men are led to complicate and distort the message and the reasons can be varied. I think the motives of FGA are probably well meaning, however the outcome of those motives are terrible for assurance of salvation. I have come to really appreciate Hodges and Wilkin for their ability to cut to the chase and keep the gospel clear and easy as Jesus meant it to be. Mr. De Rosa as well has been a keen and persistent pursuer of the truth in this matter. As one who came out of the Lordship controversy and was literally rescued from a lack of assurance to what I originally knew to be true when I trusted Christ for eternal life I am eternally grateful.

September 20, 2008 10:47 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Markr,
I was glad to read your post. You said something that just grabbed my attention and I had to respond to your comment. It was this.....

"I think the motives of FGA are probably well meaning, however the outcome of those motives are terrible for ASSURANCE of salvation."
(emphasis in caps... mine)

That's exactly the problem as I see it also. I do love my friends in the FGA, and I try not to judge their hearts because only God knows WHY they are not seeing the issues clearly, especially when it comes to the Gospel of John. They have taken the book of John and made it nothing more than a history book. To them, verses like John 3:16 do not contain all the content needed to give assurance of salvation. As I've commented before... John 3:16 has always been my personal assurance verse. It was that verse that came "alive" to me when I was a teenager in high school many, many years ago. I understood for the first time that Jesus alone was my Savior based on His promise of John 3:16. NO DOUBTS ever after that because I could count on His promise. I know I'm repeating myself, but this truth is my passion because it's personal for me.

I'm so glad to hear your testimony.

All because of HIS wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)

September 20, 2008 2:11 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

MarkR,

Your visit to this blog is much appreciated. I am happy that you have come to these conclusions.

I would love to discuss things with you personally. Please email me at agdarosa@cox.net so that we can dialogue.

Your new fg friend,

Antonio

September 20, 2008 2:22 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Markr,

I will add my voice to the welcomes to you! God Bless you.

I just have to say one thing.....no, make that two.

1) Bro. Antonio, so glad to see you back. Your busy life reminds me of Jesus' words in the parable of the 10 virgins. While your life is spinning & just boiling over with business, & you must have your mind on about 2,889,064 things at once, still deep down in your heart, you are looking for that blessed hope...! God Bless you bro!

2) Jn.3:16 is a wonderful assurance verse, as is 1 Co.15:3-4, as well as Acts 16:31, as well as........ Maybe I'm just a simpleton & am missing something, but I see no problem with any of these texts giving full assurance to the believer. Christ has saved me because He did the work, & His promise seals it for me. Why must we choose betwen one OR the other? They are all precious in giving assurance. OK, I've had my say. Good to have you back bro. Antonio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 20, 2008 5:00 PM  
Blogger Sanctification said...

When I figured out this same problem in evangelical Christianity's evangelism to the lost & the babes in Christ, I called it "legalism of belief." This is something I am passionate about.

Michele

September 20, 2008 5:01 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
I still have not gotten my copy of the newsletter. I would really like to read this article.

Does anyone have a PDF they could send me? rcole@emmanuelbaptist.com

September 21, 2008 12:09 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Dear Friends,

There is a very good article written by Bob Wilkin on the GES blog-site at...
www.faithalone.org
Then CLICK on BLOG
The date and name is...

Sept. 19th - God Has Always Revealed the Saving Message.

Here's 2 sentences from his article...
"We should not think that there was one way to be born again prior to the cross and resurrection and another way to be born again later. The saving message has never changed."

I appreciate the teaching I'm getting through your blog, Antonio. Thanks to all of you who bring out truths in God's Word that I can examine to see if it is true. I thank God for all of you.

A friend in Christ,
Diane
:-)

September 21, 2008 1:30 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Thank you Diane. That was one of Dr. Bob's best ever, I believe. God Bless.

September 21, 2008 2:21 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you David. I always enjoy reading what my friends on Antonio's blog have to say. It's a pleasure to know you.

Diane
:-)

September 21, 2008 2:27 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

I'm with David on this one. All of us have believed Jesus' promise of eternal life because we understood Jesus' Death and Resurrection. And we didn't have to separate His Work and Promise in our minds in order to believe the Promise. All of us present a checklist to unbelievers, even though most of don't ask the person if they believe each individual point. I don't say you that "you have to believe this, and then that" but I still have a sort of checklist, as do you Antonio.

Antonio, you always make it clear to unbelievers that Jesus' death for the sins of the world and His Resurrection enable Him to give them eternal security. You argue that Jesus' Death and Resurrection are the instrumental means to get the person to believe Jesus' promise, but that they are not the objects of faith in and of themselves. In reality, they are also objects of faith, but it isn't complicated. Let me pose to you that the passive nature of faith and the propositional nature of truth make this proposition very EASY to grasp: I have irrevocable eternal life on the sole basis of Jesus' Death and Resurrection. One Proposition - three elements - and the person believing it isn't going to worry "Oh deary deary me , I need to put my faith in his Death, and then in His Resurrection, and then in His Promise of Eternal Security." The three elements flow naturally, and are rightly regarded as objects of faith. When the person comes to faith, a passive act, they see all three elements as perfectly tied in, with no need to separate them. How about instead of three objects, you see three elements perfectly tied in. Do I ask them if they believe each element separately? No, but it's still a sort of checklist because of all the elements I'm presenting.

Another thing Antonio, what makes you think that the concept of eternal life itself will necessarily be understood by everyone? People have a lot of misconceptions about what eternal life is based on culture, family religion, etc.

Antonio, I've also seen you state that when we believe in Jesus, we're believing in a Person, not a doctrine. But you've also said, rightly, that believing in Jesus is nothing more than believing a proposition about Him. The proposition is a doctrine Antonio. The proposition is that we have eternal security on the sole basis of His Finished Work. Even if you subtract the Finished Work as necessary content, you still have a doctrine. You'll say that I'm adding requirements, but I'm not. The reality is that when you present the Cross, and I know you do, the person who ends up believing in Jesus grasped the beautiful Promise because of the Work of Christ, and therefore, the person has all three as objects of faith, and has believed the proposition as I stated it. Remember that the Holy Spirit is doing the convicting work and illuminating their minds (John 16:9). Most likely, at the moment of faith, the person isn't going to overanalyze having three objects of faith. Why? Because he sees that on the sole basis of Jesus' Finished Work, IT IS ALREADY DONE - he has eternal security. It's a wonderful message that the person responding to the Holy Spirit will grasp.

And don't forget Antonio, you may have a 3-point checklist yourself. Of course, I agree with the 3 items. And it's still a checklist, whether or not you ask them if they believe each of the following points individually. If you don't present the first and third points below, they may miss the whole message and later become easy targets for the Calvinists and Arminians.

1. Works can't save you or keep you saved

2. Jesus gives you irrevocable eternal life

3. Realize that works can't prove your salvation either.

Points 1 and 3 have to be presented, so the person grasps point 2.

Zane has no basis to say that those who require the Death and Resurrection to be saved are theological legalists. And he definitely is off-base when he says that those FGers who require this shouldn't be called Free Grace. They are indeed Free Grace, because they tie Jesus' Death and Resurrection with eternal security in their presentation.

September 21, 2008 3:07 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Danny,

You are a friend and an ally. I appreciate your participation in the conversation. I am glad that you brought things up as you have, for it will give me the opportunity to clear things up and show the difference between what you are saying and what the GES, Zane, and I believe the Bible is saying.

I am off to the soft-opening of the new restaurant that my wife is opening for her company, so I will have to answer in verbatim tomorrow.

I just wanted to tell you this: I take exception to much of what you said. I do not believe that your assertions here will hold up under scrutiny and I will take pains to show so tomorrow.

glad you are here, Danny,

Antonio

PS: I see that you have been changing your mind, Danny. For I can produce statements from you from earlier that essentially agree with Zane Hodges in these matters.

September 21, 2008 3:43 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

Hey Antonio! Yes, I have changed my mind on this issue. I now believe a person must believe the Promise in light of the Death and Resurrection to be saved. Yet at the same time, I do NOT consider you or Zane to be heretics. I still see you guys as friends. We're all Free Grace advocates, and this issue over a hypothetical is not enough to separate me from you guys. If you guys actually rejected the Finished Work, then of course I would withdraw from you. But you don't. Plus you guys don't believe the hypothetical is that likely. We disagree on whether Jesus' Death and Resurrection is an object of faith, but you guys still preach it, so we're good.

September 21, 2008 4:54 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

Markr said the following, and Diane agreed with it:

"I think the motives of FGA are probably well meaning, however the outcome of those motives are terrible for assurance of salvation."

The FGA requires belief in Jesus' Death and Resurrection, so let's see if making it an absolute requirement is terrible for assurance. I'm assuming Mark and Diane both agree that understanding Jesus' Death and Resurrection is the instrumental and normal means to believing His Promise of eternal security. I'm assuming Mark ( I know Diane does for sure) sees assurance as the essence of faith. If Jesus' Death and Resurrection, understood in proper Free Grace context, leads you to faith (assurance) in the Promise, then that means Jesus' Death and Resurrection are the very basis of your assurance! Requiring Jesus' Death and Resurrection can't destroy assurance - It's how he provides eternal life, and it's what assures you that He makes good on His promise. You believed the Promise because you saw His work as sufficient - they are the basis for your believing the Promise - they are your assurance that He has indeed fulfilled His promise.

Imagine I say, as all of us do in some form, "that Jesus died for every sin we'll ever commit, and therefore He gives you irrevocable eternal life." Now imagine I add the following words to the beginning of the above sentence - "You have to believe." If the person understood your presentation (don't forget that you all talk about His Finished Work), then the words "you have to" are NOT going to destroy assurance. Faith is passive. If they believed what you said, then they have assurance.

September 21, 2008 5:14 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Danny,

I appreciate your good comments. Comments like yours are very good for me because they make me think. I don't want to be on the side of GES, or Antonio, or Zane Hodges, or anyone else just because I like them. I don't want to be on the side of my friends in the FGA just because I like them. I want to be on the side of truth. I want to be biblical. That drives me. That seems to be the way I'm wired. I want to know God intimately. I want to please Him in all that I do. I'm sure that you want the same thing. I agree that there is some truth in what you said, but I see a flaw.

You've missed the meaning of the Gospel of John. You've missed its purpose. As I've commented before.... I'm teaching a ladies Bible Study going through the book of John vs by vs. Rather than typing it all over again you can read what I said (if interested) by clicking on to the date "July 2008" on the right hand side of Antonio's blog...
Then under that article (guest host.... wjc) click on "comments"...
Then Scroll down to my comments dated Aug. 4, 2008 at 1:21pm.

In John the free gift that Jesus was offering was eternal life. There were 8 signs given for the purpose of proving that Jesus was the Christ, the giver of eternal life. The first sign..... turning water into wine, was for the purpose of showing those people who He was. Some people saw and believed in Him for eternal life. They were born again. How much they knew about Him may have varied, but what they believed that brought them eternal life was faith in Him for it. Sign number 2, or 3, or 4, or 5, or 6, or 7, and finally the greatest of all signs.... number 8 (the death and resurrection of Jesus) was for the purpose of showing these people that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the giver of eternal life.

Today most people probably come to believe in Jesus BECAUSE OF THE 8TH SIGN (His death and resurrection). But John's gospel is still the only book in the Bible with the *stated purpose* of being evangelistic. How much content a person needs in order to get to THAT PLACE where they recognize Jesus as the Christ, the giver of eternal life varies with individuals. Jesus, when presenting His offer of eternal life as a gift in John, never explains His work.
But I DO explain His work every time I have the opportunity because I think that's the greatest reason to believe in Him. I also admit that His death and resurrection are the reasons I came to faith in Him. I believed the 8th sign. BUT...... my assurance comes from knowing He promised me everlasting life JUST BY BELIEVING IN HIM. I never have to doubt if I believed enough information about Him to be saved. I can go to John 3:16 and know that's enough to KNOW!!! You say that I was believing in His finished work. Yes I was. But my assurance comes from His promise to save me just by believing in Him for everlasting life. If His work is required to be believed to be saved, then how can I know for sure that I've believed enough? John 3:16 is enough to give me assurance.

Too many people believe that Jesus died for their sins and rose from the grave and yet are still unsaved. They never got to the place where they believed in Him alone for everlasting life. That's the place we need to get to to be saved. Whatever it takes to get us to that place is what we need. Sign number 8 is the best proof to show us that Jesus is indeed the Christ, the giver of eternal life.

Remember, John was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We must not change its purpose. That's crucial~!!!

Why can't we just say it biblically, like this.....
“Jesus Christ gives eternal life as a gift to all who 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.”
I will always present the 8th sign as the reason to believe in Him for everlasting life. That's true of GES and Zane Hodges. But how can they do anything less but be true to the Word of God. How can they in good conscience teach something different than what God's Word teaches?
That's what this dispute is really all about. And I'm sure that many who have been caught up in this debate are well meaning Christians who love the Lord and want to please Him.

Regarding one other point that you made......
Perhaps the words "eternal life" were not in the minds of some when they got saved, but the concept was. They believed in Jesus as their only way to heaven.

Sorry this was so long. I'm very wordy and even though I try not to be, I usually fail. Thank you Danny for giving me the opportunity to comment to your post. Yours was a very good one.

A friend in Christ,
Diane
:-)

September 21, 2008 9:52 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

Hi Diane. Even though I disagree that a person can be saved without knowledge of the Finished Work, the point of my posts was not to attack your view. My point was that when we (both sides in the debate) present Jesus' Death and Resurrection as the reason why He gives eternal security as a gift, then the Death/Resurrection are actually objects of faith, whether you acknowledge that or not. I do not think a person can be saved without knowledge of the Cross, but that's not the point. I'm dealing with whether or not Jesus' Death and Resurrection are objects of faith when people believe HIs promise because of His work. In other words, when someone believes Jesus' Promise because of the 8th sign, is the 8th sign an object of faith as well as the Promise? My answer is yes. But keep in mind that faith is passive.

You said: "Too many people believe that Jesus died for their sins and rose from the grave and yet are still unsaved. They never got to the place where they believed in Him alone for everlasting life."

I never said that such people are saved. I made it clear in my post that people must believe in Jesus' Death and Resurrection in a Free Grace context. We must make it clear to them that His Finished Work means He gives them eternal security. The Finished Work and the Promise of Eternal Security are both at the center of faith, intertwined together. Both must be presented.

You said: "Why can't we just say it biblically, like this.....
'Jesus Christ gives eternal life as a gift to all who 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.'"

I agree with that presentation Diane! I mentioned that I never tell people "you must believe this, and then you must believe that." I may present the information exactly as you presented it above. When the person believes your statement above, then Jesus' Death and Resurrection are also the objects of their faith along with eternal security. The payment for their sins is what seals it in their minds that Jesus makes good on His promise, and therefore His payment is just as much an object of their faith as is eternal security.

You said: "I also admit that His death and resurrection are the reasons I came to faith in Him. I believed the 8th sign. BUT...... my assurance comes from knowing He promised me everlasting life JUST BY BELIEVING IN HIM."

You just admitted it. His Death and resurrection are the reasons that brought you to faith (assurance). You became assured that you have eternal life "just by believing in Him" because His Finished Work proved to you that He is trustworthy to give you that life "just by believing in Him." Don't try to separate assurance "JUST BY BELIEVING IN HIM" from the Work that brought you to that assurance. There's no two-step.

Remember, I'm not dealing with whether or not a person can be saved without knowledge of the Death and Resurrection. I don't think they can, but that's not the point of these posts. My point is that when people believe the Promise in context of the Death and Resurrection, then the Death/Resurrection are the objects of faith along with eternal security. Faith is passive, as Zane has pointed out many times. If you explain the passive nature of faith to your listener, they will not struggle with "choosing" to believe in multiple objects.

You said: "You say that I was believing in His finished work. Yes I was. But my assurance comes from His promise to save me just by believing in Him for everlasting life. If His work is required to be believed to be saved, then how can I know for sure that I've believed enough? John 3:16 is enough to give me assurance."

Going back to the point above, if you make it clear that faith is passive, your listener will not struggle over believing "enough" information, especially since they are seeing the connection between payment for sins and the promise of eternal security. I have irrevocable eternal life through Jesus based on His Finished Work. That's one proposition, passively accepted, easy to grasp, that contains all three objects. Paul always discussed the Cross when defending justification by faith, so trust me, you can't place the necessity of believing in His work as too much information. John presents the Cross as the greatest sign - it's not too much information for anyone. The Cross is the heart of eternal security, for both Paul and John.

Zane thinks that Jesus' Promise of eternal life is the only object of his faith. He sees the Death and Resurrection as the channel through which Jesus gives eternal life, and not as the objects of faith in and of themselves. In reality, they are the objects of his faith along with eternal security- Zane just doesn't realize it.

September 22, 2008 3:16 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Dear Friends,

Zane Hodges' latest article has been posted on GES' blog....
http://www.faithalone.org/wordpress/
Or you can go to...
www.faithalone.org
and click on BLOG

Danny...
Thank you for your reply to my post. I've read it very carefully. You are my brother in Christ and we agree that Jesus is the giver of eternal life. We agree that He can give us that because of His finished work on the cross and resurrection. We'll have so much to rejoice about together in heaven. We both have a glorious future!!!

I appreciated your comments, but you didn't address the issue of the book of John. How do you explain the purpose of that book and the fact that people were saved without understanding His work on the cross?

Also, I want you to know that I think dialogue is important between believers. We learn that way. But the problem with this debate has been the attacks against godly men like Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin by accusing them of preaching a "crossless gospel" and teaching heresy. You have not done that, and I appreciate that so much. You seem to be honestly thinking through the issues.
It's been beneficial for me to read your thoughts. Thank you.

In Jesus' love,
Diane

September 22, 2008 10:08 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

ALVIN...PLEASE COME BACK!!!!!
WE NEED YOU!!!

September 22, 2008 10:12 AM  
Blogger goe said...

Hi everyone. I've been reading this blog for a couple of weeks and it is great to find others who are thinking about the same issues that have concerned me for many years. Antonio has written some great articles and I plan on reading them all. I can really relate to what Diane is saying about the significance of the Gospel of John in determining what the real essence of the saving message is and how important that is for our assurance. I can't say it any better than she already has in this and other comments on past articles---well said Diane. While I am saddened by the current controversy within FG circles, hopefully it will help us all to further refine our understanding and how to express it to others with even more precision so as to avoid being misunderstood.

Without going into too much detail, I'll just briefly outline my experience in all this. I grew up with almost no knowledge of Jesus Christ and never once attended any church until I was 17 yrs old, at which time I attended an evangelistic meeting where I was basically manipulated into "walking the aisle". They said that if I did not come forward I was "saying no to Jesus". I didn't understand the gospel, but I certainly didn't want to "say no to Jesus". They told me I was "saved", but I wasn't even sure what that meant and I certainly didn't have assurance of eternal life. However, I was definitely interested in this person Jesus, so I joined a Baptist church down the road and was baptized. "Lordship Salvation" was preached at my church and I soon became very confused. I began reading lots of books, most of which taught some form of Lordship Salvation as well. For about the next 3 yrs. I constantly doubted my salvation and was obsessed with trying to verify that I was truly saved by my commitment, surrender, obedience, etc., etc.,etc. etc. etc--after all, that's what the word "believe" means in the original Greek, right? All of this had a devastating effect on every area of my life and my friends and family were extremely concerned about me. After about 3 yrs of constant obsession and introspection I finally gave up on making any sense of Bible, and for the sake of my own sanity, I basically turned away from God and did my own thing for next 20 years or so. My own thing was not very pretty I found! From time to time I would feel drawn back and would ask God to give me the answer to the question: What must I do to be saved? To make a long story short, in 1990 I discovered Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin and GES--the answer to my prayers! I began devouring all the GES journals, newsletters and all of Zane and Bob's books. All my questions were finally being answered and the Bible actually started to make sense! Now I see the beautiful and glorious simplicity of the saving message that I had sought for so long! There is no way you can believe it and not know that you have eternal life--- and this assurance is the indispensable foundation of the Christian life! Without it we can never know and experience the love and grace of God. Anyway, I know I'm preaching to the choir, so enough of that.

One problem I now have is that there is no church that I know of in my city that believes all the things that Zane, Bob and GES teach. The church I attend is more Free Grace and closer to GES theology than any other church, but my pastor would probably lean more to the FGA side in the current controversy, though he does not think Zane and Bob teach a "false gospel". He and the elders also don't agree with GES on some other issues relating to rewards, all believer's not reigning with Christ, how people were saved in the Old Testament etc. My pastor also interprets quite a few specific passages in a way that is not consistently Free Grace. I love my pastor dearly and he is a great man who loves the Lord. He's just locked into a set way of interpreting scripture, kind of like the theology of Miles Stanford. Since I am convinced that Zane and Bob are right in what they are teaching, this situation grieves me and I pretty much feel alone sometimes in my own church. That's why I was so excited to discover this blog. I intend on spending a good bit of time here trying to learn more.

Keep up the good work Antonio! By the way, I read your profile, and with the exception of " The Darkside of Calvinism" (which I don't possess), all your favorite books are mine as well! No one around here has even heard of Erich Sauer. Many years ago I read all his books. But Zane and Bob top my list. They are two of my "heroes in the faith". It's good to know they have a bulldog like you out there helping to fend off all the unfair and distorted attacks on them. I sometimes think of burning the books I read back in the "dark days". But I guess they are still good reminders of how confused and in despair I used to be.

God bless all of you who participate in this blog. It's so encouraging to connect with others who have been blessed with the ministry of GES and consider these issues as important as I do. I will keep all of you in my prayers and hope you will me as well.

One last thing. I read Bob Wilkin's latest blog entry about salvation in the O.T. It is so timely for me since my pastor said in church just yesterday that people who lived under the Mosaic Law were saved by "believing in the God of Israel and by adherence to the Law of Moses (as an evidence of faith)". He believes that it is different now because we live in the "dispensation of grace and the church". He believes that we are saved by "faith alone in Christ alone" now because of this dispensational change. He also believes that O.T. believers could lose their salvation if they didn't offer the appropriate sacrifices for sins or if they committed a sin for which no sacrifice was provided under the law. I asked him about David one time and he said that God made an exception for him. He does believes that we have eternal security in this dispensation. This is one example of what I believe are inconsistencies in his teaching that trouble me. Does anyone know where I can find some good material to read on this subject. I've already read Bob Bryant's JOTGES article and one by Dyer in JOTGES. I want to discuss this with my pastor sometime but I need be better prepared. His teaching is very good in a lot of ways and I love and respect him very much. I would appreciate any help or suggestions from anyone.

Gary

September 22, 2008 12:12 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Welcome Gary!
YOU MADE MY DAY!!!
:-)
I can relate to so much that you said.
I'm sure help is on the way with answers from others like Antonio, (maybe Alvin), and a host of others.

You are evidence that this blog is being used for good things.... encouragement and learning in the truths of God's free grace. I, too, need that encouragement.

Rejoicing because of your testimony!
Diane
:-)

September 22, 2008 12:29 PM  
Blogger Peggie said...

Hello to all,
Antonio, glad you're back. You were
missed
Gary- glad to meet ya.
Like Diane, I can also identify with
some of your struggles.
What a blessing this blog is to me.

September 22, 2008 3:22 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

I was way too busy today again. I don't know if I will be able to respond until wednesday, my day off. Life is throwing some curveballs and God is continuing to build my character.

Your fg host,

Antonio

September 22, 2008 7:16 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

Thank you for your kind words! I’ve decided to take a break from the blogging, I get to frustrated, and end up saying things in the wrong spirit. Your about the best example for me, you speak the truth in a real spirit of love which I highly admire!
Your reply to Danny’s post was EXCELLENT!!!
And Zane’s article was very clear, also I enjoyed Bob’s on witnessing.

Hi Gary

I can relate to much of what you said, thank you for sharing.
I’m reading through the Old Testament, and am now in the book of Numbers chapter 21. A couple other people that come to mind concerning “special exception” as your Pastor calls David, would be Lot and also Moses. The last thing we read about Lot in the OT is he’s drunk and having incest relation with his daughters. But we are told in (2 Peter 2:7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked).
And then Moses was disqualified from entering into the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12). Instead of speaking to the rock, he struck the rock twice (Numbers 20:8,11). Then in Matthew 17:3 we see Moses with Elijah on the mountain when Jesus is transfigured standing in the Promise Land.
Also in Numbers 14 shows where the Israelites sinned against God by not believing He could bring them into the Promised Land, but then repented saying they had sinned against Him, and would go in. But it was to late, they had crossed the line. That reminds me of the ones spoken to in Hebrews 6:4-9 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened…if they fall away to renew them again to repentance.
An excellent DVD to get that relates Hebrews 10 to willfully sinning in the OT is by J. Paul Tanner “For Whom Dose Hebrews 10:26-31 Teach A Punishment Worse Than Death” Grace 2006 Conference. Also Bob Bryant is on that DVD “Eternal Security: Do You Have to Believe It?
Tanner explains unintentional sin, and willful sin as in Numbers 15 which there is no sacrifice for but would bring death. If you study this out in Hebrews which is speaking to brethren, sanctified believers (Hebrews 2:11; 10:10,14) which the writer includes himself “we” (Heb 10:10,26). And the sin spoken of is not a life style of sin but a particular sin. This sin would be a sin unto death as spoken of in 1 John 5:16. The Greek word for sin (hamartano) in Hebrews 10:26 is only used one other time in Hebrews in Hebrews 3:17 and refers to a particular sin (Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?) That sin was when they refused to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 14). Just as now the writer of Hebrews is warning and including himself (Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins).
I believe he is talking about the sin of apostasy which a believer is capable of Hebrews 10:38 “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” I believe the fiery judgment spoken of in Hebrews 10:27-29 is worse then just death but has to do with the Judgement of the believer as spoken of in 1 Cor 3:13 to test his works, and has eternal consequence of losing rewards.
Gary I hope this shed some light on the OT situation concerning willful sin, and there not being a sacrifice. They were saved the same way as us believing in the Christ.
And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ 1 Cor 10:4



Hi Antonio

Glad your doing good!!! And I had to chuckle at Gary’s comment about you being a bulldog for Zane and Bob. And I believe you do a very honorable job, when you know you know the truth you don’t let go!!!

alvin

September 23, 2008 2:11 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

I was reading through Zane’s book “The Gospel Under Siege” this last week, and remember I think him saying that John 5:24 was his fathers salvation verse. And I was just struck anew by the simplicity of that verse. Zane put it this way: “Assurance Part of God’s Offer” page 10
A careful consideration of the offer of salvation, as Jesus Himself presented it, will show that assurance is part of the offer.
One forceful example of this is 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 into life.

Anyone who takes this statement at face value should be able to say, “I Know I have everlasting life. I Know I will not come into judgment.”
But if assurance arises from a simple promise like this, it has nothing to do with works. To begin with, the statement Of Jesus does not call for works. It calls only for faith. Moreover, the guarantee which He makes is relevant to the very moment of faith. “He who hears . . . believes . . . has . . . On the authority of Jesus, the believer can know he has eternal life at the very moment he believes God for it.
The importance of this cannot be stressed too much. Assurance does not await the day when we stand before God in judgment. For in John 5:24 it is declared that, there is no final assessment by which his eternal destiny hangs in the balance. Already he has passed out of the sphere of spiritual death and into the realm of spiritual life.
It is precisely such a verse that confronts those who insist on works with an insoluble problem. If works are a co-condition with faith for eternal life, the Lord’s failure to say so cannot be explained. But if works are a necessary outcome of saving faith, the problem is equally great. For in that case, one of two propositions must be true: (1) the believer also knows at the moment of faith that he will persevere in good works, or (2) the believer does not know whether he has in fact truly believed.
Neither proposition can be defended successfully.

That seems pretty simple to me, but what else would we expect with something that is a gift and that a child can take freely.

September 23, 2008 4:32 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
I finally got to see the article and I have some comments on it that I posted on our group blog. I kicked off my article with one of Danny's comments because I think it was very reasonable.

Hope you don't mind, Danny.

God bless Antonio. :~)

September 23, 2008 11:49 AM  
Blogger Danny said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 23, 2008 12:28 PM  
Blogger goe said...

Peggie:
Nice to meet you too Peggie!

Alvin:
Thanks for your feedback. Some things you mentioned have given me good food for thought. I"m kind of like Antonio right now--very busy. When I get time I'm going to study this in more depth. Thanks for your help.

Diane:
This "crossless gospel" issue is a really interesting to me--I'm looking forward to kicking this around with everyone. I'm can't wait for Bob's article in the next JOTGES! Zane's article is great too, as usual.

I did a quick read of Acts this morning and some things really struck me that relate to this controversy. I don't have much time right now for detail.but just a couple of things that hit me: When you read the sermons that are preached by Peter, Paul, Stephen, Apollos, etc--no 2 messages are the same--they proclaimed what they thought was best suited for those who heard them preach. But there was always one common theme--Jesus is the Christ. Sounds familiar doesn't it (Jn 20:31)? See 2:36, 5:42, 7:51-52, 9:20-22, 17:3, 18:5. 18:28, 28:23. They did emphasize the reality of His resurrection based on the eyewitness testimony of themselves and others, but again, sounds like the 8th and greatest sign in the Gospel of John doesn't it? There is never any explicit attempt to explain the substitutionary atonement in any sermon as it is recorded by Luke. Every sermon seems designed to persuade the listeners of one essential truth---that Jesus is the Christ and gives forgiveness and eternal life to everyone who believes in Him. The epistles are the only place in the N.T. that analyze and explain the meaning of His death--and they were written to people who had already believed the saving message--that Jesus is the Christ who gives eternal life. If unbelievers are required to understand and believe the substitutionary atonement in order to be saved, why was it necessary for Paul to explain it to believers in his epistles? The book of Acts seems in complete harmony with the simplicity of the saving message of John's Gospel! God was even using signs and miracles in Acts to persuade people that Jesus is the Christ. Like you say in one of your comments---God uses many different truths to persuade people, but the goal is always the same: to bring people to the point of believing that Jesus is the Christ and that He gives eternal life to them when they believe! See Acts 28:30-31. There is no checklist of required beliefs that are necessary other than what Jesus told Martha in Jn 11:25-27.

I read somewhere about a missionary who evangelized a tribe of people, and the only thing in the Bible that persuaded them to believe was the genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew! I heard of another person who believed in Jesus as a little child. His reason for believing? He trusted his mother and knew she wouldn't lie to him. When she told him that he would be with Jesus forever if he believed in Him, he knew it was true!

It's obvious that the death and resurrection are the greatest truths we can tell people about Jesus. But the meaning and purpose of it is not fulfilled until they receive eternal life by believing His promise. Apart from the promise of eternal life, Christ death and resurrection has no meaning or purpose for us. Even Jn 3:16 teaches this: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, THAT whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." That's why the specific and essential object of saving faith is Jesus and His promise---the "living water".

Just wanted to share this with you because what I see in Acts really seems to back up what you have been saying.

Gary

September 23, 2008 1:10 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

HI ALVIN... WELCOME BACK!!!!!!
Your comments were so very helpful to me AGAIN!!! I plan to study what you said and listen to the tapes you recommended. I always learn from you!!!!!. That's why we need you here at Antonio's blog!!!
Learning... fitting the pieces together... leaning upon the Lord to give us understanding is what makes all of this worthwhile!!!
SO GLAD YOU CAME BACK!!!

Antonio, sounds like your wife is a very gifted lady in many ways. And you are a very busy husband and dad. Your children are blessed!!!
But what would we do without you here on this blog!!! God has blessed us through your blog and your writings. I thank God for you and pray for you!!!

Peggie, you are an encourager. It means a lot. Always glad to see your post.

Rose, I'm looking forward to reading your comment at your Group Blog that you mentioned. You are a very kind and caring person.
Also..... I think your personal blog is beautiful~! If you did that, you are a very gifted artist.

Danny, I read through your latest post to me very quickly and plan to go back and read it again slowly and thoughtfully. I'm sure I'll be commenting soon. You know me..... I can't help myself!!!
:-)

Gary, I'm so glad you've entered into this conversation. I plan to go back and read your comments again also. The book of Acts has opened up to me a lot because of the very helpful book by Zane Hodges, "HARMONY WITH GOD... a fresh look at repentance." I look forward to perhaps having some good discussions on that subject in the future.

WJC.... You have helped me tremendously in the times you've posted. Please keep it up. Learning God's Word is what it's all about, and you have a great gift to communicate biblical truth!!!

Markr..... You are a joy to me! Glad you've entered in.

David.... You are always so kind. You encourage me. Thank you for that.

Michele... I appreciate your sweet spirit. Sometimes we may see things differently, but you always say it in a Christ honoring way. You are a kind person.

Thank you friends. I'm reading everything you post.

Rejoicing always because of Jesus,
Diane
:-)

September 23, 2008 2:16 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hey Everyone...

I visited the "Group Blog"... "Unashamed of Grace" and read Rose's post...
"Escalation and Rhetoric" (regarding Zane Hodges article)

http://unashamedofgrace.blogspot.com/2008/09/escalation-and-rhetoric.html

She understands the issues differently than I do, but I appreciated reading her thoughts because it makes me think and helps me learn.

Antonio posted comments in reply that are EXCELLENT! I have a better understanding of the issues now. Thanks Antonio. Thought you all would benefit from reading them, too. Thanks.

Diane
:-)

September 23, 2008 9:07 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi again Danny,

I just reread your post to me very carefully. I don't see anywhere in John where it is required to believe in any particular work that Jesus did to have His free gift of eternal life. Jesus is the One giving the gift. I just reach out in faith and take it. He's the giver of eternal life and I'm the recipient when I believe in Him alone for it.

What are these verses saying?
John 3:16 or 3:18 or 5:24 or 6:47?

I'm guessing that you believe that John was written before the cross and therefore the requirement was different for O.T. people. But now after the cross (new dispensation) we must believe in His work. Is that your particular belief? Forgive me if I've concluded wrong.

I want you to know that I appreciate your friendship. You are a fellow believer that I can have fellowship with around the person of Jesus Christ. Thanks for being my friend.

In Christian love,
Diane
:-)

September 23, 2008 9:45 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Friends.... Just one final thought for the evening before I go to bed.

Much has been written about what we need to believe to be saved. For me, it comes down to this.
The Bible (the ONLY authority) says that by believing in Him we have everlasting life.
That settles it for me. All the discussion in the world won't change it for me. Discussion will help me see things clearer and I will grow and learn. But I know that I'm saved today because my faith is in Jesus who is the way to the Father. I praise Him tonight for His most wonderful gift!!!

Good night to all of you, my special friends in Christ!

Diane
:-)

September 23, 2008 10:49 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Antonio and Diane

I read your comments over on the group blog, and thought they were excellent and so very clear. I’m very thankful to have a brother and sister that can articulate the truth as you both do!!!

Gary,
thanks for the verses from Acts, just as you say the issue there is believing that Jesus is the Christ.

alvin

September 24, 2008 2:20 AM  
Blogger Danny said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 24, 2008 7:18 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

I'm sorry for all the deleted comments. I kept catching typos.

September 24, 2008 7:19 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Good stuff, Danny, and good thinking.

I thought that I was going to be able to answer to all your questions and comments today. They deserve time and attention, for you have articulated your ideas clearly.

I spent some time today responding to Rose's new post on Zane's article, which took the time I had allotted. Furthermore, I have been suffering from severe neck pain today. I took some anti-inflammatories and some other stuff, and was at the chiropractor yesterday and went for massage therapy today. It is still bad.

Please pray.

I will get to your stuff. Try not to send any more!!! Until I can at least answer the wealth of information you have already posed here for me to respond to.

(Just put it into Word for use after I respond, for I am overwhelmed right now with all my duties as father, husband, and, well, a dozen other things!!!)

your fg friend,

Antonio

September 24, 2008 7:42 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

Hi Diane. You misunderstood my post. John's Gospel was obviously written after the Cross. In my previous post, I inferred that John's Gospel was written in the 90s, 60 years after Jesus' Resurrection. John's original audience, whom John was expecting were familiar with some basic elements of Judaism and Christianity, were thus also expected to understand the early references to Jesus' Death and Resurrection.

But yes, before the Cross, people didn't have to understand the Finished Work to be saved because it hadn't happened yet. But after the Cross, people need to believe it. There is a dispensational change. However, if the Jews of Jesus' time had really studied Isaiah 53 with the Rabbis, they should have understood the approaching Death and Resurrection. But God was gracious in allowing them to receive eternal life in their ignorance of Isaiah 53. But not after the Resurrection.

The READER of the Gospel of John, however, is expected to understand Jesus' Death from the get-go. John gives editorial comments throughout.

In John 1:29, John references Jesus' death, and the reader is expected to understand. In 2:19-22, Jesus' Death and Resurrection are both spelled out, no cryptic allusions, right after the first sign! Remember John's editorial comments.

In John 1:29, John records John the Baptist declaring Jesus to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The people who heard John speak these words in the 30s should have understood it, but they didn't. However, John's audience, people living in the 90s, who are expected to be familiar with basic tenets of Judaism and Christianity, are also expected to understand that the Lamb had to be slain to take away the sins of the world.

Then we get to John 2:19-22. In verse 19, Jesus says "Destory this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." In verse 21, John makes it clear to his reader that the temple is Jesus' Body. In verse 22, he makes it clear that Jesus was raised from the dead. See, Jesus' Death and Resurrection are spelled out for the reader early on! John knows that his audience has varying levels of knowledge of Christianity, so he spells it out.

Then in 3:14-15, the context of 3:16, Jesus makes reference to the Bronze Serpent who was lifted up. Whoever looked at the Bronze Serpent to be healed from the snake venom would be healed. Likewise, Jesus said that he would be lifted up, so that whoever sees Him on the Cross and believes His promise of eternal security will have that life. Nicodemus didn't get it, but the reader is expected to. The Jews of Moses' time had to look at the Serpent to be healed. People after the Resurrection of Christ are expected to look to the Christ they know was crucified, understanding that His crucifixion makes them eternally secure. The person reading John 3:16 has to read 2:19-22 and 3:14-15 first.

Then we get to John 6:47-54. Zane loves to point to John 6:47. In that same context, in 6:51, Jesus clearly says that He is going to give His flesh for the life of the world, referring obviously to His Death. 6:53-54 has Jesus talking about eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood (reader already knows that this is a reference to His Death) and having eternal life as a result. Did the Jews standing there understand? No, they did not. But John's reader is expected to, especially considering that John spelled out Jesus' Death and Resurrection back in 2:19-22.

In John 10:17-18, Jesus clearly says that He is going to lay down his life and take it up again, after mentioning that people are saved through Him in 10:9. The reader is expected to understand this reference to His Death and Resurrection.

In 11:49-53, Caiaphas prophesies that Jesus would die for the nation. I can stop here. By the time a person gets to John 20:31, they already know about the Death, the Resurrection and all the 8 signs. They must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who gives them eternal security through His Death and Resurrection.

Yes, the Gospel of John has all the necessary content to be saved. You don't have to go to any other book. The Gospel of John requires you to believe that you are eternally secure through Jesus' Finished Work to be saved. Believing in Jesus is believing a proposition about Him - He is the Christ, the Son of God who has made you eternally secure on the sole basis of His Death and Resurrection.

John 20:31 comes right after Thomas' belief in Jesus' Resurrection in verses 25-29. Of course, Thomas recieved eternal life before he believed in the Resurrection, but the reader of John is living after the Resurrection, and Jesus' Death and Resurrection are already spelled out in 2:19-22.

September 24, 2008 7:44 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 24, 2008 7:51 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 24, 2008 8:07 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 24, 2008 8:09 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Gary,

I hadn't welcomed you yet. I am so very glad that you have joined in.

I would be happy to answer any of your questions and would love to be challenged by your studies.

So welcome, as you have a home here.

Your fg host,

Antonio

September 24, 2008 8:13 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi again Danny,

You sure keep me on my toes!!! I consider you a brother in Christ and friend, but we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

My outline of the book of John is completely different from yours. I'll have to primarily give Bob Bryant credit for that. It's his Bible Study material I'm using and it is EXCELLENT!!!

Here's how I come to the positions I hold. VERY SLOWLY and VERY CAREFULLY! I don't learn fast. For example: When I sit through messages at the GES Conference all day, much of it goes over my head. I still enjoy it and look forward to each session, but I just pick up bits and pieces of truth. I love every minute of being there and listening to the speakers because I know that I'm going to have lots of material to go over later when I receive the CDs and books. I spend hours upon hours upon hours reading and rereading the books I purchased at the conference..... back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, underlining, hilighting, writing notes and asking questions. My books don't have many clean pages without marks. When listening to a message on tape, I stop the tape, rewind, listen, stop, rewind, listen, stop, rewind, listen. I always check everything out in the scriptures!!! Sometimes while listening to a particular CD I will write out part of the message long hand and then later type it up. That helps me to understand what is being taught. I go over and over it until I "get it" (understand). If I can't see the truth for myself, I don't except it. I may be at a place where I just say..... it may be true, but I don't get it. I sit it on the shelf (so to speak) for a while and go back and start all over again later to see if I understand. I pray and ask God to open my eyes to see only truth. I ask Him to keep me from believing error. I'm very conscious that I have biases that might blind me to something I need to see. I ask God to remove the veil that's keeping me from truth. God is faithful. I'm not saying that I don't have some things wrong. I'm sure I have lots of things wrong that God needs to correct. But the key for me is being open to letting God correct me. So that's how I come to my positions.

Here's another little story of mine. A number of years ago I somehow got a hold of 3 cassette tapes. It was Zane Hodges speaking to a group somewhere (not sure where) on the subject of repentance. I was so fascinated with what he was saying that I sat in my car for hours at a time listening to those tapes in my car recorder, rewinding, and writing down every word from beginning to end. Then I typed them all up with misspelled words and all. "I GOT IT~!!!" I understood what he was saying. ALL THE PIECES FIT~! That's the key for me. Do the pieces fit?!!! THEN.... not long after I did all that work, that same teaching on repentance came out in a book called..... "Harmony With God!" OH, well....... at least I had the joy of "getting it" because of the slow and careful work I did while listening to those tapes. Everything in that book fits the Bible perfectly on the subject of repentance for me. It's biblical. I see it for myself because of the hours I spent listening and writing. I didn't come to accept it because Zane Hodges wrote it. That was one of my special joys in Bible Study. Being SLOW and CAREFUL is the key for me!!!

I did the same thing with Bob Bryant's Bible Study material in John. We would go camping. While my husband went fishing, I was sitting in our little camper studying verse by verse the Gospel of John going through the material. Over and over I went through that material. We would go back camping and I'd continue on. Then I'd continue in it at home and on trips. It just all came together so beautifully for me. But it took a lot of time to see how the pieces fit. That's the way I learn.

Well, I've said a lot here...... probably way too much. You know me...... WORDY! But I said all of this to say that I'm convinced that John was written to tell us how to have eternal life. Nothing has changed in this dispensation in regards to the content that must be believed to be saved according to the scriptures. It's so awesome!!! I love sharing that message with my discipleship class and they love it when they see it, too!!!

I may type out some material from my John Bible Study in a separate post. I will again look over your comments on John. You went to a lot of work to type that all out. I hope my outline will answer some of your comments. I still don't understand why you think the saving content has changed in this dispensation. It doesn't say that in scripture. Thanks for making me think again. I really respect your friendly and gracious spirit in all of this. I respect you.

Your friend in Christ,
Diane
:-)

September 24, 2008 10:28 PM  
Blogger Danny said...

Hi Diane! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Let's have that outline. I should have said that there is a dispensational enhancement, not a dispensational change in content. The content obviously still includes believing Jesus' promise of eternal security. It's just that in this dispensation, the Promise must be believed in the context of the Death and Resurrection. Jesus' words in 3:16 and 6:47 were spoken in context of His Death and Resurrection (3:14-15and 6:51-54). The people who heard Jesus speak these things did not understand, but the reader has John's editorial comments and a general knowledge of Christianity to work with.

Remember Diane, John was expecting his readers to read his Gospel from start to finish. In John 1:29,we read that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. John's original readers were expected to be familiar with some aspects of Christianity, since Christianity had now been around for 60 years. They should have understood John 1:29. Then in John 2:19-22, John explicitly spells out Jesus' Death and Resurrection. If the reader didn't understand 1:29, then 2:19-22 would make him understand 1:29. By connecting 1:29 with 2:19-22, the reader would know that Jesus had to die for the sins of the world, and then they would understand it's connection to the Promise of eternal life in 3:14-16.

John 3:16 has 3:14-15 as part of its context. Based on 1:29 and 2:19-22, the reader would understand Jesus' reference to being lifted up to refer to His Death for the sins of the world. Jesus compares Himself to the Bronze Serpent in 3:14-15, saying He would have to be lifted up, so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. Then Jesus repeats that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life in 3:16.

September 25, 2008 7:49 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Danny,

I read very carefully what you said. I circled the words "READER" throughout your paper. I understand that you believe that the READER TODAY is expected to understand the crosswork of Jesus Christ as he reads the entire book of John, and that he can't be saved unless he does understand and believe that.
If a person came to faith in Christ by just reading part of chapter 3, then he couldn't be saved because he missed chapter one and didn't get to the end of the book that tells about His work. Danny, I'm sorry but I don't see that at all in the book of John.

In John, the gift being offered is eternal life!!!!!
You receive that gift when you believe in the giver for it~!!!!!
That's it!!! That simple and that wonderful~!!! No strings attached.
That's the evangelistic message that is John's purpose...... "that they might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing they might have life in His name!!!"

As Jody Dillow once said....... "Faith happens!" We can't conjure up faith. When the light comes on and we find ourselves believing only in Jesus for everlasting life, we've past from death to life. It may be before or after we understand about the cross work of Jesus Christ. Only God knows that time. AWESOME!!!

I remember Zane Hodges' telling the story of when he was a student at DTS. Another student (who was working as a janitor at the school) told him... "I never realized that Jesus was God until I came to seminary. I only knew that He was my Savior." Many would conclude that he wasn't saved until he believed that Jesus was God.
One of the moms in my discipleship class has a 3 year old who is very mature for her age. Her mom believes she is already saved. Her little girl has complete confidence that Jesus is the only way to go to heaven and live with God. When someone in our church recently died she knew that he wasn't living in his body anymore. He went to live with Jesus because he believed in Jesus as the only way to heaven. Her faith is so strong. Yet her mother didn't dwell on the blood that was shed for her because she felt she was too little to take that all in. Many may disagree with her doing it that way, but that's the way she handled it with her child. That little girl is very smart for her age, and she is always concerned that people believe in Jesus so that they can go to heaven and live with Him when they die. Many would conclude that she can't be saved yet. She's not old enough to understand the crosswork of Jesus Christ. But anyone who comes to faith in Jesus alone for everlasting life, has it.

I'll try and give the outline of John that I'm using first chance I get since you asked to see it.

I've enjoyed talking with you. You are a fellow believer who I can have fellowship with around the person of Christ.

Have a great day enjoying Him,
Diane

September 25, 2008 10:48 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Here's the outline I'm using for my John Bible Study. It's primarily Bob Bryant's outline. I just took his outline and material used throughout the study and put it together in a way that helped me to see it as a whole. But it's his material.

John 20:30-31 is the purpose statement for the Gospel of John.
John is the only book in the entire Bible whose ***STATED PURPOSE*** is evangelistic.

The Gospel of John is arranged around 8 signs that are designed to prove to the reader that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing this, a person may have life in His name.

The 1st SIGN.......Water to wine... 2:1-11
The 2nd SIGN.....The royal officer's son healed... 4:43-54
The 3rd SIGN......The man at the pool of Bethesda healed... 5:1-16
The 4th SIGN.......Feeding the multitude... 6:1-14
The 5th SIGN.......Walking on water through the storm... 6:15-21
The 6th SIGN.......Healing the man born blind... 9:1-12
The 7th SIGN.......The raising of Lazarus from the dead... 11:1-44
The 8th SIGN......Jesus death and resurrection... 18:1-20:31

First FIVE SIGNS emphasize THE WONDER OF BELIEF... 2:1-6:70

The 1st Sign includes... 2:1-4:42
---1st Sign... Water to wine... 2:1-11
------Cleansing the temple... 2:12-22
------Encounter with Nicodemus... 2:23-3:21
------Proclamation by John the Baptist... 3:22-36
------Encounter with the Samaritan woman... 4:1-42

The 2nd AND 3rd SIGNS includes... 4:43-5:47
---2nd SIGN... The royal officer's son healed... 4:43-54
---3rd SIGN... The man at the pool of Bethesda healed... 5:1-16
------Discourse on the power of His Word... 5:17-47
---------(The discourse EXPLAINS the SIGNIFICANCE of the 2nd and 3rd SIGNS.)

The 4th AND 5th SIGNS includes... 6:1-8:59
---4th SIGN... Feeding the multitude... 6:1-14
---5th SIGN... Walking on water through the storm... 6:15-21
------Discourse on the bread of life... 6:22-70

(Overlap in discourses for 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th SIGNS)

SIGNIFICANCE of.....
---First SIGN... Jesus immediately transforms the believer.
---Second AND third SIGNS... Jesus transforms by the power of His Word.
---Fourth AND Fifth SIGNS... Jesus guarantees a believer's eternal destiny with God.


Next TWO SIGNS (6th and 7th) emphasize THE BLINDNESS OF UNBELIEF... 7:1-12:50

---Four DISCOURSES and REACTIONS... 7:1-8:59
------Discourse #1........ 7:1-9
------Discourse #2........ 7:10-29
---------Reactions.......... 7:30-36
------Discourse #3........ 7:37-39
---------Reactions.......... 7:40-53
------Discourse #4........ 8:1-58
---------Reaction............ 8:59

---The 6th SIGN... Healing the man born blind... 9:1-12
------Reactions to the 6th SIGN... 9:13-41

---Two more discourses and reactions... 10:1-42
------------(The discourse in John 10 explains the SIGNIFICANCE of the sixth SIGN.)
------Discourse #5...... 10:10-18
---------Reactions........ 10:19-21
------Discourse #6...... 10:22-30
---------Reactions........ 10:31-42

---The 7th SIGN... The raising of Lazarus... 11:1-44
------Reactions to 7th SIGN... 11:45-12:50

---SIGNIFICANCE of the...
------Sixth AND Seventh Signs TOGETHER, not separately...
---------Even after such continuing signs, many still will not believe.


The EIGHTH SIGN... the greatest reasons to believe in Him for eternal life... 13:1-21:23

---The 8th SIGN... His death and resurrection... 18:1-20:31
------Discourse (begins earlier) on living the Christian life AFTER His death and resurrection... 13:1-17:26

---------"Love one another"..... 13:1-15:17
-------------Forgiveness and loving one another........ 13:1-30
-------------Jesus' example and command to love one another..... 13:31-35
-------------Assurance and loving one another..... 13:36-14:6
-------------Prayer and loving one another..... 14:7-15
-------------The Holy Spirit and loving one another..... 14:16-24
-------------God's Word and loving one another..... 14:25-31
-------------An illustration of how to love one another..... 15:1-17
---------"If the world hates you"..... 15:18-16:33
---------"I pray for them"..... 17:1-26

---The 8th SIGN... Jesus death and resurrection... 18:1-20:31
------His death... 18:1-19:42
---------His arrest......... 18:1-11
---------His trials........... 18:12-19:6
---------His crucifixion.. 19:17-37
---------His burial.......... 19:38-42

------His resurrection... 20:1-31
---------His empty tomb............ 20:1-10
---------His appearance to Mary Magdalene..... 20:11-18
---------His appearance to the disciples, Thomas absent..... 20:19-35
---------His appearance to the disciples, Thomas present... 20:26-31

---Encounter with Peter AFTER His death and resurrection... 21:1-23

---CONCLUSION..... 21:24-25
------The material written by John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is very important because it was selected from a vast amount of what could have been written. God had a purpose in picking this material for the purpose specified in John 20:30-31.....

"And truly Jesus did many other SIGNS in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but 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."

September 26, 2008 11:17 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

More notes on JOHN...
(These are notes I wrote from Zane Hodges' message on...
"Miraculous Signs and Literary Structure in the 4th Gospel")

Literary structure of John - starting in 2:1 (1st sign) through 20:29...
-----You'll find that ALL non miraculous narrative and discourse material serves the purpose of either preparing for OR illuminating the meaning of the 8 signs around which the book is structured.

Ch 13-19... We see the superlative self assurance that Jesus manifests...
-----His selfless love for His own, His courage while on trial, His compassion on the cross, and everything else is preparatory. These chapters prepare the reader for the astounding fact that Jesus raised Himself from the dead.

20:29--- Thomas narrative--to unsaved readers in Ephesus John is saying...
-----"You didn't see any of this, but I did. You are blessed if you believe.
-----20:30-31 expresses that blessing - ETERNAL LIFE!

Zane's answer to the first Question asked at end of 2nd message...
-----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 NT. 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."

Ch. 13-19... Reinforces the claim that Jesus is the Christ and is the preamble to the final, miraculous sign... the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

More answers from Zane to questions.....
-----Eternal life in the Gospel of John is always speaking of receiving eternal life as a gift. You cannot earn eternal life as a reward until you first receive it as a gift.
It's best to start with... "You need eternal life as a gift."
JUSTIFICATION is God's judicial decision about the one who has eternal life.

Q--- Is John a *prescription* in our evangelism? NO. It is not mandatory to evangelize using John. But if we use other books, the meaning must be the same as the Gospel of John. Romans and 1 Cor. and others were written to people who ALREADY understood the saving message. You cannot write 21 chapters without material for disciples. The fact that there are benefits for disciples in John does not determine the PURPOSE for the Gospel of John. When we leave THAT (20:30,31), we have left correct exegesis of the Gospel of John.

The message in John is for both the learned and children. Mt. 18:3 shows us that the saving message can be understood by children.

Q--- How does the last discourse fit with John 20:30-31 since there doesn't appear to be any SIGNS?
-----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--- Why absent any evangelistic verse in John 13-17?
-----John 8:24..... Jesus said this to unbelieving Jews--- "If you do not believe that I am HE, you will die in your sins."
-----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.

September 26, 2008 10:26 PM  
Blogger goe said...

Diane,

Thanks so much for making the outline and notes on the Gospel of John available to us. I'm trying to study it in more depth, so these will be very helpful.

I was also fascinated with your study methods. You don't mess around do you. Keep on diggin and you'll find the gold!

God bless and have a great day!

Gary

September 29, 2008 6:55 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you Gary.
It's a pleasure to know you.

Diane
:-)

September 29, 2008 8:47 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Here's an example of a few questions from the 54 page Bible Study in John that I use...

Under "The First Sign: Water to wine... 2:1-4:42"

Cleansing the temple... 2:12-22

Q... In what way is the cleansing of the temple PICTURED by the FIRST SIGN, turning water to wine?

Ans... The temple is like the empty pots, filled with empty religion. The temple and Israel's religion needed to be transformed, just as the water was transformed to wine.

Under the First Sign... water to wine

Proclamation by John the Baptist... 3:22-36

Q... How is the proclamation of John the Baptist PICTURED by the FIRST SIGN, turning water to wine?

Ans... The true messenger from Heaven is the only one who can transform lives just as He transformed water to wine.

Under the First Sign... water to wine.

Encounter with the Samaritan woman... 4:1-42

Q... How is the story of the woman at the well PICTURED by the FIRST SIGN, turning water to wine?

Ans... The woman is transformed, just like the water was transformed to wine.

September 29, 2008 9:14 PM  

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