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, December 26, 2008

A Simple Descriptive Statement with a Syllogistic Proposition

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God -- 1 John 5:1

Introduction
A descriptive statement is one which is characterized by description; it is a presentation which sets out to describe. By so doing a descriptive statement expresses a quality or qualities regarding the topic matter(s) under consideration. Certain identity may be communicated as a result of employing descriptive statements by limiting and/or modifying specific understandings of the subjects to which they address.

For Example
Descriptive Statement: Whoever is convicted of a felony is a felon.

Taken as a statement of fact for the sake of argument, whatever else may be true of someone, if that person is convicted of a felony then that person is a felon. This type of statement can be represented logically like this:

whoever does A is B
or more simply as
if A than B

Let us flesh this out just a little bit more. If someone is convicted of a felony yet is a superior court judge, is he still a felon?

Yes.

Why?

The true descriptive statement under consideration regards everyone, without exception, who has the quality of having been convicted of a felony as being a felon.

Let us make sure this horse is dead. According to this statement:

Anyone who has received the Noble Peace prize and is convicted of a felony is a felon.
Anyone who is Reformed in their theology and is convicted of felony is a felon.
Anyone who cures cancer and is convicted of felony is a felon.
Anyone who (fill in the blank) and is convicted of a felony is a felon.

This descriptive statement is absolute in its purpose of identifying everyone who is convicted of felony as a felon. Again, no matter what else may be true of the one convicted of a felony, according to this statement (which has been taken as a statement of fact for the sake of argument) the one convicted of a felony is a felon.

So whenever this question concerning certain identity is asked, "Who is a felon?" the specific and exceptionless answer is "Whoever is convicted of a felony." This cannot be overemphasized. No matter what else may be true about a person who is convicted of a felony, he is absolutely identified as a felon.

Horse dead.


Context
The Apostle John's heart yearned for Christians to be in fellowship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This very desire of his was the theme and focus of the First Epistle of John (1 Jn 1:3). For John, love is a hallmark of the one who is in fellowship with God (1 Jn 4:16b).

As Free Grace Theology people know from Scripture, true born-again Christians cannot always be characterized as loving God. For as 1 Jn 4:20 states:

If someone says, "I love God," and hates his [Christian] brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

If a believer says that he loves God and coincidentally hates his Christian brother he speaks falsely concerning his affection toward the Most High precisely for the reason that John gives in the aforementioned verse. At any cross-section of time that a child of God hates his brother he is not loving God. Therefore it is incumbent upon the Christian to love his brother.

Much in the same way that a certain lawyer once asked, "...who is my neighbor?" (Lk 10:29) a Christian interested in an intimate fellowship and love relationship with God may ask, "Who is my Christian brother or sister (that I may express my love to him/her)?" John's categorical answer to that question is found in this justly famous descriptive statement:

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (1 Jn 5:1)

A Description that Provides Certain Identity
John, the Apostle of Love, utilizes a descriptive statement in order to positively identify regenerate men and women for the benefit of his saved audience in order that they may know who are to be the beneficiaries of their familial love. He does so using a statement similar to the one above that identifies felons.

When answering the question, "Who is a Christian?" the Apostle John answers, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ." John positively identifies Christians for his audience by describing them as those who believe that Jesus is the Christ. For John, anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born-again, no exceptions: "John's definition of a Christian brother is simple and direct. Whoever (there are no exceptions!) believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (Zane C. Hodges, The Epistles of John pg 212).

No matter what else is true about someone, if he believes that Jesus is the Christ, he is a born-again Christian. I hope that this statement will go without objection, for it follows the logic demonstrated above in the example about felonies and felons. Precisely identified by the Apostle John, a Christian is one who believes that Jesus is the Christ; said another way, no one who believes that Jesus is the Christ may be excluded from being identified as a Christian brother or sister.


Examples of People Believing that Jesus is the Christ in the New Testament
Jesus of Nazareth came in the name of God the Father and in the power of the Holy Spirit. He presented Himself to Israel as the Christ, confirming so by signs, wonders, authoritative teaching, and works of mercy and compassion. Because of these testimonies many were persuaded that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the promised Christ.

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

Another example would be the Samaritans of Sychar. The woman at the well first believed that Jesus was the Christ (Jn 4:29), based solely upon Jesus' prophetic statements about her life. This woman went into the village and told the inhabitants about Jesus. Next, many of the people of the village believed into Jesus as the Christ. Of great note is John's statement, "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, 'He told me all that I ever did'" (Jn 4:39). Based solely on this immoral woman's testimony of Jesus' prophetic gift, "many of the Samaritans" believed in His messiahship. Please note that this woman's testimony did not include an explanation of the hypostatic union of Jesus and the substitutionary death and physical resurrection. These Samaritans heard, through a severely tarnished vessel, a simple attestation to Jesus' ability, which supported His claim that He was the Christ. As a result of the evangelistic endeavors of Jesus, many Samaritans were persuaded that Jesus was the Christ (Jn 4:42).

Many more examples could be multiplied! These will suffice for our purposes.

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

Furthermore, after Jesus had died (thus fulfilling part of His prophetic foretelling in Mt 16:21) the disciples did not believe in Christ's resurrection, even after it was reported to them by two different sources (Mk 16:10-15)!

What can we make of this information? We must certainly conclude that the disciples and the common folks of Jesus' time believed into Him as the Christ, and thus were born of God (1 Jn 5:1), having no conscious understanding or knowledge of any import of Christ's substitutionary death or resurrection. Furthermore, what makes this information all the more important is the fact that the disciples, in actuality, consciously and verbally denied the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, even though they were infallibly foretold to them by Him. The disciples wilfully contradicted Jesus' statements concerning His death and resurrection! These particulars cannot be overemphasized. The disciples consciously disclaimed this information yet still believed that Jesus was the Christ; and according to John's simple assertion, that has no exception, "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 Jn 5:1).

This illustrates our logic from above. No matter what else may be true about a person, if he believes that Jesus is the Christ, he is born of God. Said another way, no one may be excluded from being identified as a born-again child of God if they believe that Jesus is the Christ. This holds up no matter what else is true about them.


Syllogistic Presentation
>A child of God is anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ
>The disciples and common folks believed that Jesus is the Christ apart from conscious understanding and assent to Christ's substitutionary death and bodily resurrection
----------
>Therefore, the content of saving faith does not include Christ's death and resurrection


Conclusion
It has been shown using irrefutable logic these two things:
1) A born again person is one who believes that Jesus is the Christ, no exceptions.
2) One may believe that Jesus is the Christ apart from understanding and assent to facts concerning His substitutionary death and bodily resurrection.

Therefore, is must be concluded that conscious understanding and assent to Christ's death and resurrection are not contents to saving faith.


Discussion and Questions
In this article we have not considered what it actually means to believe that Jesus is the Christ in a soteriological sense (in other words, in a saving way). But what we have done is preclude the assumptions made by many that conscious understanding and assent to Christ's death and resurrection, which facts are the essential basis for salvation, are God-mandated contents for saving faith.

For a detailed discussion on what it means to believe that Jesus is the Christ, please refer to these articles here on Free Grace Theology Blog:

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

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


Final Point of Clarification
By demonstrating that conscious understanding and assent to Christ's substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection is not God-mandated content to saving faith, I am not, in any way, disparaging these essential facts, nor discouraging their proclamation. We will all be held accountable for our evangelism practices (or lack thereof!) so we must all be certain on what exactly is the target and purpose of our preaching of the gospel to the unsaved. Our endeavor is to lead men and women to Christ, so that they may entrust Him with their eternal destinies by simple faith in Him in His guarantee of eternal life to the believer. Let us not be guilty of biblical imprecision or unbiblical invitations in our evangelism. For a good explanation of the problems associated with biblical imprecision in our gospel invitations, refer to this article on Free Grace Theology blog:

Major Problems with Checklist Evangelism

By all considerations, preaching of the cross is essential and necessary, for by so doing, all men will be drawn to faith in Christ for eternal life (Jn 12:32).

But as a final note, we must present to lost men and women what precisely, without ambiguity and confusion, is the condition for the reception of irrevocable eternal life: FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE.

49 Comments:

Blogger alvin said...

Hi Antonio


It’s crystal clear to me, and I wouldn’t think you would have any complaints from the Calvinist who believe regeneration precedes faith. Their born again without even believing that Jesus is the Christ. So for them there is no list what one must believe to be born again. You don’t hear much complaints about that being a heresy by the FGA. Also I don’t know if you read the response by J.B Hixson to Tony Evans concerning infants where Hixson reveals his Calvinism by mentioning “some” go to heaven. You can read it on his site. I believe that their bias is selective, and also their Calvinistic beliefs carry much weight. Hixson doesn’t believe that Jesus took the sin of the world away, so you better make sure you have a PERSONAL Savior or you don’t have one at all. These are Calvinist parading as FG, who aren’t even honorable enough to let a person know what they are signing. I have not heard of any repentance concerning this shameful behavior. I noticed where Earl made clear to Bob Wilkin before he wrote his review of J.B. Hixson’s book that he had no idea that Hixson had added these remarks concerning Zane and Bob teaching a false gospel. Then in Hixson’s review of Bob’s review he doesn’t mention a word of his dishonorable conduct, very shameful! Sounds to me he has sweep it all under the carpet along with the rest of the honorable men who don’t have enough backbone to call him on the carpet!.

alvin

December 26, 2008 3:43 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Hi Antonio,

Hope you had a great Christmas with your family!

Great article zeroing in on 1 John 6:1...

One question though - I'm wondering if someone might have a valid point if they were to say that by making the statement:

"By all considerations, preaching of the cross is essential and necessary, for by so doing, all men will be drawn to faith in Christ for eternal life (Jn 12:32)."

You've "given away the farm"?

When you say "By all considerations..." you've excluded nothing and so someone might rightly conclude that your statement includes soteriological considerations, and thus by your own statement the preaching of the cross is essential and necessary for salvation.

I'm pretty certain that's not the idea you meant to convey.

Also, the words "essential" and "necessary" clearly imply that the cross is indispensable in leading men to Christ which to this reader also implies that faith in Christ cannot occur without it...

"By all considerations" it is either essential and necessary or it is not. I believe (as you have eloquently argued) it is not.

That said, to include it in our gospel presentation may help provide a more complete, effective or persuasive explanation about what Christ has done and how He is able to offer us the gift of eternal life. All of this may contribute to drawing men to faith in Christ but as you have illustrated from scripture it is not an essential nor necessary part of saving faith.

December 26, 2008 5:45 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

WJC,

Thanks for your Christmas wishes and your comment on my article. I trust you had a great Christmas and an awesome time at your son's wedding. I am sorry that I wasn't able to attend. I was scheduled at work on Monday at 2 am, which prevented me from attending.

Thank you for bringing this issue up. I would like to take this opportunity to answer your concerns.

We must be delicate in approaching this. There needs to be a balance of understanding.

I have sufficiently demonstrated that the content of saving faith does not include the death or resurrection of Christ. In inviting men and women to faith in Christ for eternal life, we do not direct them to assent to doctrinal or historical facts. We point them to rely fully upon Christ who guarantees everlasting life to the believer.

So I emphatically, and without controversy, state that saving faith does not include as to content the historical facts of Christ's death for sins and the resurrection.

That being said, however, we must come to grips with the fact that the Apostle John, writing a treatise on how one is to receive eternal life, found it indispensible to provide for his readership the account of Christ's death on the cross and resurrection. This is also true of the Apostle Paul.

After Zane Hodges explained the truth that the content to saving faith is simply believing in Christ for it, he went on to say this:

----------
In the light of what we have just said, should we preach the cross of Christ? The answer to that is emphatically yes. And the most obvious reason for doing so is that this is what Paul and the other Apostles did.

According to Paul’s own statement, when he came to Corinth to preach, he was “determined not to know anything among [them] except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). Later in the epistle, Paul describes his gospel as one that declared “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (15:3)
----------
Zane is emphatic that we should preach the cross. The reason he is so emphatic is that "this is what Paul and the other Apostles did".

On one hand we must be clear that concerning the responsibility of the lost, God lays upon them nothing more than the condition to believe in His Son for the purpose of receiving eternal life.

But when we discuss the responsibility of the evangelist (which is a whole other consideration altogether), we are confronted with the unmistakeable conclusion that for the apostles, the cross of Christ, among other things, was their duty to preach to the lost (as well as to the saved).

Saying something is essential for the evangelist does not necessarily place additional responsibilities upon the lost in addition to what is God-mandated (believing in Jesus). It is essential and necessary for the evangelist, if he is to be effective in his witnessing, to be in fellowship with God, prayerful, and spirit-filled. Much in the same way, it is essential that the evangelist makes every effort to present Jesus as worthy, able, and authorized to impart everlasting life to the believer in Him. In this endeavor, the preaching of the cross is essential.

"So I find it not only useful, but indeed essential, to explain that the Lord Jesus Christ bought our way to heaven by paying for all our sins." -- Zane Hodges

I hope that in this I have clearly delineated the difference between what is the simple responsibility of the lost and the much greater responsibility of the evangelist.

Antonio

December 26, 2008 7:28 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

Antonio, - Thank you for that clarification. It is a difficult task to write in a way that anticipates what our detractors will seize upon in order to ridicule and distort our position...

God bless you for your tireless courage in sticking your neck out at every opportunity, writing, clarifying the Good News and defending it's pristine simplicity.

BTW - those are great quotes of Hodges that have been largely, deliberately ignored by the checklist crowd...

Love from the Case's to the Da Rosa's and all the rest of my dear brothers and sisters in the Lord at this Christmas season!

December 26, 2008 7:52 PM  
Blogger wjc said...

I know it's now the day after Christmas but hopefully you all are still filled with the wonder of His birth. I want to share what is probably my favorite poem:

THE FINAL WILD SONG
OF YOUR BIRTH-NIGHT
CAN NEVER BE WRITTEN;
THE LAST SHINING WORD OF YOUR COMING
CAN NOT BE SAID.
ROUGH, SLOW-MINDED SHEPHERDS WILL RUN,
ANGEL-DRIVEN, FOREVER,
BY NIGHT TO A CAVE
AND A CATTLE SHED.
AND YOU, BEYOND BONDAGE OF TIME
WITHOUT END OR BEGINNING
WILL WAKE IN THE ARMS OF A MAID
ON AN UNENDING NIGHT.
YOU, THE UNUTTERED WORD BECOME FLESH
AND FOREVER NOW SPOKEN
WILL BE HERE, BE OUR LIFE, OUR ACCESSIBLE LIGHT.

TONIGHT IS YOUR NIGHT,
YOUR INCREDIBLE SONG-SPANGLED STORY.
WE SHEPHERDS AND FLOCKS WAIT ON FIELDS
BEYOND BETHLEHEM PLAIN;

O ANGELS, O SHEPHERDS, O JOSEPH, O MARY,
O JESUS,
O GOD, TELL YOUR CHILDREN THE STORY AGAIN!

by Evaline Wolf

December 26, 2008 8:07 PM  
Blogger Sanctification said...

Antonio,

"Syllogism" -- thanks. That's handy.

I also really appreciated the link to problems with checklist evangelism. I did not know there were others who noticed these things too, though that was written and thought better than my attempts.

Thanks, Michele

December 28, 2008 8:37 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Oh, Antonio, you did it again!!! Thank you.

I quickly read through your article, the comments, and your reply to wjc. I then printed it all out and took a drive to a place I could be all alone and study. Again I rejoice in Jesus' most precious gift.... eternal life to the one who believes in Him, and praise Him for what He did to purchase my salvation.

You have a way with words. I like the way you come at a truth from a different direction to bring out something that perhaps we hadn't thought of before. I understand very well what causes a person to pass from death to life. It's faith in Jesus alone for his gift of eternal life.
I loved your illustration of the felon.
I loved the way you pointed out that John describes who is a Christian in 1 John 5:1.

I do have some questions that maybe you can help me with. I understand what it means to believe that Jesus is the Christ. That's answered clearly in John 11:25-27. But here's my question....
The people who believe in Jesus as the Christ were saved along the way when they saw the signs that He did. But what about many who were "looking" for the Christ to come? What did they believe regarding the coming Christ?
How did they come to understand that the Christ meant giver of eternal life?

I know that they did come to understand this because John is VERY CLEAR about that. But I always wondered why the disciples and others weren't already saved. I wondered what they thought the sacrifices in the O.T. were all about? It seems like they would have put their faith in the One who was to come before He revealed who He was??? I'm just thinking through my typing.
:-)
Thought maybe you could give me some insight into that. But if not, no problem. I know what it means to believe in the Christ NOW!!!

You can NOT separate the Person from His gift. There's no such thing as believing in Jesus (believing in the Christ) without knowing you have eternal life. IMPOSSIBLE. The object of our faith is JESUS. He alone gives us this gift of eternal life when we believe!!! Even those who argue against that (if they're saved) have believed in Him for His gift. Some of them just simply haven't thought it through to its logical conclusion in those exact words. YOUR words help us to see it. God's gifted you that way.

I must admit, I had the same question as wjc, but your explanation was very helpful and cleared it up for me.
I keep going back to the little 3 year old girl who was saved BEFORE she understood about the cross work of Christ. But now she has heard that truth and believes it. It was easy for her to believe that because she already knew that He came into the world to give her the free gift of everlasting life with Him. She already belonged to Him (saved) before she heard about HOW He could do that. Simple child like faith!!!

Your explanation of the evangelist's responsibility and the exact content needed to be believed to be saved made sense. OF COURSE an evangelist should proclaim the cross work of Christ. After all, He died for US!!! He rose and LIVES!!! How could we do anything less than proclaim the greatest of all signs...... Jesus Christ crucified~!!! Zane believed that and preached that. Bob Wilkin believes and preaches that. Bob just like to go directly to the gift first like Jesus did. Then as people ask him questions as to HOW He could do that, Bob tells them. Those who are attacking these good men of preaching a "crossless gospel" either don't understand what Zane and Bob are saying OR they've got motives that are not pure. I'm not accusing anyone of impure motives. God knows each heart. He will be the judge. But SOME readers and hearers have been led to believe wrong things about Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin (GES) from those who are not being careful with what these men are teaching from the Word.

I just had to comment AGAIN and say thank you for clear teaching that helps the pieces all come together. You are loved and appreciated for your writings.

In Jesus' love,
Diane
P.S. WJC.... thank you for that beautiful poem!

December 29, 2008 2:46 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hi Diane!

I thoroughly enjoy your engagements here on Free Grace Theology blog. You always ask some very good questions.

I will try my best to be sufficient in my answers.

You ask:
----------
But what about many who were "looking" for the Christ to come? What did they believe regarding the coming Christ?
How did they come to understand that the Christ meant giver of eternal life?
----------
I would like to refer you to an article by your friend's husband, Bob Bryant:

HOW WERE PEOPLE SAVED
BEFORE JESUS CAME?


Here is another one by Bob Wilkin:

God Has Always Revealed the Saving Message

I have read these articles several times and am familiar with their arguments. If after reading them you still have questions, I would be happy to answer them.

You continue:
----------
But I always wondered why the disciples and others weren't already saved.
----------
Anything that I say concerning the disciples, why they weren't saved, will only be conjecture. Yet I would still like to give some plausible reasons.

1) Wide is the road that leads to destruction and many are found there. Narrow and confined is the way that leads to life and few are found there.

2) Israel of that time was under the tutelage of the scribes, Pharisees, and Saducees. They were under the impression that justification came by way of obedience to the works of the law.

3) The disciples may have just been in the temporal mindset of putting food on the table and living their lives, much like the majority of Americans are. They are in all practical senses, oblivious to spiritual things.

4) I was born and raised in a supposedly Christian culture, yet I didn't hear the good news about salvation in Christ by grace through faith until I was 23 years old! Believe me, I was not sheltered. Nor did I live in some small town. I grew up in San Diego, in the suburbs, which had plenty of churches around. The disciples may have had similar stories.

5) Israel has an infamous history of rebellion, sin, and the forsaking of their God, the Fountain of Living Waters (Jer 2:13; 17:13). Furthermore, the roughly 400 years of intertestamental time may have thinned out the testimony to the saving message of the coming Christ.

You continue:
----------
I wondered what they thought the sacrifices in the O.T. were all about?
----------
The O.T. sacrifices were a picture or type of the sacrifice of Christ, yes. But there are significant differences with both the intended recipients and the results.

Furthermore, even after being with them for over three years it is said of Jesus that:

"...He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures." (Lk 24:45)

Learning was a long process for the disciples (as it is for us!) and took them throughout their lives!

As for your illustration about the 3 year old girl, it doesn't surprise me. I do not doubt, if she expressed that she was believing in Christ for eternal life, that she was saved. It is precisely faith in Jesus for eternal life which receives that life.

Yet we must indicate that such a scenario is not the norm, nor the preferred method of evangelism. The cross of Christ is the basis for our salvation and the focus of our Christian life. Time providing in our evangelistic dealings with the lost, we ought to always present men and women with the testimony of God's word that Jesus Christ died for each one of every individuals sins, from the day of their birth until the day of their death. And that God set His seal upon Christ's sacrifice by raising Him from the dead.

Even if there is lack of comprehension in the issues concerning Christ's death and resurrection in the young ones, I don't know what would prevent someone from telling a child about them. This ought not to be normative.

The stories about Christ are rich in painting a picture about Jesus, putting flesh on the bones of the saving message, so as to draw people to faith in Christ. The crucifixion and resurrection are the most persuasive elements of our preaching to the lost on why Jesus of Nazareth can be believed in to secure one's eternal destiny.

Your assessments about those who detract from our message is on target. It stems from a lack of understanding.

Can anyone here honestly imagine Jesus Christ casting someone into the lake of fire who nevertheless believed in Him as the Christ, the Savior of the world, yet was in some way or another deficient in their understandings of orthodox doctrine?

Such a picture of Christ is NOT gracious, but petty and unfathomable.

Thanks for your comments and questions. You never tire me.

If you need any clarifications on anything, or would like to comment further, please feel free to do so at your pleasure. I will do my best to field any questions posed here from you or anyone else for that matter.

Your fg friend,

Antonio

December 29, 2008 4:28 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Alvin, I appreciate you brother, and have been looking on with great interest unto your posts on the various blogs. I am impressed and edified by them. Keep up the good work. Stay gracious, my friend, as grace is our message and out to be exemplified.

WJC, may the new year bring you many more opportunities to glorify our God and Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May it be an eternally profitable time for you.

Michele, stemming from Gordon Clark's keen observations concerning logic and the mind of God, I believe that logic is indispensible in interpreting the Scriptures. Syllogisms are very helpful, if their propositions are grounded firmly on the truth.

grace and peace to you all,

Antonio

December 29, 2008 4:35 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

I must say that the article, bro. Antonio, that you posted from Bob Bryant, has been a source of blessing to me more than once! I have re-read it & God has used it to help me immeasurably! Everyone, no matter who they are or where in time they lived, are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! It is just a forward or a backward look in faith, would you agree with that brother Antonio?
Your conversation with Diane was also helpful to me. I believe you may have hit it on the head about why the disciples weren't saved beforehand, though as you prefaced your comments, it must be admitted that much is by necessity conjecture, though Biblically-informed conjecture, if I may coin a term!
I also must add one more thing. I went back today & checked some articles out, or I should say I re-read them after some years, on bro. Hodges' site, Redencion Viva, especially concerning 1 Co.15:2 7 the Gospel message. I was amazed at the Biblical insight! It can't be that bro. Hodges has gotten smarter, it must be that I just saw it clearer than I had before. I'm afraid I had allowed some of his detractors, of whom I also must admit I appreciate some of their thoughts as well, to muddy my thinking.
Anyway, one thing I have always appreciated about bro. Hodges, is that he wanted above all else to go back to the Bible, & dig into what it said, letting Scripture interpret Scripture. Though I may disagree with some of his conclusions (& I certainly admit the possiblilty of my being the one in error!), yet I appreciate his love for the Savior & His Word.
OK, I meant for this post to be short & here I am still typing!

December 29, 2008 6:04 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

David Wyatt,

I love you, brother. You are a picture of grace, love, and charity. May your tribe increase!

Your fg brother,

Antonio

December 29, 2008 7:13 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

David, I agree with Antonio. You always bless my heart, too!!!
:-)

Antonio,
Thank you for answering my questions. I truly appreciate that.

I have read and studied Bob Bryant's wonderful article many times in the past, "How Were People Saved Before Jesus Came?" I found that article extremely helpful. I believe that the New Testament clearly shows us that those in the Old Testament knew of Christ and were saved by believing in Him for eternal life. Both articles (Bob Bryant and Bob Wilkin) were excellent in showing us that.

Your reasons make sense to me. They give me some good food for thought. In fact, I can't think of any better answer. I know that the disciples were saved by believing in the Christ (that He was the giver of eternal life). That was never in question. I was just curious as to why they wouldn't have been saved before He revealed Himself since O.T. believers were saved by believing in the coming Messiah.
Your answer..... they didn't yet believe in Him (and your reasons). I can't think of any other reasons. Don't know why I didn't think of that!!! duh!

In regards to the exodus from Egypt and the sacrifices being made, do you think most of those Israelites were saved? I THINK Bob Wilkin believes they were, or at least a lot of them??? I probably shouldn't speak for Bob because I could be wrong. He once told me that carrying out the sacrifices as recorded by God was a fellowship issue. Nobody was saved by sacrificing an animal. If my memory serves me right, I was taught many years ago at Bible College that the sacrificed animal COVERED our sins until Christ came. I don't believe that anymore. Of course the sacrifice was a picture of Christ. How much the people understood, I don't know. Someday we'll know.

The scripture you pointed out in Luke 24:45 was excellent.

Regarding this small 3 year old child....
Some of the moms in my discipleship class liked the idea of telling their children at a very, very young age (from the time they begin to talk) the positive reason Jesus came...... to give a gift..... the gift of living with God forever in His wonderful home someday, explaining that God sent His Son Jesus into the world to give us this gift and only those who believe in Jesus get to live with Him forever. (That's the short version.)
:-)
These moms liked the idea of starting with a happy message (a positive message) that a small child could understand and then explain more as they got a little older.
I had never thought about doing it that way. I did not do it that way with my own children. I always started with sin and the cross. My kids don't know the time of their salvation. I don't remember the particular time either, but they were saved as children. Praise God!!!

Let me explain how this all came about in my discipleship class regarding this little 3 year old girl. Her mom shared with all of us one day that she didn't want to go into all the gruesome details about Jesus' crucifixion and blood being shed at this young age with her little girl. We all kind-of wondered about that. We weren't necessarily in agreement with her at that time. But then we saw how that her little girl had complete confidence that she would go live with Jesus someday because she believed that He gave her the gift of eternal life with Him. She understood that people move out of their bodies when they die and go live with Jesus in heaven if they believed in Him to take them there. It even bothered her when she thought about the people who died and didn't believe in Jesus. They went to live in a bad place where Jesus didn't live.
Then her mom said to us something like this..........
"I really think _______ is saved. She understands and believes that Jesus is the only way to heaven. She believes in Him. She has absolute confidence that He is going to take her to heaven someday and that He is the only one who can do that."
Even the little girl's mom seemed surprised that her little girl was believing in Christ in the biblical "saving" sense. It's as though she noticed that her little girl was believing. She didn't say any prayer with her or "do" any of the "traditional things" that people do when "leading a child to Christ." She just noticed that her little girl believed.
I noticed that this little girl was a very happy, confident child who knew that Jesus was the only way to heaven and that she would go be with Him someday.
Not too long after that her mom taught her about WHY Jesus could take her to heaven. She just believed what her mom told her. No problem whatsoever. We all saw this in that little girl and liked what we saw.

Now some of the moms are approaching the positive way FIRST with their young children. That doesn't mean that they won't tell them about the cross work of Christ, and the resurrection. But for the very young, they like the idea of starting with the gift that God offers to those who believe in Jesus Christ for it. They liked the results of what they saw in this little girl. They just liked the idea of starting out with the gift.
:-)

I, too, now like to START OUT with the gift that God offers through Jesus Christ. I like starting out that way with children and adults both. But then I go on to say WHY He can give us that gift. That's what Bob Wilkin does when people respond to his claim.

I think it would be GREAT for an evangelist to also START OUT with the free gift of eternal life that God offers to anyone who believes. THEN tell people WHY Jesus can do it. I think too many evangelists muddy the water when it comes to making clear the saving message. But I agree.... absolutely preach the cross!!! Just make sure that people understand the free gift of eternal life that God offers to those who believe in Him.

SORRY! I need to learn how NOT to be so wordy!!!
:-(

Thanks so much for taking time to help me with my questions. You are a great help!!!

Rejoicing in Jesus always,
Diane
:-)

December 29, 2008 9:05 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Antonio
Thank you for your kind words, and also your godly encouragement to exhibit grace.
I believe your syllogistic proposition is without dispute and solidly proven by the Scriptural evidence you provide. That even though the Apostles were rejecting the death and resurrection of Christ they were still born of God therefore they had believed in Jesus as the Christ. This clearly proving that the content has not changed. I believe that Zane would have loved your illustrations because they are so very clear.

alvin

December 29, 2008 9:53 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Antonio:

Every week, all over what is commonly called "Christendom" literally millions of people repeat the creed which starts with these words:

"We believe in God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.


These people believe that "Jesus is the Christ" (as opposed to the Jews whose views of Jesus range from Him being a good man, although perhaps misguided man to an imposter and apostate etc., ) - Do you hold that these countless millions of folks in Roman Catholic, Anglican, Eastern Othordox Churches are "born of God?" Do they merely need to be discipled as opposed to evangelised? Will, as things stand, I see the Pope in Heaven on the basis that he mumbles this creed?

Regards,

December 30, 2008 2:07 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Just to get the email notification

December 30, 2008 2:07 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Colin,

I thought you would know me better than to ask those questions!

The Apostle John imports a specific soteriological content into his understanding of "the Christ". One must believe that Jesus is the Christ in the Johannine sense of that word.

You may, in your hurry, have read over or glossed over a section of my post entitled "Discussion and Questions" where I stated:

In this article we have not considered what it actually means to believe that Jesus is the Christ in a soteriological sense (in other words, in a saving way). But what we have done is preclude the assumptions made by many that conscious understanding and assent to Christ's death and resurrection, which facts are the essential basis for salvation, are God-mandated contents for saving faith.

For a detailed discussion on what it means to believe that Jesus is the Christ, please refer to these articles here on Free Grace Theology Blog:


After that I gave 2 links that provide the answer to what the Johannine sense of the meaning "the Christ" is.

If men and women do not believe that Jesus is the Christ, in the sense that the Apostle John defines for us, he is not born of God.

Terms must be defined. If someone merely understood that "Christ" was just a surname for Jesus of Nazareth, he has not yet understood the soteriological import that the Apostle John has given that term.

Thanks for your visit, and would love to continue.

Antonio

December 30, 2008 2:53 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Diane,

Wooden and canned forms of evangelism are not very effective. One must be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, move with the rythyms of dialogue, and learn to shape and guide the conversation along.

I am all for interactive dialogues with the lost.

Yet there are also times when the floor is yours and you have an audience. Now no matter what age that audience is, we ought to preach the cross and resurrection of Christ.

The way that the person whom you are talking about evangelized her daughter should not be normative. There is no reason whatsoever to exclude the preaching of the cross and resurrection to a child. Surely even by the age of 3 a churched child has seen depictions of the cross dozens of times!

Furthermore, I doubt that the mother just quoted Jn 3:16 or 6:47 and immediately the child believed. I am certain that the mother put flesh on the bones of just who this Jesus is who she is asking her daughter to trust in for salvation. And if she did that, there is no reason to disclude the story about Easter!

Jesus' signs and wonders authenticated His message when He evangelized. He was uniquely qualified to evangelize the way He did. His Personage and presence validated His message. My descriptions of Jesus will validate my proclamation of His message.

Jesus could elicit faith in several unique ways. Our aresenal is not as full as Christ's. He had His manifest presence, authority, signs and omniscient powers of discourse, we do not.

Yet we have the discoursive testimony of the true happenings of Jesus' acts and words. We must use them!

Your fg friend,

Antonio

December 30, 2008 3:10 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Antonio,

I'm with you.... Always preach the cross of Christ. AMEN!
I always do that. I just like starting off with the reason Jesus came into the world... to give us a free gift. That gift is eternal life. Anyone who believes in Him for the gift has the gift.
But then I take every opportunity to tell the whole story of how He can give us that gift and WHY He came to give it.

This little girl did have a lot of information about Jesus from her mom. More than I shared. But she didn't yet know about the cross and the blood that was shed for her sins. It wasn't because her mom wasn't going to teach her that in time. It's just that she got saved BEFORE her mom ever got to that place.
Teaching very young children about sin is easy. Going into the blood that was shed is a little more difficult. I personally always did go into that at a very young age with my kids. This mom just chose not to, but the seed of the Word planted in that little girl's heart sprung up into everlasting life before her mom even got to the truth of the cross. God did that. AWESOME!!! That's the love that God has for His little ones. Isn't He GREAT!!!

Appreciate so much your insight. I love to study everything you write. Thanks Antonio for being there for all of us.

Your friend because of Jesus,
Diane
:-)

December 30, 2008 4:06 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Diane,

There are all kinds of different scenarios that we will find ourselves in. From the fellow employee, to the friend, to the family member, to the man on the street.

People will have varying degrees of obstacles that will preclude them from faith in Christ. It would be unreasonable to assume that for the greatest majority of evangelistic encounters that one will be able to over come all of them.

Starting up front with Jesus' promise of eternal life to the believer is a very effective way to get a good dialogue started. I happen to have had great results with such. To get people to think about spiritual things when their hearts are so enamored with the temporal is indeed a great feat. But something about the freeness and graciousness of the offer of eternal life gets people to respond and talk.

With those who we will be in relation to for periods of time (like coworkers) we can feel free to share little bits and move on.

Any word of truth that we are able to impart to the lost will be tools in the hands of the Holy Spirit to work and move in them.

Evangelism is a beautiful thing! And it can be as varied as the people are who we talk to. And indeed it ought to be!

Jesus had a knack for creating discussions that piqued the interest of the objects of His ministries. We ought to do practice doing the same.

Antonio

December 30, 2008 4:43 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Amen and Amen Diane!

The gift can be taken FREELY!!!!

All she needed was the DESIRE!!!!!

Death can do that when you see it. That is give you a desire to have eternal life!

Just as Revelation 22:17 says clearly:

Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely . . .Rev 22:17b

God used death to put the desire in this little girl to come to Him for life!!!

God bless that Mother and may there be many more like her!!!!

If a child desires to come to Jesus there are NO other conditions that must be met to take of the living water!!! None!!!

alvin

December 30, 2008 4:52 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Alvin,
I always love the way you get excited over the water of life freely given!!! Never loose that enthusiasm!!!
:-)

Antonio,
I agree with you. Wooden and canned forms of evangelism are not very effective.
We do need to allow the Spirit of God to work in and through us as the opportunities arise among all different kinds of people. Your words are greatly appreciated.

My husband came to faith in Christ as a teenager while listening to Billy Graham. I realize that Billy Graham mixes justification salvation with sanctification salvation, but God used him anyway to bring my husband to faith. But his words were not in a vacuum. My husband grew up going to a little Baptist church. He had information about Christ BEFORE that night he listened to Billy Graham. This was just the time that the Lord chose to open his eyes to believe in Christ and be saved. God works to bring understanding to our minds even through flawed messages. His WORD never returns void. That's His grace.

One night as a teenager (long time ago) I attended a YFC rally. I have no recollection of who the speaker was or what he said. But I wanted the assurance that I was saved, so that night I walked an aisle, said a prayer with a counselor and walked away having absolute assurance of my salvation. But my faith wasn't in that walk, or that prayer. It was in the promise of John 3:16. Jesus promised to give me everlasting life if I believed in Him. I have never doubted my salvation since that night.

I wrote Zane Hodges about that once back in 1994. My question to him was.... when was I saved? I told him that I remembered the "light" going on for me for the first time as to WHY Jesus died. He did it to pay for my sins so that I could have everlasting life when I believed in Him. Was I saved when the light went on for me, or was I saved the night I walked an aisle, etc., etc.? After all, I needed assurance and I had just learned in a GES conference that assurance was the essence of saving faith.
He wrote me back and here's what he said......

(1) You may well have been saved before you walked the aisle. In your P.S. you describe your feelings prior to walking the aisle: "Christ died for me. My sins are paid for. Now I can go to heaven." Perhaps you already had assurance and simply wanted the issues clarified and pinned down.

(2) In any case it doesn't matter when you were saved since you know now that you are. I suspect there will be many believers in heaven who will be surprised that they were saved earlier or later than they thought they were. The human memory can easily miss a moment of true assurance.

(3) It is possible (as in Roman Catholic theology) to believe that Christ died for our sins and rose again, yet to DISbelieve the Gospel message of salvation by faith alone. Note that in John 3:16; 5:24; 6:47; etc. the emphasis is upon what the Lord Jesus guarantees to the believer: eternal life by faith. If a person intelligently believes any of these promises, he knows that he has eternal life since the promises guarantee that. To believe in Jesus is to accept His declaration about bestowing eternal life on every believer (Jn 11:25-27). We are not saved simply by believing that Jesus died for us, but by believing that He saves us at the moment we trust Him for that. The difference may seem subtle, but it is real.

END OF QUOTE

Praise God for His Word that never returns void when given even when men mess it up.

Thank you Antonio for this wonderful place to come and learn. You are always a blessing to me.

In His grace,
Diane
:-)

December 30, 2008 7:00 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Antonio

I agree with what both you and Diane have said.

And I share Diane's appreciation for you!!!

Thank you Antonio for this wonderful place to come and learn. You are always a blessing to me.

And I'll try to show more grace to Colin and Mark, I know that concerns you.

alvin

December 30, 2008 11:34 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Bro. Antonio & Diane,

You both are very kind, I so want to be more like Christ, it seems I'll never get there, though I know teh Lord will complete what He starts, like in Rose's excellent article on her blog.

Bro. Antonio, I mentioned something in my post that you probably did not see, & I wondered what your thoughts were. The article by bro. Bryant, "How were people saved before Jesus Came" was mentioned, & I asked you: "Everyone, no matter who they are or where in time they lived, are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! It is just a forward or a backward look in faith, would you agree with that brother Antonio?" I'm curious as to your thoughts. God Bless you all in '09!

December 31, 2008 8:19 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
I finally had a moment to think and contemplate... and therefore I read your post very carefully. You have communicated the track that your understanding of this issue comes down quite well, my brother!

I must admit, previous to all these discussions, I had not analyzed very thoroughly what I thought the "content of saving faith" was at all and this has all forced me to do that. This is a good thing!

The more I think about all of this, the more I do not believe this should be such a troublesome issue. You are really not all that controversial.
BUT:
I know others have a different opinion than me on that. :~)

You make your case very well.

I think if I remember correctly, I had a difficulty agreeing with you on what it means to believe that Jesus is the Christ. You had a very simple explanation -if my memory serves me- and my explanation for what it means is a little less "defined" shall we say. :~)

God bless.

January 10, 2009 6:51 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

BTW,
Alvin's thoughts are quite similar to what has been on my mind as well. Why would a Calvinist even have much of an opinion on this debate?

Frank Turk was the most consistenet on that if I remember right - a couple of years ago.

January 10, 2009 6:53 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Antonio, I would love for Charlie Bing to read your post. Do you know if he's seen it?
You explain it very well here, and it might help clear up some of the confusion that some in FGA have.

Rose, I really appreciate you because you are a true Berean in my eyes.
The reason this subject has been so good for me is because it helps me to be careful to get the saving message correct when I share it with others. I always share the cross of Christ and His resurrection, but I start out with the free gift of eternal life when given the opportunity. I've come across too many people who profess to be saved, but then realize later that they have never believed in Jesus Christ alone to save them eternally. They're still trusting in their works in some form. But understanding the saving content helps bring them back to where they need to be to have eternal life. I, for one, am not interested in winning an argument or debate. I just want people to be saved, and there's no greater joy than to see the light go on for someone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ for the first time. AWESOME.

Isn't HE wonderful~!!! He came to give us a gift. It's free to all who will accept it from Him.... through faith. Realizing what it cost Him brings appreciation and thankfulness that words can never express.

Lovingly,
Diane
:-)

January 10, 2009 7:47 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

David Wyatt,

Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I have not had a trusty computer.

You know that I am a man of parsing. Many theological articulations must be balanced, exact, and nuanced.

Without thinking too much, and reserving the right to change my mind later, I would say this:

It was a forward look to the coming Christ for those of O.T. times. But for us in N.T. times it is a present look to the ability and authority of Jesus to guarantee eternal life to the believer. It is a small nuance, but I believe that it is a present look to Jesus rather than a looking back.

your fg bro,

Antonio

January 11, 2009 6:39 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Diane,

Be my guest and please forward to Dr. Bing all the info you would like from my blog.

I am seriously thinking about submitting an outline to Bob so that I may teach a breakout session at this year's conference. Please pray for me.

Antonio

January 11, 2009 6:42 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Rose, I sent you an email concerning your questions. I plan on writing some new and interesting posts in the future that will address them.

Thanks for your balanced and reasonable thoughts.

BTW, I went out for Hawaiian BBQ a couple of days ago and thought of you.

Antonio

January 11, 2009 6:44 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Antonio,

Just wondering? Are you still a member of FGA?

Diane

January 11, 2009 9:22 PM  
Blogger Peggie said...

Antonio,

You said:
"I am seriously thinking about submitting an outline to Bob so that I may teach a breakout session at this year's conference. Please pray for me."

Please do!

I don't know if my husband and I will be
able to make it there this year, but we
always buy the CDs. So I hope you can
be part of the Conference.

January 12, 2009 1:53 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

I like the way Bob articulated this about John 4:14.

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 springing up into everlasting life.

Wilkins:
Notice the water is not everlasting life, the water is the saving message, and when you drink the water, one drink forever quenches your thirst and it springs up into you in everlasting life. Because once I believe that Jesus is the Messiah who guarantees eternal life to all that simply believe in Him, then I have that everlasting life. You must drink the living water to have the message within you, that is a figure for believing. And everlasting life only comes AFTER one believes.
:)so much for regeneration preceding faith!:)

January 14, 2009 2:50 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

I like what I heard someone say about Zane.
Wherever God planted him he bloomed!
That’s what we all need to be doing wherever God has planted us.
May people ALL around us smell the sweet aroma of Christ in our lives.

Alvin :)
off to work :-)boy i got a lon-g nose

January 14, 2009 2:52 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

One more thought before I beat feet to work!
The job I have now is so much better then any job I’ve ever had!
I can remember pulling lumber on a greenchain with icicle’s on my beard because it was thirty degrees below zero….the good thing was though they had to break us about every fifteen minutes. Then I won’t even tell you about the time when I fell into the pond showing a tour group how to walk logs…Ha!Ha! it wasn’t pretty . . .straddling a log!
I would never want to go back to that kind of hard work! And that makes me think about what it’s going to be like in heaven. How were living for God right now will determine our eternal capacity to experience God more fully and bring glory to Him forever….WOW I don’t know about you but I don’t want icicles hanging from my beard….Ha!Ha! :)


keep looking up! . . .unless your walking logs. . .ha!ha!

January 14, 2009 3:19 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin, you made me laugh tonight!
Thanks.... I needed that!!!
:-)

BTW... I heard Zane Hodges teach on that passage that you quoted from Bob Wilkin.... John 4:14.
"Whoever drinks (BELIEVES)
of the water (MESSAGE) that I shall give him will never thirst but the water (MESSAGE) that I shall give him will become in him a fountain springing up into everlasting life."

Jesus' message when believed resulted in everlasting life.

That understanding of that passage was new to me when Zane brought it. But I went home and studied it and came to see it as correct.

When you respect someone, you're going to take the time to check out what they say. Many who don't see the teachings of Zane Hodges as being biblical probably are those who don't respect his insight enough to check out carefully WHAT he is saying and WHY he is saying it.

Have a good week enjoying the Lord who loves you with and everlasting love.

Diane
:-)

January 14, 2009 10:45 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane,

Yes that was one of my favorite messages by Zane "Water That Produces Water." I loaned it to my car-pool buddy and he accidently put something sticky on it. So I need to order a new one.
I agree concerning those who do not take the time to study what Zane is saying. I was convinced by the first book I read by Zane that he was right on the main thing. From there I saw that he was interpreting consistantly with his beginning premise that eternal life was absolutely free. And on each book that he tackled whether James or John's epistles he showed me where his interpretation could be consistant with a free gift. I had never heard them interpreted that way before so I had to let go of my traditions. In the past I had heard these books explained in a way that sounded right but was not consistant with a free gift in fact contradicted it. I knew Zane was right but it took time for me to get my mind around it, then when I finally would see it, it made perfect sense, and harmonized with everything else. I knew exactly what Earl Radmacker meant when he said he didn't always agree with Zane but after awhile he came to see Zane was usually right. It is only as you begin to see the big picture that it all starts falling in place. But I don't believe anyone is going to get to that point unless they believe Zanes starting premise and that is that eternal life is absolutely free. There are too many blocks in their minds because of tradition or their "experince" to allow themselves to accept maybe what Zane is saying is true.

have a great day :) alvin

January 15, 2009 8:18 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin,

You hit the BULLS EYE again on the REASON why some of us see the saving content so clearly and others do not.

THIS IS WHAT I WOULD LIKE EVERYONE READING THIS BLOG TO UNDERSTAND..... What Alvin wrote just above!!!
****THIS IS THE KEY~!!!****


I have many Christian friends (Bible teachers) who have helped me grow in my Christian life who do not see the issues on the saving content the same as me. It has been very puzzling to me because their faith is in Jesus Christ alone to save them, too. I know they're passionate about taking the saving message to the world. I couldn't understand WHY (after much debate) they still couldn't see it when I saw it so clearly, and I'm a "nobody" when it comes to being smart like them. But I took the time to study and search the scriptures to see if what was being taught was accurate. Like you, Alvin, after reading Zane's book "Absolutely Free," I was hooked. That book was the most incredible book to help me see just HOW FREE God's gift of eternal life was, and how costly was discipleship!!! I didn't know who Zane Hodges was at that time. All I knew is that my questions were all answered when reading that book, going to the Bible to check everything out and then finding that all the pieces fit. That started me on my journey of a new relationship with this author, Zane Hodges. I respected his biblical knowledge so much that it caused me to read more of his writings and check everything out in the Bible. I found that he was right!!! It had nothing to do with following a man. I didn't even know him at the time.

But you took it even farther and said it so well. I think it's worth repeating here again. (Emphasis in CAPS and BOLD are mine)

I agree concerning those who do not take the time to study what Zane is saying. I was convinced by the first book I read by Zane that he was RIGHT ON THE MAIN THING. From there I saw that he was INTERPRETING CONSISTENTLY with his beginning premise that eternal life was absolutely free. And on each book that he tackled whether James or John's epistles he showed me where his interpretation could be CONSISTENT WITH A FREE GIFT. I had never heard them interpreted that way before so I had to let go of my traditions. In the past I had heard these books explained in a way that sounded right but was NOT CONSISTENT with a free gift in fact contradicted it. I knew Zane was right but it took time for me to get my mind around it, then when I finally would see it, it made perfect sense, and harmonized with everything else. I knew exactly what Earl Radmacher meant when he said he didn't always agree with Zane but after awhile he came to see Zane was usually right. ****It is only as you begin to see the big picture that it all starts falling in place.**** But I don't believe anyone is going to get to that point unless they believe Zanes STARTING PREMISE and that is that ETERNAL LIFE IS ABSOLUTELY FREE. There are too many blocks in their minds because of tradition or their "experience" to allow themselves to accept maybe what Zane is saying is true.

Friends, please consider this question.... "WHY do so many other Bible teachers differ on these most important issues?" It's not because they personally hate Zane Hodges. I'm sure they don't. Many of them were his friends. But I just don't think they have come to his books with the same openness that I did. If any of my friends on the other side are reading this, I want you to know that I'm not trying to say anything bad against your character in any way. You just see it differently than I do. But I'm confused as to WHY? I haven't been convinced by anybody that what Zane Hodges has written is unscriptural, but if it can ever be shown me (through the scriptures) I'll agree with you, too. You are my friends on both sides of the issue...... at least those who have been gracious through this whole debate. Debate is not bad if it is done in love and with the purpose of coming to the truth.

The Lord is good, and I'm determined to enjoy Him everyday that He gives me here on this earth. Pray for me, that I will be found faithful. I am weak, but He is strong.

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

January 15, 2009 9:55 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Sorry, but I had to add this tonight because I was so blessed AGAIN today!!! This afternoon I went out again and just found a quiet place to read. I picked up my book "The Hungry Inherit" by Zane Hodges and started reading the last chapter. WHAT A BLESSING!!! The last chapter is like the cherry on top of the Sundae. It's the BEST!!!

This book was written in 1972 and it's the same Zane Hodges who has been accused of changing his beliefs. No change here!!! He's teaching exactly what I've come to learn so beautifully in his later writings.

For example, page 118.....
.....the gospel of John, unlike those of Matthew and Mark and Luke, stretches its narrative back into the earliest portions of Jesus' activity as a teacher. And among those early segments of His ministry which John alone records, there is the report of the conversations at Sychar's well. The crucial revelations unfolded there about the living water of eternal life and about the supernatural food of the obedient disciple are to be found ***ONLY*** on the pages of John's book. (emphasis mine.) Nor could the reader of God's Word afford to be without them, for the remaining three gospels are like giant store-rooms, whose abundant supplies of truth are unlocked ONLY by the key that John provides. In short, the later teachings of Jesus-- as recorded by Matthew and Mark and Luke-- are only genuinely comprehended if they are read in the light of what the Saviour had clearly taught from the beginning. And these foundational teachings of Jesus, it became John's prerogative to unfold.

Pg. 122.... Though eternal life was bestowed on any thirsty soul who wished it, the wealth of the future age belonged only to those who lived for God victoriously.

Pg. 123.... Eternal life is FREE. Discipleship is immeasurably hard. The former is attained by faith alone, the latter by a faith that WORKS.
......
God would give living water to a thirsty soul without conditions. But He granted ownership of the world to come only to those who were victorious.


Pg. 128.... The wonderful message of LIFE, the striking revelation of God's love displayed in the DEATH OF HIS SON FOR SINFUL MEN (emphasis mine.)

Pg. 129.... God's Son had come and had offered them LIFE....

Now this really caught my attention because we've just been blogging here about it...... living water being the message that springs up into everlasting life.
Pg. 134-135... (John 4:10) "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."
And she HAD asked. She had asked if He were the Christ. And He HAD given. He had given her the life-bearing truth that He was the Christ ("I who speak to you am He"). She had believed THAT TRUTH and so she had living water.


This is the same teaching that I've heard Zane Hodges teach more recently, and yet people are saying that he's changed and not teaching what he use to teach. NOT SO!!!

Just wanted to share the blessings that God showed me today. Thank you for that opportunity.

A friend,
Diane

January 15, 2009 7:42 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

Thanks for the good words, I'm convinced just as you are of these truths! I liked what Bob Wilkin said in his debate with James White. He said he didn't care if the whole world believed the same and he was the only one on planet earth who believed the way he did. He was convinced from Scripture that what he believed was true, and that's where he stood. James White would argue what Bob Wilkin believes was not believed by the Reformers concerning repentance etc. But it is clear to me that what the Reformers believed contradicted a gift you can take freely. They made the book of James contradict a gift you can take freely, by making it faith that had to work for it! They made the epistles of John contradict a free gift by saying if your faith is true you will have love for the brethern. All these are based on a faith that has to work to be true, so in the end nothing was really free to begin with but was on the payment plan. You don't pay you don't play, this made the goodnews into bad news. And one could not have certainty until they got where they were going.
Diane you know as well as I do some people this would destroy because it causes one to be introspective. Not knowing with certainty they are God's child but that they might have spurious faith. This is a terrible belief to put on anyone who is struggling just to survive one day at a time. Zane Hodges had the courage to speak the truth and to write a book called "Absolutely Free" with the starting premise that anyone can take the living water freely just as Scripture clearly says! And the gates of Hell will not prevail against that truth, because once believed springs up into eternal life! And that's GOODNEWS!!!!!

January 16, 2009 7:41 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

When I moved here from Montana I visited many churches. I found a free-grace church, and was all excited because the pastor was one of Zanes seminary students. But what I'm still scratching my head over is that he never kept up with Zanes teachings. When I first found Zanes book it was like cool water to a soul who was dying of thirst. I couldn't get enough of his books. But here was a one who it didn't seem to matter that much. I tried to explain "Harmony With God" to him, the difference between forgivness and justification. Fellowship forgiveness being personal and justification being judicial. He said to me that sounds like "Catholicism." Now where that came from I'll never know. But here about a month ago I got an e-mail saying that alot of the people in the church were studying the book "Harmony With God" and he was getting back very good reports that the book had helped their understanding of the Bible.
That was encouarging to hear!!!

January 16, 2009 8:07 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Oh, WOW!!!
Alvin, I'm so glad to hear about people in your church starting to read "Harmony With God!"
How did that come about?

If anyone wants to have a clear understanding of repentance and how it fits into all the passages, this is the book to read. It will open your eyes like no other.
This is one of those books that makes me think many of Zane's friends didn't REALLY study very carefully. It's hard to grasp at first.... or it was for me. But I stuck with it and checked everything out. I read it and reread it. I finally "got it!" And it makes perfect sense. All the pieces now come together..... the free gift of eternal life, repentance, and forgiveness of sins. This is one of those "TREASURE" books. If you want solid support from the Bible on repentance and forgiveness, this is the book to STUDY!!! Stick with it until you can "get your mind around it," as Alvin said. Once you get it, you'll be rejoicing about it just like we do!!!
:-)

Thanks Alvin for your great comments.

To all my friends..... have a great day enjoying the ONE who gave us the greatest of all gifts.... eternal LIFE, (life with Him forever)!

Diane
:-)
P.S. Actually I came to understand much of this book BEFORE he wrote it. That's the material that he presented to a group of "pastors" (not sure who was in the room), and I listened on cassette tape to ALL of it..... wrote everything down longhand...... and studied and studied and studied (hours and hours and hours). IT WAS WORTH IT~! Then shortly after that it came out in book form.
:-)

January 16, 2009 9:03 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

By the time I got to that book I knew that it would be right on track with a gift you can take freely. I spent most of a summer in Montana camping out with my recumbent and that book and my Bible. It was complicated but WONDERFUL!!!!! Zane showed where Paul's own salvation experience was consistent with the Jews in Acts 2. Even to his words "What would you have me to do" also washing away his sins in baptism to be in fellowship with God so He could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Your right Diane this book takes much time just searching the Scriptures and praying that God's Holy Spirit will guide you. I had to chew on it for a long time before I could see how beautiful it ALL fit. This book really tackles the book of Acts and it's transitional nature showing that eternal life was and is always a gift you can take freely, but forgiveness of sins was tied to repentance and baptism at that time in history to that group of people. At that time the gift of the Holy Spirit was also a gift, but one that God ONLY bestowed upon those who were in HARMONY with Him!

Alvin :-) Note: Just the fact that the word repentance is not found ONE time in the ONLY book in the Bible written for the purpose unbelievers might have LIFE, the Gospel Of John (John 20:31). Is reason to get this book to see how repentance does FIT into to God’s plan for Dr. Luke did record that it was repentance TOWARD God and faith TOWARD the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit made that distinction for a reason :) Acts 20:21

January 16, 2009 4:05 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Bro. Antonio,

Thanks for getting back to me on my earlier question. I see what you are saying. I'll do some more thankin' on it! God Bless!

January 16, 2009 6:23 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin... AMEN!
I hope lots of readers here study that book.
:-)

January 16, 2009 7:42 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

whoever does A is B
or more simply as
if A than B

"than" should be "then."

Gary

February 18, 2009 7:11 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Gary,

Just wanted to say that I've appreciated your comments. I just found out that you're a "different Gary" than I thought you were. You both have wonderful things to say. Glad to me you.

A free grace friend,
Diane
:-)
P.S. Not quite sure the meaning of your last post though.....

February 18, 2009 8:19 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

He revealed Himself since O.T. believers were saved by believing in the coming Messiah.
Your answer..... they didn't yet believe in Him (and your reasons). I can't think of any other reasons. Don't know why I didn't think of that!!! duh!

I think Antonio gave an excellent response, and would add only one thing.

Examples of an OT saints who were already born again before they met Jesus personally were Simeon and Nathanael.

My opinion, Gary

February 19, 2009 8:30 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

alvin said:
"Wilkins:
Notice the water is not everlasting life, the water is the saving message, and when you drink the water, one drink forever quenches your thirst and it springs up into you in everlasting life. Because once I believe that Jesus is the Messiah who guarantees eternal life to all that simply believe in Him, then I have that everlasting life. You must drink the living water to have the message within you, that is a figure for believing. And everlasting life only comes AFTER one believes.
:)so much for regeneration preceding faith!:)"

Alvin, this SEEMS so simple and clear now, but before it was explained I didn't have it straight!

Thanks for reaffirming it!

Gary

February 19, 2009 1:20 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Antonio said:
"It was a forward look to the coming Christ for those of O.T. times. But for us in N.T. times it is a present look to the ability and authority of Jesus to


I get what you mean, but we need to be very careful not to give the impression that this "present look," is continuing and not punctuated.

I loved Zane's article in the JOTGES about "zero tense!" He was just FULL of great insights and truths. I never met him, but I MISS him and am sorry I missed my opportunity to meet him. I envy you all who did.

Gary

February 19, 2009 1:28 PM  

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