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)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Preface to the new series: How To Lead People to Christ

Dear Readers of Free Grace Theology blog,

Jesus Christ is my passion and love. I want my life - my words, thoughts and actions - to ever be honoring to Him. He gave His life so that I may have life. Presently, I am trying to give my life to Him because He wants it, He asks for it; and by losing my life I actually gain it.

In this lifelong endeavor to bring glory to Jesus Christ, the One Who alone guarantees everlasting life to the believer in Him, I seek to be true to His word. It is this quest for truth that has led me to Free Grace Theology. This position best represents the whole range of divine data found in Scripture. Free Grace Theology, being derived from the Bible, is a grid also through which to now view the Bible. By means of its tenets, the Word of God may be read prima facie without contradiction, and without the endless inclusions of ad hoc and secondary assumptions to the texts. No other theology or position can legitimately assert this.

All people who can genuinely claim Free Grace Theology share a rich theological heritage, as well as the foundational principles by which it consists. A friend and proponent of Free Grace, Don Reiher, has posted several videos on YouTube that show panel discussions at the Grace Evangelical Society National Grace Conference. These glimpses of history show godly men committed to Free Grace Theology, who nevertheless had disagreements. Their humble practice of grace aligned with their proclamation of it. How very instructional it is to view men such as Radmacher, Bing, Hart, Hodges, and Wilkin share a table in harmony of purpose and unity of spirit.

One of my weak areas is that of Ecclesiology, and specifically ecclesiastical polity. I have recently been exposed to the principles of churches such as the IFC and the like; those who are part of "Separationist" congregations. The study has indeed been informative. It has given me a greater understanding of the attitudes and operations of some of the most vocal antagonists to Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and the GES. In discussions with those who disagree with the GES in the Free Grace world, including some of its leaders, I have found that the ones who do not have a background in these churches do not believe that the GES is teaching doctrinal heresy. It is the unfortunate truth that people who put a high premium on extreme "separation" doctrine are promoting division in Free Grace Theology, often by less than honorable means. The fact of the correlation between the two is inescapable.

It must be noted that these men are going much further in their dissenting declarations and have been making accusations against the GES and those sympathetic to it. Their cries are of "Heresy!" and even more extreme they accuse of "False Gospel!" while those who are more level-headed, balanced, and deliberate, would not agree to either charge. In taking this extreme course they have sown seeds of discord among the brethren, causing deep rifts between men and women of like mind. Their premature and hostile call to arms has caused grace people, who were heretofore united (yet still having differences in doctrine) to take polar opposite sides and entrench themselves against each other.

Level heads must prevail. We ought not to allow the questionable tactics and attitudes of those with "Separationist" backgrounds to dictate the fate and future of Free Grace Theology.

At Zane Hodge's funeral, I had the opportunity to sit down for some time with Dr. Earl Radmacher. He is very displeased with what is happening in the Free Grace world. He stated that Satan is gaining a foothold in order to "divide and conquer". The fate and the future of Free Grace Theology is in our hands at the present moment. We ought not to allow the confusion and division being propagated by extremists to break us apart. Free Grace Theology needs to be a unified front.

In our conversation, Dr. Radmacher gave an illustration. Paraphrased, here it is: "In the Reformed movement, they have John MacArthur on the West Coast, R.C. Sproul on the East Coast, and John Piper in the Midwest. These three, having significant differences, nevertheless, do not speak against each other, or seek separation. They are unified in their purpose. We in Free Grace Theology ought to stop devouring each other and take a play out of these Reformed gentlemen's book. We need to be unified in our purpose!" I agree with Dr. Earl. Not only do we share a rich theological heritage, as has been explained above, we also share the conviction that eternal life is appropriated simply by faith alone in Christ alone.

Dr. Radmacher told me of an idea that he had at last year's Free Grace Alliance national conference. He suggested that there be leaders of the Free Grace world invited to a table, which does not have any corners or a head, to sit down and discuss these matters. Prayer would begin and end the meeting. During the conversation, one would speak. The next who would speak would have to accurately summarize and characterize the previous speakers message before moving on to his. Not until everyone's points were exhausted would the meeting be adjourned. In the so doing of this process, understanding would result. During this whole time, there would be a greater circle, enveloping the circle of leaders, populated by men and women who were to be constantly in prayer for the proceedings and an individual at the main table. What a great plan! Unfortunately, Dr. J.B. Hixson dismissed that suggestion out of hand. It is yet encouraging to note that Dr. Radmacher and Dr. Stephen R. Lewis are planning something similar at the GES National Conference this year.

Men and women, level heads must prevail! Those who do not operate in the realm of balance have colored the discussion with accusations of heresy and false gospel, all the while others in the Free Grace world on one hand may disagree with the GES, but on the other maintain that they do not preach heresy. We should not allow the questionable tactics of a small few disrupt the unity of our movement. Healing and understanding must be sought lest our movement implode, being relegated to the outer extremes of fringe theology. This self-destructive path is well under way.

Free Grace Theology has something to share with the world! It ought to be given an opportunity to be heard in the marketplace of theological ideas. Yet such a course as we are now on will ensure that such will never be realized. There must be accord. There must be understanding. And there must be charity. Furthermore, those who continually thrive off of the division and strife they create need to shape up, or create their own "Separationist" organization. They must not be tolerated. We must distance ourselves far from their extremist and destructive ramblings. It was a mistake to allow the hostile proclamation of their differences to have a platform at our blogs and our conferences. Dr. Radmacher has assured me that the intent of creating the FGA was not to distance itself from the GES. He invisioned that they could work together. But many pressures have been coming to bear upon some of the leaders so as to exclude those who more simply define the invitation to eternal life; and in so doing, alienate a great segment of Free Grace Theology. I was informed that the recently appointed Executive Director of the FGA, himself, comes from a "Separationist" church background. What a mistake! Such an attitude that comes from those churches surely is at odds with the purpose of the FGA to "connect and equip" free grace people!

We in Free Grace Theology will have differences of opinion. But our convictions are stronger than our differences, and the foundations of our faith are secure. It has been personalities, and not doctrine, that have been ripping our movement apart. It is my opinion that our differences can either be worked out, or set aside in Christian charity (as they have been in the past), that we may get to the work of proclaiming the glorious and incomparable grace and riches of the Lord Jesus Christ.

your Free Grace Theology host and friend,

Antonio da Rosa

153 Comments:

Blogger David Wyatt said...

Bro. Antonio!! I have not even read all of your post yet, I apologize. I will read it. But I am so excited about the YouTube videos bro. Don posted that I had to let you know how much I appreciate them beinmg posted. I will check them out. I am sure there will be points of disagreement, but that is OK.
I do agree with you brother, that free grace theology comes closest to what I believe the Scriptures teach, & I especially appreciate your point about being able to read them prima facie! God Bless.

January 28, 2009 6:03 PM  
Blogger Steve Dehner said...

Amen, Antonio, Amen!
I have talked with Dr. R, Joe Lombardi and others about this idea, a Jerusalem Conference if you will. But I haven't ventured to promote it, as I thought it needed to come from the leadership rather than the membership. I desperately want and hope something like this will happen. I think we should get behind it and lend whatever support (or pressure) we can. I wonder if a petition from the memberships to the various parties would be in order?
-steve

January 28, 2009 6:19 PM  
Blogger Celestial Fundie said...

Not sure it is separatism that is the problem. I think it just comes down to petty-mindedness.

Perhaps it is because fundamentalists spend so much time criticising movements that they start to enjoy it.

January 29, 2009 2:07 AM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

I read most of your post late last night. Good stuff.

Because of the ruckus caused by a small number of folks, by their apparent misunderstanding of GES material, including these two papers by Prof. Hodges, I have spent a lot of time reading, listening and transcribing them. I have a LOT of thoughts and will be sure to make a lot of comments once you get started!

Just briefly, I think most of the problems came from the fact that Zane was a Seminary teacher who liked to get people to think.

Howard Hendricks says, "If you make people think that they are thinking, they will love you. If you really make them think, they will hate you." In Zane's case I think that Dr. Hendricks was right.

I know it sounds unkind, but if people are looking for easy answers they should not look to GES. There are many folks who came for the wrong reasons, and now they are upset because they think something has changed. Some peripheral things have changed through the years, but if you listen to some of the old messages I posted, you see how little things have really changed.

By the way, I have posted a lot more clips on youtube. There are 71 now. . . about 7 hours or more of messages and panel discussions.

The most relevant clips to the "saving message" question (other than the 2 actual "How to" MP3s with the Q&A) are the messages from 1997 on Assurance is of the Essence of Saving faith (including Q&A), the 1997 panel discussion, the 2006 message on Saved or in a State of Grace (including Q&A), and the 2006 message on Propitiation.


- Don Reiher

January 29, 2009 6:45 AM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

Oh. . . almost forgot.
See the panel Q&A at the 2005 California GES conference with Wilkin, Rutherford and Hodges. The first question, and part of the answer was cut off, but it appears it had to do with what is the content of the Gospel, in terms of the bare minimum. It is a shame that it was cut off. Zane said give them the "whole story" as well as the "bare minimum."

I am sure we will have further discussions on this when Antonio starts posting portions of Zane's messages.

- Don

January 29, 2009 7:49 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Antonio:

On at least two occasions you use the term "a rich theologcial heritage" to describe the FG movement.

If the word "heritage" suggests history etc., then inasmuch were you are in agreement with the common Evangelcial faith, then I agree.

However, if the word "heritage" suggests history etc., then inasmuch as you have dropped the necessity of repentance for salvation etc., then I must wonder how the word "heritage" (even without the adjective) can be employed. Those of us who stand on the well worn old paths of Evangelicalism are normally dismissed as "Traditionalists" by yourself. The FG is relatviely new to the theology scene. That, in itself, forbids the use of the word "heritage" if you take it to mean "history."

Regards,

January 30, 2009 1:20 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 30, 2009 1:21 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

I wouldn't worry to much about tradition or heritage and I think the refined FG is getting closer to the truth all the time. In fact I like "faith alone in Christ alone FOR eternal life." That I believe is more accurate! Also the fact that repentance is not found ONE time in the ONLY book in the Bible that was written for the purpose the unbeliever might have life. And along with the fact that main stream Evangelicalism missed the true meaning of Johns Epistles and James meaning of the book of James shows that refined FG has a message that does not contradict a gift that you can take freely!
Also Romans used as a gospel tract for unbelievers when it's auidence were believers. And they contradicted John's gospel by saying you had to confess Christ to be born again making it two conditions rather then simply one, believe! Also Rev 3:20 taken out of context and made to be a invitation to unbelievers to invite Jesus into their heart.
A Berean does not just settle for tradition or rest on heritage but searches the Scriptures to see if these things are true.
For there are some traditions who say that eternal life is a free gift but then contradict it by loading the word believe with commit-surrender-repent-personal relationship-Lordship, completely changing the meaning from simply being convinced something is true! In all of this we see mans hand at work! Then someone asked the question: Why don't we evangelize like Jesus did? WOW what a thought!
If you knew the gift of God and who said to you 'Give Me a drink' you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.
But man and his tradition would say 'that's just to simple for even a child could understand that!


alvin :)

January 30, 2009 8:31 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

David,

I hope you enjoy the videos as much as I have been. They go far to show the nature and fellowship of Free Grace Theology before the "Separationists" began their courses of action that have been so damaging to our movement.

Yes, when one can read the Bible and take its statements at face value, it is a wonderful thing. Ockham's Razor is the thought that states that the position on any given thing that submits the least amount of assumptions to make it a tenable and consistent system is to be preferred. Free Grace theology alone fits this category of the Scriptures.

Your fg friend,

Antonio

January 30, 2009 6:36 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Hmm, good thoughts on the Razor thing, bro. Antonio. May the Lord bless you!

January 30, 2009 6:44 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Steve,

What Dr. Lewis has suggested is a workshop at this year's GES conference where homework will have been issued ahead of time and the findings will be presented. Some time ago, Dr. Lewis wrote a newsletter for the Bible College that he is the president of with his concerns about where FG theology is going. In it he expressed his desire to continue further study on key phrases and words that must inform our theologies. This list will represent the homework given out to those in attendance.

Other such ventures should be pursued and encouraged.

Your fg brother,

Antonio

January 30, 2009 7:05 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hi Matt,

you wrote:
----------
Not sure it is separatism that is the problem. I think it just comes down to petty-mindedness.

Perhaps it is because fundamentalists spend so much time criticising movements that they start to enjoy it.
----------
Wouldn't you think that there is a correlation between being a fundamentalist separatist and "spend[ing] so much time criticising movements that they start to enjoy it"?

Your friend,

Antonio

January 30, 2009 7:06 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Don,

Brilliantly stated! I agree with what you have said. Many people have taken Zane's statements way out of context, and I believe that the transcriptions of the the actual messages will go far to help clear up some of the confusion. I am hopeful!

I look forward to your contributions here.

Your friend and brother,

Antonio

January 30, 2009 7:10 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Colin,

Zane Hodges makes the following statement about the 5 points of Calvinism:

"None of these ideas has any right to be called normative Protestant theology. None has ever been held by a wide cross-section of Christendom. Most importantly, none of them is biblical. In the opinion of this reviewer all of them lie outside the proper parameters of Christian orthodoxy."

I happen to agree with him. The well worn paths for Calvinism may be the path less traveled for the Evangelical.

But to answer your question, the rich theological heritage I speak of are the foundations of FG theology set by the systematizers of it. We in the Free Grace world have several people who we all respect for their contributions to what is called Free Grace Theology.

Regarding repentance, let me ask you a question. Is the gospel of John sufficient as a stand-alone evangelical treatise? Or do you think that it must be supplemented with other biblical material?

I do appreciate you, Colin, and the lively discussions that we have. It is always a pleasure.

Your free grace theology brother,

Antonio

January 30, 2009 7:24 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Alvin,

Thanks for your input. I appreciate you as a thinker and a writer.

your friend,

Antonio

January 30, 2009 7:26 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hey Antonio thanks, you are one of my heros along with Zane and Bob and John Niemela!!! I learn so much from you!!!!

alvin :)

January 30, 2009 9:46 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Antonio:

With all due respect to ZH, although cushioned with his words ”in the opinion of this reviewer”, yet he redefines what Christian orthodoxy is. For centuries while Calvinists and non Calvinists have fought with each other (alas! sometimes very bitterly to both our shames) yet, by and large, there has been an acceptance that each lie within the Evangelical fold. Therefore we quote each other freely especially when defending our common Evangelical faith and hold up the other’s champions as true Christian champions. Hence non Calvinists greatly admire Luther (“Bondage of the Will” and all) or Whitefield and Spurgeon while Calvinists extol the worthy labours of Wesley etc., This is important in the light of ZH’s charge. Not only does he put a large and noble section of the Evangelical wing (Calvinists) outside the pale of Christian orthodoxy (Does this mean that he charges us with being ”heretics?”) but he also effectively attacks those non Calvinists who extol them. You must admit that you both are taking the matter somewhat further than what has been the accepted standard for centuries? All this to promote a view that is held by a very small percentage of people whose beginnings (by and large) are of recent origin.

Re: whether John’s Gospel is a stand alone evangelical treatise, I would answer in the affirmative although it is to be interpreted in light of the rest of the Scripture, and should never be interpreted contrary to it. I freely give away individual copies of John’s Gospels when out and about in my Evangelistic journeys. Anticipating your point that the word “repentance” nowhere appears, I reply, that this may be so. But the absence of the word does not mean the absence of the concept and that’s what ultimately matters.

Thanks again for your time.

Regards,

January 31, 2009 3:12 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Another man I really appreciate is Bob Bryant, his clear teaching has helped me see better!

Just a thought:
The Barna poll has revealed that 70% of Evangelicals believe you’re saved by faith AND works.
And I’m sure they can point to their RICH heritage.

I see the Catholics and Arminians and also the Calvinist all in the same boat, the boat of orthodoxy.
And they have two paddles in the water.
Some of them would clearly say ONE is faith and the OTHER is works.
Others who are in the boat would say it like this “your saved by faith alone BUT the faith that saves is NOT alone,” showing that they have the same TWO paddles.

What they need to ask themselves, are they in the right boat even though it reads ORTHODOX on the side.

If Jesus is not in the boat what does the NAME matter if you’re the one doing all the paddling?

Sorry for the wide brush Rose but the boat needed painting!

Alvin :)

January 31, 2009 5:50 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Alvin,

On the basis of your words, particularly those in bold print:

I see the Catholics and Arminians and also the Calvinist all in the same boat, the boat of orthodoxy. And they have two paddles in the water. Some of them would clearly say ONE is faith and the OTHER is works. Others who are in the boat would say it like this “You're saved by faith alone BUT the faith that saves is NOT alone,” showing that they have the same TWO paddles.


Would you then put J.V. McGee in the same boat as Roman Catholics? J.V. McGee constantly used this phrase i.e that faith alone saves us, although the works that save are not alone. Assuming that you would see such a one as dangerous, then how dangerous must I view his works?

Regards,

January 31, 2009 9:22 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Colin

I'm glad you brought up J.V. Mcgee. He helped me alot in my early bible study on OT using his commentaries. I wish though he would have gotten a hold of some of Zane Hodges writings because that would have straightened him out on the book of James and 1 John and Romans. Mcgee often times would contradict himself I think because he didn't have an understanding of these books. But I heard that his last sermon he said that LS was a heresy. So he is like many who have believed that eternal life was truly a free gift but then went on to say things that contradicted that gift. Like that saying!

alvin :)

January 31, 2009 6:14 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Alvin,

Thanks for your answer. If JVM had let a statement like this slip from his tongue during a sermon etc., I would hardly have called attention to it, (since we can all do that)but he used it constantly, as evidenced by his commentaries - heightened by the fact that he allowed it to be printed and reprinted etc., He evidently believed it strongly because he made many other supporting statements (though worded differently)that are entirely consistent with it.

My point is this: If you are trying to get JVM of this boat, why not let some of the others off it also who believe the exact same thing? We expect the RC's to be on this boat. But you have lumped Bible believing Christians on the same boat, have you not?

If this boat goes down on the basis of adherance to this little saying, then JVM must go down with the rest of us, no matter how much you try to rescue him.

Serenely yours,

Regards,

February 01, 2009 1:00 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Antonio:

Thanks for letting me take this matter up with Alvin on your blog.

Regards,

February 01, 2009 1:01 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Colin

I think you misquoted JVM.

J.V. McGee constantly used this phrase i.e that faith alone saves us, although the works that save are not alone.

But I know what you meant!

My original point was to show that ones who are called orthodox doesn't really mean alot if they have NEVER believed by faith alone in Christ alone FOR eternal life.

I put Catholics and Arminians and also Calvinist in the orthodox boat because they all have in common works. The Catholics have put a curse on anyone who says your saved by faith alone in Christ alone. The Arminians as the consistant Calvinist believe that if your faith does not have works it's not saving faith. Which means that all three have connected faith with their works to get to heaven.
So they are no different then the 70% of Evangelicals who believe your saved by faith and works.

respectably yours
alvin :)

February 01, 2009 2:45 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Alvin:

Well spotted! Mistake mine in the quote.

You wrote: The Arminians as the consistant Calvinist believe that if your faith does not have works it's not saving faith. Which means that all three have connected faith with their works to get to heaven.

JVM explains to us what he means when he wrote that the faith alone that saves is not alone. Taking a quote here almost at random, he wrote in his commentary on 1 John 2:4:

”There are a great many people who say that they are the children of God, but are they? It is one thing to say that you are a child of God, and it is another thing to be a possessor of eternal life, to have a new nature that cries out to the Father for fellowship and wants to obey Him. You cannot make me believe that all these church members who have no love for the Word of God and are obedient to Christ are really His children. I do not believe they have had the experience of regeneration. John is making it very clear that we know Him because we keep His commandments.” (Emphasis mine)

We might add HA Ironside to our passengers on this boat. He takes the same passage and he writes:

The apostle now presents to us some tests of our Christian profession. It is one thing to say, “I am a Christian,” but it is another to possess eternal life. It is one thing to say, “I am a child of God,” and quite another to know the marvelous blessing of regeneration. Do we say we are Christians? Do we claim to be children of God? Then we must prove it by our lives. “We do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (2:3). He is not speaking from a legal standpoint. In the Old Testament the commandments of God were presented to us with a view of obtaining life. The law said of the man who kept His commandments, “Which, if a man do, he shall live in them” (Leviticus 18:5). But here, under grace, it is the opposite. The man who lives by faith will do His commandments. The one who says he lives for God and yet is completely indifferent to the will of God, has never been born of God. He is still in “the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:23). The child of God delights in obedience to the will of God. Not that his obedience is perfect, for it is never that. There is only One who could say, “I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). But love for the will of God springs up in the soul of the man who is truly regenerated. He delights to walk in obedience to God’s Word, and thus he proves that he is a child of God. He not only rests on the Word that says, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life,” but he finds within himself that which corroborates his faith—that which proves he has been born of God. (Emphasis mine)

In reality, you have no right to club Calvinists and Arminians (or inbetween folk like JVM and HAI) in with the RC’s. Rome openly teaches salvation by faith plus works. The others openly eschew this position. We teach salvation by faith alone, although evidenced (yet never caused or contributed to) by our works. The difference is there and it is as clear as night is to day. But your claim is that we are in the same boat with the same paddles. Yes, we have the same number of paddles (two) but it is what we are claiming them to be is what makes the difference. Unless you believe that faith never leads to works at all (contrary to Ephesians 2:10) then you too (and other Fgers) are in the same boat also. You only way that you can extricate yourself from the passenger list is either to deny that faith leads to works or to admit that Rome is out on her own here with her faith plus works equals salvation and thus admit that consistent Calvinists and Arminians (and folk like JVM and HAI) should never have been admitted to your passenger list at all.

Regards,

February 01, 2009 5:45 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

Happy New Year Friends. I have to agree about the Heritage of FG theology. It goes all the way back to the teachings of Christ, and you can't get any richer! :)

Grace and Truth

Trent

February 01, 2009 10:17 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Colin

I hold to my previous conclusions. And what you show here by these two men prove what I said was true. They both have a faulty understanding of what to “know” God means in John’s epistles, they see it as proof of being born-again rather then in fellowship with God.

JVM John is making it very clear that we know Him because we keep His commandments.”

HAI “We do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (2:3).

See Colin if what these men are saying were true then a person could ONLY know they are a child of God by their WORKS. But John says just the opposite:

1 John 5:9-13
He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.
And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
(emphasis mine, "continue to" is not in the Greek)

Colin, the testimony of God is sufficient for one to KNOW they are a child of God. And there is NO mention of works here of any kind. This proves that John was not contradicting himself by saying you could only know you were His child by keeping His commandments but was saying you can only know you are in fellowship with God by keeping His commandments. And that is a BIG difference these men did not understand.

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
And let him who hears say, “Come!”
And let him who thirsts come.
Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Rev 22:17

If someone ALWAYS had two paddles they were ALWAYS paddling alone because the gift is to be taken freely without ANY reference to your works either before OR after your born again!
And that is truly GOOD NEWS!

Respectably yours

alvin

February 01, 2009 5:54 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

I made the comment earlier:

Another man I really appreciate is Bob Bryant, his clear teaching has helped me see better!

And I think something I learnt from Bob relates to what Colin and I are talking about. In an Q&A time Bob Bryant said:

I know there are many Lordship people, I was one of them, I wasn’t strong Lordship but back in my youth. I know I believed in Jesus for everlasting life when I was a child but I also later was taught well if you don’t live the life then your not really saved and I didn’t know how to stand against that I didn’t understand that. So I guess I was like a lot, a whole lot of people. One part of me said this another part of me said that. And I am convinced that there are a whole lot of Lordship people who have believed in Jesus for everlasting life and know for sure they have it but went on to embrace a theology that contradicts that, I was one of them.

alvin :)

February 01, 2009 8:44 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Oh, Antonio..... Your article fills my heart with such hope for future friendly discussions among our free-grace and reformed friends.
I'm with you 100%!!! I, too, want my life to glorify Jesus Christ in my words and actions. I will be in much prayer about this.

I LOVE the YouTube videos. I can't wait to hear ALL of them. That's going to take time.... and time well worth it!!! Thank you and Don for putting them on your blog for all of us to hear. WOW!!!

I haven't had a chance to read all the comments, but I will, and I will be following along daily to what's being written. You've made this a good evening for me. Thank you again.

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

February 02, 2009 9:50 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Alvin,

Sorry for delay in getting back to you on this. I'm away from home again, but able to access the internet in the local library.

My time to be amused! Your attribute the words HAI “We do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (2:3). as seen to HA Ironside. Actually, they are (as indicated by the reference to 2:3) the actual words of the Apostle John in his first epistle. I guess poor John could have benefitted from ZH's ministry as well :o)

What you are claiming, in effect, is that every one was paddling along with their two paddles until sometime comparatively recently and if ZH or maybe one or two contemporaries hadn't come along then we would stil be at it?

Regards,

February 03, 2009 2:45 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Colin
you said:
My time to be amused! Your attribute the words HAI “We do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (2:3). as seen to HA Ironside. Actually, they are (as indicated by the reference to 2:3) the actual words of the Apostle John in his first epistle. I guess poor John could have benefitted from ZH's ministry as well :o)
I guess I wasn't clear enough on why I posted those, I knew the one was from 1 John 2:3, in fact I was tempted to put 1 John before the 2:3 but decided to post it the way you did. I was in no way attributing what the Apostle John wrote to HAI. The reason I took those from each one was to show they were both taking 1 John out of context. I had said that they both had a faulty understanding of 1 John what it meant to "know" God.

Anyway I'm on my work days now and am real short on time. Got to get to bed.

respectively yours
alvin

February 03, 2009 7:18 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Colin

I'm going to try this again because I believe it's a strong point.

First McGee shows here he is unserstanding 1 John 2:4 as evdince one is saved instead of one being in fellowship with God

Colin said:
Taking a quote here almost at random, he wrote in his commentary on 1 John 2:4:
JVM SAID: You cannot make me believe that all these church members who have no love for the Word of God and are obedient to Christ are really His children. I do not believe they have had the experience of regeneration. John is making it very clear that we know Him because we keep His commandments.”

Ok, here Ironside is doing the same thing but using the previous verse from 1 John: 1 John 2:3 as knowing God is being saved rather then being in fellowship. But this time I will put "1 John" before Colin's "2:3" so everyone knows what I'm saying.

Colin said: We might add HA Ironside to our passengers on this boat. He takes the same passage and he writes:

(My note: acually Colin is wrong here MaGee used 1 John 2:4 and Ironside used 1 John 2:3)

Ironside said:Do we claim to be children of God? Then we must prove it by our lives. “We do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” 1 John (2:3).

My point is that both men are using these verses in 1 John to mean being born again rather then using them to show they are in fellowship.

And if John in 1 John 2:3,4 meant "how one knows that they are born again" then John would have contradicted what he said in 1 John 5:9-13 that one could know they were born again by the testimony of God that He had given them eternal life.

See Colin if what these men are saying were true then a person could ONLY know they are a child of God by their WORKS. But John says just the opposite:


1 John 5:9-13
He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.
And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
(emphasis mine, "continue to" is not in the Greek)

Colin, the testimony of God is sufficient for one to KNOW they are a child of God. And there is NO mention of works here of any kind. This proves that John was not contradicting himself by saying you could only know you were His child by keeping His commandments but was saying you can only know you are in fellowship with God by keeping His commandments. And that is a BIG difference these men did not understand.

respectively yours alvin

off to work

February 03, 2009 3:02 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Friends,

I wanted to say along with Alvin that I, too, appreciate Bob Bryant's teachings. He is always very good at using the scriptures to prove whatever he is teaching. That's what I like about him so very much. He, too, is one of my favorites for that very reason!!!

Another favorite Bible teacher of mine is Dr. J. Vernon McGee. I grew so much under him. I will forever be grateful to him because God used him to draw me close to Christ. He WAS free grace, although sometimes not accurate in some of his understanding of N.T. passages..... such as 1 John and James. He did use that phrase a lot...... "You're saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is not alone." When he would use that, I accepted it as true back in those days. But it NEVER dawned on me to question my salvation based upon my works. And I'm confident Dr. McGee never examined his works either to know if he was saved. He taught the whole Bible, and he couldn't be an expert on every verse and every subject. He was faithful to what he knew. He was not part of this debate that has been going on for the last number of years. He would never support Lordship Salvation in any form. I personally think if he were alive today and had the opportunity to be in this debate, he would change some of his views on certain verses. He did NOT believe in Lordship Salvation. I personally have a video of him preaching a sermon shortly before he died, and he comes out strongly and says that Lordship Salvation is heresy! Yes, he was wrong on some things like 1 John and James. But a lot of good Bible teachers were wrong on those books. I can forgive him for that. His theology was free grace, but sometimes he got some verses wrong. I'm sure he never thought them through like we're doing today.

I'd like to share a little personal story about Dr. McGee. I already shared it a few months ago on Rose's blog. Forgive me if you've already read this there.
Back when I heard that Dr. McGee had died, I was very sad. I felt I had lost a friend. I sat down and composed a little song about him and sent it to Mrs. McGee. It was really a silly little song that wasn't very good, but I just wanted to express my love for him through that song. A few days later I received a phone call from "Through The Bible Radio" asking me if I would sing that song at the "Through The Bible Radio Rally" in Kansas City when they came through. They were going to have a tribute to Dr. McGee and show one of his latest videos. That was the video where he said Lordship Salvation was heresy. I was honored and thrilled to do that. Here are the words to that little song.....

3/4 Time.....
Lord I thank you for my teacher,
Lord I thank you for his love,
for teaching me the Bible
the truths from God above.
He taught me of my Savior
the precious Lamb of God
Who came to earth to save me
from His heavenly home above.


(beginning 6/8 time
We..... got on the bus at the bus stop,
We started to move right away,
Beginning at Genesis one one
down Revelation Way.
I learned much about my Redeemer
especially the cross work of Christ.
God took our driver to Heaven,
but left the Spirit to drive.


I want to see my dear teacher,
who now is seated with Christ.
I want to thank him in heaven
for taking me on that ride.


I love you Doctor McGee.
You're very special to me.
I know you are happy in heaven
where soon we Christians will be!

END OF SONG

Friends, God's children are very special to me..... all of you. You're my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I love you all in Him.

Blessed to be in HIS family,
Diane
:-)

February 03, 2009 11:09 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

Maybe some day you and your husband and I can sing a song together! What a time that would be!!!

I remember the light Dr. McGee shed for me on the OT Tabernacle, and the sacrificial system pointing to the Lamb of God. I as you believe Dr. McGee was faithful to the light he had, even though he could not see the contradiction of his interpretation of 1 John and James.
We must remember the first Bereans were unbelievers and they searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul was telling them was true. Zane was a Berean who kept searching the Scriptures all the way up until his death. But he uncovered the false orthodox teaching of 1 John and James, and said that it had “bedeviled” the church long enough! That's why it's so important to search the Scriptures for ourselves and not take for granted what has been taught for thousands of years is true. I don't know if any body got the point I was trying to make with Colin but the orthodox understanding of 1 John makes him contradicting himself. But if you see that what John was talking about "Knowing" God was speaking about fellowship then the contradiction vanishes! You can know you are a child of God simply by the testimony that God has given us eternal life 1 John 5:9-13. But you can only know that you know Him (in fellowship) by if you are keeping His commandments 1 John 2:3).

Wherever He is there I am!
alvin :)

February 04, 2009 8:52 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

I've been listening to Bob Bryants message "Do Unbelevers Have to Believe In Eternal Security To Be Saved?"

Bob Bryant makes clear that Jesus taught eternal security to unbelievers all through the Gospel of John as esential content they had to believe. Jesus said to the women at the well "if you knew the gift of God" she had to know what the gift was! So eternal security is NOT just a follow-up doctrine to be taught to believers.

good stuff!!!
alvin :)

February 04, 2009 9:32 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Is any body understanding what I'm trying to say or am I not saying it right, because I'm going to try it again...here we go

John is not going to tell us we can KNOW we have eternal life(His child)based SOLEY on the testimony of God and then TURN AROUND and tell us we can ONLY KNOW we KNOW HIM (His child)if we keep His commandments?

That would be a contradiction...right? Sure it would be . . .unless to "know" in 1 John 2:3 means we know were in fellowship with Him which it does mean and is consistent with a free gift that is not by works.

Because keeping His commandments is WORKS and if that was the only way you could KNOW YOU KNEW Him (MEANING YOU WERE HIS CHILD) then it would be by FAITH plus WORKS to KNOW you were REALLY born again and His child!

1 John 2:3 vrs. 1 John 5:13 based on vrs 11 (God's testimony that He has given us eternal life)

alvin :)

February 05, 2009 2:05 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Alvin,

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I have been away for a couple of days, It seems to me that your argument is based on the fallacious notion that to insist on works as the evidence of faith is the same as insisting that works and faith justify the soul. As long as you insist on this, then there can never be agreement here. What makes it further unfortunate is not merely that there are two different views on the table, but actually there are no less than three views have been put on the table (the third by yourself and others in the FG camp) and the third one (faith plus works equal justification) is being fathered on the Old Time Evangelicals who actually and most forcibly repudiate the very doctrine you accuse us of believing. It is fine by us for you to oppose the notion of justification by faith plus works – let us encourage you to keep doing so – but you are not opposing us when you do.

JVM nor HAI did not teach a works based salvation. They were teaching a salvation that results in work, or (as Paul puts it:) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10) If this boat of yours exists with its two paddles, then Paul is on it too.

Regards,

February 05, 2009 5:39 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Colin

you said:
It seems to me that your argument is based on the fallacious notion that to insist on works as the evidence of faith is the same as insisting that works and faith justify the soul.

Colin your missing my point, a person can KNOW they are God's child simply by His promise (1 John 5:11-13). They don't need to look at their works to PROVE they are His child BUT simply to KNOW if they are in fellowship with Him ( 1 John 2:3). That is what John means by know that you know Him and that is where the orthodox boat sank by saying "You're saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is not alone." They added works as something that MUST be there to prove they are His children which makes a works salvation which Paul and John would put a curse on.

Where He is there am I

alvin :)

February 05, 2009 5:59 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

The Orthodox crowd is saying you MUST have WORKS to KNOW you’re a child of God.

they say:
“You’re saved by faith ALONE but the faith that saves is NOT alone.

John is saying in 1 John 5:11-13 that you can KNOW you’re a CHILD OF GOD by Gods testimony ALONE WITHOUT ANY WORKS!

God is saying that His PROMISE ALONE is sufficient!

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater 1 John 5:9
Man would have you to believe you MUST have works to PROVE you are God's child! But, God says His witness is ENOUGH PROOFwithout any reference to your WORKS!

So WORKS are not even in the equation but have been ADDED from a faulty understanding of Scripture 1 John 2:3 and James 2.

“You’re saved by faith ALONE without works of any kind either before OR after!"

And that's on the Testimony of God Himself!

alvin :)

February 05, 2009 7:04 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

And that is why it is IMPOSSIBLE for them to have ASSURANCE until they get to heaven because their faith MUST be PROVEN by their WORKS to KNOW they are even God’s child.

But the Bible tells us we can KNOW we are His child based on God's promise ALONE (John 3:16;5:24;6:47;Eph 2:8,9;James 1:17,18;1 John 5:9-13)

February 05, 2009 7:42 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Alvin,

Can you, in a brief and simple paragraph, connect Ephesians 2:10 to Ephesians 2:8-9 for us? You need not talk about anyone or anything else other than Paul and the Ephesians. It is particuarly the connection between vs8-9 and v10 that I am interested in, particuarly as it relates to the langauge which Paul himself uses.

If you please could take 5 minutes (or 10 max.) I would appreciate that.

Regards,

February 05, 2009 1:53 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Colin,

I am new to the site but familiar with the arguments. I don't know if Alvin has processed your request, but if I may, I'd like to give it a shot. I think your question is absolutely critical to the issues being debated.

Ephesians 2:8-10 is indeed meant to be taken as a unit; the question is, How does 2:10 relate to 2:8-9? The opening conjunction in 2:10 ("for," Greek gar) indicates that 2:10 in some way offers an explanation of the affirmation in 2:8-9. What is being explained?

The key word is the "works": One reason that our works can have nothing to do with our salvation is that God has saved us to do His works, which He has prepared beforehand, in order that (Greek hina with the subjunctive mood, which may or may not imply contingency, depending on context) we might "walk" in them.

The question now becomes, is there in fact any room for contingency in how these works are accomplished? Can we choose not to walk in them once we are saved; and if we do not so "walk," does that frustrate God's sovereign will? The Reformed, Arminian, Open Theism, and FG camps all have different answers to this question; this is one of the passages that more cleanly separates the theological positions.

Typical Reformed would say that God's sovereign will cannot be altered by human choices, and grace is "irresistible," so if God saves someone to do those works, they will be done and thus manifest their saved status.

Typical Arminian would say that free will is fully operative in saved humans and therefore they can choose not to perform the preordained works, but in so doing they may forfeit their salvation; whatever preordained works are not yet done will be done in some (?unspecified) way to preserve God's sovereignty.

FG would also hold that free will is fully operative, so that saved humans may choose not to perform the works preordained, but they can never forfeit their salvation, even if they want to. Since God is not bound by time or space, his preordained works will be accomplished within eternity by those who do obey in performing those works by the leading of His Spirit. These saved people have "accepted His invitation" to participate with Him by the Spirit in the work He has preordained and thereby "abide" in Him and enjoy fellowship with him, with a greater Kingdom inheritance of glory awaiting them at the Judgment Seat of Christ. By thus disobeying, they can forfeit the inheritance but not their salvation status. Hence, participation in God's preordained work is contingent on obedience but the work itself is never in jeopardy, nor is the salvific status of those whom He has saved; only their inheritance.

Open Theists may vary on the issue of eternal security but they do hold that God's "preordained works" are indeed contingent on human obedience and cooperation; God somehow limits His knowledge or power to allow for this contingency, so human free will in some sense "constrains" God's sovereign will.

Hope that is not too unclear. I agree with Alvin that on the whole the FG position best harmonizes the Biblical passages that deal with these issues.

February 05, 2009 3:49 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi James

Welcome to Free Grace Theology! Thanks for your imput, I couldn't have said it any better even if I wanted to . . .Ha!Ha!

Wherever He is there I am
Eph 2:4-7

alvin :)

February 05, 2009 6:50 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

I meant "input" and

Wherever He is there am I!

I remember when and where God first showed me that truth, that I was already seated TOGETHER with Christ in the heavenly places! WOW!!! I was amazed when it dawned on me that it was a done deal, I was ALREADY there!

alvin :)

February 05, 2009 6:59 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Colin I will put some skin on what James has said using Paul as an example. First off Paul as the Ephesians knew they were already seated in the heavenlies in Christ Eph 2:4-7. So they knew their eternal destiny was secure. Paul was elected to service and he knew he could possibly be disqualified 1 Cor 9:16,17,27. And that service IF he did it willingly it had a reward but if against his will, he knew he had been given a stewardship. We see that his free-will is part of the equation if he did it willingly he would be a partaker which would reap rewards at the Bema an imperishable crown 1 Cor 9:17,18,23,25. He knew that God was working in him to will and to do of His good pleasure (Eph 3:20)but this required Paul to participate by disciplining his body and bringing it into subjection 1 Cor 9:27. Without growth in the Christian life and knowing who he was in Christ and that the law of the Spirit was superior to the law of sin which was in his members even Paul said he couldn’t perform what was good Romans 7:17-19,23,24. Paul knew he was living in a dead body that needed resurrection life but the choice was his as it is every believers to either walk by the Spirit or by the flesh. If one is led by the Spirit there experience is one of eternal life and are walking as sons of God. The alternative was to walk by the flesh and reap an experience of death that is being captive to the law of sin which Paul said was in his members Rom 7:23;8:10-14. It was only as Paul presented his members to God as being alive from the dead that he would experince victory Rom 6:12,13.
So getting back to Eph 2:10 every believer has the potential in the new man (Eph 4:22-24)to walk as sons of God fulfilling those works that God has prepared for them to walk in and even Paul knew that he could even be disqualified if he chose to walk by the flesh which he knew was possible. But even IF Paul would have been disqualified he knew that had absolutely nothing to do with being already seated TOGETHER with Christ in the heavenlies but ONLY had to do with as James said his inheritance there. The Ephesians had that same choice set before them and all the potential to experience it but they knew as Paul they were already seated in Christ in heaven.
So as children of God they were CERTAIN of there eternal destiny (1 John 5:9-13) and they knew there position in Christ already in heaven and Gods unconditional love for them (Eph 3:16-19).

So they had no need to look at their WORKS in order to KNOW OR PROVE they were His child, but ONLY to KNOW if they were walking with Daddy (ABBA).
And Paul as their spiritual father was beseeching them to walk worthy of the calling with which they were called Eph 4:1. (walk Eph 2:2,10; 4:1,17; 5:2,8,15)

Wherever He is there am I
Alvin :) good~night

February 06, 2009 4:52 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi James,

Nice to chat you here. I don’t often comment here on Antonio’s site, but I frequent his group site (UoG) and through that, unto Rose’s site. I am the big bad Calvinist or the not too bad one, depending on who you get and when. I jest, but only a little :o)

I think the difference lies here in what we mean by salvation. It seems to me, that many of the FGers see salvation as merely being from the penalty of sin (which is death and therefore salvation = life i.e. eternal life.) The rest (i.e. salvation from the power of sin and evidenced by holiness etc.,) is optional – highly recommended indeed to prevent heartache in this life and the next - but certainly not necessarily something you get when you believe. Thus, when it says in Matthew 1:21 that Jesus shall save His people from their sins – the first italicised word (“shall”) gets reduced to a “”might”” or a ”should” but nothing more definite than that. The second italicised word (”from”) is not so definite as the writer Matthew implies. It can certainly mean ”in” your sins. If you are new here or in the wider circuit, then it may help you to know that there is a belief in these parts (not mine) that you can live like the Devil and still be a bona fide Christian. These were the terms used not that long ago. Again, not recommended, certainly not advocated or even liked and even warned against. But ultimately accepted. We have covered a lot of ground before in these blogs and I doubt if anyone will seriously say that I am misrepresenting their view here.

Do you run with the idea that if we insist that works follow salvation (never ever, ever seen as a contributing factor to salvation) then we Evangelicals who believe it are little better than Roman Catholics with their works salvation? Would you recognise that the FG position represents a serious shift from what was once the standard Evangelical (Calvinist and non Calvinist) line?

Regards,

February 06, 2009 4:57 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Colin

you said:
If you are new here or in the wider circuit, then it may help you to know that there is a belief in these parts (not mine) that you can live like the Devil and still be a bona fide Christian. These were the terms used not that long ago. Again, not recommended, certainly not advocated or even liked and even warned against. But ultimately accepted.

Colin I think you are being very unfair by taking that out of the context it was said!

That was in the context of witnessing when telling someone of the free gift of eternal life that Jesus says can be taken freely. And they realize that what your offering is a gift that has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR PERFORMANCE!

I had that said to me a couple times last week, maybe not in those exact terms but they said "your saying I could go do what ever I want and still go to heaven." By their statement it showed me they were understanding that what Jesus is offering is really a gift. Then I explained to the person that once your His child He will spank you because He loves you. And it's just plain stupid to be a drug addict or live a life of sin. One response I got was "if you use God's name in vain, if you don't repent before you die you're going to hell." So trying to explain to them the difference between being a child of God and acting like a child of God is a big difference. These men believed the gift of eternal life and discipleship are the same thing, It's a gift BUT it cost you everything!

Both these men thought they were already Christians but could lose the gift or give it back.

“You’re saved by faith ALONE without works of any kind either before OR after!"

And that's on the Testimony of God Himself!
1 John 5:9-13
alvin :)

February 06, 2009 6:06 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 06, 2009 6:55 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Colin, I would say that there has been confusion among evangelicals on these issues for quite some time. I don't know that we should consider "standard Evangelical" those views that have been associated with major denominational or doctrinal traditions; they may be falsely assumed to represent the historical "center" of doctrinal truth because they have been more "visible" throughout history. But I will try to briefly respond to some of your points:

@ salvation...
Most of the instances in the NT where some form of the word "save" is used in fact refer to more than simply "eternal freedom from the penalty of sin." I believe that FGers (and I consider myself in that "camp") are often guilty of crass overemphasis on positional truth to the detriment of pursuing Kingdom priorities in this life. Jesus invited us to full, 3-D salvation and participation in his Kingdom life, he did not just peddle "fire insurance."

@ optional
When Jesus said "Follow me" it was not "optional" for "salvation" because what he meant was full participation in 3-D salvation ("abundant life"). If we don't follow him in obedience to the works to which he has called us (Eph 2:10), we will clearly miss out on the most important reason for our salvation: our ongoing participation in his redemptive and Kingdom purposes, now and in the age to come.

@ "live like the Devil"
So, where do you draw the line, Colin? First John 3:8 makes it clear that whenever we sin we "live like the Devil." So, who among the "saved" (1-D) doesn't sin (1 John 1:5-10)? Whenever we abide in Him, we show by works of love that we are of Him and participate in his redemptive purposes on this earth and have abundant life (not just "fire insurance"). Why would anyone who is "saved" (1-D) want less than abundant life? In a nutshell: the world, the flesh, and the Devil (1 John 2:15).

Can "believers" show no change in their lifestyle whatsoever? I don't think that is possible if we have the Holy Spirit; the problem is, where do you draw the line? The ravages of sin do terrible things to humans, and the changes that come with salvation may not be as easily tabulated and prescribed as would those who want to see such changes in order to be able to "identify" a believer by something more than their testimony of belief in Jesus for eternal life.

@ "little better than Roman Catholics"
Actually, I think that is a spurious argument. Roman Catholicism is not a monolithic doctrinal system; it depends on whether you define RC's as "people" or "official policy." I think many Catholics have a much more healthy view of "3-D salvation" than we give them credit for. "Works" are indeed necessary for 3-D salvation---full participation in our intended Kingdom inheritance ("abundant life")---but these works can only achieve this end when done in submission to the Holy Spirit's guidance ("abiding").

The real problem with the Calvinism that you are describing is that it fosters various kinds of "fruit inspecting" that all too often degenerate into profoundly defeating prescriptive approaches to "obedience" according to the flesh. When we are truly disposed to follow the unpredictable "wind wherever it blows" (John 3), it can result in some pretty surprising behaviors that call forth judgment from those who are focused on identifying behaviors other than sacrificial love. The absence of those behaviors, even over extended periods of time, can never serve as a litmus test for lack of "salvation" (1-D). However, the absence of sacrificial love is clearly a litmus test for absence of "abiding" and therefore an incomplete or unfulfilled 3-D salvation; it can never be indicative of the absence of 1-D salvation whenever there is a testimony of belief in Jesus for eternal life, according to FG (and the gospel of John).

February 06, 2009 7:02 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi James,

I appreciate you taking time to reply. As regards the points which you raise:

1) It seems a bit strange that it is only in the last few decades that those that believe the FG view of the gospel have decided to come out of the woodwork. I do not believe that there were large numbers of FGers through history afflicted with some kind of shyness. To me it is a pretty recent development.

2) I would say that Jesus did much more than invite us to a full 3D salvation. He came to actually save that which is lost and this salvation does not admit of anything less than a full 3D salvation. (BTW: I like your description of it as 3D) The FG puts an emphasis on the potential of the gospel. It is what God would like to do. OTOH: I would put the emphasis on what God actually does. Jesus Christ will invariably build His church and His church will be a holy people unto Him. In many ways, we may be both looking at the same thing – only I feel that my system gives it all a bit more thrust. You may well disagree with that, but that’s how I see it.

3) Re: optional. You seem to see holiness as the reason of our salvation: You wrote: the most important reason for our salvation I see holiness as part of our salvation. This again explains our difference. In practical terms, it may not matter that much – especially if we are both living holy lives unto Him. However, I think your view leaves a window open for some who want the benefits of escaping hell when they die, but avoid the responsibility of escaping the hell within. Your disciple clause, although honourable as far as it goes, does not quite cover their nakedness. Your position would still have them in Heaven, mine (and I believe the gospel’s) affords them no such assurance and is a wake up call.

4) Re: Living like the Devil. We fully recognise the sad reality that we are not perfect yet in the flesh and that we sin daily and often grievously. (“Tell me about it” as they say sardonically in these parts) However, it is one thing to have a professing Christian struggling with sin and at war with sin - it is quite another to have a professing Christian who is not at war with sin – who casually professes that he can live as he desires and still be saved. I have heard them at it, so I know whereof I speak. I repudiate that kind of “Christianity” as ultimately spurious. The true Christian at least aims straight even if he often falls short. Paul cried out that he was a wretched man. There is a kind of professing believer out there who would deny that he is wretched at all, because he justifies the things that he is doing.

5) My ref. to the RC Church was in response to Alvin’s comments. He persistently links those of us who take the old line in these things with the RC Church, as if we were teaching salvation by works. He confuses the fruit with the root.

6) It is true that we (Calvinist Evangelicals and Non Calvinist Evangelicals alike) can often be too introspective. It is true that we must look to Christ alone and His perfect life and atoning death as our sole hope for eternity, divorced from any good works that we do. Agreed. But the Bible calls us to self examination and abuse of something does not rule out the duty. Some people are very light and giddy and call it the joy of the Lord – others spend a lot of time thundering out hell fire and damnation sermons with loud voices and angry faces. I suggest that we neither give up being happy in the Lord nor warning the lost to flee from the wrath to come.

Nice to chat you!

Regards,

February 06, 2009 11:30 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Dear Friends,

Thanks for the opportunity to comment. I wanted to say in a simple way (without using all the verses) what I believe the Bible teaches and why I identify with free grace theology.

The good news is that Jesus Christ came to save those He loved...... which is everybody who ever lived.
Everybody was separated from God because of sin. No way to get to Him. Lost and condemned forever away from God. Unable to save ourselves. Because God loved us He made a way to rescue us from the consequences of our sin. He sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to make a way for us to have communion with God. He came and purchased our "ticket" to heaven (so to speak). He purchased everybody's ticket with His blood by "paying" for their sin. He removed the sin barrier that kept us from God so that we could have fellowship with Him forever. THE SIN BARRIER THAT KEEPS US FROM GOD IS GONE!!! Sin is no longer an issue that keeps us from God. We need Jesus. We need LIFE. He alone is LIFE. He is the only way back to the Father. He alone is our ticket to heaven. If we get aboard Jesus, we have taken our ticket and WILL arrive in heaven, and we can never give our ticket back no matter what. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Sin can NEVER keep us from God once we believe in Him for eternal life. When we believe in Him as the only way to God, then WE HAVE TAKEN HIS TICKET and are eternally saved, never to loose it. Not only that, we will have all the benefits that go along with having the ticket while here on earth..... being a child of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit with a new nature (God's nature), and so much more.

How we live our lives after we have taken His ticket (believed in Him) determines our place and position in His eternal Kingdom. But sin will never keep us from being His child, arriving safely in His presence to live with Him forever. Sin along the journey can cause us to be disciplined along the way and also cause us to loose rewards in the Kingdom of God, but will NEVER change the arrival place.
WE ARE HIS! And everyone who has believed in Him alone for eternal life HAS TAKEN HIS TICKET and are my brothers and sisters in Christ. That will never change no matter what.
That's free grace theology in a nutshell....... or at least my nutshell. Later when I read this again I probably will wish I would have said it better.
But I just wanted to say that I love the family of God, and I love the journey of learning along with all of you.

Your sister in Christ,
Diane
:-)

February 06, 2009 12:38 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

(This is James again; I changed my icon, if you are confused.)

I, too, appreciate the dialogue, especially clarifying the meanings of the terms being used. Colin, I'm not sure you would disagree with Diane, but "eternal life" (3D salvation) is far more than a "ticket to heaven"; a boatload of people in our postmodern world would rather have a more "abundant life" than "a ticket to heaven," which they often associate with "uncharitable" fundamentalists.

So let me try to respond once again to respond to Colin (and I apologize to the other blog participants for the wordiness of these exchanges; not sure that they can be much shorter and still be clear).

1) I am no expert on historical theology, which I do agree has an important place in these discussions; but again, part of the problem may be:
a) variable use of salvation terminology during church history by those who have held to the truth of so-called FG;
b) apostolic truth may not always have been faithfully preserved by those at the highest levels of ecclesiastical authority or those most likely to pen "theology" for future generations...as the politicians say, "mistakes were made."

2) I agree with your points about Jesus actually saving and unconditionally building his church; yes, in many ways we are saying the same thing. Our potential differences on this issue continue to reside in whether believers can "opt out" of what I believe the Bible affirms to be the overriding importance of Kingdom living and building the Church. FGers hold that they can opt out; strong Calvinists, not.

3) I did not use the word "holiness" but I get your point. Like "salvation," holiness has positional, progressive, and prospective aspects ("3-D"). We are indeed called to holiness, but I would insist that the "wake up call" is not so that we may be assured of 1-D salvation (since that should come immediately from believing in Jesus for eternal life). For those who have no assurance of 1-D salvation, we have to reaffirm what it means to believe, rather than trying harder to be holy, which of course is impossible---even with the loudest of "wake-up calls."

4) I don't take Romans 7 to speak of the "normal" Christian life at all, but rather Paul's own prior mindset of legalism which he cites as an example to present believers of the "death" that attends trying to become holy by works of the Law or flesh. So, IMO "normal" Christians should not feel "wretched." OTOH, I would have to agree that we might well have reason to question the salvation of someone who suffers absolutely no pangs of conscience in living a travesty of life that thus despises the blood that bought them. I would expect a great deal of "wretchedness"...perhaps even premature death...to eventually overtake such individuals.

5) I think the "fruit/root" debate has been a great source of confusion for both sides. This may be our greatest source of disagreement. My position is that:
a) true assurance of 1-D salvation can never come from the "fruit" of works of the Spirit...the opposite is in fact true;
b) full confidence before God and the world to abide in him and manifest life in Christ by the "fruit" of sacrificial love comes from the hope of 3-D eternal life or full inheritance (1 John 2:28).

6) Again, I would say "hope for eternity" depends on whether you mean 1-D or 3-D salvation. In this respect, carnal believers should be very sober about incurring some of that "wrath to come" (see the Hebrews warning passages), not just "the lost." Like Jesus, we should offer them (and also exemplify) an abundant life that replaces the death they already have (John 3:17-18), rather than threatening them with eternal death ("hell") if they don't "flip."

February 06, 2009 1:22 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi James,

Nice to meet you.

Regarding your thoughts about "ticket" to heaven, you said...

"eternal life" (3D salvation) is far more than a "ticket to heaven"; a boatload of people in our postmodern world would rather have a more "abundant life" than "a ticket to heaven," which they often associate with "uncharitable" fundamentalists.

Of course I used the word "ticket" as an illustration. I do believe that the Bible teaches that Jesus came to *purchase* our way back to God. When we believe in Jesus as our ONLY way back to God (being forever with Him), we are saved and will arrive in heaven. That's what I mean by taking His ticket.

Believing means that you are convinced or persuaded that something is true. God knows the heart of people. He knows who it is who believes in His Son as the only way back to Him. There's nothing that we have to promise to do or be willing to do for Him that contributes to our being saved. It's not what we do for Him, but what He did for us. But understanding grace, the fact that He suffered and died to purchase our salvation, is the greatest motivater of all to live for Him. No strings attached to receiving His free gift. Believe. That's it~!!! The gift (ticket) He's purchased is then ours, never to be given back no matter what!!!
That's grace, and that's the greatest reason to want to serve Him. The more we learn, the greater we come to appreciate our GREAT SALVATION and our GREAT Savior!!!

Sometimes I hear people saying that you can't just believe in Jesus for fire insurance, but you must commit to live for him (or something like that). But the Bible puts no conditions on being saved except to believe. Some people probably do come to Him because they don't want to go to hell. But if they believe in Him, they are saved no matter what reason they had for coming to Him.

I'm not promoting loose living, ungodly living as a Christian. I will promote just the opposite because the Bible has much to say about the abundant life found in Christ and also warns against living foolishly as a believer. But grace says..... Thank you Lord Jesus!!!

Rejoicing in Him always,
Diane
:-)

February 06, 2009 2:24 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Diane, thanks for clarifying...

I would in fact agree that one can believe in Jesus for "fire insurance" alone (1-D salvation) and "go to heaven"; that is part and parcel of the FG message---the genuine freeness of God's gift of grace. But it is a travesty to thus ignore his invitation to follow him; Jesus bought us with his blood so that we might prevail over sin and death and "reign with him in righteousness to eternal life" in this life (2-D) and the next (3-D) (Rom 5:16-21).

When FGers (or anyone else) leave out the full invitation to 3-D eternal life, they fail to understand what Colin brought up in the first place about Eph 2:10...I think some FGers fear that people will get the wrong idea that works are necessary for 1-D salvation, but Jesus didn't worry about that kind of misunderstanding when he asked humans to follow him...loving the "unloveable" all the way to the cross. Isn't that what we're called to?

And to anticipate Colin, even when believers live out that kind of unfulfilled travesty, it has no effect on the final fulfillment of God's promise to restore the world and build his church. The choice of believers to ignore his invitation to "reign with him in righteousness" in this life (through the Spirit) in no way jeopardizes God's sovereign decree.

February 06, 2009 2:58 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Jim,

Do I know you?

Anyway, you guys sure have a tendency to go way off course from this post!

But carry on.

Antonio

February 06, 2009 3:04 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Oh, Its you, Jim!

I didn't look at your avatar until I posted. I read your stuff from my email notifications.

Good to hear from you.

Ya going to the GES conference?

Lord willing, I will be. Hope to see you there!

Thanks for checking out my blog.

warm regards,

Antonio

February 06, 2009 3:06 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Yes, Antonio, it's me...

Yes, I'm going to GES (we may even be fighting over the spare bed at Rene's house).

Re: "going way off course," how else are we going to save those big bad Calvinists?? (Just kidding, Colin, pleeeease don't take it personal...I went to Rose's and saw some of your very good stuff!!)

February 06, 2009 3:14 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jim,

The invitation sent out by the king of the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Mt 22: 1-14) is the call to the highest honors that the kingdom affords -- companionship and fellowship with the king's son, sharing in the inestimable joy that this day holds for him.

Likewise, the lost are invited to such honor and privilege: sharing in the joy that the Son of God merited for Himself, being one of His intimate band of companions, and sharing in His rule and authority. Of course such an invitation is two-fold in the sense that once is qualified for the superlative glories of the kingdom by simple faith alone in Christ alone, but rewarded with such for perseverance in one's public confession of Christ, and endurance in in the trials that such confession may engender.

Often, in evangelistic encounters, I have the opportunity to express God's high calling, as well as the temporal benefits of walking intimately with Christ.

It is my experience that many so-called Free Grace people do not have a well developed doctrine of rewards, and thus are put at a disadvantage in their evangelism.

3D salvation needs to be a priority in our preaching to the lost. But we always must be careful to put the horse before the cart and make the simple appropriation of eternal life by faith in Jesus abundantly clear, as to not cause any confusion.

Thanks again for your great input!

Antonio

February 06, 2009 3:21 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Jim,

I don't really care where I sleep. You are a much more senior gentleman than myself (not that I am even a gentleman), and you probably would need something with a bit more support, lol.

Or maybe you are a like a Jack Palance, who did 7 one armed pushups sometime at some award show.

At any rate, Marialis said she was going to make some flan for me. I'll share if you're nice.

thanks again for your contribution, Jim.

Antonio

February 06, 2009 3:27 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi James,

I appreciate the points that you bring up. I personally have not found that free grace evangelism leaves out the "full invitation" to 3-D eternal life. In fact, I've noticed just the opposite. The free gift is confused by most evangelist with sanctification truth, leaving a person to not see the distinction between the free gift of eternal life and the costliness of discipleship. All one has to do to see just how clear GES and other free gracers are in their evangelistic invitation is to read their wonderful tracts. I think GES has the very best, and they cover discipleship in most of them. It's just that they make clear that the gift of eternal life is free. Most evangelist don't do that.

I appreciate your thoughts.

Your free grace new friend,
Diane
P.S. Hope to meet you at the GES Conference this year.
:-)

February 06, 2009 3:32 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Antonio, agree completely with your allusions to the King's invitation to share His life; as you know, Rene is working on a dissertation that demonstrates (in part) that Jesus' invitations for unbelievers to enter the Kingdom were often allusions to full Kingdom inheritance.

Regarding your "angular" comment about my age, I invite you to come to Colorado Springs and see how well you fare on a racing bike at >6,000 feet elevation. (I do like Jack Palance, especially in City Slickers, when "Curly" says to Billy Crystal, "Just remember, there's one thing," and then he dies before Billy Crystal can find out what the "one thing" is.)

Diane, maybe my perspective on FG teaching emphasis is distorted by the fact that I teach at Denver Seminary, where FGers are as rare as hen's teeth. As a result I often encounter the kinds of concerns that Colin mentioned in our lengthy exchange. Whenever Zane is mentioned, even indirectly, I am asked to wash out my mouth with soap (don't worry, I can dish it out, too).

I believe that much FG material is misconstrued by Calvinists because they perceive a false "uncoupling" of justification from sanctification in the FG emphasis on John's gospel. There is an almost deathly fear that the first thing FG theology does is enable believers to go hog-wild because now they have a loophole to keep on sinning.

The synoptic gospels and general epistles tend to "see through" justification to the broader landscape of 3-D salvation (although, so does John 14-17), and that's why I prefer to speak of the different aspects of one salvation over the terminology of justification and sanctification.

Personally, I simply can't fathom how anyone who truly understands the glory that we are being invited to share---as Antonio so well articulated---could ever in good conscience just go ahead and "sin like the Devil"; I'd be so afraid of getting whacked (take that term in its mafia sense, 1 John 5:16; James 5:20; etc.).

February 06, 2009 6:12 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

James,
I appreciate your thoughts so much. You said....
There is an almost deathly fear that the first thing FG theology does is enable believers to go hog-wild because now they have a loophole to keep on sinning.

Doesn't that very statement show that people don't "get it!" Doesn't it show that they must have evidence of righteous living (works) or you might not BE saved..... be willing to turn from sin and live for Christ (works) or you can't GET saved..... be willing to continue in obedience after faith (works) or you might not STAY saved.

Like you said..... they're afraid to emphasize the free gift that Jesus offers, so what do they do? Scare people by warning them that unless they have evidence of WORKS they might not be saved, or are in danger of loosing their savation.... Yet all along denying that works have any part in salvation. They'll say that WORKS are the fruit of true salvation. But it's still WORKS!!!
No works, no salvation!!!!!
They're so afraid that someone might live an ungodly life unless they emphasize works in some form.
Well.... maybe some Christians will live that way!!! But once a person is born into the family of God, He is their Heavenly Father, and He has rules for the family. If those rules are ignored, then discipline comes, and lose of rewards are probable.

Here's what I've come to recognize in my personal Bible study.....
Whenever I see some kind of WORK associated with a verse, a flag goes up in my mind, and I know that this is not a heaven/hell verse. The context will determine what the verse is about, but I know that it won't be heaven/hell.

I have always been a free gracer but just didn't know that's what it was called. I have always known that I was saved based upon the simple promise of John 3:16. I've learned a lot more about what verses mean since that day, but I've only found that those verses confirm John 3:16. BECAUSE I DID know that salvation was a free gift, I recognized the error of Lordship Salvation when I heard one of my favorite Bible teachers on the radio (at the time) say that salvation wasn't free. He called it "easy believism." He said it "cost" everything. I couldn't believe my ears. I cried. I couldn't believe that a favorite Bible teacher of mine who I had been listening to and loving for a long time would say such a thing. It took him naming names of those who were wrong on salvation to open my eyes to see that he was in error. He named men like Ryrie and L S Chafer as being wrong on salvation. But I thank God that I had that firm foundation that salvation was free by just believing in Christ for everlasting live. I stopped supporting that teacher, and that started me on my journey of finding wonderful free grace teaching like.....
Zane Hodges and GES.

I am so thankful to the Lord that He protected me from works salvation teaching. I have complete assurance of my salvation, and nothing can shake me from that based completely on His promise of John 3:16 and other promises. I now have the great privilege of teaching my grandchildren those wonderful truths so that they'll have a firm foundation, too.

To God alone be all the glory and praise!!! It's His message recorded in His inspired Word.

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

February 06, 2009 8:57 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi James,

From what you are writing here, both our “systems” work, if they result in the professing believer seeking to live to the glory of God. In many ways, we have to be content with that for practical purposes, although reserving the right to disagree on the “whys” and “wherefores”.

I think where it gets serious is when you meet a totally rebellious professing believer who perhaps never showed any signs of fruit. I can cope with (and thankfully people cope with me as) a struggling believer whose face is at least toward Zion, even if they are slipping and sliding all over the place. It is the totally, disinterested rebel that I struggle with. I do not think that it either helps them or the church at large to reassure them that they are heaven bound on the basis of a very dubious profession of faith.

The matter here is largely pastoral, but it is also doctrinal since one invariably leads to another.

If talking to backsliders, I encourage them back to Christ again. (I’m sure you would do so too) I remind them of the many promises of God and remind them of the love of God towards them at the Cross etc., But I also remind them of their responsibility before God. There is a sense in which they are not so much victims but guilty – backsliding is a sin before God. The promises of God to heal the backsliding is based on the words “Return unto the Lord thy God…” (Hosea 14:1-4) Of course, there are many questions we could ask here, but sometimes they are better put on the backburner and the practical side attended to.

I enjoy chatting you,

Regards,

February 07, 2009 3:48 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Diane,

I, too, became a grandparent again for the 12th time yesterday, when my daughter delivered her first child, a son. I too am pumped about teaching my grandkids the truths of redemption.

Diane, I love your heart. You accurately portray the consequences of harboring the "fear" that I mentioned in my last post; that obsessive concern with works for assurance of salvation does indeed supervene when we should be focusing on inviting people to join what God is already "up to." Note, e.g., a recent exchange I had with a professor on First John 2:19--- www.denverseminary.edu/craig-blombergs-blog-new-testament-musings/how-to-cope-theologically-with-apostasy/#comments.

There are plenty of people who agree with the position I was opposing on the above thread. But what saddens me most is how their obsession with works as a litmus test of salvation finesses so many children of God right out of Kingdom living, because their main concern is to keep reassuring themselves they are saved, rather than listening to the voice of the Spirit to join God's redemptive activity in the world.

So, I am a little concerned about characterizing our ideal lives as believers as living under a Heavenly Father who has rules for the family. If those rules are ignored, then discipline comes, and lose [sic] of rewards are probable. There is certainly an emphasis in the epistles on avoiding immoral behavior in those churches that were missing the fruit of the Spirit, but the problem was that people were not listening to the unpredictable wind of the Spirit to follow the Lord in the redemptive activities He was already "up to."

This mindset leads to an overriding emphasis on avoiding negative behaviors, rather than listening for the Father's daily instructions through the Spirit on how we can emulate His character in the "family business" of restoring the world. The gospels' emphasis on following Christ in his all-consuming concern to be about "the Father's business" is our ultimate goal and should be the daily focus of our concern for inheritance, just like sons being given "chores" to fit them for "the family business" of ruling the world to come (Heb 2:5).
The gospels are chock-full of that kind of imagery.

I don't see FGers emphasizing this aspect of inheritance, and after all, who is best equipped to be communicating that message? I was so grateful that GES decided to carry my book, but it only scratches the surface, emphasizing the need for disillusionment over our self-sufficient ways of trying to please God as children before we can emancipate into full-fledged sons engaged in the "family business."

That said, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for your tenacious and faithful advocacy on these blogs for the basic truth of free grace.

February 07, 2009 4:47 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Colin,

Thanks for that reminder. I totally share your pastoral concerns for enabling people to live lives that sully the reputation of our God in this world.

My approach follows that of the Scriptures: to blatantly humiliate them. If they are truly believers they need to clearly understand that their main calling in life is to represent the Father before a fallen world and that they will eventually incur his wrath on their sinful behavior. (See Rene A. Lopez, "Can Believers Experience the Wrath of God," available at: www.scriptureunlocked.com/pdfs/ETS06-Rev_Believers_Wrath.pdf)

If as believers they are brought under conviction, then great; if not, they should be put out for the destruction of the flesh (1 Cor 5).

If they are falsely professing unbelievers, the hope is that it will come out when they are challenged to question any basis for affiliating with the Body of Christ other than believing in Jesus for eternal life. The focus then becomes believing rather than works. My gut instinct is that true unbelievers are less likely to demonstrate the reprehensible behaviors you describe than are licentious believers. The wheat and tares are so difficult to separate in this life because they look so similar.

Thanks, Colin, for giving me the wonderful opportunity to engage you on these crucial pastoral concerns. I love your heart.

February 07, 2009 5:15 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Yes were just one big happy family who's God ONLY died for the ones he loved the ELECT!

February 07, 2009 9:42 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Alvin, you sound upset...

...but I don't see the relevance of your comment, which I'm assuming is sarcastic. Please correct me if I am wrong. Since I don't hold to limited atonement, please help me understand where you got that impression from what was communicated.

February 07, 2009 9:50 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Here is a quote from a big bad Calvinist who got up in our pulpit at my last Church:

"It's unscriptural to tell people God loves them because in fact His plan for them might be the eternal lake of fire and you would be lying to them!"

good~night

February 07, 2009 10:18 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Whistling 'Dixie'

Regards,

February 07, 2009 11:17 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

CONGRATULATIONS James on your 12th grandchild!!! WOW!!! That's a lot!!! What a blessing!!!
I have 7 and they are such a joy to me and my husband!
Also.... how wonderful for your daughter..... her first. That's pretty special!
:-)

Regarding what you said....
I am a little concerned about characterizing our ideal lives as believers as living under a Heavenly Father who [my words that you quoted] has rules for the family. If those rules are ignored, then discipline comes, and lose of rewards are probable.

I understand that you think the emphasis should be on the fruit of the Spirit rather than living under family "rules".... that of our Heavenly Father. I, too, don't want to serve the Lord with negative motives. I serve Him because of who He is and what He did for me at Calvary!!! I love Him because He first loved me. But because I am aware that He has special rewards to give us for how we lived our life down here, I want those rewards. I understand them to be some kind of capacity to enjoy Him deeper and closer in eternity. I desire that.
(I've been listening to some tapes on that subject from Tony Evans, and he has some good illustrations.)
But I just wanted to make the point in my previous comments that the Bible teaches that there are consequences when believers live in sin. God warns us all throughout the scriptures.
I think understanding that truth is healthy for the child of God to understand, just like it's healthy in a human family.

One time our middle daughter (who is now an adult with her own family) told us that the reason she didn't like to do things that were wrong was because she didn't want to disappoint her dad. That was a GREAT reason, and it warmed our hearts to hear that. But she also grew up knowing there were negative consequences to bad behavior.

If our friends on the other side of this debate would read carefully all of Zane Hodges' books, they would find that he brings out better than most the sacrificial love that Jesus Christ had for all of us. When I study his books, I always go away with a grateful heart for what my Savior did for me. It's very positive and person.... not academic. Just read his book... "The Atonement," or "The Six Secrets of the Christian Life," or his commentary on "1,2,3 John." You can't help but fall in love with Jesus. Those are not academic writings. They get me to the place where my heart has touched the heart of God.

I do appreciate your concern that we focus on the positive side of Christ. Our purpose should always be to "know HIM more intimately" and then we will serve Him with motives that are pure and from a heart of love. AMEN!

Have a great week-end enjoying your new grandson. How AWESOME!!!

God's best to you,
Diane
:-)

February 07, 2009 2:18 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

James....
One other thing....
I am looking forward to reading that link you gave. Just haven't had a chance yet. Thanks for giving it.

Diane
:-)

February 07, 2009 2:50 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Thanks, Diane, for your gracious reply. Just briefly:

As a "budding" theologian, I was very quickly convinced in 1983 of the value of Zane's approach when I skeptically scrutinized Gospel Under Siege and, later, Grace in Eclipse. These revolutionized the way I approached the NT, and I have never regretted it. Even though I don't agree with all his views on specific passages---e.g. Rom 7, the Upper Room Discourse, and 1 John 2:12-27---the differences are far from earth-shattering.

With respect to our inheritance, I would simply say that we are never rewarded on the basis of following rote, prescribed rules but by following him daily to the cross by listening to the Spirit---he gives us our daily, often surprising, commission from the Father to participate with him in redeeming the world through love (1 John 3:16-18).

Ironic you should mention the link to Blomberg's blog; I just read his attempted repudiation of the doctrine of eternal rewards in JETS 35/2 (June 1992): 159-72, and his position simply comes from reading every passage through Reformed lenses, with a good deal of special pleading to avoid the obvious implications in many of them.

February 07, 2009 3:33 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jim and Diane,

There is a hierarchy of motivations in the Christian life. As we grow in our walk, we progress from one level to the next. The fear of God is an indispensable aid that will never lose its usefulness.

Surely at the more mature stages of our Christian life, such is not going to be the primary motivator. More lofty ambitions related to greater intimacy with Christ will abound. But let us not kid ourselves, lol. Often a fear of losing reward and/or provoking Him to displeasure (wherein we may reap a divine consequence) is operative at critical moments in our daily lives.

Thank God for the warning passages! I wish more people would heed them.

your free grace theology host,

Antonio

February 07, 2009 3:56 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Yes, Antonio, thanks for the corrective....the "fear factor" was precisely my point to Colin (above) in mentioning Rene's article, "Can Believers Experience the Wrath of God?"

February 07, 2009 4:10 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Wow, bro. Jim. Earlier you said, "But what saddens me most is how their obsession with works as a litmus test of salvation finesses so many children of God right out of Kingdom living, because their main concern is to keep reassuring themselves they are saved, rather than listening to the voice of the Spirit to join God's redemptive activity in the world." I'd say that characterized many years of my Christian life, & sadly i must say I must still fight that same battle from time to time. may the Lord bless you.

February 07, 2009 5:19 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Yup...

Thank you, my man.

February 07, 2009 5:27 PM  
Blogger Sanctification said...

Colin,

Just wanted to thank you for pointing out the article by Rene Lopez. I have been looking for online free grace resources regarding the "salvation" Israel experienced at the Red Sea (and subsequent punishment), and until now could not find anything.

Timely!
Michele

February 08, 2009 9:13 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Hi Michele,

That was me, Jim, who mentioned Rene's article in my reply to Colin.

Rene's got some good stuff, all right; I really appreciate his incisive logic, as well as Antonio's.

Jim

February 08, 2009 9:41 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Jim (or should I call you James???)
:-),

I just wanted to comment on something you said to me....
I believe that much FG material is misconstrued by Calvinists because they perceive a false "uncoupling" of justification from sanctification in the FG emphasis on John's gospel.

John is the book that I've been going through with a class of young moms for over a year now, and it has opened my eyes in a way that I can't even express. The whole Bible is actually coming together so much clearer because of this book. We're using material that Bob Bryant used when he was on a missions trip. The material he used brought tears to the eyes of pastors who never previously believed in eternal security. John has opened their eyes to that wonderful truth. Perhaps you heard him tell the story. The material is now opening the eyes of the young women in my class including me. I put together a tiny little outline on Antonio's blog under the July article written by WJC. My post was dated Aug. 4th, 2008 if you're interested in looking at that John outline. Here is the link....

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=17392026&postID=1903440348745001012

I think most people who have a negative response to free gracers (or refined free gracers), or GES, Zane Hodges, etc., just haven't read their material carefully and fully. I just haven't had the same experience as some of you are having regarding leaving off the sanctication teaching and only emphasizing justification. For me personally it's just clarified what is justification and what is sanctification, but NOT down playing the sanctification and glorification side of salvation. But that's been my experience over the years. I just love GES and the refined free grace thinkers. Only because I see things so much more clearly. And it's not academic with me. The writings always bring me close to Christ as I read and pray. But evidently everybody doesn't take it all in as much as I have done.

I appreciate all that you're doing at Denver Seminary. How wonderful that you have that privileged place of ministering there. I'll be praying for you.

Your new fg friend,
Diane
:-)

February 09, 2009 8:54 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Diane, if Antonio calls me Jim, you should call me Jim.

I am totally sympathetic with all your points, Diane. I will try to get to your August post when I have a chance. Thanks for your patience with all this. I'm just convinced that we in FG have grown to the point that some of us are called to develop and articulate a more systematic and canonical approach to the whole of Scripture in order to embrace a more broad-based theology of redemption than just individual salvation. As Antonio said, we need to "keep the horse in front of the cart" for those who need the saving message, but we also need a more robust basis for building the church in this postmodern world.

February 09, 2009 10:02 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

I believe that John was careful on what he wrote in his gospel not including things such as “repentance or gospel” and only referring to forgiveness of sins in one verse but not using free gift language. Because these are much broader terms then John’s main focus and that is that the unbeliever come to Jesus for His gift of life. To come after Jesus did not give anyone life, but in that day one had to leave everything in order to follow Jesus to learn from Him. As Zane has pointed out that to be a disciple is simply to be a pupil or student and does not carry all the overtones that are forced upon it in our day with the main stream Lordship Salvation. Something that really struck me when reading from Zane’s book “Grace in Eclipse” page 14,15 Faith Subtly Redefined: The fact is that the Greek expressions for “believe in” or “believe that” are not significantly different from their English equivalents. No one supposes that the English words “believe in” denote a “personal relationship,” much less “submission to,” or anything of the sort. Much pseudo-scholarship has been expended in an attempt to make the biblical concept of faith carry the freight of a preconceived theology. The time has long since passed for this to stop. End quote.
What I have ran into witnessing to the unbeliever is that they struggle with the concept of a free gift they can just take freely, there is in our flesh something that rejects this idea. Of course I want a 3D salvation for the ones I evangelize because I know that is the ONLY way to a victories Christian life but I do not put the cart before the horse. I find that most everyone questions the gift, and usually find that they make comments like “that means I could just go out and live like the devil.” Meaning they don’t believe that it REALLY is a gift they could take FREELY. But when they make that comment it gives me the perfect opportunity to explain the CART that once they take freely of His gift they are His child and He will spank them. Then I share the rewards and benefits of following Him in discipleship. But I am careful just Like John to keep these issues separate. I don’t want people having to go through my experience of years of wandering in the wilderness or Luis’s experince of ending up in prison. But if the message is given properly the one KNOWS they are eternally secure EVEN IF they end up in the jail house like Luis!

I’m sure Luis as myself was not aware of a personal relationship with Christ at the time because we were not renewed in our minds and did not have ANY understanding of who we were in Christ BUT we did KNOW that we had a gift that we could NEVER lose because we believed it WAS A GIFT! I had believed in a Savior that had paid for ALL my sins and therefore I would not have to go to hell for them but would go to heaven. The burden of my sin was lifted, I felt relief and a joy knowing that the Savior had saved me forever!

Read Luis’s story by Zane Hodges “Here Walks My Enemy.”

Alvin :)

February 09, 2009 10:03 PM  
Blogger Sanctification said...

Jim -

Oops! I actually meant to say your name I'm sorry about that! That was interesting what you said about Denver Seminary... my new pastor came from there and he had never heard of free grace theology till he came to Oregon as our candidate.

Michele

February 10, 2009 10:50 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Michele,

How ironic that you should post just now. I just this second finished reading the entire thread on JP's blog that led to your being awarded Rose's coveted "Reasonable Blogger Award."

Wow....I'd heard about some of those debates but never seen them, since I've only been blogging recently.

Wow....I'm speechless. And awed to see what looked very much like the Spirit at work. If that was the Spirit in you, you can call me anything you want.

February 10, 2009 11:43 AM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

I just posted the 2nd part of "How to Lead People to Christ." I called it "Faith in Christ" to set it apart from the 1st Part. The Q&A on part 2 is excellent! I love the closing comments by Zane.
(Here is Part1 of 6)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRX9Q6xrnLg

I also posted an excellent message by Dr. Radmacher on Youtube from MBI Pastor's conference 1990. It is one of the best treatments on the word "Salvation" I have ever heard.
(Part 1 of 5)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laGrppxaom4

- Don

February 11, 2009 7:35 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Don, I can't thank you enough for posting these videos!!!
PRICELESS!!! AWESOME!!! WONDERFUL!!!
My heart rejoices!!!

Diane

February 11, 2009 8:27 AM  
Blogger Sanctification said...

Jim,

Coming from a world where honor means everything, I am humbled but like many I suppose I am dependent on Rose's inward grace to survive. She loves the truth so much that she'll listen even when it is most difficult.

I appreciate your attitude and education. I have a long way to go. :D

Don,

Once again thank you for making these videos available. It's great to have various media for sharing FGT.

--Michele

February 11, 2009 8:53 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Michele,

You are very kind.

I was just commenting on Rose's how I'm coming to the opinion that this may be one of the most important ways that the people of God "do theology" in community at this time in history. What a heavy dose of dependence on God we need to hear each other clearly and speak plainly and carefully on "debated issues"!

February 11, 2009 12:39 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Antinio, good job. I appreciate you brother. This is a good work.

The departure from the faith (immediately) by most if not ALL of the so-called post-apostolic fathers is well documented. What does it matter if some of our revered teachers now or in the recent past have departed in some of their teachings from the truth?

VLM, HAI, RCS, JAM, ML, JC, etc., are ALL UNINSPIRED teachers susceptible to error. ZH, BW, and all GES or FG teachers are also not inspired and likewise are liable to error. As BW once taught, we all need to be Bereans. The ONLY source of perfect truth is God's word.

The condition for receiving Eternal Life is clear. It does not matter if every teacher teaches that repentance is necessary, or confession, or baptism, or any other thing, or a combination of these things, are necessary, God says they are not.

Now if this were the end of the matter, this discussion would not be so important. What I mean is, that if Scripture did not make plain that adding ANYTHING to saving faith nullifies saving faith, then we could all just be happy, and not be concerned that one teaches one thing and others teach something different about receiving Eternal Life.

Does it REALLY matter all that much? Well, it seems obvious that God tells us that it does!
Through Paul God tells us that anyone teaching any other Gospel than the true one is accursed.
Through Paul God tells us that one can "believe in vain."

God teaches us that MANY who Claim Christ as their LORD (and are diligent in their works for Him) are lost.

Precisely WHAT one BELIEVES is what determines a person's eternal destiny.

I would like to be as broadminded as is suggested on this thread, but I cannot be so.

I hope that many who are presently teaching a false gospel have at some time believed the truth. I think that one prominent Lordship Salvation teacher has admitted that he once believed the true Gospel, but I cannot be sure that this is the case.

Either one believes what Christ said is necessary to receive Eternal Life or one does not.

Also, fortunately, what matters is punctuated faith. I highly recommend ZHs' recent article in the JOTGES which corrects a tremendous prevalent error with respect to the praesens (Greek present tense), "Introducing John's Gospel: In the Upper Room with Jesus the Christ", Part 1 of 2 by Zane Hodges, JOTGES, Vol. 21, No. 40 pp. 29-31.

From one who has drunk the living water,

Gary

February 13, 2009 12:25 PM  
Blogger Biblicist said...

"Do we say we are Christians? Do we claim to be children of God? Then we must prove it by our lives."

The point is subtle. This statement defines what the author means by saving faith.

The Apostle Paul also made very clear what saving faith is.

Ro 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
Ro 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Faith is believing, not only Romanism, Orthodoxism, Calvinism, Arminianism, but also almost all evangelicalism redefine faith to include works. While Luther got it right for a short time, even he relinquished the truth because of the attacks of his opponents.

"The faith that saves is not alone!," was Luther's changed accursed battle cry.

This same cry is made by almost ALL evangelicals today!

The truth is that ONLY THE FAITH WHICH IS ALONE WITHOUT WORKS SAVES.

Gary

February 13, 2009 1:48 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Gary,

Oh, it's so wonderful to hear from you again. You see the issues so clearly and so biblically. I love how you put it.....

ONLY THE FAITH WHICH IS ALONE WITHOUT WORKS SAVES.

I love that. I'm going to mark it down.

AMEN to everything you've said!!!

Rejoicing today because of Jesus,
Diane
:-)

February 13, 2009 2:07 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

“It seems to me that your argument is based on the fallacious notion that to insist on works as the evidence of faith is the same as insisting that works and faith justify the soul.”

I insist that neither faith is saving!

The faith which sees works as evidence that it is saving is entirely different from the faith which is DEFINED as having no works.

This is true.

Just as earnestly as you profess your saving faith to be such as produces works, I maintain that my saving faith is such that it produces no works at all!

I maintain that the CONTENT of saving faith is that it CANNOT produce any works of any kind whatsoever.

The content of your "saving faith," as you openly profess produces works.

There is a faith which FOLLOWS saving faith which made alive by works.

But the faith that justifies is the faith which does not work, and further such faith is found only in the ungodly.

This truth is at the very heart of the gospel. It is evident everywhere throughout the Bible.

The woman at the well was an ungodly sinner, and she KNEW it.

The faith that saves is the faith that the ungodly have, and it is without works past, present, future, or intended.

Only the ungodly have it. Those who include in their conception of saving faith (for faith is what one BELIEVES: it is in our mind., that it is saving because their "saving" faith produces good works, repentance, baptism, confession, etc., don't have saving faith.

One CANNOT show saving faith by their works.

They can show that their faith is "alive," but not all living faith is saving faith. Mother Teresa has a whole lot of faith which produces a lot of good works.

Saving faith can be known only by testimony. We confess that our saving faith is barren. It has no works at all, past, present, or future.

As Paul said, the faith which DOES NOT WORK justifies, and I would add, that only such faith justifies eternally.

To some these arguments are vain, but in reality, they are the very opposite. The eternal destiny of all, depends on the definition of saving faith.

And as Christ said, there will be many who profess Christ, who do many mighty works in His Name, who are lost.


Gary

February 13, 2009 3:25 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Amen Gary!!!!!

Good to see you back! Like Diane said you have a way of saying things that cut right to the heart of it!!!!!
ONLY THE FAITH WHICH IS ALONE WITHOUT WORKS SAVES.

alvin :)

February 13, 2009 4:19 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Gary

Just what your saying is what I was arguing for from 1 John 5:9-13 that saving faith is based solely on the Testimony of God that He has given us eternal life, works has NO place what so ever!!!! I hope Colin was able to see that. Because John would not contradict himself by saying we could KNOW based solely on God's promise and then turn around and tell us the only way we can KNOW we KNOW that we are His child is based on our works 1 John 2:3. This shows clearly that not only down through the ages that they were wrong about 1 John but also James. They were simply creating a DIFFERENT TYPE OF FAITH one that HAD to have WORKS just as you have stated so very clear Gary!!!!!



off to the store...
alvin :)

February 13, 2009 4:39 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

"From what you are writing here, both our “systems” work, if they result in the professing believer seeking to live to the glory of God."

The gigantic problem is that both "systems" DON'T WORK!

There are millions of professing believers who seek to live their lives to the glory of God who have never believed in Jesus for eternal life.

Gary

February 13, 2009 9:11 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Gary,

I dug up my JOTGES article by Zane. I had it all marked up I bet just like Dianes :) For me, one that does not read Greek but has many study helps it was obvious that “believe” in John’s gospel was speaking of a point in time because of such clear expressions (born again,pass from death to life, one drink). It’s clear to me that saving faith happens at a point in time and not like one song I hear on the radio where you keep going back to the well. But I really love the way you connected this with the women at the well and the faith that the ungodly have also bringing in Romans 4 with Paul making clear THE FAITH THAT DOES NOT WORK justifies.

Zane quoting Louw: The Greek [present tense] is aspectually neutral or unmarked, it is a zero tense. It . . . maybe used if the context suggests linear or habitual occurrence, and often verbs denoting process . . . give the impression that the praesens signifies duration through the praesens itself merely states the occurance as a fact.
On the next page he adds, “it is a zero tense of factual actuality.”
Zane: I know, of course, that this is not what was taught in Greek classrooms for the last several generations. Most scholars were weaned on the idea that the present tense expressed on-going, or continuous, action. But this idea is a grammatical fallacy. If you read your Greek NT with the same facility you do English, you can easily see for yourself that Louw’s position is a slam dunk. End quote

Now I have a high respect for men who have studied the languages like Louw and Zane and by doing so can show the errors of the majority of so called orthodox!

Alvin :) another who has drank the living water :) one drink is all it takes :)

February 13, 2009 9:27 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Gary,

I've been reading your comments with much interest and very carefully digesting it. WOW! I've never quite thought of it *exactly* the way you put it, but I think you're right!!! Here's the part that has REALLY caught my attention.....

You said..... "I maintain that the CONTENT of saving faith is that it CANNOT produce any works of any kind whatsoever."

The whole argument among the "Christian community" is that faith alone saves, but if it's REALLY real, it WILL produce good works.
Free gracers say NOT NECESSARILY. That is probably the way I use to say it. I probably would have said you can be saved and you might or might not produce good works. I would have said that in order to produce good works you need to be in fellowship with God, abiding in His Word and obeying Him. But then I would have said if you're not abiding and obeying, you will NOT produce the works of the Spirit..... knowing that it is God who works through the obedient Christian. I THINK I'M RIGHT ON THAT........ BUT according to what you said..... the faith that produces works is a DIFFERENT *KIND* OF FAITH, not the same as the faith we had that brought us from death to life. Two DIFFERENT KINDS of faith!!! So when speaking about the faith that saves (brings eternal life), we need to keep it separate from a *FAITH WALK LIFE*. The "walking by faith" life that produces works is different than the faith we had when we were instantly saved (born again). The *saving faith* does NOT include works. The *living by faith* DOES include works. I never thought of it exactly in this way before. It's quite an eye opener.

I liked the way you put it......
"There is a faith which FOLLOWS saving faith which is made alive by works."
There it is...... two different KINDS of faith!!!

This was a great point you made.....
"The faith that justifies is the faith which DOES NOT WORK, and further such faith is found only in the UNGODLY."

Again you said.....
"The faith that saves is the faith that the ungodly have, and it is without works PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE, OR INTENDED."

I see that Alvin also understands your point when he said, just like you......
".....saving faith is based solely on the Testimony of God that He has given us eternal life, works has NO place what so ever!!!!

I hope the readers of this blog will go back to Gary's particular comments above, dated....
Feb. 13, 2009, 3:25 PM

Of course, I'm going to continue digesting all of your comments and others, too, like wjc. I think we're really on to something a little more specific..... or at least said in a little different way that MAY help clear up the problems we're having communicating our differences with each other...... or at least help SOME of us to see the differences.

Thanks, Gary, for that very helpful post. I'm thinking a lot about what you said. In fact, I forwarded it (and 2 of your other posts) to friends and family last night, challenging them to think on these things. My husband and I were in much conversation about it today. Good stuff!!!

Appreciate you,
Diane
:-)

February 14, 2009 1:00 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Another thought.....

We're all saved by believing the exact same CONTENT!!! The moment we believe the testimony of God regarding His Son giving us eternal life by believing in Him, we pass from death to life. That is the ONLY CONTENT that saves.
Anything else that we may believe that's true about Jesus does not have anything to do with the saving itself. The moment we believed in Jesus to eternally save us, void of ALL works....... PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE or INTENDED (as Gary so well put it)....... that and that alone brought about our new birth. The Holy Spirit turned that light on for us when we simply looked to Christ. If there was never that moment of faith alone in Jesus alone apart from any works, then the new birth NEVER took place!!!

So believing the "MINIMUM CONTENT" is not a good way of saying it because there is no MAXIMUM content to be added to it that can save. There is only ***ONE*** Content that saves, and we ALL believed that one and only content when we got saved AND nothing else had anything whatsoever to do with it.
The different truths about Jesus that each one of us knew WHEN we first believed in Him were used by God to get us to the PLACE where we would believe in Him for eternal life.
But the many truths about Jesus that were necessary in providing for our salvation were not truths that God demanded of us to believe IN ORDER to have eternal life. Only one truth. Only one content......
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!!!

What a gift!!!!!
Diane
:-)

February 14, 2009 1:53 PM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Gary's view sounds a lot like Luther's perspective on a Theology of Cross vs. the Theology of Glory (the publican who beat his chest, and the Pharisee who patted his own back in self adulation). A bad tree cannot produce good fruit; this is the premise that undercuts an "appearance" of good works as a basis for "knowing" that someone is "saved."

It starts with "passive obedience," and results in "active obedience." We see this in Christ, it is His passive obedience (climaxing at the cross, becoming obedient to the point of death); and resulting in a life that is only dedicated to the will of the Father, and not the things of the flesh. What is required, first and foremost is a new heart; certainly 'good works' are called for in the NT . . . but never within the frame of "proving" salvation --- but instead to bear witness as testimony and light to the wonderful life and works of Jesus Christ. This frame's goal for good works is to magnify Jesus (to point others to Christ), and away from ourselves (thus is faith). This is contrary to the typical formula of "faith saves, but faith is never alone [i.e.good works]."

February 14, 2009 1:57 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Bobby

You’re preaching a works-salvation because you MUST have works to GET to heaven! That cuts right through TO THE LIE! Because works have NOTHING to do with the gift Jesus offers or it wouldn’t be a gift! Your MIXING discipleship “personal relationship” with the gift that Jesus said could be taken freely!
So your not fooling anyone, unless there are some Galatians around? But they even knew the truth at one time.
If you don't have the gift right what your left with is a gospel of your own makings and end up saying things like "faith alone saves but the faith that saves is not alone." If that is what the person ALWAYS believed then their NOT saved because they are adding works to the proposition.
And they end up telling people if they don't have works they won't get to heaven (perseverance of the saints).

Alvin :)

February 14, 2009 7:00 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Friends,

I want to ask each one reading this a couple personal questions.

1. Do you believe that there was a moment in time when you past from death to life?

2. What EXACTLY was it that God saw that caused Him to give you eternal life at that very instant?

I'll be back to discuss this with you all at another time. I just wanted everyone to think about those 2 questions. Please be specific and exact with your answers. Thanks so much.

Diane

February 14, 2009 7:18 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

Good questions
1. Do you believe that there was a moment in time when you past from death to life?

Yes John 5:24

2. What EXACTLY was it that God saw that caused Him to give you eternal life at that very instant?


He told the women at the well “if you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10

I had to know what the gift of God was and who was offering the gift, the knowledge of His person that He was the Christ, is the living water. When drank (believed) sprung up into eternal life.

God saw the empty hand of faith



alvin :) do I get a star?
thats alright I got a 100 . . .heehee as Rose would say

February 14, 2009 8:54 PM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Alvin,

you've caricatured me! I am agreeing with Gary . . . what I was underscoring was that Luther does as well.

Please don't tell me I am teaching a work's righteousness; when I don't. Like I've said way more than once, I am not a Calvinist, not a Lutheran --- and not an FG'r --- but just because I am not an FG'r does not mean that I must of necessity preach a works righteousness salvation. You need to be a lot more careful before you make unsustainable assertions about someone (you obviously know nothing about) --- this is typically called slander, and is not fitting for a Christian.

What you need to do to say that I endorse a works-righteousness salvation is do your homework, and find an example of that on the web --- although let me caution you, and save you the time, that will be a wild-goose chase.

I find the TULIP deplorable, I'm sorry I don't fit your "normal" categories; but you need to be sensitive, Alvin, to the fact that it is possible (within the long history of the church) for there to be salvation views that are called 'Reformed' and not Calvinist or Arminian --- I take what you just said to me as an insult, and ad hominen (character attack).

Antonio can at least vouch for me (and I think he will), that I have never ever endorsed classical Calvinist views; never endorsed any kind of limited atonement; never endorsed any kind of perseverance theology; etc.

That's enough, Alvin! You need to knock this kind of stuff off!! If you can't back up your assertions "about my theology," then you need to be quiet in this re. I'm not kidding!!! It's almost as if you have a personal vendetta for me --- which to be honest, I find kind of weird.

February 14, 2009 11:28 PM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Here you go, Alvin, here is how Martin Luther says what I am getting at:

… In doing these works, however, we must not think that a man is justified before God by them, for faith, which alone is righteousness before God, cannot endure that erroneous opinion. We must, however, realize that these works reduce the body to subjection and purify it of its evil lusts, and our whole purpose is to be directed only toward the driving out of lusts. Since by faith the soul is cleansed and made to love God, it desires that all things, and especially its own body, shall be purified so that all things may join with it in loving and praising God. Hence a man cannot be idle, for the need of his body drives him and he is compelled to do many good works to reduce it to subjection. Nevertheless the works themselves do not justify him before God, but he does the works out of spontaneous love in obedience to God and considers nothing except the approval of God, whom he would most scrupulously obey in all things. (Martin Luther, “Three Treatises: The Freedom of a Christian,” 295)

And for further clarification here are some more articles that elucidate what I am getting at (esp. in re. to Martin Luther's approach to justification, which is what I was highlighting in response to Gary) --- this will save you the donkey work, Alvin, I've done your homework for you:

Martin Luther's Faith Alone

Martin Luther's Theology of the Cross

Martin Luther's Vicarious Bridegroom

and this post that I have dedicated to you 'My Works-Righteousness Salvation'

And if you or anyone else needs anymore clarification on my view of a works-righteousness salvation, then let me know, and I'll provide an whole array that I have posted over at my site!

February 15, 2009 12:46 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Bobby

I feel like I just been spanked! ouch!
I got to admit your pretty confusing, and I do get you and Colin mixed up at times. I’ll try in the future to get a better handle on where you stand. I did go to your sight and find this:

I would just want to encourage my Free Grace brethren to re-evaluate their approach, relative to using the Calvinist framework; and come to terms with the fact that there really is nothing fruitful that can result from such engagement. I want to challenge Free Gracers to think about jettisoning Calvinism's framework, and think about engaging other (Protestant) frameworks that will be more tenable to accomplishing what Free Gracers are hoping to accomplish, theologically, and communicatively.

I really don't know what you are talking about there FG being a Calvinist framework? How do you figure that?

If I mis-characterized you I take it back.

But, you left without answering the two questions. That would help in understanding your position? It seems to me you were arguing that the gift and the giver were no different on UOG and they were not to be distinguished. But I pointed out to you Jesus even distinguished Himself from the gift.

So what say you on these two questions?

alvin :)

February 15, 2009 1:03 AM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Alvin,

your comment made some heavy and unsubstantiated charges about me; and yes, I found this upsetting.

Hopefully you'll read those other articles that I linked to (they are all old established posts, relative to my views).

As far as the quote you take from my now defunct blog (on blogspot), I (along time ago) tried to explain how I see Lordship Salvation (Calvinism) and Free Grace operating out of the same theological framework --- albeit with different "conceptual" referents --- here's that article:

Continuities Between Lordship Salvation and Free Grace

If you find my confusing, then why don't you ask me to clarify; instead of your typical approach of labeling or charging me with beliefs that I don't hold.

Btw, Antonio is not shy about the fact that Free Grace theology finds much of its broader theological framing from Calvinism. In fact many respected Free Grace proponents (Joe Dillow, Charles Ryrie, I believe even Bob Wilkin) would claim to be "Calvinist" minus the "P." I'll let Antonio confirm that; but I know it to be true (it's not a hidden point, Alvin).

And by the way, my blog is:

The Stumbling Block

not "Free Grace Bleachers," at least "The Stumbling Block" is my active blog.

February 15, 2009 1:24 AM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Oh, as far as your two questions, I thought those were directed to, Diane.

On 1, yes (at the point [ingressive idea of entering in -- a point of Greek grammar]) --- the moment we believe.

On 2, He sees us in Christ, that's the basis of His acceptance of us (Heb 7:25). I would've thought that quote from Luther I posted right here on the comment meta would've made my answer to that question clear.

February 15, 2009 1:28 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Bobby

It seems to me that you are saying what Goodnight is saying but just in a different way. Anyway thats how I read you. Here is a quote of you and Goodnight:

Goodnight said:

If our justification depends on or flows from our perseverance in any shape or form, then it may be said to be by works, whether in part or in whole. I disagree with that. Whom God justifies, He glorifes and this fact ensures our perseverance unto the end.

Did you miss what I said, then? That's what I just said! In the Federal scheme, Christ did and does persevere for salvation . . . which is applied by the Spirit, to the elect. If one does not persevere, then they are not elect (in the Federal scheme). So in other words, it's not your perseverance that God 'ensures' at all (which is one of the problems that I see with the Federal scheme here, election, at a functional level, as evinced by you here, ends up anthropocentric and "my assurance" driven vs. christocentric and "Christ's assurance" driven) . . . it is His life that is 'assured', and thus anyone in Him (the elect) are 'surely' His (btw, this is where Calvin is at odds with Federal Calvinists, given his view of election relative to Christ's constant and continued mediation of salvation to the elect from the throne Heb 7:25).

In short, you/we have nothing assured, relative 'our' salvation . . . it is Christ's salvation as He vicariously assumed humanity into His life, and mediates salvation to all who will by 'His vicarious faith/trust'. If His life is stable, and solid, then His 'shared' salvation with us certainly is thus.

12/28/2008 5:33 PM

It sounds to me you both believe in perseverance of the saints but just from a different point of view!

alvin :)

February 15, 2009 1:29 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Bobby

This tells me your not up to date on Bob Wilkins and the GES AT ALL!

Bob Wilkins has came right out and showed where Calvinism is no different then Arminism both being by works. They sell on the GES sight "The Other Side Of Calvinism" by Laurence M. Vance. Which calls Calvinism a heresy.
Quote: Calvinism is therefore the greatest "Christian" heresy that has ever plagued the Church. preface x.

February 15, 2009 1:41 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Bobby . . .Jesus would NOT give the living water to the women at the well UNTIL she KNEW what the GIFT OF GOD was and WHO it was who had asked her for a drink! So at the moment she passed from death to life she had believed His promise and who He was the Christ!

If it was based on ONLY what you are saying Jesus would have NEVER given the women at the well two things she needed to know BEFORE He would give her the living water that would spring up into eternal life. You seem to want to bypass that completely, that MOMENT could not happen without the knowledge of Jesus being the Christ the One who gives eternal life.

alvin :)

February 15, 2009 2:13 AM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Alvin,

But did you read the quote I just provided from Luther? Did you spend the time reading all those other articles I linked? I would venture to say that you didn't --- simply because there hasn't been enough time for you to do all of that yet.

I argue vociferously against the "Federal scheme," Alvin (in fact I have many many posts dealing directly with the problem of "Federal Calvinism" --- I won't take the time to link those for you, I think what I have already linked on Luther should suffice). Federal Calvinism holds to an idea of a divine pact made between God and man, which has been called a bilateral contract. In other words, given its commitment to continuity between the Mosaic and New Covenants (e.g. think Covenant of Works and Grace) man is called upon to "keep" the Law (i.e. persevere) --- albeit (as is asserted) in Christ. Law-keeping (i.e. Christ's active obedience to the Law) is the basis of Christ's imputed righteousness to us; and this flows from a view that emphasizes "external behavior" as what is dealt with at the cross (i.e. Law Keeping). Thus the emphasis on "good works" --- this view also, and in kind, frames the atonement as a purely "forensic" "legal" purchase; which does not really deal with the problem of sin (which has to do with the "heart"). And all this to say, Alvin, that there is what is called historically "scholasticism" which shapes and informs how Federal Calvinism understands God's nature (and thus God's salvation). Scholasticism follows Aristotelian categories of anthropology (the study of man's nature), which indeed emphasize an "outward/in" approach to "being good." Alright, I'm going deeper than I want, Alvin . . . just know that I follow a different framing of God (through what Scottish Theology has offered us); which sees the atonement through an incarnational lens, which means that I don't want to emphasize Christ's active obedience and thus righteousness with the "legal-framing" that Federal Calvinism does. I want to emphasize the idea of atonement that frames Christ righteousness with his "passive obedience" which emphasizes His righteous nature (in itself) as what "we" need for salvation. And instead of a legal relationship with God (albeit there is this component involved see Roms) as framing the covenant between God and man; we should see it framed by the marriage covenant (which is much more trinitarian and scripturally based Eph 5).

Alvin, I really cannot try to unfold all of the differences between Federal Calvinism and my own 'Reformed' perspective. But know that we are different in our approaches (fundamentally). I agree with the charge that Federal (Lordship) Calvinism subsumes justification with sanctification so that these two are indistinguishable (a la Theodore Beza's reintroduction of scholastic/Aristotelian categories into what has now become known as the "Reformed tradition" --- the Federal version). Luther, and that quote I give above, should alert you to the fact that he sees the same problem with subsuming justification with sanctification (so that we have a process, this is Roman Catholic soteriology). Anyway here is another article I've posted that might clarify further where I am coming from in this regard (I have a million more, but I'll just link this one):

Introduction to Affective Theology

The difficulty with trying to distinguish some of these things (my view and Goodnight's) is very very hard to do in a nutshell anecdotal way --- that's why I have my a blog ;-).

Okay here are some categories from my blog that deal directly with differentiating my view from Federal Calvinism (oh and one post that describes what I was trying to get at above on "what" Federal Calvinism entails vs. Scottish and Affective Theology):

Ron Frost

Scottish Theology

T. F. Torrance

and here is one you might find interesting:

All Kinds of Calvinists

Okay, that should be enough to clarify my position; and open up a million other questions --- but these will have to suffice for now.

February 15, 2009 2:23 AM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Alvin,

that's the irony of the GES, and Bob Wilkin; they follow (historically) the scholastic (the one I note in my last comment) framework from whence both Calvinism and Arminianism have sprung (in fact most of Western Christianity, and all of "Evangelical" and Fundamentalist [FG included] springs from this tradition). Alvin, you need to understand, that I am talking about the macro or broad frameworks of theology (implicating Theology Proper [study of God's nature], Christology, Soteriology, Anthropology, etc., etc.) that serve as the shaping and informing influence on how we approach the scriptures (at a conceptual level). This is presupposing that none of us come to the text "naked;" but that we all have broad theological assumptions (interpretive traditions) that we bring to the text. If we don't recognize this, that we have interpretive tradition informing our interpretive decisions when dealing with the text of scripture; we are in danger of reading our assumptions as scripture --- which is what I would argue that Wilkin's is doing (its really irrelevant if he says what he does, unless he understands or acknowledges that he also has some sort of interpretive tradition informing his approach --- and there are only finite of those available, and I know that his framework comes from what has been called classical theism [the one that both Calvinism and Arminianism flow from]). Now some, like Dillow and Ryrie are more honest about that . . . if what you're saying about Wilkin is true, then I guess he is not (but then as I just noted that is a really dangerous approach, for the reasons noted).

As far as the "two questions," I didn't realize I was taking a test, Alvin. I'm not sure what you're talking about, in fact I would argue, and did at the UoG, that you're exactly right . . . she needed to recognize who Jesus was, the "Anointed One of God" (which is ironic that you say that, since Antonio argues to the contrary). As far as #2 you asked:

2. What EXACTLY was it that God saw that caused Him to give you eternal life at that very instant?

and I said:

On 2, He sees us in Christ, that's the basis of His acceptance of us (Heb 7:25). I would've thought that quote from Luther I posted right here on the comment meta would've made my answer to that question clear.

And my response must be the basis for what caused (your word)God to give me eternal life at the instant of "belief," in Him! It is this basis and cause (Himself, His life) that has always been at bottom for giving us eternal life; Paul says:

25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Rom 3:25-26 NKJV

It Christ's life which provides salvation, "causally," for all who will. He is the lamb slain before the foundation of the world (so now we are getting into the eschatological perspective of all of scripture); and as Paul says above all who are saved (Jew or Gentile) are saved be-cause of God's life in Christ in-our-stead (anti substitution and vicarious life).

You are confusing the objective side of salvation and the subjective side. You are asking about the "objective" side of salvation (i.e. the "cause"); and expecting an "subjective side of salvation answer" (i.e. the means of appropriating salvation). So you are right when you say about me:

If it was based on ONLY what you are saying Jesus would have NEVER given the women at the well two things she needed to know BEFORE He would give her the living water that would spring up into eternal life. . . .

And if I was answering another question, the one you should've asked (e.g. 'how was the Samaritan saved' vs. what 'caused' God to give her salvation, or what was the basis of His salvation); then I would've said she received eternal life by believing into Jesus for eternal life.

I don't really want to quibble over this anymore, Alvin. You tried to "trick me," it didn't work; I still don't (fundamentally) disagree with some points of FG (I just think it needs to be filled out, and developed with a better more commensurate theological framework --- like I've said, Scottish Theology would be good --- minus its view on the "order of salvation" [which btw I accept]).

Anyway, I've spent way too much time here; I've pretty much distilled half of my blog here via links --- there is plenty there to clarify my views (if not, comment over there for clarification). I think you should spend some time reading some of that, Alvin . . . it might save you from misconstruing me in the future.

February 15, 2009 3:01 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Bobby . . .i can see why you answered #2 the way you did by your statement here:

This represents the touchstone, and most basic understanding of historic Free-Grace theology, or Affective Theology. Some highlights to take away: Affective Theology (AT) believes man heart is in total bondage to self-love; AT believes that man cannot cooperate whatsoever with God in salvation; AT believes that until the heart is transformed by God’s love through the Holy Spirit’s enflaming work, man will never find rest or salvation; AT believes contra historic Calvinist teaching that the emphasis of salvation is relationally based given the identification of God’s gift of grace with the work and person of the Holy Spirit; AT believes, given the relational basis, is not obsessed with proving one’s election since works are not the foundational component of AT’s framework of salvation.

Bobby, so if I'm reading you right you believe one has to be regenerated so that they can believe?
I read allot of your writings and it seems to me your no different then a Calvinist but just have rearranged it in a more palatable way. Instead of focusing on God’s sovereignty your focus is on God’s love that overwhelms the unbeliever so he can’t help but do God’s will. So if you saw a person not living up to that expectation you would question whether they were really regenerated? If I’m going wrong here let me know?
I believe you mis-understood Gary completely, thinking you are saying the same thing as him. He can correct me if I’m wrong.
Bobby I think your much learning has captured you from the simplicity that is found in Christ and His free gift that can be taken freely. Because someone can take that gift freely and could disappoint Him by living in a life of sin. Which I did for years upon years, and so did Luis to name another. So your overwhelming love theory sounds real nice BUT you underestimate the flesh. And the new believer depending on which he is feeding determines how his walk will be. God will have to chastise him to bring him to the end of himself, or he will end up destroying himself like I almost did.

alvin

February 15, 2009 3:16 AM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Alright, Alvin . . . since I see that you're not going to engage anything I've said in my comments; although I am glad you read the thread on Affective Theology, I won't go too long here (and also since you really don't value "much learning" I won't waste much more of my time).

Yes I believe in a certain "order of salvation" (I think the concept of grace personified in Christ requires that); but so do you (in other words you have your own view on this). That's not what is at stake here though (I have a whole host of other posts on this issue as well, but the ones I have linked already, on "Scottish Theology" highlight how I substantially differentiate my view here from the typical creedal deterministic view on the order of salvation forwarded by Federal Calvinism --- but I can't help it if you want to take a reductionistic approach and not appreciate the real and substantial difference and nuance between what I am getting at contra Federal Calvinism --- that's your loss).

And, yes, you've not understood me on how I think about sin and the Christian. It's naive to think that Christians are going to be perfect, and not "carnal" for even seasons of their lives (the whole letter of I Corinthians illustrates this reality, as do most of Paul's epistles [e.g. the occasion of the letters]) --- so I have no problem with that, Alvin.

But you know what, the fact that you're going to just wipe most of what I say away as being "captured by learning," just underscores, for me, the fact that you really are not willing to take a "humble" approach here; Alvin. It says to me that you are willing to disregard how the Holy Spirit has worked in Christ's church through the centuries, and says that you believe that only you and your "sect" (FG) has got it right --- I'm really not about that, Alvin. So I'm done, I've spent hours on these comments; but your attitude toward "learning" (or least the kind that isn't uniquely FG learning) is very disheartening, and makes me wonder why I am still writing anything to you at all.

Enjoy your FG salvation, Alvin, I'm not sure you'll find much "fellowship" with anyone outside your walls; since anyone outside of those walls is suspect as to their salvation in the first place.

Good day!

February 15, 2009 3:33 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Bobby

First I have not a clue about what you’re talking about “you tried to trick me.”
And as far as UOG Antonio and myself were in perfect agreement. We both were saying the same thing that Jesus Himself distinguished between Himself and the gift of eternal life.
Also myself and Bob and Zane have had to dump our past traditions to come to the truth. You can read for yourself in Dave Hunts book where Zane came out and said ALL five points of Calvinism are unbiblical. Also they both at one time believed that repentance was a change of mind which they both reputed.
So you see Bobby we believed the truth in spite of so called orthodoxy! And as little children simply believed Jesus promise in John 3:16 that is for the whole world not just the select few. It is the theologians who have mis-interpreted key verses and books of the bible (1 John and James). Which Zane said bedeviled the church for way to long concerning the book of James. So these men had turn away from what was tradition and be Bereans and taking much abuse for it! They turned to the analogy of faith that Scripture never contradicts Scripture and you always go by the child like verses FIRST! John 3:16 written to unbelievers John 20:31.

I have respect for learning as long as it does not stand in the way of coming as a child. Or make it so you have to be a theologian to understand John 3:16.
not many wise not many noble

Alvin :)

February 15, 2009 4:09 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Antonio

I can here you now "your suppose to pray before you post" but it's kinda hard when I'm swinging this big sword around.
I know it's not funny but he was agreeing with Goodnight!

Goodnight said:

If our justification depends on or flows from our perseverance in any shape or form, then it may be said to be by works, whether in part or in whole. I disagree with that. Whom God justifies, He glorifes and this fact ensures our perseverance unto the end.

Bobby:
Did you miss what I said, then? That's what I just said! In the Federal scheme, Christ did and does persevere for salvation . . . which is applied by the Spirit, to the elect.

Bobby said:

Antonio can at least vouch for me (and I think he will), that I have never ever endorsed classical Calvinist views; never endorsed any kind of limited atonement; never endorsed any kind of perseverance theology; etc.

Antonio, Bobby did in that statement he was telling Goodnight he believed just what Goodnight was saying.
Bobby got caught with his hand in the cookie jar!
So don't get to angry with me Antonio.

alvin ;-;)

February 15, 2009 5:23 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Friends,

I must admit..... I don't know very much about church history like some of you do. I've been in conversation this past week with a good friend who use to be free grace and has now embraced Calvinism/Reformed theology. Forgive me if I'm using those two terms incorrectly. I am no expert on them. All I know is that my friend now says that because of all the disagreements going on among Christians, he has come to believe that the only ones who have been given the authority to interpret hard passages in the Bible are the early church writers who were taught by either the apostles or the immediate disciples of the apostles. My friend no longer believes that individuals are given the authority by God to be Bereans. We must leave that up to the early Church writers. They alone have the authority to interpret. He does read the Bible every day he says, but the tough passages are not his to interpret. He believes that he is to be under the authority of his pastor and elders in his church who in turn study the early writers to gain understanding of scripture. But that would mean that their interpretation was on equal footing with the Bible...... "thus saith the Lord!" I know that's wrong. Only the scriptures themselves have any authority. ONLY God's Word!!! I do believe that God gave gifts of teaching, and we can learn under gifted men. But then we are to examine everything in light of the scriptures.
My friend is a born again believer because his faith is in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life, but he has changed a lot of his thinking and leans more towards Lordship Salvation NOW and is very happy in the Reformed Church.

My question is this......... Is his thinking (regarding the early church writers having the authority to interpret scripture) typical thinking among most in the Reformed tradition? If so, this is new to me. Those early writers must have taught the doctrine of ELECTION, nondispensational, not pre-trib, church replaced Israel, etc. because this is what he now believes. I'm curious to know if this is typical Reformed thinking..... regarding the early church writers.
Thanks for anyone who can answer that specific question for me.
:-)

Now I will give you my answers to my questions from my above post. They're just very simple. No scholarship in anything I say here.

1. Do you believe that there was a moment in time when you past from death to life?

Yes

2. What EXACTLY was it that God saw that caused Him to give you eternal life at that very instant?
Faith (Faith alone in Jesus Christ for everlasting life.)

My prayer for all of us here on the blog is that we love each other as Christ loved the church with words and actions that are full of GRACE and TRUTH.

Thankful for His wonderful free gift of eternal life,
Diane
:-)

February 15, 2009 2:08 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Diane:

You ask My question is this......... Is his thinking (regarding the early church writers having the authority to interpret scripture) typical thinking among most in the Reformed tradition?

The short answer is they have no more authority to interpret the Scripture than you and I have. There is nothing so special about these men (or indeed any teacher) than excludes us from examining their comments by the authority of Scripture.

We ought to interpret the Bible in such a way that makes it consistent with itself. Generally speaking, the things that pertain to salvation are clear and plain, so that a little child can understand them. It is when we start examining the "why's and wherefore's" that the deep things come into play.

Regards,

February 15, 2009 2:16 PM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Diane,

no, I think your friend is sadly misguided in his thinking . . . he actually sounds more "Catholic" or "Greek Orthodox" than 'Reformed'.

Let me clarify something for you, Diane; at least from my end. To say that one is 'Reformed' is not to necessarily say that one is a follower of John Piper or John MacArthur. There is way more depth to the 'Reformed tradition'; and in a broad sense of that word, Free Grace can be said to be 'Reformed'. In the sense that ALL Protestant Christians are a product of the Protestant Reformation. Beyond that, all Protestants (Evangelicals and Fundamentalists included) find their "theological assumptions" informed by the 'past' (e.g. Reformation assumptions). In other words, Christianity in America didn't come to be what it is in the last century (that's how Jehovah's Witnesses and LDS think --- interestingly, there is an rather pregnant link, socially, between Fundamentalism and those two "Christian cults"); to think this way is really to deny the amazing works and gifts the Holy Spirit has provided His church through the centuries.

To say that the early church and the early church 'Fathers' are the only ones with the keys to interpretation is just wrong-headed (and this really flows from how your friend has come to view the church vs. 'salvation' views); and in fact contrary to the Protestant principle of the Priesthood of All Believers which is closely tied to sola scriptura (scripture alone).

As Colin has said, the Gospel is so clear that even the little children can understand it; but as we come to simple faith in Christ, we need to grow in the grace and knowledge of who we have trusted in (e.g. faith seeking understanding). This is the where 'worship' comes in (see Paul at the end of Romans 11, you know his doxology and worship as a result of reflecting upon the 'deep' things of God and the implications of the Gospel). We toil over the Gospel, in word and deed, we dig deep, we press into, we think as far as the LORD will let us (this is theology); and this is part of the 'process' of worship --- we come to the end of ourselves (as we reflect on the Gospel) and are forced to say --- amen Lord, amen --- and we worship Him in light of who He has revealed Himself to be in Christ!

(The Reformers called what Colin and I are describing the inner and outer clarity of the scriptures --- or perspicuity.

Anyway, hope that helps, Diane. I think we all need to take the burden on of being good students of scripture --- which involves, partly, in understanding how the Lord has done that in the lives of our brothers and sisters over the last 2000 years.

Peace, Diane.

February 15, 2009 2:47 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you Colin and Bobby for answering my specific question. I appreciate it.
I wonder where my friend came to the conclusion he did regarding the early church writers? Could it be John Piper (where he attended church for a short time)?

BTW..... He's still a great friend. We just disagree.

Rejoicing in Jesus always,
Diane
:-)

February 15, 2009 3:26 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Beautifully said, bro. Colin!

Diane,

So very sad what your friend believes. I pray he will repent of this wrong thinking.

My answers:

1)YES! (Though I may not remember when it was)

2) Faith in Christ alone to save me.

February 15, 2009 4:16 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi ALL

Does this mean we are a Big Happy Family again, or always was?

Does that mean we ALL believe what Gary said?

The truth is that ONLY THE FAITH WHICH IS ALONE WITHOUT WORKS SAVES.

February 15, 2009 8:00 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi All

Colin said:

We ought to interpret the Bible in such a way that makes it consistent with itself. Generally speaking, the things that pertain to salvation are clear and plain, so that a little child can understand them. It is when we start examining the "why's and wherefore's" that the deep things come into play.
(emphasis mine)

Remember folks that Colin believes that a person MUST be regenerated before they can believe! So much for a little child being able to understand?

February 15, 2009 8:42 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi All,

To answer Alvin's question.....
You're ALL my BIG HAPPY FAMILY....
IF you've believed in Jesus Christ alone for everlasting life void of any works!!!
:-)

Hi Alvin,
I love the way Gary said it, too.....

ONLY THE FAITH WHICH IS ALONE WITHOUT WORKS SAVES.

Hope it's OK to share what happened at Bible Study tonight.
We had a young newly married couple visit one of our Home Bible Studies tonight. This is the 2nd time they've come, and they are excited about the Lord. We all just loved having them there. They've been coming to our church for a few weeks now. Then the young man past around a CD of a sermon preached by one of his favorite preachers on tape. He went on and on how that this man's preaching changed his life and how much we were going to love it!!! He wanted to share the sermon with us. We gladly took it.
On the way home we played it in our car and found that this Southern Baptist Preacher was "EXTREME LORDSHIP SALVATION!!!" It was so sad. His whole message was how that Baptist churches are full of people going to hell because the people are not getting the truth. Of course, the truth that he was referring to was that of being sold out to the Lord 100% in order to be "truly" saved. The only way you can know for sure that you're saved is if you CONTINUE to live a committed Christian life for Christ, hating your sin, until you die. You can have lapses in your walk, but it's impossible to stay there if you're REALLY saved. He kept quoting 1 John.
My heart sunk. I thought, "How are we going to tell this young couple that their favorite preacher who has meant everything to them is unbiblical and preaching a false gospel~!!! We don't want to drive them away from our church before giving them the opportunity to hear where real assurance comes from..... only the Bible. But we don't want to encourage them in a terrible lie either.
First, my husband said to PRAY!
We want the Lord to give us wisdom as to how to approach them about this tape that they love.
Then my husband suggested giving them one of our favorite books and let the book speak for itself.
That book is one written by Bob Wilkin called, "Secure and Sure."

So for those who are in agreement that the ONLY WAY we can have assurance of salvation is to believe the promises of God in His Word.... that whosoever believes in Him shall not parish but have everlasting life...... Would you please pray with us that God will use that book to open up the truth to this young couple rather than telling them how awful their favorite preacher was, and running them away from our church.
It's not their fault they like this preacher. They just don't know better. They've never been taught the truth. They're just a young couple who are seeking to please the Lord, and this preacher sounded good to them because they just don't know better.
Thanks so much. It's good to know others are praying.

Because of Jesus,
Diane
:-)

February 15, 2009 8:48 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

I think it's worth pasting what Gary said, because he drew the lines VERY clear. And also some of Colins remarks:

Gary
“It seems to me that your argument is based on the fallacious notion that to insist on works as the evidence of faith is the same as insisting that works and faith justify the soul.”

I insist that neither faith is saving!

The faith which sees works as evidence that it is saving is entirely different from the faith which is DEFINED as having no works.

This is true.

Just as earnestly as you profess your saving faith to be such as produces works, I maintain that my saving faith is such that it produces no works at all!

I maintain that the CONTENT of saving faith is that it CANNOT produce any works of any kind whatsoever.

colin
Hi James,

From what you are writing here, both our “systems” work, if they result in the professing believer seeking to live to the glory of God. In many ways, we have to be content with that for practical purposes, although reserving the right to disagree on the “whys” and “wherefores”.


gary

The content of your "saving faith," as you openly profess produces works.

There is a faith which FOLLOWS saving faith which made alive by works.

But the faith that justifies is the faith which does not work, and further such faith is found only in the ungodly.

This truth is at the very heart of the gospel. It is evident everywhere throughout the Bible.

The woman at the well was an ungodly sinner, and she KNEW it.

The faith that saves is the faith that the ungodly have, and it is without works past, present, future, or intended.

Only the ungodly have it. Those who include in their conception of saving faith (for faith is what one BELIEVES: it is in our mind., that it is saving because their "saving" faith produces good works, repentance, baptism, confession, etc., don't have saving faith.

One CANNOT show saving faith by their works.

They can show that their faith is "alive," but not all living faith is saving faith. Mother Teresa has a whole lot of faith which produces a lot of good works.

Gary

Saving faith can be known only by testimony. We confess that our saving faith is barren. It has no works at all, past, present, or future.

As Paul said, the faith which DOES NOT WORK justifies, and I would add, that only such faith justifies eternally.

To some these arguments are vain, but in reality, they are the very opposite. The eternal destiny of all, depends on the definition of saving faith.

And as Christ said, there will be many who profess Christ, who do many mighty works in His Name, who are lost.


Gary
"From what you are writing here, both our “systems” work, if they result in the professing believer seeking to live to the glory of God."

The gigantic problem is that both "systems" DON'T WORK!

There are millions of professing believers who seek to live their lives to the glory of God who have never believed in Jesus for eternal life.

The eternal destiny of all, depends on the definition of saving faith.

February 15, 2009 8:50 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

I will share a true story with you all. It happened on my last day of work. Just keep in the back of your mind all the issues that we are dealing with on this thread and also the checklist evangelist mentality.

I got a call telling me to go to building 1163 and a lady by the name of Shirly Hedead would be waiting outside the building. I was told this was a “welfare check.” I got there fairly quick I was just across the street. The lady was waiting in a car with three other family members. She told me her husband was in the building and did not call or come home when he was suppose too. She asked me if I had a key to the end of the building he was at. I told her I didn’t know, but I did know I had a key to the other end. This was a very long building folks. We went to the one end, and I pulled out my GREAT BIG FOUR RINGS OF KEYS. NONE of them marked, and most of them looked just the same. The other unit was the one that checked that building so had all his keys marked. I started through the keys, the women saying in the backgroud “he could be dying in one of the restrooms.” No pressure there . . .not! I couldn’t find the key!!! I couldn’t find the key!!!! Then she said “were just glad you got here so quick!” Little pressure released . . . .not much though . . . .”the thought came to my mind”. . . . “because you can’t find the key in time this ladies husband might die!” I finally found the key! We went in and found him, he had just lost track of time . . . .everything was ok! I’m still recovering from the stress.
How does this relate to our saving message? The road that leads to life is narrow and few find it! Diane asked two questions. We all agreed that it is a moment in time we pass from death to life. But people can pass from life to death just as fast. What are you going to tell them if you find yourself in that situation, are you going to have to go through ALL your list? And the second question “What did God see that caused Him to save you?” A Calvinst might think or even say “He saw us in Christ.” So if they are the elect they will be saved and if they aren’t then they were never meant to be! I don’t now how they couldn’t think that with their belief! Hey I will be the first one to say I’ve messed up big time on what to say! When I did care center ministry and my friend told me a lady was about to die of cancer, and she didn’t think she was ready. I went into her dark room and started singing a soft song. She couldn’t even talk but could move her head. I asked her if she had ever invited Jesus into her heart, she nodded her head no! I told her I would say a prayer for her. And I can’t even remember what I pryed, but then asked her if she believed what I had prayed . . .she nodded yes! She died before the mourning! But if what I told her did not connect Jesus with her eternal wellbeing, then I was no different then a Catholic standing there! The gospel of John that is the ONLY book that was written to the unbeliever that he might have life. It’s like the one key that fit the lock out of all the keys. Over and over Jesus offers the gift of life! And as the women at the well they need to KNOW what the gift of God is and who is offering the gift! They MUST know that! They MUST know it’s a forever gift! The refined FG can go straight to the key that opens the door to life!!!! Which cannot be overstated! We can use ONE verse John 3:16 or 5:24 or 6:47 if believed they open the door!!!!

Alvin :)

February 15, 2009 9:45 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

David, thank you for your answers.
I'm like you. I'm not sure of the exact day I was saved... only the general time. But God knows!
:-)
I think that is true for just about every believer.

Always appreciate your kind spirit.

Diane
:-)

February 15, 2009 10:18 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane
I will be praying for that young couple that they might come to the knowledge of the truth. I think the way you handled it was great.
Just as on this thread you can see it's almost impossible to keep works out of the equation. If people REALLY believed the gift was free and had nothing to do with their works this would be something they would want ALL to know because it is GOOD NEWS you can know your saved. Because if works had nothing to do with you being saved it also has nothing to do with you staying saved. I use that term "save" as going to heaven!

alvin :)

February 15, 2009 10:33 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi all

Alvin: I'm heading away for the best part of a week. Suffice to say this:

1) You seem to be pitting regeneration against faith. This is not the case and it certainly isn't my position. If you could please make that clear when you make mention of my name, then it helps preserve the truth of the situation.

2) It would also be a great help when you are quoting me (and, I dare say others, but they can look after themselves)if you could make use of the italics and/or the speech marks. Presently it is a bit sloppy and therefore very hard to read and to see who said what etc.,

3) I am still rejoicing in my salvation in Jesus Christ and His finished work. He that has begun the good work in me will perform until the day of Jesus Christ.

Regards,

February 16, 2009 12:25 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Colin

Is it not true that you believe a person has to be regenerated so they can believe?
You say pitting regeneration against faith but I'm simply showing that if regeneration has to happen BEFORE one is able to believe then ones ability to understand has nothing to do with it.
Also Colin you are taking the verse out of context "He that has begun the good work in me will perform until the day of Jesus Christ."
Because that is speaking to the Philippian chuch who were the only ones who had shared in giving to the ministry of Paul Phil 4:15,16. Which work will only be determined in eternity of what it reaped.

That is not guaranteeing the believer will persevere in good works because Paul didn't even know IF he would 1 Cor 9:27.

alvin :)

February 16, 2009 1:19 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Colin and Bobby

Can you both say amen to this statement of Gary's?

ONLY THE FAITH WHICH IS ALONE WITHOUT WORKS SAVES.
or
Is your type of faith loaded with good works?


alvin :)

February 16, 2009 1:33 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Something to ponder!

Q&A
Q Wilkins: If we teach a person the finished work of Christ but we never mention eternal life or eternal security is that the equivalent. Is the finished work of Christ equivalent to teaching a person about eternal security?

A Zane: No! As I tried to explain yesterday the work of Christ is definitely finished and universally effective for everybody who has ever lived but nobody is saved because Christ died if that were true then we would all be Reformed people and we would be confronting the Scriptures on that. So were really saying here that the death of Christ forms the bases on which God is able to offer the free gift of everlasting life, the bases by which He is able to justify by faith. But if all you tell people is Christ died for their sins your not really telling them anymore then the Roman Catholics teach their people. Who is there in the professing Christian Church that doesn’t believe that Jesus died for their sins in some sense or other. But the understanding of the ramifications of that are very, very different indeed depending on the particular denomination which you are a part. So what we need to do is go beyond the wonderful truth of the death of Christ as adequate and universally effective to what it makes possible for us because it is universally sufficient for every bodies sins God doesn’t need to require anything other then faith on the part of the individual who is coming to Him. In other words He is saying I have a gift for you, you receive it by faith just reach out and take it it’s permanent, it’s eternal and it’s paid for.

February 16, 2009 3:12 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Dear Alvin, Diane, Antonio, et al.

I've been biting my tongue here for a long time, because I wanted to listen well enough and long enough what others were saying and implying (i.e., I wanted to "read between the lines") before I responded. Let me say first, Alvin and Diane and Gary, that I completely understand and agree with what you have repeatedly been pounding into us on this long thread; the critical importance of the clarity of "justification by grace through faith that does no works at all." Alvin, I would plead with you to pray and calmly wait until the end of this post before you react; try to listen carefully to what I am saying before you start your reply. I am on your side, brother, but important things have been left unsaid and need to be acknowledged. For those who can't or don't want to read further, here is my main point:

Listening carefully and long enough to each other is far more important than formulating an accurate theological response or "wielding that big sword" as Alvin jokingly admitted he was doing. God is big enough to handle the theological error in what others say if we get sick or die. Ask ourselves, What is it at the Judgment Seat of Christ that the King will commend us for?

If we look back to the beginning of this thread, it doesn't take a genius or a theologian to see the tone that Antonio wanted to set after a long period of acrimonious debate on various FG blogs: What I read in Antonio's original post was a humble acknowledgment of a personal lack of understanding of ecclesiology that I think is more prevalent in the FG movement than he shared (but he was only speaking for himself, which I find laudable).

Antonio: "In taking this extreme course they have sown seeds of discord among the brethren, causing deep rifts between men and women of like mind. Their premature and hostile call to arms has caused grace people, who were heretofore united (yet still having differences in doctrine) to take polar opposite sides and entrench themselves against each other."

I read Antonio as wanting to adopt a different tone on these blogs for the sake of unity in the Body and allow the Lord more freedom to enlist us to fight the battle that makes the biggest difference---a battle for the souls of men to enjoy salvation in all its three-dimensional life.

I for one appreciate what people like Colin and Bobby contribute to the discussion, because they recognize the gaping deficiency that FGers (IMO) have yet to fully address, and that is the kind of life that Jesus has invited us to participate in now as members of his Body. It does not do to simply talk about the priority of sanctification as distinct from justification and yet never deal substantively with Jesus' call to a salvation now that is three-dimensional and only begins with our justification.

The fact that Colin and others have repeatedly attempted to emphasize and defend the importance of works that should accompany salvation (e.g. Eph 2:10) should be embraced for its central importance to the kind of salvation that Jesus invited us to share with him.

Therefore, Alvin, it simply doesn't do to use the term "save" as referring to "going to heaven" alone, when the term is used in the majority of cases in the NT to refer to different aspects of our salvation than merely "going to heaven." It doesn't do to downplay the role of works in our three-dimensional salvation out of fear that some people will automatically assume we are only referring to justification (what I have called 1D salvation on this thread).

So here's my suggestion to Alvin and others who feel compelled to "wield the big sword": Let's take a page from Michelle's response to exactly the kinds of people Antonio referenced in his original post; you can find the thread on Rose's home page by clicking on the "Reasonable Blogger Award" that she awarded to Michelle for her beautiful composure in responding to her opponents on that thread.

I would invite those who are most active on these blogs to commit to listen carefully and long enough to identify first what is right and potentially edifying to the Body of Christ in what our opponents have written, and then to restate that truth and ask our opponents if we "got it right," before proceeding with a response to what was perceived to be "wrong" about what they wrote.

February 16, 2009 7:20 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

The thread I referenced above regarding Michele's dialogue with her opponents is linked in Rose's original post of Dec 6, 2008. The link in that post is labeled:

Michele's unmatched patience and kindness.

February 16, 2009 7:33 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Jim

I will just take your last part for now.

you said:
I would invite those who are most active on these blogs to commit to listen carefully and long enough to identify first what is right and potentially edifying to the Body of Christ in what our opponents have written, and then to restate that truth and ask our opponents if we "got it right," before proceeding with a response to what was perceived to be "wrong" about what they wrote.

Jim if you look back up this thread I was accused of misunderstanding Bobby. He said he has never endorsed any kind of perseverance theology; etc.
but then I showed this:

Goodnight said:

If our justification depends on or flows from our perseverance in any shape or form, then it may be said to be by works, whether in part or in whole.
I disagree with that. Whom God justifies, He glorifes and this fact ensures our perseverance unto the end.

Bobby:
Did you miss what I said, then? That's what I just said! In the Federal scheme, Christ did and does persevere for salvation . . . which is applied by the Spirit, to the elect.


If I Hadn't went and found that it would still be on the record that Bobby doesn't believe in any kind of perseverance of the saints. But that proved he did, just in a little different way. Both Bobby and Colin believe your faith must have works to be true faith. That is why they could not make an AMEN to that fact.

alvin

February 16, 2009 11:51 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Jim

you said:

Therefore, Alvin, it simply doesn't do to use the term "save" as referring to "going to heaven" alone, when the term is used in the majority of cases in the NT to refer to different aspects of our salvation than merely "going to heaven." It doesn't do to downplay the role of works in our three-dimensional salvation out of fear that some people will automatically assume we are only referring to justification (what I have called 1D salvation on this thread).

Jim that is why I qualified the term "save" because I do know that it is a generic term in the bible.
I said:
I use that term "save" as going to heaven!

I'm NOT downplaying works in what you call our 3D salvation. But Jim the stream in America is poluted with WORKS. Zane did us a GREAT service by seperating the free gift and discipleship. It sounds to me you want to just put it all back together and not worry about it, let it come out in the wash. But that is just what Gary was trying to show that the faith that saves is alone not misplaced in 1D.

alvin

February 16, 2009 12:00 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jim,

thank you for the comment that I have been meaning to write. You have shared my heart in these matters, and I appreciate the timely and considerate response.

Alvin,

You are an amazing man with great knowlege. Such privilege needs to be tempered by the filling of the Spirit and love.

Frankly it doesn't matter a whit if Bobby thinks this or that. Let us deal honestly and faithfully within the marketplace of theological dialogue and ideas. Let us present our passions and convictions positively and lovingly. We ought not to be in the 'gotcha' game. Men and women are able to decide for themselves.

You are an articulate man with eviedent passion. let us hone it to perform the righteousness of God.

Your free Grace friend,

Antonio

February 16, 2009 12:07 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Jim

you said:
The fact that Colin and others have repeatedly attempted to emphasize and defend the importance of works that should accompany salvation (e.g. Eph 2:10) should be embraced for its central importance to the kind of salvation that Jesus invited us to share with him.

I cant even believe you said this. Is "faith alone saves but the faith that saves is not alone" this what YOU believe? That is what they believe. Colin just doesn't believe that works SHOULD be something the believer do. But MUST do, because he is a five-point Calvinist. He believes if your faith does not have works then it's not true (faith James 2).
So Jim this is not a person who simply believes the born again person should be about doing good works but MUST endure to the end to be saved. And I do mean "save" there just as he means it "get to heaven".

alvin

February 16, 2009 12:09 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Jim

you said:
I for one appreciate what people like Colin and Bobby contribute to the discussion, because they recognize the gaping deficiency that FGers (IMO) have yet to fully address, and that is the kind of life that Jesus has invited us to participate in now as members of his Body. It does not do to simply talk about the priority of sanctification as distinct from justification and yet never deal substantively with Jesus' call to a salvation now that is three-dimensional and only begins with our justification.


Someone should have told Paul that the foundation could be overlooked for now and we need to talk about the 3D. Jim if you don't have the first part right your not even on the grounds of grace!

alvin

February 16, 2009 12:16 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Jim

you said:

I read Antonio as wanting to adopt a different tone on these blogs for the sake of unity in the Body and allow the Lord more freedom to enlist us to fight the battle that makes the biggest difference---a battle for the souls of men to enjoy salvation in all its three-dimensional life.

Jim, the foundation has to be clear so you know who the Body is? Or else there is confusion to new believers who think everyone is a big happy family just working on all their 3D salvation problems.

I agree with Antonio, I have lots of passion for clarity of the truth! But you my friend are making a fog in the pews.

alvin

February 16, 2009 12:21 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Jim

This is speaking of ones who believe in "the faith that saves is alone" so were talking about two different groups.

you said:
Antonio: "In taking this extreme course they have sown seeds of discord among the brethren, causing deep rifts between men and women of like mind. Their premature and hostile call to arms has caused grace people, who were heretofore united (yet still having differences in doctrine) to take polar opposite sides and entrench themselves against each other."

The ones I'm debating with believe "faith alone saves but the faith that saves is not alone." BIG DIFFERENCE! Not just a difference of opinion!

alvin

February 16, 2009 12:27 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Jim, this is my last post before I get ready to go to work. I hope you consider what I've said. I believe what I've said is true! And I believe I've said enough to make clear where my heart is. I know I need to work on my passion keeping it toned down. But the truth is right there to me, and most don't see it. So I keep as you say "pounding it" because until you see the difference between what you call 3D if your not clear on the 1D your not even IN the building, the body of Christ. If Antionio thinks my passion is misplaced I'll go other places.

alvin

February 16, 2009 12:35 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Antonio

you said: We ought not to be in the 'gotcha' game. Men and women are able to decide for themselves.

That is DEEPLY ofensive to me! If you think that you've missed my heart completely!
This will be my last post here

February 16, 2009 12:57 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Alvin, I am sorry that you took such great offense to something that I have felt concerning your posts.

You have been weilding a large sword, as you say, but not taking my advice to prayerfully consider anything that you submit as a comment, carefully reading over its contents several time before submitting.

A wise man hears reproof, Alvin.

Your dialogue with Bobby and Colin seems to me that you are trying to use their words to paint pictures about them. This is gotcha! You could have just as easily presented the truth in love, without their statements or fingerpointing at them, to get your message and truth across.

Your messages do not seem tempered with self-control.

The 'gotcha' comment came from a consideration of this quote of yours:

----------
If I Hadn't went and found that it would still be on the record that Bobby doesn't believe in any kind of perseverance of the saints. But that proved he did...
----------

You may do as you wish by ceasing to post here. That is not MY wish. I have considered you a brother and a friend, and I desire your insightful input. I have sung your praises concerning your passion, knowlege and command of the issues, and I am not far removed from you on these doctrines.

This blog will be a place of non-hostile dialogue so that anyone will be comfortable to post here. I wish to provide an environment conducive to discussions without the fear of bullying or quick fleshly reprimands.

You are welcomed on this blog! I am not going to play games.

Remember, love is not easily offended and a wise man welcomes reproof. Also, if we do not speak the truth in love, we are but clanging cymbals.

Take my advice in the loving spirit that it is given (I have emailed you about this on more than one occasion and spoken with you on the phone). You are dear to me and I desire your input here. Please don't remove yourself from the important task of promoting and teaching Free Grace theology.

sincerely,

Antonio

February 16, 2009 1:37 PM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

I agree what I believe matters not a "whit;" as Antonio (lovingly states). But Alvin, you have proven nothing, you continue to make assertion upon assertion without substantiation. You think that you have somehow paralleled my view with Colin's when I have provided ample support and nuance through my many posts (the one's I link to) to the contrary.

I most certainly DO NOT hold to the 5 points --- if anything my view on salvation (historically) would be called Anti-nomian (and on the Luther[an]) side); which comes from what was called (long before Zane and the GES came along) Free Grace theology. You really really need to be careful, Alvin, when you caricature people (paint them in a way that is not accurate --- Antonio doesn't like this, look at his recent post at the UoG on Lou --- and he shouldn't it's just not fair or even "Christian" for that matter).

You asked me if I could affirm Gary's statement on salvation w/o works --- surely, yes! But I am going to "say" it differently, and get at that differently than Gary; that doesn't mean I disagree with it at a fundamental level though.

You are not justified in your approach, Alvin. Ignoring what people are saying; and yelling louder than everyone else (your passion and zeal) is not the way to engage in "fruitful" dialogue.

Let me reiterate one more time (and the fact that Antonio didn't acknowledge this on my behalf --- since he knows where I am coming from is rather disappointing), I do NOT follow the "Federal" scheme of Dordtrechian Westminster salvation (I think it is fundamentally flawed at a Theological Proper level). My view is not in any way reducible to the Calvinist understanding (many of my posts are merely "descriptive" of historical systems of salvation). Just because you all don't "want" to understand where I am coming from does not give you the justification to go ahead and put words in my mouth. Just because you cannot appreciate or even understand (because you haven't taken the time) what my view is does not give you the right to back-fill my thoughts with what you "think" I mean. I think "Agent4Him's" advice is very sound, and indeed reflects a Christian approach. We should leave "smear" campaigns for the politicians.

The difference between Colin and I, and this is clearly noted, is that he does believe in the role of good works as the basis for assurance of salvation (he is completely honest about that); and I do not! I see good works functioning within the sphere of "sanctification," and separate (relative to appropriating salvation anyway) from justification --- in the sense that justification is an "event" and "sanctification" is the process that ensues after we have been justified. I believe it is possible for someone to fall into tragic sin, and even die in that sin (cf. I Cor 11 taking communion in an unworthy manner, Acts 5 Ananias and Sapphira) --- and even because of sin (sin unto death I Jn 5). I do not believe that someone must "persevere" and "repent" and come back to a vibrant walk with Christ in order to end up in heaven (and I hate talking like this, because it is a very negative way to speak and frame theology, which is one of the weaknesses I see with FG --- I digress).

To be honest though, I don't believe the NT speaks in the categories of assurance of salvation --- it's never really that "man-centered." The NT is completely Christ-centered, and it just assumes that people are "justified" (thus the epistles) --- even when they are living in deplorable sin (thus Paul's, Peter's and John's correction). This is one of the ways that I think FG is in error. It has let Calvinism and Arminianism set the questions (e.g. on "assurance" and such); and now is trying to answer questions on those errant terms. FG is constantly in "defense" mode (even when its trying to positively articulate its own perspective); FG uses Calvinism as a foil to articulate its own views, so that FG starts by saying: "this is what Calvinism says on perseverance, and this is how they are wrong." Why can't FG allow itself to be "self-critical" (I think this is what Agent4Him is maturely calling for) --- why can't there really be any dissent within FG?

Anyway, I want Alvin to see this; but I don't really expect to get a fair hearing from him (given the history of our past correspondence), so I am writing this for anyone else reading this thread --- including you, Antonio. You want to be understood (your recent UoG post on Lou), but you aren't going to extend the same hand of "fairness" to me (I can think of a parable on that)? You know (as I've just clarified a bit above, in case you have forgotten) where I am coming from (you know that I'm not a Calvinist, at least); and yet you're going to allow (and almost encourage it by your silence) the extreme polarization of my views to continue with out a word of caution to your passionate friend --- I would not say that this is "above reproach."

I really wasn't going to comment again, but I can see that I am continuing to be misrepresented; so I thought I would speak on my behalf, again. Antonio, if you want to encourage fruitful dialogue versus sectarian; then you need to really set the tone by calling for all your respondents to be careful (and I realize I need to be this way myself, so I am sorrow for my excesses, esp. with Alvin) about how variant views are being handled. Don't allow misrepresentation to stand --- I would not allow that on my blog --- and I expect the same courtesy at your place here! This goes beyond whether or not we agree or disagree; this is indeed in the realm of "being Christian" in our approach.

In Christ,

Bobby G.

February 16, 2009 1:39 PM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Well, talk about timing :-); I posted my comment, and then I read your's right above mine, Antonio.

I thank you for calling for caution, and fairness --- I appreciate that, and I thank you for being a good host (even if we do disagree)!

This "1D" style of dialoguing definitely has its drawbacks (misunderstanding can fester) --- thus is the world of blogosphere.

February 16, 2009 1:44 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Bobby,

The statement of not caring a "whit" about what you believe has the context of being:

whether or not you actually believe as Alvin states, or actually do not, should not be the issue

The issue is one's fair and loving declaration of truth as they see it, leaving the person out of it (unless they are being reprehensible in their declarations).

As for what I believe about you, Bobby: Of course I believe you to be saved and to not hold to Calvinism. Yet I must be honest and tell you that often I cannot follow some of your written thoughts, possibly due to my ignorance and somewhat due to your employment of terms and ideas that are foreign to me (and if to me, quite possibly to others as well). Such confusion is fertile ground for misunderstandings, and so I don't fault Alvin for them, although I desire honorable discussions to be the hallmark of this blog.

Your free grace friend, ally, and brother,

Antonio

February 16, 2009 1:51 PM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Antonio,

thank you for that clarification. I realize that the "way" I talk can be confusing (I try to be as clear as possible, and even try to provide definition on terms that are "technical" in parenthesis). Given this reality, I don't "fault" Alvin for misunderstanding; but I cannot appreciate his approach to jumping to conclusions (without asking for clarification), and then pigeon-holing me as something else --- I realize you have called for him (and all of us) to avoid this approach --- so thank you!

Some of my thought on salvation is still burgeoning (coming to be), but one thing that should be clear is that I believe that simple faith (trust) in Christ alone is how anyone is justified. Now the "order of that salvation" and the "mechanics" of the way I come to that point are going to be different than FG (but just know that I will always be in agreement with you on that salient point).

I'm not completely sure how to speak differently about salvation than I do --- I am what I am --- I read "technical" things (thus learning a certain vocabulary), thus I often speak in "technical" ways. But one word here, FG folks have their own vocab. as well; I would venture to say that many people who are the "uninitiated," relative to FG, might have the same complaint about you, that you are underscoring with me. So what I would like to see more of is a give and take on both sides; so that folks who are FG would spend more time trying to understand competing perspectives on salvation on their own terms (e.g. not assuming positions based on "stereotypes"). Take some time learning theological terminology (with the amount of time that many here spend blogging they could take that time to learn theological vocab --- by the way I am in the process of providing a glossary of theological terms at my site). Technical theological terminology is used for "precision's" sake (I find it strange that everyone is okay with that relative to their medical doctors, or even their own jobs --- that is using "technical" precision language --- but when it comes to theology using "precision language" involves elitism and such).

Anyway, I tangent enough, thanks for the good words, Antonio!

Peace in Christ

February 16, 2009 2:08 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi all,

Sorry I missed commenting for a few days here - I'm away for a few days (again) from my home computer.

I have been quoted here on a number of occasions:

Goodnight said:

If our justification depends on or flows from our perseverance in any shape or form, then it may be said to be by works, whether in part or in whole. I disagee with that.
Whom God justifies, He glorifes and this fact ensures our perseverance unto the end.


I should clarify here - my disagreement is not with the accuracy of what has been said but with the statement itself. IOW I agree that if If our justification depends on or flows from our perseverance in any shape or form, then it may be said to be by works, whether in part or in whole. I disagree with the teaching that we are justified before God by works before or after salvation. Justification is solely 100% by the grace of God, on the sole basis of Christ's blood, received by faith alone and evidenced before men by good works.

Also (again to clarify) while I
see good works having a part to play in assurace, they do not form the main stay by any means.

Unsure as to whether or not this will satisfy Alvin (who seems to have left us all once again) but this is where I stand.

Regards

February 18, 2009 3:31 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Jim (James), :-)

I've been thinking about something that you said (above). I sure appreciate your spirit and your love for the WHOLE truth of salvation that you call 3D. Yes, as Dr. Radmacher use to always emphasize...... justification salvation, sanctification salvation, and glorification salvation.
They're all "salvation."

You said.....
I for one appreciate what people like Colin and Bobby contribute to the discussion, because they recognize the gaping deficiency that FGers (IMO) have yet to fully address, and that is the kind of life that Jesus has invited us to participate in now as members of his Body. It does not do to simply talk about the priority of sanctification as distinct from justification and yet never deal substantively with Jesus' call to a salvation now that is three-dimensional and only begins with our justification.

For me........ I have not seen this deficiency. Everything I read and study from GES and other free grace materials have helped me see clearly the importance of living for Christ as a believer. I've grown more in my Christian life since I've been studying GES materials than ever before in my Christian life. It's because they have helped me see clearly the distinction between justification verses and sanctification verses. This opens up the Bible to me in a way that makes sense, and I can't get enough of it!!! I long to read more and more and more. I love it.
Understanding the scriptures is the KEY to living out the Christian life. If a person isn't crystal clear in the justification aspect of our salvation, then they're not going to understand the sanctification aspect.

When I just recently read Zane Hodges' book, "The Hungry Inherit," this truth was reinforced in me. Jesus started out with the woman at the well with the clear offer of His free gift...... one drink..... believe in Him and she will NEVER thirst again.
Then later he takes those who HAVE believed and disciples them.

For me, I see GES and Zane Hodges doing the same thing. Any book that you read from Zane Hodges just majors on this. "The Six Secrets of the Christian Life," "His commentaries on James and 1,2,3 John," "Gospel Under Siege," "Harmony With God," "The Atonement," etc., etc.
Bob Wilkin's books, too...... "Confidence in Christ" which help with difficult passages, and then his jewell, "Secure and Sure." One of our deacons came up to me and thanked me for sending that book to his son for H.S. graduation. His dad picked it up (deacon) and read it. He told me that it changed his life. He couldn't say enough about it. He was going to order more to give out to other family members. These books are being used by God to change lives. I don't mean to leave anyone out. GES sells many great books by other authors. I noticed that they're selling one of your books. How neat. I don't have it yet, but I plan to get it.

BECAUSE I understand the freeness of His gift....... how to "get saved," the other teaching thrills me. I don't have to worry that I'm not saved based on my life. I understand that if I'm not abiding in the vine (fellowship) that I am missing out big time.
I LOVE learning about the rewards. This clear, precise teaching has changed my life because it gives me a scriptural view of the Bible. I WANT those rewards because I want to experience now and in eternity all that God has for me. God taught it in the Bible, so He must have meant for us to understand it.

Also, GES and other free grace writers are helping teach pastors who in turn will teach their flock. Hopefully they are teaching the whole counsel of God. But they need to be clear on the distinctions, and GES is probably the best place to learn all of that.

I "think" that you will "probably" agree with me on much of what I've said, except I think you feel like GES and free gracers have missed the mark on emphasizing the 3D aspect of our salvation.
I guess I just don't see it that way. For me it's just the opposite. They help me to see it MORE clearly.

GES's ministry does emphasize the free gift from the costliness of discipleship. I think this teaching is extremely necessary today because it's just not made clear in MOST teaching. Where else can you go to be taught so well on what you must do to be saved? I've been discipling ladies from my church (and other churches), and their lives have been changed because of free grace teaching...... especially refined fg teaching because it gets right to the "bulls eye" of what we must believe to have eternal life. These ladies have been liberated!!! They are free to enjoy their salvation. It's amazing how many confused Christians (and non Christians) there are in churches...... even so called grace churches.

Jim, I really do appreciate your thoughts. They make me think. I love your spirit. I love your love for our Savior. I've probably misunderstood some of what you're trying to get across. Maybe I just haven't "got it" yet. But I thought I'd try to explain the way I see free grace theology and the ministry of GES and Zane Hodges. It's AWESOME!!!! It sure has been for me!!!!!

Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to comment. I ALWAYS say too much. Sorry.

Your free grace friend,
Diane
:-)
P.S. Antonio's teaching has also emphasized for me the kind of life that Jesus has invited us to participate in now as members of his Body.
I am very thankful for his teaching also.

February 18, 2009 9:20 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Maybe you’re like me and Gary’s clear comments got you back in the JOTGES book. I was reading for about the fourth time the review of Hixson’s Getting the Gospel Wrong. And maybe you’re like me and when you came to this part it kind of struck you wrong, page 9.

“If Hodges says he considers the preaching of the cross essential, then how on earth can Hixson claim he believes the cross is not relevant?”

You might have asked yourself “how can the preaching of the cross be essential, but yet not essential for eternal life?”
Good question, I’m glad you asked that question (as John Nemelia would say).

Because in my simple mind I had to think that through, and here is what I came up with. And I’m sure Antonio has already covered it but maybe I’ll say it in a little different way that will relate to someone.

We have been given a mandate to preach the cross in season and out of season. And the preaching of the cross brings salvation (2 Tim 4:2; 1 Cor 1:17,18).

But concerning the living water the content has not changed even though the cross is essential part of our saving message. That sounds like a contradiction but it’s not!
Jesus said in John 6:47 “Most assuredly I tell you he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”
That is an adequate proposition, anyone believing Jesus in that statement has everlasting life based solely on Jesus word.
There is nothing in that statement about the cross but yet it is sufficient in it’s self to bring life.
The chances of someone believing Jesus in that statement without any other support of how Jesus is able to do that would be pretty unlikely but possible.

As Diane shared about the little girl simply seeing death and trusting Jesus for life to get her to heaven without any knowledge of the cross.
So it is possible because Jesus in that verse gives life if believed! God's word never comes back void!
So even though the cross is an essential part of the saving message it still does not trump the simple offer of eternal life that Jesus offers in a verse like John 6:47.
To say like Hixson that one must believe the five essentials before they can be saved is to trump a verse like John 6:47 which would make that verse not true, which would clearly contradict Jesus.

(I like Jim’s “trump” word:)

Alvin :) good~night

February 19, 2009 6:55 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

I forgot to mention, anyone reading that verse would know from the context that the One making the offer was Jesus vs.43.

alvin :)

February 19, 2009 7:43 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

Hi Alvin:
Good post.
You say:
"So even though the cross is an essential part of the saving message it still does not trump the simple offer of eternal life that Jesus offers in a verse like John 6:47.
To say like Hixson that one must believe the five essentials before they can be saved is to trump a verse like John 6:47 which would make that verse not true, which would clearly contradict Jesus."
Now I'd like to put it even simpler, if I can.
Hixon and all others like him, who teach any addition to Christ's words are preaching a FALSE gospel, which does not save at all, in fact it keeps one from being saved if they believe it.

Let me be blunter than most here! I believe that most of these men, such as Hixon, Sproul, MacArthur, and in fact most evangelical theologians and preachers are lost. I am not sure whether Antonio and the rest here agree or not. Most posts are pretty “politically correct” and I guess people don’t want to offend others. Maybe they think that these people will somehow gradually come out of their error just by hearing the truth, but I doubt this very much. They all need to be “startled!” All these people who teach any gospel (reception of eternal life) by any means other than what scripture says are preaching an anathema! And, I think, for one, we should shout it as loudly as the Apostle Paul did!
They openly and vehemently reject the “living water.”

Bob W. put it in a footnote I quoted a short time ago: if one believes anything needs to be added then they don’t believe Christ.
There are many problems with such "gospels." As Bob W. so eloquently stated; Hixon just makes up his gospel points.
Next, if ANY other thing must be believed, then how can one KNOW for SURE that they have eternal life? They CANNOT.
If Hixson’s points are NECESSARY, then as Bob W. pointed out, if Hixon missed a point his "gospel" is false. And of course, every other proclaimer of false gospels adds different points which are necessary:

The Church of Christ: Hear; Believe; Repent; Confess; be Baptized; etc.
Almost all Baptist churches: receive Christ as LORD and savior. (Repentance is a BIG point: no repentance no salvation: add repentance to the living water.)

LS people have different points.
Although Calvinists claim that regeneration precedes faith; this in itself does not nullify the gospel. The problem is that most Calvinist’s deny the gospel anyway, and this error is insignificant compared to their rejection of the living water.
Of course, many while listening to such false gospels read or hear the true gospel and believe it and are saved, in spite of their misunderstanding of other things.

Gary

February 19, 2009 12:24 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Gary

Yes you stated it much clearer then I did!
I see a danger and confusion on these blogs when a person can say “yes I believe it’s by faith alone” but then go on to qualify that faith by more then just what they would call “intellectual accent.”
note: I'm not speaking of anyone in paticular.

The faith that saves is in a single proposition, “is Jesus the Christ?” Anyone who believes that single proposition is “born of God” (1 John 5:1a) no matter what anyone thinks.
If someone has believed in Jesus for their eternal wellbeing they have believed in Him as the Christ!!!!

Gary I’m in the same boat as you the “politically incorrect” and I agree 100% that these people need to be “startled” rather then just proceeding full steam ahead.
There is already confusion in the church and on the blogs with unbelevers who think they are born again. The majority of Christians (pupils, learners)do not know what it means to believe that Jesus is the Christ. B. Wilkin would call a Chritian a baptized disciple.
I've heard him say that he knows many who are born again but not water baptized showing a disconnect between new birth and discipleship. This did not happen in the early church.
Also on the other end of the spectrum the churches are filled with disciples (pupils, learners)of Christ who are yet to be born again. Many would be like the ones in John 6:60-66 who had been willing to pay the cost of leaving everything and following Jesus but had not yet believed vs.64. And then there were some (some vs. many)who were believers that stopped following Christ vs.66.

I see the stream as being poluted and what people really now need to hear is "the simplicity of the Christ!"
I believe Zane saw this and that is why he made the clear distinction between the free gift of eternal life being "Absolutely Free" and the high cost of discipleship.

Note: I use the word “save” there the same way Jesus did in John 3:17 which is parallel to eternal life in John 3:16. I do not use the word save there as Jesus did in Mark 16:16 or how Paul used the word save in Romans 10:9 or James in James 2:14. Just for clarity!

Alvin :)

February 19, 2009 10:48 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

I want to clarify!
Gary said:
Let me be blunter than most here! I believe that most of these men, such as Hixon, Sproul, MacArthur, and in fact most evangelical theologians and preachers are lost.

Hi Gary
I would say if these men NEVER believed in the simply saving truth they are not saved. But I did hear that MacArthur did believe the truth at one time. So I do believe ones can believe and have passed from death to life but then go on to believe things that contradict that as Hixson and MacArthur, and myself did. But what they are beliving and teaching NOW could save no one, because they do not believe Jesus simple promise to give life to the one who believes in Him.

alvin :)

February 20, 2009 3:50 PM  

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