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

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Content of Saving Faith and the Current Controversy in Free Grace Theology Pt. 1

As promised, here is installment number one of the transcription of the first of my workshops I gave at the 2009 GES National Conference. There has been some minor editing and formatting. I haven’t been able to locate the outline I gave out for this session. If any of you still have the outline, would you be so kind as to scan it and send it to me?

The Content of Saving Faith and the Current Controversy in Free Grace Theology

As I was mentioning, there are controversies in Free Grace Theology. Unless you were just introduced to Free Grace theology, you probably are aware of some of the controversies, such as:

A) Repentance
B) Assurance, is it of the essence of saving faith?
C) Issues surrounding the ‘Outer Darkness,’ (is this material talking about unfaithful believers or those who are lost)
D) Can believers apostasize?
E) Theory of atonement. Zane Hodges put out an article entitled something like, “Propitiation: Does it Only Work if you Believe.” It is a discussion of an actual versus a potential propitiation.

Today we’re going to be talking about the content of saving faith. And in the process of me talking about this today, I’m going to be splitting it up into two camps.

I want to say at the outset that I have no ill-will towards anyone of an opposing view. I happen to love the people on the other side, I wish them well, and desire to have greater communication with them; but I have fundamental differences with them (as they do with me); and though I can and would fellowship with them, many, if not most do not feel they can fellowship with me, and I do believe that this is a problem.

In the course of this study we are going to talk about two kinds of Free Grace theology. One I call “Consistent Free Grace Theology” and that is the one I believe is espoused by the Grace Evangelical Society, and the other I would term “Traditional” or “Fundamentalist Free Grace Theology” (held by the governing and founding members of the Free Grace Alliance, Dr. Radmacher excepted).

With that, lets begin.

I. Talking about saving faith (here is a brief description of my understanding of what faith is):

A) Faith is a persuasion/conviction that something is true, nothing more nothing less. I think that most of us here are going to agree that faith is persuasion. When I am persuaded that something is true, as a passive result I believe in that. It is no different than mundane, everyday faith. If I say that I believe that my son is going to get an ‘A’ on a report, it is no different than the type of faith that saving faith is.

B) Faith precludes doubt. If someone has doubts in a proposition, he cannot be said to be having faith at that same time. Conversely, if he has faith in something, he does not have any doubts whatsoever in that issue.

C) There can be degrees of doubt but not degrees of faith. One can be strongly disposed toward a proposition, or be leaning towards it. But if a person is not convinced that something is true, this person does not believe it.

We are going to talk about salvation by faith alone. Most people in Free Grace theology believe that salvation is by faith alone.


A. Fundamentalist Free Grace Theology (The theology espoused by the Free Grace Alliance)

1. Their understanding of saving faith is complex, it is a compound procedure, having multiple objects of faith.

They are not talking simply believing in Jesus, relying or trusting in Him. They are requiring that a man jump through consecutive hoops in order to get to the purpose of the faith, and that is receiving everlasting life.

So there are a series of hoops, in essence, that you have to jump through in order to get there. There are some 4, 5, or 6 propositions or more that need to be believed in order for salvation. We need to note here that where they get these propositions from, where they get these hoops from, where they get these steps of believing, that you have to believe this, and then this, and then this, and then this, and at the end there, after you have been able to believe all of that, you can now believe in Jesus for everlasting life; where they get that from is from a synthesis of aribtrary passage selection.

A person that I know who has written a book recently (from a fundamentalist FG persuasion) has stated that he got his position on saving faith through bible synthesis; but the thing that we need to know is, is that this person nor any other person who has a checklist for salvation has apprised us of the objective hermeneutical process by which they regard one truth essential to be believed for eternal life and another to be non-essential. And that is an important thing, because when you think about it, one person’s subjective criterion for finding what truth must be believed for eternal life is going to be different than somebody elses. They are going to be reading the bible differently than me, and when we find it through a synthesis we are going to find that we are going to get into some problems, which I will be talking about later.


2. Fundamentalist Free Grace theology’s understanding of the content of saving faith creates a slippery slope.

A ‘slippery slope’ fallacy consists of minor actions that can cause a significant impact through a long chain of logical relationships. How much does one need to understand about each component in the content of saving faith checklists provided by traditionalist Free Grace theology? For instance, one of the components of Fundamentalist Free Grace is that you have to believe in the deity of Christ. How much must I believe about the deity of Christ? (One Traditional Free Grace theologian says that I need to believe that “Jesus is God, equal to the Father.” Another one says that I need to believe that “Jesus is merely in some sense transcendent, in some sense something more than a mere human.” Now which one is right? They both can’t be presenting the same gospel if one requires this content here, and one requires another content there. They cannot be.)

Each component in the fundamentalist’s checklist for the content of saving faith has many descending levels of meaning. For instance, if we are talking about that “you must believe in the ‘substitionary atonement,’” well, what do I need to believe about the substitionary atonement? And which position on it do I need to believe in? And once you figure that out, there are descending levels of meaning about ‘propitiation’ and ‘atonement’ and stuff like that. How much do I need to know?

And then, who is the arbiter of this? In each one of the components in the traditionalist’s checklists, an evangelist is coming out and giving you a certain level that you must understand, each one saying something different; but he then becomes the arbiter, he then becomes the authority, and we don’t have a pronouncement of the Lord Jesus. We have a pronouncement on the authority of the evangelist himself.
--------------------

And here I will stop today.

The main point of this section deals with the fact that the theology of the Free Grace Alliance necessitates a multiple object list as the content of saving faith. Accordingly, Jesus Christ cannot simply be trusted in for eternal life. The respondents need to first be pre-qualified by, in essence, confessing a creed of the evangelists subjective choosing.

Furthermore, each credal point has many levels of meaning that will require some form of astute theological awareness. How much awareness, too, is based upon the subjective hermeneutical criterion and ultimately the authority of the evangelist himself, and not the Lord Jesus Christ.

41 Comments:

Blogger Diane said...

YEA~!!! Antonio's back~!!! Can't wait to read this.
Just wanted to say that I'm so glad you're back.

Diane
:-)

November 04, 2010 7:54 PM  
Blogger Alvin said...

Hi Antonio, just some thoughts:)

Then Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe." (John 4:48)

That was what the signs were for that people may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31).

The eighth sign the death burial and resurrection was different than the other seven signs in the sense that it was the capstone of salvation in the sense that it not only was a sign so one may have life in Jesus name, but was the way of salvation promised (Jews and Gentiles in One New Man, promised blessings to Gentiles Gen 12:3; Gal 3:14). It was the only way one could be saved from the power of sin in their daily lives, by dying with Christ, buried with Christ and then risen in newness of life to live unto God (Rom 5:10;6:3-6; Gal 2:20).

But this is really mixing spiritual apples and oranages, the Gospel of John proves that to have ALL these things happened BEFORE the cross at the moment one simply believes Jesus promise of everlasting life. Those ones simply had to WAIT for the rest of the promises after Jesus was glorified (John 7:37-39; Gal 3:16; Acts 2:1-4).

Antonio, as you have clearly pointed out the difference between a simple childlike faith children can understand and be saved, and a complex faith that uselly takes years to grasp. I still have a hard time explaining the Trinity, and putting it in simple enough terms for a child to understand.

God knew this, and kept Himself as the object of saving faith rather then His works one must believe in Him for His gift of life, and therefore the life is in His name:)

alvin:)

November 06, 2010 8:49 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Hi Antonio,

I see that you have a link to Chafer Theological Seminary on your blog, and I was wondering if I may link to an article that the current president of that institution wrote on the content of saving faith? The article is titled "The Gospel Paul Preached: A Church Age Model of Evangelistic Content" by George Meisinger.

JP

November 07, 2010 9:15 PM  
Blogger Alvin said...

Kind of reminds me of Calvinism, if your the elect the Holy Spirit will work it all out.

alvin

November 08, 2010 4:15 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Thanks guys,

and sure, Jonathan. If a view can't be tested against other views it must be weak indeed.

Thanks for dropping by.

November 08, 2010 5:25 PM  
Blogger goe said...

Meisinger seems to essentially be saying this, as stated in his conclusion:

"There is only one gospel, but it has multiple facets. Faith in any facet of the gospel results in all 33 Things of the Salvation Package of which eternal life is only one."

As he explains here:

"We do not argue here that preaching the gospel as Paul and other apostles did, and believing it as the Corinthians did, is the ONLY way to preach and believe for eternal salvation. Paul does not say that. Neither does John say that his way is the only way, or best way, to preach and believe the gospel, other ways being inferior. Both presentations of the gospel are saving gospel messages, whether it is believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, resulting in eternal life, or believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was resurrected resulting in everlasting forgiveness. Some are drawn to John's approach when witnessing, others to Paul's gospel priorities. Still others utilize both approaches depending on to whom they are witness. Whether John's or Paul's gospel content, it has the full authority of divine revelation behind it as well as the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit"

He objects to the GES position that one must believe in Jesus FOR eternal life:

"Those embracing theological eisegesis react at the notion one may believe in Jesus Christ--in His death and resurrection--resulting in eternal forgiveness and life. Why?--because their methodology compels them to add to Paul's priority gospel content the imported notion of faith in Christ for eternal life, thus superimposing John on Paul."

However, he seems to not only contradict himself, but unwittingly concede that very point when he agrees with this statement by Kevin Butcher:

"The following quotation is on target, especially in the way it points to one's "personal trust in the significance of" the priority facts of the gospel message:

'Certainly the Gospel consists of a set of facts and it is crucial that any presentation of the Gospel relate the correct facts (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-4). However, the concern of the Free Grace Gospel is not to ask for simple historical affirmation, but to call the individual to PERSONAL TRUST IN THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THESE FACTS FOR HIMSELF. The moment the unbeliever recognizes his own sinfulness and believes that Christ alone has provided complete forgiveness through His death—in other words, at the moment of personal trust in Christ alone FOR salvation—that person is justified and receives the gift of eternal life.' " Kevin Butcher--Spring 1989 JOTGES (Emphasis mine)

But what is "personal trust in the SIGNIFICANCE of these facts for himself" and "personal trust in Christ FOR salvation"? Is this not what the GES (and the Apostle Paul) mean when they speak of "believing in Jesus FOR eternal life"?

Isn't Meisinger here essentially advocating the very thing that he criticizes the GES of doing--i.e., "add(ing) to Paul's priority gospel content the imported notion of faith in Christ for eternal life, thus superimposing John on Paul"?

November 08, 2010 6:27 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Dear Friends,

I appreciate reading what others have to say on this subject. I agree with what Antonio said regarding testing views against other views. Unless we do that we will come up short on our understanding of scripture. If we only hear one side of the evidence we will be prone to accept that side because it's all we have. In court ALL the evidence is laid out. Only then can the jury come up with a just verdict. So I appreciate hearing the viewpoint from others on this subject of what must be believed to have everlasting life.

Like Gary, I also think that Dr. Meisinger is agreeing with GES because he quotes Kevin Butcher as being right here....
"...at the moment of personal trust in Christ alone FOR salvation—that person is justified and receives the gift of eternal life."*

AMEN~!!!

I appreciate these men and don't know where the disagreement with GES lies when it comes to what must be believed to be born again.
They both agree that trusting in Christ alone FOR salvation SAVES~!!!
:-)

Thanks for making me think AGAIN. It's very rewarding~!!!

A friend because of Jesus,
Diane
:-)

November 08, 2010 8:41 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin,

I appreciated what you had to say here. It helps me to remember that the death and resurrection of Christ not only saved us from the penalty of sin, but the power of sin. Thanks for reminding me of that.

You said...

"It was the only way one could be saved from the POWER of sin in their DAILY LIVES, by dying with Christ, buried with Christ and then risen in newness of life to live unto God (Rom 5:10;6:3-6; Gal 2:20)".

Then what you said here was very helpful also....

"Those ones simply had to WAIT for the rest of the promises after Jesus was glorified (John 7:37-39; Gal 3:16; Acts 2:1-4).

Good discussion.

Thanks.

Diane
:-)

November 09, 2010 7:03 AM  
Blogger Steve Dehner said...

Hi Antonio,
You really get to the crux of the matter by asking for a hermeneutical methodology that will cull the relevant truths from Scripture and set others aside. Until we understand what this hermeneutic is, and test its validity, the whole exercise is suspect.

Thank you for bringing clarity to the subject!

steve

November 09, 2010 8:13 AM  
Blogger Alvin said...

More thoughts:)

John in his Revelation is putting forth the call to the unbeliever to come and take of the water of life freely. This call is being given by the Spirit and Jesus bride the Church to the unbeliever.
The content has not changed it's Jesus and His gift of eternal life to the one who believes.
It's about the giving and receiving of a gift.
Just like the woman at the well the unbeliever is invited to come and drink the living water, one drink and they will never thirst.
The eighth sign "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Is the sign that reveals Jesus as the Christ who is the resurrection and the life.

John tells us in his epistle that the one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.
The only way an unbeliever can know they have everlasting life is by drinking the living water. Because the only way they can drink it is by knowing the two conditions Jesus gave to the woman at the well. 1) If you knew the gift of God which is explained in verses 13 and 14 once drank springs up into everlasting life.

2) And who it is who said to you give Me a drink. Knowing those two requirements was to have ALREADY drank and have everlasting life.
When Jesus told the woman at the well that He was the Christ He had given her the living water for to believe in Him as the Christ was to be born of God.

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."


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.

If you hear it's because you already know you have the gift so your able to tell others to come and take freely of the living water:)

alvin:)

(verses pertaining Revelation 22:17; John 4:10,13-14,25-26; 1:19; 11:25-27; 1 John 5:1a; John 20:31 cf 1 Cor 15:1-3; 1 Cor 9:23-27; Phil 1:19,27-29; 2:12 hold fast partaker gospel)

November 09, 2010 8:52 PM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 10, 2010 8:09 AM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

(Part 1)

I have spent a lot of time reading and thinking about Dr. Meisinger's article.

I have some major problems with his paper. I think 1 Cor 15 is a "problem passage." I think there are several ways of understanding it, and some are more fraught with problems than others. I think Zane is bit unclear in Gospel Under Seige. Zane covers the perseverance problem in his book. He seems to imply that it is talking about justification salvation, although in the book he is in the section stressing that perseverance is not a condition for justification salvation. He does not really exegete the passage. I do not think the word "saved" is talking about justification salvation. Zane did not teach in Gospel under seige, and don't think he ever did teach, that you had to BELIEVE IN the resurrection as part of the OBJECT of faith. You believe IN CHRIST who rose from the grave, and if Christ did not raise, then your faith is in vain. I think that was his point in Gospel Under Seige.

Notice that in verse one Paul is preaching the facts about Jesus death, burial and resurrection to them AGAIN. There must be a reason for this. He says "which I preached to you." I think that just like we give different content to people we witness to, I think the Corinthians had some sort of hangup about all or some of these 9 issues. In other words, the content he gave to the Corinthians somewhere in his first contact evangelistic sermons he stressed all these points as priority. He did not stress ONLY the death and resurrection. I could be wrong, but I don't think he gave this exact same manuscript or "Powerpoint" in every Church he preached at. The text does not imply that. That will be a good question for Paul when we see him. He says this was the priority he preached to THEM, not what he preached to EVERYONE EVERYWHERE. I am sure Paul spent significant time stressing many aspects of the Person and Work of Christ with people who had no idea of who Christ was, the same as we should, but I think the Holy Spirit led him to stress different things.

One way I have come up with to explain what Paul is doing in 1 Cor 15 is to make the analogy that Paul lays out the 9 "Powerpoint" slides about the Person and work of Christ and the appearances he gave them the first time he was there. (see the Hydra article for the 9 points). Just like we have different slides we give in a lesson, depending upon the audience, I think Paul probably had different presentation points for various churches depending upon their need. I think he preached about the Person and work of Christ (i.e. the Gospel facts) to everyone, but for some reason the Corinthians had some sort of hangup about these points. Those 9 points were what got this audience to the "tipping point" where they believed in Jesus FOR everlasting life (i.e. the message from John that Paul most likely used) the first time. He was saying, remember the 9 slides I gave you? Here they are again! Maybe he used these same 9 points everywhere. I don't know. I just think there is a reason why he is reiterating these points with the Corinthians. I don't think Paul used a one-size-fits all evangelistic outline. I think the Holy Spirit leads in different ways with different audiences. I think this is backed up by the different way Jesus evangelized, evangelism in Acts, and I think we should do the same thing.

November 10, 2010 8:10 AM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

I have spent a lot of time reading and thinking about Dr. Meisinger's article.

I tried to post it here but is is 34000 bytes so it is too long.

Here it is

http://colsem.palcs.org/~dreiher/meisinger04.pdf

- Don Reiher

November 10, 2010 8:34 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Don,
I just read your article at the link you gave, and it brought tears of joy~!!! That's one of the best explanations I've heard yet on 1 Cor. 15. I appreciate more than you know what you shared here~!!! I hope everyone will read what you said even if it's not the finished product, and even though you wrote it at 4:00am.
:-)

PLEASE EVERYONE, READ IT~!!!

http://colsem.palcs.org/~dreiher/meisinger04.pdf
*

Part of that paper is what Don has already posted here, but he goes on and adds much more that is eye opening~!!!

Also, I wanted to say that I love these men of God who are studying these issues and sharing their insights with other Christians who see things differently. That's what these journal articles and conferences are all about....... sharing what others have seen in the Word of God and then encouraging each other to study it and see if what has been said fits the biblical data.

Thanks to Dr. Meisinger for sharing his insights into the Word of God. My heart's desire is that we come together to consider what God has said in His Word. We can learn from each other. We can even disagree and be friends while we're in the process of our study.

Isn't it glorious that Jesus Christ died a terrible death on a cross for each one of us, and gave us LIFE eternal when we simply believed in Him for it. All who have believed are brothers and sisters in Christ. We're in the FAMILY of God. And I'm thankful to be in that family with all of you.

May Jesus Christ alone receive all the glory~!!!

All because of His wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)

November 10, 2010 4:11 PM  
Blogger Celestial Fundy said...

Its good to read your posts again.

November 11, 2010 11:27 AM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

I have gotten a few comments from some folks about my paper and journal article.

A few folks are saying that they confronted Zane about his new reductionistic "bare minimum" saving message in "How to lead people to Christ." They say that instead of Zane clarifying things, such as I did, he simply told them to read his paper, and that he meant exactly what he said. In other words, these folks, who knew Zane personally, much better than I did, are saying that I am putting words in Zane's mouth.

My question is, which is more authoritative? The words Zane said in his actual paper which he wrote in typical GES fashion "to get you to think?" Is Zane's view more accurately represented in his comments and embellishments he made while reading the paper? Or, is Zane's view more accurately represented by answers he gave during Q&A times, or even in other messages and other Q&A times at other conferences. I have always assumed that Zane made bold statements in his written papers to put the idea on the table, to get us to think. I also think these ideas were usually about what the Bible did NOT say, and not to authoritatively mandate new theology. I also assumed that he was responding to audience feedback during his reading of the second paper, and during the Q&A times to actually clarify his main point in the papers.

What do you think?

- Don

November 28, 2010 10:24 PM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

This does not really have to do with the content of saving faith, but it does have to do with free-grace hermeneutics.

I posted another video on Youtube. . . Dr. Radmacher at FGA2008 NW. He spoke on Reformed Lordship and Calvinism and these teachings distort the meaning of Scripture.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0bPWnDfguo&feature=&p=136068457C3AE761&index=0&playnext=1

Let me know what you think.

- Don Reiher

November 30, 2010 8:10 AM  
Blogger Alvin said...

Thank you Don . . . Dr. R was powerful~!

November 30, 2010 7:50 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Don,

My personal feelings to your first question is that the people who are questioning you do not want to believe what Zane Hodges was teaching. I suspect that the reason Zane told them to read his paper, and that he meant exactly what he wrote was because he wasn't going to continue arguing with them. I think he knew where they were coming from.

I am not judging anyone's motives. That's between them and God. I'm just making an observation. I'm just a simple minded person who was greatly helped by the teachings of Zane Hodges. I "get" what he was saying, and it only makes His gift of eternal life that much more precious. He gave it freely with no strings attached. Believe in Him for it and you have it. That's what Zane was saying~!!!

Those who don't want to accept that will never "get it." They don't want to, and I suspect that Zane knew that.

November 30, 2010 11:13 PM  
Blogger Alvin said...

Hopefully Jody Dillow will watch that video. In his message in the GES 2008 Conference he was promoting R.T. France's commentary on Matthew. R.T. France was on the committee that produced the NIV Bible. Dillow was also promoting Shedd's Calvinistic false teaching concerning "Imputation of Christ's obedience" quote: This part of Christ's agency is necessary, because merely to atone for past tansgression would not be a complete salvation.

Of course the Calvinist do not believe that Jesus was the Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world like John the baptist said in John 1:29.

alvin:)

December 01, 2010 1:36 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

Thanks Antonio for the article you posted. It has generated some good discussion. Thanks also, Don, for the link to what you wrote about 1 Cor 15. Amen to both. I hope in the end all of this discussion will translate into us more clearly sharing the message of eternal life with unsaved people and helping saved people to understand God's word better.
Ken

December 01, 2010 6:02 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Friends,

AMEN to Ken's statement...

"I hope in the end all of this discussion will translate into us more clearly sharing the message of eternal life with UNSAVED people and helping SAVED people to understand God's word better."

That's what it's all about~!!!

With a grateful heart,
Diane
:-)
P.S. If I sounded unkind to those who differ with Zane, I didn't mean to be. I'll let God judge the hearts of His people. Just meant it as an observation.

December 01, 2010 6:43 AM  
Blogger goe said...

While it's not exactly relevant to the subject of this post, I thought the readers of this blog would be interested to read an excerpt from the commentary on Romans that Zane Hodges was working on before he went to be with the Lord in November of 2008. The commentary will hopefully be published in April 2011. This particular excerpt is from his comments on Rom. 3:26.

Thank you Jesus that this great teacher has left the Church yet another exegetical treasure showing us from Your word that the gift of everlasting life is, indeed, ABSOLUTELY FREE!

December 01, 2010 5:51 PM  
Blogger goe said...

Throughout the centuries of Christian history, thinkers of every persuasion have wrestled with Paul’s basic ideas. [An excellent, up-to-date treatment of this long-running discussion is available now in Stephen Westerholm’s Perspectives Old and New on Paul (Eerdmans, 2004).]  But at bottom, Paul believed two very basic things. These were: (1) God, apart from man’s works, justifies the one who believes in Jesus; and (2) the cross is the basis for this justification and shows it to be a fully righteous act.

Here it is important to say that for Paul these are absolute realities totally independent of anything man does before or after faith. There is no basis whatsoever in Paul’s letters to connect human works with justification by faith no matter when these works are performed. Whether done before or after conversion, they remain works (i.e., erga = ”deeds” or “actions”). The distinction drawn by some writers between “works done to attain favor with God” and “works done out of faith or gratitude” is non-existent in the Pauline material. This alleged distinction is a theological fiction.

For Paul, “good works,” whether done under or apart from the Mosaic Law, cannot contribute to our justification. To say that somehow they do contribute would really amount to a denial of the simple fact that God justifies the person who has faith in Jesus. In that case God would be justifying only the person who has faith plus works, not a person who just has faith!  No matter how this idea is articulated, it contradicts Paul’s fundamental idea that justification is “apart from works” (v 28; see 4:6!). Furthermore, to say that “our (post-conversion) works” somehow vindicate God’s justification is a denial of the adequacy of the cross for that purpose! The famous statement that “we are saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone” is a Reformation idea, not a Pauline one. This idea can be found nowhere in Paul.

December 01, 2010 5:55 PM  
Blogger goe said...

To be greatly lamented is the sad fact that, although Reformation soteriology denies good works entrance through the front door, good works are often reintroduced through the back door! The resultant theology is hard to distinguish, except semantically, from Roman Catholic theology. The synergism of faith and works in salvation is differently expressed in Protestant and Catholic theology, but its fundamental character is essentially the same: namely, there is no true justification without good works. Paul knows nothing of this.

Of course, theologians have spilled a tremendous amount of ink trying to show that works have some fundamental role in Pauline soteriology. But in Paul’s writings works do not have any connection whatsoever with the truth of justification. For Paul grace and works are opposites. He will later say in this very epistle: “But if it is by grace, it is no longer by works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is by works, it is no longer grace, otherwise work is no longer work” (Rom 11:6). This is perfectly plain, and theologians have wasted their time trying to qualify, revise, or reinterpret Paul’s lucid concept.  According to Paul, when you mix faith and works, you change the basic nature of both!

December 01, 2010 5:56 PM  
Blogger Peggie said...

Now, this is great Bible Teaching!
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and Zane's and I also
listened to Dr R.
I was blessed this morning reading
all of your comments and feel like
I was in a Bible Study Group with
you all!

December 02, 2010 7:13 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Peggy,

I always enjoy your comments. Hope you're doing well since your husband's home-going.
Praying for you right now dear friend.

Diane
:-)

December 02, 2010 9:44 AM  
Blogger Peggie said...

Thank you, Diane. I appreciate
your prayers.

December 02, 2010 12:08 PM  
Blogger Alvin said...

Powerful words Gary~!!!! Amen brother!!!!
I was able to explain the difference last night to a young man I work with. He said for the first time he had understood the difference between . . .his words "the gift, faith, works." I showed him from my Bible while others were overhearing.Ha!Ha! I asked Haze . . . my nickname for him . . . if you died right now where would you go? He said "Heaven~!" I asked why? He said because eternal life was a gift, and he had believed.
Praise the Lord!!!!! One plants, one waters but it's God who gives the increase~!
Verses I used: John 3:16-18,36; 1:29; 4:10,13,14;5:24;6:28,29,35; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 14:25-33; Romans 4:1-5; Rev 20:11-15; 22:17; 1 Cor 3:11-15.
This man was raised up in the church but just always thought that works was just part of the equasion to getting to heaven. I also explained to him it was the gift that was eternal not our faith Romans 11:29.
Haze had passed from death into life:)

Off ta work I go:)

alvin:)

December 02, 2010 3:55 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin, you're such a wonderful example to me of a "clear" witness for Jesus Christ. I would love to be more bold like you. Praise God for Haze~!!! Stories like that make my day~!!!

Diane
:-)

December 02, 2010 6:47 PM  
Blogger Alvin said...

Dis-cum-boob-elated people . . . ha!ha!
I love Dr. R. talk on the saved being saved:) Dr.R was in Portland Oregon when my Dad was preaching in the parks there (1950s). I was born in Portland, and my earliest memories is of being in the park while my Dad preached.
My Mom died at the foot of my bed there, and left two little boys. One grew up to be a five-point Calvinist preacher to this day.
I remember my brother telling my Dad that Calvinism was the gospel, to which my Dad strongly disagreed.

God worked it out that I was the one to preach his funeral, and proclaim the TRUE gospel . . . . Praise the Lord~! I know it had to bring a smile to my Dad in heaven . . ha!ha!
Satan lost that day~!!!!!

alvin:)

December 04, 2010 2:09 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin, you always bless me~!!!

Friends, here's the link to a song Alvin just sent me. It was a great way to start out the day~!!!

http://www.youtube.com:80/watch?v=ZvjJ9TYA8cE

Wanted to bless you, too.

Diane
:-)

December 04, 2010 8:23 AM  
Blogger Brian Hyde said...

Forgive me, but as a new convert to Christ am I missing something fundamental here? Lordship Salvationists, for example, set up all sorts of preconditions for salvation. Are we not in danger of doing the same? It's a bit like deciding what a person must believe before we agree to fellowship with him, or her, as the case may be. Who decides and on what conditions? Surely, how I come to accept the objective gospel is a personal subjective experience and it is immaterial how each one individual comes to trust/believe in the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life so long as trust/belief is present.

July 01, 2011 1:38 AM  
Blogger Brian Hyde said...

Forgive me, but as a new convert to Christ am I missing something fundamental here? Lordship Salvationists, for example, set up all sorts of preconditions for salvation. Are we not in danger of doing the same? It's a bit like deciding what a person must believe before we agree to fellowship with him, or her, as the case may be. Who decides and on what conditions? Surely, how I come to accept the objective gospel is a personal subjective experience and it is immaterial how each one individual comes to trust/believe in the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life so long as trust/belief is present.

July 01, 2011 1:39 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Brian,

Welcome to the family of God. Glad to hear that you are a new convert to Christ. AWESOME~!!!

Our fellowship truly is with All believers in Jesus Christ. When I meet another believer who shares that his/her faith is in Jesus Christ ALONE for everlasting life there is instant fellowship~!!! I want people to have the joy of KNOWING that they are going to be with Jesus forever someday, so I listen to what they "say." The only way I can truly be sure that I'm fellowshiping with another believer is by his/her words. If he can share with me the truth that his faith is in Jesus Christ alone for eternal salvation, then there is sweet fellowship. That person is my brother or sister in Christ. But if he gives any indication that he is not resting in Jesus ALONE for His permanent gift of eternal life, then there's not that bond that draws us together. I will love him/her anyway and pray for an opportunity to share the truth of Jesus Christ with him, but having true fellowship is not possible because he doesn't yet know Christ as far as I can tell by his own words.

If I have misunderstood your point please let me know. Thank you for giving me the privilege of reading your comment here at Antonio's blog. Antonio has been a big help to me in understanding a lot of the truths about free grace theology.

Nice to meet you, Brian.

All because of His wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)

July 01, 2011 10:39 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Brian,

Thanks for stopping by. Your comments are welcomed and appreciated.

Antonio

July 14, 2011 11:18 AM  
Blogger Brian Hyde said...

Thanks for your welcome Diane and Antonio. Am enjoying the thread.
Blessings
Brian

July 14, 2011 2:30 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Brian,

for a "new convert to Christ" you sure are theologically astute. Tell me, be as brief or verbose as you wish, how you came to faith and what you are doing with yourself now. How did you come to the position concerning this controversy that you have?

Thanks in advance, and please peruse the archives, as the table of contents is severely dated, not containing a half (probably) of what articles are on this blog.

grace and peace to you brother!

Antonio

July 14, 2011 2:56 PM  
Blogger Brian Hyde said...

Diane I love your sweet spirit and the truth of your message found resonance in my heart so that I could say Amen!

Antonio, just for the record because I may have caused some confusion. When I said I am a new convert to free grace I meant a convert from legalism to the doctrine of free grace. Now that's also awesome -- a bit like seeing a Jew convert to the Christianity. I was a Seventh-day Adventist for 33 years. 2 Corinthians 3:15-16 was fulfilled in my case. I just LOVE free grace theology because it is glorifies the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Of course I am now under attack not just from SDAs but from those who would like to add to the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone and present all kinds of preconditions for salvation --conditions which have their source in the thought that somehow we must contribute!! And my remarks about Lordship salvation had that in mind. I have seen n my own self the desire to commend myself to God through prayer, Bible study, preaching the truth, witnessing etc etc. While all these things have their rightful place, nothing simply nothing can add to the salvation that is mine in Christ Jesus and which was wrought when I was not even around. Do not get me wrong-- nobody I am aware of is suggesting that we add to free grace, on this thread, but there is always a danger we can go down that road. I think that when we do set up even the subtlest of conditions for accetance with God then we show a serious lack of understanding of God's amazing love as expressed by the gift of salvation. So no, no accusation here just airing my views while I am on a high. But I am rambling all over the place here. I read a devotion this morning that encapsulates what I wanna say so if you will allow me I owuld like to reproduce it here and shut up.

"If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it." {Ex 20:25}

God’s altar was to be built of unhewn stones, that no trace of human skill or labour might be seen upon it. Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature; instead, however, of improving the gospel carnal wisdom pollutes it, until it becomes another gospel, and not the truth of God at all. All alterations and amendments of the Lord’s own Word are defilements and pollutions. The proud heart of man is very anxious to have a hand in the justification of the soul before God; preparations for Christ are dreamed of, humblings and repentings are trusted in, good works are cried up, natural ability is much vaunted, and by all means the attempt is made to lift up human tools upon the divine altar. It were well if sinners would remember that so far from perfecting the Saviour’s work, their carnal confidences only pollute and dishonour it. The Lord alone must be exalted in the work of atonement, and not a single mark of man’s chisel or hammer will be endured. There is an inherent blasphemy in seeking to add to what Christ Jesus in his dying moments declared to be finished, or to improve that in which the Lord Jehovah finds perfect satisfaction. Trembling sinner, away with thy tools, and fall upon thy knees in humble supplication; and accept the Lord Jesus to be the altar of thine atonement, and rest in him alone.
Charles H. Spurgeon

Blessings
Brian

July 14, 2011 3:32 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Brian, thanks for the info about your current situation.

Dude, that quote from Spurgeon is simply awesome! I love it! He had so many truthful and encapsulating statements throughout his career.

You should start a blog! Chronicle your journey from where you were through where you are to where God is taking you! I would love to participate on it and link to it from here.

In the meantime, I am going to post this quote of yours on my other blog, Unashamed of Grace, because it needs to be seen by a great number of people.

Thanks so much for sharing and please feel welcomed here!!!!

your fg brother,

Antonio

July 14, 2011 3:55 PM  
Blogger Brian Hyde said...

Antonio

Thanks bro for the offer to share my testimony. I will work on something brief But if you wish to see my testimony in full take a peep at my website Way Ministry where I published my testimony online. One Man's Journey Out of Seventh-day Adventistm is the title. For quick access: keywords Brian Hyde Way Ministry


Hey, the gospel is great!

Blessings to all
Brian

July 14, 2011 4:56 PM  

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