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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Zane Hodges Comments on the Practice of Requiring the Doctrinal Assent to Christ's Deity as a Condition of Eternal Life

The following email transcription contains a reply from Zane Hodges to my request that he comment on the whole idea of Free Grace people (let alone other brands of theology) requiring the lost to believe in the deity of Christ before they can be saved. His answer is as sharp today as it was 4+ years ago when he gave it.

Note: I have included the scriptures to the references he makes in his comment. Also, I added some italics and bold for emphasis, but the uppercase emphasis is all his.

Before we get to the post, I want to issue a challenge:

To any who is convinced that God requires the lost to assent to the deity of Christ as a condition to receive everlasting life:

Please forward to me your scriptural apologetic arguing from the text of the Bible, or send me a link to something or the reference of a book that that makes the case for you. I will post whatever you give me (1 per person) and we will examine it together and see if the evidence fits your conclusion. You can find my email address on my blogger profile.


Email Correspondence of Antonio da Rosa with Zane C. Hodges


-----Original Message-----
From: Antonio da Rosa
Sent: Sep 30, 2007 7:49 PM
To: Zane Hodges
Subject: Believing that Jesus is the Christ

Dear Zane, I pray that all is going well with you. You are constantly in my prayers for your strength, endurance, health, and wisdom for interpretation and writing.

In your two part talk and paper at the Grace Evangelical Society, How to Lead People to Christ (Part 1 and Part 2), you illustrated the tenet that God only requires faith in Jesus for eternal life; there are no doctrinal stipulations and pre-qualifications to simply receiving the free gift of God through faith in Christ.

As much as you would care, would you comment, please, on those who seek to front-load the saving message with their “God-mandated” requirement that one assent to the divinity of Christ?

BTW, please pray for me as I am leaving October 10 for India. I will be doing evangelism for 5 days and having a conference with 100 Indian pastors, whereby I am going to give them a crash course on Free Grace theology.

I am praying for you!

Antonio



From: Zane Hodges
Sent: Oct 2, 2007 10:28 AM
To: Antonio da Rosa
Subject: Re: Believing that Jesus is the Christ

Hi Antonio,

People who speak about believing in the "divinity" of Christ to be saved rarely seem to define what they mean by that. Must one have a Trinitarian theology to be saved (=Jesus is the second Person of the Godhead)?

Did the disciples themselves understand His deity? Note John 14:5-9; Matt. 8:27, etc.?

[Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?” (Jn 14:5-9)]

[So the men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" (Mt 8:27)]


The fundamental error here, however, is the assumption that one must know everything about a person to be able to believe who He is. That is illogical and wrong. Do I have to understand the President's powers, or his personality, to believe he is the President and trust Him for something?

Of course, the promised Messiah WAS divine, but He was also the King of Israel (note John 1:49).

Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (Jn 1:49)]



There was no such person as a Messiah who was not Israel's King. Must one believe that, too? In fact it can be argued that in Nathaniel's statement, "Son of God" is defined AS "King of Israel." The Messianic sonship was the sonship promised to David's kingly descendants in 2 Samuel 7:14

[I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. (2 Sam 7:14)]



…it is the sonship the writer of Hebrews has in mind in Hebrews 1:5

[For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, today I have begotten You"? And again: “"I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son"? (Heb 1:5)]



…which cites 2 Samuel. Psalm 2:7


[I will declare the decree: the Lord has said to Me, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” (Ps 2:7)]



…shows that THIS sonship was not eternal. If a person does not believe all this, he even misunderstands the title "Son of God" in its Messianic sense. Is he saved???

The illogical beginning assumption leads inevitably into a logical quagmire and produces absurd conclusions. There is so much sloppy thinking out there it is appalling. Some people seem to believe in salvation by correct theology rather than salvation by faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26).

[[God is] the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom 3:26)]


A tragic error!

But the simple fact remains that no one has ever believed in Jesus of Nazareth for the gift of eternal life, who did not get it! Thank God for that!

I'll pray for your trip to India. Have a good week,

Zane

45 Comments:

Blogger Kc said...

Hi Bro. Antonio,

It's good to see you posting again. I don't have an apologetic but I do have some questions on your position.

1. How do you tie the necessity, logically and scripturally, that a person believe there is a God to the promise of eternal life?

2. I know there are “hard” verses for all soteriological perspectives. John 3:18 states that the condemned are so because they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. How do you reconcile this verse with your position?

3. What must a person know about eternal life in order to receive it?

April 01, 2012 3:48 AM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

Without waxing eloquent. . .

Zane made controversial statements, such as, "not having to believe in _____" to have eternal life. He immediately would follow it with statements such as "Where in the Bible does it say that?"

I think sometimes we forget that there is a difference between the "core" message, that is the "sine qua non" and "Gospel" truths we need tell people to get to the point of BELIEVING the core message or what we call "The saving message," or the "invitational close" of the message we are presenting.

Zane ran into trouble by not clearly defining the difference when he used these terms.

In his message on John 4 "Water producing Water," someone asked a question re: Deity. Zane responded something like, "How could He 'tell us all things' if He was not God?" In other words the woman recognized one facet of Deity necessary for Christ to be the Messiah. I think that is a better way to look at it. I have 20-30 pages of notes from Bible College & Seminary on "The Deity of Christ." I don't think a person needs to believe all that to be saved! I think people need to believe more than Nicodemus, "a teacher who has come from God" but less than having to get a C on a Deity of Christ exam. I don't think anyone understands much about the Deity of Christ. How could anyone? It is beyond comprehension.

My 2 cents
- Don Reiher

April 01, 2012 6:25 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Casey,

It has been a while since your comments have graced my blog. I appreciate you coming by and leaving your questions. I also appreciate your prayers over the past years. Thank you!

Now to address your questions:

1. How do you tie the necessity, logically and scripturally, that a person believe there is a God to the promise of eternal life?

As you are aware, I posit that there are a different number of subjective conditions for each person who would believe in Jesus for eternal life. These subjective conditions are a result of the particular place that each individual is at in relation to things spiritual.

In Missiology (the study of missions) there is a thing called the Engel's Scale. It is a line segment with the terminal ends marked, on the left -10, and at the right 10, with 0 in the middle. This line represents the entire scale of humanity with respect to where they are in true spirituality.

-10 is rank humanistic atheist, while some of the negative numbers closer to 0 could be things like pantheism, polytheism, agnosticism, deism, etc. 0 is the point of conversion, and 10 is super Pauline spirituality.

Depending on the person, there may be several roadblocks and obstacles to overcome before their mind is in the subjective frame to truly consider and entertain the claims of Jesus Christ.

Unless someone is convinced that there is a hereafter, the promise of eternal life will fall on deaf ears. No one will consider something that they don't even believe in to be of value.

I hope this is going far to answer your question #1. There are certain subjective requirments from the point of view of the potential convert that must be fulfilled in order to get the mind into a position where it can believe in Jesus for eternal life.

Let me know if you have any followup to #1.

I will continue on next frame.

April 01, 2012 3:01 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

2. I know there are “hard” verses for all soteriological perspectives. John 3:18 states that the condemned are so because they have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. How do you reconcile this verse with your position?

Anytime that we build an argument on a Scripture, we must be sure that the text itself supports our argument. In order to do that, the text needs to be interpreted.

Your question asking me to reconcile John 3:18 with my position assumes that the reading of John 3:18 is in some sense or perception in tension or contradiction to my position. This is an assumption that has not been demonstrated by your comments.

I will assume that you believe that John 3:18 is a verse stating that a person is condemned who doesn't believe that Jesus is God.

I do not believe that this interpretation can be maintained when we look at it in more detail.

What does it mean to "believe in the name" of someone? This phrase is an idiomatic expression denoting trust in an individual for something specific, which the individual being trusted has the the prerogative, or authority, or power, or reputation, or ability to provide.

Thus, in the context of flying to the Bahamas, I could say "I trust in the name of the airline pilot". That would have the meaning, "I believe that the airline pilot has the ability and authority to fly me safely to my destination."

Believing in the name of someone is believing that the person in whom "the name" refers has the ability, power, authority, and/or prerogative to produce something for a specific benefit.

Such an idiom, in and of itself, does not tell us what about the individual represented by "the name" is inspiring such faith. One's "name" could refer simply to a person's word. Or it could refer to all known attributes of the person, such as his reputation, position, etc. But it does refer to something about the individual that would promote faith for the particular benefit.

If you were to read the book of Acts, and pay special and close attention to the way that Jesus Christ was portrayed by the Apostles in their preaching, you may find something surprising.

April 01, 2012 3:29 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

You would see Christ presented in this way:

"Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him

"This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses."

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

"The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go."

"For truly against Your [God the Father] holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed"

"by stretching out Your [God] hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."

"The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior"

"God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him."

"And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.' From this man's seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior — Jesus—"

"God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:

'You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
'"

"I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting."

Notice the way that the Apostles spoke of Jesus. Jesus was one who was ordained and annointed by God. Jesus was one who God granted power. Jesus was God's servant. Jesus was a man descended from David. Jesus was the one whom God adopted. Jesus was a man whom God raised as a savior (compare Judges). Jesus was one in whom God was with to do miracles. Jesus was one who God exalted.

None of these thing denote deity. I believe that you would be hard pressed to make a case for the deity of Jesus strictly from the book of Acts.

The point is that Jesus was presented as having power and authority by being given it by God. In essence, Jesus was chosen by God as His representative, and given power and authority to speak on His behalf, so says the Apostles.

Whether or not I am convinced that Jesus gives eternal life because He is God, or because He is God's representative having His power from God, is not the point. The point is that Jesus is authorized and able and has the authority to give eternal life to those who believe in Him for it. No one will believe in Him for eternal life who isn't convinced that He is able to give it.

Believing in the name of the Son of God is believing that the Son of God (the designation used for Jesus of Nazareth, and to which we will comment shortly) has the authority and ability to dispense to me the benefit of eternal life. Nothing more.

April 01, 2012 4:05 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Zane makes the point, and does so clearly, that it is not necessary for someone to know all the details about someone in order to believe in that person for something. The recognition of one detail or fact alone could persuade someone to place their faith in another person for a specific benefit.

The designation "Son of God" is a title for Jesus. In Nathaniel's proclamation in John 1, it is appositional to "the King of Israel". Son of God is a messianic designation. It describes the person who God has annointed, chosen, and adopted to be His King, as per Psalm 2. It was a common designation for the Messiah at that time. It may be interesting to note further, that an understanding that the Messiah was to be divine was simply not a reality at all, both in the OT era and contemporary to Jesus Christ.

In Jesus' own words, in the book of John, it was God the Father who gave him the power to raise people from the dead, who gave Him the words to speak, who gave Him authority.

Being the Son of God represents the idea of receiving power and authority from God.

Yet regardless of how one becomes convinced that Jesus has the ability/authority/power to dispense eternal life, when a person believes in Jesus for eternal life, they have it. If they were convinced He gives eternal life by faith through first being convinced He is deity, well, so be it, great! If they were convinced He gives eternal life by faith in Him through first being convinced He has been given authority by God, well, ok.

The result is the same. When someone places their faith in Jesus for eternal life, regardless of how they were persuaded to do so, they have eternal life.

Hopefully, this long winded discussion has gone somewhere in clarifying my position, and answering your question.

Believing in the name of the Son of God does not mean believing that Jesus is deity. It means placing your faith in the one in whom the name refers, namely, Jesus, or if you will, the Son of God, who is Jesus of Nazareth. "Name" refers to ability, power, authority, reputation, etc. of a particular person, in this case, Jesus.

Whatever understanding you have of Jesus that persuades you to trust in Him for eternal life is sufficient. There is no required degree of knowlege. It is not a case of "do you believe this or that specific attribute about Jesus" but a case of "do you believe in Him for eternal life?".

Many biblical considerations about Jesus could persuade someone to trust in Him for eternal life. A plethora of different paths or routes of revelation could. None of these things, however, are God-ordained as His specific conditions for eternal life. They are means through which one will find Jesus able to make good on His promise.

Follow up questions if you like...

Antonio

April 01, 2012 4:29 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

3. What must a person know about eternal life in order to receive it?

"eternal" is a qualifying adjective, simply meaning "without end" or "forever".

"Life" is simply a word denoting a quality or principle of existence, in contradistinction to "death", another quality of existence. In other words, life is simply the opposite of death.

Eternal life is a quality of existence that lasts forever.

Death is the existence of someone in Hell. Life is the existence of someone with God. Death is devoid of life and life is devoid of death.

Jesus liked to explain eternal life by contrasting it with the result of not having it: perishing, condemnation, death. Eternal life is not perishing, not being condemned, not experiencing death.

Any number of simple understandings would be sufficient. Here are some examples.

I believe that Jesus gave me eternal life when I believed in Him for it. Eternal life is:

- Living with God forever.
- Knowing God forever, and never going to hell.
- Eternal security: guarantee of heaven, guarantee of not going to hell.
- Never being separated from God.
- Always being with God.
- etc...


Eternal life, as a simple statement, is forever living with God, or just forever living, as opposed to forever experiencing death.

April 01, 2012 5:03 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Does someone have to have a correct concept of what eternal life is to receive it? Yes.

Imagine a machine said: "Insert a dollar and you will get a candy bar". If someone came to that machine thinking that a dollar was the bright rock he just found on the ground, would he end up getting the candy bar by putting that rock into the machine? (Not by breaking the machine by the rock! haha)

If you went to the store seeking a watermelon, but you thought that the term "watermelon" denoted a donkey, would you be able to purchase a "watermelon" from the local Albertsons?

If you sought a student loan from a grant-issuing organization, would you receive a grant from them? Grant orginazations do not dispense student loans, nor do they dispense grants to people requesting student loans. They dispense grants to those who are seeking grants, and who fulfill their conditions.

If you go to a Cadillac dealership to get a Jeep, they are not going to give you a Cadillac unless you decide you want a Cadillac instead of a Jeep.

You cannot acquire a ticket to a movie from the ticket counter at a theatre that is not showing that movie. Nor will they sell you a ticket to a different movie when you request a movie not playing at their theatre. They could explain to you that they don't have the movie you want, and try to persuade you to purchase a ticket to a movie they are indeed showing you. But they willl not give you a ticket to one of their movies when you request a ticket to a movie that is not showing there. The condition for you to receive what they offer is to request something that they do indeed offer, and then pay for it.

Jesus does not give eternal life to someone trusting in Him for physical healing, or a new car, or a donkey. He has obligated Himself to give eternal life to those who believe in Him for the specific benefit of reveiving eternal life.

Jesus' condition for receiving His promise is that you believe that He gives that promise, in other words, that particular promise. Notice His statement to the woman 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." One must know what the gift of God is before someone can place their faith in the One dispensing it FOR it.

Jesus is enjoining man to place trust in Him for a specific purpose. That purpose is for eternal life that is distinguished from perishing. That purpose is revceiving life that lasts forever, with no liability to perishing.

In John 11, Jesus tells Martha that the one believing in Him will not die, but will live forever. He then asks her, "Do you believe this?" Her answer says, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ."

To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that He gives eternal life to the one who believes in Him for it.

Whenever it is related that someone "believes in" someone, there is always a precise meaning for it, there is always a precise purpose for that trust. This is true in every example of that communication. If someone believes in the tax preparer, he is not trusting him for car repairs! He is trusting him for the efficient, complete, and error-free preparation for his taxes.

It is the same with every occurence of the figure-of-speech: "believing in" something or someone. Those found in the Scriptures, not excepted!

When Jesus says, "whoever believes in Me will never perish but has eternal life" the meaning is clear. Believing in Him is trusting Him to make good on this guarantee, it is believing in Him to give you eternal life and keep you from perishing.

So much for now!

With kind regards,

Antonio da Rosa

April 01, 2012 5:18 PM  
OpenID wisdomknowledge said...

Hi Antonio,

I have never heard of anyone requiring belief in Christ's deity in order to be saved. Since this got my curiosity going I decided to track down a reference. Here is a good one:

If you do not believe that He is the I AM (the name of God from Exodus 3:14), Jesus says you will die in your sins (John 8:24). Jesus once told the people, “I and My Father are one,” the last word being a word of essential unity (John 10:30). That caused His hearers to attempt to stone Him. When He asked why, they replied, “For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy because you being a man, make Yourself to be God” (John 10:33). They understood clearly who He claimed to be.

Lesson 4 What Is Saving Faith?


The passage they use is from the gospel of John which you hold to be primary in teaching the way of salvation.

Glenn

April 03, 2012 5:58 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Hi Antonio,

I'm curious to know: do you disagree with Zane Hodges on any points of doctrine?

Thanks,

JP

April 05, 2012 2:34 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Antonio,

I just saw that you made the following statement and I couldn't believe it - you said: "Does someone have to have a correct concept of what eternal life is to receive it? Yes."

Okay, honest question: What are the chances of someone "who has never heard about Christianity in his life" (as Hodges has said in his Deserted Island Scenario) - what are the chances of such a person coming to have "a correct concept of eternal life" from scraps of paper containing fragments of text from John 6:43a and 6:47? I mean, ripped out of context the reference to "eternal life" in John 6:47 could mean virtually anything!

What I'm saying is that there seems to be an inconsistency between what Hodges said and what you said.

JP

April 05, 2012 3:00 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Jonathan and other friends,

Forgive me for jumping in here. I'm sure not trying to answer for Antonio. I'm looking forward to his answer. But I just wanted to point out something that seems to be missing in your understanding of Zane's Dessert Island Illustration. Zane was NOT saying that people don't need information to believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life. His illustration was to make a very important POINT. The point he was making was the "bulls-eye." The bulls-eye must be hit in order to be born again. The bulls-eye is being convinced that the promise made on that piece of paper is true. When a person believes THAT, then he has past from death to life at that very moment.

Here are the only words found on that piece of paper.....
"Jesus therefore answered and said to them"... "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in ME has everlasting life."*
Those words were taken from John 6:43-47.

Nobody will believe that promise without REASON to believe it. Nobody is saved by deciding to believe. They must be convinced. They need information to be convinced. Zane was pointing out the bulls-eye... what must be believed to pass from death to life. When they get to that place where they believe that promise, that's the bulls-eye, and that's all that's required to pass from death to life.

I have put on my blog a visual picture of this truth at...

http://www.believe-only.blogspot.com/2012/03/illumination-is-bulls-eye.html#comment-form

It's a joy to fellowship with other believers here at Antonio's blog and search the scriptures together to see what is true.
Thank you, Antonio, for allowing me that privilege.

All because of His wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)

April 05, 2012 6:01 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Antonio,

I read the e-mail correspondence you posted and I have a question about something Zane said. He wrote:

"The fundamental error here, however, is the assumption that one must know everything about a person to be able to believe who He is."

But who ever said "that one must know everything about a person to be able to believe who He is"? I know of no one in the Free Grace community who has assumed that or stated that. I would like to know if you have any documentation for Zane's charge?

Thank you,

JP

April 06, 2012 6:23 PM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

Hi John.

I am not sure what you are driving at. There are many people who say you HAVE to believe that Jesus is God in order to get born again. You just need to read a half dozen tracts or so. I know of one Free Grace person who teaches that. I don't want to name names publicly.

When Zane said "know everything about a person" he is elaborating about everything about one particular aspect of Christ, in this context Deity. You don't HAVE to believe that Jesus is God (or any other aspect of Christ) because there are no Scriptures that say that. That was Zane's point. The Scriptures that guarantee everlasting life (i.e. John 3:16, 5:24, 6:47 etc.) do not make the mandatory requirement of believing in the Deity of Christ, or anything else about His nature or His work. You just need to believe in HIM.

As I said before in another post, Zane was not saying that no person ever needed to believe that Jesus was God. (sorry about the double negative) Some people actually do need to know that aspect of Christ's nature to some degree (plus perhaps several other facts) in order to get to the tipping point where they are persuaded He can guarantee them everlasting life by simply believing in Him for it. It is not correct to say that nobody has to know it, nor is it correct to say everybody needs to know it. If some Biblical examples of that aspect of Christ's nature is what gets a person to the point of believing in Jesus as the granter and guarantor of everlasting life, then they DO have to know it. However, Scripture does not say you have to know it, and people get saved without any understanding of it. That is Zane's point.

I think people need to understand that a lot of Zane's (and some of our) arguments are speaking in strict categories and not exhaustive. For example, we say a person has to have assurance of everlasting life or they are not saved. That does not mean if a person loses assurance they are not saved at all. It means that if at the moment of belief in Christ, they really did not believe they got everlasting life (i.e. they thought they had to work to earn it or keep it) then they did not really believe in Jesus for everlasting life.

You have to sort of read between the lines, I know. I have spent a LOT of time analyzing and studying what Zane taught. Please take this into consideration.

OK?

- Don

April 11, 2012 7:10 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Don,

Thank you for that clarification.

Since we are chatting maybe I could ask you the same question I asked Antonio. Do you disagree with Zane Hodges on any points of doctrine?

Thanks,

JP

April 11, 2012 8:46 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Don,

I've been thinking about your interpretation of Hodges' statement and it still has me wondering.

Just so that we're all on the same page, let me repeat your interpretation of Hodges' statement. You said: "When Zane said 'know everything about a person' he is elaborating about everything about one particular aspect of Christ, in this context Deity."

I don't doubt your interpretation, but unfortunately it doesn't really answer my question. Notice that Hodges said: "The fundamental error here, however, is the assumption that one must know everything about a person [i.e. the Deity of Christ] to be able to believe who He is."

Even with the understanding that Hodges didn't mean "everything about a person", but only "everything about the Deity of Christ" (as you indicated) - who ever said that? I know of no one in the Free Grace community who has assumed that or stated that. In fact, if you read my article "In Defense of the Gospel, Pt. 4," you will see Charlie Bing and George Meisinger saying just the opposite - and they represent traditional Free Grace, do they not? They specifically teach that the unsaved DON'T have to know everything about the Deity of Christ to be saved. So once again I would like to know if you have any documentation for Zane's charge?

I mean, Hodges set the bar pretty high saying "the fundamental error" - surely you have some documentation to support Hodges bold claim?

Thank you,

Jonathan

April 11, 2012 9:59 PM  
Blogger dreiher2 said...

Thanks for your comment. I am pretty sure we agree. A person does not need a list of facts to check off in order to declare a person's faith in the person of Christ for everlasting life as being saving.

I think the problem is the meaning of the word "everything." If I hear a complaint about one of my employees and I say, I know everything about that. That does not mean I know EVERYTHING about that. It just means I know the situation or the event which caused a problem.

Sometimes we use the word "all" or "everything" and not mean all inclusively. This is just a normal use of non-literal language.

I could give you a list of things I disagree with him on. I spent hundreds of hours listening to his messages, and reading his articles and books. They are minor issues, and many times have to do with HOW he said things, and not what he meant by what he said. Your question to Antonio may appear to be misleading. For example, if he (or I) say, "I agree with everything Zane says," it does not REALLY mean we agree with everything he said. If I stand up in church and say, "I don't agree with everything John MacArthur says," that really says nothing. I may agree with 99.9999% of what he says, and be Lordship and still technically disagree. If I say, 'I agree with everything Zane says," it may mean I agree with enough of the core of his teaching to basically be on the same page as him. Nobody ever technically agrees 100% with anyone.

I think you are asking Antonio where he disagrees with Zane. I am sure he feels the same way I do. Zane was trying to illustrate a method. He was not like some kind of cult leader who insisted that you held exactly to every word he wrote or uttered.

I think we should not focus on areas of disagreement. I am sure if you go to a Together for the Gospel conference and ask John MacArthur, Mark Dever, John Piper, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Tim Keller if they are in agreement, they will say "YES!" They are at a "T4G" conference and they would not be asked to speak there if they did not agree with the core teaching of the T4G statement. The Reformed folks know how to close up their ranks. It seems like we Free Grace folks need to learn a lesson from them. They are taking the world by storm with their Reformed Calvinistic message because they are focusing on their core objective (spreading Reformed Theology to the world), and are not causing division in their ranks by attacking each other. Again, they really don't agree on everything. However, in the name of spreading what they think is the true Gospel, which is really the highest priority, they have pulled together. That is what we should be doing.

I hope you agree?

Let's show the world what Grace is all about. Lets be gracious to each other in the Grace camp. Lets disagree gracefully, and in such a way that it does not cause hard feelings. I am all for debate. Lets disagree nicely yet focus on making public the fact that we agree, not disagree.

- Don

April 12, 2012 5:50 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Don,

Those are some good thoughts. Thanks for sharing them with me.

The point I was driving at was simply this: If Hodges cannot provide documentation to support his claim about what he calls "the fundamental error" of traditional Free Grace, then his argument is fallacious - it would be a straw man argument, a misrepresentation of traditional Free Grace.

Anyway, I wrote some thoughts on Christocentrism and I'd like to share them with you to see if there are any areas of agreement. He's what I said:

"The gospel is Christocentric. That is to say, Jesus Christ is the center of the gospel. I highlighted this earlier when I explained how Christ is the subject of every verb in 1 Cor. 15:3b-5. But apparently those who ban 1 Cor. 15:5 from the gospel because of the reference to 'Cephas' fail to grasp the simple grammatical point that Christ is still the subject of the sentence in verse 5 even though others are referenced - just like in verse 3. In other words, there is no incongruity between trusting in Christ and believing that He "died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3) or that He "appeared to Cephas..." (1 Cor. 15:5)! Let me explain it this way:

My faith is not in man but in the Christ who died for man (v. 3)
My faith is not in the burial but in the Christ who was buried (v. 4)
My faith is not in the resurrection but in the Christ who was raised (v. 4)
My faith is not in Cephas but in the Christ who was seen by Cephas (v. 5)

In other words, my faith is in the historical Jesus of Paul's gospel - not in a Jesus of the imagination! The gospel involves God acting in and on the world in history - in real life historical events in time and space, not in a vacuum."

JP

April 12, 2012 12:08 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Don,

I do believe that the unsaved have to believe in the deity of Jesus to be saved. To what extent is another question. I think you are on the right track when you said:


"In his message on John 4 "Water producing Water," someone asked a question re: Deity. Zane responded something like, "How could He 'tell us all things' if He was not God?" In other words the woman recognized one facet of Deity necessary for Christ to be the Messiah. I think that is a better way to look at it. I have 20-30 pages of notes from Bible College & Seminary on "The Deity of Christ." I don't think a person needs to believe all that to be saved! I think people need to believe more than Nicodemus, "a teacher who has come from God" but less than having to get a C on a Deity of Christ exam. I don't think anyone understands much about the Deity of Christ. How could anyone? It is beyond comprehension."

Your statement fits right in with what Charlie Bing and George Meisinger have said as well. I don't know what your official position is on this whole issue, but I think your statement above is pretty good.

Thanks,

JP

April 14, 2012 1:36 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Charlie Bing writes: "The concept of 'Christ' [in 1 Cor. 15:3] may not have been entirely understood by the Corinthian readers, but the meaning of 'anointed' and His work of dying for sins certainly points to a special divine messenger." (Bing, "How To Share the Gospel Clearly," no page number).

Meisinger affirms: "An unbeliever's understanding of 'Christ' and deity will be embryonic, perhaps not much more than 'Jesus is more than man thus able to save me!'" Meisinger, "The Gospel Paul Preached: A Church Age Model of Evangelistic Content," Chafer Theological Seminary Journal: p. 10.

April 14, 2012 2:26 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Jonathan and Don,

I've been reading your comments and find them very interesting. I hope I'm not intruding into your conversation. It's just that the subject is so dear to my heart, and my passion is to share the good news of Jesus Christ with people everywhere who don't know Him as their Savior. I also have a passion to show people that the free gift that God offers by faith alone is permanent so that they can rest in the assurance that they are eternally saved, never needing to doubt again. This is my passion.

I personally have benefited from what I have learned on some of the theological blogs. Both Antonio's and Don's have been very instructive learning for me. But all of that learning came AFTER I was saved. One thing that I am very conscious of is this. Anyone whose faith is in Jesus Christ alone to eternally save him (apart from any works whatsoever) is a child of God, born from above, possessing eternal life. Everyone gets saved the same way believing the same thing. They pass from death to life the moment they find themselves believing in Jesus Christ alone for their ETERNAL well being. That's the bulls-eye. Whatever else they may or may not know about Jesus, when they believe in Him alone for what He offers freely as a gift, they pass from death into life. At that moment they KNOW Jesus has eternally saved them because that's what He's offering, and that's what believing means.

Another important point..... Nobody can believe unless the Holy Spirit enlightens him to this truth. And the Holy Spirit will do that if a person responds to the light that God gives him along his life's journey. Look into the Word of God with an honest and open heart and you will find yourself believing.
(Continued below...)

April 14, 2012 9:09 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

(Continued from above...)

Someone may say... "But are they believing in the RIGHT Jesus?"... The right Jesus is the One whose name is recorded on the pages of scripture, not the one who lives in Mexico). If they're reading from the pages of scripture, or hearing about the Jesus of scripture, then they are believing in the right historical Jesus. Every saved person has believed the exact same truth when they past from death to life.
Old Testament Saints didn't know Jesus' name, but their faith was in the coming One who would bring in a physical ETERNAL Kingdom on the earth. They believed in HIM for their eternal well being. Not one person on the face of the earth has ever gotten saved any other way but to believe in Jesus for ETERNAL LIFE. They may not have had their theology down well, and they may have worded it differently than using the words "eternal life," but their faith was in Jesus for their ETERNAL well being. Every saved person has believed the exact same truth when they past from death to life.

Each of us got to that place with different amounts of knowledge ABOUT Jesus. Everyone's experience of getting to that place is different. A child gets to that place with very little knowledge. Even people in the book of John got to that place with different amounts of knowledge about Him. Some people in the Book of John believed in Him after the 1st sign. Some didn't believe until after the greatest of all signs was performed... (the 8th sign)... the death and resurrection of Christ. But the moment they believed in Him for what He was offering freely as a gift, they were born into the family of God.

That's my passion... to share that wonderful truth, and then to disciple them in His Word so that they can grow in their understanding of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him alone be all the glory and praise for His most incredible, wonderful, magnificent gift~!!!

Thank you again dear friends for giving me a place to praise Him and meet other believers along the way.

All because of His wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)

April 14, 2012 9:10 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

"If [the unsaved are] reading from the pages of scripture, or hearing about the Jesus of scripture, then they are believing in the right historical Jesus."

I'm not so sure that's true and I'll tell you why. Satan uses scripture too. Just read the N.T. and you will find him quoting scripture...but he leaves some out! He distorts it. He uses it for his own purposes. He deceives people with it. Remember, Satan is a DECEIVER (2 Cor. 11:1-4). For example, when he tempts Jesus, Satan quotes from Psalm 91 (see Matt. 4:6). But compare what Satan says with what Psalm 91 actually says and you'll see that Satan left out Ps. 91:11b: "to guard you in all your ways". Well, that omission changes the whole meaning of the verse, especially when Satan is tempting Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple.

Here's what I'm getting at. In Zane's email that Antonio posted, Zane says: "But the simple fact remains that no one has ever believed in Jesus of Nazareth for the gift of eternal life, who did not get it!"

One of the problems of Hodges’ “name it and claim it” message is that it only begs the question: Who is Jesus? Hodges would answer “Jesus of Nazareth,” but unfortunately that information is not contained in John 6:47. The apostle Paul spoke of “another Jesus whom we have not preached” (2 Cor. 11:4). In fact, Jesus Himself said to watch out for “false Christs” (Matt. 24:24). If people simply believe in “the name of Jesus” for eternal life, could they not be trusting in “another Jesus” (a merely human Jesus, for example) - one that the apostles didn’t preach? This is indeed possible, especially when it is remembered that Satan, “the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44), also promises eternal life (Gen. 3:4). So the name “Jesus” and promise of “eternal life” cannot be the only determining factors in recognizing the real Jesus.

JP

April 15, 2012 1:46 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Jonathan,

I appreciate your thoughts about "another Jesus." I've had many good friends argue that same point. I appreciate the fact that you hold that view based on what you see in scripture. That view use to make sense to me until God revealed in His Word where I was wrong. He's done that a lot for me, and I am forever grateful. I want Him to continue to open my eyes to see as He sees. I'm sure that's your heart's desire, too.

When I got saved I believed in what Jesus said in John 3:16. I believed a lot of orthodox truth, but I wasn't saved because of those orthodox truths. I was saved because I believed in the Person making a promise on the pages of scripture in John 3:16. It was THAT Jesus that I was believing in to keep His promise. I could have been wrong on a lot of things ABOUT Jesus, but when I believed THAT promise from the Person who said it, I was born again. Anything that I might have had wrong about Him didn't change the fact that my faith was in Him to keep His promise of what He offered me freely as a gift by faith.

I would like to recommend to every person reading this post to please read the following article...

A Critical Perspective: Orthodoxy, the Right Jesus, and Eternal Life*
by Lon Gregg*
It was an article published in the GES Journal, 2009.
You can read it by going to the following link....

http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2009ii/8.html

I hope you will read the whole article, but if you scroll down the page you will come to....

III. The "Right Jesus" and Cult Errors

IV. "Another Jesus"?

He covers the passage in 2 Cor. 11:4 and others. It's worth reading and checking everything out.

Wishing you God's best as you live to serve Him,

Diane
:-)

April 15, 2012 5:23 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

Thank you for your thoughts and the link to the article. I read what Mr. Lon Gregg wrote, and he simply proves my point. Notice what he says:

"There is really no 'other' Jesus of Nazareth than He whom Paul preached, the historical person who, contrary to expectation but proven by his ministry, is He who gives eternal life to believers." (my bold)

Like Hodges, Mr. Gregg says that the "one Lord, Jesus Christ" is "Jesus of Nazareth" (my italics). But as I said in my previous comment, that information is not contained in John 6:47.

So the name “Jesus” and promise of “eternal life” (which Satan also promises, although falsely) cannot be the only determining factors in recognizing the real Jesus.

JP

April 15, 2012 7:36 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Jonathan, the Jesus that promises on the pages of scripture to give eternal life to the one who believes in Him alone for it *IS* Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus never says that you must believe that He is FROM Nazareth in order to have His free gift of eternal life. Paul never says that either. Lon Gregg is just making the point that the Jesus who makes that promise on the pages of scripture IS Jesus of Nazareth, the historical person who gives eternal life to believers. There is no other Jesus making that promise on the pages of scripture. When we read that promise and believe it, we have believed in the "right" Jesus...... the ONE who just brought us from death into life~!!!

Thank you Jonathan for your thoughts.

Diane
:-)

April 15, 2012 8:44 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

I'm making a point about what Zane Hodges and Lon Gregg said. As I noted earlier, Hodges said:

"But the simple fact remains that no one has ever believed in Jesus of Nazareth for the gift of eternal life, who did not get it!" (my bold)

When the unsaved believe in John 6:47 they are not necessarily believing in Jesus of Nazareth (Hodges statement, not mine) because that information is not contained in John 6:47.

If the name "Jesus" and the promise of "eternal life" are the only determining factors in recognizing the real Jesus, then why does Hodges feel the need to qualify the name further??

The answer of course is that the name "Jesus" can refer to virtually anyone! Even in Scripture there is an example of another "Jesus" besides the one referred to by Hodges. In Colossians 4:11 there is a "Jesus who is called Justus". That's clearly a different Jesus than the Jesus of Nazareth who Hodges is describing. This example shows that it is not valid to say "if [the unsaved are] reading from the pages of scripture, or hearing about the Jesus of scripture, then they are believing in the right historical Jesus." This statement is not true because there is more than one person named Jesus in scripture. (And if we are going to start ripping Bible verses out of context as in Hodges Deserted Island Scenario, then it would be especially easy to get these two Jesus' confused!)

Not only is there more than one Jesus noted on the pages of Scripture, but there are also "false Christs"(Matt. 24:24) that will deceive many. Thus, it is not true to say "There is no other Jesus making that promise [of eternal life] on the pages of scripture." Remember: Hodges defines the term "Christ" to mean "guarantor of eternal life". Thus, to be consistent he would have to admit that a "false Christ" is a false guarantor of eternal life! A FALSE PROMISER OF ETERNAL LIFE. Jesus warns: "See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many." (Matt. 24:4-5).

So the name “Jesus” and promise of “eternal life” (which Satan also promises in Gen. 3:4 and Matt. 24:24, although falsely) cannot be the only determining factors in recognizing the real Jesus.

JP

April 15, 2012 11:43 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hello all,

Sorry for being absent. My kids have been on spring break, but today they go back to school. Thanks to you all for your participation. I will be reviewing your comments and seeing if I can be of some assistance working through some of the questions.

Antonio

April 16, 2012 7:27 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Antonio,

Looking forward to your return, but thankful that your kids have a dad who takes time to be with them. NEAT~!!!
:-)

Jonathan,
Thanks for your reply. I actually don't see Zane saying what you think he's saying.*
To me it sounds like he's saying that EVERYBODY who believes in Jesus... the One making the promise on the pages of scripture such as in John 6:47, will HAVE eternal life. They will "get IT." They will get HIM... (His LIFE). Nobody will be denied based on what they might not yet know, or even have wrong about Him. The issue is believing His promise that He's making in John 6:47. Believe THAT promise, and you have it.

They may not know a lot of things about him including that He's from Nazareth, but if they believe in the One making the promise in that verse, they will HAVE what He offers. They ARE believing in Jesus of Nazareth because HE's the One making the offer. They are believing in the One who died for them and rose from the grave. They are believing in the One who can guarantee what He freely offers.
Jesus of Nazareth is the only one on the pages of scripture making the offer to freely give eternal life as a gift to the one who believes in Him alone apart from any works.

Anyway, that's what I understand Zane to be saying. Here's his comment one more time.

"But the simple fact remains that no one has ever believed in Jesus of Nazareth for the gift of eternal life, who did not get it! Thank God for that!"

I appreciate the opportunity to think through what you've said. That's how I learn. I'll be looking forward to hearing from other friends also who might have insight into something I haven't yet seen. Wishing you God's best always.

All because of HIS wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)

April 16, 2012 9:41 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

"I actually don't see Zane saying what you think he's saying."

But you proceed to quote him saying exactly what I say he is saying, namely:

"But the simple fact remains that no one has ever believed in Jesus of Nazareth for the gift of eternal life, who did not get it!"

As I have been saying in pretty much all my comments, promise-only proponents are the ones who add onto the name Jesus the qualifying phrase "of Nazareth" - information not contained in John 6:47.

Maybe you could explain this to me: How can someone who has "never heard about Christianity in his life" (as Hodges has said) believe in "Jesus of Nazareth" (as Hodges said) when that information is not contained in John 6:47?

JP

April 16, 2012 10:11 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

What you are basically telling me is this:

Using Hodges' model of ripping Bible verses out of context, an unsaved person could come across a scrap of paper containing portions of text from Colossians 4:11a and some other Bible verse - say 1 Timothy 1:16b. So the only readable portions are:

"and Jesus [Col. 4:11a, NKJV]...believe on Him for everlasting life [1 Tim. 1:16b, NKJV]"

When an unsaved person believes these Bible verses and places their faith in this "Jesus" for "everlasting life" you would say they are saved - even though this "Jesus" is actually "Jesus who is called Justus" not "Jesus of Nazareth". Is that correct?

Keep in mind that all this information comes straight out of the Bible.

JP

April 16, 2012 10:49 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Jonathan,

I was saved by believing the promise Jesus made to me in John 3:16. I guess you would call me a "promise-only" proponent.
I don't understand why that's bad? I don't see any other way to be saved? Jesus promises something to the one who will believe in Him for it.

You said....
"How can someone who has 'never heard about Christianity in his life' (as Hodges has said) believe in 'Jesus of Nazareth' (as Hodges said) when that information is not contained in John 6:47?"

First of all, nobody is going to believe in Jesus (of Nazareth)... the one making that promise in John 6:47, unless they have REASON to believe in Him. Zane has ALWAYS said that. A person CAN'T believe something they are not sure about. So when a person gets to that place where they believe that promise, they have enough information that has brought them to believe His promise. That's the Holy Spirit's work.

Again, Zane was pointing out the bulls-eye.

For some reason my explanation is passing right by you, and you're not understanding what I'm saying (or Zane either).
Nobody will believe a promise by someone without being confident that it is true. They need information. Zane teaches that, and I believe that.

Please don't think I was being rude by my comment. I don't mean it that way at all. I was just trying to explain myself. But I don't do a very good job. I appreciate you asking the questions.

Your sister in Christ,
Diane
:-)

April 16, 2012 10:57 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Jonathan,

Q... Where does it say anywhere in the Bible that Jesus who is called Justus offers eternal life to the one who simply believes in him for it?

Zane didn't patch verses together to make someone say something that someone else said. He put the actual words down of the person saying it. There is no other Jesus in all of Scripture who makes that same offer to give eternal life to the one who believes in Him for it.

Zane never said that a person would believe that promise without REASON to believe it. That's what you seem to be missing. Everyone needs REASON to be convinced that something is true. But Zane's POINT was that when you DO believe Him for that promise, you have been eternally saved. By believing in Him alone for everlasting life (your eternal well being) you have it. That's the BULLS-EYE~!!!
But of course you need INFORMATION that convinces you that what He said is true. That's what Zane taught. He never said you WOULD believe in this person who made this promise without being convinced that it is so. Zane was just making the point that WHEN YOU DID, you were born again~!!!

I think the problem goes to the issue of "believing." I think you're saying that Zane says anyone can just believe and he'll be saved without knowing anything else about Him. Doesn't matter if he's convinced or not. Just as long as he "CHOOSES" to believe, he will be saved.
But that can't be done. IMPOSSIBLE~!!! Belief is persuasion that what is promised is true. The person must be persuaded that what Jesus said in the verse is true. When he does, He has just crossed over from death into life. Bulls-eye~!!!
:-)

One more question......

Can you please give me the list of what is required to be believed to be born again? And please make it fit scripturally with the "promise-only" verses.

My questions are not meant to be sarcastic at all. I think you are very sincere in what you are saying. But I don't think that you can give me an answer that will square with scripture. That's my only concern. I'm not trying to be argumentative at all. Please forgive me if I've come across like that. I appreciate your questions. I think they need to be answered again even though there has been much written about this already.

I enjoy our conversations, and I in no way mean to sound mean spirited. You are my brother in Christ, and I look forward to spending eternity with you.

Thank you so much.

Diane
:-)

April 16, 2012 4:34 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

You said: "First of all, nobody is going to believe in Jesus (of Nazareth)... the one making that promise in John 6:47"

But who is the one making the promise in the scenario I proposed? I don't think you answered that question I mine.

JP

April 16, 2012 4:39 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

No offense taken. I would say the same thing and add that when I debate I am very matter-of-fact but no offense is intended.

Q... Where does it say anywhere in the Bible that Jesus who is called Justus offers eternal life to the one who simply believes in him for it?

I didn't say "Jesus who is called Jusus offers eternal life". I said "and Jesus" - the only readable portion from Col. 4:11 is "and Jesus" (or simply "Jesus").

But of course you need INFORMATION that convinces you that what He said is true.

Only John 6:47 or similar statement, according to Hodges.

Can you please give me the list of what is required to be believed to be born again? And please make it fit scripturally with the "promise-only" verses.

Sure, I will just cut and paste from a recent blog post I did called "Christocentrism". I said:

The gospel is Christocentric. That is to say, Jesus Christ is the center of the gospel. William R. Newell affirms: "The gospel is all about Christ. Apart from Him, there is no news from heaven but that of coming woe! Read that passage in I Corinthians 15:3-5: 'I make known unto you the gospel which I preached unto you: that Christ died, Christ was buried; Christ hath been raised; Christ was seen.' It is all about the Son of God!"[1] I highlighted this point earlier when I explained how Christ is the subject of every verb in 1 Cor. 15:3b-5. But apparently those who ban 1 Cor. 15:5 from the gospel because of the reference to "Cephas" fail to grasp the simple grammatical point that Christ is still the subject of the sentence in verse 5 even though others are referenced - just like in verse 3. In light of this exegetical truth it becomes clear that there is no incongruity between trusting in Christ and believing that He "died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3) or that He "appeared to Cephas..." (1 Cor. 15:5)! Let me explain it this way:

My faith is not in man but in the Christ who died for man (v. 3)
My faith is not in the burial but in the Christ who was buried (v. 4)
My faith is not in the resurrection but in the Christ who was raised (v. 4)
My faith is not in Cephas but in the Christ who was seen by Cephas (v. 5)

In other words, my faith is in the historical Jesus of Paul's gospel - not in a Jesus of the imagination![2] The gospel involves God acting in and on the world in history - in real life historical events in time and space, not in a vacuum.

Consider the Scriptures! Paul's gospel "was promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures" (Rom. 1:1-2, 10:15-16). For example, in Isaiah chapter 53 the prince of prophets foretold that after the Messiah's resurrection "He will see His offspring" (Isa. 53:10, literally "seed"; cf. Jn. 12:23-24, 14:18-19, 16:16-22, 20:19-21:14). Are we now supposed to ban the resurrection appearances of Christ from the gospel because they are a fulfillment of the gospel according to the prophet Isaiah? Tragically, this is exactly what some are doing.

(I wrote that in reference to what no-burial gospel advocates are saying, but hopefully you get the general idea.)

ENDNOTES:

[1] Newell, Romans Verse-By-Verse (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publishers, 1994), p. 6.

[2] Gary Habermas affirms that "the 'gospel' is being used here of the facts which one must believe concerning Christ, for faith is placed in Him, not in the facts themselves." (Habermas, "Dealing With Doubts - Part 3, Factual Doubt," The John Ankerberg Show website, http://www.jashow.org/Articles/_PDFArchives/practical-christianity/PC2W0406A.pdf, accessed April 15, 2012, italics added.)

JP

April 16, 2012 4:58 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

I'm not sure exactly what you meant when you said "make it fit scripturally with the promise-only verses" (my paraphrase). But my position about the gospel of John in general is that it is very problematic to pick and choose Bible verses and then take them out of context and build a doctrine on it. That's basic Bible Interpretation 101. All four facts that I mentioned in my previous comment are highlighted in John's Gospel. Those four facts are the climax and the culmination of his narrative - and that's what it is, a narrative. John's Gospel is the narrative of 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. They are not at all contradictory. They are just different genres of writing. One is an extended narrative and the other is a concise creed. I don't know if I'm answering your question so I will stop there.

JP

April 16, 2012 5:09 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you Jonathan for your friendly comment to me (above). I do not take offense. I'm just interested in the subject and try the best I can to convey what I'm NOT doing a very good job at doing.
:-)

I agree completely that Christ is the center of the gospel. HE IS OUR SALVATION~!!! Our faith is in HIM to save~!!! We both agree on that. I'm sure we both agree that Jesus is the only way to the Father. I'm sure we agree that without His substitutionary death on the cross for our sins NOBODY could be saved. I'm sure that we agree on the orthodox truths as taught in the Bible.
Our disagreement comes on exactly what must be believed to be eternally saved. Let me try again.
Ha~!!! :-)

Nobody is saved UNTIL their trust (belief) is in Jesus Christ ALONE (apart from works) to eternally save them~!!! At that point a person passes from death to life.*

Most everyone I know today came to believe in Jesus when they understood that He paid for all our sins and rose from the grave. I'm not talking about "church going people" who practically all believe that He died and rose. Most all church going people believe that, but they think now they must do their part too. They believe His cross work was necessary but that it's NOT ENOUGH. Those people have not yet been saved if they have always believed that. They are adding their part (works).

But I happen to believe that the Bible has always had the same saving message..... faith alone in Christ alone for everlasting life.
I recognize that they didn't know His name in the O.T. They looked forward to His coming. But they knew HE was the ONE who would be their eternal Deliverer. They looked forward to His coming Kingdom. But He was still their ETERNAL Deliverer.
Today (after the cross) most people believe in Him for everlasting life (life with Him forever) when they understand His cross work.
We ALL share that wonderful truth because that's the greatest story in the universe and the greatest reason to believe in Him. Without His death and resurrection nobody could be saved. But his disciples and those alive during His life on earth did not yet believe THAT. Yet they were saved. They were saved when they believed in Him as the Christ.... the giver of eternal life.

Why didn't John tell us in His Gospel that the condition had changed to have His free gift of eternal life? It's because the condition didn't change.

All I'm saying, and all Zane was saying is that a person must believe in Jesus for everlasting life. If someone is believing in "another Jesus" who is NOT on the pages of scripture but is some cult leader making that claim, then they are NOT saved. Actually I don't know of any cult leader who makes that claim to save by faith alone in him apart from works??? If there is one, he doesn't save~!!! Only Jesus who makes the offer in the Bible can save.

I'm not dividing with my friends who say that you must believe in the work of Christ to be saved. The reason I don't divide with these friends is because they are believing in Him alone for everlasting life. I, too, believe that Jesus died for my sins and rose from the grave. I am saved.
But those who don't get the fact of the bulls-eye are missing out on understanding other parts of the Bible that won't fit their thinking because they don't understand the bulls-eye. The Gospel of John is one of those books they don't understand for that reason.

Thank you for not taking offense. In eternity we will be learning forever about His marvelous grace.

See you there~!!!

Rejoicing in Jesus alone,
Diane

April 16, 2012 6:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

"The Gospel of John is one of those books they don't understand for that reason."

That might be true for some people but I would be careful about making an absolute statement about that. As I mentioned in my previous article, I understand the Gospel of John - of course, I won't know it perfectly until I get to heaven, but what I'm saying is that it is not an interpretive problem to me. All you have to understand is that there is a context to John 6:47, maybe that's the simplest way to explain it. You can't rightly just rip that verse OUT OF CONTEXT and build a doctrine on it.

The issue about the disciples being saved before they believed in Christ's death is not a problem either. Dispensational theology has long recognized what is called "progressive revelation" (as you even admitted that you do - at least to a certain extent), and that is a valid way to interpret that whole issue about the disciples. In other words, the object of faith has always been Christ alone, but the content of faith has changed through the dispensations. Now that is another whole issue, but my point is that these are sound methods of interpretation that are quite valid in regards to the Bible as a whole and the Gospel of John in particular - much better than taking Bible verses out of context don't you think?

JP

April 16, 2012 7:23 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Perreault said...

I do not doubt your salvation, not at all.

Here each of us thinks we are right, in heaven we will find out for sure!

Nice talking with you,

JP

April 16, 2012 8:15 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Jonathan, nice talking to you, too~!!!

Diane
:-)

April 16, 2012 8:23 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Antonio,

I appreciate your reply and apologize for my slow response but my father passed away. Please remember us in your prayers and know that it is an honor and great blessing to be able to pray for you as well.

In regard to your reply:

1. As a follow up; Can the subjective requirements be itemized?

2. Once again I need to apologize for my terse comments. To be clear; I understand this verse to state that those who do not believe in Jesus are condemned because they do not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God. I think my understanding of the phrase, “in the name of” is identical to yours. I consider the phrase equivalent to, “in the power and authority of”. I understand this verse to convey the fact that Jesus “has the ability, power, authority, and/or prerogative” of the only begotten Son of God and that the one who fails to believe that fact is condemned.

As a follow up; What distinction, if any, would you place on the term, “only begotten” in this verse?

With regard to the book of Acts; How would you reconcile the account of the Ethiopian eunuch (8:37ff)? His only statement of faith was his whole-hearted belief that “Jesus Christ is the Son of God”.

3. As a follow up; How would you interpret 1st John 5:20;
“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.“

Thanks again so much for your patience, time and willingness to answer these questions.

BTW I've also enjoyed the discussion by others here and appreciate reading their thoughts as well.

In the love of Christ,

kc

April 17, 2012 3:47 AM  
Blogger goe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 17, 2012 3:39 PM  
Blogger goe said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 17, 2012 4:01 PM  
Blogger goe said...

"Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God." Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life." ~Jn 6:43-47~

----------------

The immediate context of Jn 6:47 should ease our concerns and settle the question about whether someone is believing in the "right" Jesus or not. As this passage makes clear, It's impossible for anyone who is "drawn...taught...and illuminated ( 2 Cor 4:6)" to the truth of Jn 6:47 to be believing in the "wrong" Jesus since this faith is only possible as a direct result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The HS never draws the unbeliever to the "wrong Jesus"! The natural man is capable of believing many facts about Jesus, but he will NEVER believe that everlasting life is given freely to everyone who simply believes in Jesus--NEVER. The truth of justification by faith alone and the correlative truth of eternal life given as a free gift are utterly alien concepts to the natural man--truths that can only be revealed to him by the Spirit of God. Everyone without exception is born again when "God commands the light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor 4:6 cf Matt 16:17) When this happens it has to be the "right Jesus" because they have "heard and learned from the Father." Of course, some would probably insist that this "knowledge" must always includes their "checklist" of facts about Jesus, but the Gospel of John as a whole proves them wrong. Understood in the context of John's Gospel, it's impossible that vv 43-45 could be referring to either the I Cor 15 "checklist" or any arbitrary "patchwork" gospel of facts. Since the GoJ was written by the apostle to evangelize people after the alleged "dispensational changes" were made to what God requires everyone to know and believe, John clearly did not see the required content of faith as consisting of some "checklist" of facts about Jesus, but rather, in agreement with the Apostle Paul, it was the "promise of life which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 1:1) which he was concerned to illuminate to the reader. No matter how important the historical facts of Jesus' death, resurrection, etc may be (Zane said they are of "infinite" importance), or how incumbent it is upon us to proclaim those facts (Zane said that it IS incumbent upon us), it's nevertheless plain to see that the real focus of saving faith in John's Gospel is the Person of Jesus as the One who guarantees everlasting life to "whosoever believes in Him." (e.g., see especially Jn 4:10; 6:27-29; 11:25-27; 20:31) As Paul said, "the promise of life which in Christ Jesus" lies at the very heart and core of the gospel, and apart from that promise all the facts of the gospel mean absolutely nothing in themselves. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" would be meaningless to us without the purpose statement: "...THAT whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." There it is: the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 1:1). and NO ONE can believe that promise and be believing in the "wrong" Jesus-- because "they shall ALL be taught by God." Jn 6:45

Maybe Antonio or someone could take this idea and develop it more than I've done here.

God bless everyone here.

April 17, 2012 4:08 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Gary,

Appreciate your very EXCELLENT comments here. They're going to go in my "IMPORTANT FILE~!!!"
:-)

Matt. 16:17... Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven"

Diane
:-)

April 20, 2012 8:20 PM  

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