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

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Deleted Comment from Pyromaniacs

My response to Dan Phillip's recent article on Pyromaniacs Terrorism in Church

Spurgeon wrote:
"Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith" as quoted in the OP.

Ironically, it is apparant that the Reformed doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints with its corollaries temporary/spurious faith has scattered doubts and stabbed at the faith of many.

John MacArthur has stated in one of his radio programs:

"You may be a spiritual defector who hasn't defected yet!"

Perseverance theology has grounded assurance of salvation subjectively on self. This has, to a great extent, spawned debilitating doubts in the congregations where teachers proclaim this doctrine.

Calvin does not agree that assurance comes from introspection:

"But if we have been chosen in Him, we shall not find assurance of our election in ourselves... Christ, then is the mirror wherein we must, and without self-deception may, contemplate our own election." (Institutes III.xxiv.5)

He furthermore states:

"Doubtless, if we are to determine by our works in what way the Lord stands affected toward us, I admit that we cannot even get the length of a feeble conjecture: but since faith should accord with the free and simple promise, there is no room left for ambiguity" (Institutes III.ii.38)

Michael Horton, a Reformed writer and not a friend of Free Grace theology, nonetheless sees the potential for great doubt resident in the doctrine of some Reformed teachers:

“While MacArthur may not intend for readers to come away from his remarks prepared to conclude that they are not Christians because they find themselves committing the same sins repeatedly, I do not think this is an unwarranted conclusion based on his comments” (Horton, Christ the Lord, pg, 50).

Shortly thereafter he adds:

“MacArthur, as we have seen, not only takes the focus for our assurance off of the finished work of Christ, but even raises questions about the focus for faith itself. Is faith resting in Christ's life and death or in ours? We must be careful not to react to the antinomian threat by driving the sheep back to themselves, away from Christ” (Ibid, pg 51).

Antonio da Rosa

Monday, August 28, 2006

Free Grace Theology and Repentance -- A Reply To Matthew Waymeyer Part 6

Matthew writes:
I would bring up the related problem of how exactly an unregenerate slave to sin is supposed to repent of his sin, but I shudder to think of how this might doom the comment thread to a fruitless discussion about Cornelius the God-fearer in Acts 10. So forget I even mentioned it!
We shouldn’t gloss over Cornelius in this conversation! His story is completely germane. It was with him in mind that Peter spoke his words in Acts 10:35. The discussion of Cornelius by Calvinists shows to what great lengths they will go to warp and twist the scriptures. I have yet to read a satisfactory consideration of Acts 10 and 11 from the Traditinalist crowd. They add so many secondary assumptions to the text in order to make it jive with their theology that you can no longer believe what you read!

The whole story of Cornelius falsifies many of the Traditionalist views, but we can’t have that! So on with the modification of textual facts by the incessent inclusion of secondary assumptions!

Matthew writes:
Second, the FG interpretation of Acts 17:30-31 makes repentance a necessary precursor to faith, and therefore necessary for salvation in a roundabout way. Ironically, Bob Wilkin explicitly denies that repentance is a necessary precursor to faith (Confident in Christ, 201), and yet the FG view of Acts 17 makes it just that. In other words, if Paul’s hearers were first required to repent before they could believe and be saved, then repentance itself was presented as prerequisite for salvation. In this way, the FG view of repentance in Acts 17 makes repentance a preparatory act of obedience needed to prepare one’s heart (i.e., create the right disposition?—not exactly sure how to say it) to believe in Christ.
We must be very careful about allegations. There is no doubt that the whole world is commanded and therefore required to repent. But Paul is not requiring that the Athenians repent as a theological requirement for eternal salvation or as a universal pre-requisite to faith. The former cannot be argued from the text and the latter is not a Free Grace theology position.

We have already disccused it in this response thus far, but I would like to remind you that the Athenian’s idolotry would significantly impair the consideration of Christ’s exclusive claims. Paul knew this and issues the command accordingly, using the universal command to repent with a secondary specific purpose for the Athenians to abandon their idolotry in consideration of Jesus Christ and His gospel promise.

If Bob Wilkin specifically denies that repentance is a necessary precursor to faith, you ought to at least try to come to a synthesis of his instruction that would facilitate the inclusion of all his data without contradition before you make such conclusions. I am not saying that people don’t contradict themselves. But at the least we ought to give Christian people the benefit of the doubt at first and study to see if seemingly inconsistent thoughts can be rectified. And as concerning Bob Wilkin’s treatment of repentance, there is no contradiction.

Different people come to the table with various mindsets, personalities, and subjective conditioning. There is but one necessity for eternal life: faith into Christ who guarantees eternal life and resurrection to the believer. But each individual person is unique. Therefore, in our evangelism, we must take into account the subjective factors resident in our hearer’s present life-stage and tailor our message accordingly. We want to bring them to a point where they can best consider the gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ. This may consist of answering questions, presenting extra information about Jesus, discussing God’s temporal wrath against sin, etc.

Obviously we will do what time permits, and if we do not have much of it, we will want to head straightway for the gospel presentation followed by the absolutely free offer of eternal security.

As I have briefly taught earlier in this response, there are such things as logical necessities for belief. Yet apart from the issues of communication and understanding, there may be none. Especially take for instance children. They do not have a mind on the matter. The subjectivities of all the cause and conditioning of adulthood are not there. They are simple and trusting. They have no previous thoughts on the matters of God, eternity, and the gospel.

For me, on the day I was saved, there was no logical necessities needed for me to come to faith. I was already a theist, I already had a knowledge of Jesus Christ. I was ready!

The day my name was written in the Book of Life there was no promise to commit my life to Jesus as a requirement for justification, I didn’t turn my life and behavior around as a theologically necessary co-condition for eternal life, and I didn’t decide to forsake all that I have so that I could be counted with the eternally saved.

I came to Jesus as I was, with nothing to offer, poor and destitute! I simply relied upon his mercy and grace as expounded in the absolutely free offer contained in the gospel promise. I believed the message of God’s great love for me, Christ’s perfect act on my behalf, and trusted solely upon Jesus as the Guarantor of eternal life and resurrection.

I came empty-handed but left filled with the riches of His grace.
I offered nothing but received the greatest of gifts.
I presented myself as I was, dirty, poor, and helpless, but was introduced into a relationship with God the Father and His Son through the Holy Spirit.

There are no requirements to give up all, change your life, or change your behavior. If there was it would no longer be grace: “And if it is by grace, than it is no longer of works, or else grace is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6).

The Holy Spirit says it plainly, “And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17).

To conclude, repentance is never a theologically necessary condition for eternal life. It may facilitate faith, prepare for faith, put the mind into a receptive, subjective state, and in some cases at certain points, may be a logical necessity within a person who has a particular subjective nature of mind.

Bottom line: repentance is never a co-condition for eternal life.

Matthew writes:
Think of it this way. You want to take your son to the Dodger game. You are told over the phone that if you come to Dodger Stadium, you can purchase two tickets at the ticket window for only $12 ($6 per seat in the upper deck). So you drive up to the gate of the official stadium parking lot (which is the only one available, by the way) 20 minutes before opening pitch, and you find that it costs $10 to park your car there. Yes, technically it only costs $12 to enter the stadium, but if an additional $10 is needed for you to park your car before you can purchase your tickets, then it really costs you a total of $22 to enter the stadium. In the same way that the $10 parking fee is a necessary precursor to getting your tickets at the ticket window for $12, repentance is seen by FG people as a necessary precursor to faith and therefore a necessary condition for salvation (at least for Paul’s hearers in Acts 17). FG people may claim that their Dodger game costs only $12, but it really costs $22.
But the illustration leaves open the idea that the parking is not a necessary requirement! It is conceivable that the couple could walk, ride a bike, carpool, hitchhike, or any other number of other free possibilities.

But you may also see from Matthew’s illustration that parking in the official lot may greatly facilitate going to the game!

The tickets (for the couple) from the vantage point of the stadium is all that is required for entrance into the baseball game. There is no other requirement! From the perspective of the customer, there may be logical necessities in addition to the one condition that the stadium requires. The couple may need to provide for themselves: sunscreen, food, transportation, babysitting, shoes, clothing, etc.

It is God’s one and only requirement that we place our faith in His Son as the one who guarantees our eternal well-being. In the gospel promise, we are commanded to look to Christ for eternal life. Many people who are presented for the first time with the gospel are immediately persuaded, therefore believe into Jesus for eternal life.

Yet for others, the subjective nature of their mind may preclude them from faith.

The Reformed writer B.B. Warfield, who greatly disputes with the common Calvinist idea that faith is an act of the will, says:

“If evidence which is objectively adequate [to persuade us so that we may thus believe] is not subjectively adequate, the fault is in us.” (“On Faith and its Psychological Effects,” in Biblical and Theological Studies p. 398)

Jesus, understanding that men may not be prepared for faith in His exclusive claim in the gospel promise, spoke thus:

Luke 13:23-24
And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

Bob Wilkin's treatment on this passage:
Clearly the struggle involved here concerns finding the right gate to enter. The Lord's point is that those who don't know the way to eternal life should exert every effort to find out. It's as simple as that.

This concept is taught in a number of other passages of Scripture.

Hebrews 11:6 says that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

In John 6:27 the Lord told unbelieving Jews who were seeking more miraculous signs like the feeding of the 5,000 which had just occurred, "Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him." They then asked, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" (v 28). Jesus' response has nothing do with change of lifestyle. It is a simple call to faith. He said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (v29)!

In Acts 17:27 Paul told the Athenian philosophers that God has set up mankind "so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us."

Those who do not know the way to heaven are to strive to find out. They are to seek the truth.
(Newsletter of the Grace Evangelical Society, emphasis his)

We are commanded to look to Christ for our eternal well-being. If the subjective nature of our mind is in such an array as to preclude us from reliance, we should endeavor earnestly to examine the claims of Christ with an open mind, search the scriptures, pray to God, and thus “strive to enter the narrow gate”! (For those of you who can’t already tell, the narrow gate is Christ, and the way to enter is through faith alone into Him)

At the end of Matthew’s illustration that we just considered, he makes a sort of equivocation. He says “repentance is seen by FG people as a necessary precursor to faith and therefore a necessary condition for salvation (at least for Paul’s hearers in Acts 17)” (Emphasis mine). Well which is it, Matthew? Is it universal or just in Acts 17?

I have felt a significant tendency on Matthew’s part to put words into the mouths of Free Grace advocates.

I agree that repentance may be, in some cases, a logical necessity, as can be conceived in the situation at Athens with the base idolatry. Nevertheless I do not believe that it was a logical necessity for each and every one of the hearers that day. Furthermore, I do not believe that repentance is a necessary pre-requisite to faith, nor a universal logical necessity. It may merely be a facilitator, or completely uneccessary (as with those who are already prepared, or with children).

Repentance is in no way a theological necessity for eternal life.

God has conditioned the reception of the free gift of salvation on a simple act of faith in Christ for it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Free Grace Theology and Repentance -- A Reply To Matthew Waymeyer Part 5

Matthew writes:
Furthermore, does this getting right with God mean that one is no longer subject to His eternal judgment? FG would say “No,” which brings me to my next question: Then why did Paul say to the unbelievers: “Repent and get right with God [in a non-saving way] because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world through His Son”? If the “getting right with God” which takes place through repentance does not actually enable the unbeliever to escape eternal judgment (and FG says it doesn’t), then why does Paul refer to this judgment as the reason they need to repent?
More accurately, Paul is, in effect, saying (with his specific application of repentance in mind) “Repent of your idolotry as a means of seeking after God” which would have a purpose of preparation for faith in Christ.

Remember what he had just said in the same dissertation with them?

Acts 17:26-28
every nation … should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us

He just explained to them that God made the world and the nations. He related to them that God wanted them to seek Him, and that He is not far away, implying that if they would seek they will find! Paul then presents information concerning the one true God that is in contradistinction to the idolatrous paradigm that these Athenians had adopted. This mindset significantly impairs the consideration of Christ’s exclusive claims. He is asking them to adopt his message concerning the “unknown God” and repent of their idolatry so as to prepare themselves for harmony with God.

The Apostles’ concerns do not end with the eternal salvation of their hearers. In some ways their concerns do not even begin there. The Apostles’ wish to make disciples out of their hearers. They want to facilitate and promote a heart in their hearers which is ground conducive to this end. Worldliness, idolatry, immorality, and other factors create discord between men and God, whether or not they are saved or unsaved.

A primary and eternal relationship with God is established at the moment that one receives the absolutely free gift of eternal life through the instrumentality of faith alone into Jesus Christ. But this is not an end! This is a beginning! Various mindsets, personality traits, and sin will keep one from harmony with God, from developing and growing one’s relationship with Him. Harmony with God is a bedrock foundation for true discipleship under Jesus. The Apostles were charged to “make disciples”. They use many means to this end.

The Apostles’ are clear that simple faith alone into Christ receives eternal life and justification at the very moment of punctilliar faith into Jesus. They are also clear that discipleship is the expectation of every regenerate Christian. On one hand they will preach the freeness of the gospel offer of Christ, and on the other they will teach the responsibilities and duties of those whom are sons and daughters of God, yet they will never mix the conditions for the two.

Next, we are faced with Matthew’s continuing bald assertion that Acts 17:31 means the “final” judgment, IOW, eternal judgment. This has been, by far, left undemonstrated and argued for in his assessment and claims against the Free Grace position. The idea that this is eternal judgment underpins his whole argument against the Free Grace position in this passage. Wouldn’t you think that he would at least have argued that this is indeed what he says it is, especially in light of the fact that he gives so much weight to this assertion in the arguments he assumes follow from it?

Matthew, you have assumed much and demonstrated nothing!

We are going to discuss the judgment that Paul has in mind here further down the post, but I will at least give a short introduction to it now. There are two things that I want you to notice in Acts 17:31. First note the phrase “He [God] has appointed a day”. This day is none other than “the Day of the Lord”, Christ’s glorious “parousia”, the time between the rapture of the church and Christ’s glorious manifestation in the clouds. There should be no need to mention that the awesome “Day of the Lord” will manifest the temporal judgments of our Holy God on the world.

I am surprised that Matthew hadn’t considered this to be the “Day of the Lord” seeing that he is a graduate from a (supposedly) dispensationalist seminary!

Next, in support of the fact that this is the day of the Lord, notice the phrase “He will judge the world”. The word "world" doesn't fit the "final judgment" scenario (unless someone believes that there will be such a day for ALL men contrary to John and Revelation). The final judgment will be only for unbelievers at the Great White Throne judgment, not the whole “world”. Believers do “not come into judgment”, because they have already “passed from death unto life”. Too, it is the world (the physical earth and its inhabitants) that will be judged in the Great Tribulation of the “Day of the Lord”.

The word “world” does fit with the judgments that are sure to come during the Great Tribulation. For it is during this time that God will mete out his wrath upon the world and its inhabitants.

The universal command to repent that Paul exhorts upon his Athenian hearers is Paul's version of "flee from the wrath to come."

In essence, Paul is saying to the Athenians in Acts 17:30-31:

"Turn to the one true and living God whose judgment can begin at any time and put faith in His Son who is the Executor of His judgment" (see Rev. 5).

We will again revisit the theme of the universal command to repent in light of the Day of the Lord further along in this response.

Moving on to another issue:

How do we know that Paul preached faith alone into Christ alone for justification? Because he always did that! This was his message!

Look. Paul went to the Areopagus. He was summoned to speak concerning his views. When I read his sermon in Acts 17, it took me only 45 seconds to finish! The words recorded by Luke in this sermon are "the merest fragment" of what Paul actually said (see p. 85 in Harmony with God by Zane Hodges) and they are Luke's presentation of the speech for his own literary purposes. One should beware of making Luke's record say more than it does.

Did Paul preach Christ’s death on the cross? More than likely! Remember, this only takes 45 seconds to read and is a major abridgment of Paul’s speech.

Furthermore, we read at the end of the passage:

Acts 17:34
However, some men joined him and believed [!!]

For Luke, believing on Christ is the sole instrument that receives justification and eternal life, bringing with it the initial and eternal forgiveness of sins and thus harmony with God:

Acts 15:9
and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.

Acts 26:18
that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me

Acts 16:31
So they said,"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved”

Acts 13:48
And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Acts 13:39
and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Acts 10:43
To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.

It is abundantly clear that for Luke faith into Jesus brings with it the resultant of justification, eternal life, and initial, positional forgiveness of sins. A great number of passages in the New Testament conjoin the responsibility for the unsaved to believe into Jesus for the resultant of eternal salvation, Luke notwithstanding.

The Traditionalist cannot point to even one verse that conjoins repentance with a result of eternal life – not in Acts 17, not in the whole book of Acts, not in the Bible!

How can the Calvinist continue to assert his unbiblical insistence to add repentance as a condition for eternal life in light of no scriptural support?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Free Grace Theology and Repentance -- A Reply To Matthew Waymeyer Part 4

Matthew writes:
In his book Confident in Christ, Bob Wilkin says there are four different reasons why individuals are exhorted to repent of their sins in the Bible. The first reason is “for believers and unbelievers to escape temporal judgment” (Confident in Christ, 207). This couldn’t be the case in Acts 17:30, because verse 31 tells us clearly that repentance was needed to escape eternal judgment, not temporal judgment.
It is obvious that Matthew has begged the question. He is all assertion and no proof. Has he made the case that eternal judgment is in view? We will show in this response that the judgment here is indeed temporal.

Keep in mind that unrepented of sin may bring the judgment/wrath of God in time upon those guilty of it. We must remember that repentance will avert temporal judment of sin for as long as the repentance perseveres. I will make a case for this further along in the response.

At this point let us make this for certain:

Matthew has based the whole of his argument upon an alleged fact that the repentance here is commanded in light of eternal judgment.

What is equally apparent is this:

Matthew has not given even a sentence or shred of proof that the judgment spoken about in Acts 17:30 is indeed eternal, IOW, the final judgment.

This is quite telling. The Traditionalist cannot go to a single text in the whole of the Bible that conjoins a command to repent with a resultant of eternal salvation, eternal life or justification. Therefore he must work his magic, stringing together texts and arguments, pulling what he can out of his hat. This text nor any other in the Bible conditions eternal salvation with an act of repentance.

Matthew’s argument contends that the reason repentance is commanded in this text is because a purpose clause associates it with eternal judgment. He then adds the secondary assumption, that if this is talking about eternal judgment, repentance must be necessary for eternal salvation.

There are two great assumptions being made here that he does not seek to support:

1) the judgment in view here is eternal judgment
2) the purpose statement associating the command to repent with judgment conclusively maintains that the purpose for repentance is to avoid hell.

It is a progression of assumption and bald assertion without a single argument offered in support of it!

Matthew writes:
According to Wilkin, the fourth reason that individuals were exhorted to repent in Scripture is “for unbelievers to get right with God” (ibid., 208). As Wilkin writes, “If an unbeliever decides to turn from his sins in order to get right with God, then he will be more open to the gospel” (ibid., 209). In other words, even though repentance is not a necessary condition of eternal life, repentance “may make a person more receptive to the gospel” (ibid., 208). Stated another way, repentance may prepare someone to believe in Christ.
I will not argue with this assessment.

Paul stated in the very same sermon in

Acts 17:26-27
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth… so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

There are many subjective elements resident in the mind that could potentially preclude one from faith. Pride and arrogance, self-sufficiency, atheism, and idolotry are just a few off the top of my head. When men, by an act of their will, turn from these things in order to search after the living God, they are placing themselves in a greater position and environment for faith.

Obviously it is through God’s grace that we seek Him, but our wills are involved. We can all look back on our lives and see how we were prepared through our own volitional actions in response to God-wrought circumstances.

Emptiness inside is what motivated me to seek the Lord. Lack of meaning and purpose and being in a seemingly worthless existence prompted me to search for fulfillment in the God I knew existed. Often when people come to the end of their rope, sensing their sinful condition in contrast to a holy God who they know exists from the innate knowledge that is within them, turn from their sins in repentance, setting their face on finding the Lord.

Not everyone has the same subjective elements that can hinder faith. Ever since I can remember I have believed in God and was convinced that there was a heaven and hell. I remember at various times fearing death because of a dreadful uncertainty about my eternal well-being. Certain times of my life were characterized by seeking truth. It is interesting to note that it wasn’t until I was 22 that I first heard the gospel message.

People come from different backgrounds. Some from very religious ones, and others from atheistic, humanistic, and worldly upbringings. I remember a helpful device that I was introduced to in a missions textbook. It is called the Engels Scale (if memory serves me right). It was a scale from –10 to 0 to +10, ranging from rank atheist (-10) to regeneration (0) to mature Christian (+10).

Often, in our relational and friendship evangelism with those who we work with, our neighbors, friends, etc, we must deal with certain subjective issues that reside in their minds. We do this by means of what is commonly considered “pre-evangelism”. In many of my dealings with college age men and women at my work, origins discussions have been very fruitful. They have been so indoctrinated by an evolutionary mindset that it is difficult for them to consider that God (if there is a God) has personal concerns and affections toward them.

Because each person comes to the table with a different array of personality traits and beliefs, varying pre-evangelism methods may have to be employed to bring the mind to a subjective state prepared for faith.

Still, there may be some in whom no actice preparation is necessary. Think for instance of a child. They don’t have a mind to change, nor resistances built up. They hear the Word of God in a sort of theological vacuum.

Repentance may be a positive step in the life of an unbeliever, through which he seeks God. As well it may place him in a position of being more open and considerate to the gospel.

When we seek God, we will find Him! "He is not far from each one of us" and “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6).

Matthew writes:
In his book, Harmony with God: A Fresh Look at Repentance, Hodges writes this about the unbelievers in Acts 17:

Obviously, the pagan idolatry of Paul’s hearers stood in the way of their turning to the true and living God in faith. No one who believed in the worship of images was properly prepared to accept the exclusive claims of the Creator and of His Son, Jesus Christ” (Harmony with God, 84-85).
Matthew doesn’t refute or disagree with this point. As Zane has well put it, “obviously” the Athenian’s idolotry would significantly prevent many of them from being persuaded as to Christ’s exclusive claims.

Matthew writes:
As Hodges explains further, this illustrates “how repentance can prepare the way for faith,” (ibid., 86) which is the sole condition for eternal life. And that, he says, is why Paul exhorted his unbelieving hearers to repent even though repentance is not necessary for salvation.
You have either misunderstood or you do mischaracterize Zane’s position. He never said that this is the exclusive reason Paul exhorts his hearers to repent.

There is a two-fold reason, Matthew, that Paul exhorts the Athenians to repent. Paul took from the general and universal aspect of the call to the world unto repentance and made a specific application from it for another benefit to the Greeks.

The universal call to repentance and its purpose will be discussed later in this response. Paul knew that the idolotry of the Athenians significantly impaired the prospects of these people accepting “the exclusive claims of the Creator and of His Son, Jesus Christ” (Zane Hodges). Therefore as an application of the universal aspect of the call to repentance, Paul calls upon the Athenians to turn from their idolatry, for they “ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising” (Acts 17:29). They needed to think long and hard about the error of their idolatry so they can beneficially examine the exclusive claims and gospel offer of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew writes:
First, this interpretation makes me wonder: how exactly does an unbeliever “get right with God” prior to his conversion?… So in what sense can FG people speak of unbelievers “getting right with God” apart from coming to Christ for salvation?
Fair enough question.

This is simple. The one who is seeking God is endeavoring to “get right with God”. It is from the perspective of the unbeliever who is repenting and seeking after God. He is “groping” after God in the attempt to be in harmony with God.

Acts 10:35
But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

Cornelius was not yet born again. However, he did fear God and work righteousness:

Acts 10:1-2
Cornelius [was] a devout man and one who feared God… who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.

Cornelius feared God (text explicitly says that) and worked righteousness (he gave alms generously to the people). He fulfilled Acts 10:35 and as a result this unbeliever was accepted (see what I mean by this below) by God. He was seeking after God and praying that he might be shown the way. Cornelius diligently sought the Lord and prayed to God to show him how he might be saved:


Acts 10:30-31
Cornelius said, "Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.


Acts 11:13-14
And he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his house, who said to him, 'Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.'

According to my biblical view, people in any nation can seek God and incite Him to send them the good news of Jesus Christ whereby they can and will be saved. It is in this way that they are “accepted” by God.

For a great treatment on Acts 10:35, see Bob Wilkin’s article in the Grace Evangelical Society’s Newsletter

God will reward the unsaved who diligently seek Him by bringing them the gospel message whereby they will be saved.

Cornelius is a vivid illustration of this principle!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Free Grace Theology and Repentance -- A Reply To Matthew Waymeyer Part 3

Matthew writes:
“In order to proclaim the gospel clearly,” writes Bob Wilkin, “we must be exceedingly careful what we say, if anything, about repentance. The simplest course would be to say nothing about repentance” (“Preaching and Teaching About Repentance,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, 4/1 [Spring, 1991]).
It is interesting that Matthew states the current view of Bob Wilkin, that he denies that repentance is a condition for salvation, and then follows it with this quote.

You see, in 1991, when he wrote the quoted article, Bob Wilkin did believe that repentance was a condition for eternal life. He actually wrote his doctoral dissertation at Dallas Seminary on this view.

It is rather odd that Matthew would use this quote (which takes for granted that repentance is necessary for salvation) as an argument against Bob’s current position that denies repentance as a condition for eternal life.

Thus this quote was taken out of context.

Was Matthew only looking for “fuel” to flame his fire?

I really am pleased that Matthew has taken time to review some Free Grace materials rather than relying solely on reading its detractors (as the highest percentage of those opposed to FG theology do!). He has gone farther than most people who have entered the fray. Yet his analysis of Free Grace Theology leaves much to be desired. Although he has put forth some effort, he has not grasped (for reasons that could be multitudinous) many of the foundational tenets of FG theology and thus has often (although I will admit without improper motive) mischaracterized that which he is seeking to disprove.

Matthew writes:
Ironically, one evangelist who did not follow this path was the apostle Paul.
This is an assertion which the data thus far has not supported. We have seen that for both the Apostles John and Paul that faith alone apart from anything else is the passive instrument receiving eternal life and justification. There is neither jot nor tittle of repentance in the gospel of John, who, for an express purpose of evangelism, wrote his gospel. Likewise, Paul is silent concerning this issue in his extensive treatment of justification by faith in Romans 3-5 and his defense of his gospel in the book of Galatians.

Furthermore, not a single biblical passage conjoins a command to repent with a resultant of eternal life, justification, or eternal salvation. The silence from the Traditionalist on this point is deafening.

Matthew writes:
In his sermon in Acts 17:22-31, Paul concluded his message by exhorting his hearers to respond to the gospel, proclaiming:

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31; emphasis added).

This, of course, raises an obvious question: If Paul exhorted his hearers to repent in response to the gospel, how can FG disciples deny that repentance is part of the message of salvation? Put another way, if FG theology is true, why did Paul command his hearers to repent?
I think another more obvious question is raised: If John the Apostle expresses the sole condition for eternal life as believing in Jesus for it, if Paul proclaims justification by faith alone in Christ alone in his characteristically doctrinal epistles, why does Paul not mention “faith” alone into Jesus at all in this dissertation that Matthew calls a gospel presentation (with the elements of 1 Cor 15:3ff peculiarly absent)?

John MacArthur states “do not dismiss it [repentance] as simply another word for believing” (ibid., 178). John MacArthur and many Traditionalists rightly propose that faith and repentance are different, but erroneously assert that both are equally necessary for salvation. In light of the Traditionalist’s doctrine, is it not interesting that Paul, here in Acts 17, omits any mention of faith in Jesus as a condition for justification?

There are still other Traditionalists who contend that faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin. What becomes imperative for the lost is no longer simple faith but a “super faith”. Ed Sullivan used to say, “We’ve got a really, really, big shew for you tonight!” What the Lordship Salvation proponents require from the unsaved is a really, really big faith! It has become so loaded down with theological baggage that it’s simplicity is lost.

When I have spoken to people who adhere to this view, I get the impression that they are walking a tight rope. When I suggest that in their theology that a “super-kind of faith” is what makes saving faith saving, they deny it. But it cannot be! The Traditionalist has critically altered the essential nature of faith. Its value has morphed from the passive ideas of conviction, persuasion, assurance, being convinced, and taking one at his word to the volitional concepts of commitment, surrender, forsaking, giving, and obedience.

“…two men might believe exactly the same things in terms of content, yet if one of them exhibited what seemed to be a ‘fruitless’ Christian experience, his faith would be condemned as ‘intellectual assent’ or ‘head belief’ over against ‘heart belief.’ In a word, his faith was a false faith – it was a faith that did not, and could not, save…

What [is] really missing in false faith, so they affirm… [are] the elements of true repentance and submission to God. Thus, saving faith ought not to be defined in terms of trust alone, but also in terms of commitment to the will of God. In the absence of this kind of submission, they insist…, one could not describe his faith as biblical faith.

If there existed a theological Trojan horse, this point of view is it!

[The Lordship proponents] completely insupportable definition of saving faith… transforms the offer of a free gift of eternal life into a ‘contract’ between the sinner and God, and it turns the joy of Christian living into a grueling effort to verify our faith and acceptance before God.” (Zane Hodges, Absolutely Free! p. 27)

I say that it isn’t the kind of faith that makes saving faith saving, it is the object of the faith that makes saving faith saving.

It is not our turning from sins, our change of direction, our submission to Christ, or promise to obey that saves, it is trust alone in Christ who has promised eternal life as a present possession to the believer. Christ, the object of our simple faith, is what makes saving faith saving.

How is it that when we discuss faith as it pertains in the theological realm, that it takes a whole other significance than the way it is commonly and universally understood? How is it that the exercise of faith in the theological arena is experimentally ascertained by the subjective qualities that have been imported into this word? The simple concept of faith has been evacuated and its theological shell loaded with such ideas as repentance, submission, obedience, and contrition by those who deem that apathy in our churches ought to be fought with the inclusion of works on the front end of the gospel offer.


“I may not have true saving faith, I need to repent more, feel more contrition, change my direction, pick up my cross, obey Christ. I may not have the right kind of faith, the subjective elements of the fruit of my faith and repentance may show that I only have head faith and not heart faith.”

Repentance and the other importations in Traditionalism’s “kitchen sink” soteriology necessarily become the object of one’s confidence that God has been affected toward him. A simple look to the Savior cannot suffice, for faith alone in Christ alone has been abandoned for a synergy of reliance on Jesus and reliance on self. As long as faith in Christ is not enough, obsession over one’s own responsibilities to repent, submit, surrender, give, and obey can prevail.

The faith that the Traditionlist requires for eternal life is not the simple, every-day, kind of faith that we exercise. It is no longer taking someone at his word. It is no longer being convinced that something is true. It is no longer the passive result of being persuaded by circumstances, deliberation, communication, and/or evidence. In the realm of theology it has become an act of the will that includes everything with the kitchen sink. Traditionalism should be called “kitchen sink” theology in light of its burdensome addition of volitional acts of many kinds to the concept of faith.

Questions for Matthew:

In the text of Luke 17, did Paul preach his gospel (1 Cor 15:3ff)?
Did Paul mention eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification?

I will not dispute that Paul preached the gospel and mentioned eternal salvation in his discourse to the Athenians on that day, yet Luke did not include it.

But seeing that this is an obvious mere fragment of what Paul said, how can Matthew be so dogmatic and asserting?

Luke’s purposes were clearly dealing specifically with the issue of idolatry, and the Athenian's errors in practicing and promoting it. How this small fragment was used, associated, and precisely incorporated in the greater context of Paul’s unrevealed discourse, that assuredly contained the gospel and the condition to believe in Christ, is not Luke’s concern; althugh he alludes to it, he doesn't care to reveal its details. The Traditionalist on the other hand has filled in the blanks for us by use of assumptions, speculations, and the liberal importation of his theology.

Matthew’s posture is clearly a case of one assumption leading to another! In order to make his argument work, he has had to assume many elements. I just don’t think it is wise for him to glean a major theological doctrine from such an abbreviated discourse that in the end must have its blank spots filled in (by mere secondary assumption) to support his claims.

Can’t Matthew go to a gospel or an epistle to prove his point? It seems a particularly specious argument to make so much out of so little. There is no mention of the gospel in the text nor the requirement to believe in Christ. And in opposition to his doctrine, there is no command to repent with the expressly stated resultant of eternal life, eternal salvation or justification!

Many have praised him for his exegesis. I would rather call it sleight of hand!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Free Grace Theology and Repentance -- A Reply To Matthew Waymeyer Part 2

Matthew writes:
Because they deny that repentance is a condition for salvation, FG teachers believe that calling unbelievers to repent of their sin in response to the gospel can be dangerous because of how it muddies the waters of the true gospel.
Wouldn’t that be logical? I mean, if, as proponents of Free Grace Theology, we believe that repentance is not a condition for salvation, why would we include it as such, calling for unbelievers to repent of their sin in response to the gospel?

Muddying the waters is a terrible understatement. Let me explain what I mean…

I agree with most Reformed people’s definition of repentance. It starts with a change of mind and remorse for the sin, proceeds with a volitional act whereby one turns away from his sin, and ends in a complete change of direction with commensurate works intow.

Yet I disagree with the Reformed Lordship proponent that repentance is a condition for eternal life.

If an unbeliever is told that repentance is a condition for eternal life, as a result he then must necessarily base a portion of his confidence in his own act of repenting, inasmuch as he has been told that his very eternal destiny is partially conditioned on this act of repentance!

The reliance of the one believing the synergistic message of the Traditionalist which conditions eternal life on both faith in Christ and the volitional acts of repentance are clearly split, one eye on Christ while the other is on self.

This is not merely muddying the waters! This is failing to clearly enunciate the essential nature of God’s gift – absolutely free! Repentance is a volitional work done by the one repenting. Therefore if repentance is necessary for eternal life, then the same is conditioned on works!

John MacArthur defines repentance as:

“a complete change of heart, attitude, interest, and direction. It is a conversion in every sense of the word.” (The Gospel According to Jesus, Revised and Expanded, pg 38)

It is conversion in every sense of the word, says MacArthur. As one of the definitions on dictionary.com, and under the religious category, conversion means a complete change of life and thus behavior.

It is manifestly apparent that:

1) if repentance is conversion in every sense of the word
2) if conversion = change of life and behavior
3) if repentance is a necessary condition for eternal life


4) a change of life and behavior is necessary for eternal life


5) A person’s works are an indispensible requirement for final salvation, and we have a clear-cut case of works-salvation.

MacArthur continues with his definition of repentance as:

“a complete turnaround, a full change of direction” (ibid., 118)

Do you see where this gets us? If we are to preach repentance to the unsaved as a response to the gospel and a condition of the gospel promise, we are, in effect, telling them that “a complete turnaround” and “a full change of direction” is required as a condition for their eternal well being!

Salvation no longer depends fully upon Christ but now has as an added condition the positive response to a call to repent as a condition for eternal life.

MacArthur agreeably quotes D. Lloyd-James who says that in repentance:

“you renounce the world, whatever the cost… you deny yourself, and take up the cross and follow Christ… That is repentance.” (ibid., 181)

If repentance, according to MacArthur, is taking up a cross and following Christ, and again, repentance is necessary for salvation, then how can the Traditionalist answer to the inevitable accusation of works-salvation? Answer: he can’t logically do so. He must rely upon sophistry, and contradiction masquarading as “tension”.

For the Traditionalist, repentance involves a renunciation of the world which he may have to pay dearly for: notice “whatever the cost”! Repentance has an inherent price to be paid! In light of this, how can the Traditionalist resolve the conflict between his insistence that the unsaved respond to the gospel with repentance as a condition for salvation and the Scriptures which simply offer eternal life as a free gift?

Rev 22:17
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.

The terms of the gospel are clear. Eternal life is the appropriation of the sinner who believes on Jesus alone as his Guarantor of eternal life and resurrection. Justification is the declaration upon all who have faith alone in Christ alone apart from works:

Rom 4:4-5
Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness

Rom 11:6
And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

Requiring repentance as a contractual proviso, which we have seen the Traditionalist equate with a change of life, a costly price, and the hard works of picking up one’s cross and following Jesus, does irreparable damage to the sharp distinction and antithesis that Paul asserts between faith and works.

The antinomy that Paul places on faith and works in the arena of soteriology is blurred beyond function in the writings of Traditionalists. For example, the Traditionalist’s doctrine states that:

1) Repentance encompasses personal, volitional works (as has been shown)
2) Saving faith is equated with obedience (ibid., 38-39)
3) The Christian must persevere in faith and good works or hell is certain (the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints)

I have understated – “blurred” is not appropriate term; “destroyed” is a better choice. The Traditionalist, in order to save his doctrine of a faith/works conditional synergy in his soteriology, has voided Paul’s insistence of the complete separation of faith and works in the realm of eternal salvation.

As a conclusion to this section, the Free Grace advocate, as a general rule, will not include a call to repentance in parallel with his gospel presentation. It has the potential to not only “muddy” the waters of the true gospel, its inclusion as a condition for eternal life fatally compromises the free reception of the absolutely without-cost gift of salvation.

Repentance has an altogether different function and role. Yes, it is a doctrine for all men, saved and unsaved. Yet, it is not a condition for eternal life and the inclusion of such compromises the integrity of Jesus Christ’s promise and the gift of God (not to mention the ascertainment of assurance of salvation, which issue may have to wait for another time).

Friday, August 11, 2006

Free Grace Theology and Repentance -- A Reply To Matthew Waymeyer Part 1

Recently in a post on Faith and Practice, Matthew Waymeyer has taken a considerable amount of time to cast aspersions upon Free Grace theology. In all honesty, his spirit was irenic and he endeavored to both understand Free Grace theology and objectively characterize it. In this I applaud you, Matthew, for many in the Traditionalist line of thinking give no great effort to accurately portray the position of my advocacy.

Having cut and pasted his article on my word processor, I have found that his article is 4 ½ pages. In order that I may give a thorough consideration to his post this response will be considerably longer than his.

In view of the reader’s patience, I will post my response in 4 or 5 segments, one a day.

You may view his article here. In this response, every major argument will be engaged.

Matthew writes:
According to “Free Grace” (hereafter FG), repentance is not necessary for salvation.
In my responses to the Reformed Lordship Salvation of Matthew I may be required to be specific and technical.

As a technical assertion, his statement here is correct. In the Bible, and thus accordingly, Free Grace theology, repentance is not a theologically necessary condition for the reception of eternal salvation, with its two major, Biblically witnessed, components: eternal life and justification.

The consideration of theological necessity and logical necessity will be discussed throughout this response. As a short intro to the difference between theological and logical necessity, the following illustration is given:

The local grocery store sells a Twix candybar for 75 cents. As far as the grocery store is concerned, the the sole requirement for the acquisition of that candy bar by the customer is to be imbursed 75 cents. This fact cannot be overstated!

The requirement for the payment of 75 cents is all that is necessary for the customer to acquire said candy bar. Yet there may be other necessities from the point of view of the customer. He needs to acquire for himself 75 cents! He may have to beg, borrow, steal, ask, or work for the money, or even possibly he is already prepared for it by having found the 75 cents on the ground. It will be necessary for him to be in possession of the payment for the candy bar. So seen from another perspective, any process by which he acquires the money that is necessary for the purchase of the candy bar may be an essential step in the appropriation of said candy bar.

The only theologically necessary condition for eternal life is to believe the gospel promise of the Lord Jesus Christ. There may be few or a great number of logically necessary conditions in order to get to the point of faith, depending upon the subjective nature of the mind and personality to which the gospel message is addressed, but we must not confuse them with the sole theological necessity: faith alone into Christ alone.

In the story of the rich young ruler, Jesus, sensing that the man would not come to faith in Him for eternal life because of the ruler’s characteristic reliance and trust in riches, tailored a conversation with him that revealed the man’s failure to obey the whole law, and identified to the crowd “how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24). The man’s mind needed to have a paradigm shift as a logical requirement for faith. As long as he relied on his riches for everything, he could not come to the point of trust upon Jesus for entrance into the kingdom.

There are logical necessities! Just think for a moment. Would not a person have to understand language or symbols in order that he might comprehend the communication of the gospel? Therefore he must be able to read with comprehension, hear with understanding, or decipher Braille. Does not a person have to have the mental capabilities to understand the communication as well?

As long as a man remains an atheist, it will be impossible to convince him of the gospel promise. There may be several conditions to fill and hoops to jump through in order to set the mind in the right subjective environment for faith. These are the logical necessities. Repentance may be a necessary logical requirement for salvation in the same way that belief in the existence of God would be.

Matthew writes:
FG teaches that… repentance… is not…part of the message of the gospel. As Zane Hodges has written, “Repentance is never presented in the NT as a condition for eternal life” (Harmony with God, 109).
As a preliminary consideration, the reader must be aware of a cogent biblical fact that necessarily places a huge burden of proof upon the Traditionalist:

Nowhere in the Bible is the reception of eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification conditioned on an act of repentance.

The Traditionalist must string together texts and arguments in order to support his unbiblical assertion that repentance is a theologically binding requirement for the possession of eternal salvation. In his arguments, the fallacy of special pleading is a common trait, for there is no clear text that makes his point.

He cannot point to even one text that explicitely commands repentance for the express purpose of the appropriation of eternal life. There is no such verse or passage.

If this is such an important element in the discussion of the critical components of the gospel message it is odd – no, it is incredible – that not a single verse clearly conjoins a command to repent with a resultant appropriation of: eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification.

Isn’t the reception of eternal life/justification of utmost importance to a lost sinner on his way to hell? I mean, listen – the information on how a person is initiated into a relationship with God is of dire necessity! Wouldn’t you think that an issue of such great import would be properly clarified by the God who “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4)? Isn’t it unbelievable that in the whole canon of scripture, that if eternal well-being is contingent partly on an act of repentance, that no text whatsoever conditions a result of eternal salvation on such an act?

The apostle John, who is not unfamiliar with the doctrine of repentance, as he presents it more than any other New Testament writer other than Luke (10 mentions in Revelation), whose gospel was written for an express purpose of evangelism (John 20:30-31), nevertheless is conspicuously silent on repentance as a condition for the appropriation of eternal life.

Would it not be a major error of inestimable proportions that if repentance is indeed a necessary requirement for eternal life that John the apostle would not include a single reference to it as a condition for salvation, yeah, even further, fail to mention it even once in the whole of his gospel written so that men could have eternal life?

This would be like writing a book on “Major Treatments for Heart Disease” and yet fail to mention open heart surgery (an illustration borrowed from Zane Hodges).

The evidence in regard to this chilling and absolute silence of the fourth gospel in mentioning repentance in conjunction with the indisputable instrument of eternal life’s appropriation, faith into Jesus for it, can have only 1 of 3 possible ramifications:

1) John, the disciple who leaned “on Jesus' bosom”, the apostle “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), was not aware that the free reception of eternal life was in someway conditioned upon an act of repentance by the unsaved and thus presented an inadequate and therefore faulty testimony in this matter.

2) John, the apostle “who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24), purposely omitted a crucial component of the promise of eternal life for reasons that could only be speculated upon (the first one that would come to mind is some form of mal-intent).

3) John, who knew that “which was from the beginning”, who declared what he “heard” and saw with his “eyes”, who revealed that which he “looked upon” and his hands “handled, concerning the Word of life”, who bore “witness” and declared to us “that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to” him (1 John 1:1-2) did not consider, did not believe, and was not under the conviction that repentance was a necessary requirement for the appropriation of eternal well-being.

If we agree to the following:

1) John told the truth
2) John wrote his gospel with a purpose of evangelism

and admit to the following (which cannot be denied):

3) John did not require repentance in his Gospel as a condition for the appropriation of eternal life, as he did not even mention it once in the whole of his discourse; repentance being shockingly absent from its whole.

We must necessarily come to this conclusion:

4) Repentance is not a theological necessary condition for the reception of eternal life.

Furthermore, we must consider our dear brother, the apostle Paul. The idea of repentance is a category strikingly absent from him. In his whole discussion of justification by faith in Romans 3-5, there is not even one mention of repentance as a condition for eternal salvation. It is also noteworthy to share that Paul only mentions repentance 5 times in his epistles (half as many as John), although he wrote 13 (possibly 14) out of the 27 New Testament books. And none of these passages in which he speaks of this doctrine does he regard repentance as a condition for the reception of eternal salvation.

In addition, what is even more damaging to the Traditionalist position is the utter absence of repentance in the book of Galatians. This epistle is Paul’s defense of his gospel wherein he heralds clear and loud the essential tenet that righteousness is imparted through faith alone in Jesus. It is indeed significant that repentance is absent in a book where Paul is presenting and defending the gospel message he received directly from the Lord. For Paul, faith alone into Christ is the sole theological requirement for justification and eternal salvation.

What we are faced with is dozens upon dozens of clear and unambiguous statements of scripture that condition eternal life/justification through faith alone in Christ alone.

For thoroughness, I feel I ought to at least refer us to some of these clear and unambiguous statements that conjoin the requirement of faith/belief with the result – eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification:

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:36
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life

John 6:40
And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:47
Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.

Rom 3:21-22
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

Rom 3:26
that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Rom 4:5
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,

Rom 5:1
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

Gal 2:16
knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Gal 3:2
This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Gal 3:21-22
But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

1 Tim 1:16-17
16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.

We are equally confronted by the striking absence of a single verse in the whole of the Bible that conjoins a command to repent with a stated purpose of the appropriation of eternal salvation.

Can the Traditionalist produce even ONE clear and unambiguous verse that conditions eternal life, justification, or eternal salvation with a requirement of repentance?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Our Confidence

As long as any works are necessary to establish that a man is regenerate, then works become the basis of His confidence instead of Christ. As soon as some specific fruit of regeneration is said to necessarily follow faith, then it becomes difficult to avoid asking, "Do I have this fruit in sufficient degree of manifestation to establish that my faith is real?"

Furthermore, if works are either a basis of assurance or necessary for assurance, then it is impossible for a man to have assurance until works ahve been manifested in his life. This leads to the absurd conclusion that a man can believe in Christ but not know that he has believed. In fact, he cannot really know if he has believed until he finds himself believing at the "final hour". then, and only then, have his works verified his faith to be that of the "elect" and not of the reprobate.

Traditionalists maintain that the reprobate can have similar feelings and evidences of regeneration as the "elect". How then does one know if he is of the reprobate? Some means of discrimination are immediately thrust upon the Christian mind: Is my faith only temporary? Am I a spiritual defector who hasn't defected yet? How can I know if my faith is saving faith? Wherein do they differ?

Traditionalism is caught in an abusive cycle of doubt and fear, circulating on the carousel of performance based reasoning: is God affected toward me? His confidence must necessarily be based in his works and not Christ. Christ died for the elect and only the elect will persevere in faith and works. Therefore Christ cannot be the conscious object of the confidence of their election, it must be their works, for their look to Christ cannot guarantee that they are elect, they could merely be reprobate with some of the transient characteristics of grace. Works are the confidence of the Traditionalist.

The traditionalism of the classic Calvinists is an anthropocentric religion. Their assurance of salvation is assessed by their production of works.

Not so with Biblical Christianity:

"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!"

Jesus died for all so there is no need to ascertain if he died specifically for you, if you are one of the select and fortunate elect.

"Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has eternal life"

Eternal life is the guaranteed receipt of everyone who merely places his trust in the promise of Christ to do so.

My confidence is in Christ. Our confidence must be in Christ!

Antonio da Rosa

Key Words: Calvinism, Temporary faith, spurious faith, Calvin, Reformed, doctrines of grace

Friday, August 04, 2006

I've Been Tagged! Part 1

Wow. I am tagged. I feel so loved and fortunate.

One book that changed your life:
Believe it or not, it is the book -- Absolutely Free!

I believed into Jesus Christ October 3, 1993 and I received the free gift of eternal life and was regenerated.

I wish I could remember the name or even the face of the gentlemen who presented the gospel to me at Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, CA that night of my first visit to a non-Catholic church. He gave me the unadulterated gospel and the offer of eternal life. I believed Christ’s promise and that evening I was certain (I am tempted to say absolutely certain, but that would be redundant – words have meaning! – I don’t want to get into anti-postmodern rantings) that I had guaranteed eternal life that couldn’t ever be lost no matter what I believed or did in the future.

Two weeks later I was perusing the tract rack at the information booth at church and took a few handfuls of different tracts in order that I could share with others the same message that I had heard, the revelation that changed my life.

Contained in the text of one of those tracts that day were “steps” to getting saved. I think there were like 4 or 5 conditions to get right with God. One of them was “repent of your sins” and it explained that I had to turn away from my sins, do a complete 180 degrees with my life, and that this was indeed a condition for salvation.

I couldn’t resolve the tension in my head. Here a tract from the church I got saved at is saying that I had to do, what my mind had already considered as, a volitional work in order to be saved! It was saying that this act was something in addition to believing into Jesus. I started thinking. What work could be done to supplement Christ’s complete and finished work upon the cross, validated by His resurrection from the dead? I was wondering if I were confused for no good reason.

I proceeded to call the church and I asked for the senior pastor, Dr. David Jeremiah (of Turning Point radio and television ministry). I didn’t know that such people were so unapproachable; as they asked me who I was, what I wanted and assured me that he was much too busy for me. I told them my problem and they asked if some other kind of pastor would do. I supposed it would and said, “Yes.”

This man must have been Pastor of Janitorial Duties, for he was of no help whatsoever; he couldn’t give a straight answer!

That day I thought about it and resolved it: faith alone in Christ alone is the only thing necessary to appropriate eternal life. It was sufficient; the tract must be mistaken!

Within a year of being saved I was living on the campus of a bible college with a huge name: Linda Vista Baptist Bible College and Seminary.

I am trying to remember how I was introduced to Zane Hodges and Absolutely Free! Maybe it will come to me later. I just remember having the book and reading it and being amazed how it all fell together. I remember being in a little group study with some of the students and using a chapter of that book as a guide to a study I gave.

This book revolutionized the way I saw the Bible, and introduced me to a man in whom I am very deeply grateful, and now know personally.

The chapter on repentance especially was excellent, as it treated the subject with the skillfulness and impact it deserves. It shows how repentance is for all men, both saved and unsaved, yet not as a condition for eternal life. This chapter, by the way, can be found online here:

I have since read all Zane Hodges published books, and other books that he has been a contributor to. I have much media, audio, video, and printed material as well of him. He taught at Dallas Theological Seminary for 27 years, with an emphasis in Greek and New Testament.

He is a very humble and godly man who the Lord has blessed with extreme insight into His word, to which I praise God daily for.

I had the opportunity to meet him some 4 or 5 years ago (after being in email correspondence with him for a year prior) in Dallas, Texas. I went to his church, shared the Lord’s table with him, brethren style, and later that evening I was able to treat him to a dinner out. What an amazing man he is!

I have since partnered in His ministry, Kerugma, Inc. (see an address below to write to ask for his free newsletter), and continue my correspondence with him. I have since met up with him again in California at a GES regional conference.

The following is a book jacket description/endorsement for another of Zane’s books, The Gospel Under Siege:

“Today you could let go of a theology that has kept you in bondage, and be free for the rest of your life.” – Luis C. Rodriguez, co-pastor of Victor Street Bible Chapel.

Most definitely this is the impact of Free Grace theology!

This man, Luis C. Rodriguez, is a testimony to the grace of God. Zane Hodges wrote a biography of this man, entitled Here Walks My Enemy: The Story of Luis. I read this book in a few hours, it so absorbed me!

Well, I have been tagged and this is as far as I got. Maybe I could do a few more of the questions, or even finish, tomorrow.

For a free subscription to his newsletter, write:

Kerugma, INC.
P.O. Box 870579
Mesquite, Texas

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Is a 'Disciple' Necessarily the Same Thing as Being a Christian?

John MacArthur asserts:
The word disciple is used consistently as a synonym for believer throughout the book of Acts.
The Gospel According to Jesus pg 196

(I will not dispute that). On this basis, he concludes:
Any distinction between the two words is purely artificial.
Ibid. pg 196

But then he appears to contradict himself (a Calvinist? no!) and says:
It is apparant that not every disciple is necessarily a true Christian.
Ibid. pg 196

Did anyone catch the contradiction? Apparantly, John MacArthur has concluded that a distinction between the words is not purely artificial after all but grounded in the New Testament itself. But if the words "disciple" and "believer" are synonomous, then every disciple is a true Christian, and if they are not synonymous, then every true Christian is not necessarily a disciple. It is clear, as even John MacArthur is forced to admit, that they are not synonymous!

Now if being a disciple is not necessarily the same as being a Christian, then it is not logically or exegetically consistent to select passages that refer to discipleship and assume that they refer to the conditions for becoming a Christian or to the characteristics of all who are truly born again.

Many writers commit the illegitimate totality transfer. They gather the passages in Acts in which "mathetes" (disciple) is used of Christians and passages in the Gospels where certain characteristics or conditions of being a disciple are enumerated, and then they import these contextual nuances into the semantic value of the word itself. This now pregnant term is carried back into various passages of the New Testament in service of a particular doctrine of Lordship Salvation and perseverance. This is illegitimate totality transfer.

The meaning of a word is determined by context. The usage elsewhere helps establish the range of possible meanings but not the meaning in the particular passage under consideration.

Joseph and Nicodemus were saved, but they were secret disciples (Jn. 19:38-39). They feared the Jews and would not publicly declare themselves disciples of Christ. Nevertheless, John acknowledges them as secret believers.

Many disciples left Jesus (John 6:66). If they were not really Christians, then the Traditionalists must acknowledge that being a disciple is not the same thing as being a Christian (or else give up their doctrine of perseverance of the saints!), and if they were Christians, then being a Christian does not inevitably result in a life of following Christ.

When Paul and Barnabus went to Antioch, they encouraged the disciples to remain true to the faith. It must be possible for them not to remain true or there would be no point in taking this trip (Acts 14:22). In fact, disciples can be drawn away from the truth (Acts 20:30).

If being a disciple is a condition for becoming a Christian in the first place, why does Jesus exhort those who are already Christians to become disciples (John 8:31-32)?

Key Words: Calvin, Calvinism, doctrines of Grace, Lordship Salvation, Free Grace Theology

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Calvinism = Contradiction / Can the Calvinist have Assurance of Heaven?

I have discussed the possibility of assurance of eternal life at length with many different Traditionalists. They all seem to say that assurance of salvation is possible in this life, and they will often quote The Westminster Confession of Faith article XVIII.II.

Therefore we have:

Proposition A: It is possible for a man to have assurance before the end of life that he will go to heaven when he dies.

Yet, when we consider the Perseverance of the Saints, with its corollaries "temporary faith" and/or "spurious faith," another, strikingly contradictory conclusion is made.

John Murray states, "The perseverance of the saints reminds us forcefully that only those who persevere to the end are truly saints."

Charles Hodge, a Calvinist theologian says:
The only evidence of election is effectual calling, that is, the production of holiness. And the only evidence of the genuineness of this call and the certainty of our perseverance, is a patient continuance in well doing.
(Charles Hodge, St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, (reprint, 1950; Eerdmans) p 212)

In other words, the only real evidence of election is perseverance, and our only assurance of the certainty of persevering is -- to persevere (until the end!)!

John MacArthur has said on his radio program, "You may be a spritual defector who hasn't defected yet."

Not everyone who believes now will continue to believe in the future, says the doctrine of temporary, "spurious" faith. Only those whose faith and works perseveres until the end will make it to heaven.

Thus we are faced with the following syllogism which leads to proposition B:

Major premise: I am saved now if I persevere in faith and works to the end of life
Minor premise: It is possible that I will not persevere to the end of life
Conclusion: I may not be saved now.

This inevitably leads to:

Proposition B: It is not possible for man to have assurance before the end of life that he will go to heaven when he dies.

Since A cannot equal non-A, since both proposition A and proposition B cannot be true at the same time, the Calvinist system flatly contradicts itself.

It is disturbing how Traditionalists are able to continue to believe these contradictory things. One is reminded of the Red Queen in the story of Alice in Wonderland. When Alice protested that there is no use trying to believe impossible things, the Queen said:

I dare say you haven't had much practice.... When I was your age I did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
(Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass (McMillian, 1880) pg 100)

The Traditionalist and the Red Queen have much in common as they both are in the business of believeing impossible things.

Some Calvinist theologians may say, "No. This is not a contradiction, but a healthy tension". But the word "tension" is simply a circumlocution for a blatant contradiction.

Antonio da Rosa