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

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Manipur, India -- Evangelism Team

Greetings all my faithful readers (all 3 of you!)

I desire your intercessory ministry for me!

On October 4, 2006, A group of 28 Americans (including me), will be travelling to Imphal (city), Manipur (State), India for a missions trip.

On this trip we will be doing saturation evangelism in many villages (going from one end of the village to the next, door to door, until done). Usually a group of two Americans with their translators and national guides can get through 2-3 complete villages door to door by the end of the trip. This may result in 24-36 Indian villages hearing the gospel! We will be working with an existing national church planting outfit who will do the follow up work of discipleship, leadership training, and assembly logistics.

The outfit that I am going with is called e3 Partners. This has been an area that they have been targeting with short term trips for over 10 years. Each time they go out there (between 3-5 times a year with an American team), they continue to train the nationals. Our group will also have the opportunity to train nationals in evangelism using the EvangeCube. We will be bringing 700 cubes with us.

Please pray for this trip. Literally thousands of people who have never heard the gospel and the name of Jesus Christ have a divine appointment.

10/4 - 5 Wednesday/Thursday
Teams departs U.S. Travel to Singapore

10/6 Friday
Travel form Singapore to Calcutta

10/7 Saturday
Travel to Manipur. In country orientation.

10/8 Sunday
Worship with local believers. Most likely I will be preaching in a national assembly. Village door-to-door saturation evangelism. Training nationals in evangelism.

10/9 - 12 Monday - Thursday
Home to home evangelism and outreach ministy.

10/13 Friday
Travel to Calcutta

10/14 Saturday
Debrief in Singapore. Day off.

10/15 Monday
Team returns to U.S.

Please pray for:
1) Safe travel
2) Protection
3) Boldness
4) Worship
5) Encouragement
6) Perseverance
7) Praise
8) Great moving of the Holy Spirit
9) Health
10) God would be glorified by the gathering of much fruit unto eternal life
11) Follow up, nationals

Thank you all for your prayers. I covet them.

Also, please pray for me this week as I prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually for the trip. I have already been experiencing spiritual warfare.

The Lord bless you all!


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

James 2 and Saving Faith -- Does the Bible Teach that Faith is More than Belief?

If anyone hasn't checked it out, the comment thread of my last post has been quite active (unfortunately not by those Lordship Proponents who were invited to discuss repentance!).

Laying Down the Guantlet: Lordship Salvation and Repentance

The following post was a comment addressed to Earl, but it applies to the discussion of faith and saving faith between the Free Gracer and the Lordship Salvationist.

Earl is convinced (IOW, he believes, trusts) that James in chapter 2 of his epistle speaks to a faith that is insufficient to appropriate eternal life. He would describe this as "mere intellectual assent". First of all this has turned out to be quite the pejorative (see the "mere"). Whenever someone speaks to this, they invariably turn to James 2 and the discusion of "demon faith". Does the text support Earl's and the Lordship Salvation advocates' claim that something other than belief/faith is necessary for eternal life? Let us see:


Very simply, it is the objector talking all the way through in James 2:18-19. Let me make use of the Majority (so-called Byzantine) text and include punctuation and my translation (remember, there are no punctuations in the originals; I have seen at least 4 different ways English translations punctuate this passage!):

James 2:18-20
But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works. Show me the faith of you from the works of you, and I will show you from the works of me the faith of me. You believe that 'God is one'. You do well. And the demons believe -- and tremble!" (My word literal translation)

This 'interlocuter' is objecting to James' assertion that faith and works have a relationship, that we can not only live our faith, but show others, through our works our faith.

So the objector says in essense:

Ok. For the sake of argument let us say that you have faith and I have works. Let us start there. If you can start with your faith(which you have), show it to me from your works and then I will start with my works(which I have) and show you from them my faith. You are crazy James! Both are impossible! This impossibility of showing one's faith from his works is demonstrated by the following illustration: You see, you believe in Monotheism and you do good. You do well. But the demons believe the same thing, but act differently on their faith: they tremble! So you see, James, faith and works have no connection whatsoever. (The objector uses a reductio ad absurdem, reducing someone's claims to absurdity).

James then starts his response to the objector in verse 20 (ending in 23) this way:

James 2:20
But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

Faith that isn't being acted out in life is profitless. It doesn't help the brother or sister that is naked or hungry.

This section in James is a very practical one given to true Christian's who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (2:1) and were regenerated by God (1:18). James is exhorting them to keep their faith alive by doing works! Works energize our faith! This is his pastoral concern, it is not an evangelistic one!

Can you imagine two home fellowships discussing evangelism: one that is out there doing much evangelism and being bold for the Lord and the other has had no practical experience in evangelism. The first group is energized, excited, on fire, because their works vitalized and energized their faith! The second group will not have that excitement, that flair.

James goes on to give a very useful illustration to what I am saying here:

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead. (2:26)

The spirit is the animating factor to the body, energizing it, vitalizing it as WORKS are the energizing, vitalizing factor to faith.

James isn't talking about two different kinds of faith. Faith is faith! He is exhorting his readers to add works to their faith for the vindication of their faith before men and the vitalizing and energizing of it.

The talk about the demons is not James words. It is the imaginary objector's words. James is using a rhetorical device called the "diatribe". It is an objection/reply format. It starts an objection off with something like "But someone will say" and after the objection has been given a sharp reply/rejoinder is given, starting off with something like James' "But do you want to know, O foolish man..."

This passage has created innumerable difficulties for interpreters. They have had to be quite inventive in order to dull the apparant contradiction between James and Paul. There is neither contradiction nor tension with Paul. They are speaking to two completely different issues!

Furthermore you state this:
My beef with Robbins and Clark is their "mere intellectual agreement" for faith. I think there is a trust too.
You say that saving faith = belief + trust.

This is like saying a Volkswagon Jetta is made of automobile + car.

Trust, faith, belief are all synonyms meaning the same thing.

Someone may ask me "Do you trust the babysitter?" I could say, "Yes, I trust the babysitter".

Well what does that mean?

Trust is belief in a proposition:

I believe that the babysitter will act honorably, appropriately, professionally, and with the best interests of me and my child.

When I say that I trust the babysitter in that context, do I mean that I trust her for the financial books at my business?

Trust is belief in one or more propositions. When I say that I have trusted or relied on Jesus for eternal life, this means that I have assented to a proposition:

I believe that Jesus Christ gave me eternal life baed upon His promise: for He is the Guarantor of eternal life and resurrection to the believer in Him.

"Further, 'trust in a person' is a meaningless phrase unless it means assenting to certain propositions about a person..." (John Robbins, Foreward to Gordon Clark's 'Faith and Saving Faith')

In every instance of trust, it is broken down into a proposition. Faith is not an emotion!

"in the present writer's opinion, many Christians, motivated by an irrational pragmatism... consider belief to be an emotion or a feeling... To be sure, some beliefs stir the emotions, but the very sober belief that a man has five fingers on each hand is as much a belief as some shattering news." (Gordon H. Clark, Faith and Saving Faith, 18).

Faith is taking someone at his word, faith is being persuaded as to a proposition, faith is being convinced that something is true, faith is trust. Faith is not emotion, commitment, submission to authority, etc.

Antonio da Rosa

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Laying Down the Guantlet: Lordship Salvation and Repentance

I want to put up a challenge to any and all advocates of Lordship Salvation and/or Reformed soteriology. The question/challenge put forth to them is simple. It will be found at the end of this post, which by the way, is a portion of the 7 part treatment on repentance in response to Matthew Waymeyer of Faith and Practice.

I will be personally inviting some of blogdoms Lordship advocates to respond to this post: Phil Johnson, Dan Phillips, Frank Turk, Steve Hays, Evan May, Jonathan Moorhead, Matthew Waymeyer, and others.

The challenge is simple.

For easy access if anyone is interested, here are links to the seven part Repentance series which were posted in a long span of 22 days:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7


... the reader must be aware of a cogent biblical fact that necessarily places a huge burden of proof upon the Traditionalist [Lordship Salvationist/Reformed Soteriologist]:

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 [the Lordship Salvationist] 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), nevertheless is conspicuously silent on repentance as a condition for the appropriation of eternal life in his Gospel that was written for an express purpose of evangelism (John 20:30-31).

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 failing 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.

[Note: "The simple fact is that the whole Fourth Gospel is designed to show that its readers can get saved in the same way as the people who got saved in John’s narrative. To say anything other than this is to accept a fallacy. It is to mistakenly suppose that the Fourth Gospel presents the terms of salvation incompletely and inadequately." (Zane Hodges, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 2000, "How to Lead People to Christ, Part 1")]

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 [Lordship Salvationist] produce even ONE clear and unambiguous verse that conditions eternal life, justification, or eternal salvation with a requirement of repentance?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Repentance and the Day of the Lord: Exposition of 2 Peter 3:8-9

As I promised in my repentance series I will now discuss this doctrine in light of the Day of the Lord.

I am taking liberty to quote Zane Hodges extensively from “The Kerugma Message”, his quarterly newsletter. This treatment on repentance and the day of the Lord will be in 3 or four installments for brevity and the reader’s patience. What will be discussed is 2 Peter 3:8-9. I will start with verse one for context:

2 Peter 3:1-9
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Peter now concludes his consideration of the doctrine of the false teachers. This doctrine involved a denial of the Second Advent that Christian teaching understood to be accompanied by worldwide calamities. However, this denial ignored two revealed realities: (1) that God had created a world “enclosed” in waters, and (2) that He allowed that world to be destroyed by those waters. This led the false teachers to disregard the fact that the present heavens and earth are reserved for destruction by fire. Their belief in the permanence of the present order was therefore a serious error.

The false teachers obviously believed that the delay of the Second Advent (that is, of the rapture, the 70th week of Daniel and the glorious manifestation of Christ’s hidden presence in the clouds) meant that it would not occur at all. But the readers should know better. They should not be swayed by the false argument built on the “delay” of God’s promise. They need to understand two things that Peter now clearly states in this verse and the next.

First, they should not let it slip from their minds (don’t let this fact escape you) that God experiences time differently than man does. Peter’s statement about this is extremely remarkable in the light of 21st century science. As Peter puts it, God experiences one day as if it were a thousand years and He experiences a thousand years as if they were one day. In other words, God does not experience the difference in the passage of a short period of time or a long one.

This statement remained mysterious until the last century gave us a brand new perspective. Thanks to the brilliance of Albert Einstein, scientists now know that time itself is a dimension of our universe. Thus we live in a four-dimensional cosmos in which there are three dimensions of space (length, depth, and height) and one of time. The passage of time is actually relative to an observer’s speed of movement through space. This fact has apparently been confirmed by numerous, careful experiments. Since it is believed that nothing exceeds the speed of light, light is thought to pass through space so quickly as to “experience” zero time.

“Light” as we know, is a way of describing God (at least morally: 1 John 1:5) and “light” in the physical sense came into being in our universe as a result of His command (Gen.1:3). If physical light can pass “timelessly” through our universe, we can surely conceive of its Creator as capable of doing something analogous to that. Thus God Himself is not bound by the experience of time that we, as human beings, have. Since our whole experience of time is inside a spatially conditioned universe, we experience time as we are conditioned to do by our universe. But God is above and beyond His creation, as well as immanent within it, so that His experience of temporal length is distinctly different from our own.

Peter’s point, of course, is that what seems “long” and “short” to men is not “long” or “short” to the Lord. Therefore, any seeming “delay” of the Second Advent is only such from a human point of view. This truth leads directly into the second fact the readers need to understand.

Zane C. Hodges, The Kerugma Message, Vol 14, No 3, Winter 2005

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Matthew Waymeyer's Response to my Articles

Recently Phil Johnson and I have had a brief exchange, found here:


He said I wasn't serious. In reply, I spoke of Matthew Waymeyer's post on Acts 17:30,31 and Free Grace Theology and my 7 part article responding to it, and how Matthew has turned a blind eye. Matthew Waymeyer shows up in the thread and says that he did leave a response on his blog. I went to it and here is what I found:

...to the point, it is true that I have not read your series on repentance. It took me longer than it should have to conclude that blogosphere interactions with certain people over certain issues are simply not worth the time and effort. Furthermore, and more importantly, these interactions are often dishonoring to the Lord. I simply have no time or desire to be part of that. This was solidified in my mind some time back in July.

I may or may not post more articles on FG in the future; I’m not really sure. If I do, feel free to post comments and/or links to a multi-part series of response, as long as you can abide by the biblical standards of communication that we maintain at Faith & Practice. But please don’t interpret any future articles on FG as my promise or obligation to interact with you in particular.
Was this a response or an excuse for not having a response?

to which I responded in the meta:

You figured this out in July, but you decide to continue to write provocative posts about Free Grace theology in August?

It is a bit disingenuous to enter yourself into the fray with articles that substantially mischaracterize Free Grace theology and then remove yourself from the discussion when someone call you on it.

Furthermore, if you were to read any of the posts I have constructed in response to you, I am sure that you would not find any discourse that is dishonoring to the Lord.

Your decisions to speak authoratatively (sp?) on Free Grace theology, in a sense, necessitates that you interact with those of the Free Grace persuasion. Otherwise, it will paint you as one who asserts and contends much about a position that you find objectionable, and at the same time refusing to interact with those who intelligently contradict your arguments.

Are you not a seeker of the truth? Or is it that you merely wish to pose the "killer question" for your loyal fans [those brothers of the Traditionalist fraternity]?

It is a shame and a travesty of great proportion that Matthew Waymeyer has engaged in a one-sided attack on Free Grace theology.

He has placed himself in the role of a teacher who refuses accountability.

Can there be any respect for him or his companions when they operate this way?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Free Grace Theology and Repentance -- A Reply To Matthew Waymeyer Part 7

Dear Folks:

With this post, I conclude the response to Matthew Waymeyer's critique of Free Grace Theology on his blog Faith and Practice.

Thank you for your patience and support.

My next post will adddress repentance and the Day of the Lord as I have mentioned.

I do wish that some of Blogdom's Reformed/Calvinist/Traditionalist Players such as Matthew Waymeyer, Jonathan Moorhead, Daniel of Doulogos, or the Triabologue boys would have paid closer attention to these posts and responded accordingly.

I am still holding out for Matthew Waymeyer to respond to my posts, since now I am done considering his critique. We will see.

As Bud has pointed out, they may need the sovereign gift of hearing too!

Matthew writes:
The FG response at this point is to say that repentance is not a necessary prerequisite that is required before one can meet the sole condition for eternal life, which is faith. Instead, they would say, repentance is oftentimes a helpful way for some people to prepare their hearts to believe in Christ. Paul knew this, they would say, which is why he suggested that they first repent.
This is an accurate characterization except for the word “suggested”. Paul commanded repentance.

I have already touched upon the fact that Paul had used the universal command to repent (that has a purpose that we will visit shortly) as a specific application for the Athenians to repent of their idolatrous worship (in the context this specifically is what they are asked to repent of and not sinful practices) so that they would be better prepared to accept the exclusive claims of Christ.

Matthew writes:
The problem with this response is that Paul commanded his hearers to repent, not suggested it as perhaps a helpful (but entirely optional) path to prepare their hearts to believe in Christ. Wilkin may deny that repentance is a necessary precursor to faith in Acts 17, but if the word “commanded” in verse 30 is taken seriously, the FG view makes it become just that.
Matthew stands impressed that Paul says that God “commands” repentance. Little does he know that I believe in a universal command to repent, which we will discuss lastly in this response.

As a short word on this matter: it is God’s desire that the whole world repent in light of the coming temporal judgments of the Day of the Lord upon the world. Furthermore, God does not take pleasure in the physical death of the wicked, but desires that they repent of their evil deeds, and so by doing, live.

Matthew writes:
Third, the FG interpretation fails to recognize the universal nature of the command in Acts 17:30. According to Hodges and other FG advocates, only certain unbelievers are commanded to repent in Scripture, specifically those for whom repentance would “prepare the way for faith” (Harmony with God, 86).
This is completely disingenuous. Matthew: Provide a quote where Zane Hodges states that he believed that the universal command to repent is only for some!

See what Matthew has done here:

He quoted a small phrase and greatly intimates that on page 86 we will find that Zane and/or other Free Grace advocates believe that the universal command to repent is only for some. This is a completely false characterization!

In a recent email correspondence with Zane Hodges, he states:

“I have never said that Paul preached repentance only to certain people or only for one purpose. OF COURSE, God commands all men everywhere to repent. In Harmony, pp. 84-87, I am discussing its relevance to idolaters who need to come to faith in Christ.”

Matthew writes:
In other words, even though repentance is not necessary for salvation, and even though Paul did not command all unbelievers to repent when he presented the gospel, there was special reason to exhort these particular individuals to turn from their sin. These people were pagan idolaters, and Paul knew that this idolatry stood in the way of them fulfilling the sole condition of eternal life, which is faith. So he called them to repent of their idolatry so they could be properly prepared to believe in Christ.
The preaching of repentance and the preaching of the gospel message have different functions and purposes. They thus have their proper places, times, and circumstances in which they are given.

Since repentance is not a theologically necessary condition for eternal life, there is no need to preach it along with the gospel message, unless circumstances dictate.

Matthew writes:
Now, it is true that much of what Paul says in verses 22-29 is specifically geared to these particular individuals because of the nature of their idolatry… but the command to repent in verses 30-31 is universal.
Still Matthew is impressed with the fact that the command to repent is universal. So what I say? God desires men’s repentance is order to avert or postpone temporal judgment! And in the case of these Athenian’s idolatry, it significantly impared a considerate and open hearing of the gospel.

Too, the command to repent cannot be separated from the context of verses 22-29. It is impossible to see that Paul did not have idolatry as the specific content of the Athenian’s repentance. That was the whole gist of the portion, the abridgement of the speech he gave that Luke relates to us!

Matthew writes:
If Paul preaches the gospel in Acts 17
Whoah, wait a second. Did Paul preach the gospel? I don’t remember reading of the death and burial and sightings of Christ in Acts 17!

Matthew continues:
and tells his hearers that God is commanding all men everywhere to repent in response to the gospel (as a way to escape the eternal judgment of God),
How can Paul tell his hearers to repent in response to the gospel when Luke doesn’t relate that he gave it? You speak so much of critical loads of doctrinal information necessary for salvation, yet the elements of the gospel message (other than mention of resurrection itself) is not included here.

This is the problem with your whole argument.

You have gone to the wrong areas of Scripture to gain your theology. What we have is a 45 second fragmental sermon of Paul’s when it is both probable and conceivable that he spoke a substantially longer time than 45 seconds. You should have gone to the gospel of John which is expressly written for a purpose of evangelism, or Paul in Romans 3-5 or Galatians were he expounds his doctrine of justification by faith in great detail.

There is plainly no clear statement that repentance is a necessary condition for eternal life here. There is plainly no clear statement that conjoins repentance with a resultant of eternal life, eternal salvation, or justification.

You base your argument on the fact that Paul is preaching the gospel and that repentance is commanded in response to the gospel, but the passage just does not bear this out. We have but a mere fragment of what Paul said, only the small portion that Luke deemed necessary for his literary purposes. We have Paul’s moving of spirit in light of his contemplation on the Athenian’s idolatry, a brief testimony to the resurrection, and a universal call to repent in light of the Day of the Lord.

It is most unwise for you to dogmatically assert so much from such an abridged text. The evidence is manifestly not in your favor.

Matthew writes:
Fourth, according to the FG view of Acts 17, Paul never does come to the punch line in his presentation of the gospel. In other words, the FG view is that the necessary response to the gospel is not to repent, but rather to believe. The problem is that Paul finishes his sermon by exhorting his hearers to repent. In this way, FG teachers would have to admit that (in their view) Paul never did finish his sermon and tell his hearers how to be saved. Acts 17:22-31 is most certainly not a comprehensive account of what Paul said in his sermon, but are we really to believe that Luke (who recorded Paul’s words) left out this critical exhortation? This is a big pill to swallow and a significant problem for FG theology, for how can repentance be presented by Paul and Luke as a necessary and sufficient response to the gospel if it isn’t even a condition for salvation?
This is absurd reasoning. As I have noted, you are saying that Paul preached “the gospel” but the components of his gospel message (1 Cor 15:3ff) are absent.

Luke’s purpose was not an evangelistic treatise. Have you ever heard that it was? Did not Luke leave out the “critical” gospel message? I am sitting here amused with this line of argumentation.

Furthermore, if you are arguing using an appeal to the apparent ommission of the command to believe in Christ for eternal life, you are failing to recognize a glaring inconsistency.

Luke also does not relate that Paul preached the gospel you assert must be believed in its entirety in order to be saved. Luke left out the critical message about Christ’s subsitutionary atonement. Therefore how can you say that repentance is therefore a response to the gospel when in fact for all intents and purposes of Luke within the text of Acts 17 the gospel was not presented?

If I am able to recognize that Paul preached the gospel yet Luke didn’t relate it, you surely must be able to recognize that Paul preached faith alone into Christ alone for eternal life, yet Luke didn’t relate it.

Furthermore, as I had pointed out before:

1) Luke has shown in his book of Acts that faith into Christ is the condition for eternal life, justification, eternal salvation, and its attendent blessing, the initial, positional forgiveness of sins
2) Luke does not expound a single other requirement other than faith that has the result of eternal life, justification, or eternal salvation
3) Luke said that after Paul’s message that “some men… believed” (Acts 17:34).

Lastly Matthew quotes Luke 24:46-47. Let us briefly examine it:

Luke 24:46-47
Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Here we have Luke's rendition of the Great Commission. Here the Lord said "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." The Great Commission was not a commission to evangelize. This is taken for granted. In order to be an effective disciple of Christ, you must first be born again! The Great Commission was a commission to disciple those who believe. This ministry is to be done with reference to every nation.

Matt 28:18-20
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.

In Matt 28:18-20 the Lord told the disciples to make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that He had taught them. We don't conclude from this that baptism and discipleship instruction are conditions of eternal life, do we? In the same way, the Great Commission in Luke concerns discipleship. Repentance is indeed a condition of on going fellowship with God and of the forgiveness associated with that fellowship (e.g., Luke 5:32; 15:4-32). We know from 1 John 1:9 as well that all believers need ongoing fellowship/familial forgiveness from God. While we are completely forgiven at the moment of regeneration positionally (Acts 10:43), we need ongoing forgiveness in our experience.

Evangelism is only part of the picture, the starting point. In both these commissions this is taken for granted. We must make people disciples! We do so by first giving the message of eternal life, of course, but then by preaching repentance, forgiveness of sins, and teaching the new believers from the nations to observe all things that He has commanded.

The fact of the matter is that there is not ONE text in the New Testament that uses repentance or any of its cognates to denote a condition for the reception of eternal life and/or justification. Not one!

The verb used in Luke 24:47 and translated "preach" is the Greek verb kerusso, meaning "to proclaim aloud, announce, mention publicly, preach." Yet John certainly does not preach repentance (or any of its cognates) in his gospel, which was composed, by the way, for the express, written purpose of bringing people to faith in Christ and thus eternal life (John 20:30,31), the only explicitely evangelistic book in the canon. You don't preach a doctrine by being silent about it. Compare this to how explicit Peter is on the subject (Acts 2:38; 3:19).

John was there when Jesus spoke those words in Luke 24! In light of Christ's command to preach repentance, John did not do so! It isn't as if he doesn't know about repentance. He uses the word "repent" some 10 times in the book of Revelation. Besides Luke, John mentions repentance more than any other New Testament writer (even Paul!). It is significant that John was commanded to preach repentance but does not in his gospel, which was written for evangelistic purposes. John had plenty of opportunities to preach repentance as well, starting with his discourse on John the Baptist.

You don't preach a doctrine by being silent about it. Compare this to how explicit Peter is on the subject (Acts 2:38; 3:19). John was there when Jesus spoke those words in Luke 24! In light of Christ's command to preach repentance, John did not do so in his gospel written for evangelistic purposes!

The Great Commission of Jesus Christ to His disciples communicated to them that they must be about the business of teaching the works and commandments that are required of born-again servants of the Lord, as well as doctrine vitally necessary to their growth.

The parallels of the Great Commision in Luke and in Matthew are striking and their message is complimentary.

So often in our readings of the Bible, we get caught up in lack of discernment. This happens to me frequently when I am not using the logical rules of hermeneutics.

One of the first principles of hermeneutics is the rule of affirmation. "Everything is identical with itself, or what it is, and we may affirm this of it."

Negatively stated, "It is erroneous to affirm the identity of two things unless Scripture does so". One must never say that two things are identical just because the reader finds them similar. In order for them to be identical, it must be affirmed that they are.

That is why one must distinguish between "like" or "similar" issues, for the understanding comes in the distinctions not in the similarities. This is "rightly dividing the word of truth".

So often, in my estimation, people use the words of Jesus or the writings of the New Testament authors in senses that are not warranted by the context. No greater danger in Bible exposition can occur than when this practice is used in soteriology. Jesus was definitely interested in getting people saved. Not doubt. But this was not his greatest emphasis. He desired that those who have received the free gift of eternal life would grow, mature, and be abundantly fruitful, to His and the Father's glory. The greatest emphasis in His teaching is discipleship/Christian life truth, not soteriological truth.

When theologians are not careful to abide by the law of affirmation, they fall into grievious error. This can be illustrated by the "biblical and theological mixologist": He throws a variety of scriptures and texts into a blender (a little of this, a dash of that, a pinch of this) and hits puree; the cocktail that is produced is a synthesis of soteriological and sanctification truth which is fatal, for eternal life is free, but discipleship truth expounds the hard nature and works of the servant of Christ. This cocktail is fatal.

The Water of Life is a pure and absolutely free gift. To add any other element to its reception (which is by simple and uncomplicated faith alone in Christ alone) is to subtly add poision to it.