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, July 26, 2007

Major Problems with Checklist Evangelism

The problems I have with checklist evangelism:

1) Insisting that doctrine be a conscious and necessary object and/or content to saving faith, rather than Jesus Christ. One must initial each spot of the checklist evangelists essential doctrines.
A) And each of these doctrines has to be fully undertood to the evangelist's satisfaction
B) Supplementary doctrine may rise to the position of essential saving content in order to inform a full understanding of the 3 essential doctrines.
C) These too (the supplementary doctrines) would out of necessity need to be fully understood, defined, which could lead to further qualifications, clarifications, defintions, etc., which makes it an endless regress and slippery slope.

2) It provides a gospel invitation that cannot be found anywhere in the Bible. What they give is technically inaccurate, and if the hearer asks where in the Bible says such a thing, they could not go to any single passages, but must play scripture hop-scotch.
A) It uses unbiblical phraseology and wording in its gospel invitations. Nowhere do we find in the Bible a passage that enjoins men to believe in all 3 of their essential 'gospel' doctrines -- atonement (cross, or death of Christ for sin), the deity of Christ, and the resurrection -- that has the explicit, stated result consisting of eternal life, justification, or eternal salvation.

3) Its invitations invite confusion.
A) The two-step: one must believe the facts, but believing the facts won't save you, you must furthermore TRUST the facts, or appropriate them personally. This implies some ethereal, ambiguous, and confusing second condition and act, whereby the hearer must, by an act of the will, decide to trust the essential doctrines for his salvation. Can someone decide to trust the gospel acts for salvation and still not be persuaded that they have eternal life by simply taking Jesus at His word? Of course. This leaves room for uncertainty as a response to the invitation. If one doubts, he just simply has to choose to trust. But doubt precludes faith. He may think he is saved (he told the evangelist that he trusted in Christ's work) as the evangelist told him he is now saved, but in reality, he remains unsaved, having not exercised faith, but has merely a "pie in the sky" hope based upon a decision to "trust". This type of invitation usually includes the sitting in the chair illustration, or the story of Blondin, the famous Niagra Falls tightrope walker.
B) Decisionism: this has been explained a little bit in A. When we tell someone in our invitation that they must "decide" to believe (whether or not it is the checklist or Christ's promise) we invite confusion. One can only "decide" to believe that which he has not been persuaded of. And in this case it is not belief, but merely a disposition toward the truth at best (that by definition would include doubt which precludes faith) and rank unbelief and doubt with a mere glimmer of 'hope' at worst. In either case, when one is strongly disposed toward something or only slightly disposed, the result is the same: unbelief, a lack of being convinced, unpersuaded.
C) Often times, in conjunction with decisionism, the final call in the checklist evangelism's invitation is a plea to pray a prayer. Larry Moyer and other FG people ought to know better than this. The sinner's prayer could be thought of as the magik words that bring eternal life. One can pray things that they do not understand! Understanding greatly facilitates saving faith. It is difficult to believe a proposition that you do not understand on a mental plane. You, of course can believe things that you do not fully understand. The Trinity is one case. But there is plenty of evidence to persuade one of it. What I am talking about is when one does not know the MEANING of a proposition. If you do not understand what a proposition MEANS it will be impossible to believe that proposition in the meaning that was intended with it. If one prays a prayer, uncertain of the meaning of his words, therefore unpersuaded, he could have a false assurance and will still be in his lost state.

4) Checklist evangelism un-awaringly rob the believer of the foundation of his assurance. A true beleiver will have assurance when he first believes. But if later he loses his assurance, where in the Bible will he go to in order to find the objective basis for certain assurance? No passage says, "Amen, Amen I say to you, Believe that Jesus is God, died for your sins, and rose again from the dead and you have everlasting life." How can he verify he is saved by a simple appeal to scripture, when none matches up with his evangelistic experience?

5) Checklist evangelism ends up having two different ways for children and adults to be saved or it will disqualify youths from being saved. Christ's promise is simple. My daughter understands it and believes it. But ask her to articulate substitutionary atonement, or how Jesus can be both God and God's Son at the same time, she will be speechless. Some may relegate her to hell, saying she doesn't know enough to be saved, or hasn't understood enough. But I say that is hog-wash. I have also met people in the course of my discussions of this doctrine, who say that God does not require children to understand so much, but requires adults to understand the full measure. This of course cannot be maintained by any scriptural appeal.

6) In all of this, checklist evangelism seeks to invalidate the simple exercise of faith that does in fact bring eternal life. They just can't get themselves to consider one saved who is in any degree ignorant of orthodox doctrine.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Uncertain Teaching the Lost to be Uncertain too!

"I know that to attribute faith to the reprobate seems hard to some, when Paul declares it a result of election. Yet this difficulty is easily solved. For... experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected by almost the same feeling as the elect, so that even in their own judgment they do not in any way differ from the elect." John Calvin, Institutes, III.ii.11

“There is a spurious as well as a genuine faith. Every man, when he thinks he believes, is conscious of exercising what he thinks is faith. Such is the correct statement of these facts of consciousness. Now suppose the faith, of which the man is conscious, turns out a spurious faith, must not his be a spurious consciousness? And he, being without the illumination of the Spirit, will be in the dark as to its hollowness.” Discussions by Robert L. Dabney, D.D., L.L.D, pgs 180-181

"You may be a spiritual defector who hasn't defected yet!" John MacArthur, "Grace to You" radio program.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Checklist Evangelists

The "doctrinal checklist" advocates' position on saving faith consists of believing in a death, and a resurrection, along with other, what they would consider orthodox, information. They make doctrine the object of faith and not Christ alone. For a lack of understanding of various teachings about Jesus, the "doctrinal checklist" advocates would relegate a believer in Jesus Christ to hell, even though that believer entrusted his/her eternal destiny completely into the hands of the Savior.

The "doctrinal checklist" advocates insist that the objects of their evangelism initial at each step so that they can be saved. A typical checklist would go as follows:

[ ] Do you agree that you are a sinner?
[ ] Do you agree that because of your sin you deserve hell?

[ ] Do you believe that Jesus is fully God?
[ ] Do you believe that Jesus is fully man?
[ ] Do you believe that Jesus was sinless?

[ ] Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross?
[ ] Do you believe that Jesus' death was substitionary for sins?
[ ] Do you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead?
[ ] Do you believe that this resurrection was physical?

To this lesson in 'orthodox' doctrine, the "checklist evangelist" adds this invitation:

The Invitation
[ ] Do you understand that you must assent to all this information for forgiveness?
[ ] Do you repent of what you used to believe?
[ ] Pray this 'sinnner's prayer'
[ ] Do you believe what you said in the 'sinner's prayer' from your heart?

If the potential convert can initial at each of these places, the "doctrinal checklist" advocate would consider such a one saved.

Let me make something clear. Adherence and belief in each of these things falls short of receiving eternal life. Trust alone into Jesus alone for the gift of eternal life is not the necesary result of assent to each of these doctrines and steps to salvation. It is abundantly clear that one can check off each of these statements and still not believe Jesus' simple promise to give eternal life to the one who takes Him at His word for it.

All Christians except liberals would initial at each of the doctrinal points above, but we do not consider them all saved. Why? Because most of them are involved in some kind of works-righteousness.

Free Grace advocates point men to Christ in His promise. The "checklist evangelists" point men to a doctrinal checklist and then ask them to "pray a prayer". There is not one example in all of Bible of such a thing. Asking men and women to pray a prayer is as unscriptural as baptismal regeneration.

When Jesus evangelized, He directed men to faith into Him through His promises. He did not have them jump through theological hoops and a multitude of steps as necessary components of receiving eternal life.

The "checklist soteriologists" say I have gutted the gospel of its most significant biblical mandates.The only mandate that I can find concerning the salvation of man in the whole of the Bible is:

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).

I have written extensively on 1 Cor 15:3ff to which Lou Martuneac has not replied to my arguments in the least.

The Difference Between a Gospel Presentation and the Offer (Promise) of Eternal Life

The Use and Abuse of the Gospel Message

Another Look at 1 Cor 15:3ff / The Pauline Gospel

I have written about Romans 10:9, 10 to which Lou Martunieac still have not answered to my arguments or questions:

Does Romans 10:9, 10 Teach that One Must Understand the Resurrection for Eternal Life?

I have proven that the disciples, the Samaratans, and others in the Gospel of John were saved apart from understanding Christ's death on the cross and apart from believing in His resurrection (they even flatly denied it!) and have shown that John wrote his gospel to show that men and women today get saved the same way those in his narrative did!. His gospel was one of the last two books written in the canon. Did he forget to include your essential biblical mandates when he expressly, precisely, and clearly presented the terms of receiveing eternal life in his gospel?

Must One Understand Christ's Death for Sin to Be Born Again?

Has the Gospel of John failed to specifically and precisely express the terms of receiving eternal life? If so, John failed in his purpose (John 20:31)!

To the more information needed, "checklist evangelists", including Lou Martuneac:

I have spent countless hours developing a very strong argument on many different fronts. I have spent time in the text of Scripture and in exegesis. I have been in the Greek and have carefully made my case.

The "checklist evangelists" on the other hand have asserted much, proof-texted, and have yet to present a case for their position. Their charges keep evolving. They started with:

"Are you saying that someone can be born again apart from understanding the cross of Christ for sin?"

I showed that this was the case with OT saints, with those whom Christ ministered to in the gospels, and the disciples themselves.

Then they made it hinge on two other scriptures: 1 Cor 15:3ff and Romans 10:9, 10. I have written extensively on them. I have answered to everyone of their assertions and questions, but they have not shown the same consideration. They assert much but haven't laid out a single argument.

They quote Scripture as if it alone contradicts my position, yet you do so without an exegetical argument ensuing from the scripture. As if the mere referencing of a text proves anything!

Next they charge that I preach a cross-less gospel, which is a straw-man par excellence. It is nothing but a canard!

We have shown it to be untrue. The gospel I preach heralds passionately the deity of Christ, the death and resurrection of Christ, and numerous other details as well.

But their real contention is that I don't offer as the content of saving faith a series of doctrinal (hamartiology and Christology and soteriology) affirmations. I don't present a pile of information that must be believed in order for one to be truly born again.

I preach the gospel. THEN I present the promise of Jesus Christ to give irrevocable eternal life to all who simply believe in Him to do so.

They call this a radical departure from scripture? I trow not.

They say they frankly wonder why I preach the gospel. I am on record in all the aforementioned posts that I linked to above why I do. The elements in a gospel presentation present Christ as trustworthy, able, authoratative, and sufficient as the sole Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. He is worthy of our faith, He is qualified as our Savior, He is able to make good on His promise, and He is trustworthy so that we can entrust our eternal destiny to Him.

"Checklist Evangelists":

Imagine the final judgment. If you are right, here is a possible scenario before Jesus Christ.

A man is standing before Jesus Christ who did not understand Christ's death on the cross for sins or His resurrection. But having read the gospel of John and hearing Jesus' promise, he entrusted his eternal destiny to Christ by believing into Jesus through His promise to guarantee eternal life to all who believe in Him for it.

When he stands before Christ, He will say to this man:

You entrusted your eternal destiny to Me. You regarded me as the authoratative, sufficient, and unique Personage who dispenses eternal life to all who believed in Me for it. You believed into me as the Resurrection and the Life.

But because you did not understand the payment I made for sins, or how my Resurrection substantiated my substitutionary sacrifice, I must now send you to hell.

You did not follow all the steps and biblical mandates that I gave in order for you to go to heaven. Yes, you believed in Me for eternal life. But you lacked ADDITIONAL faith and understanding in my Person and Work. You must now go to hell.

This is the reductio ad absurdem of their position.

Imagine someone trusting in the name of Jesus Christ but Christ letting him down! GOD FORBID!

"...and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31)

Christ's "name" is everything who He actually is. This "name" represents everything who He TRULY is. Fill in ALL true Christology here: Everything that the Bible reveals Jesus to truly be and have done and everything that Jesus truly is that is not revealed in the Bible (including His substitionary death and resurrection)

It is by virtue of His "name" (everything that He truly is and has done) that we can have eternal life. It is who He is and what He has done that has qualified Him as the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it. It is His name that gives Him the authority and the ability to dispense eternal life.

Jesus is uniquely qualified to dispense eternal life by virtue of His name. On this authority He may dispense it to whomever He wishes. It is through His wisdom and council with God the Father that they have decided to dispense eternal life to those and only those who believe in Jesus for this gift.

John 1:12
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name

Acts 4:12
Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

1 John 3:23
And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ

Matt 12:21
And in His name Gentiles will trust.

John 3:18
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God

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

When we believe in the "name" of Jesus Christ for eternal life through the persuasion of the content of the gospel message, we are believing in Him in who He truly is in all capacities, whether or not we understand them or not.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Has the Gospel of John Failed to Specifically and Precisely Express the Terms of Receiving Eternal Life? If so, John Failed in His Purpose (Jn 20:31)!

The question has been asked by the "more information needed" soft FGers, "Can a lost man be born again without understanding Christ's death for sins?"

Proof that he can:

Old Testament saints were born again without understanding Christ's death for sins, as in the instance of Saul.

1 Sam 10:6
6 Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.

1 Sam 10:9-10
9 So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.

Saul was born again apart from a conscious and necessary understanding of Jesus' Christ's death for sins.

New Testament saints were born again apart from understanding Christ's death for sins:

In other words, the 11 disciples were born again before understanding the cross and its significance. They believed that Jesus was the Christ (John 1:35-50) and we know that anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born again (1 John 5:1). They believed in Him (John 2:11). Anyone who believes in Him is born again (see John 3:1ff). The disciples were saved very early in Christ's ministry, even before John the Baptist was put into prison (which was even prior to the Sermon on the Mount!) and were taught soteriological truth at that same time (see John 4; the woman of Sychar).

It wasn't until late in Christ's third year of ministry that Christ began to tell His disciples about His death:

Matt 16:21
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.

What was Peter's response?

Matt 16:22
22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!"

Peter's reaction does not suggest that he understood Jesus' death for sins.

Furthermore, as we have noted, they were born again, yet at the same time DID NOT BELIEVE the resurrection:

Mark 16:11
11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

John 20:8-9
9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead

Let us make a point right here, gentleman. A line in the sand.

The gospel of John was one of the last books written in the New Testament. It was written FAR AFTER Paul died (20 to 30 years after!!)

The gospel of John was written between 85 and 95 A.D., as dated by most conservative scholars. This makes it the last or second to last book written in the Bible (Revelation being the last by most scholars).

Let me ask you a question. Please think about this line of logic!

What was the purpose of John's gospel? As you will know and say, the purpose was evangelistic. Of course we are talking about the famous verses in John 20:30, 31:

John 20:30-31
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name

This puts the gospel of John in a unique category. By its own explicit purpose statement, we find that it is the only book in the whole of the canon that was written with the express purpose of bringing men to faith in Christ for eternal life.

No other book can claim this nor does it claim it for itself. The gospel of John is unique in the canon.Now, the purpose of the gospel was to bring people to faith in Christ for eternal life. That is settled.

How does it do that? It goes into great detail Christ's soteriological affirmations to those who He ministered to (the woman at the well, Nicodemus, Martha, etc.)

Jesus says, "I give eternal life to the one who believes in Me. The one who believes in Me shall never perish, hunger, thirst, be lost, nor be cast out. The one who believes in Me will never come into the judgement, and will be raised on the last day. Do you believe this?"

Jesus, in the gospel of John, is presented as offering a gift. He is seen as the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him. Nowhere are we met in the text of the gospel of John the necessity the cross or the resurrection as the conscious and necessary object or content of saving faith.

Please read this text from Zane Hodges with an open and LOGICAL mind (not enveloped in your passion that states emphatically, "NO ONE CAN BE SAVED UNLESS THEY BELIEVE THAT JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS AND ROSE AGAIN".

At the time of writing, the cross was years ago, and if belief in the work of the cross was by then necessary for salvation, John definitely gives us the wrong impression by stressing the way the cross dumbfounded even His most intimate disciples.

Let me put it to you this way. The Gospel of John is the only book in our New Testament canon that explicitly declares its purpose to be evangelistic. Of course, I am thinking of the famous theme statement found in John 20:30-31, where we read: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

This statement does not affirm the necessity of believing in our Lord’s substitutionary atonement. If by the time of the writing of John’s Gospel, it was actually necessary to believe this, then it would have been not only simple, but essential, to say so.

Inasmuch as the key figures in John’s narrative did believe in Jesus before they understood His atoning death and resurrection, it would have been even more essential for John to state that the content of faith had changed. But of course he does not do this. 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. I sincerely hope no grace person would want to be stuck with a position like that.

Let me repeat. Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the Gospel of John teach that a person must understand the cross to be saved. It just does not teach this. If we say that it does, we are reading something into the text and not reading something out of it!

What is my point? That we should not preach the cross of Christ to men? Not at all. I will make it emphatically clear a little later on that I think we should. Instead, I am arguing that we need to focus on the core issue in bringing men and women to faith and eternal life. What is that core issue?

Very simply it is this: We want people to believe that Jesus guarantees their eternal destiny. Of course, we would like them to believe a lot more than this, but this at least must be believed. Our failure to clearly define our goal in evangelism can have a negative or impeding effect on our efforts to lead people to simple faith in Christ.

To re-express:

The gospel of John was written 20-30 years after the death of Paul. It was written as one of the last two books in the canon. It was written with an express purpose of bringing people to faith in Christ for eternal life. The book does not mention the word "gospel" nor does it require that understanding the death and resurrection of Christ is necessary to be born again. It DOES NOT TEACH THIS.

Is the gospel of John insufficient then in its explanation on how one is to receive eternal life? Are the exact and precise terms that it expresses lacking fundamental content to saving faith?

The text over and over again states that believing Jesus in His promise to guarantee to the believer eternal life is what saving faith is. Never in the gospel of John is the cross or the resurrection given as the conscious and necessary content or object of saving faith.

If it was an object or content to saving faith by then, according to those who believe it is so based upon a misguided appeal to "progressive revelation," it would have behooved John to include that in ANY of the soteriological affirmations of Christ, OR added this information at the end of the gospel as a new requirement IN ADDITION to faith alone in Christ alone for eternal life.

But of course he did not add this information. His gospel, in its soteriological affirmations, is adequate and sufficient to bring one to eternal life.

We do not need to impose other material on the gospel of John. If more information was required for saving faith in addition to what John says is the content of saving faith, then the gospel of John has failed in its purpose. It is not adequate to instruct us PERFECTLY and SPECIFICALLY on what we must do to have eternal life.

I sure hope, that after having read this, that you don't want to put yourself in the position of stating that the soteriological affirmations and assertions in the gospel of John are insufficient to receive eternal life.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

You Can't Believe Jesus and at the Same Time Not Be Certain You Are Eternally Secure

My particular Free Grace Theology position is that one must believe that Jesus guarantees for them irrevocable eternal life in order to receive it. In other words, I believe that in order to be saved, one must believe Jesus in His specific promises. The promises of Christ are found in verses such as John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35-40, 47; 10:28-29; 11:25-26. My position is that only those who believe in Jesus through His promise are saved.

You cannot believe those verses and at the same time not believe you are eternally secure. It is impossible! If you believe those verses, you are certain you are eternally secure. Let us look at the key phrases in Christ's promise of eternal life:

John 3:16
"shall not perish"

John 5:24
"has ETERNAL life, and WILL NOT come into judgment, but has already passed from death unto life"

John 6:35
"shall never hunger"
"shall never thirst"

John 6:37
"the one who comes to me I will by NO MEANS cast out"

John 6:38-39
"... I have come ... to do ... the will of Him who sent Me... this is [His] will [:] I should lose nothing but raise it up on the last day"

John 6:40
"I will raise him up at the last day"

John 6:47
"has ETERNAL life"

John 10:28
"shall NEVER perish"
"neither shall anyone snatch them out My hand"

John 10:29
"No one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand"

John 11:25
"he SHALL live"

John 11:26
"shall NEVER die"
"shall, by no means, ever die even unto eternity" (my translation from the Greek; uses the emphatic denial "ou me" and "eis twn aiown" (into eternity)

Faith is being persuaded or convinced something is true. If you believe Christ in His statement, you must believe youself eternally saved. Only if you doubt His statement will you not be sure. Jesus Christ is emphatic in His promise of eternal life to the believer. The believer shall:

not perish
will not come into judgment
has passed from death to life
has eternal life
never hunger
never thirst
will not be cast out
will not be lost
will be raised
not be snatched out of Christ's hand
not be snatched out of the Father's hand
shall live
shall never die

These are the clear, explicit assertions by Christ concerning the believer in Him. If you believe in Him, you will by necessity believe that you are eternally secure at that same moment. To doubt that you are eternally saved, is to doubt Christ in His promise. And how can there be salvation if you doubt Jesus (in other words, not believe Him)?

faith = assurance

Heb 11:1
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

Dear readers, if I said to you:

"I put $100 in your bank account."

And you said you believed me (and you did), what are you certain you have?

Answer: $100.

Only if you doubt me could you not be certain you have the $100. Doubt precludes faith (Mark 4:40; Mark 11:23; Rom 14:23; Jas 1:6)!

If faith = conviction and assurance, being persuaded that something is true, you cannot say that you believe something and at the same moment doubt it. It is logically sound to put forth this proposition: if someone believes something, they consider it true. If you believe Christ in His promise, you consider His promise true.

What does His promise say?

You shall never perish, never hunger, never thirst, never be lost, etc.

Therefore, if you believe Jesus, you consider His promise true. The only way you could not understand that you are forever saved is if you don't believe Christ's message, in other words, you do not believe His message to be true.

The logic is sound and even a child can understand it. Here is a simple illustration:

Dad: "Little Billy. I promise you that I put a Milky Way bar on your bed."

Little Billy: "I believe you, Dad."

Dad: "Billy. What is it you know you have on your bed?"

Little Billy: "Dad, I have a Milky Way bar!"

Dad: "Are you certain that you have a Milky Way bar?"

Little Billy: "Of course!"

Dad: "Why are you certain?"

Little Billy: "Because I believe what you said about the candy bar."

Assurance is of the essence of faith. Those who do not hold to my position, show me where this little illustration goes wrong. I believe it is rock solid.

In that one believes, he is certain of what he believes.

If he believes Jesus Christ in His promise, he is certain he is eternally secure.

If he retains doubt, he neither believes, nor has assurance.