Mystical Union: Why Assent to “Intellect”?

“Penny, my body and I have a relationship that works best when we maintain a cool, wary distance from each other.”

-Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Th.D.


When our fathers sought to reform the Roman church, they rejected the Roman formulation of merit theology.  Crudely put, the Roman idea taught that God saves people who had (in some fashion) racked up enough points to deserve saving.  Since all men are sinners, they need not only their own merits, but the merits of Christ infused into them – and those of Mary, the saints, and so on, and then after they die they will go to purgatory for additional cleansing before they will be able to enter heaven.  Alms, sacraments, indulgences, and various other things contributed merit, so that the sinner might appear before God in a patchwork quilt of merit accrued from all these various sources, in hopes of being thought worthy at least of purgatory.

The Reformers, being taught by Scripture that justification before God comes by faith alone in Christ alone, formulated their soteriology in a way that highlights God’s work—in fact, makes the entire affair God’s work from top to bottom.  Because of their belief that even faith is a gift of a loving God, and not in any way of human origin, they could maintain that saving faith is an act of the whole person, and still keep the focus on Christ.

Their descendants, however, were not so fortunate. The way the Reformers formulated the doctrine ultimately led to the Puritan disaster, in which each person was rigorously examined for the “marks” of true conversion.  The whole person was put under a microscope – but what this really meant was not the whole person, but a set of core samples suggested by their anthropology.  One had to have knowledge of the gospel, of course.  One had to assent to it, to agree with the facts of the gospel.  One had to trust.  This was attended – so taught the Puritans – by remorse for sin and various other symptoms, for which putative converts would be examined.  So thoroughly did the Puritan doctrine and practice depart from the biblical teaching of assurance that it proved unbearable, and there are, today, no Puritans in New England.

Seeking to avoid that problem, old-school Free Grace types (e.g., the Florida Bible College tradition in which I was raised) cut emotion out of the picture.  If God gave you lightning bolts from the sky at your conversion, or an overwhelming sense of remorse for sin, or joy, or peace, then wonderful – but you didn’t need to expect it, or question your salvation because you didn’t have a big emotional experience.  It was all about making a decision to believe in Christ, not about how you felt about it.  The Bible never promised such an experience; it does promise that those who believe will be saved.

Zane Hodges and GES took it a step further and cut the will out with the doctrine of passive faith (and I was in on that, and wrote a couple of articles in support of it).  When accused of preaching “mere intellectual assent,” we responded that there’s nothing mere about intellectual assent – that’s what belief is, and believing is all that’s required for salvation.

Assurance is vital; compromising it as the Reformed tradition so frequently does is spiritual disaster.  If one must choose between passive faith and the Reformers, or at least old-line FG theology and the Reformers, clearly one ought to take one of the former options.  But who says these are the only choices?  I say they are not, and to show you what I mean, I’d like to take a look at another, older stream of history, and how it converges with the one we’re already discussing.

The Greeks were acutely aware that the material world is a world of constant change.  Vexed at this constant shifting, they felt that knowledge of the material world was really impossible.  In search of something fixed to know for certain, Plato imagined a world of Forms, immaterial abstract invariant principles that exist independently of the material world.  True knowledge, Plato said, consisted in knowledge of the Forms.  The problem, of course, is that we human beings don’t live in that world; we live in the constantly shifting material world.  So how do we get contact with the world of forms?

There is a part of man, Plato said, that has contact with the Forms and is able to know them: the intellect.  The intellect, pure and free of bodily passions, could address itself to the Forms, and calculate propositions about them.

The medieval Christians eventually forsook this pagan fairy tale, realizing Plato’s contempt for the material world was a sin, and the certainty he was seeking through the Forms is actually found in Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and who upholds the world by the word of His power.  Rebelling against Christianity, the Enlightenment rationalists brought Plato back.  Religion – by which they meant Christianity – stirs up men’s passions and brings violence and wickedness, but Reason delivers us from evil.  The intellect once again reigned supreme.

The Romantics sought to rebel against the rationalists, but they were far more like the rationalists than they realized.  They accepted the same basic anthropology, and the same opposition of reason on one hand, and emotion, spontaneity, etc. on the other.  The only thing the Romantics really changed was to reverse the moral polarity on the model.  Where the rationalists saw reason as the supreme good, and emotion and spontaneity as evil and dangerous, the romantics took emotion and spontaneity as good, and saw reason as cold, bloodless, and therefore ultimately wicked.

How does this story converge with Free Grace?  When we talk about belief as a matter of the intellect, we are speaking the language of Enlightenment rationalism and of Plato.  In doing so, we are assuming (on no biblical evidence at all) that there is such a thing as the intellect, a component part of man, separate from the passions and the body, that deals only in cool reason and propositions.  It is in this part that we find saving faith, and that being the case, saving faith could be nothing other than assent to the right proposition.

Identifying the right proposition, of course, then assumes paramount importance.  A disagreement there is a disagreement on the very substance of the gospel itself.  That’s the sort of thing that good Christians divide over—and here we are, divided and rebelling against the clear biblical teaching that calls us to be one in Christ.  Could it be we took a wrong turn somewhere?

We need to be careful at this point not to commit the error of the Romantics.  Seeing the evil effects of naked rationalism, the Romantics rebelled, but they didn’t actually seek out the source of the problem.  They wanted to keep the underlying anthropology, and still evade the evil effects of rationalism.  To an extent they succeeded, but because they didn’t address the root of the problem, they just brought about another, equally wicked, set of problems instead.

We have the same anthropology still dogging us today.  We have come hundreds of miles since we took that particular wrong turn, and going back one mile to try to find our way will not do; healing the wound lightly is not real healing.  So let’s go all the way back and see if we can correct the real mistake.

There are no Forms.  The world of matter is constantly changing; this is a glorious thing and the way God made the world to be.  Certainty is possible, and it is grounded in knowing the One who made the world and upholds it all.  If there are no Forms, there is no particular reason why we should need a proposition-calculator in the soul, neatly separated from passions and the body – no Forms, no intellect.

Anyway, “intellect” was never a biblical category to start with.  There’s nothing mandatory about it.  We did not derive it from diligent study of Scripture.  If we are going to have the category, we will need to defend it from the Bible.  I leave that job to someone who thinks it can be done; personally I don’t, and don’t intent to waste time trying.

Instead, I suggest we repair to Scripture and seek to understand the inner workings of man from the perspective of the Word of God.  Step one: belief takes place in the heart (Gk. kardia, see Lu. 24:25, Ac. 8:37, Rom. 10:10).  Sexual desire, and consequently adultery, can also happen there (Mat. 5:28), as can purity (Mat. 5:8), evil thoughts (Mat. 9:4, 24:48), humility (Mat. 11:29), dullness or understanding (Mat. 13:15, 19), being near or far from God (Mat. 15:8), forgiveness (Mat. 18:35) and love (Mat. 22:37).  Anything that comes out the mouth has its source in the heart (Mat. 12:34, 15:18): it can be the source for evil thoughts, murder, fornication, adultery, theft, false witness, and blasphemy (Mat. 15:19).  And that list is just from Matthew; wonder what we’ll find in the other 26 books of the NT, to say nothing of the OT?

If sexual desire, forgiveness, understanding (or the lack thereof), love, nearness to God (or the lack thereof) and saving faith all arise from the same place within man, what does that tell us?

That a crypto-Platonist on a seminary campus should be roped and hogtied on sight like a rodeo calf.  But beyond that, what are the long-term implications?  Frankly, I’m not sure, but at the very least this casts serious, biblically founded doubt on the notion that belief arises from a neoclassically sterile component of the soul separate from emotion, body, and relationship.  We need a better, more biblical anthropology.

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189 Responses to Mystical Union: Why Assent to “Intellect”?

  1. Jim Reitman says:

    Tim, you know how this resonates with my own heart, since biblically, the “heart” is most surely “where it’s at.” And I would go further to say that heart and conscience are made up of the same “stuff,” anthropologically speaking . . . maybe even located in the same “place” in the human soul, sort of analogous to the two compartments of Hades, only in a good sense—our own good.

    And yes, a crypto-Platonist on a seminary campus should be roped and hogtied on sight like a rodeo calf, 🙂 as I believe almost every young seminary student—so full of piss-and-vinegar—should experience, if my recent dalliance in that dread soup at Denver Seminary is any indicator.

    But what about the middle-aged crypto-Platonists? The ones who are battle-scarred, walk with a serious limp, and have retreated behind walls of pseudo-safety to “defend the faith”? I would suggest that this question devolves to the much more difficult question of “How do you make love to a really edgy porcupine with posttraumatic stress disorder?”

  2. Eric Kemp says:

    Tim

    Until now, I’m not sure I realized how neo-Platonist my patterns of thought are. As you know, I’ve been realizing bits of it lately, but I still cling to the clearly unbiblical prospect of the sterile and separate intellect. Thank you for further opening my eyes.

    This way of thinking is so prevalent in theological circles, I think you have a long hard fight ahead of you. But I know you wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Jim

    I received the book and look forward to getting into it!

  3. Tim said:

    “Zane Hodges and GES took it a step further and cut the will out with the doctrine of passive faith (and I was in on that, and wrote a couple of articles in support of it).  When accused of preaching “mere intellectual assent,” we responded that there’s nothing mere about intellectual assent – that’s what belief is, and believing is all that’s required for salvation…Anyway, ‘intellect’ was never a biblical category to start with.  There’s nothing mandatory about it.  We did not derive it from diligent study of Scripture.  If we are going to have the category, we will need to defend it from the Bible.  I leave that job to someone who thinks it can be done; personally I don’t, and don’t intent to waste time trying… We need a better, more biblical anthropology.”

    Well, Tim, you certainly wouldn’t have needed to “waste time” arguing this point with Zane–nor would you have needed to “hog-tie” him. Once again (I’m starting to see a pattern!), you misrepresent and distort his views:
    ———————————————–

    “We should discard words like mental or intellectual altogether. The Bible knows nothing about an intellectual faith as over against some other kind of faith (like emotional or volitional). What the Bible does recognize is the the obvious distinction between faith and unbelief!

    No one needs to be a psychologist to understand what faith is. Still less do we need to resort to “pop psychology” to explain it. It is an unproductive waste of time to employ the popular categories–intellect, emotion, or will–as a way of analyzing the mechanics of faith. SUCH DISCUSSIONS LIE FAR OUTSIDE THE BOUNDARIES OF BIBLICAL THOUGHT (emphasis mine). People know whether they believe something or not, and that is the real issue where God is concerned.” Zane C. Hodges–“Absolutely Free”, pp 30, 31
    ————————————————

    It was precisely these kinds of artificial and absurd distinctions that theologians so often make between ordinary faith and “saving” faith that Zane opposed:

    “It is one of the great absurdities of theology that I can’t really know whether I believe God’s saving truth or not”…Surely it is one of the conceits of modern theology to suppose that we can define away simple terms like “belief” and “unbelief” and replace their obvious meanings with complicated elaborations. The confusion produced by this sort of process has a pervasive influence in the church today. The solution, however, is to return to the plain meaning of the biblical text.”
    —————————————————
    And what is the plain meaning of the biblical text?

    “The phase “believe in” (Greek; pisteueo eis) reflects an expression which is extremely common in the Fourth Gospel (cf. Jn 1:12; 2:11,23; 3:15-16, 18, 36; and passim) and is a standard way for John to convey the idea of faith in Jesus for eternal life. (Efforts have been made to claim that “spurious” faith is indicated in Jn 2:23; 8:30; and 12:42, but all these attempts are without valid support in John’s text and represent an effort to read into his text a preconceived theology.) The idea of “believing IN” Jesus is identical in force with the idea of “believing THAT [Greek: hoti] Jesus is the Christ” (John 11:27; 20:31; cf. 8:24; 13:19). This is shown by the fact that either Greek construction can be said to express the means of receiving eternal life (cf. Jn 20:31 with Jn 3:15-16,18, etc.) One should compare 1 Jn 5:1, “Whoever believes THAT [Greek: hoti] Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” The person who exercises this faith, John says, “has the witness in himself”. That is to say, God’s testimony about His Son, which John will state in the next verse, is INTERNALIZED when a person “believes in the Son of God.” This statement reflects the New Testament recognition that when the word of God in the gospel is believed, that word is a life-giving seed planted within the believer. (Cf. 1 Peter 1:23 and Luke 8:11-15 where “the seed is the word of God” and the ground on which it falls is the human HEART (emphasis mine.) By contrast, the person “who does not believe God (that is, disbelieves “the testimony that God has given of His Son”) for all intents and purposes makes God out to be a “liar”. This is true because he is saying, in effect, that God’s “testimony” is false. It is clear that the issue for John is very simply the truth or falsity of what God says about His Son. Neither here nor anywhere else does John introduce the complications often proposed by theologians. There is nothing here about “head or heart belief,” or about a “faith that yields to God as over against mere intellectual assent,” etc. The bible does not complicate faith like that. Once we have understood the message, the issue is: Is it true or false? Do we believe it, or do we not?” The Epistles of John–Zane C Hodges, comments on 1 Jn 5:10– pp. 223, 224
    ————————————————

    So Tim, the notion of faith being in some kind of “Platonic category of intellect” did not arise from Zane’s theology, but from those who accused him (and continue to accuse him) of teaching an ” mere intellectual assent” view of faith. Their misleading characterizations actually stem more from the imposition of their OWN “crypto-Platonism” and “pop psychology” on Zane’s views than from the views of Zane himself. For Zane, “belief” and “unbelief” should simply be understood in their NORMAL sense–and that sense has been the same in every age and in every place. It’s called COMMON-sense.
    ——————————————-
    “Of course, some people will still try to say, “I believe it is true, but how do I know I really believe it and therefore it is true of me?” But no matter who makes this statement it is actually nonsense. It is like saying, “I believe that Elvis is alive, but how do I know I really believe it?” We would send a person who said that to see a psychiatrist. But in theology we actually take such a statement as if it were a meaningful observation.

    It is not. It is actually the product of years of theological brainwashing. We have been told so many times that some people have a spurious belief and that we should check out our own faith to make sure it is true saving faith, that we almost believe such nonsense. The Bible knows nothing about this sort of thing.” Zane C Hodges
    ———————————————
    Jim, a porcupine doesn’t get “edgy” because it’s a “crypto-Platonist”– it does so because it’s just good COMMON sense to protect oneself from NON-sense. Unless or until you and Tim can at least give a clear and intelligible definition of what you think saving faith IS and what it entails, perhaps you should not try making love to porcupines–or telling them they need to repent.

  4. Jim Reitman says:

    Gary,

    I do love you because I know your heart and I don’t love you any less because you have characterized what Tim and I say as NONsense. I have never really fully understood what you felt you needed to be “protected” from in what I have said over the last couple of years; I just get the sense you “hear” things that I have neither said nor intended to say.

    Much of what Zane wrote was in the context of opposing the false teaching of LS. If what Tim and I were saying was even in the same universe as what Zane was opposing in Absolutely Free, then I might have reason to take offense. But your extended quotes really aren’t hitting the issues that Tim brought up in this latest post. You want us to answer your question about what it “takes” to be saved in terms you can understand, but we are still speaking (at least) two different languages and we mean subtly different things in our uses of the same terms.

    Unfortunately, Zane did not live long enough to explore the ramifications of the kinds of black-and-white statements you have quoted now on a number of occasions, as I tried to explain in my response to your invitation on the last post—in my discussion of “testimony” (1 John 5:11-12)—which was about “having” the Son, or not, and how that relates to 5:1 in the context of the intended readers of the epistle. I would love to see how Zane would have engaged these kinds of concerns apart from the battles he fought for so many years.

    This is not “pop psychology”—it is dealing practically with the biblical categories of “heart,” “conscience,” and “intuitive awareness” (the last of which, you have previously assented, is a legitimate category). As both Tim and I have tried several times now to elaborate with different analogies and words, statements simply point to the reality experienced when people receive life from Christ; BUT WE CERTAINLY CAN “KNOW” THAT REALITY! And that “knowledge” is much more than verbal-propositional understanding; you came close to that in what you quoted about “internalizing.” In First John, that knowledge is meant to translate into a confident witness packaged in tangible love for the brethren and the world.

    With my “porcupine” analogy, I meant to include more than just you, Gary. It’s only my opinion—and that plus a buck-fifty will buy you a cup of coffee, but I believe Zane also suffered from a form of “Free Grace PTSD” and that it caused him to hunker down when he was actually being called to come out and engage in what would become precisely the kinds of conversations Tim and I and a few others have been convening over the last few years.

    And I, personally, have not said that you need to repent . . . I am saying you need healing. As I also have needed.

    Jim

  5. I meant “superimposition”, not “impose”:

    “… stem more from the superimposition of their OWN “crypto-Platonism” and “pop psychology” on Zane’s views than from the views of Zane himself.”

  6. FedExMOP says:

    Tim, and maybe Jim,

    Let me see if I get this right. You are not saying that there is not anecdotal evidence of the intelect, emotion, and will, in man. You are saying that there is no Biblical evidence that these things exist in the very detached way that they are described in Plato’s philosophy.

    So seperating intellect from the other aspects of the person, particularly the emotions does not really do justice to the biblical concept of faith. It must be more than intellectual ascent to a set of propositions, because purely intellectual ascent does not really exist. It is a more holistic view of the person where intellect if not detached from emotion and experience, but rather is directly involved, both shaping and being shaped by emotion and experience.

    Or maybe I am not getting this at all. I would really like to see this more biblical anthropology that you call for at the end, however, I am not aware of anyone who is developing such an anthropology at this time.

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  7. Jim Reitman says:

    FedEx,

    Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Gary’s point was to quote Zane as not separating them either, but Tim’s point that Zane excised volition from what transpires, I believe surfaces some inconsistency in Zane’s anthropology.

  8. Jim,

    You said:

    ” I just get the sense you “hear” things that I have neither said nor intended to say.” (oh yeah?)

    “Much of what Zane wrote was in the context of opposing the false teaching of LS. If what Tim and I were saying was even in the same universe as what Zane was opposing in Absolutely Free, then I might have reason to take offense (take all the offense you want, because it IS in the same universe–and you know it). But your extended quotes really aren’t hitting the issues that Tim brought up in this latest post (yes they are). You want us to answer your question about what it “takes” to be saved in terms you can understand (YES, PLEASE!), but we are still speaking (at least) two different languages and we mean subtly different things in our uses of the same terms. (I’ll say!–it’s like explaining a rainbow to a blind man, right? That’s always been the problem with mysticism, Jim)

    Unfortunately, Zane did not live long enough to explore the ramifications of the kinds of black-and-white statements you have quoted now on a number of occasions, as I tried to explain in my response to your invitation on the last post—in my discussion of “testimony” (1 John 5:11-12)—which was about “having” the Son, or not, and how that relates to 5:1 in the context of the intended readers of the epistle (read his commentary and you will see that Zane would have considered your explanation of that verse not only absurd, but a complete denial of what John meant to say in context). I would love to see how Zane would have engaged these kinds of concerns apart from the battles he fought for so many years.”

    ————————————-

    Okay, for starter’s, here’s a few comments Zane addressed directly to FG people. Let’s see how much you “love” this. If you want to know what bothers me about the things you are advocating, Zane touches on a some of them here. I know you will recognize a few things that you are advocating in some, though perhaps not all, of his comments below. I’ve added my own comments in parenthesis –please tell me where I”m “hear(ing)” things that (you) have neither said nor intended to say.” Seriously, I want to know.

    THE SPIRIT OF ANTICHRIST: DECOUPLING JESUS FROM THE CHRIST
    BY ZANE C. HODGES

    B. FUDGING ON THE SIMPLICITY OF

    There is another area where we need complete openness to God’s Word. That area involves the amazing simplicity of Biblical faith.

    I am convinced that some committed grace people are still a little scared by the simplicity of believing in Christ. They are eager to avoid the charge that we teach mere intellectual assent. It is hard for people like this to agree that faith and salvation occur when the core message of the Gospel is simply accepted as true. (it’s hard for you to accept this isn’t it?))

    Instead they wish to hedge this position with the requirement that faith must include some personal element like trust. Or that I must make some personal appropriation of the saving offer (exactly your position, right?). This is the perspective that rapidly leads to urging, or even requiring, a prayer of faith. (you can’t tell us how to “appropriate” it can you? you only insist that we must do it!)

    I have argued elsewhere that trust can often be used as a synonym for faith. But when trust is seen as an improvement on the word faith (or, on the word believe) the door to confusion is open (but you teach exactly what Zane is here warning about don’t you?)
    .
    What often results is a two-step view of faith: Step 1: believe the facts; Step 2: trust Christ for eternal life. The Bible knows no such distinction as this…. When it comes to believing something, the Bible does not contradict normal usage or common sense. Theologians have been known to do both!

    We have no excuse, really, not to see the extreme simplicity of Biblical belief. The question is, however, whether we are open to this aspect of the Biblical testimony about faith. Or will we continue to hedge our view of faith with alternate expressions and unbiblical provisos?

    III. THE DANGER OF LOSING THE HISTORICITY OF THE GOSPEL
    Now we come to the major burden of my talk today. A second danger that confronts the grace movement is the loss of the historicity of the gospel message.

    Let me state this issue in terms of the purpose of the Gospel of John (of course, you deny, contrary to Zane, that it’s purpose is primarily evangelistic don’t you?). According to John 20: 30-31, the book was written that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ.” Please notice that it was not written simply that we might believe in the Christ. No, instead, it was written that we might believe that “Jesus is the Christ.”

    Think about this for a moment. We are not being called to believe that the Christ will give us eternal life. Rather we are called to believe that Jesus gives us eternal life because Jesus is the Christ.

    Or take 1 John 5:1a: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” Did you notice something? It is not, “whoever believes in the Christ for eternal life is born of God.” But once again, the issue is Jesus. If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, then—but only then—do we have a promise of eternal life. (you disagree, don’t you?)

    The NT offers eternal life exclusively to those who believe in Jesus for it. There is no other offer of eternal life in the NT. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. (you disagree, don’t you?)

    Jesus is man’s only way to God. He Himself says so. In words familiar to all of us, Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). No one gets to the Father apart from Jesus. In the context of the Gospel of John, this does not mean that men may come to God and not know that they come by means of Jesus. (but you say the purpose John’s Gospel is not primarily evangelistic, as per Zane, but so the already “born one” will “look and act” like a “born one”, as in 1 Jn 5:1a–right , Jim?)

    On the contrary, John is always at pains to point the believer to the historical Jesus as the Object of His faith.

    B. FAITH IN JESUS SAVES

    As you can see, the Gospel of John teaches that people are saved by believing in Jesus. Not by believing in God. Not by believing in an unknown Messiah. But by believing in Jesus. Regardless of how people were saved in the OT, this is how they are saved now (you disagree, right?).

    This is certainly not contradicted by John 5:24. We are used to reading that verse this way: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life” (emphasis added). But the first thing we must notice is that there is nothing in the Greek to correspond to the word “in.”

    So we really should read the verse like this: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has everlasting life.” Notice carefully: the believer hears Jesus’ word and, when he believes it, he is believing the God who sent Jesus. The point is, of course, that Jesus’ word is God’s word. To believe Jesus’ word is to believe what God says.

    This is an important point for John. Take, for example, John 12:48-50. Jesus says:

    “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

    Or again, in John 8:28, we read:

    “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, so I speak these things.”

    As my former Greek students will all know (I hope!), John’s characteristic phrase for the faith that brings eternal life is pisteuo„ eis. This is usually rendered by our English versions as “believe in” or “believe on.” But pisteuo„ eis is not found in John 5:24. (Instead we find pisteuo„n to„) It was a mistake for the translators to use the words “believe in” (or, on: KJV) in John 5:24. John never makes God the Father the Object of pis-teuo„ eis.
    John’s point is not that we can “believe in” God for eternal life just like we do when we “believe in” Jesus for that. On the contrary, his point is that when we believe Jesus’ word we are, in fact, believing something God Himself is saying to us.

    And of course, faith in Jesus’ word is still faith in Jesus (but not sufficient to be born again, right?). But obviously, the saving experience (the way Zane understood it) of John 5:24 cannot come to someone who has never heard Jesus’ word (you disagree, right?). No matter what he believes about the Creator, the heathen person still needs to hear the message brought by the Savior whom the Creator has sent (you disagree, right?). And note well: when the unsaved person believes the word of Jesus, he is not simply believing God, but he is believing the God who sent Jesus! (but you think 5:24 is a sanctification truth for already believers, like 1 Jn 5:1a, right?)

    To put it plainly, God apart from Jesus is never the Object of the faith that brings eternal life. (you disagree, right?)

    Of similar significance is the way the Samaritan woman of John 4 is led to faith in a specific historical person. Jesus first draws her attention to the water of life that He can give to her. Then as the exchange between her and the Son of God draws to its climax, the woman states: “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

    As you already know, the climax of this unforgettable interview comes when our Lord announces: “I who speak to you am He.” Like the blind man of John 9, she places her faith in the person of Jesus.

    Someone may wish to haggle here and raise the question, Did she know His name was Jesus? To this we may say two things: (1) it would be surprising if she did not. After all, this is a mere fragment of the total conversation. Would they not have introduced themselves to each other at some point? But (2) it doesn’t really matter. It was the historical person called Jesus that she believed in. Who is the Christ? “You’re looking at Him,” says Jesus.

    I am reminded also of the statement Jesus makes in 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.” Once again, identification of the historical person is the issue. Of course, an individual can be saved without seeing Him as John 20:29 makes clear. But if someone sees Him and believes in Him, he has obviously believed in a particular historical person. The Gospel of John is completely adamant that the historical person of Jesus must be the focus of our faith if we are to have eternal life. (you disagree, right?)

    As the apostle Paul has put it, God is “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

    There is no salvation for anyone outside of faith in the historical person of Jesus Christ. The NT promise of eternal life is made exclusively to believers in the historical Jesus. Nothing else has even a shred of Biblical evidence. (But you disagree, right?)

    If the grace movement should ever lose its grip on this simple fact, it would have subverted the gospel and subverted the worldwide evangelistic enterprise (but you think it would actually be a good thing– a positive refinement in our understanding of the FG message, don’t you?). Just as grievously, it would have failed to properly honor the name that God has placed above every name. Someday, every knee will bow to that name, and every tongue will confess, the exalted name of Jesus to the glory of God the Father. God has ordained that the name of Jesus should be the one and only name in the universe that is a source of eternal salvation.

    If the grace movement ever loses all this, it would richly deserve to die. (but you think it would be a blessing for the FG movement to move away from such a “narrow” gospel, right?)

    In the light of all we have just said, we can better appreciate the subtle wickedness of the spirit of the Antichrist. ( but you don’t think it’s subtle wickedness do you?)

    As John informs us in his First Epistle, there are already many antichrists in the world. His words are familiar:

    Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know it is the last hour.

    Shortly afterwards, he adds,

    I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ?

    In chapter 4, the Apostle also says:

    . . . and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Anti-christ, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world [see 1 John 2:18, 21-22; 4:3].

    Please observe. The spirit of the Antichrist is revealed by denying that Jesus is the Christ, or by denying the historical manifestation of the Christ who came in the flesh and blood of Jesus.

    Let me stress that the spirit of the Antichrist is not defined by denying that there is a Christ. Nor is this spirit even defined by denying the salvific significance of the Christ. He is defined instead by the denial that the historical Jesus—the Jesus who had flesh and blood—is indeed the Christ.

    Even more precisely, this spirit is defined by a failure to confess this truth. Listen to 1 John 4:3 again: every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist . . .”.

    Needless to say, the Satanic assault is targeted at the person of Jesus for the precise reason that there is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus. One can actually articulate a gospel that even sounds theologically correct, but without Jesus it is not the gospel at all.

    For example, I might say: salvation is by grace alone through faith in Christ. But if the hearer does not know that the Christ is the historical Jesus, he does not yet know how to be saved (you disagree, right?). Like the blind man of John 9, he will have to ask, “Who is the Christ that I might believe in Him?”

    And if Jesus is totally subtracted from my message, so that there is no witness to Him as God’s Christ, my message is not merely inadequate. It is also perfectly acceptable to the spirit of the Antichrist. (though you would probably say it’s not preferable, it is adequate and acceptable to you too, right?)

    IV. CONCLUSION

    There is no question in my mind that God has raised up the grace movement and is using it widely. On the other hand, we live in a very confused world. And our world is headed for even greater confusion as the end of the age approaches.

    We ought therefore to feel a new sense of urgency to keep the Scriptures as our guide as we navigate through the shadows and twilight that are rapidly gathering. In addition to the old forms of confusion about the
    gospel, we must also face the rise of new forms of error like contemplative spirituality (and trying to “define” the gospel and saving faith in terms of mysticism–which can’t be defined to all of us blind people (!) ).

    I am reminded of the solemn words of Jesus as He spoke about the end of the age. His warning was grim: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24).

    Unless the grace movement holds firmly to the uniqueness of the Biblical gospel and to the indispensability of the name of Jesus for salvation, it cannot hope to accomplish what it ought to accomplish for God. Indeed if it does not do these things, it may be buried under an ocean of false theology. It may be washed away by the experience-based religion (= mysticism) that is all too rapidly rising to prominence, as our world hurtles toward divine judgment. (but you want to wash it away so it will be less “narrow” and more inclusive, right Jim?)

    So what’s my final word today? Here it is: Stay awake; it’s later than you think!

  9. Eric Kemp says:

    Gary

    While I only know Tim personally, and am not involved (nor fully understand) the current doctrinal dispute, I have been following the series of “Mysticism” articles and every comment that has gone back forth between yourself and Tim.

    In your last comment, I am beginning to understand Tim’s frustration. While quoting Hodges and inserting your own comments in the ( ), you said this:

    “Indeed if it does not do these things, it may be buried under an ocean of false theology. It may be washed away by the experience-based religion (= mysticism) that is all too rapidly rising to prominence, as our world hurtles toward divine judgment.”

    Tim has made it very clear that by “mysticism” he does not mean “experience-based religion”. Even to an outsider such as myself, this is obvious. Tim is using the word “mysticism” or the phrase “mystical union” to describe a Biblical idea. I understand the difficulty with the word and since reading the first article in this series, I’ve been trying to think of a better word to use that doesn’t bring with it all the baggage.

    So let me ask you, what word/phrase would you use besides “mysticism”/”mystical union” to describe the Biblical ideas described in John 17:20-23, Galatians 2:20?

  10. Jim Reitman says:

    Gary,

    You chose an excellent test case to show where Zane and I do in fact disagree. Thanks for going to all that effort. I have more than a few bones to pick with what Zane has done with First John. But I am more convinced than ever that you have also misconstrued a great deal of what I have written because you think what I have written is anti-biblical or have read what I’ve said with tunnel vision and/or volatile emotion.

    As to your alleging a lack of support for—or inability to explain—my positions, I can’t think of anything I have said on these issues that I haven’t supported directly from Scripture. (The idea of “appropriation” is a perfect example, but I simply disagree with Zane and his disciples on this particular issue and have explained it in detail elsewhere.) You simply take a different view (Zane’s, supposedly) of those Scriptures and of John’s intent in his Gospel and First Epistle. So, because I am not allowed to disagree with Zane’s view on those issues, I am by default wrong.

    The article shows me in pretty clear terms where we have run aground; but Gary, you have said “I really want to know, seriously” before, and when I have cited chapter and verse, it only seems to aggravate the tunnel vision and anger. I am willing to answer each one of your parenthetical comments in detail, but I don’t believe it would serve any useful purpose in this frame of mind. Plus, it may not be appropriate in this venue, depending on Tim’s hospitality.

    I would be happy to cut-and-paste the whole article with your parenthetical questions and answer them by email, point by point. But again, you and I have both been that route before, with unfortunate results. However, I’m open if you think it might be any different this time. What distresses me more than anything is, it is rare that you ask what I mean by something I’ve said until after you’ve blown up at me, often with invective and sarcasm that makes it sound like I’m your mortal enemy.

    There is a pattern here. 😉

  11. Jim,

    “volatile emotion…anger…blown up…invective…sarcasm…”

    Oh, you mean the kind of infantile temper tantrum Tim threw when I simply asked him what he thought 1 Jn 5:1 meant?

    Here was your only response to Tim’s comment to me:

    “Tim, nice summary.”

    Right, thanks.

    And now you say: “So, because I am not allowed to disagree with Zane’s view on those issues, I am by default wrong.”

    Jim, I’m not the one who has been spouting a lot of impertinent bluster like Tim about how all FG people need to repent of their convictions about the gospel, then trying to play the victim when someone simply asks a question. And you clearly support Tim in this.

    You and Tim are certainly masters of spin, I’ll grant you that.

    Yes, I think that what you and Tim are saying is both unintelligible and un-biblical. But I wasn’t the one who started this with a public call for the FG movement to repent and follow me into a mystical who knows what, was I?

    And true to form, whenever I finally ask you the right (or wrong?) questions, you want to answer by private e-mail, just like you did last time it came to that on Michele’s blog.

    You know, Jim, it’s like you were told once before by someone else who tried to understand your views: “If you can’t say it, you don’t know it.” Either that, or you just don’t want to say it in public.

    Yes, there certainly is a pattern here–in more ways than one 😉

  12. alvin says:

    Excellent Gary~!!!!!! You got right to the heart of the matter:)

    alvin

  13. Jim Reitman says:

    Gary,

    You may think you know Tim, but you have missed him. You have chosen to react selectively—by jihad—to what bothers you rather than by discussion because you simply don’t trust him and instead believe he wants to destroy GES. That’s not true, and GES leaders who know Tim better than you can tell you. And, yes, Tim certainly knows how to “fight back”; after all, this is “Full Contact Christianity.”

    But I wasn’t discussing Tim, was I, in my reply to your comment about repenting? The last time you said you really wanted to understand us, I stuck up for you when Tim asked me if you were sincere. Then you blew up. I do think you are sincere; you just don’t fight clean. You may need to engage Tim separately about his comments on GES, but don’t expect him to respond to you if you continue to impugn his motives at the drop of a hat.

    So, how about you and me? You accuse me of evasion, just like Fred’s “peanut gallery” did on his blog, when Fred was the one who chose to close down the discussion. When he invited me to come right out and say what I believed in terms he could understand, I told him I would, but we couldn’t do that without a common language (or epistemic framework). So, I was willing to paint a narrative picture to try to do just that, and he chose to shut down the discussion. You and I still don’t have a common language, yet you dismiss me by speculating, “If you can’t say it, you don’t know it.”

    Am I willing to say it in public? When Fred shut down the discussion, I asked Tim whether I should just let it go, and he said I had already committed to an explanation of my view in public, so I needed to put up or shut up. So I came up with The Gospel in 3-D, which speaks for itself, for those who have ears to hear. You don’t, apparently.
    The Gospel in 3-D is still available publicly to anyone who wants to read it. I know you’ve read it because you told me you did—but didn’t agree—when you were in a calmer frame of mind. But have you asked me a single question about what I wrote in any of those seven articles? No, you simply read into what I’ve said the worst possible impressions, and God only knows what you think my motives are, judging by your . . . yes, invective, anger, volatility, etc.

    I am perfectly willing to keep this public as long as our host is willing. But just as on Michele’s blog, I’m not going to engage in a public pissing contest and keep yelling at each other louder and louder when at least one of us is deaf. We can yell in private if that’s what you’re after, but I suspect you want to expose what you think is heresy, and you are also fiercely loyal to GES because of how Zane and GES rescued you and gave you refuge. You got the milk of the word and were set free, but now it appears you are unwilling to go on to chew on meat, so you call what I say “unintelligible” and “unbiblical.” There are plenty of people out there who don’t share your opinion, Gary.

    No, you did ask the right questions, and I have answers to each one of them, but my answers will disagree with Zane in some very important ways as I support them with Scripture and cite what I have already written in public. But you will take offense—because it will seem to you that I am undercutting Zane—rather than look at the substance of what I say on its own merits. Zane was truly a giant for Free Grace, but he was a fallible giant.

  14. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    As always, thank you for weighing in. It’s clearly important to you to stand up and be counted, and I appreciate that about you; many of our FG brethren aren’t willing to go that far. I’d love it even more if you were willing to join the discussion. Gary and I seem to have persistent trouble communicating with one another; perhaps your slightly different angle of approach would be helpful.

  15. Tim Nichols says:

    FedEx,

    You’re right on the button. I’m not saying those functions — thinking, feeling, choosing — don’t exist. I’m saying that Plato’s anatomy of the soul is all wrong, and that the functions don’t simply exist independent of one another. How a person feels often influences what he thinks, and vice versa, and same for the choices that he makes.

    I’d like to see a more biblical anthropology too. Workin’ on it…

  16. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    I hope you don’t mind if I added a couple of links to your 11:30 comment so people could find the two comments you’re talking about. There’s a lot to sift through of recent; I didn’t see any reason to make someone wade through it all. And on to business…

    Temper tantrum? Shucks, brother, I didn’t even pick up my bowie knife. I was having trouble finding a way to relate to you, and said so, as simply and honestly as I could. All I asked for was a conversation instead of a shooting match. I’m sorry you took that amiss; what was it that you wanted from the exchange?

    Regarding your interactions with Jim and Eric:

    1) I’d love to see you answer Eric’s question.

    2) You’re welcome to get into a boxing match with Jim in my living room, if he’s willing.

    Regarding the extended quotes from Zane, I’ve an answer forthcoming, but work interferes, and I’ve got to run out the door. Later tonight, I hope.

  17. Michele says:

    Hi,

    Just wanted to shed some grace if I have any. I am blessed seeing Gary and Tim and others use many ways to expose their point of view, even poetry! I’m not too worried about directly labeling one another’s shortcomings. Jesus did that as well as other avenues such as discourage judging and encourage the values of the beatitudes. He also told parables so people could find themselves in relation to God and one another. He also gave forbearance in a less-than-optimal situation so that the light would on-goingly manifest God’s will in contrast to the darkness.

    The only risk with directly labeling people’s shortcomings is that it seems to sometimes steal from other words of thanksgiving which He wants us to offer. I struggle with giving thanks when I feel bitter. For these comments I have Ephesians 4:25-5:15 in mind.

    I can see how jumping from “mysticism” to the antichrist is a little fast. I also can see how (I believe) for Gary this is foremost about the simplicity of faith. He wants conversation on that. Jim and Tim also are concerned about the simplicity of faith but have additional (hopefully) biblical concerns, that would equally share in faith’s spotlight.

    Gratefully..
    Michele

  18. Michele,

    Thanks for the uplifting words. But you sure are a brave one stepping into the middle of what Jim says is my “jihad”. Isn’t that worse than being called a heretic? Please note, however, that I did NOT call Jim the antichrist. 🙂

    Thanks for shedding some grace here–it is much needed by all.

  19. FedExMOP says:

    Wow Michelle,

    How very gracious of you. With beliefs like these you must be a heretic of some kind. Just Kidding.

    I have had the privelege of watching these discussions going for some time without becoming involved myself. Like you, I try not to place labels on a persons beliefs or shortcomings. None of has our doctrine completely correct, and we should be very circumspect when we choose to criticize the doctrine of others.

    Thank you for your perspective. My concern is that the FG crowd has become so defensive and so protective of their particular stripe of free grace that there will be no possibility of moving beyond defending these “core doctrines”.

    I too, am concerned about maintaining the simplicity of faith, but I also believe that there is a lot of Christian life to be had on the other side of faith. The Bible has too much to say about experiencing kingdom life here and now to only focus on the beginning of faith.

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  20. Tim Nichols says:

    Ah, Michele, you really are a treasure. So glad you’re here, sister.

  21. Michele says:

    Hi Gary!

    Absolutely, “jihad” is equally fitting to be called out by the attention I gave. Thanks for pointing that out because I wanted to be fair. I just sat down with my husband and asked him to go through a series of questions to self-diagnose me with a possible ADHD. I had been asking for prayer because of this haze I’ve been experiencing that’s been getting worse. I locked myself out of my car twice last week amongst other problems, and I’ve been praying for a year to become someone who can consistently be on time but it eludes me.

    Hmm… Have to make an appointment and see what the doctor says. After crying a tear or two I feel much better suspecting how I seem to be broken!

    Love ya dude!!

  22. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    Am reading the four quotes in your 1:02 response with interest. Will comment in the morning; at the moment I’ve just finished work for the day and need to pack it in before my wife forgets what I look like. I notice you sourced two of the four quotes, and I have both those books and will read the surrounding chapter. Where did the other two quotes come from?

  23. Michele says:

    Hi FedEx,

    Nice to meet you! I agree there’s a lot to investigate and I am trying to explore some of those things also lately. I noticed how kindly your thoughts have been, it has been a learning experience to read here. I appreciate Gary so much and I think his point is very important. It doesn’t stop being important. I think I said this on my blog, or perhaps I meant to say it in an upcoming post. The John 11:26 gospel lives for obtaining assurance, and the 1 Cor 15:1-4 gospel lives to fend off universalism. Both have an essential facet in the ministry of the saving message. Hopefully I make sense?

    Tim’s/Jim’s facet of the message brings with it its unique set of strengths and weaknesses. IMHO….

  24. Michele says:

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for speaking highly of me! Ha ha. Thanks for letting me drop in unexpectedly too! This is not an easy task, to know you’re on to something significant and have to take it a tiny post at a time. Like Jim I also see the asset of being a “full-contact” writer. Thanks for hanging out there on the edge of innovation. I am a firm believer that it is okay to disagree.

    It was nice to give and receive a little brotherly bonding. I only take the easy jobs, can you tell? 🙂

    Thanks brother!

  25. FedExMOP says:

    Michelle,

    The pleasure is all mine. Jim also speaks very highly of you. I really hope that there is room in the FG world to develop a more holistic view of kingdom life. There is a lot of bible outside of these few select passages, and I do not think we can do them justice until we come to understand them in light of all the rest of the scripture. But that is just me.

    God Bless,
    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  26. alvin says:

    I don’t have the time right now, I have people I work with that are asking honest questions who need the milk of the word so they don’t go to hell. What you would call “fire insurance” I call “good news” and that is that Jesus is the Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world and that is how He can offer the free gift of eternal life to all those who believe in Him:) I’m telling people the truth, just as I did yesterday to a room full of men, you don’t go to hell because of your sin because Jesus paid for all of that. The issue is “life” and He gives that freely. You guys are attacking the milk of the word with your so called meat of the word, I don’t have time for that. My lieutenant asked me last night which book in the bible is best to read on redemption. My other Lieutenants wife is dying of cancer. They don’t need mystical union but they need to believe Jesus for the promise of eternal life, and know they will spend eternity with God.
    (John 1:29;2 Cor 5:19; 1 John 2:2; Rev 20:15; 22:17; John 4:10; 3:16-17,36; 5:24; 6:27-29,47;11:25,26)

    alvin

  27. Amen Alvin! Sounds to me like you ARE living the “kingdom life” by faithfully giving the milk of the word to those in desperate need of it. No one can live the “kingdom life” if they fail to do that, or if what they are giving to unbelievers (or believers) contradicts, confuses, and/or obscures the simplicity of milk of the word. The milk is the unchanging foundation for ALL of us.

    Tim, those other quotes from Zane were taken from his JOTGES article: “Assurance is of the Essence of Saving Faith.”

  28. ‘Surely it is one of the conceits of modern theology to suppose that we can define away simple terms like “belief” and “unbelief” and replace their obvious meanings with complicated elaborations. The confusion produced by this sort of process has a pervasive influence in the church today. The solution, however, is to return to the plain meaning of the biblical text.”

    I didn’t reference this. It’s from p.29–“Absolutely Free”

    The other unreferenced citations are from the JOTGES article.

  29. Jim Reitman says:

    OK, guys. I get it.

    Perhaps my perspective has been warped by the fact that my “room full of men” is comprised of ex-sex offenders, wife-haters, convicted felons, and pornographers who have all drunk the water of life but are having a helluva lot of trouble letting the living water flow out of them. Not to mention the guys who have been dying in church. Gradually, they have been coming alive again after chewing on meat for awhile. It has not been easy, but they are less confused now than they were before, and what is most encouraging about the ministry is the new freedom these guys are enjoying and in inviting others to “come and see.” I guess you might say that my little “corner” of kingdom living is for men to enjoy the freedom they had in Christ but have then let themselves become shackled again to a burden of sin. They need meat, not milk, because their “senses have not been trained to discern good from evil.”

    OK, so given our differences, what can we accomplish here?

  30. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    Thank you for your candor. You’re my brother and the offer needed to be made; I’m sorry you’re declining it and I hope at the Lord will bring another chance when the time is right. In the meantime, may God bless your efforts in sharing His Word, and apply His healing balm to your itchy trigger finger. We are closer than you think, brother — I hope you’ll come to see that eventually.

  31. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    Let’s take that first quote from Absolutely Free, because I think that read in context it illustrates my concerns perfectly.

    Zane argues for the everyday meaning of belief, as over against some over-psychologized definition such as one might find in the Puritans — and as I already have said, I agree. But keep reading, because he goes on to tell us a bit more about this everyday meaning that he espouses.

    For instance, immediately after what you quoted:

    But lordship salvation drives its adherents into a psychological shadowland. We are told that true faith has volitional and emotional elements. But we might ask: in what sense?
    Have we not all at some time been compelled by facts to believe something we did not wish to believe? Did we not, in a sense, believe against our will? Was that not even the case with Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus? And is it not equally true that we often believe things without any discernible emotional response to them, while at other times we are overwhelmed with emotion?

    A little further down the page:

    Does [believing] involve the intellect? Of course! But is it mere intellectual assent? Of course not! To describe faith that way is to demean it as a trivial, academic exercise, when it fact it is no such thing.
    What faith really is, in biblical language, is receiving the testimony of God. It is the inward conviction that what God says to us in the Gospel is true. That–and that alone–is saving faith.

    So saving faith in Zane’s everyday sense does not involve the will in any clear way, nor is there necessarily any emotional component, but there is a necessary exercise of the intellect. But it’s not intellectual assent, because that would trivial and academic; it’s inward conviction that involves the intellect.

    What else does it involve? Nothing that he mentions.

    So hang on; why is this not intellectual assent, or mental assent? Well, because, as we learnt on the previous page, those words have negative connotations; they make it sound too detached, so we’re going to call it “inward conviction” instead. But when he gets round to explaining what he means, Zane denies involvement of the will or the emotions, affirms involvement of the intellect, and if there’s any other component to saving faith, it doesn’t seem to be worth mentioning.

    My point of departure from all this? First of all, when he says “Does that involve the intellect? Of course!” — right there, he concedes the existence of the intellect. That’s a concession I’m not willing to make, which was the point of this post.

    Second, immediately after decrying the intellect/emotion/will anthropology as inadequate for analyzing saving faith, Zane proceeds to use those very categories to offer his own analysis. I think he’s reaching for a more biblical anthropology that doesn’t get tangled up in that set of categories, but I don’t think he’s really succeeded in avoiding the tangle himself; by immediately resorting to those categories again, he’s failed to offer a real alternative to intellectual assent; he’s just renamed it and talked around it for a couple of pages.

    This is enough for one comment; I’ll address the 1 John quote in another.

  32. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    I understand that you come from a LS background that placed a premium on self-doubt and fear, and of course my focus on relationship raises your defenses, because you’re Not Going Back to that, nor should you. So late, you discovered FG theology, and you’ve got a version of it that boils the whole affair down to a documentable, mechanical process: “Here’s your Saving Proposition, sir…sign here…Very good; congratulations on your new life.” No room for error, no room for self-doubt, the human element neatly sucked right out of the whole picture.

    Into that nifty little picture I come, and say it’s not a box you get from a deliveryman; it’s a relationship with a living person. You’re a human; Jesus is the human par excellence; there’s nothing in the picture but two people. You can’t remove the human element. I see why that feels kinda fuzzy to you. But here’s the thing: it isn’t.

    When you hear the gospel clearly explained, you encounter Christ. When you cry out to God, He answers. When you ask according to His will, He hears and grants what you have asked. These are truths clearly explained in Scripture, promises on which God makes good every single day. I understand that standing back and contemplating it in advance, there’s room for doubt: “How will I know God is helping me? How will I know He hears my cry?”

    Up close, in the event, I don’t find that people suffer much from that concern. God has a way of making Himself pretty obvious to you. This is very like a person — which, after all, He is. When you’re standing in the presence of Bob Wilkin, shaking his hand, you don’t wonder, “Am I really with Bob Wilkin?” Don’t be silly; of course you are. There he is; here you are; you’re shaking his hand. God is a person; personal contact tends to be unambiguous like that.

    Afterwards, well…afterwards, you can leave your first love, and when your love has grown cold, you begin to wonder if you ever really loved to start with. Maybe it was all a delusion…

    But the solution to this is to go back to where you should be anyhow: believe in Jesus. 1 John, among other books, is written so that those who already believe might continue to believe, and in continuing to believe, they might continue to experience the life that is their birthright. In continuing that experience, they live eternal life every day, and this simply does not admit of doubt over whether the relationship is real. When they sin, they know they’re violating the relationship. They also know they have an advocate with the Father, and they trust Him — again, back to believing in Jesus.

    So now, to Zane’s commentary on 1 John 5.

    Zane says that “believe in” statements and “believe that” statements are functionally equivalents, by which he means that they’re both equivalent to “believe that” statements.

    I want to know: who says? What makes the “believe that” statements the clear ones, and the “believe in Jesus” statements the fuzzy ones that need help from allegedly clearer expressions?

    Suppose I turn it around and say that “Believe that Jesus is the Christ” is just another way of saying “Believe in Jesus,” that is, of expressing your trust in the Person.

    Prove me wrong.

    For the record, that’s not actually my position. But do you see my point?

  33. intellect – the ability to learn and reason; the capacity for knowledge and understanding.

    Tim said: “My point of departure from all this? First of all, when he (Zane) says “Does that involve the intellect? Of course!” — right there, he concedes the existence of the intellect. That’s a concession I’m not willing to make, which was the point of this post.”

    Well, Tim, based on what I’ve been reading on this blog, consider your point well made!

  34. Tim Nichols says:

    Don’t be so modest, brother. Your comments illustrated the point better than I ever could.

    ***
    If we’re done trading witticisms, maybe you could offer some substantive interaction on that point — which was, after all, the entire point of the original post. Just a suggestion…

  35. Eric Kemp says:

    Gary

    I think you find yourself in a precarious position here and I hope you recognize it. You are insulting Tim based upon a distinction that you are literally refusing to consider the Biblical nature of. Tim is questioning the presupposition of the intellect and you are assuming the existence of the intellect in order to call him stupid. Meaning that IF the intellect exists, you’re not using yours, and if it doesn’t, then you are proving Tim right.

    And, unfortunately, either way, you are in sin (John 13:3-35). You are assuming that since you disagree with Tim, and even if he is truly in error, that gives you the right to break a commandment of Jesus.

    Without sarcasm, I truly hope and am praying that you back off of this ledge.

  36. alvin says:

    Jim, you heard something that wasn’t true from the very beginning. And that was you could block yourself from the gift of eternal life by wanting to know what God would expect from you if you did believe in Him for the gift of eternal life. Then being the honest man that you are you weren’t willing to take the gift of everlasting life until you were willing to give up your name. Your 3D gospel came out of that understanding that God wants more from you than just to give you a gift. That is where you came up with the trust as something more than believe, engaging the whole man. What you really have ended up with is not good news at all but have bonded discipleship with the gift of eternal life, it’s only the whole man that can swallow the BIG PILL, and come into relationship 3D with God. You don’t really believe that someone could simply believe Jesus for His gift of everlasting life without having any strings attached. That a passive faith could simply take Jesus at His saving word and be saved. That it could be years before that person engaged with the whole man the walk of faith. God never forces discipleship as something that must be embraced before He will let him take that living water freely. Now you have Tim buying into your 3D whole man with your finishing touch of being able to see the rainbow mentality, and the gift being fire insurance if it’s just taken as simply a free gift.

    Here is the true good news, and that is the living water (saving message) can be taken freely by simple faith and when it is springs-up into everlasting life.

    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.
    (Rev 22:17)

  37. Jim Reitman says:

    Alvin,

    You have never understood the first thing about what I have written and have never really been willing to truly discuss it with me because you have read my testimony and teaching through black and white lenses, when my testimony and my teaching is in color.

    If you want to resurrect something I have written and deal with specific biblical passages, then I’ll engage. Otherwise, I simply don’t trust you from past experience, as you have hurt me deeply when I have tried to have a relationship with you.

    As for Tim, he can think for himself and we discovered that we had both been moving in the same directions before we even met.

  38. FedExMOP says:

    Alvin,

    You Said “Your 3D gospel came out of that understanding that God wants more from you than just to give you a gift”.

    This is exactly true and exactly the point. God wants relationship. He will give the gift freely without requiring anything else, but THAT IS NOT WHAT GOD REALLY WANTS. If it were, the Gospel of John would be the only book in the NT.

    This is exactly the problem with the hard line GES folks, they are so focused on the gift that they cannot get into the relationship. You focus on 5% of the NT and ignore the other 95% because “that is meat”, or “it leads to confusion”. I would say yes it is meat, and what it leads to is maturity and true deep relationship with the creator God through Jesus.

    I have sat directly under Jim’s teaching for several years, and I can say that he has never taught that salvation = required works. What he has taught and rightly so is that salvation is past, here and now, and future (yep, that’s 3D). And that to experience the here and now everlasting life(relationship) we need to enter through obedience to the leading of the Spirit. Jim absolutely believe that you can enter into heaven without a single good work (1 Cor 3:15). But that is not what God wants.

    The simplicity of the salvation message is important, but to focus on that to the ommission of the rest of the bible is not healthy. What God wants is for us to live Kingdom life here and now; to escape not only the future consequences of sin, but also the tyranny of sin in our lives right now. What God wants is for us to grow in being reflections of Him to a lost world. What God wants is to reconcile man to Himself through Jesus Christ and His human “agents” (2 Cor 5:17). And what are they reconciled to, but to the relationship with God that was lost at the fall of Adam. Not in the future, but right here and right now.

    I can rightly testify that Jim has never taught in my hearing any of these things as requirements for recieving eternal life or as necessary proof of true savnig faith.

    My prayer for you and Gary, and Bob and many others in FG (both GES and FGA) is that you will be able to drop the defensiveness and have real discussion about moving beyond the simplicity of the Gospel and into deeper relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

    A faithful minister of Grace,

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  39. Jim Reitman says:

    Gary, I’m sorry for the “jihad” remark.

  40. Eric Kemp,

    I’m sorry. Is it a sin to try to give credit where credit is due? And you deserve a lot of credit as well. You sure are smart for someone who has no capacity for rational thought. I admire people that make do with nothing. It’s SO inspiring!

  41. Ditto for you, too, FedEx.

  42. FedExMOP says:

    Gary,

    Now you are just being silly, and showing everyone here just how little you grasp the discussion.

    No one is saying that rational thought does not exist, no one is saying that intellect does not exist. The discussion is about the fact that Platonic Philosophy creates a unbiblical trifurcation of the intillect, emotion, and will. There is no evidence of this kind of thought in the Hebrew mind. When a Jew heard the words “believe in your heart”, his thoughts would not go to a belief that was in the “intellect” only, but rather one that included the very core of his being and encompassed the whole of his intellect, emotion and will all at once. In fact, I am not certain that there is a passage in the bible that would indicate that belief only takes place in the mind or the intellect. That is Tim’s point; let us rethink the way we disect mankind, with the lens of the bible, rather than that of Plato’s philosophy.

    A faithful minister of Grace,

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  43. Thank you, FedEx, for revealing just how little YOU grasp the discussion. But it’s certainly discouraging to realize just how much work it would take to bring you up to speed. However, there’s hope for everyone, even you, so keep your chin up.

  44. FedExMOP says:

    Gary,

    Rather than making biting comments, try to bring me up to speed. Do not post a volume of quotes from Zane. I have read his work. Give me one, just one passage that can be clearly interpreted to show that belief is strictly an intellectual function. Your refusal to even consider a more holistic view shows how much work it will take to bring you up to speed, but I have hope that even you can be brought around.

    A faithful minister of Grace,

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  45. Try reading Zane’s work again, FedEx–this time with your eyes open. You obviously weren’t paying any attention before, or you would know better than to make some of the statements you’ve made.

  46. FedExMOP says:

    Gary,

    I am sorry to have tried to engage you. I am going to end this before it degenerates any further. I have asked you to give chapter and verse and hermeneutically support your position. You come back with more spite. I will not engage you on this further. Thank you for your thoughtful responses.

    A faithful minister of Grace,

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  47. Yes, thank you for not engaging me anymore FedEx. I don’t have any more time to spare with people who just want to engage in endless and pointless arguments about things that are, as Zane said, “outside the boundaries of biblical thought”, and only amount to “an unproductive waste of time”–especially over issues that require only the common sense of a child to understand. The world certainly need not wait for the monumental “Anthropology of Man” from Tim in order to understand it. 🙂

    Thanks, Jim, for what you said, but there was no need to apologize–no harm, no foul. Sorry we still don’t agree. I’m out of here now–maybe later.

  48. correction: “such discussions lie FAR outside the boundaries of biblical thought.”

    But Tim wants everyone to follow him even FURTHER outside those boundaries where he will enlighten us all.

  49. FedExMOP says:

    Tim,

    Thankfully, no one biblical scholar is the measure of what is outside of Biblical thought. I would argue that the Bible itself is that measuring stick.

    What I know is that some crazy unorthodox Rabbi a few thousand years ago said the greatest commandment of all is “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”.(Mark12:30) The most important verse in the Hebrew Mind from Deut 6:5. This radical Rabbi was talking about engaging God with every part of the being, something that was not lost on the Jewish listeners.

    The mistake that some scholars make is trying to impose a modern understanding on terms rather than exploring those terms as the original audience may have understood them. There is no frame of reference on the Jewish philosophy where believing something was a passive intellectual act. So it is a stretch to think that a Jewish Rabbi speaking to a Jewish audience meant something that was not part of their ordinary usage.

    A faithful (albeit timewasting and unproductive) minister of Grace,

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  50. Jim Reitman says:

    FedEx, that was huge, in my view.

    “. . . and the second is like it.”

  51. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    The gift of the new birth always has been free, and always will be, and I have never in my life believed or said anything to the contrary.

    Jesus died for people who didn’t even like Him; He is certainly down for giving fire insurance to people who will never, in their whole lives, accept anything else from Him.

    But the fire insurance is the least of His many gifts, and He longs to give us all so much more. The problem is, it’s a lot harder to receive the gift of a healthy marriage, say, or freedom from hatred, than it is to receive the new birth. His way is easy and His burden is light — but some parts are easier and lighter than others.

    I’m sorry you haven’t understood me well. Some day we will understand one another very well indeed, and I look forward to it. Perhaps even in this life; God is capable of it, however flawed we are.

  52. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    You have a pattern of engaging substantively, then getting pissed off when something brushes one of your many tripwires, eventually blowing up, withdrawing for a while, and then coming back to engage substantively — lather, rinse, repeat.

    You’ll need to break that cycle eventually; it’s incompatible with loving your brothers. If you aren’t willing or able to break the cycle now, then I think now is the time to withdraw. This has become unproductive. Withdrawal is not really a healthy thing, in the same way that wearing a cast is not really a healthy thing to do. But if it’s the healthiest thing you can presently manage, then that’s the medicine to take today.

    So we’re clear: PLEASE don’t interpret this as me banning you. I’m not. Your contributions are welcome here. Even when you’re pissed off, your contributions are welcome. I can bear your anger, and I’m willing to. But when you’ve reached the point that you can’t engage the issues at all — not even angrily — it’s time to consider whether there’s any point to the interaction.

    I don’t know if you can receive the invitation, but for what it may be worth to you, here it is: Stop riding that cycle. Stop now. All it will take is a miracle, and we both know Someone who does miracles every day. It is not God’s will for you to be in bondage to that cycle; it is God’s will for you to be free. “And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

    Brother, turn to the Lord and ask to be free, and He will free you. Whenever you ask, because it is His will, and He delights to answer such prayers. If you do not have, it is only because you do not ask.

  53. FedExMOP says:

    Tim,

    I know that Jim’s description of the men he has discipled as a “room full… ex-sex offenders, wife-haters, convicted felons, and pornographers” does not sound very appealing, but I would really like to have coffee with you sometime. My office is in Denver, and I have a really flexible schedule, so I am sure we could work it out.

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  54. Jim Reitman says:

    Yes, Tim, FedEx is right, I was a real mess and not very appealing at all before I met these guys, but I’m really much better now that they came into my life.

  55. Tim Nichols says:

    FedEx,

    My life suffers from a shortage of bikers. Let’s do it.

  56. alvin says:

    You guys just proved you really don’t know what a gift is~!

    “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deut 6:5

    “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me, And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love Him and manifest Myself to him.” John 14:21

    Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10

    Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Rev 22:17

    The gift of life can be taken freely, to love God you must keep His commandments, one is free the other costs~!

    alvin:)

  57. alvin says:

    Gary, you did a GREAT job of showing where these guys were mis-representing Zane and Ges thanks for all your hard work brother~!

    alvin:)

  58. Bobby Grow says:

    Just to add my two cents.

    If Jesus, the person, the Son of the Father is not salvation in Himself we’re in a world of hurt! He alone, God alone, is eternal life; our only hope is to be united to that. And the place that that union takes place is in and with the humanity of Jesus by the personal work of the Holy Spirit through the vicarious faith of Christ (see the subjective genetive of Gal. 2.20 ‘faith of Christ’). Salvation is grounded in the personal Triune life of God, or its not salvation. Salvation involves the realignment of the affections so that the love of Christ replaces our hate and by His poverty we become rich through faith (vicarious–thus personal and trinitarianly shaped).

  59. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    Oh, a plague on your middle-school penchant for trying to score points based on your own narrow terminology.

    If Jesus hadn’t given you the new birth, you wouldn’t have it. It’s a gift.

    If Jesus doesn’t give you freedom from hating your brethren, you won’t have it. You can’t get it anywhere else, and you can’t compel Him to give it to you. But if you ask him for freedom, this is a prayer He has promised to answer. Does that make it not a gift?

    In the case of the new birth, you needed only believe, and He gave it to you. In the case of freedom from brother-hatred, receiving it may involve breaking some of your cherished idols. When the idols break, you won’t be able to brag that you did it, and attained freedom for yourself; if you were capable of it, you’d have done it for yourself already. Which is to say that this, too, is His grace, and in that sense, a gift. As was the Holy Spirit, in Acts 2:38, on the condition of repentance and baptism.

    This is a biblical way of using the word. Read a book sometime.

  60. alvin says:

    It’s not that I don’t believe that God wants relationship, I just don’t believe He forces His love or our love in return. I believe you guys have more of an legalistic view of God where as God MUST have an immediate return if we don’t come into relationship with Him. I believe God’s gift of life is truly a gift one can take freely even without immediate results on our part, but is a lifelong process.

    alvin:)

  61. Tim,

    Jesus wants to give you freedom from the spirit of confusion that so obviously has you in it’s grip, and freedom from not loving your brothers when you dishonestly misrepresent and distort their views with straw men–all the while making misguided and pious calls for them to repent.

    Ask with a sincere heart and He has promised to help you. Hopefully those men you said you are having discussions with can minister to you. I would never presume to be able to help you, but I’m sure they are better equipped than I, so I commend you to them and to the grace of Jesus Christ.

  62. Eric Kemp says:

    Gary

    It’s become quite evident that I am unworthy of even a simple response from you, but I know you’re reading it so that’s enough for me.

    I think you need to take Tim’s advice and take a step back. At this point, it’s almost as if you are unwilling to follow the simple flow of what has taken place here. You accuse Tim of a straw man and you quote Hodges as evidence of this. In response, Tim puts those Hodges quotes back into context and explains, very specifically, where he has the problem. Instead of getting to the heart of the matter with Tim and discussing your differences, you call him stupid.

    When several people call for you to repent of your unloving behavior, you disappear for a few days. When you return, you accuse Tim of a straw man again, ignoring the plain fact that he already answered you on that charge and you are the one avoiding the discussion. You then point the finger at him, calling for him to repent, without so much of an acknowledgment of how you behaved a couple of days ago. As I’m sure you are aware, Tim is a flawed human being like the rest of us and he probably has something he needs to repent for. If not at the moment, then all we have to do is wait a few hours. The problem is that you are searching and striving to find a speck in Tim’s eye, all the while ignoring the plank in your own that is as plain as day to everyone else around you. Some introspection and self-evaluation is all we’re asking for, and it’s what Jesus commands of you (Luke 6).

  63. Bobby Grow says:

    I don’t understand why Tim and/or Jim R. continue to engage either Gary E. or Alvin. They are both disingenuous, from what I have observed (for at least 3yrs), and unwilling to move from what they perceive to be orthodoxy — which I would call a remnant orthodoxy.

    So why do you, Tim & Jim R. continue? Neither one of these guys are saying ANYTHING different than they ALWAYS have. Neither one of them, from what I see in this thread, have changed their tactics or attitudes. Both of them live from Absolute fear, which explains why they are soo insecure about their beliefs. It seems to me like both Tim & Jim R. should move on from engaging with Gary and Alvin. There’s only a range of finite terms and symbols to communicate something, and I would say both Tim and Jim have exhausted that range with Gary and Alvin. It seems like it’s time to agree to disagree.

  64. FedExMOP says:

    Bobby,

    Having known Jim for many years,and seeing in Tim the same heart, I think I know the reason they engage. First, it is because they really do love guys like Gary and Alvin, and want to see them move beyond the defensiveness and name calling and really dig into what they believe and why. As long as Gary and Alvin and those like them keep coming back and engaging, Tim and Jim will keep trying to point them toward deeper relationship with Christ, as well as toward critical evaluation of their Biblical views.

    Second, these discussions can be profitable to those who are not engaged. Those reading these discussions from the outside without commenting (as I have for the last few years) benefit from seeing the working out of the theology. That is as long as the discussions do not devolve into theological “pissing contests”, and Tim and Jim are pretty good at keeping things on a respectful plane.

    Sometimes we need to just agree to disagree, as you said, and it does become frustrating when the same people keep coming back to the same arguments. The point is that they keep coming back and keep engaging, and that means there is hope that they will be able to understand, if not agree some day.

    Just my thoughts, as one who has watched from the sidelines and is now trying to step onto the field.

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  65. FedExMOP says:

    Bobby,

    PS, I have read a few of your blogs, and have prayed for your past health issuses. It is a blessing to see you here. Thank you for your contributions.

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  66. David Bell says:

    I’m one of the non engaged people FedEx mentions, and I truly am trying to work out my own soteriology. I’m a little slow and sometimes it takes extended discussions for things to sink in, so I’m glad the discussion has continued. (I’m actually working my way from the “mystical union” beginning and trying to catch up.) The discussions have been a little frustrating and painful at times but it’s been worth it so far.

  67. alvin says:

    Even for a born again believer Jesus is inviting them to fellowship and meets them where they are. A good example is Peter in John 21 who went fishing with the other disciples. A believers life without fellowship with God is like fishing all day with nothing to show for it (see John 21:3). But when were in fellowship with God were experiencing the abundant life and the nets are full with an overflow of fish (see John 21:6). But, Peter wasn’t experiencing the abundant life, and couldn’t even tell Jesus he loved Him but only liked Him. It’s only in the Greek we can see the play on words: (Jesus vrs.15,16 agape unconditional love vs. 17 philia friendship, Peter vrs.15-17 philia friendship). But that was where Peter was, and Jesus MET him where he was the third time by changing His word from agape to Philia, “Simon, son of Jonah do you love (Philia, friendship) Me?”.

    Jesus would never tell a person they must love Him in order to have the gift of eternal life, but He would say to a born again believer “he who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves (agape) Me.” Do we always keep Jesus commandments? No~! None of us do, but we know Jesus love (agape sacrificial love) will never fail those who have believed His promise of life (see John 3:16).

  68. Bobby Grow says:

    FedEx,

    Thank you for your prayers, I am glad to still be here, for now 🙂 !!!

    I think you’re right, but I’m not sure the discussion, at least as I read in this thread (and some previous to this one) are really producing anything fruitful. It’s not that I don’t also love Alvin and Gary as brothers, it’s just that I’ve been watching (and in the way past participating) these discussions for along time; and it really is the same same kind of stuff.

    Jim and Tim can do what they feel led to do, of course; to me, though, I don’t see much fruit (and I think there has been a lot of patience evinced over the years, already).

    Thanks for the good word, FedEx.

  69. Diane says:

    Hi Friends,

    I’ve read some of what has been commented on here and just wanted to weigh in on one thing if that’s OK.

    The message that leads to LIFE is a passion of mine. I just wanted to know if Tim and Jim agree with me on this one point……

    *Is the person who simply believes in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life (eternal salvation) apart from any works a born again believer?*

    It sounded to me that you are not satisfied that that is the only condition to be born again. It sounded to me like you were bringing in sanctification truth as something that must be believed in order to be saved.
    Perhaps I’ve misunderstood you.

    Thank you for the opportunity to ask my question.

    In Jesus love,
    Diane

  70. Tim Nichols says:

    Diane,

    You’re always welcome, and I’m glad you’re willing to ask when you hear something that sounds off to you. Thank you.

    To answer your question: Yes, straight out of John 3:16, 5:24, and so on. A person who simply believes in Jesus Christ alone has eternal life, is born again, has passed from death to life. I have always believed this — literally from the cradle — and to the best of my knowledge I have never said anything to the contrary.

    When I say that Jesus wants to give so much more than just the new birth, I don’t mean “…and if you won’t take the whole package, He won’t give you anything at all.” Nothing like that. Jesus will give you as much life as you’ll let Him. If you’ll believe in Him, He’ll give you everlasting life. If you’ll continue to believe in Him (1 Jn. 5:13) then He’ll give you an abundant experience of everlasting life that starts here and now. If you don’t continue to believe in Him, He isn’t just going to let you go — you’re not getting off so easily. The Father will take you to the woodshed for a little Father-child quality time.

    So when I say something like “Jesus doesn’t just want to give you fire insurance,” I don’t mean that if you won’t obey, you’re going to Hell. Not at all. I mean that He’ll let you enter heaven reeking of burning wood, hay and stubble if you insist, but He wants so much more for you than that.

  71. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    Glad you found some time to interact after all. You said “I believe you guys have more of an legalistic view of God where as God MUST have an immediate return if we don’t come into relationship with Him.

    Huh? The minute you believe in Jesus, you have a relationship with God. Specifically, He is your Father, and you are His son. How much you live into that relationship, and how much you flee from it, is the measure of your sanctification. Of course it’s a process — and again, where have I said otherwise? What did I say that sounded like I disagreed with you at this point?

  72. Tim Nichols says:

    David,

    Thanks for hanging in there. Feel free to ask questions or comment as you will — and of course, feel free to continue lurking too. No pressure; I just want you to know you’re welcome in the conversation whenever you feel comfortable jumping in.

  73. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    I’m curious. How do you understand John 8:42?

  74. Diane says:

    Thank you Tim. Sounds to me like I must have misunderstood you. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Diane
    🙂

  75. Tim,

    Oh, then you mean that the GES doesn’t need to repent of their view of the gospel after all? You’re now saying they are right about what a person must do to be born again?

    So, the discussions you’ve been having with the GES men must have been fruitful–and so quickly! I’m rejoicing for you Tim! 🙂

  76. kc says:

    Great series and great arguments all. You all seem to be such peculiar people! 😉

    I have a request for clarification from both “sides”. What do you mean when you say eternal life? For that matter what did Christ mean when He said that we pass from death to life? It seems that some hold eternal life as the mystical union we have with God in Christ through the Holy Spirit while others consider eternal life as not going to hell when we die.

  77. Jim Reitman says:

    Ah, the “lurker extraordinaire” returns! “Peculiar” . . . how wonderfully understated. You know the Bible is just the story of one huge dysfunctional family, anyway, right? Join the crowd, KC, you’ll fit right in. (You know you started this whole mess, anyway, by hosting “Gospel in 3D.”)

    Hope all is well with you and yours, Bro.

  78. Jim said: “(You know you started this whole mess, anyway, by hosting “Gospel in 3D.”)

    “Mess”…how wonderfully understated.

  79. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    Told you all along I was adding something to the assurance you already had, not taking it away. Why didn’t you listen to me?

    KC’s question is the reason I believe GES still has some work to do.

    And yeah, I know you’re going to plead “straw man” but I still say that even where there is acknowledgment of the theological truth (you know, when pressed), there is no emphasis, and a great tolerance for failure to live it out. (Witness the bullying, brutality and brother-hatred that brought about the GES-FGA split to start with, and that continues to be manifested in it.) A group of Christians excited about eternal life but willing to completely ignore someone’s failure to live it out here and now, as long as he hits all the “right” doctrinal marks? Kind of a problem, brother.

    My point has always been that the FG community needs to live like Christians. Part of that is just living up to what we know, but I also believe there are specific failures of emphasis and formulation that predispose us to our pet sins, and that’s what I’ve been addressing.

  80. Tim Nichols says:

    Diane,

    Again, thanks for asking. I appreciate it. If you’re willing, it would be a great service to me if you could point me to what I said that caused you to wonder.

  81. Diane says:

    Hi Tim,

    I have to admit that I’m surprised at your answer only because you are in such disagreement with Zane and GES on this point. Zane Hodges has blessed me so much because of his clear teaching that eternal life is a free gift through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. It’s just simply believing His promise as presented in John 3:16. (I chose that verse because it was my verse when I got saved.)
    🙂
    Then he’s taught me that we continue our walk of faith through obedience to His Word which brings sweet fellowship between us.
    Justification truth and sanctification truth.
    I’m so thankful that God brought both Zane Hodges and GES across my path.

    I’m still not clear on why you are in such big disagreement with them since you just agreed with my question (above). I love Zane’s message because he’s so biblical. So I admit that I am a Zane Hodges fan. But I’m NOT a Zane Hodges follower. I only want to follow Jesus in my daily walk. I’m sure you do to.

    Thank you for allowing me to comment again on your blog.

    In Jesus’ love,
    Diane
    🙂

  82. Tim Nichols says:

    Diane,

    Once upon a time, the theologians of Antioch were very concerned to see that the church upheld the biblical teaching of the full humanity of Jesus. The Alexandrian theologians were equally concerned to see that the church upheld the full deity of Jesus. Each camp spawned theologians — notably Nestorius and Eutyches — who were so concerned to maintain their own emphasis that they impugned the other camp’s emphasis. It took quite a while, and a lot of talking and writing back and forth, for them to hit upon a way of maintaining both truths at the same time.

    They succeeded, and when they succeeded each camp found that the resulting doctrinal formulation was not some dismal compromise that weakened them both. Rather, it was a vastly stronger way of maintaining Christ’s deity than they’d had before — and also a stronger way of maintaining His humanity.

    GES, and the whole FG camp in fact, is very concerned to maintain the truth that the new birth is a gift, received by faith alone in Christ alone. I am concerned to maintain that the new birth and the Christian life are of a piece; it is the same Jesus and the same relationship throughout: “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him….”

    These two truths are compatible. Some of the formulations that have been made in an attempt to further the GES/FG emphasis are not compatible with the latter truth. Some of the biblical truths *not* talked about in GES/FG circles likewise make it difficult to see that latter truth. It is those formulations and exclusions, and not the core truth that the new birth is a gift, that are in my sights.

    This is what I mean when I say that I have always been FG, and still am.

  83. David Wyatt says:

    Now thta some things have been said, & Diane has made her comment (Diane you are a very specialy believer & I appreciate you so very much) I msut add something. Maybe it’s my slowness to comprehend, or I was mistaken, but my issue with GES has been that I was under the impresion that theor focus of late is that a person can believe that Jesus died on the cross for THEIR

  84. David Wyatt says:

    Wow, somehow I accidentally pressed a wrong button! Wasn’t ready to post that obviously. But anyway, I was thinking that GES was saying that a person could have faith that Jesus died in their place & for their sins, but if they had not specifically “believed His promise” at the moment of faith then they may not be saved. That is what tipped over my litle red wagon from the beginning & caused my confusion. But after some interaction from Diane & Gary, I see that maybe I was wrong. My question is, is this what GES is teaching? Do they beleve that a person who believesd that Jesus died for their sins & is trusting that for eternal life, do they beleive that such a person is saved? Because I DO believe a person who believes in Jesus FOR eternal life is a saved person too, as Diane asked. I was just thinking that GES was saying that a person who had trusted in Jesus’ death on the cross alone may not be saved bnecause they hadn’t “believed the PROMISE at the point of faith. Was I mistaken? Thanks for any clarification!

  85. Peggie says:

    Ok, I am NOT getting into this!! But, I wanted to
    say one thing.
    In 1 Corinthians 3:10, Paul said, “According to the
    grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation and another builds on it.”
    It seems to me, that if God has given you the gift of being a planter, then that’s going to be what you want to
    talk about the most, but if you are a waterer (I don’t know how to spell that word) then you are gonna want to talk about discipleship. Thank God for giving special and
    different gifts……Ok, I’m through.

  86. Diane says:

    Hi David,

    You have such a tender heart for the Lord and His truth, and I’m so glad you asked that question.

    The people who believe that Jesus died in their place and for their sins are people like me and you. But GES was just trying to make the important point that there are lots of church people (and even unchurched people) who believe *THAT*… yet don’t believe that it is enough. They’re still believing that they must also continue to do something. That’s true of cults and most denominations. That’s true of Catholics, Church of Christ, etc., etc.!!! So many believe that Jesus did His part by dying for their sins, but they must do their part, too.

    The Bible says that the person who is saved is the person who simply believes in Jesus to eternally save him. His faith is in Him alone to save him. He’s not trusting in anything or anyone else but Jesus.

    Sounds to me like you are saying that GES (and probably me since I agree with GES) caused you to think that you might not REALLY be saved because you were believing that Jesus died in your place and for your sins. You never thought about it like we say it….. “just believe the promise.”
    If you trusted (believed) in Jesus Christ alone to save you, then you were believing the promise of John 3:16 (or whatever verse brought you to the place of understanding that Jesus is the only way) even if you never thought it through like we’re saying it.
    I didn’t say it in the terms like I use now when I first got saved. I probably said I’m saved because Jesus died for my sins and rose from the grave. But I was saved BECAUSE my faith was in Jesus alone to save me.

    People are not saved because they believe and understand HOW Jesus can provide eternal life, but by believing in Him for it.
    You just never thought of it in those terms, and most people don’t. I’m sure when asked….. “Is your faith in Jesus Christ alone to eternally save you”… your answer is YES~!!! That’s because you’re believing what God says in His Word about giving you everlasting life…. or eternal salvation… the promise of heaven, etc.

    When you believe that Jesus is your only way to heaven (God), then you’re saved. And you can only have assurance of that by believing the testimony of God in His Word. There’s no other sure place to look for assurance. If we look inward to our behavior or life style, we will be deceived.
    Jesus saves, and only Jesus to the one who simply believes in Him alone to save him.

    Isn’t that AWESOME, WONDERFUL, INCREDIBLE ***GOOD NEWS~!!!***

    If I’ve confused you, please let me know. I would feel very convicted if I was used in any way to lead anybody astray….. away from confidence in Jesus.

    You are truly someone I would love to know. Keep enjoying HIM because HE is enjoying you~!!!

    All because of His wonderful grace,
    Diane
    🙂

  87. David Wyatt says:

    Neat insight, Peggie! Thanx.

    Diane, let me say 1st off that it has never been you who got me confused. What you just said was extrememly helpful, & evidently I must have misunderstood GES, & for that I apologize. It just seemed to me that it was being said that believing His death on Calvary was almost extra that was only for discipleship, but “believing the promise” had to be step one, & those who didn’t do it that way needed to get saved & then change their testimony. Thank you for clarifying that for me, Diane! Yes, it is awesome, & I have been trusting my precious Savior many years that way, though my feeble faith & mind often gets tangled around itself! But His mercy is bigger than my misunderstanding! God Bless y’all

  88. Tim Nichols says:

    Peggie,

    Come on in, the water’s fine! (There’s sharks and barracuda and Ghengis Khan on a jetski, but there’s nothing wrong with the water.) 😉

    Seriously, though, thank you for contributing. It’s a valid point; evangelists and disciplemakers do see the world differently. But they should see the world in complementary, not in opposed, ways, and there’s the rub. That may very well be part of the present dust-up; thanks for highlighting it.

  89. Michele says:

    Hi David,

    You said, “But anyway, I was thinking that GES was saying that a person could have faith that Jesus died in their place & for their sins, but if they had not specifically “believed His promise” at the moment of faith then they may not be saved.”

    If I understand you correctly and if I understand Wilkin’s article correctly, I believe the answer is yes. Here is an article Gary shared with me about a month ago, so it is fresh on my mind:

    Justification by Faith Alone is an Essential Part of the Gospel

    Also you said, ” It just seemed to me that it was being said that believing His death on Calvary was almost extra that was only for discipleship, but “believing the promise” had to be step one, & those who didn’t do it that way needed to get saved & then change their testimony.”

    At least part of that I do recall, the part that our LORD’s work on the cross was a sanctification truth. This teaching came out frequently in the discussions GES made over whether 1 Cor. 15:1-4 was “the gospel.” They argued that Paul’s first things of “the gospel” in 1 Cor 15:1-4 was a gospel meant to sanctify believers.

    I agree with GES – some people hear about the cross and do not believe in Jesus. On the other hand many hear about the cross and believe in Jesus. Believing in Jesus is believing in Jesus, right? I tried to have that conversation with Antonio in the back of Jim’s car two years ago now, and his responses to my recollection were that somehow the faith in Jesus apart from the promise of eternal life (say for instance alternately in the message of the cross) somehow morphs into not-faith or faith mixed with works.

    I still don’t see the jump.

    Faith in Jesus is faith in Jesus. Right?

    Thanks for letting me add a couple thoughts to an already multi-voiced, multi-concern conversation.

    Blessings, Michele

  90. Michele says:

    Hi Diane,

    I like everything that you said above. 🙂 It’s good for me to affirm you like you often do for my sake 🙂 I’d only say one thing.

    The “message of Christ crucified” does not only educate someone on HOW this gift of eternal life has been accomplished. It also is a message of faith alone and Jesus as the only Way, just as is the promise of eternal life. The cross does not demand or require the use of another biblical gospel message. The promise of eternal life isn’t essential, unless you’re dealing with the cultic or other performance-based peoples. In that case, you’re right! Confusion abounds with the cults and for that I love GES.

    It is some wonder that people all over the world use the message of the cross as a door to tout a false gospel of works-righteousness. They even display and recite the truth about the cross of Christ. But the problem isn’t the message of the cross. The problem is Satan who confuses and deceives people in spite of how “He was clearly portrayed to you as crucified” (Gal 2).

    No matter what they tack on to “Christ and Him crucified,” it is still a complete and sufficient truth of faith alone; the Lamb of God nailed and tortured so we could have life.

    What do you think of that?

    Blessings, Michele

  91. David Wyatt says:

    Michele,

    2 things you said I will shout an ear-piercing “A-MEN” to! One you saidd to me & one to Diane. The first is “Faith in Jesus is faith in Jesus…” The second is “Christ and Him crucified,” it is still a complete and sufficient truth of faith alone; the Lamb of God nailed and tortured so we could have life.”
    For Him, I am eternally thasnkful!

  92. Diane says:

    Hi Friends,….. David, Peggie, Michele, Jim…. and all of my friends here~!!!
    🙂

    This is particularly for Tim in response to some of his writings.

    First of all I want you to know that my comments are meant for clarification. Everything I say here is something that is very important to me. I know that some of you disagree with me, but I don’t know how to make my points without some emphasis. It is from my heart and I mean no disrespect to anyone with my emphasis.

    I don’t doubt that you have a love for the WHOLE counsel of God, not just justification truth. I’m not questioning your heart. But I’m very baffled as to why you think GES is just emphasizing one truth…. the new birth, as though sanctification is not part of their emphasis.

    First of all people need to know HOW to be eternally saved. There is ONLY one way to be born into the family of God. WE NEED TO TELL PEOPLE THAT WAY~!!! We need to make it clear. Until they get saved, nothing else is going to be of any benefit to them. It’s very simple. Here it is……
    ***Believe in Jesus Christ ALONE for everlasting life and you will never perish.***

    Said another way with the same meaning…..
    ***Believe in Jesus Christ ALONE to eternally save you and you will be eternally saved.***

    I thought of it in terms like this when I first got saved…….. I believed in Jesus as my only way to heaven. That’s what everlasting life meant to me at the time.
    People MUST believe in Jesus Christ ALONE for their eternal salvation BEFORE they can EXPERIENCE it in their everyday life.

    Before a person believes in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life, they are living DEAD people. They do not have God’s LIFE. They have no capacity to enjoy God because they don’t have LIFE. But the moment they believe in Jesus to eternally save them (apart from any works), they pass from death to life. They receive LIFE….. God’s life. That means they are born into the family of God with His LIFE and can NOW BEGIN TO ENJOY HIM. That’s AWESOME~!!!

    Friends, you cannot enjoy God UNTIL you are born into His family. So GES emphasizes this very important first step. PEOPLE NEED TO HEAR IT~!!! They need to understand exactly what they must believe to be born into God’s family.
    That’s called justification salvation.

    Once they are born again with God’s LIFE it’s time to grow, grow, grow in their relationship with the Lord. That’s called sanctification truth.
    When we mix justification with sanctification, it muddies the water. It causes all kinds of confusion because people think they need to believe this and this and this to be eternally saved.
    So praise God that He has raised up a ministry like GES to help pastors and evangelists make clear the message that produces life.
    That message is not complicated. Even a child can understand it.

    GES teaches both justification and sanctification truth ALL THE TIME. Their literature is FULL of sanctification truth. Through the ministry of GES I have grown in my walk with Christ more than any other time in my life. So I don’t understand the concern that GES is emphasizing only justification truth over sanctification truth. Makes no sense to me~!!!

    Tim, here’s your quote that puzzles me…..
    ***”GES, and the whole FG camp in fact, is very concerned to maintain the truth that the new birth is a gift, received by faith alone in Christ alone. I am concerned to maintain that the new birth and the Christian life are of a piece; it is the same Jesus and the same relationship throughout: ‘As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him….'”***

    I don’t know what to make of that statement. The one who believes in Jesus Christ for eternal life then begins his journey with the Lord.
    That’s justification and sanctification. That’s what GES teaches all the time. So I don’t understand your concern?

    Just a quick comment on another issue…..
    One of you mentioned about 1 Cor. 15 (about the cross and resurrection) being taught by some that it’s sanctification truth. I can see how that is a difficult issue to comprehend. It was for me at first. But after much study I came to see what Paul was saying. Not only was the cross of Christ the place that Jesus paid for our sins and then victoriously rose from the grave to give us eternal life to the one who believes, but it’s also the power for living the Christian life. Apart from the cross and the resurrection, there would be no power to LIVE the Christian life. His power (resurrected power) lives in us. Apart from the cross and resurrection our “Christian life” would be in vain.
    Paul was speaking to believers in that chapter.
    But that subject’s for another time. Just thought I’d quickly say something about it since it was brought up.

    I love you all in Christ Jesus. I truly was just trying to make my points and not disrespect anyone here. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
    I will probably not say anymore because I have nothing new to add. Just felt like I wanted to share this with some of you. Thank you so much.

    Diane
    🙂

  93. Jim Reitman says:

    Diane,

    I hope you don’t mind my jumping in here, when you primarily addressed yourself to Tim’s comments.

    But I’m humbled that you would still call me your friend, after all we’ve been through on our many debates on Free Grace “truth” over the years. To me, that is huge and gives me hope for the future of Free Grace as a “force” for truth to be communicated to a dead/dying world by a people of God who truly love one another—the way it was always meant to be communicated (John 17).

    What I have to say will no doubt upset you, Gary, and Alvin. But that is hardly my goal in responding to you. I don’t say these things to inflame anyone or because I want to win an argument. God has delivered me from thinking that my main role in life is as defender of truth, and I much more care about loving than I ever have in my whole life before. In this reply I only want to free Free Gracers to the full freedom for which they were set free in Christ.

    I don’t disagree with the truth “details” of what you have written as much as (1) the emphasis (i.e., what is most important to God); and (2) the confusion that is introduced in the perspective of the people of God when one separates justification from sanctification “truth.” I introduced what I consider to be the folly of separating them in my long, but ill-fated debate with Fred Lybrand a couple years ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this point was the fatal blow, more than our high-falutin’ debate over epistemology. But THIS SAME ISSUE has come back to bite us as Free Gracers and will not go away until we face the issue head-on. My prayer is that we will be able to come to some sort of convergence on this question.

    However:

    Let me deal with the first item first, because it’s actually more important for us, and I’ll wait for a response before I proceed on to number (2). What if God’s primary purpose in saving people was not so that he could keep people from going to hell? What if God’s primary purpose was to make himself look good to a dying/dead world? What if the first “step” in making himself look good to that world was to set apart a people that had his name, who were so different that the world couldn’t help but take notice (think Passover)?

    I would submit, Diane, that if my thesis is anywhere near accurate and biblical, it would not matter to God nearly as much how many people we saved from going to hell by giving the right message as how the few people who were saved, actually lived and thereby displayed that life to the world. I would submit, Diane, that God will take care of His people (those who personally believe his promise of life; again, think Passover) for eternity as a guarantee that they have life in his name, free of charge, for the primary purpose that they could freely, without fear, choose to make Him look good—bear his name with honor in the way they treat each other, as well as the “aliens” in their midst—and trust him for life in this life, especially when bearing his name in that way gets tough.

    I would submit, Diane, that this is the repeated, consistent, and supreme emphasis of “life in God” in the Old Testament, and that this emphasis never changes in the NT. If you don’t agree on this point, then it really won’t make any difference how well I can argue number (2) above, i.e., that it is confusing to keep justification and sanctification truth completely separate.

    What do you say, Diane? Are you game?

  94. David,

    I see that Diane has already responded to your question, so I don’t think I can say it any better than she did. But here is my way of saying making essentially the same point she made about what the GES means when they say what you mentioned. I’m so glad that Diane was able to clear that up for you, so if anything I say confuses you again or is not helpful, please disregard it because I know Jesus wants you to have peace about this brother! Don’t let anyone confuse you again–especially me!

    The answer to your question is that you were misunderstanding what the GES meant by that. A person who believes that they have eternal life by simply believing in Jesus’ death for their sins is certainly saved! They are just articulating or understanding their faith in Jesus in terms of what He did for them on the cross, but they are obviously believing in Jesus alone for eternal life are they not? But that is the same thing as believing His promise! This is what I meant before when I told you a person could be implicitly believing the promise of Christ even though it might not be the explicit object of their faith. You just expressed what you believe in this way: anyone who simply believes (or trusts) in Jesus’ death on the cross ALONE has eternal life (=saved). Do you see that the essence of the promise of Christ is implicit in that, even though you don’t explicitly articulate it in terms of the “promise”? The “promise” is just a simpler and more concise way of saying the same thing (that’s why I love it so much!).

    But what about a person who says they “believe that Jesus died for their sins”, but also believes that works are necessary for eternal life, and that faith alone is not enough? Isn’t that a contradiction? They are, in effect, DENYING that the cross is sufficient apart from works, so how could they be believing in Christ alone for eternal life? One cannot believe in the cross (or Jesus) and at the same time be DENYING that the cross (or Jesus) is sufficient for eternal life apart from works. This is what the GES means when it says it’s possible for a person to believe that “Jesus died for their sins” and not be saved.

    But that’s not what you believe. You know that anyone who (1) believes (2) in Jesus (or His death on the cross) (3) has eternal life. [see the promise there– “whoever (1)believes (2) in Me (3) has eternal life”] And you understand that works are in no way a part it. If a person is believing in works or faith + works as a means of being justified before God, they are, in effect, nullifying the whole thing, because adding works is a logical contradiction and denial of every aspect of the gospel message: of justification by grace alone through faith alone, the finished work of Christ, the promise of Christ, and the fact that eternal life is a free gift . It is therefore logically and/or psychologically impossible to believe the “testimony that God has given of His Son” and at the same time believe that works are a condition for being justified before Him and receiving eternal life. So believing a false gospel of works, no matter how those works are explained or articulated in that “gospel”, is not saving faith in Jesus Christ! One cannot “believe in Jesus” while at the same time rejecting the fundamental saving truth about Jesus that God wants them to believe. That’s all the GES means when they say that it’s possible to believe Jesus died for our sins (and other true facts about Jesus) yet not be saved.

    —————————————-
    Jim,

    This is why a distinction must always be maintained between justification and sanctification truth in the preaching of the gospel to unbelievers. You are correct to say that sanctification truth is the main emphasis of scripture. Why? For the simple reason that all scripture, except for the Gospel of John, was written primarily to and for believers who were already justified and possessed eternal life! It was not written to unbelievers for the purpose of telling them how to be justified and receive eternal life. Only John’s Gospel was written for that specific purpose. But you reject that plain and important fact, and as long as you do you will continue to be confused—and to confuse others. No, Jim, confusion is NOT “introduced in the perspective of the people of God when one separates justification from sanctification ‘truth.’ ” Just the opposite! Confusion is introduced when one does NOT maintain that biblical distinction–as the sad history of the church illustrates so well. As Zane points out below, if this distinction is not faithfully maintained we inevitably end up with theology that is essentially no different from Roman Catholic theology–a synergism of faith and works! And that is precisely what makes what you seem so bent on doing DANGEROUS for the church. We already have too much of that ALREADY–the mistake you are making is an OLD mistake–it’s not anything NEW at all!

    ——————————————
    “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 10: 1-4)

    20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
    21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,
    22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;
    23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
    25 whom God set forth bas a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,
    26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

    27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.
    28 Therefore we conclude fthat a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Rom 3:20-28)

    5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
    6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
    7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
    And whose sins are covered;
    8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” (Rom 4:5-8)

    —————————————-

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

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

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

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

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

    (Comments on Rom 3:26 from Commentary on Romans–Zane C Hodges)

    —————————-

    “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” Jn 6:47

  95. Jim,

    There’s another significant fact that I think you should plainly acknowledge here so everyone will understand one of the underlying premises of your “3-D Gospel” and your rejection of the Gospel of John as an evangelistic book: you do not think that a person must even believe in the historical Jesus to be saved. You believe and advocate the very thing that Zane warned about in the article I’ve already cited earlier in this thread. Your “3-D Gospel” would be the DEATH of the entire FG movement–not a “refinement” of it. Regardless of which side of this anyone is on, everyone should at least have their eyes wide open about what you are really advocating, should they not?

  96. Diane says:

    Hi Jim,

    I appreciate your honest response to my comments. But I don’t see anything coming out of continuing the discussion with me because I am totally convinced that there is a distinction between justification salvation and sanctification salvation. Nobody can be sanctified until they’re first justified.
    Jesus Himself told people how to be born again in the Gospel of John before He taught them sanctification truth.

    You’ve been very kind to me and I appreciate that.

    In Jesus’ love,
    Diane

  97. Tim Nichols says:

    Diane,

    I appreciate your grace and tact in the discussion; thank you. I wouldn’t jump in here except that I think you’ve just said something incredibly important, and I’d like to speak to it. You said:

    Jesus Himself told people how to be born again in the Gospel of John before He taught them sanctification truth.

    That’s a significant claim, and if in fact it’s true, it goes a fair way toward justifying your position. But you’re factually incorrect. For starters, what about the woman caught in adultery in John 8?

  98. Jim Reitman says:

    Diane,

    I’m sorry to hear that, but I totally understand. I believe your position only partially reflects biblical truth, but I can live with it.

    *******

    Gary,

    I’m sorry you feel that way. I asked Diane if she was willing to engage the first of my two points before we went into justification and sanctification as the Bible teaches it, and I said why: If any of you seriously differ with me on the first point, then the issue of justification/sanctification pales by comparison and isn’t really worth debating, IMO. If you buy the first point, then I think the second is critical for the way the Body lives and relates in this world before Jesus returns.

    The answer to your last question is clearly, “yes,” and I would heartily desire to do exactly that. However, it is apparent to me that you have not been willing or able to sit down long enough to hear me out. I’m not going to answer questions people are not asking or don’t really want answers. You have read everything I’ve said through polarized lenses because I take issue with Zane on some key points, so you are making inferences that either: (1) take what I’ve said to an illogical and unbiblical extreme; or (2) take what I’ve said out of context.

    Again, I’m sorry for that, but I ask again, do you really want to engage me, or is your mind so made up that you are absolutely sure what you think I said is an accurate representation of what I am affirming?

    If I have confused anyone other than Gary, Alvin, or Diane, I am completely open to revisiting any source of confusion for those who wish to look at the biblical underpinnings of the 3D Gospel and derivative issues. As I said before, I admit some of the concepts I have expressed are not “milk” and may be harder to digest, especially when our backgrounds and presuppositions are screaming at us in our other ear. But I have gotten a decent amount of positive feedback on that series and very little negative feedback, other than from you, Gary.

    I’m grateful for that feedback, but to leave it at that creates an environment in which—quite frankly—anyone who wants to seek clarification or make a comment might well be intimidated for fear of being seen as traitors to Zane/GES. And I flat just do not believe that is true; I believe we (Tim and I) are being as faithful as we possibly can.

  99. David Wyatt says:

    OK, bro. Gary,

    If that is all GES is teaching I have no problem, with it. Certainly I’ve believed in Christ in this way for many years, & this is not confusing at all. It just seemed to me that GES was advocating that anyone who had not come to Christ by ONLY believing the promise were not or may not be truly saved & must change their testimony. I apologize for misrepresenting my brothers & sisters there if in fact this was the case. The way you & Diane have explained it clears it up for me, & for that I am thankful.

  100. Jim,

    You said: “Again, I’m sorry for that, but I ask again, do you really want to engage me, or is your mind so made up that you are absolutely sure what you think I said is an accurate representation of what I am affirming?”

    Yes, I’ve known since about June 28, 2010–the light came on for me then–when I posted this:

    http://easygoer1.blogspot.com/2010/06/spirit-of-antichrist-decoupling-jesus_28.html

    I did it mainly for you. I knew you would see it eventually–and hopefully the light would come on for you as well. I still hope and pray for that– because I believe you are a good man–and I’m honored to have you as a friend.

  101. alvin says:

    This was an impossible request the Lord told the woman caught in adultery, and reminds me of what Jesus said to the lawyer who was testing Jesus in Luke 10:25-37. Jesus told the lawyer after he had quoted the two most impossible commandments “And He said to him, ‘You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” Just as Jesus had told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more, Jesus knew it was impossible. No one will be saved by keeping the law just as no one is able apart from being born again can sin no more. Both instances have to do with pre-evangelism. Jesus gave the woman caught in adultery the answer in the very next verse “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) In the context of John 8 to receive Jesus words of life was to be equiped to abide in Christ (see John 8:30-32). It’s only the one who has received Jesus saving word can abide in “My word,” which is the sanctification process.

    And concerning the love in John 8:42 to love Jesus is to receive His word, “But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. (John 5:42,43)

  102. kc says:

    I am grateful to all who continue with this discussion/debate and to Bro. Tim for hosting it. I hope and pray to only encourage and never discourage anyone with my thoughts.

    Bro. Alvin I have to admit that I take away points for calling Christ’ command a request :-). I would also point out “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God”.

    I have a totally different perspective when it comes to the doctrine of eternal security. Please correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to me that you (and others here) contend that a person must accept the doctrine of eternal security before they can have eternal life. Is this correct? It would seem that we agree that this doctrine is most certainly the “milk” of the word but isn’t milk and meat for believers? I have to ask how it is that someone could accept Christ’ word without first believing in Him?

    With regard to security, it seems to me that as long as I have to exam myself (my vain philosophy, my understanding or my “fruit”) to determine the certainty of my salvation that I’ll always come up short. My philosophy is ridiculous at times. My understanding can be quite dim and my fruit is hardly ever what it should be. If on the other hand I exam the love of God in Christ Jesus, His sacrifice, His power and His Glory then “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day”.

    I guess I would now have two questions for you (or anyone who would answer):

    1).What do you mean by eternal life?
    2).How can a person believe Christ’ promise before they believe in/on Him?

  103. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    Brother, you’ve got it exactly right. It was a demand for sanctification, and perfect sanctification at that. That’s kinda my point.

    Now as to the next verse, I’d want to argue that v. 12 begins a new paragraph. Jesus’ opponents left in v. 9, but in v. 13 they’re back, and complaining about what He said in v. 12 (notice the “therefore”). So my read would be that v. 11 closes that specific incident, and the woman — taken in the very act of adultery, and publicly shamed — doesn’t stick around for the rest of the day. She’s probably long gone by v. 12, and in any case it’s not particularly addressed to her.

    But for the sake of discussion, let’s take it your way — Jesus says to her “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more,” and then follows that with “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” In that case, Jesus talks sanctification, and not only poses an impossible demand, but presents the “sanctification truth” that resolves that demand for a believer.

    But again, that’s my point. He doesn’t present COSF first, no matter which side of that debate you might be on. He doesn’t insist on sticking with a COSF discussion until she believes, and only then moving on to sanctification. It’s just not as rigid as all that. What He does is introduce her to Himself.

    Regarding love, you saidJesus would never tell a person they must love Him in order to have the gift of eternal life….” Now you are telling me that to love Jesus (in Jn. 8:42ff) is to receive His word — and that in a conversation with unbelievers. Do you see the problem here?

  104. alvin says:

    Concerning the man born blind in John 9 not having the words “eternal life” found in the context. We are told in John 20:30,31 the purpose of the signs, “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.” We have no reason not to believe that the blind man went away having life in Jesus name. Jesus had identified Himself to the blindman as the “Son of God” (see John 8:35-38; 1 John 5:13). We see in John 9:22 that his parents feared being put out of the synagogue. As Jews they heard the reading of the Law and the Prophets every Sabbath day, and were looking for their Messiah (Christ) as promised. We have no reason not to believe that the blind man after being miraculously healed, and Jesus identifying Himself as the “Son of God” that he knew that the Seed of Abraham was standing right before him. Life could not come by keeping the law, but came by promise, God gave it to Abraham by promise (see Gal 3:16-22). Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
    Jesus tailored each encounter in the Gospel of John with the content that would bring the person life in Jesus name, “till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made,” (see Gal 3:16; 1 Peter 1:23). For Nicodemus a proud Jew, he was told that he needed to be born again. He thought he was already a son of God as did all the Jews simply by being born from the line of Abraham both by faith and according to the flesh (see Exodus 4:22; Gal 3:7). Jesus met the woman at the well in John 4 at her very need “water.” If she would have already knew the two things Jesus had stated in John 4:10 she would have already asked and He would have already given the living water that would quench her eternal thirst. But, as a Samaritan she needed more information, and Jesus gave it to her. She needed to know that salvation is of the Jews (see John 4:22), and that the Jew standing before her was the promised Christ.

  105. alvin says:

    Both in John 5:42, and John 8:42 we have Jews who claim to know God, but yet they are not receiving the Seed of Abraham. To love God in this way is passive and is simply to believe (receiving Jesus as the promised Christ). To love God in the way of John 14:21 is speaking to those who are already are believers, and is not passive but is a condition for abiding.

  106. alvin says:

    The essence of the doctrine of eternal security that is found all through the Scriptures is found in a childlike verse such as John 3:16. The one who believes Jesus in that verse knows they will never perish and has everlasting life. If they thought they could possibly still perish than they have not understood Jesus promise to the one who believes.

  107. kc says:

    Alvin, thanks so much for the response.

    We still agree that Jesus’ promise is to those that believe on/in Him and we seem to agree that if these believers fail to understand the eternal nature of Jesus’ promise then they have not understood it but how does this indicate that they have not believed in/on Jesus as Christ, the Son of God, their Savior?

  108. alvin says:

    That is exactly what we are to be believing in Jesus for, and what makes Him our Saviour is to FIRST have life in His name.

    John 20:31b and that believing you may have life in His name. 1 Timothy 1:16b as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him FOR everlasting life.

    In the context of John 3:16 the very next verse tells us who the one is that will not be condemned is the one who has believed Jesus, and the content of the promised Seed is eternal life. Paul shows in Galatians 3:21 that life is parallel to righteousness. The one who believes in Jesus for eternal life is counted righteous and will not be condemned. The basic element of salvation is eternal life.

    Gal 3:20b If their had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have come by the law.

    For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
    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. (Romans 4:3-5)

    The one who has believed Jesus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death. (John 8:51) This is further explained to Martha in John 11:25,26. To keep Jesus word is simply to believe Him.

  109. kc says:

    Alvin, once more I appreciate your reply and the discussion. The things you propose in your last response go well beyond the understanding of child and are really a part of a system of theology.

    Whenever we take a systematic approach like that (and we all do) I like to say that we’re leaving “thus saith the Lord” and heading into “my understanding is”. That’s okay by me and I think it’s helpful and good to consider these things together, provided we don’t let our understanding become our rule for faith and practice.

    My reading of John 20:31 leaves me thinking that if I believe that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God then I can know I have life “in His name”, that is, through His power and authority. I don’t read it to say that I must know I have life through His power and authority in order to believe He is Christ, the Son of God. That seems exactly backward to me.

    1st Timothy 1:16 seems to concur that we must believe on Him to/for everlasting life rather than believing on everlasting life to/for Him. Again John 3:18 establishes belief in the power and authority (“in the name”) of Christ as the means for escaping condemnation. Our differences on the text in Galatians go deeper than the current topic and I hope we can discuss that as well in time. I have no contention concerning the verses from Romans. Of the remaining verses the thing that concerns me most is that you seem to equate believing Christ with believing in/on Christ. Do you see no distinction there?

  110. FedExMOP says:

    Alvin,

    I am trying to follow you on this,and I think I can see where you are coming from, but I missed the jump from John 8:51 to John 11:25-26. Is the correlation that they both explain how one “wil not see death”. I do not really see a tie in between keeping Jesus’s word and believing in Him. I may just be slow, but I am trying to get the correlation, can you maybe develop it a little more for me.

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  111. David Wyatt says:

    kc,

    You & I are right on the same wavelength, bro!

  112. kc says:

    Bro. David your loving kindness is a constant source of inspiration and encouragement. I’m sorry I don’t get around so much these days but I’ve been blessed by each of your recent articles.

  113. alvin says:

    I have a comment I posted at 8:18 AM that is awaiting moderation that goes into it a little more.
    That will be my last comment here, I can see the sides have been taken and is a waste of my time.

    alvin:)

  114. Diane says:

    Dear Friends,

    I would love to have either a Yes or No answer to these questions if you’re comfortable doing that. Thank you.

    QUESTION #1…
    Is there anyone here on this blog who thinks there is ANOTHER WAY to be saved (born again) besides just simply believing in Jesus ALONE to eternally save you?

    QUESTION #2…
    Can you be saved without EVER knowing you’re saved?

    QUESTION #3…
    How can you know for sure you’re saved?

    QUESTION #4…
    How can a person loose his salvation when the Bible says that a justified person is ALREADY glorified in God’s eyes? (Rom. 8:30)

    (Not including children under the age of accountability)

    Thank you.

    Diane

  115. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    Don’t know why that one got snagged, but it’s out now. Sorry about that.

  116. FedExMOP says:

    Diane,

    Question 1 – I cannot speak for every person on this blog, but for me. The only path I see in the Bible for entry into heaven is faith alone in Christ to provide that. I believe that the word “saved” carries more connotation than simply “born again” or “recieving eternal life” but that is another discussion.

    Question 2 – I do not believe this is possible. The one condition of recieving eternal life is faith, which involves some aspect of the mind, as possibly as Tim pointed out, parts of the whole person. Are you asking if it is possible to be saved without ever having complete certainty of that fact, I would say yes, if the condition for recieving eternal life has been met at some point.

    Question 3 – Not really a yes or no question but here goes . As I understand it, the knowing for sure comes from believing that Christ promised to give eternal life (salvation) to anyone who believes in Him for it. The certainty of knowing comes from the faith. I do not see biblical evidence for real and fake faith as some LS advocates try to explain. I believe that you can say you believe something that you know you really do not believe, but I do not think that you can be convinced that you believe and not have true faith.

    Question 4 – Again, not a yes or no question. I personally believe that the bible does not support the idea that once a person recieves eternal life it can be lost. It might have to be called conditional life or possibly temporal-conditional life instead of eternal if that were the case. I do however believe that we can miss out on experiencing eternal life here and now. That is that eternal life does not start at physical death, but at the moment of belief. The level to which we experience salvation from our sin and its consequences here and now is not guaranteed. Also I believe that while entry into heaven is assured through faith, the level of full participation in future Kingdom is also not automatically guaranteed but is contingent on the level of relationship we develop with Christ in this life. So in short, the fact of eternal life is absolutely guaranteed through faith alone in Christ, the level to which we experience this life is contingent upon our obedience and relationship.

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  117. David Wyatt says:

    kc,

    Thank you for your kindness. I hope to see more articles on your blog soon, I have always been greatly blessed by their biblical content.

    Diane,

    I’d be glad to answer your questions.

    1) Absolutely NOT!

    2) I don’t see how.

    3) I’ve trusted in Jesus Christ alone to save me (as in #1)

    4) One cannot lose salvation.

  118. FedExMOP says:

    David,

    I admire your brevity. I could learn from your ability to use few words.

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  119. Diane says:

    Thank you FedEx and David.

    Diane
    🙂

  120. Diane says:

    A GREAT verse…

    1 John 5:12…
    He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

    All believers have life. But it’s true that we can experience His life in abundance as we abide in Him.

    AWESOME~!!!

    Diane
    🙂

  121. David Wyatt says:

    Thanks FedEx, I was appreciating your explanations.

    Diane, that is so true! I can’t help but think of a verse that almost seems to have been put in the Bible as an afterthought, but I know every word of Scripture is strategically & specially placed as God would have it. The verse is John 21:12 that says, “Jesus said to them, ‘Come and eat breakfast.’ Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord.” Once we’ve met Christ, we never have to ask, Who are You?” We KNOW it is our Lord Jesus! As a dear pastor friend once preached from Isaiah 9, “Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus!”

  122. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    Regarding your 8:18:

    Maybe you could hit it from a different angle for me, but I’m not seeing a cogent argument there. All I’m hearing, after we sort out all the handwaving, is something like “He must’ve already known the message of eternal life.”

    Two points on that:
    1. And Nicodemus the teacher of Israel didn’t? Jesus still mentioned it to him. Why not to this guy, if in fact it’s the sine qua non of the message?
    2. Maybe he did already know, but you can’t prove it by John’s Gospel. John doesn’t say anything about it. Why would John leave us in the dark about that, if the promise of eternal life is the sine qua non of John’s message?

    As far as I can see — and do correct me if I’ve misunderstood your argument — your conclusion that the guy must’ve already known is driven not by the text, but by your theology. You’ve already decided, in advance of reading the text, that the only proper formulation for the gospel message includes presenting the promise of eternal life. So then when Jesus Himself doesn’t behave and say what your theology says He ought to, you have to fill in the gaps with how the guy must’ve already known. You’re not dealing with the text here; you’re speculating, trying to save a theological formulation that this text doesn’t really support very well.

  123. Diane says:

    Ooooops~!!! You were right FedEx. Questions 3 and 4 were not a Yes or No question. Sorry~!!!
    Thanks for your answers in spite of my mistake.
    🙂

  124. FedExMOP says:

    Diane,

    No problem, there is grace for that as well.

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  125. alvin says:

    Hey guys, this is something that just struck me~! And something Jim and Tim could be picking up on in the Gospel of John but misunderstanding it. We know that repentance is never mentioned in the Gospel of John. And the reason it’s not is because the Gospel of John’s main purpose is that unbelievers will believe in Jesus for His gift of life, and the only condition being “believe”. But, I remember John Neimielia challenging anyone to finding a Gentile mission field in the Gospel of John. He even made a case for the Samaritans being considered being Jewish, because they were half Jews. What’s my point? John’s disciples and Jesus disciples were baptizing, and making disciples in the Gospel of John. The baptism was a baptism of repentance calling the Jews to Godly living. They were being prepared to meet their King and Him to set up His kingdom. They were being prepared to rule with him. But this was NEVER a condition for the free gift of eternal life, that is why I believe repentance is never mentioned but still the baptism of repentance was being given. . . . . . sooooo that means they were being told to repent . . . . . but John didn’t record that in his Gospel because that was not to be the focus:) (see John 4:1-2) So naturally Jesus would be calling the Jews to Kingdom living.~!

    alvin:)

  126. alvin says:

    The Apostle John took for granted we would be reading his Gospel with our eyes open, and were told over and over again about the gift of eternal life. So by the time we get to the blind man his eyes were opened and seeing the Son of God standing before him knew that He was his Saviour, and worshiped Him. Eternal life is implicit in the Seed of Abraham. For Jesus said that Abraham saw His day and was glad . . . . meaning Abraham was alive with eternal life . . . . and because the Seed rose from the dead . . . . Abrahams dead body would rise also~!

  127. alvin says:

    Another point you might consider is that the gift of eternal life being offered in the Gospel of John was the same eternal life that the OT saints had, that being the promise of the Seed. John the Baptist was an OT saint who only had the gift of eternal life but did not have what you call the “mystical union,” which was another gift of the Holy Spirit the believer being placed into Christ risen. (see John 3:27-29) Which is a salvation that is more then the gift of eternal life but is being saved by Christ’s life.

  128. Jim Reitman says:

    Alvin,

    You are definitely NOT wasting your time. I don’t know what God is doing inside of that heart of yours, but it’s sure blessing MY heart!

  129. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    I second Jim. You’re not wasting your time here.

    Going along with what you’re saying in the last two posts, we need to look at Jesus’ ministry through a few different lenses.

    We know that Jesus (and John the Baptist) preached repentance to unbelievers, because it’s recorded time after time in the Synoptics (Mat. 3:2, 4:17, for starters), and Paul does also (Ac.17:30). John does not use the word in His gospel, and we’ve felt that there’s a lesson there, and I agree. But I think we’ve taken the wrong lesson.

    FG people have taken from John’s non-use of the word that we shouldn’t speak of repentance to unbelievers. That can’t be the lesson here, because we know that Jesus did, in fact, do just that (as did John the Baptist, Paul, etc.) Moreover, we also find (in John 8, for example) Jesus presenting a message of repentance, even though He doesn’t use the word. “Go and sin no more” — if that’s not repentance, what is?

    So I think we need to take another run at what John is doing by not using the term in his gospel.

    **
    With regard to reading John 9 with our eyes open: John the author doesn’t need to talk about eternal life again in John 9 for his reader to understand that Jesus gives life — he’s already said it a bunch of times. But if he wants his reader to understand that the explicit promise of eternal life is what every person needs to hear, then he’s falling down on the job. According to what we read, the guy never hears such a promise from Jesus. Yet we go prancing about saying that John presents the promise of eternal life as the message, the sine qua non of the gospel. How does that square with Jesus’ behavior here?

    Jesus doesn’t tell this guy anything about it. Now either that’s okay, or it’s not. If it wasn’t okay, then Jesus blew it. If it was okay then, then it’s also okay now — at least under similar circumstances — and then we need to talk about those circumstances.

    And I still say that claiming he already knew everything he needed to because he had OT revelation is a pretty lame response. First of all, lots of people knew lots of OT, but still needed everything explained to them — witness the Emmaus road incident. Second, Nicodemus knew waaaaay more OT than this guy, and look what Jesus does with him. In fact, these guys are parallel in significant ways — they look at the miracles and say “no one can do these signs unless God is with him,” yet they don’t know who Jesus is, exactly. With one of them, Jesus makes the explicit promise of new birth and eternal life the issue. With the other, He announces himself as the Son of God. Is one of these approaches deficient?

  130. alvin says:

    I’ll speak to your last point first concerning Nicodemus and the blind man. Believing Biblical truth is what saves a person not believing biblical words as if they were magical. When it comes to the saving message before one can believe it they must understand it by being persuaded that it is true. In the Gospel of John the signs themselves were to prove that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God, and that believing may have life in His name (see John 20:30,31). Nicodemus in John 3 believed the signs were from God but that was not there purpose just to believe the signs to believe the signs. In fact Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:11b and you do not receive Our witness. Unless the signs bring a person to seeing (believing) the Christ, the sign hasn’t accomplished it’s purpose. That includes the cross, it’s the cross of “Christ” and unless one sees Christ they have not believed in the biblical sense. And the one who has seen Christ has life in His name. These people who are arguing against Jesus proposition that He gives life to those who believe in Him are arguing against the very testimony of God found in ALL these verses (John 3:16,36; 4:10,13-14,26; 5:24; 6:27,47;11:25,26). The blind mans eyes were opened by Jesus, and then all he needed to know was who Jesus was “the Son of God.” He received spiritual sight at that moment and the sign of his healing had illuminated the Christ and he had life in His name:)

  131. Michele says:

    Hi Alvin,

    Your contributions are so necessary! I’m reading and learning from your comments and I’m blessed by your humble approach to the Word.

    Michele

  132. alvin says:

    Concerning repentance in the Gospel of John. Jesus didn’t start to preach and to say, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand,” (see Matt 4:12-17; John 3:24) until AFTER John was thrown into prison. That was a message specificlly for the house of Israel who already were God’s first born son (Matt 10:5-7; 15:24). A generation of Jews had to receive their King, and the condition was FIRST to repent and then believe that Jesus was their Christ, but that was a conditon for the whole nation. It was the “acceptible year of the Lord,” (see Luke 4:18-19). But, repentance was toward the God they had offended by breaking their covenant with Him. It was not a condition for the gift of eternal life that they could take freely but had to do with coming into harmony with their God.
    That is why the emphasis in the Gospel of John is to have life and to “believe” is the ONLY condition for that gift, Jesus was not preaching repentance as a condition of knowing Him.

  133. alvin says:

    Hi Michele,
    I do not have high hopes of convincing anyone here, especially with people I really don’t know, and are told that I’m disingenuous and full of fear.

    alvin

  134. alvin says:

    This is my day off and “for bodily exercise profits little,” but I need it . . . so a trikking I will go>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  135. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    Enjoy your workout — I’m jealous! I need one badly and won’t get the chance until Thursday, I think. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe.

    Re. repentance, your explanation of Jesus preaching repentance is fine as far as it goes, but you’re missing two things. First is John preached repentance before he was thrown into prison, so it was already called for. Second, your explanation doesn’t touch Act 17. God calls all men everywhere to repent. So from where I’m sitting, you still got some ‘splaining to do.

    And I’d still say John’s emphasis is broader than you’re painting it, by a mile. John’s emphasis is on life received at the new birth, lived out abundantly in the present, and continuing into eternity. That’s why the upper room discourse is in the book; that’s why John 4 includes what Jesus said to the disciples; this stuff aimed at believers is all over the book. Bringing someone to the point of new birth is an important goal of John’s, and it’s the only NT book that explicitly sets that forth as one if its goals. But that’s only the beginning of what John is about.

  136. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    I do not have high hopes of convincing anyone here, especially with people I really don’t know, and are told that I’m disingenuous and full of fear.

    Trust me, brother, I feel your pain. Maybe we can set that stuff aside for a while, treat each other as brothers in good faith, and see what happens.

  137. alvin says:

    The fact that John the Baptist preached repentance was his very calling for the house of Israel “to make the way straight,” The one who has received Jesus testimony that the one who believes will not perish but has everlasting life. That is FIRST and foremost. That is to know God for initial life, the abundant life is experienced when we abide in Him and that will cost. The disciples had to leave family and homes to follow him to grow in that relationship. They knew that discipleship cost because Jesus had told them to count the cost (see Luke 14:28). They would be freed from slavery to sin as their master to being a slave to God and rightousness but it’s only those who had received His saving words who were equiped to be a true disciple and if they did they “would know the truth and the truth would set them free,” (see John 8:31,32) Of course Jesus wanted them to be set free by abiding in Him. But He did not mix apples and oranges, initial life was a gift that could be taken freely, but the abundant life was a walk one must do to save his life (soul).

  138. alvin says:

    Why are all men called to repent? I believe because they have offended God by rejecting His Son, and that is why the Holy Spirit convicts the world: “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of rightousness, and of judgment: “of sin, because they do not believe in Me(see John 16:7-11). The good news is that Jesus has taken away the sin of the world, so there is no barrier of sin between God and man because God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself not counting their sins against them. But they must receive the reconcilliation by believing in His Son (see John 1:29; 2 Cor 5:19; 1 Tim 3:2-6; 4:10; 1 John 2:2; Rom 5:10,11) That is why Everyone is invited to take of the water of life freely without any mention of repentance (see John 4:10; Rev 22:17). The issue is either you believe the testimony of the Son or you disbelieve. If you believe you have life in His name, and that life was explained to Martha in John 11:25,26. Anyone having the Seed (Jesus the Christ) would never die, and also had the promise of resurrection. The words that the Father had given Jesus were words of life (see John 12:47-50). The one who has believed Jesus words should be able to say like Martha when Jesus said do you believe this? Yea Lord I believe you are the Christ the Son of God who was to come into the world (see John 11:25-26). Just a note: Martha didn’t know Jesus as the resurrection, but only as the life. She was looking for a future resurrection (see John 11:24). But resurrection is implicit in eternal life, the one who has believed in Jesus for everlasting life is also guaranteed a future resurrection of the body because that Seed is in each believer (see 1 Peter 1:23). Proof of that is till the Seed to whom the promise was made, that Seed which is Christ was risen from the dead and all believers rose with Him and their bodies will one day rise~! (see Gal 3:19-22) The ONLY condition is believe~! But that faith has content, the words the Father gave to the Son and that is everlasting life (see again John 12:41-50).

  139. David Bell says:

    Tim, you said “So I think we need to take another run at what John is doing by not using the term [repent] in his gospel.”

    What’s your run at it?

  140. alvin says:

    The goal: Now may the God of peace Himself sanctfy you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess 5:23)

    The way to the goal: Being conformed to His death. How are you doing?
    But what things were gain to me, these I’ve counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I count all things as loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own rightousness, which is from the law, but that which is by faith in Christ, the rightousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethern, I do not count myself as apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. (Philippians 3:7-16)

    The result of being conformed to His death, Christ is formed in us.

    My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you. (Gal 4:19)

    The choice is yours:

    But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. (2 Tim 2:20,21)

    The Bema will determine if we were useful:

    For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is layed, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyones work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved as through fire.

  141. FedExMOP says:

    Alvin,

    I am not sure that we are really so very far apart doctrinally. I would like, however, to get a definition from you. Meaning the same thing when we use a term is very important.

    How do you define repentance.

    Some define it as a simple change of the mind, and there seems to be some hermaneutical support for this.

    Others see repentance as the literal act of turning away from all known sin. There are aslo some verses that support this.

    I do believe that Zane in his writing has stated that repentance in as much as it is a changing of the mind from not believing in Jesus to believing believing in Jesus, is a part of recieving eternal life. But I am still looking for that quote.

    I just think it would help me in this discussion if I knew what you mean when you say repentance.

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  142. Tim Nichols says:

    David,
    I knew somebody was going to ask me that! Truth is, I don’t know. I can’t conceive of it being an accident, and I don’t buy the story I used to tell. I don’t know what story to tell instead; I just know that the one I used to tell isn’t defensible. I’m open to suggestions, though. Got one?

  143. alvin says:

    I’m headed off to work but just a quick answer. I believe repentance is a call to turn from sin to avoid temporal judgment for the unbeliever and believer.

    alvin:)

  144. David Bell says:

    Tim, I’m not sure about a suggestion but I may venture some thoughts in a day or two when I have some time.

    In the mean time I have another question for you: How would you briefly define “believe” and “believe in” as used in John’s Gospel? (After all you’ve written, please don’t bang your head against the wall without a hardhat. I’m a little slow.) Would your definition be the same for the same word used by Paul? Thanks.

  145. Tim Nichols says:

    David,

    John uses at least two definitions for the pisteuw word group (believe/belief/faith). The first one is the common one, the one found in John 1:12 — the point of entry into the new birth. However, compare that to John 2:23-25: “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did, but Jesus did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” Both of those bold words are pisteuw. The first is perfectly understandable in the John 1:12 sense, but the second is obviously not.

    You can translate them with a single English word, however: “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many trusted in His name when they saw the signs which He did, but Jesus did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” This translation highlights what the two different uses of the word have in common, but it doesn’t change the fact that there are two uses; it’s just that the range of meaning for “trust” covers both. One is an entry, a beginning (again, in the John 1:12 sense), and the other is about continuing relationship — Jesus didn’t trust them, because He knew that they would betray Him. Simple enough, yes?

    In Romans at least, Paul’s definition would seem to be a little narrower. He seems to use the word in the John 1:12 sense exclusively. Can’t speak to his other letters; haven’t looked yet.

    Is this starting to answer your question?

  146. alvin says:

    Thank you Tim for letting me weigh in on your blog:) Just some closing thoughts, kind of an overview of the evangelism I believe is biblical.

    Just to be clear on what I’m saying. I believe that the gift of justification, and progressive sanctification must be clearly distinguished. So that the new born babe is on a solid foundation of grace. I believe though that discipleship should flow naturally from a heart of gratitude of one who has been made alive in Christ. Baptism being the first step in that walk of faith, for baptism saves concerning a good conscience toward God (1 Peter 3:21; Acts 16:30-34). By clearly defining what is a gift and what cost the new born child of God will not be looking at their works to prove they are God’s child, but will be on the solid foundation of grace which is Christ Himself. Its only this way can a child of God grow healthy in the unconditional love of their heavenly Father.

    alvin:)

  147. David Bell says:

    Thanks, Tim. I’m just a little unclear of your terminology but if I understand you correctly you’re saying that there is basically one definition, or sense of meaning, which is to “trust” / “entrust oneself to,” but John uses it in two different ways: 1) of people entrusting themselves to Christ and 2) of Christ [not] entrusting himself to people. Is that paraphrase close?

    Some usages come to mind that make me wonder if it goes beyond that. First, what about the instances in which Jesus uses the words “that you may believe” to his believing disciples in 11:15, 13:19, and 14:29? That would certainly go beyond initial faith. Maybe that’s what you had in mind by your “continuing relationship” statement. But even then, entrusting themselves to him for what? Second, what about when Thomas says, “Unless I see…I will not believe” and when Jesus says to Martha, “Do you believe this?” Those seem to be instances of simply believing something to be true.

    That brings me to your discussion with Alvin about the blind man in John 9. I see your point about Jesus not explicitly offering eternal life, and I think I agree that it’s a stretch to think such is implied. But I think it may also be a stretch to see this as a trust thing. It seems to be a simple but profound acknowledgment that Jesus was the Son of Man. John states “He said, ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshiped Him.” (Thomas’s response was similar: “My Lord and my God!”).

    I realize I asked you for a brief definition and now I’m responding as though I’d asked you for all the details.

  148. alvin says:

    Jim said:

    You are definitely NOT wasting your time. I don’t know what God is doing inside that heart of yours, but it’s sure blessing MY heart!

    Jim, what God has done is give me Diane as a beautiful example of His unconditional love. God has used her in my life to open my eyes wider. For when Diane tells me were all a mess. What? Diane a mess, if she thinks she is a mess I’m really a mess. I don’t know of anyone who I see Christ more formed in. So when I go to work I can tell all those I’m trying to reach for Christ, ‘were all a mess.’ They are more willing to give me an ear . . . . . and I don’t mean like Peter . . . . ha!ha!

    God also gave me two cats so I would understand Jim better:) Tootie and Gabby. When we first got these two cats, Gabby would just flop down in front of you and just let you walk over her. She had a healthy self-esteem, ‘who couldn’t love me unconditionally . . . . just look at me I’m sooo beautiful~!” Whereas Tootie was damaged goods~! She needed to learn to trust, and it was only through unconditional love that she finally was able to come out of her shell. God has worked these things into my life by changing not only me but Tootie, and has brought a trusting relationship out of it. God did this with my wife some 30 or more years ago, she was damaged and needed to learn trust. This all comes back to Jim and my disagreement on the word believe we find in our English Bibles. Which is the only condition for Jesus gift of eternal life. That is to believe Jesus words which are life. That is how we are born again by the incorruptible seed of God, that is His words of everlasting life. But, I also see where some who would believe the word believe means trust as something MORE than believe. The only problem we open up with that is one cannot know if they have trusted enough, whereas one can know with certainty one has believed something to be true or false. The Bible teaches us we can have certainty because of the testimony of God, if you believe the words of man, how much more the words of God. The one who has believed Jesus promise of life, and is holding on to that promise needs to also learn that the One who made that promise is holding on to them and will NEVER let go. I’m still thinking about all of this, so is still coming together in my mind. As many of you know my own history it’s not like I haven’t seen the difficulties of trusting with my own Dad in and out of mental institutes as my own wife also. God has allowed this to happen in my life for a reason in which I’m coming to progressively see . . . . ha~!ha~! I’m seeing that some have to come to trust God before they can believe Him for His promise of life. And that trust in that context is MORE than believe. But, it is a point in time that one passes from death into life, and that point is when Jesus promise is simply believed, at that moment the saving word of God is at home, “till the Seed should come to the one the promise was made 🙂 (see Gal 3:19-22)
    Jim, I’m sorry for hurting you deeply. I believed at the time what you were saying was a direct attack on Jesus promise, and the word believe. And I know ones who are clinging to that, and are yet to let go and find themselves being held in His hand. But, the one who has simply believed Jesus words of life will never perish but have everlasting life . . . . . and when they get there they will see that the One who promised had never let go:) I hope this made sense to someone, and in the love it is meant.

    alvin:) off to trikke>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  149. Jim Reitman says:

    Alvin,

    If that’s what Diane did, then she’s got some pretty heavy-duty crowns awaitin’. You said:

    I’m still thinking about all of this, so is still coming together in my mind.

    May we all receive what he has for us, just like that. You are indeed a trophy of His grace.

    Thank you, brother.

  150. David Bell says:

    Tim,

    I’ve been thinking about this some more and some things seem to be falling into place for me. I’m coming to the conclusion that to believe in Jesus in the Johannine sense is to simply have the faith expressed in Thomas’s words, “My Lord and my God!”

    Interestingly, John chose to use these words of Thomas right before his purpose statement (between which is Jesus’ response, “…blessed are they who did not see, yet believed” i.e. were able to acknowledge “My Lord and my God!”). The two verses that contain the purpose statement are connected to the Thomas incident with the particle “oun,” or “therefore.” The purpose is that we might, in like manner as Thomas, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. To believe such is to be able to exclaim, “My Lord and my God!”

    I think this goes back to what you were saying about proposition vs. person. It’s more than coldly acknowledging the proposition “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” to be factual; it’s acknowledging it in a personal sense: he is the Christ, the Son of God who is therefore MY Lord and MY God. It goes back to 1:12 where believing is equated with receiving. Receiving is personal. The blind man wasn’t told–as far as we know–about any saving propositions (other than that Jesus was the Son of Man). When Jesus told him that He was the Son of Man, the blind man received him as he worshiped him. Christ became his Lord and His God.

    Does this make sense?

  151. Tim Nichols says:

    David,

    We could quibble about whether it’s one definition with two usages, or two definitions. But anyhow…

    The “entrust/trust” side of it (the latter use in the John 2 passage) also encompasses the disciples believing in Him after they’d already believed in Him — it’s a growth of trust, a deepening. Trust for what? Personal trust doesn’t necessarily work like that — I’ll come back to this in a second.

    The initial belief, the 1:12 sense, is arguably the same thing at an earlier stage. If you subscribe to the GES promise COSF, then it follows that when you believe the promise, you are perforce trusting yourself to Jesus for your eternal destiny. If you subscribe to more of an expanded message, along the line of one of the FGA COSF options, then once again, you are putting together facts about Jesus that lead you to trust Him.

    I am also comfortable for a trust idea in the 1:12 sense, for different reasons. I believe that trust in the Person can be real, even if the trust-er hasn’t thought through all the places it leads yet. And since I don’t buy the proposition-only business, I don’t need the trust to be expressed in a documentable way in order to think that it’s real.

    Regarding the “trust Him for what?” issue: Trust is clearly present in John 9, before Jesus finds the blind man again. When Jesus asks the question “Do you believe in the Son of God?” the man’s response indicates that he’s already given Jesus a blank check — he’ll believe whatever Jesus tells him. Jesus answers the question, and the man believes in Jesus.
    Likewise with Saul on the Damascus road — when he asked “Who are you, Lord?” he was ready to believe whatever answer came from the Voice From Heaven. He just needed to be directed, and he was.

    This goes a step beyond hunting for specific propositions, even. The trust was established first even before they were introduced to Jesus as who He really is. Then they saw Jesus for who He is, and believed.

  152. Michele says:

    Hi David,

    Hope your family is well! John 9 shows me that it wasn’t so much about the information, as it was about “God, with us.” The LORD had come. The blind man and the bystanders argued and reasoned on who Jesus was, without much progress. If Jesus was a prophet or some lesser being He would have presented this opportunity with the man point toward heaven and say, :believe in YHWH.” That Jesus said, “it is He who is talking to you” shows the man and everyone else that no one need go anywhere else; God is in this place (person).

    God presents Himself with various names and experiences through the scriptures. He wants us to accept Him in whatever way He truly is. Can God put on flesh? Maybe they didn’t know if He could or had. They might have wrestled with an angel, who in fact was actually God. The point was that He had come nevertheless. In this man. His presence in our midst is what we need to accept (receive).

    The facts and titles and attributes of God always common-sensically fall into place after the Presence has come to us. In fact the Spirit in Acts is the Presence by which they sort out the doctrine of Gentiles being justified by faith just as Jews are.

    That’s what I’m caught in thought concerning the gospel. I hope I make sense, thanks for letting me share.

    Michele

  153. alvin says:

    You folks are in for a BIG surprise when you find out you are making something that was meant to be so simple that a little child can come to Jesus simply by believeing His promise . . . . . Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter.
    But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me . . . . . .
    A mother can bring her little child to Jesus in simple faith through His saving words:)

  154. alvin says:

    God’s word does not come back void but accomplishes it’s purpose, and when the living water is received in childlike faith springs up into everlasting life. Their was a little girl who was attending a funeral with her mother, and her mother simply shared Jesus promise of eternal life. The little girl trusted what her mother had told her was true, and then was asking others if they died where would they go:) That’s simple childlike faith and the words she believed gave life, she was born again of incorruptible seed by the living word.

  155. Tim Nichols says:

    And if you think we disagree with any of that, Alvin, then you’ve completely misunderstood. Still.

    It IS simple: God shows up. We receive Him, or we don’t. The promise of life isn’t a sack of magic words — the reason believing the promise brings life is that you hear Christ in the promise, and receive Him by believing it.

    It’s even simpler than you think.

  156. alvin says:

    John 4:39-42

    39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.
    42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ,[a] the Savior of the world.”

    My best friend once told me “if you really hear Him you will speak in tongues~~!” HA!ha!

    He is the Seed, and brings illumination to the truth:)
    2 Cor 4:3-6
    3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

    It makes sense:)

  157. alvin says:

    Folks, were going to play one more stanza of “Just As I am,” we dont wont anyone leaving this evening without making a decision for Christ~! Because if you die tonight, and don’t have Christ you will go to hell because of your sin~!

    That is what most people hear, and it’s all to play on the emotions to bring about a decision for Christ~! First, it’s not a decision we make to believe Jesus or not to believe Jesus, the decision is being made when we respond to the light of His drawing (read our bible, go to Church). When the light comes on the saving message we have understood, and find that we have ALREADY believed.

    Second, no one goes to hell because of their sin, they go to hell because their name is not found written in the book of life, other words they do not have life (see John 1:29; 3:17-18; 16:8-9; Rev 20:15).

    Soooooo . . . . . that decision is made over and over and over . . . . did I trust enough . . . . . was my experience REAL~!

    Knowing the truth cuts through all of this non-sense~!

  158. alvin says:

    Jim quote:
    Here’s the kind of thing that Tim and I are talking about: Remember that exchange a couple years ago on Rose’s with “Daniel,” the 5-pointer? Alvin tried to rip him a new one and convince everyone he couldn’t possibly be saved because of the propositions he now affirmed that add works to faith. The problem is, Daniel’s testimony had nothing to do with propositions. It was a Damascus road encounter with the living God that he couldn’t explain. He wasn’t a Calvinist when he had that experience, he was an atheist. He never darkened the door of Rose’s again, and Alvin smirked “Good riddance.”

    First off both Daniel and Jim called Daniel’s experience a “Damascus road experience,” but lets see if it matches up with Saul of Tarsus experience?

    Daniel quote:
    But I want you to understand my surrender was as absolute as it was impossible, for if you had known me, you would know that I wasn’t even trying to be saved, in fact, I hated God, hated the gospel-and hated everything about Christianity. I wasn’t seeking God-I was very much like Paul on the road to Damascus, but in a moment of grace, I turned around and truly was another man.

    Paul said about his experience: although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief (1 Tim 1:13).

    Saul thought in sincerity that he was doing God a service, he did not think he hated God like Daniel~! What spirit would make a person think they were saved by believing a false gospel, one of works and faith?

    Daniel quote:
    You know how some people try and use language that really makes their salvation sound mystical? I am trying hard to avoid that-but I want you to know that when the Holy Spirit came on me, I -knew- Christ, and it wasn’t that He became irresistible, though that is how it seemed-it was that I saw how irresistible He had always been, and I was unable to exalt my life and all that was in it as being anything of value compared to it. Truly, in that moment all that I was and ever would be was set before me beside Christ, and the poverty of the one, and impossible riches of the other made my surrender not only possible, but impossible to resist.
    I can only speak for myself as someone who believes the bible teaches the utter deadness of men in sin (total depravity), and that the bible teaches that men do not tip the hand of God in their election (particular election) and that Christ did not satisfy everyone’s sin debt, but only the sin debt of those who are united together with in by faith (Limited Atonement), that no faith can escape the unbreakable net (irresistible grace) and that God’s work cannot be thwarted by mankind (perseverance of the saints); I say, I can only speak for myself when I say that from the moment I was justified, I have always understood the distinction between believing a thing to be true, and being united to Christ by faith.
    According to my understanding-an understand that many would label as Calvinism, the reprobate-those individuals whom God has not elected are exactly like those whom God has elected in that they are spiritually dead and therefore unable to discern spiritual things such as the gospel. They can no more believe the gospel than they can breath water.
    That is not to say that they cannot believe that God exists, that Jesus was His Son, or that the gospel is valid–for even the demons believe these facts–yet it is one thing to believe that the facts are true, and quite another to surrender one’s life to Christ in the strength of those facts
    .

    Beloved test the spirits of whether they are from God~! Just because someone says they have made contact with God . . . . . what god, and what spirit? These ones would like to blend the gift of God and works together which is another Gospel.

    alvin:)

  159. Jim Reitman says:

    Alvin,

    Thanks, good pick. I was hoping my recollection matched up with the text of Daniel’s testimony. But other than possibly quibbling about the meaning and the applicability of 1 Tim 1:13 to Daniel’s case, I think you just proved my point.

    Whatever Daniel said to try to explain his conversion after the fact—the role he thinks was played by election and irresistible grace, and even that was inconsistent—none of it actually applies at the time of his experience if it doesn’t match up with Scripture. And, yes, it’s possible he could be preaching a false gospel; but we don’t know how he talks to unbelievers. Even so, that says nothing about the validity of his conversion because it played no role whatsoever in the experience per se, only in his attribution after the fact—after he had learned screwy theology.

    And the 1 John text about testing the spirits has nothing to do with determining whether they are saved, but rather whether what they are teaching is from God. Same thing about false prophets in Matt. 7. Otherwise, we would be succumbing to the false teaching of Lordship, which requires us to see fruit before we accept someone’s testimony at face value.

  160. Jim said: “Even so, that says nothing about the validity of his conversion because it played no role whatsoever in the experience per se, only in his attribution after the fact—after he had learned screwy theology.”

    An “EXPERIENCE” says nothing about the validity of his conversion either, Jim–absolutely NOTHING.

    And it’s not “possible” he was preaching a false gospel, he WAS, in fact, preaching a false gospel–and doing so quite brazenly, I might add.

    The fact that you just take it for granted that his liver quiver was a genuine conversion says more about the biblical bankruptcy of YOUR sotoriology than anything else. 🙂

  161. Jim Reitman says:

    Gary,

    The quote Alvin dug up gave us a peek into (1) Daniel’s testimony (it is what it is); and (2) Daniel’s theology, which is IMO false because it adverts of 5-point Calvinism. But when I said “preach the gospel” I made it clear that I was questioning what Daniel might tell an unbeliever, which might have nothing to do with 5-point Calvinism. It happens all the time, Gary. Are you saying that a Calvinist can’t give the gospel to an unbeliever? Calvinist churches are packed with believers who have simply learned bad doctrine.

    If I am hearing you right, it sounds like you are saying that someone has to use exactly the right words, or we have no business taking a testimony at face value. If I were to ask Daniel whether he had the Son and he said he did (1 Jn 5:11-12), what other test of life is there? What testimony would be acceptable to you, Gary?

    Your accusation of “biblical bankruptcy” sounded frankly unkind, Gary. What message were you sending with the smiley face? The only thing I can think is that you believe I am “an enemy of the gospel.” I went through this with Alvin on Antonio’s blog, but I would never say that to someone—especially someone I considered my friend—without some biblical support. I already know you don’t like Gospel in 3D, but do you have any Scripture to back up your claim about my take on Daniel?

  162. alvin says:

    Amen and amen brother Gary~!!!!!!

  163. alvin says:

    Hey Jim I’ll say it again, “Anyone who say’s that you must do more than simply believe Jesus promise of eternal life to get into heaven is a false teacher.” You make trust as something MORE then believe, in fact you have stated that the word “believe” we find in our English bibles is not enough . . . . so you have put yourself in that boat~!
    (John 1:12 recieve is defined by believe not the other way around, 3:16,36; 4:10 drink is a synonym of believe see 6:28-29,35,47; 7:38; 8:24; 11:25-26; 20:31; 12:36,44-50; 16:9 ;17:20; 20:29; 30:31)

    alvin

  164. alvin says:

    Correction on John 30:31 it should have read 20:31:)

  165. Jim Reitman says:

    Alvin, you put me in a boat of your own making because you have refused to deal with what I really said on Antonio’s 600-comment thread. We are still speaking a different language and will never get anywhere until we find a way to do that.

    But that’s not what YOU brought up this time, is it? Should I assume that neither of you is really willing to deal biblically with the issue of a person’s testimony?

  166. FedExMOP says:

    Jim,

    It seems to me that those who argue vehemently that the Gospel needs to be so simple a child should be able to understand it, are very ready to dismiss any salvation experience that does not match their own exact definition. I had almost added a post with a link to Kumbaya so we could all hold hands and sing together. Then the accusations of heretic and teacher of false gospel are back. It seems that it is much easier to attack someone else personally than to actually biblically support your own position.

    FedEx,
    President,
    Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

  167. alvin says:

    Jim I just gave you a whole pack of verses to twist, and you know Daniel was calling for complete surrender of ones life for true conversion which is Lordship salvation. So you are being dis-honest in saying he would give the true gospel to someone, he made perfectly clear someone could not just believe Jesus for His gift of life~!

  168. alvin says:

    Good you can sing to your choir your song of confusion:(

  169. Jim, I question your take on Daniel because of his own words, which he reiterated ad nauseum on that thread, to wit:

    “…yet it is one thing to believe that the facts are true, and quite another to surrender one’s life to Christ in the strength of those facts.”

    While I would agree that no one is saved by just believing “facts” about Jesus, it was clear throughout that thread that Daniel was vigorously and brashly advocating a classic LS understanding of what they call “true saving faith”. Since Daniel was obviously explaining His “conversion” in those terms in RETROSPECT, and never gave any indication whatsoever that he had ever understood that eternal life is received by faith alone (except as REDEFINED by LS), then, no, I would never take it for granted, as you did, that such a one is truly born again. Only your “3-D gospel” would allow for such a thing to be taken for granted, since it also allows for a person to be saved by just making some kind of positive volitional response of obedience to “God”, or some kind of experiential encounter with “God”, without even knowing anything about or believing in JESUS. Is that not correct?

    I’ll tell you something that’s not only “unkind”, but downright OFFENSIVE to my sensibilities: when I ask you to simply acknowledge an underlying premise of your biblically bankrupt “3-D Gospel” and your rejection of the evangelistic purpose of John’s Gospel– and your only answer is to disingenuously and evasively suggest that I’m misunderstanding you. But you know that’s not true don’t you?

    And more importantly, you know I KNOW it’s not true, don’t you?

    Do you think I’m supposed to take it kindly when you insult me that way Jim?

  170. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    You said a couple of things here that I want to see you back up. I am not taking a position at this point — trust me, when I do, you’ll know it. But you’ve made some pretty bold assertions without setting forth a shred of evidence. So let’s fix that.

    You make trust as something MORE then believe, in fact you have stated that the word “believe” we find in our English Bibles is not enough…

    Are you quite sure this is a problem? Can you show that the Greek pisteuw maps onto the English believe 100%? Where’s your evidence? If its’ not 100%: How does it map? Where are the differences? Why is “believe” a good translation?
    Can you show that the Greek pisteuw does not map onto the English trust? Why not? What’s the misconception engendered by rendering it “trust” instead of “believe”?

    You’re talking with people who will understand valid answers to these questions, so let’s have it. Whaddaya got?

    John 1:12 receive is defined by believe not the other way around…

    That’s a pretty sweet deal you’ve got going there, you getting to pick which word defines which. Is there a special chair that you sit in to make the authoritative pronouncement, or a special set of glasses you wear when you read the verse? Miraculous 8 ball, maybe?

    In other words: prove it. What will you do if I say “No, Alvin, in fact ‘believe’ is defined by ‘receive’ — and since this is the most specified use of the word in the prologue of the book, it in fact defines how the word is used throughout the book.” What then?

    Kindly note, I am not in fact asserting any such thing. I am pointing out that you are acting as if you’ve already shown that your assertion is not totally reversible. You haven’t. Care to ante up?

  171. Haha…Alvin would probably prefer that YOU ante up, Tim…after you’ve consulted with your MIraculous 8 ball, of course. 🙂

  172. Tim Nichols says:

    Gary,

    Maybe you’re right about Alvin’s preferences; I wouldn’t know. But I’m not the one who made those statements. It’s adult conversation, bub — you make the assertion, you get to support it. I know it’s more work than jeering and throwing popcorn, but such is the price of loving one’s brothers.

    He hasn’t got to do all the heavy lifting himself, of course — if you want to help support those assertions, feel free to jump in.

  173. alvin says:

    It’s as simple as this~! I’m convinced that the word “believe” the Sovereign God has allowed in our English Bibles is completely adequate for not being eternally condemned. And if trust is used it is a synonym for believe. A person can know whether they have believed something to be true or false, if trust means something MORE than the word we find in our English Bibles then we are left in doubt because God has not made Himself clear. Three key verses in the Gospel of John are the following:

    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. (John 3:18)

    but that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31)

    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. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:25-27)

    If the word trust means MORE than believe in these verses, God’s words that He has given to the Son for us to know what He demands from us to keep from being eternally condemned is unknown and just as well be this:

    He who &^*#$ in Him is not condemned; but he who does not &^#$ is condemned already, because he has not &^#$ in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

    but that you may &^*#$ that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that &^#$ you may have life in His name. (John 20:31)

    Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who &^#$ in Me, though he may die, he shall live. “And whoever lives and &^#$ in Me shall never die. Do you &^#$ this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I %^#$ that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:25-27)

    My support is the Bible in all our hands, and the burden of proof is REALLY on Jim who made the statement that the English word believe we find in all our Bibles is in-adequate~!

  174. That’s exactly right, Alvin, the burden of proof is not on us to prove the translators got it right, but on anyone who claims they got it wrong. In over 40 years I’ve never found anyone who could even come close to proving it–certainly not Jim.

  175. But rather than allow Tim to distract us down another rabbit trail, I prefer to give Jim center-stage now–so he can respond to my last comment. We’ve all been waiting a long time, Jim—time to man-up and fully own your “3-D gospel” for what it truly is. As I said earlier, only then can everyone fairly evaluate it with their eyes wide-open.

  176. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin,

    That’s your argument? Whew. I’m sure glad nobody argued that God surely wouldn’t have let Jerome screw up his translation into the language of the people, back in the day. He’s the one that translated “repent” as “do penance”….
    Not to mention that for ages, there was no English translation of those verses, let alone a bad one. God let that happen….

    But let it pass for the moment, and suppose you’re right. The ordinary, everyday meaning of the English word “believe” is sufficient as a translation — that’s what you’re saying, right?

  177. That is, my “last comment” to Jim–9:19 pm.

  178. alvin says:

    I just wanted to be able ta tell my friends I’d played cards with Wildcard Timmy Knuckleshead an Dr. Jimbo:)

  179. Jim Reitman says:

    Gary,

    I am willing, but this has turned into a dog fight with a few people on both sides beginning to shout “sic ’em, boy.” If we can agree on some rules of engagement, I’ll be happy to respond.

    However, the “lack of response” goes two ways, Gary.
    (1) Neither you nor Alvin have responded to the point I made a couple years ago about the apparent dual use of the Greek word for “believe” in John 2:23-25, IF we follow your and Alvin’s reasoning on what the word means. I do not believe it is being used in two different ways; rather, that is the implication of your position. Tim resurrected that same challenge with the same passage in this thread without ever having been involved in the original discussions on Antonio’s or Rose’s blogs. Yet neither of you have ever engaged the challenge biblically. This is not a diversion from Gospel in 3D or “disingenuous”; it is in the center of the bulls-eye.
    (2) When I raised the point about “testimony” in response to Alvin’s bringing up Daniel, I cited 1 Jn 5:11-12, a passage that relates directly to “testimony” in context, yet neither of you have responded by dealing with passages that deal with testimony. That’s a diversion.
    (3) You again impugn my motives, yet we’ve never been able to establish ground rules for discussion, so you simply accuse me of evasion, just like LM. I can’t engage in discussion with you when you think the worst of me and my motives. I’ve been trying to see the best of what you guys bring to the table, but the moment we try to peel the layers off the onion, out come the brass knuckles.

  180. No, Jim, the truth is, you and Tim have become the new “LM’s”–and all the while trying to maintain the guise of being “friends” to the GES and to the FG movement as a whole. Shame on both of you–not so much for your theology as your obvious reluctance to be completely transparent.

    I’ve already been down this trail with you regarding “believe” vs “trust” on the aforementioned 600-comment thread on ADR’s blog. I’m not going down it again with either you or Tim–especially when it’s just another diversion from the question I’ve asked you–the one you keep refusing to answer.

    I keep hearing a lot of empty talk about “loving your brothers” from you and Tim. You can start by answering the question about the underlying premise of your “3-D gospel” I asked several days ago… rather than arrogantly expecting your “brothers” to follow you blindfolded by the nose into that unintelligible mess you’ve created.

    Don’t expect me to ever again engage you on any other issue but the one you are so desperately trying to avoid plainly acknowledging.

  181. P.S.–At least LM made it unequivocally clear who his theological “friends” were, and who his theological “enemies” were. In that one regard, he deserves much more credit for honesty than either you or Tim.

  182. alvin says:

    Ugly said . . . . . . getty-up Ruthy . . .

  183. alvin says:

    I’m expecting when I get to heaven to have to go and sit in the corner . . . . . whereas I believe Diane will be next to the Lord:)

    But, I don’t want to be leaving anyone in the doubt of what Jim has pointed out in John 2:23,24. I believe that the ones in John 2:23 that believed were born again which is consistant with the use in the rest of John. I believe that Jesus did not entrust Himself to them because they did not confess Him, and were secret disciples as Nicodemus was who came to Jesus by night (when ever it speaks there after of Nic he was the one who came by night undercover), and the other Pharisees who believed but did not confess Him in John 12:42,43. (see also John 19:38,39).
    Jim, is undermining the only condition we have in the only book in the bible that the unbeliever must do to have life in Jesus name. We will see who was attacking God’s word when we get there, and who was not . . . . . and it could be very soon:)

  184. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin, Alvin, Alvin. When will you listen? None of us disagree with your take on John 2:23-24. We all say exactly the same thing — those people were saved, as per John’s use of the word throughout the book.

    Did you think anybody here disagreed with that? You haven’t been listening, bub. You know that old saw about the reason God gave you two ears, but only one mouth? Take it to heart.

  185. Jim Reitman says:

    Alvin,

    On the heaven scenario, fair enough.

    But on the text, that’s what I’m talking about! When it comes to the text we agree more than we disagree. I completely agree with your take on believers there. I would just expand to include not only not confessing, but also not taking care of the sheep. Jesus was headed back to the Father and was going to entrust his sheep to good under-shepherds, and that explains the campfire scene with Peter in John 21. We also agree on that—you made that point earlier, on either this thread or the last one.

  186. Michele says:

    Good morning!

    There is a certain someone whose name itself reminds us perhaps of things too shameful to even speak (Eph. 5:12). None of you are like him, and if you don’t know one another yet, I do!

    Bold confidence comes from where? I believe from the Word. So that means there is supreme confidence, with a catch — if we have heard and considered all scripture has to say. Abraham reasoned when he went to the south, saying, “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place.” And because he assumed that God was not there, he burdened Sarah to pick the LESSER TRUTH about her relation to him (she was truly his sister and his wife).

    Both times though, God upheld the king of the land to righteously oppose Abraham till the GREATER TRUTH came out about Sarah. While Abraham was thinking that Abimelech wasn’t a believer, God came and privately discussed the matter with this pagan king, to withhold him from sinning.

    If God can use an un-believing king to rebuke Abraham, then God can use whoever he wants to point out some facet of the truth to us who follow Him. If I think I am the defender of the truth (and oftentimes I do), I must be sure there is only one Person who is working to reveal it, and He will succeed, even if I should somehow not comply.

    I know each one of you love the truth….
    Michele

  187. alvin says:

    Tim, here is what I think your not getting at all. God’s heart is one that loves to gather the chicks like a mother hen unto herself . . . . . you don’t get that~! During Christmas my wife makes goodies for all the families around us. But, she said this, I would much rather have the children answer the door than the adults . . . . .Why you might ask? Because a child is just thinking about the wonder of the gift, and not what they might need to do in return . . . . . and that is how God gives His gift of life to childlike faith that just simply believes Him for it . . . . .and then comes the yoke with the love of a Father who does most of the pulling . . . . but that is something different and the child is rewarded . . . . . but does it out of love not . . . .Oh I must give up my name before I do it because I’m an honest man and I know that is what the taskmater want’s . . . . . . no no no . . . . . that is completely missing the Fathers heart:(

  188. Tim Nichols says:

    Alvin, when you talk like that about God it makes me think there is hope for you yet.
    When you talk like that about me it makes me wonder if you’ve heard a single thing I said.

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