Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Is Christ's Deity Essential?

What must one know about Jesus to receive eternal life from Him?

I tend to think that these passages indicate that belief Jesus is the Son of God is really important to receiving eternal life from Him, the gift that He offers.


30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 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. (John 20)
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 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)
23 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8)
Free-Gracers, with whom I have a lot in common, indicate that one doesn't have to know about Christ's deity to have saving faith. They say as long as you are believing in the Jesus that walked the earth and who is written about in the Bible, you can receive His gift. Actually, it has been said that as long as you are believing in the Jesus that offers eternal life it is enough - because no other Jesus offers eternal life... The say that when the words "Son of God" appear in the verses above, they are a title and are referring to Jesus' ability to guarantee eternal life. I just can't see that. That reasoning doesn't sit well with me. I think a title such a "Son of God" has some meaning beyond what He can do. I think when "Son of God" is used it means something about "WHO HE IS" not just what He does.

He can guarantee eternal life because He is the eternal being and that is what Martha was saying, was it not? In other words I would think that "Son of God" means "able to guarantee eternal life" because of the nature of the Son of God as revealed in the title.

Say you have a person who is a blank slate - they never heard of Jesus. What is the main thing they need to know about Him to make sure that they don't get Him confused with another person named Jesus?

That is my question. What is your answer?

The article below is relevant and it represents the part of the Free Grace perspective that I am not in agreement with.

How to Lead People to Christ, Part 1.
The article in its entirety is located at the following url:
http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2000ii/Hodges.htm

The article is written by Zane Hodges.

94 Comments:

  • Hey Rose--

    I think there are two issues at play here. On the one hand, I think a deliberate denial of Christ's deity is certainly a problem.

    On the other hand, I do not think explicit knowledge of Christ's deity is a absolute prerequisite for salvation. After all, Abraham, Moses, and all of the OT saints had no knowledge whatsoever of Christ's deity (or existence, for that matter), yet we believe that they were reconciled to God.

    I would agree with you, however, that the term "Son of God" goes beyond simply what Christ can do, but rather is indicative of Christ's intrinsic identity and unity with the deity of the Godhead.

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 6/12/2007 11:59 AM  

  • What did all Abraham see and rejoice in when He saw Christ's day and was glad? (John 8:56)
    Were the OT saints Unitarians?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 6/12/2007 12:19 PM  

  • What did all Abraham see and rejoice in when He saw Christ's day and was glad? (John 8:56)

    I assume that Jesus was speaking of the day when God would dwell amongst God's people, and this was the promise toward which Abraham was looking. I would not suspect that Abraham had any notion of the second person of the Triune God becoming Incarnate in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

    Were the OT saints Unitarians?

    One can only be a unitarian if one is explicitly rejecting a trinitarian (or binitarian, I suppose) conception of God. As Abraham knew only of Yahweh's oneness, I do not imagine that he could have been a unitarian...

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 6/12/2007 4:27 PM  

  • The difficulty is that we do not know all that was revealed to the OT saints, especially in the earlier days before Moses lifted the pen of inspiration. Which sounds horribly like an argument from silence, but it is true. Many have used the "Let us" and "in our" of Genesis 1:26 to show that the One God exists in more than one person. The very name "Elohim" is, of course, plural and Deuteronomy 6:4 affirming the "One God" is a *composite* unity, as opposed to an *absolute* one.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 6/12/2007 4:49 PM  

  • The problem I see with interpreting "Son of God" as something related to his deity or ability to save is that we are called "sons of God".

    And before someone jumps in with the distinction between capital S Son and lowercase s son, please remember that Greek did not distinguish in this way. In fact, many of the manuscripts we have of the NT are written completely in upper case Greek letters.

    By Anonymous Steve Sensenig, at 6/12/2007 8:02 PM  

  • The problem I see with interpreting "Son of God" as something related to his deity or ability to save is that we are called "sons of God".

    And before someone jumps in with the distinction between capital S Son and lowercase s son, please remember that Greek did not distinguish in this way. In fact, many of the manuscripts we have of the NT are written completely in upper case Greek letters


    I don't think it that big of a problem, as the church has from the most ancient of times believed that even as Christ shared in our humanity, so shall we truly be made sons and daughters of God, becoming by grace what Christ is by nature. As St. Athanasius once said, "God became human that humans might become God." It is not that we are made like God in God's eternality, but rather we partake of the divinity of God through grace in our union with God by becoming like Christ.

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 6/12/2007 9:52 PM  

  • e~d,

    That was pretty much my point. If we become sons of God, then we are left with either a sense that we really do become part of the divine nature, or that the term "son of God" (in referring to Jesus or ourselves) does not necessarily mean divine in nature.

    That was why I was responding to Rose the way I did.

    I do find it interesting how you explained away Athanasius' comment, however, by saying what you think that he meant.

    What if he really meant that we become God? That is, after all, what you quoted him as saying.

    By Anonymous Steve Sensenig, at 6/12/2007 9:57 PM  

  • That was pretty much my point. If we become sons of God, then we are left with either a sense that we really do become part of the divine nature, or that the term "son of God" (in referring to Jesus or ourselves) does not necessarily mean divine in nature.

    I apologize that I did not catch the drift of your comment before.

    I do find it interesting how you explained away Athanasius' comment, however, by saying what you think that he meant.

    What if he really meant that we become God? That is, after all, what you quoted him as saying.


    Yes, I did quote him as saying that. However, it is merely a quote--the larger corpus of his writings, and the grander arch of his thought pretty clearly illustrates (at least to me, and most other interpreters of him) that his intention in pushing this point is that of the recapitulatory work of Christ in that as Christ has assumed human nature without the divine or human being dissolved in his person, so too will we be joined to the divine nature without our humanity being dissolved in it. This is why he will say that we become in grace what God is in nature. That is, we do not become God in the sense of God's eternality, but we do partake of the divine nature in an intimate and proper way. Not surprisingly, then, many refer to this mode of thinking as "deification."

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 6/12/2007 11:24 PM  

  • I've been listening to the course, Ancient & Medieval Church History from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. The professor has observed that if various doctrines found in many of the creeds (e.g., Chalcedon, or Nicene) were required, then many Christians would be lost, especially before those concepts were well articulated (and that is the opinion of a conservative theologian who has a detailed theology that he thinks is important).

    In other words, a precise understanding is not required for salvation. What is required? From my point of view, I don't know. It is quite possible that understand Christ's diety may not be required at all. From my perspective, the normal case is that one who is a child of God will not persist in outright rejecting Christ's deity.

    I think exist~dissolve point about the OT saints is an excellent point. But I would not say the OT saints had no idea whatsoever. There knowledge was in shadows and types -- such as the sacrificial system. True, the sacrified lamb does not convey information directly to Christ's diety, but much of the OT contains the imagery that does contain hints of a savior needing to be divine. One image that comes to mind is Abraham's dream of the smoking pot walking between the cut animals, where God implicitly fortells his taking the punishment of our covenant breaking. Here is where I agree with goodnightsafehome where we don't necessarily know what what in the mind of the OT saints and in the minds of the "saved OT masses".

    That said, it would be criminal to leave a newly saved person a state of ignorance of such a wonrderful and important doctrine.

    By Blogger Earl, at 6/12/2007 11:39 PM  

  • Good morning Rose!

    Exist~Dissolve: Another thought on what exactly Abraham knew about God and Christ. If we read Galatians 3:8 alright, God preached the gospel to Abraham. I suggest that He expanded upon the reason why all nations would be blessed in Abraham i.e. He preached Christ unto him.

    *And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.* (Galatians 3:8)

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 6/13/2007 1:59 AM  

  • Good morning, Rose

    "As St. Athanasius once said, "God became human that humans might become God." It is not that we are made like God in God's eternality, but rather we partake of the divinity of God through grace in our union with God by becoming like Christ."

    I think there is much that is positive to be said about the Orthodox idea of Deification or theosis.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/13/2007 3:36 AM  

  • Rose I’m sure you know we agree on this point. In the article you referenced Mr. Hodges states, “John never uses either word [for Gospel] in his gospel. Why? Because, as I have already suggested, John makes the Person of Jesus, not a set of doctrines, the object of the faith that brings eternal life” but immediately intimates that it is not the person of Christ that is object of faith but rather the knowledge of the gift received for accepting the person of Christ. He states, “Fundamentally he is trying to get people to believe in Jesus for their eternal salvation.” I think this is a contradiction.

    With respect to saving faith in both the OT and NT we find justification to be the result of believing God even without, or in spite of the lack of, any understanding. This is how Abraham was justified and it is how we are justified as well. We might argue whether the OT saints possessed the knowledge of Christ and I would say there is evidence that some did and some may not but we do know it was necessary for Jesus to witness to them prior to His ascension. What is clear is that “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him as righteousness” and no stipulation is made concerning what specifically Abraham did and did not believe but only whom he believed. We do not find where Abraham learned or understood how it was that God would accomplish all He had declared. We only find Abraham believed that He would. I find this critical to understanding saving faith. Today we are counted righteous because we believe God in that He has said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him”.

    By Blogger Kc, at 6/13/2007 5:17 AM  

  • Hi Rose!

    I only have time to comment on the original question, I skimmed the meta and am opting to sidestep it for now :^)

    We all agree that Abraham was not saved by good works, but rather he was saved by grace through faith and it was accounted to him for righteousness, and all this before there was a Mosaic law, and certainly before the incarnation.

    Paul used this argument to defeat the idea that you are saved by the law - by showing that Abraham was not made righteous by keeping a law that didn't exist yet, but that God accounted righteousness to him because Abraham trusted that God was going to keep His promise.

    Now it is right in one sense to say that Abraham was saved by his faith - if we are contrasting that against the idea of being saved by works - but on the other hand, and this is critical - we must remember that while faith was the mechanism, God was the cause. That is, Abraham's faith was not self generated, or he would have saved himself.

    The distinction is critical because some confuse faith with brainwashing - imagining that faith is some abstract ability to convince oneself that something is true. The word/faith/prosperity guys push that - you know, the reason we don't have a trillion dollar mansion is because we don't believe God will give us one. Faith is not defined as believing that God will do whatever you want him to do as long as you are convinced that God will do it - it is believing as Abraham did that God will keep his promise.

    I bring the extreme fringe into the discussion only to say that it is a similar misconception about faith that allows one to suggest that ignorance about the deity of Christ is allowable in saving faith.

    When we regard faith as something we generate and bring to God in order for Him to save us, as opposed to something God grants us in order for Him to save us - we make faith something of a commodity - it is no longer God saving us through a faith He Himself has given us, but rather we are the ones who generate the faith that saves us, and when we do God becomes obligated to respond to the trust we have mustered.

    If we imagine that God is obliged to save us because of the faith we ourselves have generated, that is, if it is our faith that is saving us and not God who is saving us - then the consistent conclusion would be that knowledge of God is inconsequential - the gospel is just the tool we use to make people generate the faith that saves them - and if they can believe something it will happen for them, even if the something they believe doesn't include a knowledge of God.

    Postmodernism has taught the church that you don't need to believe God anymore, you just need to believe truth. If you have the right truth, and you believe it, you can be saved by it. They might quibble about what the truth is, but ultimately, since they regard belief as something they themselves apprehend in a vacuum - it is up to them to filter out what truth is, and if they can believe it hard enough they are told they can be saved - as long as it is the right truth. But scripture doesn't say that Abraham believed truth. It says that Abraham believed GOD, and this is what was counted as righteousness to him.

    Sorry about the length, but one last closing thought: The OT saints were saved by grace through faith - but their faith was not in God the son, but in God period. They didn't understand the Trinity with the clarity that we have today, but they did understand that they were being saved by God. But in our age that mystery which was formerly concealed has been unveiled. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, became flesh and dwelt among us - and it is by His name and His alone that anyone comes to the Father - we are saved by God in this age as in the past ages.

    The problem with the standard FG line of reasoning is that, practically speaking, it rests upon the notion that God's role in salvation is all reactionary. They view man as God's debtor since God is obliged to pay wages (give salvation) to to anyone who manages to generate the right kind of faith. Faith in this system is likened to knowing the password into heaven - you show up at the door, say the right password, and God himself opens the door. In this way God is sort of included in the process (he did open the door after all), but his role is subservient, impartial, and entirely reactionary.

    When faith is viewed, as scripture describes it - as a gift from God, and when our salvation is understood to be all of grace, and none of our own ability to believe the right things - then God becomes the one who saves us - and this notion that you can be saved in a vacuum that is free from the knowledge of who is saving you, falls quickly into the realm of the ridiculous.

    That's how I see it anyway.

    My time is quite limited lately, so I may not be back in time to hash that out with all who would poke holes in it, I mention it only to draw attention to the root problem - that the FG understanding of faith puts the onus on the believer to generate the faith by which he is saved, and in doing so lays down the logical framework that eventually concludes that the deity of Christ is no longer essential in receiving eternal life - since in that system God's role is superflous to the main equation - generating your own faith. Once you have convinced yourself of the minimual truth, God is obliged to save you, regardless of whether you know Christ is God or not because in this system, it is a faith that you yourself generate that saves you by obligating God to let you into heaven. Since this system ultimately rests upon producing in God an obligation by a faith we ourselves generate, if the faith can be generated without a specific knowledge of the deity of Christ, God would still be man's debtor and would be obligated to provide heaven to those who show up with the purchase price.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 6/13/2007 7:53 AM  

  • One thing that troubles me with the "what is the absolute minimum" to be saved is that it leaves the impression that formulas are tying to be found for non-Christians to jump through so that we can then declare them saved. Justification by God's grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (three of the solas of the Reformation) is accomplished in the normal case by discipling -- before a person becomes a Christian, while the person becomes a Christian, and thoughout their life. The minimalist approach, without discipleship, risks people being born again as still births -- not really coming to Christ.

    By Blogger Earl, at 6/13/2007 7:56 AM  

  • ... and now that I read Daniel's comment, I say what Daniel said. :-)

    By Blogger Earl, at 6/13/2007 8:02 AM  

  • Exist~Dissolve: Another thought on what exactly Abraham knew about God and Christ. If we read Galatians 3:8 alright, God preached the gospel to Abraham. I suggest that He expanded upon the reason why all nations would be blessed in Abraham i.e. He preached Christ unto him.

    *And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.* (Galatians 3:8)


    The main problem that I see with this is the question of why Abraham did not pass this information to his posterity? If Christ, the eternal Logos of God, was preached to Abraham, why did his descendents charge Jesus with blasphemy by claiming equality with God? If Christ had really been preached to Abraham, and every other OT saint who is saved (which is necessary if your thesis is to pan out), it is difficult to understand how this gospel was not known to the rest of the Jewish people. Did the few to whom the gospel was preached before Christ's incarnation simply not tell others? Obviously, this question has to be answered, and there are no good alternatives as I see it.

    Therefore, when I read the writer of Galatians saying what you have quoted, I see that as a bit of an anachronism, but in a theologically directed sense. That is, as the writer is highlighting the trans-historical efficacy of Christ's incarnation, so too does the writer speak as if Christ's incarnation is of a reality that pervades the whole of human history.

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 6/13/2007 8:16 AM  

  • Exist ~ Dissolve: I would have thought that it was very simple why Abraham's descendants charged Jesus with blasphemy by claiming equality with God. It was because they rejected His claims to be the Messiah, even though the Scriptures testified to Him and miracles accompanied His claims. They did not believe Moses' words, and therefore they would not believe His. There are doubtless many things which were revealed to individuals which did not make it into the canon of Scripture. Daniel was told to seal the books, Paul heard things which he was not to utter. I can't agree with you that the gospel was not known to the rest of the Jewish people. It is somewhat alarming to think of people being saved without the gospel.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 6/13/2007 9:22 AM  

  • Hi Rose,
    Good post (I have not taken time to read any of the comments here). One who is a JW with a limited view of Christ and Mormons with a sort of Hindu view of Christ would both be possessors of eternal life. Yet the former thinks eternal life in Jesus is on earth and those without Jesus are annihilated. The Latter feel eternal life is to become a god.

    That's why we have the Bible! It tells us who Jesus Christ is and defines eternal life for us.

    In my own ramblin' thoughts.

    John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 6/13/2007 10:00 AM  

  • John, neither JWs not Mormons believe that they posess eternal life; they believe that they may lose whatever life they have.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/13/2007 10:12 AM  

  • Hi John,

    I don't think I have interacted with you before. I always enjoy interacting with Rose.

    The JW (unless he is one of the 144,000)does not even claim the new birth, believes that the body of Christ is still in some Palestinian tomb and that salvation is to be had through the Organisation, to which he has to sell his soul and ability to think. Both he and the Mormon, I would say, believe in the one whom the Bible speaks of as "another Jesus." Just because they might use the right phraseology (eternal life) and the name of Jesus doesn't make them Christians.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 6/13/2007 10:44 AM  

  • Goodnight, when John F MacArthur denied the eternal sonship of Christ, was he believing in 'a different Jesus'?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/13/2007 11:00 AM  

  • Although I disagreed with McArthur on this, yet I would say that he was not. He did not deny Christ, but denied a certain teaching about him (which he later corrected) Does a man who believes that Christ died for the sins of Judas Iscariot (or any reprobate)believe in "another Jesus" for the NT Jesus (in my view)atoned only for the sins of His elect? Or vice versa if you believe in Non Particular Redemption. Does only one out of three professing Christians, each holding to the main three prophetic schools (A-Post and Pre Mill) believe in the true Jesus, while the other two don't? IOW, there are fundamental doctrines that canot be denied and secondary doctrines (although important) that are not fatal to the soul if denied. A JW and a Mormon both deny the Trinity and cannot be considered as true Christians.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 6/13/2007 11:07 AM  

  • Goodnight, exactly how many mistakes about the person of Christ does one need to make before one believes in a 'different Jesus?'

    Supposing I was illiterate and had never read the New Testament.

    An anti-semite leads me to believe that our Lord was a Gentile. Do I believe in a different Jesus?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/13/2007 11:10 AM  

  • IOW, where do you draw the line in the sand? Anywhere?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 6/13/2007 11:15 AM  

  • If one believes in the Jesus of Nazareth who lived in the first century, you believe in the real Jesus regardless of any misconceptions you hold. The idea of a 'different jesus' is ontologically unhelpful.

    That does not mean that Mormons and JWs are saved. They are not, because they believe in a false gospel of works.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/13/2007 11:20 AM  

  • So I can believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the archangel Michael before He became known as the Son of God (JW belief) was a mere man although of a higher sort of created being (Arian)a spirit brother of Satan (Mormon) died only as a good example of patience and longsuffering (Unitarianism) deny that He was/is God (many cults) that He did not physically rise from the dead but only in some vague spiritual sense (JW's again) - one mere prophet among many and inferior to Muhammed (Islam) one god among millions more(Hindus)- one mediator effectively manipulated by Mary his mother and any other saint? Who was this "other Jesus" Paul warned of? Why was he such a big danger to the people of God?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 6/13/2007 11:31 AM  

  • So I can believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the archangel Michael before He became known as the Son of God (JW belief) was a mere man although of a higher sort of created being (Arian)a spirit brother of Satan (Mormon) died only as a good example of patience and longsuffering (Unitarianism) deny that He was/is God (many cults) that He did not physically rise from the dead but only in some vague spiritual sense (JW's again) - one mere prophet among many and inferior to Muhammed (Islam) one god among millions more(Hindus)- one mediator effectively manipulated by Mary his mother and any other saint? Who was this "other Jesus" Paul warned of? Why was he such a big danger to the people of God?

    The "different Jesus" that Paul was talking about, in keeping with his normal anti-Judaizeric polemics, is the Jesus that the Judaizers were manufacturing in order to preserve and perpetuate the hegemony of Jewish identity and cultic allegience. In other words, Paul is attempting to head-off the fabricated conceptions of Christ and his mission by which the Jews were attempting to draw back into their circles those who had left to follow Paul's gospel and by which they were attempting to more fully entrench the notion of salvation and justification with God by participation with the Jewish cultural identity and cultus of worship.

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 6/13/2007 12:00 PM  

  • Paul, of course, rejects their notions that justification with God comes through (and ever came through, e.g., his conjuring of Abraham) participation within the Jewish national/political/cultural/religious identity, arguing to the contrary that justification with God comes through faith alone. To Paul, Christ is to be understood as the unique means by which the salvation of God is made manifest in human history, while concomitantly transcending the narrow parameters of phenomenological history in which his incarnation occurs. So then, Paul has no problem saying that Abraham is justified by faith through Christ, even though Abraham had no knowledge of Christ. Because the benefits of Christ's incarnation are efficacious across history, both retroactively and progressively, there is a real sense in which, to Paul, Abraham can be spoken of as having faith in Christ, even though Christ was not an object of Abraham's epistemological methodology.

    By Blogger Exist~Dissolve, at 6/13/2007 12:04 PM  

  • But what does it matter? In the long run? If I confess that I am looking to this Jesus in particular as my only purveyor of eternal life, then what does it *really* matter if I see Him (sorry *him*) as a lesser god, a mere man, although intensely noble and still think of his dust blowing about in the cool breeze of a Palestinian tomb?

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 6/13/2007 12:09 PM  

  • Rose,

    Did you ever answer the question here? This is from a comment I made on UOG when posted your very same objections that you do here.

    If I was preaching to a JW, teaching to him out of the gospel of John, and I showed him that Jesus promises, guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it, and the JW believes the promise of eterna life given by Jesus that I have showed him in the gospel of John, when this man stands before Jesus, is Jesus going to say:

    "You entrusted your eternal destiny and well-being to me when you believed my promise to guarantee for you eternal life, when you believed in Me. But since you didn't add to this requirement belief that I am God then I must throw you in hell"


    It is precisely the good news of eternal life through faith in Jesus that saves. This man has believed Jesus' promise to guarantee for him eternal life! This man has entrusted his eternal well-being to Christ, but you would have him end up in the lake of fire for a lack of passing your doctrinal statement on the ontology of Christ.

    Jesus is God, and had to be God in order to have an eternal sacrifice. This is true, and I would never place aspersions on this fact.

    Yet one does not need know how a gift is provided in order to receive it as an absolutely free gift!

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

    Let me make a comparison.

    I say to you "If you would reach out your hands you will receive a hundred dollar bill"

    Do you need to know how I earned that hundred dollar bill in order to receive it free?

    Do you need to know that I am a forklift driver at Costco, which enabled me to earn the $100, AS A REQUIREMENT IN ADDITION to reaching out your hands in order to receive the money as a free gift?

    Of course not.

    Jesus is God, Jesus died and rose again, and He is innumerably other things as well.

    He doesn't ask you to believe He is God. He asks you to believe that He guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

    If my 4 posts and comments haven't clarified my position, then I believe that people are stubbornly leaving them unconsidered.

    Rose writes:
    ----------
    Would you go on a streetcorner and tell passers by: "Hear! Hear! You don't need to believe that Jesus is the Son of God ... or that He rose from the dead - just believe on Him for eternal life"? If that is what you were advocating in your articles, then I would think you are very very wrong and would separate from you. I don't think that is what you are saying, though. Can you clarify that?
    ----------

    Like Paul, I try to tailor my presentation of Christ to the hearers. I am not afraid to preach the diety of Christ. I preach it. I am not shy to speak of Christ passion and resurrection, I HERALD it.

    Yet, I will not get into debates concerning things peripheral to the reception of eternal life.

    If a JW hears me speak of Christ's deity and asks me about it, I will say, "Let us agree to disagree about this subject." I will discuss with him Jesus' ability to impart eternal life by faith alone apart from works. This is where I want to zero in with the JW or the Mormon. They believe that salvation comes by faith AND works, and LOTS of works (not unsimilar to the Traditionalist religion).

    At the moment that a JW or a Mormon is convinced that Jesus Christ has given to them unrevokable eternal life when they believed on Him for it, I would consider such a one saved, REGARDLESS of their varied misconcetions and beliefs about Jesus.

    ROSE:

    Both the Mormons and the JWs will say that Jesus IS "the son of God". Yet they will provide some other import other than monotheistic deity into it.

    For John, the "Son of God" and "the Christ" have the import "the one who promises (guarantees) eternal life to the believer in Him for it".

    I would never say you don't have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. This has the import of the gospel proposition which makes it salvific!

    If someone asks me point blank, do I beleive that one must believe that Jesus is God in order to go to heaven, I would say "NO!"

    How many requirements are there, Rose? How many points of doctrine need to be believed to be saved?

    by the time you add them up, it is not just faith alone in Christ alone, but

    1)belief in the deity of Christ
    2)belief in the substitutional atonement
    3)belief in the bodily resurrection
    4)AND belief into Christ in His promise to guarantee eternal life apart from works

    here there are 4 requirements! To this many would add more!

    I tell you this. Number 4 is sufficient!

    Not that I don't preach the others! But when it comes to the PUNCH, the irreducible minimum, I am content to say that Jesus guarantees eternal life to the believer in Him for it, PERIOD.

    The intention and purpose of evangelism is to get the prospective convert to the point where he is convinced that Jesus Christ has guaranteed his eternal destiny, his eternal well-being.

    Anything we do in evangelism, anything that we say to the hearer of our gospel presentations MUST point to the sufficiency of faith in Christ's promise to save eternally.

    We don't bust out with an orthodox creedal checklist and ask that the hearer initial at each doctrinal point in order to be saved.

    The use and purpose of the gospel message is to CONVINCE the hearer that Jesus guarantees eternal life. NOT as a checklist for assurance of salvation or as the requirements for eternal life!

    John wrote his gospel to convince the readers of the sufficiency of faith in Christ to save eternally, not as a belief-system checklist, that once adhered to, will impart eternal life.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/13/2007 12:25 PM  

  • There is a point of irreducible simplicity. That point is:

    Believing into Jesus Christ by taking Him at His word in His promise in scriptures such as John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35-40; 6:47; 11:25-26.

    Notice that these scriptures speak of Christ's absolute sufficiency, authority, readiness, willingness and desire to impart the free gift of eternal security to the one who believes Him.

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

    There is no talk here about His death or resurrection, no talk about His deity.

    It is talk about entrusting one's eternal well-being to Him. If you do that, regardless of the blindspots in your theology, you are eternally saved.

    I have another question (in addition to the one I asked in the previous post.

    Catholics believe that Jesus is God, that He died on the cross for the sins of the world (which would include every single person) and that He rose again bodily from the dead.

    Why aren't they saved?

    Is it that they are ommitting one thing from the doctrinal checklist you all have your potential converts initial before considering them saved?

    It is Christ's deity and death and resurrection which gives Him the authority to dispense eternal life to all whom He desires (namely those who trust in Him for it).

    Does Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and Antonio da Rosa preach the deity of Christ, the death and resurrection of Jesus, each and every single time they present Christ as the sufficient and authoratative Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it?

    Emphatic yes.

    But why do we?

    The same reason that the apostle John did. He wanted to show that Jesus Christ had the ability and authority to give eternal life to all who believed in Him. John wanted to present Christ in such a way as to provoke one to trust Christ for eternal life, to persuade one to faith into Christ.

    What John wrote in His gospel explains

    WHY

    someone should entrust their eternal destiny to Jesus Christ.

    It is the book of 7 signs, or miracles. John wrote the miracles and information about Jesus that men and women would trust Him for eternal life!

    Why can Jesus be trusted for one's eternal destiny? Precisely because He is God and died on the cross for each sin of every person, from the day of their birth to the day of their death, and He rose again from the dead, never to die, able to give eternal life to all who merely believe in the sufficiency of His name.

    The deity, death and resurrection of Christ applies to our eternal salvation in the sense of that it authorized and paid for the gift Jesus gives freely to those who take Him at His word in His promise.

    But the deity, death, and resurrection of Christ has direct application to one's sanctification. See Romans 6. Unless one believes this information and acts upon it, he will be stunted in his Christian walk and growth.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/13/2007 12:57 PM  

  • Antonio,
    First, let me assure you I read both of those long comments carefully.

    Can I repeat for clarity the question on this post:

    Say you have a person who is a blank slate - they never heard of Jesus. What is the main thing they need to know about Him to make sure that they don't get Him confused with another person named Jesus?

    I am really wondering. This post was sparked by a private conversation between Matthew and myself and is not meant to be a slam in any way. I actually started asking myself the question ... and thought I would see what others would say.

    So what do you say, brother?

    Answer it straightforwardly and I will answer your questions to me as well.

    Love ya, Antonio! (You know I do.)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/13/2007 3:28 PM  

  • Can you others please do likewise - answer the question bolded in the above comment (it is in red in the main post). Just answer it simply and straightforwardly, please.

    Thank you.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/13/2007 3:29 PM  

  • Rose my answer is that a person must believe the testimony of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This is the foundation, the rock, upon which Christ said He would build His Church.

    By Blogger Kc, at 6/13/2007 4:39 PM  

  • Rose,

    In any instance of communication, a single unique reference is sufficient to delimit identification.

    I don't think that you will get a straightforward answer from anyone on the opposing side.

    I have never met you, Rose, although we have talked on the phone, emailed each other, and discoursed on blogs.

    If, when I was talking to Matthew, I referenced Rose, of the Rose's Reasonings blog found at http://Rosesreasonings.blogspot.com, who is paralyzed from the waste down,

    Would I necessarily be talking about a different Rose?

    Why?

    I made a UNIQUE reference to you, in that the Rose I am refering to has a blog called Rose's Reasonings at the very site of http://rosesreasonings.blogspot.com.

    The fact that I refered to you as being paralyzed from the waste down was nothing more than a misconception or untrue belief I HAVE ABOUT YOU, not some spurious, fake, or imaginary Rose.

    If one unique reference is all that it takes to limit that reference to a specific person, why is it that we say that Mormons refer to a wholly "different Jesus" when they make reference to Him in 20 unique and distinct areas of agreement with evangelicals?

    We all have or had misunderstandings and misconceptions about Jesus. How many misconceptions about Jesus does it take to make him another Jesus? Can a simple misunderstanding preclude me from refering to the historical Jesus Christ? What if all I had was the gospel of John and I was misinformed and believed that Jesus Christ was born in Jerusalem, not Bethlehem. Yet I have read the gospel of John and make reference to Him from there. Am I necessarily referring to a "different" Jesus because of this misconception?

    Communication would become impossible if we required absolute precision when making reference to people. We all have misconceptions (IOW FALSE BELIEFS) about everyone, including our spouses, parents, and siblings. When we make reference to these people, are we conjuring up an imaginary "different" relative, because no one in the world fits the 100% description and conception we have of the referent?

    Everyone here should realize that such a thing is absurd.

    All that it takes is ONE unique reference to delimit identification of a specific person.

    I will asnwer your question Rose now:

    As the irreducible minimum to identify Jesus Christ for salvific purposes:

    The name : Jesus

    But there are many people named Jesus, I must make the reference unique. Let me continue:

    His unique ability: Jesus is the Guarantor of eternal life to everyone who believes in Him for it.

    No one in the universe can fit this reference, other than the historical Jesus Christ of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, born of the Holy Spirit and Mary, crucified on a Roman Cross, and resurrected from the dead.

    I could delimit Christ in other ways, that he was risen from the dead after being put to death on a Roman cross. No person in the universe can fit this unique description.

    BUT THIS INFORMATION IS NOT SALVIFIC. For our purposes in evangelism, the irreducible minimum which delimits reference to the historical Jesus, which is indeed salvific, is that JESUS dispenses irrevocable and eternally secure eternal life. This information is sufficient to delimit our referencing to the bona-fide Jesus Christ (in whom we all have misconceptions about).

    No one here will be able to give a good answer to you, who does not come from an FG perspective. Let me tell you why. If they list 10 strong and rock-solid references to the Lord Jesus Christ, all it would take, for them anyway, to speak of another Jesus, is to include a blatantly (to them) erroneous belief.

    Lets say you asked this question to the normal Traditionalist. He could say, "If you delimit Jesus Christ by these things, you will make sure that you aren't discussing someone else" :

    1) virgin birth
    2) hypostatic union
    3) death for sins
    4) resurrection from the dead
    5) name: Jesus
    6) mother: Mary
    7) had apostles named Peter, John, and James
    8) Died on a cross
    9) was a carpenter
    10) Performance of great miracles such as raising people who were physically dead
    11) He is God

    But lets say that I beleive all these things about Jesus Christ, but I say that he was the spirit brother of Lucifer who was made God by another God.

    Well, the whole thing goes to pot and I am now believing in a different Jesus, even though I agree to the list of these 11 rock solid references!

    The whole idea becomes a slippery slope. How can ANYONE be sure that they are believing in the REAL Jesus (as opposed to these imaginary figments being brought to life by heretics) when one really can't know if all what they believe about Jesus is in fact true in reality?

    Where does one draw the line? There can be no logical difference between a major or minor misconception, nor any OBJECTIVE means by which to discern which category to put them in. Any misconception is a blatant erroneous belief, no matter how sincere it is.

    Rose, if I came up with 11 unique references to you (that could be true of no one in the universe but you) but then referred to you as an astronaut rather than a visual arts person at your church (maybe THAT isn't even what you are!), am I referring to a DIFFERENT Rose?

    To insist on the application of an orthodox doctrinal checklist for eternal life is superfluous, erroneous, and damaging to assurance. Am I to look at my doctrine for assurance or am I to look to Christ through His promise of eternal life for assurance?

    Furthermore,

    with each of those 11 rock solid references to Jesus Christ comes an explanation of each. Not only must I assent to the references and doctrines contained in that list, I must assent to them in the way the creeds such as the Westminster Confession or others defines them. The slippery slope keeps getting more slippery by the moment!

    In reality (let's try to stay here!) there is only one Jesus Christ who can truly impart eternal life to the believer in Him for it. Simple trust in Him to do so will bring eternal life.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/13/2007 5:26 PM  

  • Rose's question:
    "Say you have a person who is a blank slate - they never heard of Jesus. What is the main thing they need to know about Him to make sure that they don't get Him confused with another person named Jesus?"

    That He is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

    I know off the subject somewhat but, by why do we say that all, some, most, Catholics are not saved?
    If they believe Jesus is the Christ the Son of God why would they not be saved?

    I think they may have a bunch of ignorant motivated works due to generations of bad doctrines that will burn at the Judgement seat of Christ.

    But where is the conclusive evidence in scripture that anyone who believes in God's testimony concerning His Son Jesus Christ for everlasting life does not have everlasting life?

    A person may not ever come to realize the freedom they have in Christ but does that make God unfaithful to keep His promise?

    I am just wondering if maybe a slippery slope has more than one side?

    By Blogger Kris, at 6/13/2007 7:56 PM  

  • Antonio,

    I have never, to my recollection, interacted with you. And quite honestly, sometimes I have trouble following your lengthy comments! ;)

    However, I have to say that your most recent comment here was, in my very humble opinion, quite brilliant.

    You have articulated what has bothered me for a very long time about this "different Jesus" stuff that gets thrown out so quickly. I just couldn't put my finger on it. But you have.

    Thank you!

    And I also must say that for a few seconds there, I was stunned to find out that Rose was paralyzed from the waist down!! Until I kept reading and saw your point!

    Of course, you said "from the waste down", so maybe you were referring to something else... ;)

    By Anonymous Steve Sensenig, at 6/13/2007 11:59 PM  

  • Goodnight, after Antonio's comments I have very little left to say.

    Might I suggest that the 'different Jesus' comment of the apostle should be taken at face value?

    Perhaps Paul is not just referring to misconceptions or false teaching about our Lord but is actually referring to claims of another messiah, a different person?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/14/2007 4:16 AM  

  • Rose~, don't you think comment threads are so much more fun when Antonio joins in?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/14/2007 4:18 AM  

  • I think Antonio rightly highlights this truth - that all that is needed to identify an individual is some qualifying statement that is true of only that individual and no one else.

    In the days when Christ was walking the earth, there were Jews who saw Christ's miracles but didn't understand that Jesus was the Messiah, and they didn't understand that God's Messiah would be God incarnate. They had a lot of correct information about the historical person of Jesus, and whether they believed Christ to be the Messiah or not, they were certainly speaking of the person of Jesus whom we call Christ. But it wasn't what they knew Jesus that matters, it is what they did not know - they did not know that He was the Messiah, and they did not know that He was God.

    I don't buy the whole "different Jesus" thing in the literal sense that some might press that into, I suspect however that most people who say "different Jesus" are referencing what Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 11:4, "For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough." [ESV] -- meaning, as I understand it, not that they are preaching that there were two men named Jesus and they are preaching about the wrong one - but rather that they are painting an incorrect picture of Christ to people.

    If we tell people that Jesus didn't have an earthly father, that he was not conceived in an act of copulation, but rather Mary bore a child, Jesus, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit - the Son not of man, but of God, and that this same Jesus grew in grace, never once disobeying God, but living sinlessly and rightly in the sight of both men and God - and that at a time chosen by God this same Jesus entered the Jordan river and was anointed there by the Holy Spirit as John was baptizing Him - to testify to John and the world that this was God's promised Messiah - the one who would save His people from their sin. If we describe this same Jesus as immediately embarking on a ministry wherein he told men (as we read in mark 1:15), ""The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."" and if we explain that this same Jesus after He had fully preached that men should repent and believe the gospel, gave up His own innocent life, surrendering Himself up to God that He might bear the sins of all who come to Him for the purpose of salvation from their sin, and in this way made atonement for mankind - reconciling us back to God so that God could be both just and the one who justifies - if we preach that Jesus we have done well and right - but if we were to twist this description of Jesus ever so slightly by saying perhaps that he went to the cross in order to provide a way by which men can save themselves through good works - we have voided the gospel, and all the correct facts we may possess will not amount to a hill of beans on judgment day - because we didn't believe the genuine gospel, but fell for a counterfeit one that although based upon the one and only historical Jesus - could be said to have been based upon "another" - in the sense that whenever Jesus is described in such a way as to produce a false (non-salvific) gospel, one could say, as Paul said, that one is preaching another Jesus.

    There is room in our vocabulary therefore, just as there was in Paul's to use the phrase "another Jesus" so long as we use it like Paul used it - to describe a false teaching about Christ that leads to a false Gospel that cannot save. In that sense we are are following Paul's precedence in saying that the JWs and the Mormons, and the even many Catholics follow a false Christ, a "different Jesus".

    -- They are certainly referring to the same Jesus as everyone else - obviously - but by blurring, confusing, or outright fabricating facts about Christ, such that they produce a gospel that no longer can save men - these have painted upon the face of the real Jesus, another face - a face with the same name, but who is not the same as Jesus.

    That isn't to suggest that a person must have a precise description of the historical Jesus in order to be saved - but it is to say that a person must have a right understanding of the gospel to be saved, and if the picture they have of Jesus results in a gospel that isn't saving - they have the wrong Jesus.

    I think that is what most people mean when they talk about a different Jesus.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 6/14/2007 10:52 AM  

  • Antonio,
    Wow, thank you for your long comment. Antonio, I also do not see the idea of "another Jesus" as very helpful. Actually, you helped me to see that it was not good, at some time - in the past - I can't remember where or when. So, if you were trying to convince me of the faultiness of the way we use that phrase, it was not all a waste of time - because you helped Steve see it too. :~) I totally follow your reasoning in regards to that.

    I am just having trouble with the idea that someone can believe and trust their eternal destiny to someone that they don't understand is eternal. As Matthew and I have discussed this, I have come to see, I think, that, in my view, it is a logical necessity for one to see Him as the eternal being in order to receive an eternal gift from Him. I think that is the beauty of the exchange between Himself and Martha. He asks her if she belieevs if He is the ressurrection and the Life ... she answers yes, He is the Christ, the Son of God. Those two things seem to be mutually inclusive.

    I do appreciate your zeal about this and your helpfulness in dispelling the "another Jesus" tereminology that I have used with my Catholic family in the past. I think saying "another Jesus" to them was quite bad comunication.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/14/2007 12:15 PM  

  • Yes, Matthew, Antonio makes it such fun! Indeed! We should get him to use IM.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/14/2007 12:15 PM  

  • Then you can both try to clear up my thinking at once.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/14/2007 12:16 PM  

  • Hi Daniel,
    So what is the one qualifying statement that is true of Jesus and no one else, in your view? IOW, can you answer this question for me:

    Say you have a person who is a blank slate - they never heard of Jesus. What is the main thing they need to know about Him to make sure that they don't get Him confused with another person named Jesus?

    Thanks for participating.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/14/2007 12:18 PM  

  • Steve,
    I am glad I am not paralyzed from the waist down or the waste down.
    Thanks for visiting!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/14/2007 12:19 PM  

  • It is interesting, though - Matthew and I were discussing this and he brought up the idea that some people, in diverse cultures might not get the idea of Jesus' deity. They might wrongly think of Him as a great sorcereer or something off like that when we try to tell them that He is the Lord God.

    Could they not be saved if they believed that He could protect them from death for eternity? This is the question/scenario that troubles me the most.

    Sure, Daniel, it is easy to say that faith is a gift and that if God grants it that person, he will see it - that there is one God and Jesus is He - but in practical terms, when speaking of missionary work - even think of short-term missionary work - how does this work out? What if the person has some grave misconceptions - do we just figure "well, I don't have weeks to re-teach this person, which is what it would take to dispell their notions, so they must not be getting the gift of faith and must not be elect" (just kiddin, sort of)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/14/2007 12:29 PM  

  • Hi Rose. You probably are already aware that not everyone in FG is on the same page on the deity issue. Many Free Gracers, including myself, believe that it is highly unlikely that anyone would believe in Jesus for eternal life without understanding His deity. Many FGers believe that understanding His deity is absolutely necessary.

    I have heard of two cases where people said they believed in Jesus for eternal life before they understood He was God. If so, they are saved, but how many people actually fall into this category? I'm guessing not very many. I can't understand how anyone would believe in Jesus for eternal life without believing that He is Divine. How can anyone believe in a non-divine person for eternal life? Beats me - but thankfully, I don't think this is a common occurrence.

    Rose, you nailed it perfectly with this statement:

    "He can guarantee eternal life because He is the eternal being and that is what Martha was saying, was it not? In other words I would think that 'Son of God' means 'able to guarantee eternal life' because of the nature of the Son of God as revealed in the title."

    Absolutely correct! Reading through texts like John 11:25-27 and 20:31 make it obvious that believing He is the Son of God is believing that He gives you eternal life because of Who He is - the Son of God.

    Of course, no Free Gracer would consciously leave out the deity part in a gospel presentation. The whole debate centers on an issue that really shouldn't be a problem.

    Here is Free Gracer Gregory Sapaugh's response to Hodges' articles.

    http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2001ii/sapaugh.html

    By Anonymous danny, at 6/14/2007 1:14 PM  

  • One more thing. Rose, I think you should do a post on Sapaugh's response to Hodges. It's important that people understand that Hodges does NOT speak for the entire FG community. It's not fair to frame discussions on Free Grace Theology around Zane Hodges' views only.

    http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2001ii/sapaugh.html

    By Anonymous danny, at 6/14/2007 1:37 PM  

  • Danny,
    No I wasn't really aware. Thanks for telling me and the readers here at this blog who, like me, were under the wrong impression that Zane Hodges speaks for FG theology as a whole. I do like Zane Hodges. I will gladly look at the article. Thanks so much for telling me about it!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/14/2007 2:01 PM  

  • I just read it, Danny.
    Article at Grace Evangelical Society Free Grace Journal Website disagreeing with Zane Hodges
    I am so surprised. I think disagreement is healthy and I am glad to see that this article was posted there.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/14/2007 2:17 PM  

  • Thanks Rose. I strongly suggest you make a post for Sapaugh's article, as some people who posted here may or may not return to this comment thread. So please do a post.

    There's more than one FG position on outer darkness, inheriting the Kingdom, and many other issues as well.

    By Anonymous danny, at 6/14/2007 4:08 PM  

  • I have read Sapaugh's argument. It is my opinion that he does not characterize Zane Hodges' position fairly. He puts words, thoughts, and doctrines into Zane's mouth, and produces what he would deem "logical conclusions" which, in reality, are not.

    It is significant that the Apostles recognized Jesus as the Christ (in the Johannine sense) very early in Christ's ministry,and so are therefore saved, yet at the same time, we can hear them saying:

    Mark 4:41
    41 And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!"

    Matt 8:27
    27 So the men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

    Luke 8:25
    And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another,"Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"

    There are only 2 things that we can do with the above facts, and to once again name those facts: 1) The apostles learned the good news about eternal life from Jesus VERY EARLY in His ministry and were saved and 2) Even after believing in Him as the Christ, and therefore being saved (see 1 John 5:1), they did not recognize Christ's deity, as ecidenced in their comments of amazement at Jesus' miracle of calming the wind and waved.

    Again there are only two things that can be done with this info:

    1) Say that the disciples were not saved until MUCH LATER in Christ's ministry

    or

    2) Modify these disciple's statements to say something other than what their prima facie meaning is.

    Futhermore, let me quote Zane Hodges:

    ----------
    It is precisely the ability of Jesus to guarantee eternal life that makes Him the Christ in the Johannine sense of that term. Our Lord’s exchange with Martha in John 11:25-27 demonstrates this clearly.

    You remember it, don’t you? “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?’” (John 11:25-26). Her reply is a declaration that she believes Him to be the Christ. Martha said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (11:27).

    Notice here that to believe that Jesus is the Christ means to believe that He guarantees resurrection and eternal life to every believer. But now let us look at John 4. In that famous passage we have the Samaritans saying to the woman who had encountered Jesus, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).

    Observe that the common denominator to both passages is the term “Christ.” On Martha’s lips He is “the Christ, the Son of God,” and on the lips of the Samaritans He is “the Christ, the Savior of the world.” This is not an accidental or insignificant difference.

    In Jewish prophecy and theology the promised Christ was also the Son of God—that is, He was to be a divine person. Recall the words of Isaiah: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6-7). But in Samaritan theology, the Messiah was thought of as a prophet and the woman at the well is led to faith through our Lord’s prophetic ability to know her life. Her words, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet” (4:19) are a first step in the direction of recognizing Him as the Christ. There is no evidence that she or the other Samaritans understood the deity of our Lord.

    But they did believe that he was the Christ. And John tells us in his first epistle that “whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (5:1)! A full theology of His person is not necessary to salvation. If we believe that Jesus is the One who guarantees our eternal destiny, we have believed all we absolutely have to believe in order to be saved.
    ----------

    Hey Danny,

    I don't know what position that you are taking, in favor or against Hodges' position. I think it is beneficial to show the flip side. But neither Hodges nor Sapaugh are here to defend their position.

    I believe Sapaugh's position to be very weak, and could not withstand a debate. Maybe, if you feel that Hodges position is in error, you could show me and Hodges where we are in error.

    The position that I take has practical ramifications. Am I to chase down rabbit trails concerning the deity of Christ, or am I to point to the sufficiency and authority of Jesus Christ to impart eternal life to the believer in Him for it, when discussing with a JW or Mormon?

    If a JW or Mormon is shown Jesus' statements from the KJV or NWT, which show Him to be the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it, and they believe that Jesus gives them eternal life, are you going to consider them hellbound? I surely hope that no grace person would ever imagine that someone can believe into Jesus Christ for eternal life and still remain unsaved!

    Furthermore, with the way the disciples acted toward Jesus and as viewed in their specific statements, I find that anyone would be hard pressed to make a case that the disciples understood Jesus' divinity throughout most of His ministry. It was not until after the resurrection that they understood many things, and Thomas could say, "My Lord and My God!" I don't doubt, though that at some time later in Christ's ministry that they had some understanding in some form of His divinity, although in what sense we cannot be dogmatic. But we must realize that they believed in Jesus for eternal life before they recognized Him as divine!


    Rose,

    I answered your questions and you said that you would answer mine.

    Do you relegate a Mormon to hell, who nevertheless was shown Jesus' statements concerning His offer of eternal life to those who believe in Him for it, from the gospel of John and the KJV, and believed Jesus in His promise?

    Why aren't Catholics saved when they in fact believe Jesus to be the Son of God, to have died on the cross for the sins of the world (which includes theirs individually), who believe that Jesus rose again bodily from the dead, and was God in the flesh?

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/14/2007 5:01 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/14/2007 5:16 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/14/2007 5:19 PM  

  • Hey Steve,

    I have read some of your comments and I was pleased. Thank you for the compliment. I have thought about this issue quite a bit. Grace and peace to you, brother.

    Antonio

    PS: I often type fast so not to forget what my trane (or is it train) of thought is. That it came out "waste" instead of "waist", I found humorous, lol.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/14/2007 5:23 PM  

  • Hi Antonio. I stated this in my previous comment:

    "I have heard of two cases where people said they believed in Jesus for eternal life before they understood He was God. If so, they are saved, but how many people actually fall into this category? I'm guessing not very many. I can't understand how anyone would believe in Jesus for eternal life without believing that He is Divine. How can anyone believe in a non-divine person for eternal life? Beats me - but thankfully, I don't think this is a common occurrence."

    So basically, I agree that if a person believes in Jesus for eternal life without understanding His deity, they are saved. However, I'm still dumbfounded as to how anyone could ever believe in Jesus for eternal life if they do not think he is Divine. I know it has happened, but I'm curious as to how these people came to the conclusion that they have eternal life through Christ without understanding His Divinity. Antonio, you do have to admit that it is not a normal occurrence.

    You and I will continue to proclaim His Divinity, His Death and Resurrection, and His offer of eternal life. So let's not bother with these hypotheticals.

    By Anonymous danny, at 6/14/2007 5:31 PM  

  • Hey Canadian Daniel,

    (Rose is going to laugh at this, in light of my last 2 deleted comments)

    I enjoyed reading your comment.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/14/2007 5:32 PM  

  • Danny,

    They aren't hypotheticals as long as there is the practicality of the Mormon and JW.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/14/2007 5:33 PM  

  • Hey Antonio,

    If a JW or Mormon ends up believing in Jesus for irrevocable eternal life they will obviously be saved. But we shouldn't let it slide if they still continue to deny His Divinity. Plus, based on what I've said before, in most cases, I don't think it is likely that they will believe in Him for eternal life if they are still denying His Divinity.

    By Anonymous danny, at 6/14/2007 5:39 PM  

  • Furthermore,

    it is not hypothetical in the realm of the intent of our preaching.

    Are we to have a potential convert ititial his name at each point of orthodox doctrine?

    Furthermore, as we have shown, men and women can beleive those orthodox doctrines and remain unsaved.

    It is an issue dealing with where we are pointing our faith at for eternal life. Faith in doctrine? Or faith in Christ through His promise.

    When we get the point of our evangelism down:

    that ANYTHING and EVERYTHING we say is pointing to faith in Christ for eternal life

    we are focused and have precision.

    If we garble up the gospel, laying down 4 conditions for eternal life, confusion and ambiguity can set in.

    The four conditions being:

    1) Jesus is God
    2) Jesus died substitionally on the cross
    3) Jesus rose again
    4) Jesus imparts eternal life as a present possession to all who merely believe Him to do so (based upon His promise).

    Number 4 is sufficient.

    The position that Jesus (and Hodges) takes frees up the gospel preacher and focuses him to declare what really is the issue: faith in Christ for life.

    Not belief in doctrine (as important as that is for both the provision of our salvation, and as the basis for our sanctification)

    There are numerous reasons why this position is not splitting hairs nor hypothetical.

    It has real practicality in many areas.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/14/2007 5:49 PM  

  • Just a quick statement, haven't read all of the previous comments, but some.

    The offer of eternal life can only be made by the divine son of God, since He is the only one who can offer a "free" gift of salvation. Therefore, if anyone believes in Jesus Christ for salvation alone, then, implicitly, they have affirmed the identity of the One making the offer, since His identity shapes the "kind" of offer being made.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/14/2007 11:05 PM  

  • Bobby,

    your argument is non sequitor.

    This is indeed correct:

    "The offer of eternal life can only be made by the divine son of God, since He is the only one who can offer a "free" gift of salvation."

    But you follow it with a therefore that is non sequitor

    "Therefore, if anyone believes in Jesus Christ for salvation alone, then, implicitly, they have affirmed the identity of the One making the offer

    If you mean that they have affirmed His identity as Deity by a concious understanding of it, it does not follow your first statement.

    When you believe upon Jesus, the Guarantor of eternal life to the one who believes in Him to do so, you are believing "in His name".

    Now His name represents all that He truly is in fact and reality. When one believes upon Jesus alone for eternal life, whether they are conscious of it or not they are believing in

    the God/man
    who died a substitionary death on a cruel Roman cross for the sins of the whole world
    who rose again bodily from the dead
    a High priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek
    the Creator of the universe
    the yet to be seated on His throne Davidic King

    AND INNUMERABLE OTHER THINGS.

    So maybe that was all you meant by your statement. If so, I apologize. But if you are insisting that one, by virtue of the fact they believe upon Jesus, is necessarily conscious of Christ's deity, then, again. It is a non-sequitor.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/14/2007 11:33 PM  

  • Rose I would understand 1st John 5 to be supportive of your/our contention though as always I'm open to a better understanding. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 6/15/2007 3:28 AM  

  • Antonio,

    Hopefully, I'm not barging into the conversation, but I have a question for you in light of your view.

    You said: "The four conditions being:

    1) Jesus is God
    2) Jesus died substitionally on the cross
    3) Jesus rose again
    4) Jesus imparts eternal life as a present possession to all who merely believe Him to do so (based upon His promise).

    Number 4 is sufficient."


    If Christ's deity, or rather a potential convert's understanding of Christ's deity doesn't effect their receiving of eternal life, then why does it matter to even preach that it is "Christ" who makes the offer in the first place? Why not just preach that there is a man who is offering you eternal life and if you believe in him, he will give it to you?

    And if all the preacher preaches is that Christ or for all the hearer knows is that some man is offering eternal life, why would they want it? How do they know they need it?

    There is so much more to the Gospel message than a future eternal life for those who believe. Why cut the message short? Are you afraid of offending them? Why wouldn't you preach all the good news? How that yes, God will give you eternal life, but that that life not only future but right now as well. That it consisits of freedom from sin and the ability to serve and to know God.

    If I have to wait until I die to receive the hope of the "Good News", that's only a taste of the "Good News". Why not give them hope for now too?

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at 6/15/2007 9:18 AM  

  • Antonio,
    I am going to answer you. I am still thinking through it. :~)

    KC and Bobby,
    Thanks for your comments. I appreciate your participaton.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/15/2007 2:34 PM  

  • When we talk about "Christ", the term itself does not even require an understanding of divinity.

    "Christ" means "Anointed One". Jesus is the one that God anointed as the means toward eternal life.

    I think, if I'm understanding Antonio correctly, that the point is that belief in eternal life through Jesus is what is at stake.

    It is a belief that Jesus is the means through which we are reconciled to the Father. ("No one comes to the Father except through me")

    This is, to me, very different than saying that someone must believe Jesus is God.

    By Anonymous Steve Sensenig, at 6/15/2007 4:38 PM  

  • Ten Cent,

    I believe that you have me wrong.

    I preach not only the deity, death and resurrection of Jesus, I preach MANY other things. I preach His miracles, I preach His words.

    I try to paint a FULL picture of Christ. I surely am not ashamed of preaching it all. I do.

    You have missed my point.

    At the end of the day, eternal life is received by the one who believes Jesus Christ in His promise to impart eternal life as a present and irrevocable gift to the one who takes Him at His word for it.

    NOT by subscribing to a list of doctrine.

    Evangelism is pointing men to Christ and faith in Him through His promise.

    Anything we say must have that as its end.

    Please go through and re-read my last 4 posts, and maybe you won't come to this misunderstanding of my position.

    Antonio

    Steve,

    I heartily agree with you.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/15/2007 5:55 PM  

  • Antonio,

    just because you disagree with my little argument does not make it "logically" non-sequiter; so on that point you have over-stated.

    And my logic does follow. Whether or not someone is concious of the deity of Christ at the point of appropriating salvation is besides the point since the only true offer of salvation comes from the one who is God--that is my point, and I think it is simple to follow. This would imply that a Mormon or JW, for example, could never be "saved" under their conception of Jesus, since their Jesus cannot offer a "free" gift of salvation by definition.

    Your perspective also seems to be informed by a very negative/pessimistic view of our ability to understand what God has communicated about Himself. My assumption is that a priori God is an excellent communicator, and that there is no divide between who He is in eternity (de potiente absoluta); and who He has revealed Himself to be in His economy/time (de potiente ordinata).

    Ultimately you will never get the kind of salvation you argue for, Antonio (i.e. Absolutely Free) apart from having a God who is ABLE to offer this kind of salvation. Consequently a Mormon Jesus, JW Jesus, or Buddhist Jesus cannot save by virtue of their construed ontology/nature. This makes the identity of Jesus essential to the message that only He can offer.

    Hope that clarifies.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/15/2007 7:02 PM  

  • Bobby,

    I think you need to scroll up and read the meta.

    The Mormon Jesus and the Evangelical Jesus are one and the same. The Mormon's have serious misconceptions and false beliefs about Jesus Christ.

    I have been diligent to show this from logic.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/15/2007 7:08 PM  

  • Antonio said:

    The Mormon Jesus and the Evangelical Jesus are one and the same. The Mormon's have serious misconceptions and false beliefs about Jesus Christ.

    What are you talking about, Antonio? I have read those points from you in this thread, and about a yr or two ago . . . it was wrongheaded then and is today. You should go read the "Kingdom of the Cults" by Walter Martin. There are misconceptions about Christ that actually make Him not-Christ. That's who Jesus was referring to when He said false christs would come, and that's what I Jn is addressing with gnostic notions of Christ--the point, indeed Christians can have misperceptions about Jesus which then occasions the need to "correct" those misperceptions and paint a clear picture about who Jesus really is. Your view compromises the need for correction in these essential areas. I'm sorry, but the LDS Jesus and Christian Jesus are not the same, final.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/15/2007 7:16 PM  

  • Bobby writes:
    ----------
    What are you talking about, Antonio? I have read those points from you in this thread, and about a yr or two ago

    ----------
    You have read them, but still you haven't addressed them nor considered their constituent arguments. My position has been left untouched by you. You sit and assert much, but in the end, the edifice of my argument stands.

    A single unique reference is all that it takes to delimit identity. Mormons share at the very least 20 unique references to the historical Jesus with the Evangelical.

    The logical conclusion is that their witness concerning Jesus in many points is in error. They promulgate blatant falsehoods concerning Him. Their testimony of Jesus Christ contains serious false beliefs.

    But most importantly, they do not consider Jesus to be the authoratative and sufficient Guarantor of irrevocable eternal life to the believer in Him for it.

    If they did, and it is possible that they could, they would then have the Holy Spirit who, in time, and through the Scriptures, could guide them into further truth, and reveal to them their errors.

    Bobby, if I made several unique references to you, yet had misconceptions about your occupation, your marital status, your hobbies, your ambitions, or your personality, does this necessarily mean I am referring to a figment of my imagination, or some ethereal "different Bobby"?

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/15/2007 9:08 PM  

  • Furthermore,

    In light of Christ's Great Commision, our end is not a group of people going to heaven.

    The end, or goal, of our ministry is to make disciples who will finish the work of the Father and enter into His rest.

    If a Mormon or JW was to believe in Jesus through His promise to impart eternal life to all who merely take Him at His word to do so, from the gospel of John, it would then be encumbant upon the evangelist to pray for him and guide him by use of the scriptures, into doctrinal truth, which has practical application in sanctification.

    No one who, nevertheless has believed into Christ and is therefore saved, can become one of Christ's companions in the Kingdom of God, enter the Father's rest, enter the joy of the Son, or be co-inheritors and co-glorified with Christ UNLESS they continue to grow in maturity and sanctification, which absolutely means that they will need correct Christology to do so.

    A full Christology is not necessary for eternal life.

    Mere child-like faith in Jesus is.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/15/2007 9:16 PM  

  • Antonio,

    the issue isn't delimiting parameters, the issue to me is "why" would I want to argue the negative point you are. I think this is actually an non-issue for the Christian. If a mormon says that they have received the free-gift of eternal life by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, then my assumption is that they and I are worshipping the Jesus of the Bible, and not of the "Pearl of Great Price" or the lost books of Moses.

    The fact that there is over-lapping characteristics between the Jesus of the LDS and the trinitarian Jesus does not make them the sames Jesus. If you were making a case in court to establish my identity and gave a hole bunch of misinformation about me, and then pointed at me and said this is the man I have been describing since I had the same name (Bobby)and a few of the characteristics that you mentioned were the same as the real "Bobby" (i.e. I was born the same yr, etc.) as the "real" person you were attempting to indict--and then my defense attorney offered a list that contradicted your litany of similarities then the court would throw out the case as mistaken identity. That is essentially the parallel of what you're asserting with this Jesus theory you're promulgating. Sure there are overlapping similarities, since it can be demonstrated that the LDS and JW are derivative of Christianity, and that some of their christological ideas are derived from Christianity (same with Islam)--but once we get the full picture, and realize that one significant point of similarity is off relative to the kind of salvation the Christian (real) Jesus offers, then we have a case of mistaken identity (your theory on Jesus) and we should throw it out (like the court analogy I offered). Unless every point of criteria matches the features that allow us to identify the Jesus of the Bible are present then we have a pseudo-Jesus, and one who can't save. A Jesus who is the spirit brother of lucifer is not the Jesus of the Bible and does not offer a free gift of salvation, but a works-righteousness offer. When a person accepts the free offer of eternal life offered by Jesus, then implicitly that offer is shaped and defined, ontologically, by the Jesus of the Bible--and once appropriated, whether conscious or not, that person is affirming all of the features the Bible presents of the real ontological Jesus, and not the Jesus of Hermes (he believed Jesus was the spirit brother of Lucifer too).

    I've got to eat.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/15/2007 9:53 PM  

  • Bobby,

    you write:

    ----------
    The fact that there is over-lapping characteristics between the Jesus of the LDS and the trinitarian Jesus does not make them the sames Jesus. If you were making a case in court to establish my identity and gave a hole bunch of misinformation about me, and then pointed at me and said this is the man I have been describing since I had the same name (Bobby)and a few of the characteristics that you mentioned were the same as the real "Bobby" (i.e. I was born the same yr, etc.) as the "real" person you were attempting to indict--and then my defense attorney offered a list that contradicted your litany of similarities then the court would throw out the case as mistaken identity.
    ----------
    This does not in the least characterize my position.

    With all the logical training that you have, you should have recognized that. But since this is a passionate topic for you, it has blinded your ability to think it through.

    Did you read my position using the term "UNIQUE?"

    Furthermore, did you answer my question?

    Bobby, if I made several unique references to you (in other words, references that could not be true of anyone else in the universe but you!), yet had misconceptions about your occupation, your marital status, your hobbies, your ambitions, or your personality, does this necessarily mean I am referring to a figment of my imagination, or some ethereal "different Bobby"?

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/15/2007 10:27 PM  

  • Bobby,

    What do you mean by "affirming" if it is presupposed that it can be affirmed unconsciously?

    I think that you have been edging in the direction of my position.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/15/2007 10:31 PM  

  • And Bobby,

    you write:
    ---------
    Unless every point of criteria matches the features that allow us to identify the Jesus of the Bible are present then we have a pseudo-Jesus, and one who can't save.
    ----------
    This is the slippery slope I have spoken about in my posts here. It is comments like this one, Bobby, that make me think that you have not read my posts carefully. My first three are very pertininent.

    Begin me:
    ----------
    Lets say you asked this question to the normal Traditionalist. He could say, "If you delimit Jesus Christ by these things, you will make sure that you aren't discussing someone else" :

    1) virgin birth
    2) hypostatic union
    3) death for sins
    4) resurrection from the dead
    5) name: Jesus
    6) mother: Mary
    7) had apostles named Peter, John, and James
    8) Died on a cross
    9) was a carpenter
    10) Performance of great miracles such as raising people who were physically dead
    11) He is God

    But lets say that I beleive all these things about Jesus Christ, but I say that he was the spirit brother of Lucifer who was made God by another God.

    Well, the whole thing goes to pot and I am now believing in a different Jesus, even though I agree to the list of these 11 rock solid references!

    The whole idea becomes a slippery slope. How can ANYONE be sure that they are believing in the REAL Jesus (as opposed to these imaginary figments being brought to life by heretics) when one really can't know if all what they believe about Jesus is in fact true in reality?

    Where does one draw the line? There can be no logical difference between a major or minor misconception, nor any OBJECTIVE means by which to discern which category to put them in.
    ----------
    Bobby, just what do you consider "every point of criteria" that will allow us to identify the true Jesus, and what objective means do you propose to substantiate such a list? Furthermore, if I were to add a blatant falsehood (like in the illustration above) does that then call the whole thing off and we are now in the realm of conjured figments of our imagination?

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/15/2007 10:49 PM  

  • Antonio said:

    . . . But since this is a passionate topic for you, it has blinded your ability to think it through.

    hmm . . . can anyone say "calling the kettle black"; right back at ya, Antonio ;). Actually if I had any blindness at the moment I made the comment it was caused by my stomach, and not my heart, although after I ate I did experience a "burning in my bosom" ;-).

    Antonio said:

    . . . if I made several unique references to you (in other words, references that could not be true of anyone else in the universe but you!), yet had misconceptions about your occupation, your marital status, your hobbies, your ambitions, or your personality, does this necessarily mean I am referring to a figment of my imagination, or some ethereal "different Bobby"?

    Did you read my whole comment, Antonio? I said that LDS and JW thought on Jesus is derivative from the "Christian" understanding of Jesus--consequently it is logical to infer that there will some similarities the problem is the informing metaphysic and subsequent meaning that the LDS pour into Christian language about Jesus--it is not the same--primarily of which is their understanding on the nature of God; but I digress.

    Here's my point one more time, and in fact this addresses your argument head-on, and at the same time side-steps, as unnecessary, your "unique features" arguement.

    Jesus Christ, the divine Son, is the only God sufficient to make a free gift of eternal life. If someone receives a free gift of eternal life from Jesus, then they have received eternal life from the only God who could make such an offer. The LDS or JW Jesus is not sufficient to make an offer of a free gift of eternal life, because their conception of Jesus is deficient and mitigates the ontology necessary to make such an offer (i.e. not divine). Therefore, if someone receives a free gift of eternal life they have received it from the Jesus of the Bible, and not from the Jesus of the LDS, for example; and implicitly they have affirmed the deity of Jesus Christ (whether conscious or not). Do they need to sign a doctrinal statement at conversion? No. But this doesn't change the fact that only the "divine son of God" can make a free offer of eternal life vs. the pseudo-Christs.

    That's about all I have time for Antonio, I think you are so fearful of adding conditions to eternal life that you have taken your articulation on this point to an extreme.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/15/2007 10:53 PM  

  • Ok, Ok, I have a little more time . . . ;)

    Antonio said:

    Bobby, just what do you consider "every point of criteria" that will allow us to identify the true Jesus, and what objective means do you propose to substantiate such a list? . . .

    Whatever the Bible discloses about Jesus.

    Antonio said:

    . . .Furthermore, if I were to add a blatant falsehood (like in the illustration above) does that then call the whole thing off and we are now in the realm of conjured figments of our imagination?

    Of course not, you have created a false dilemma, Antonio. The higher critics do exactly what you're saying, Antonio. You have heard of all the gnostic gospels, I'm sure (Thomas, Peter, Mary, et al); these folks add the conceptions found articulated about Jesus in these books to the Jesus of the Bible, and end up with the "Jesus of History", just a good moral teacher, or revolutionary, or peripatetic sage. I don't know, do you think we should call it all off if we end up with the Jesus of John Dominic Crossan . . . I don't; I think we should correct the fallacious absurdities that flow from such spurious machinations, and set the record straight about who Jesus is. The ironic thing is, is that when one absurdity is added to the Jesus of the Bible, like the fellows of the Jesus Seminar engage in, then they end up with a Jesus who does not offer salvation at all--unless you're into gnostic or social or liberation gospels. That's my point, if you add one errant thing to Jesus you end up with a different Jesus, and a Jesus who never offers a free gift of eternal life in the first place.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/15/2007 11:03 PM  

  • Antonio,

    as of this moment I no longer have access to the computer till the morning . . . maybe we can finish our exchange then :).

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/15/2007 11:15 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/16/2007 12:02 AM  

  • Bobby,

    *sigh*

    You seem to be talking around me and my points, and not addressing my arguments. Your position is non-sequitor and illogical. Your conclusion does not logically follow your premise.

    I am going to leave my comments on this thread to stand upon their own merits. You may have the final word if you like.

    PS: I feel that at the very least you could reserve some "hope" for your separated FG brother here, by taking into consideration that I boldly proclaim Christ's deity, passion, and resurrection. ;)

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/16/2007 12:05 AM  

  • Ahh..

    one more comment:

    MAN!

    There are alot of imagination conjured, spurious, ethereal, and "different" Jesus' floating around!

    One misconception (read false belief) about Jesus and we magically invoke "another Jesus"!

    The world cannot contain them.

    Just like the Depeche Mode song: everyone has their own Personal Jesus.

    Slippery slope!

    Antonio

    PS: this is my last word on the matter unless I am asked a question by anyone.

    By Blogger Antonio, at 6/16/2007 12:10 AM  

  • bobby, if I may jump in here...

    Help me understand what I'm missing. You made this statement:

    But this doesn't change the fact that only the "divine son of God" can make a free offer of eternal life vs. the pseudo-Christs.

    Basically, you're saying that Jesus has to be God because "only the 'divine son of God' can make a free offer of eternal life."

    Yet isn't your statement based on the fact that you believe Jesus is the "divine son of God"?

    A better way to ask it: Can you articulate from Scripture a defense of the notion that "only the 'divine son of God' can make a free offer of eternal life"?

    I would argue that God chooses the means of salvation, and so an offer of eternal life can only come through the means that God appoints (and anoints).

    That is why I raised the point about calling Jesus "the Christ". The term "Christ" does not, in and of itself, denote deity.

    By Anonymous Steve Sensenig, at 6/16/2007 12:30 AM  

  • With regard to what people must believe about Jesus, wouldn't it be appropriate to look at what the apostles preached about him?

    In other words, I have often thought with regard to the virgin birth that it's very interesting to me that Paul, Peter, John...none of them ever are recorded as having even mentioned the virgin birth.

    We make it a non-negotiable, yet it seemed to not even come up when the apostles were preaching.

    Does anyone else find that interesting?

    I contend that the message of the Gospel, according to Paul, is the fact that Jesus was chosen by God (he was "the Christ") as the means of salvation, and what he did vis. the cross and the resurrection is the object of our faith.

    We can discuss all the other details as long as we want, but when it comes down to it, I believe that Scripture outlines that very basic message as the basis for salvation.

    In fact, look at how Paul preached it in Acts 17:31

    [Repent] because [God] has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.

    "a man whom [God] has appointed"......wow, Paul was pretty soft on preaching the deity of Jesus, wasn't he?? ;)

    By Anonymous Steve Sensenig, at 6/16/2007 12:40 AM  

  • Rose,

    I answered your questions and you said that you would answer mine.

    Antonio


    Antonio,
    Hello! I am sorry it took me so long to get back to this. I was thinking about it a lot. I also got caught up at the bluecollar blog. OK, so here goes:

    Why aren't Catholics saved when they in fact believe Jesus to be the Son of God, to have died on the cross for the sins of the world (which includes theirs individually), who believe that Jesus rose again bodily from the dead, and was God in the flesh?

    They have some things right about Christ, but He is not sufficient to save in that religion. They affirm that He died on the cross for the sins of the world, but their "officials" get to administer that sacrifice. He does not offer it. They are caretakers of His blood, so to speak. This is not right about Christ, nor His provision for eternal life. Their religion adds to the work of Christ ... works of Mary .... prayers of the saints .... sacrifices and penance .... offerings of those suffering... sacraments ... priests' absolution .... all these things are meant to help one get to heaven. So when you say they believe Him "to have died on the cross for the sins of the world" they fundamentally don't get what that means. They don't understand His work, His provision and therefore, they don't understand Him. Capiche?

    Do you relegate a Mormon to hell, who nevertheless was shown Jesus' statements concerning His offer of eternal life to those who believe in Him for it, from the gospel of John and the KJV, and believed Jesus in His promise?

    I cannot relegate anyone to hell, first of all. If the person is a sincere Mormon and believes what the Mormon church says about Jesus, He would not get to the stage of "[believing] Jesus in His promise." However, if he departs from their notions about Jesus - even if just for a minute - when being shown the gospel of John - (he would have to do this to see the gift as legitimate) then of course He could believe, receive and be saved!

    How could he possibly entrust His eternal destiny to Jesus if He sees him the way that cult presents Him. It just wouldn't happen. He would have to see Jesus more clearly, I would think.

    No eternal Jesus, no eternal life. It just is that simple to me. I'm just a graphic designer.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/16/2007 10:28 AM  

  • No eternal Jesus, no eternal life. It just is that simple to me. I'm just a graphic designer.

    Amen Rose! Stay on the wall!

    But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him].(2nd Cor.11:3,4)

    By Blogger Scribe, at 6/16/2007 11:58 AM  

  • Antonio,

    you can assert all day that my points are non-sequiter and illogical, but until you show how they are non-sequiter or invalid or unsound then all you're doing is making an assertion.

    Steve,

    I'm thinking dominically in my point and ontologically. In other words, if Jesus was not divine/God incarnate (Jn 14:6ff; Jn 1:14, 18; etc.)then his crosswork would not be sufficient enough to offer a "free gift of eternal life". I think Rose's point is clear and concise on that. We receive the "kind" of life that we do, i.e. "eternal", because we are in union and reconciliation with the one who is eternal (cf. I Cor. 6:17). Note what I said previously to Antonio:

    The LDS or JW Jesus is not sufficient to make an offer of a free gift of eternal life, because their conception of Jesus is deficient and mitigates the ontology necessary to make such an offer (i.e. not divine). Therefore, if someone receives a free gift of eternal life they have received it from the Jesus of the Bible, and not from the Jesus of the LDS, for example; and implicitly they have affirmed the deity of Jesus Christ (whether conscious or not). Do they need to sign a doctrinal statement at conversion? No. . . .

    So someone's appropriation of salvation in Christ is not contingent upon their conscious knowledge of Jesus' deity; but if they receive an gift of eternal life, they have implicitly affirmed the identity of the only one who is eternal, viz. the second person of the trinity. This is different than what Antonio has been articulating since the mormon Jesus and the Jesus seminar Jesus cannot offer eternal life since by definition they are aren't eternal but generate or created beings. This seems to be a simple point, I don't know what the controversy is.

    Steve said:

    I would argue that God chooses the means of salvation, and so an offer of eternal life can only come through the means that God appoints (and anoints).

    That's true, but what is often is forgot or not emphasized in this scheme is that God is trinity, and that the second person was involved in this chosing electing process; i.e. Jesus was the electing chosing God as much as the Father and the Holy Spirit in their immanent nature. How that is disclosed in the economic time/space continuum seems to be what you're talking about--my comments thus far are all informed by the former (i.e. the nature of the second person of the trinity and what the implies about the "kind" of salvation being offered de facto per the ontology of Jesus).

    If Jesus is the Christ, which He is, then He will fulfill certain prophetic features that only the son of Man could fulfill, or that God in the flesh could fulfill. I don't buy the dichotomy between Messiahship and deity that some forward--I think the NT concept of Messiahship is defined by its foreshadowing in the OT which clearly is based on the idea that God alone could provide salvation "Himself". I don't follow the so called exemplar model either, since part of "Christ's" mission was to disclose God to the world, so that He could say, "when you seem me you see the Father" (Jn 14) and Jn 1:18.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/16/2007 1:12 PM  

  • Oh by the way, this is my last comment on this thread . . . I've said everything I want to say on this point--thank you for the interaction both Antonio and Steve.

    In Christ

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/16/2007 1:32 PM  

  • Bobby, you said you were done commenting on this thread, so I won't expect a response to this.

    However, I did want to point out a couple of things in your comments that I think are important.

    I don't buy the dichotomy between Messiahship and deity that some forward--I think the NT concept of Messiahship is defined by its foreshadowing in the OT which clearly is based on the idea that God alone could provide salvation "Himself".

    You may not "buy" it, but that doesn't make it incorrect, or make your position any stronger. By putting "deity" into the term "Christ" (or "Messiah"), you are adding to the meaning of the word.

    I have argued exactly what you have stated here, namely that "God alone could provide salvation". I am saying that He provides salvation through the means He has chosen (i.e., the Christ), whether or not that method includes the Christ being deity.

    See, I'm not arguing that the Messiah can't be deity. I'm arguing that the Messiah does not have to be, by definition, deity.

    That's true, but what is often is forgot or not emphasized in this scheme is that God is trinity, and that the second person was involved...

    Bobby, you're incorporating some sophisticated circular reasoning in your comments here. Your argument progression seems to boil down to:

    1. Jesus offers eternal life
    2. Jesus is the second person of the trinity
    3. Jesus is the Christ
    4. Therefore, the Christ must be divine

    However, statements like "the second person of the trinity was involved" are not based on Scripture, but are based on derived doctrines from the teaching of Scripture.

    I'm not necessarily saying that I disagree with your ultimate conclusions. However, I think you are arriving at them through some rather faulty progressions.

    The doctrine of the Trinity is derived from Scripture. It is not explicitly taught in Scripture. (And as a side note, I think that statements like those created by the Council of Nicaea unnecessarily limit definitions of God.) So when we take that derivative and then start to force those definitions back into things like the term "Christ", I think that we are building on a weak foundation.

    I personally think it would be far better to start with what Scripture actually says, before building on a foundation of what we think Scripture means.

    For example, I have talked about what the apostles preached, and no one has responded directly to that here. If the deity of Christ is so essential to the offer of salvation, then why did Paul preach to people who possibly knew very little about Jesus by referring to him as "a man whom God has appointed"?

    I'd love to get someone's response on that.

    Anyway, you already said you were done commenting here. I just wanted to respond to what you had written to me.

    Thanks. And be blessed, my brother!

    By Anonymous Steve Sensenig, at 6/17/2007 10:18 AM  

  • Rose

    "How could he possibly entrust His eternal destiny to Jesus if He sees him the way that cult presents Him. It just wouldn't happen. He would have to see Jesus more clearly, I would think."

    I am not sure how you can justify a categoric denial that this could happen. I have never yet met a clear example of this, though I did lead a Mormon to join an Evangelical church. He took a long time to accept the Trinity. Whether he ever came to believe the true Gospel I am not certain. Last time I spoke to him he was using the MacArthur Study Bible. I was not quite so consistent in my presentation of the Gospel back then, so I cannot be sure.

    People do believe all sorts of inconsistent things. Mormons do believe that our Lord is a deity and they believe He is Jehovah.

    Does it really take such a stretch of the imagination to think that a Mormon might come to accept the free gift of eternal life before they accept the full divinity of Christ? Does the Holy Spirit only ever reveal truths in the order we expect?

    Might not the Holy Spirit reveal the truth of the Gospel to a cult follower before the truth of our Lord's divinity?

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 6/17/2007 4:48 PM  

  • Ten Cent,

    "I believe that you have me wrong.

    I preach not only the deity, death and resurrection of Jesus, I preach MANY other things. I preach His miracles, I preach His words.

    I try to paint a FULL picture of Christ. I surely am not ashamed of preaching it all. I do."


    Then why advocate for less?

    "You have missed my point."

    No, I didn't miss your point. I understand that you're attempting to pare down the Gospel message to it's bare bones to substantiate your claim that understanding the deity of Christ is of no consequence when it comes to a person's receiving eternal life through faith in Christ.

    If we garble up the gospel, laying down 4 conditions for eternal life, confusion and ambiguity can set in.

    The four conditions being:

    1) Jesus is God
    2) Jesus died substitionally on the cross
    3) Jesus rose again
    4) Jesus imparts eternal life as a present possession to all who merely believe Him to do so (based upon His promise).

    Number 4 is sufficient.

    The position that Jesus (and Hodges) takes frees up the gospel preacher and focuses him to declare what really is the issue: faith in Christ for life.

    Not belief in doctrine (as important as that is for both the provision of our salvation, and as the basis for our sanctification)


    I also understand that you have reduced the rightful glory of the God and creator of the universe to secondary doctrine status. I also understand that your talking out of both sides of your mouth. Because what you advocate, you clearly do not practice. You "paint a FULL picture of Christ" when you preach, but you advocate only preaching belief in a Christ that the hearer knows nothing about.

    Evangelism is pointing men to Christ and faith in Him through His promise.

    I agree, Evangelism is pointing men to Christ. And when we're pointing them to Christ, we're revealing to them who this Christ is and how that relates to them as human beings. How that, because He is God, He could bare our sin on the cross. Because He is God, He can forgive us of our sins. Because He is God, He can repair our broken relationship with Him.

    Telling others about Christ with out telling them of Christ's deity is like me telling someone to follow Antonio, he'll show you the way to the Long Beach. Antonio who? Does he really know how to get there? Can I trust him? It would be necessary for that person to know some things about you before he would allow you to lead him to Long Beach.

    Don't get me wrong, your zeal is to be admired. I have no doubt that you are an authentic Christian. A true follower of Christ. And I have no doubt that you understand the importance of the deity of Christ in your own life and in the lives of other Christians. But knowledge of the deity of Christ is necessary by default for some one to trust in Christ for the promise of eternal life.

    BTW, Hi Rose.

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at 6/18/2007 1:43 PM  

  • We just returned from vacation . . . so let me briefly respond to Steve.

    Just as I said to Antonio, I'll say it to you, Steve: "you can assert all day that my points are non-sequiter and illogical, but until you show how they are non-sequiter or invalid or unsound then all you're doing is making an assertion.

    Sense my arguments have been very thin, and in fact enthymeme (i.e. missing major premises or minor premises), and formatted in narrative vs. syllogism . . . I'm not sure how my arguments are circular?

    And as I said before:

    That's true, but what is often is forgot or not emphasized in this scheme is that God is trinity, and that the second person was involved in this chosing electing process; i.e. Jesus was the electing chosing God as much as the Father and the Holy Spirit in their immanent nature. How that is disclosed in the economic time/space continuum seems to be what you're talking about--my comments thus far are all informed by the former (i.e. the nature of the second person of the trinity and what the implies about the "kind" of salvation being offered de facto per the ontology of Jesus).

    this still stands. I made a distinction between metaphysics/ontology and epistemology here; our epistemology, or knowledge of God is shaped by and presupposed by His ontology which is what I have been arguing for all along. I'm not quite sure what to do with this implicit/explicit distinction that you've made, Steve--I think you've created a false dichotomy. Whether something is implicit or explicit does not mitigate or elevate the truth of what is disclosed one way or the other. Clearly the deity of Christ undergirds Paul's gospel (cf. Rom 9:5; Tit 2:13; Col. 1:14ff; etc, etc.); or rather shapes it--that's what I have been arguing for--very thinly ;).

    Steve said:

    You may not "buy" it, but that doesn't make it incorrect, or make your position any stronger. By putting "deity" into the term "Christ" (or "Messiah"), you are adding to the meaning of the word.

    Ditto on your first clause. I think it creates a false dilemma to speak of Messiah as if Messiah could be who He was/is apart from who He revealed himself to be in the particularization of JEsus of Nazareth. In other words the only way we know who Messiah is, is because He is the "second person of the trinity" viz. God. Furthermore we don't know of a Messiah who was/isn't God--so how can you speak of Messiah as if there isn't an inextricable relationship between his "form" and "function", Steve?

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 6/18/2007 11:48 PM  

  • To Antonio & All Who Hold to the Hodges Interpretation of the Gospel:

    Can a lost man be born again while
    consciously denying the Deity of Jesus Christ
    if he believes in Jesus for eternal life?



    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at 8/20/2007 7:47 PM  

  • Good Morning Rose:

    Bobby:

    Welcome back to the discussions. I have appreciated a number of comments you have made in previous threads. One of the most succinct and penetrating was your defense of the biblical Jesus.

    Rose wrote an article titled, Is Christ’s Deity Essential?

    In the thread Antonio wrote, “The Mormon Jesus and the Evangelical Jesus are one and the same. The Mormon's have serious misconceptions and false beliefs about Jesus Christ.”

    This was your reply, which I appreciated:

    What are you talking about, Antonio? I have read those points from you in this thread, and about a yr or two ago . . . it was wrongheaded then and is today.

    You should go read the ‘Kingdom of the Cults’ by Walter Martin. There are misconceptions about Christ that actually make Him not-Christ. That’s who Jesus was referring to when He said false christs would come, and that's what I Jn is addressing with gnostic notions of Christ--the point, indeed Christians can have misperceptions about Jesus which then occasions the need to ‘correct’ those misperceptions and paint a clear picture about who Jesus really is.

    Your view compromises the need for correction in these essential areas. I'm sorry, but the LDS Jesus and Christian Jesus are not the same, final.
    ” (Bobby Grow, at 6/15/2007 7:16 PM)


    Antonio has written that lost men can be saved no matter what misconception they may have about who Jesus is. In an evangelistic setting Antonio believes an open rejection of Christ’s deity is matter that must be “put on the back burner.” This is as extreme a departure from the faith and Gospel I have read anywhere in Bible-believing circles.

    Antonio not only allows for the lost to hold to serious heresy about Jesus Christ, his comment above seems to indicate that he personally is blurring the lines of distinction between the Mormon Jesus and the Jesus of the Bible.

    I am grateful that you pointed the danger and absurdity of such teaching.


    Lou

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at 1/04/2008 9:56 AM  

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