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

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Contrasts in the NT

I have been thinking lately about the contrast that Paul makes between faith and work. Faith could be trusting someone else to do something for you; work is doing it yourself. Faith is restful; works is vigorous. Faith is putting your future into someone else’s hands; work is making your own future. James interestingly brings together these two elements of faith and works in James 2. He shows a contrast very clearly in verse 14-21. James points out to us that faith is invisible, while work is visible. No one can see that I believe, but they can see if I do something about what I believe. Men are never going to say you are godly because you believe; they are going to notice your actions and that is what will make your reputation… and testify to the truth of that which you believe. In this way, two contrasting things fit together to give God glory! On the other hand, one can be a whitewashed tomb, full of outward deeds that seem good, but inwardly lacking any faith, any dependence of God for mercy and grace. (Luke 18:9-14) This is not a praiseworthy situation to find oneself in.

Recognizing these differences has really cleared up a lot of confusion for me. Receiving God’s gift is all of faith; discipleship is faith working. Eternal life is free. The language we see used to describe how someone enters eternal life, thus escaping the death that was their due… is “gift” (Rom. 6:23) “drink” (John 4:14) “free” (Romans 3:24). The language that we see describing the work that it takes to actually LIVE to submit and work for God is “grief” and “trials” (2 Thess. 1:4, James 1:2, 1 Peter 1:6) “labor” (1 Cor. 3:8; 15:58; Phil. 1:22) “work” (Matthew 20:1, 1 Cor. 3:13, Eph. 2:10, Phil. 2:12, Col. 1:10, 1 Thess. 1:13, Romans 4:2 ) etc… It is not normative or natural to receive the gift of eternal life without following it into a life of discipleship, even though these are distinct and they contrast in relation to the effort required on the part of the recipient/participant.

Faith and Work
Running and Resting
Gift and Reward

Some other contrasting elements of the NT:

Condemnation and Justification
Law and Grace
Spirit and Flesh

40 Comments:

  • Rose:

    This is a good article, but I have a comment.

    You wrote, "Receiving God’s gift is all of faith."

    If a lost person's faith is not in the specific Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, it would then be a misplaced and non-saving faith.


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at 5/03/2008 11:12 AM  

  • Lou, you have some nerve showing up here after all the fuss you caused with your personal attacks on Rose.

    I hope Rose will forgive me for saying this.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 5/03/2008 12:28 PM  

  • Rose, this is a really good post.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 5/03/2008 12:29 PM  

  • Matthew:

    He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him,” (Prov. 18:13).


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at 5/03/2008 1:21 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    As it stands, I agree 100%.

    Savour the moment!

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/03/2008 1:38 PM  

  • Rose, this is very helpful, thanks.

    The UoG article I'd been asking questions on led to my current preoccupation with the terms "faithful" and "unfaithful" in scripture. I find it very useful to look at these contrasts for better understanding.

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 5/03/2008 4:24 PM  

  • Rose,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article. Very thoughtful and provoking.

    I found it interesting that nowhere you included repentance!

    There are some people who come out of the woodword, so often, who claim to be Free Grace, yet none-the-less require repentance of sins (along with at least 17 other requirements, provisos, etc) for the reception of the absolutely free gift of everlasting life. I was reading a favorite of theirs, Pastor Dennis Rokser, from the doctrinal statement of his church:

    We reject the many contemporary phrases that are often stated as necessary responses or conditions to the Gospel for someone to be saved. Such statements include: ... “repent of or confess your sins,”

    Also, more recently, in his journal there is this quote:

    "Salvation is not obtained by water baptism, repenting of your sins, asking Jesus into your heart, or committing your life to Christ."

    These wolves in sheep's clothing, who feign to be Free Grace in order that they might infiltrate and sell books, who front-load the saving message with repentance of sins, turning from sins, confession of sins, etc..., may not be as healthy as they might like at the Judgment Seat of Christ, nor may their temporal experience be as profitable as it could be, due to God's hand being heavy upon them.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 5/03/2008 5:15 PM  

  • Rose:

    Because you did not include the word, “repentance” it appears that Antonio wants to leave room for the possibility you align with the Zane Hodges view of repentance.

    That view from Hodges, in his own words, “Thank God there is only one answer to the question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ That, of course, is the answer not only of Paul and all the apostles, but also of Jesus Himself. The answer is: ‘believe!’ Repentance is not part of that answer. It never has been and never will be.”

    Hodges also rejects the widely accepted definition of repentance, “Is there any place in Scripture where repentance is a ‘change of mind’?”

    So, Hodges totally eliminates repentance as a condition of salvation, by any definition. Many in the FG camp do not agree with Hodges on this. Dr. Bing, in his LS dissertation, expressed serious concern with Hodges' view of repentance. Nevertheless, that is his view.

    I don’t recall you ever posting agreement with repentance the way Hodges defines repentance. Maybe you could clarify your view so that no one will misrepresent or misunderstand your position on the doctrine of repentance.

    Thanks,


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at 5/03/2008 11:34 PM  

  • Good morning Rose,

    Hi Antonio! I posted this slightly expanded scenario before for you elsewhere, but for some reason you never got round to answering it. Not quite your 17 conditions etc., but certainly a checklist nevertheless. Which of the 8 conditions below may be dropped in your opinion before you would be satisfied that this man was ready for Heaven?

    FG Evangelist: [i] Do you believe in someone called Jesus?

    Man in hospital bed: No – Apart from the Bible, there is very little record of Jesus of Nazareth and that most was written years after he was supposed to have lived.

    FG Evangelist: [ii] So you don’t believe the Bible – or more particularly John’s Gospel?

    Man in hospital bed: No – it was written by fools for bigger fools – Religion is a racket!

    FG Evangelist: Well…OK…[iii] Do you believe in eternal life?

    Man in hospital bed: No. When you’re dead, that’s it.

    FG Evangelist: [iv] Oh…so you don’t believe in life hereafter – the soul being immortal etc.,

    Man in hospital bed: That’s right: No Heaven , no Hell, no Hereafter

    FG Evangelist: [v] So you don’t believe then that we need to have faith in Jesus Christ to be guaranteed eternal life?

    Man in hospital bed: No, I don’t…that’s the thing I find most objectionable about you born again people – this just believe business. It’s the way that you are all cocksure of your so called salvation – strutting around as if you had an inheritance up in heaven with your name written on it!

    FG Evangelist: [vi] So you don’t believe in the concept of salvation by grace alone?

    Man in hospital bed: I’ve read those tracts before. Baloney! What about the good atheists who build hospitals? You can’t say that they are going to miss out while lazy good for nothing Christians who waste their own and every one else’s time pestering people in public places get in. Rubbish! No, I don’t believe that either.

    FG Evangelist: [vii] So, you don’t believe then that people can have eternal life?

    Man in hospital bed: NO!

    FG Evangelist: But unless you believe that people can have [vii] eternal life and [viii] know it, then you cannot be saved

    Man in hospital bed: Well, I don’t. Here! I hope you have no more conditions on that checklist. I’m getting tired.

    FG Evangelist: What checklist?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/04/2008 3:58 AM  

  • "I don’t recall you ever posting agreement with repentance the way Hodges defines repentance. Maybe you could clarify your view so that no one will misrepresent or misunderstand your position on the doctrine of repentance."

    “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him,”

    "Maybe you could clarify your view so that no one will misrepresent or misunderstand your position..."

    Rose this is your blog you owe nothing to those who already have misunderstood then misrepresent you, who do not have your best interests at heart.

    Whatever you may say too will be misunderstood and misrepresented. Some seem to have nothing better to do with their time than to investigate your blog and he will sap you of your time too, trying to satisafctorily answer him.

    Your post is excellent and I don't want you to get sidetracked from doing what you do by this negativity.

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 5/04/2008 7:29 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at 5/04/2008 8:32 AM  

  • Good Morning Rose...

    John:

    I agree the post is excellent.

    Interesting that you do not quote Antonio, who wrote this to Rose, "I found it interesting that nowhere you included repentance!"

    Even you must agree that da Rosa is suggesting a doctrinal view for Rose, and that is his/Hodges view that repentance is not a condition for salvation.

    He is trying to align Rose with the Hodges view of repentance; isn't that right? You however, go right past the veiled, but obvious attempt by da Rosa to tag Rose; why is that?

    Hodges' rejection of repentance (by any definition) as a non-condition of salvation is almost universally rejected in evangelical circles. It was this doctrine that began the exodus of membership from GES well ahead of the Crossless heresy that triggered the mass exodus of recent years.

    If someone was tagged with that view of repentance, and that person rejected it, I believe he/she would be quick to clarify, lest his/her view be misrepresented and misunderstood.

    So, let me ask why it is you encourage Rose to say nothing, when it is da Rosa that may well be misrepresenting her view of repentance already?


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at 5/04/2008 8:36 AM  

  • Matthew,
    Thank you for the compliment. (and thanks for the help yesterday)

    Missy,
    I am glad it was helpful. Good additional example of a contrast in the NT. It immediately brought to mind the verse:

    ...if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Tim 2:13)

    Thanks!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/04/2008 1:54 PM  

  • Godnightsafehome,
    Your first comment intrigues me. Let me ask you a question, if I may. I really want to see where you are coming from these days.

    Would you consider a passage like Matthew 5:38-42 to be the gospel?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/04/2008 2:09 PM  

  • Lou,
    If you had ended your first comment after the word 'article', I imagine everyone reading here would have been surprised as well as myself. As it went, though, you brought up a controversy that I am done discussing with you. The end.

    BTW, I have written my thoughts on 'repentance' as it relates to salvation in the various meanings that people apply to it. You will have to research some more.

    The end. again.

    Antonio,
    Thanks for the compliment. You are able to pick out what I didn't didn't discuss in my post as well as others are. I didn't talk about repentance. I also didn't discuss amillennialism. I left out the charismatic movement too. :~)

    John,
    Thanks for visiting! :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/04/2008 2:20 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    You ask Would you consider a passage like Matthew 5:38-42 to be the gospel?

    I consider these various commands of Christ – turning the other cheek etc., - to be in the spirit of the gospel, much as what Peter commands in 1 Peter 2:11-25 (which really is a parallel passage.) I certainly don’t believe that people are justified before God by turning the other cheek or by giving up one coat out of two the poor etc., They are justified entirely 100% by grace on the basis of Christ’s blood and received by faith alone without the deeds of the law. I hope this help.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/04/2008 3:25 PM  

  • Colin,

    I ignored your illustration last time on purpose. It is absurd, innacurate, and does not, at all, represent true Free Grace theology whatsoever. Let me explain.

    From the point of view of God, there is only one requirement for eternal life. This one requirement is the only and essential element in the invitation we are to give men to receive everlasting life. Precisely, this requirement is to entrust one's eternal destiny to Jesus; or in other words, believe in Jesus for the purpose of receiving eternal life.

    From the point of view of God, this is the only requirement. It is devoid of any and all ideas of submission, commitment, repentance, confession, and contrition.

    From the standpoint of the lost person, he may need to be brought to assent to several realities before his mind could be persuaded that Jesus guarantees his eternal destiny by faith in Him. There may be few, there may be many. But these are not theological requirements from the standpoint of God to receive everlasting life.

    What many (dare I say most) people in Christendom do is to sit in the seat of God and pronounce a myriad of requirements, said to be mandated by God Himself, for the expresss purpose of salvation. In the bible, there is but one condition for eternal life, believing in Jesus. But for many Christians, simple faith in Jesus is not enough. To this they must add theologically required conditions. One unnammed person here is on record in his writings demanding the lost jump through at least 18 hoops, as required steps by God, in order to have salvation.

    There is no checklist at the invitation phase of my evangelism. There is but one condition and one condition only, from the perspective of God, mandated by God, to receive everlasting life. You won't have me saying you must do this, and this, and this and this, to have eternal life. Most people do. For the bible, and thus me, there is only one condition: believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

    Here is a snippet from a discussion I wrote on repentance which should provide more understanding of my view:

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

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

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

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

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

    As long as a man remains an atheist, it will be impossible to convince him of the saving message. There may be an assortment of preparations necessary in order to set the mind in the right subjective environment for faith. These are the psychological necessities. Repentance may be a necessary logical requirement for salvation in the same way that belief in the existence of God would be.
    ----------

    So to recap:

    There is only one theologically necessary condition to receive everlasting life: believing in Jesus for it. Nothing else. There is no checklist from God, nor do I require one.

    There may be several (or not any) psycholical preparations necessary in order to place the mind in a subjectively ready state to be persuaded that Jesus guarantees everlasting life to the believer in Him.

    When a person wishes to persuade someone of something, there is no one correct way to go. There may be several routes that one could take to persuade someone. There is no exact formula or checklist of things that must be said. For instance, I would be persuaded that my son is getting poor grades if I were to be told it by his teacher, or by reading his report card, or by examining his graded, returned school work. The bar of evidence may be high or low, depending on the individual.

    The prosecution in a court case wishes for a guilty verdict of the defendent. Certainly they would want all of the testimony of their witnesses to be believed. But it is not necessary for the jury to believe all the testimony in order to be persuaded that the defendent is guilty. They, indeed, could doubt many avenues of evidence and testimony that the prosecution presents. But so long as something persuades them that the defendent is guilty, it is sufficient for the prosecution.

    Furthermore, the judge, when addressing the jury, does not ask them if they believed this or that or the other or did this or that. He asks them whether or not they find the defendent guilty; he asks them what their verdict is.

    The judge does not require any checklist of things done or believed for him to hand down a sentence. From the perspective of the judge, the only requirement for a sentence given to the defendent is a verdict of guilty.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 5/04/2008 8:38 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at 5/04/2008 9:14 PM  

  • Lou,
    I don't want to see any more comments from you on this post. I have made this decision because you used that phrase I hate so much: "crossless gospel". I do not want you and your confrontational bent in relation to this controversy around. The end.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/04/2008 9:32 PM  

  • Good morning, Rose/Antonio:

    Antonio: I refute your charge that my illustration is absurd etc., We both here have a checklist of what it takes to bring a sinner to Jesus. A man who does not believe in the historical reality of Jesus Christ cannot apply to Him for Eternal Life, if he does not believe that He even existed. It matters little, in effect, if you call it a mental requirement or if I call it a theological necessity. You are effectively playing with words.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/05/2008 3:59 AM  

  • Hi Colin,
    You said:

    I consider these various commands of Christ – turning the other cheek etc., - to be in the spirit of the gospel, much as what Peter commands in 1 Peter 2:11-25 (which really is a parallel passage.)

    I am not sure I know what you mean by "in the spirit of the gospel." I read the 1 Peter 2:11-25 passage and also with the other passage I asked you about, Matthew 5:38-42, I see instruction given to those who were already believers. So they are being instructed in "discipleship." Is instruction given to believers on how to live called "the gospel"? I don't know what to make of the phrase "in the spirit of the gospel."

    Do you define the word "gospel" as "good news" about what God did for man? Or do you more broadly define it?

    I do appreciate the dialogue with you. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/05/2008 11:09 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    ...I see instruction given to those who were already believers. So they are being instructed in "discipleship."

    I agree.

    Is instruction given to believers on how to live called "the gospel"?

    Yes

    I don't know what to make of the phrase "in the spirit of the gospel."

    I meant it in the sense of the Christian living the gospel outin his daily life. Matthew 5:38-42 is a very practical portion.

    Do you define the word "gospel" as "good news" about what God did for man? Or do you more broadly define it?,

    Yes - that is a good basiv definition. I would broaden it out to say that the gospel is what God did for man by sending his Son to die for sinners and providing salvation by grace alone and received by faith alone without the deeds of the law.

    I'm enjoying chatting you too :0)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/05/2008 11:34 AM  

  • Rose the dialectical theologian.

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 5/05/2008 12:41 PM  

  • Colin,

    It matters from the perspective of God. You have presumed to sit in the seat of God and have made pronouncements concerning what God requires for eternal life.

    Any impartial reader would see the crucial difference between theological and psychological necessity. Your illustration has been confounded, because not only is it patently absurd, it is misleading and inaccurate to faithfully describe both my position and my evangelistic practice.

    In essence, by adding to the only theological requirement that God has conditioned the reception of eternal life on, you and all others who practice a checklist evangelism, have added to the word of God.

    It stands that God has conditioned eternal life on only one thing: simple faith in Jesus for it. Such is the only condition I give in my invitation, therefore, I am guiltless of 1) checklist evangelism and 2) adding to the word of God.

    good day,

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 5/05/2008 5:49 PM  

  • Good morning Rose/Antonio:

    Antonio: You write: It matters from the perspective of God.

    Yes, but you’re not preaching to God, are you? You’re preaching (in our scenario) to a man in a hospital bed and in order to bring him to the place of the simple faith that in Jesus secures salvation, you must introduce him to a series of theological truths. No one is saved through ignorance.

    Here this man is in hospital, facing a major operation. On your return visit, you find a change of circumstances. The surgeon has since told this man more that his chances of surviving the operation is less than 50%. The reality of death coupled with the guilt of sin shakes his atheism somewhat and he is now prepared to consider that there is a life afterwards. So he runs with that particular truth and if he must die, then he wants someone to tell him that he will go to Heaven (or to be more precise, will escape hell) But even with all this, he is still very sceptical about the claims of John 14:6 and even gets a little angry again when you try and explain this bit. Furthermore, he’s still hanging in there that he was no worse than anyone else etc., If he denies any one of these truths which you need on your checklist, but still wants to go to a lovely place called Heaven when he dies, there is nothing you can really do for him, is there? Again, you can call it what you will, but you are looking for a series of doctrinal truths to be in order before you leave the hospital and blog about leading a man to Christ.

    Antonio, with all your bulldog type approach here, condemning us Old Time Evangelicals for (what you call) adding unto the word of God etc., you still have a checklist. Branding the above scenario as absurd etc, doesn’t cover the gaping hole it leaves in your thesis.

    Rose: Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this matter both with Antonio, and by extension, you and all your readers. Unless something new comes up in Antonio’s reply, I’ll leave the matter there.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/06/2008 3:14 AM  

  • Jonathan,
    I am not sure what to make of your comment, even after "googling" dialectic theologian. I can't tell if it is a compliment or a cut coming from you, teehee. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/06/2008 9:53 AM  

  • Colin,
    I do get a kick out of how you keep using the phrase "old time evangelicals."

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/06/2008 9:54 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    Colin,I do get a kick out of how you keep using the phrase "old time evangelicals."

    I hope 1980's Evangelicals gives the same buzz! :0)

    BTW: I found some more great quotes from J.V.McGee from his comments on Ephesians 1:4. But all in good time...

    Regards,

    P/s I forgot to tell you that I was down at Blarney Castle (home of the famous stone) wi' a few tracts etc., for the tourists. The first man I got talking to was from Ohio. He knew about Toledo - He said that he was from the NE part o' Ohio - the place where they used to make tyres. I didn't catch the name of the place. He was very friendly.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/06/2008 10:20 AM  

  • Colin,

    I asked you:

    Is instruction given to believers on how to live called "the gospel"?

    ...and you answered: "Yes"

    But then when I asked you:

    Do you define the word "gospel" as "good news" about what God did for man? Or do you more broadly define it?

    You said:

    Yes - that is a good basic definition. I would broaden it out to say that the gospel is what God did for man by sending his Son to die for sinners and providing salvation by grace alone and received by faith alone without the deeds of the law.

    I am not trying to put yor staements on trial or anything, but I just want to get a real handle on where you are with this... and mainly because you, in your first comment said that we agreed! :~)

    I see the answer you gave to the first question at odds with the answer you gave to the second question. IOW, is the gospel a specific statement about what God did for man or is it a lot of different thigns, including instructions on how to live etc....

    One quadrant of the "Old Time Evangelical" camp has been insisting that there is a "technical meaning" of the word "gospel." They claim that it is has very specific content, not under-cut and not over-endowed. Based on the answer to the first question, am I right that you would not agree with this assessment?

    OH, I just saw your new comment when I went to preview. Interesting that you met a man from Ohio. Cleveland is in the NE part of Ohio - that may be where he was from. We make Jeeps here in Toledo. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/06/2008 10:25 AM  

  • Rose, sorry for the delayed response. I would never cut you down - I was jesting. Dialectics is simply discussing two opposing concepts (at least in the sense of this post). This is seen in philosophy with Kant and Hegel, and in theology with folks like Bultmann, Barth (particularly important) and Hermann. I prefer your discussion more than theirs ;0)

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 5/06/2008 10:47 AM  

  • Rose:

    I think I see where you are coming from on this. I hope this clarifies the matter a bit further:

    The gospel itself, strictly speaking, is a message – of what God has done for us in Christ i.e. secured salvation by His grace through Christ’s atoning and sufficient death upon the death. We “preach the gospel” (Mark 1:16) so it is a message.

    When I speak about “living out the gospel” then I am referring to the evidence of salvation. Why do I do many of the things I now do? Why do I stop doing certain things which I did before I was saved? One simple answer: I have been changed by the gospel. I have received Christ in line with John 1:12-13. I use this phrase “living out the gospel” (which admittedly is not a Bible term…although I believe it is Biblical.) A good Scriptural illustration of it would be in 1 Peter 3:1

    Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; (1 Peter 3:1)

    Here we evidently have Christian woman with an unsaved husband who [the husband] obeys not the word. Whether he actually goes to church with her is largely immaterial. However, (if I might use this phrase) God has another weapon in his armoury. He can use the life of the Christian lady to win her husband to Himself, without [the direct preaching of] the word. IOW, this woman lives out the gospel in her life. He has to admit that all that the preacher says is true. Jesus really does save – He really does make people new creatures. He can see the evidence of it in the life of his converted wife. And so, he is moved to attend to the things of God.

    I like this quote from Francis Assisi (I know that we can pick a thousand holes in here, but let’s take the good of it and strictly ignore the rest) “Preach the gospel. Use words if necessary.”

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/06/2008 10:49 AM  

  • Colin,

    We will let the readership decide. When you (being a checklist evangelist) are asked what a person must do to be saved, you could answer in this way:

    1) Believe that Jesus died for your sins
    2) Believe that He rose again
    3) Recognoze your sinfulness
    4) Repent of your sins
    5) Submit to Jesus
    (the list could go on and on)

    When I am asked the same question, my only answer is:

    Believe in Jesus for His gift of eternal life.

    As a bottom line, regardless of any other consideration, all a man or woman has to do to have eternal life is to believe in Jesus for it.

    But this is just not the case for the Checklist (old-time) Evangelists like yourself. Unless a man jumps through YOUR hoops, he cannot be saved.

    In the Bible, and thus my view, there is only one requirement for eternal life. Believe in Jesus. How a person gets to the point of believing in Jesus is really not my problem. The condition is there and for him to fulfill. If he can't do so, Jesus has some advice for him:

    "Strive to enter the narrow gate..." (Luke 13:24)

    People, themselves, are responsible to place themselves into a favorable position with regards to faith in Christ.

    Surely, I would be honored and happy to help them. But I don't have any checklist for them. Indeed, they may only have their own.

    But you my friend have yours that you impose on the lost!

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 5/06/2008 5:14 PM  

  • Greetings Rose!


    [When I am asked the same question, my only answer is:

    Believe in Jesus for His gift of eternal life.

    As a bottom line, regardless of any other consideration, all a man or woman has to do to have eternal life is to believe in Jesus for it.

    But this is just not the case for the Checklist (old-time) Evangelists like yourself. Unless a man jumps through YOUR hoops, he cannot be saved.]

    Hello Antonio,
    It's not a matter of hoops. It's a matter of being faithful to the inspired message given by the Lord to His people. Your evangelistic sentence might be fine to say to someone who has already heard a clear gospel presentation, who already understands his guilty condition and knows something about who the Lord Jesus Christ is-- that He is rich in mercy and pardons sinners who seek that mercy, but in the absense of that background, it makes no sense at all to urge someone to believe on this Jesus they know nothing about. Reducing "the gospel" to one truth to the exclusion of all other gospel truths is not something Paul would have ever been proud of doing. In fact, Paul was able to say he was innocent of all men’s blood because he had been faithful in proclaiming just what Lord had commanded him to-- the whole counsel of God. He did not throw away parts of the gospel that he found to be distateful or inconvenient.

    Here is where Jesus first gave Paul that gospel message.

    Acts 20:26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

    Notice there are quite a few truths included by the Lord to Paul in that gospel message.

    Acts 26:12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.

    Paul had to first find out who Jesus was before he could "believe in him for eternal life". Jesus made Paul feel uncomfortable by pointing out that Paul was guilty of persecuting the Lord himself when he had persecuted Christians. No one wants or needs a Savior until he first sees his true guilt before a holy God.

    16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you

    18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God,


    The gospel goes out to the spiritually blind who are under Satan's power. They need to turn from darkness to the light.

    that they may receive forgiveness of sin

    After they are unblended to see that they are guilty sinners, they will see their need to be forgiven and seek God’s mercy.

    and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
    Faith is something that not only justifies us the moment we believe, but it sanctifies the believer. God's people are a sanctified people.

    19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God,

    Men need to repent of their sins and turn toward God. Repentance is part of the gospel message.
    performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

    This involves our sanctification, not our justification. When we are truly saved, our lives will show evidence of the new life within us.
    21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

    The same Christ who was written about by the prophets has come, suffered and died and was raised to life and has brought salvation to both Jews and gentiles.

    ~Susan

    By Blogger VA ~Susan, at 5/06/2008 11:02 PM  

  • [Here is where Jesus first gave Paul that gospel message. ]
    Oops,
    That should be over Acts 26:12 instead of where I stuck it.

    By Blogger VA ~Susan, at 5/06/2008 11:05 PM  

  • Good morning Rose/Antonio,

    I need to be quick with this reply as we are heading off for a two night hotel break up the country. But it needn't take long.

    Antonio: When push comes to shove, it is indeed faith in Jesus Christ that brings eternal life to the soul (John 5:47) but it is faith in the Biblical Jesus who describes Himself in a number of ways.

    If someone comes to me and says that they believe that Jesus can guarantee them eternal life...well and good. But if they mean that Jesus is just one of many ways to God, then it is not so good. In fact, it is disasterous. I certainly will not encourage them at that point to believe that they have discovered the gospel truth.

    There is a certain sense in which you are right - if someone will not believe then it is not my problem but if I encourage someone to think that they have received eternal life because they are trusting in a Jesus who is one god or one mediator among many others, then it becomes my problem.

    I certainly would not let them into fellowship in the church (Welcome to come, of course, to the gospel meetings etc.,)and serve them communion etc., and treat them as if they were Christians. If I read your writings right, then you have the three words that you are looking for: Faith-Christ-Life and the bell rings and that's that as far as salvation is concerned. You can talk all you want that you would seek to discple them and lead them into the way more perfectly. This assummes that you have the opportunity to do so, that they want to be discipled and that later on when they cop on that you encouraged them to think that they were Christians when the reality is that they are not, that they are prepared to overlook the disasterous judgement that you imposed upon them. If they got up and walked away from it all, then although they would still be answerable to God for their sins etc., but you could at least see why they were so discouraged and/or disgusted.

    I don't want this to sound harsh, but you have lowered the bar so that anyone who can string together the briefest of sentences can be saved, regardless of what else is contained in the paragraph. I'm sorry, but I can't run with that and be faithful to God's word.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/07/2008 4:18 AM  

  • Colin,

    This is my last word on the matter and I will allow you to have the last word.

    I completely disagree with your statement that FOR YOU:

    When push comes to shove, it is indeed faith in Jesus Christ that brings eternal life.

    This simply is not an honest affirmation denoting your beliefs.

    For you, simple faith in Jesus is not enough. You have mandated, as requirements from the mouth of God, that the lost must repent of their sins, assent to a wide range of historical and doctrinal facts, submit to the Lordship of Jesus, etc., or they cannot be saved.

    Faith in Jesus is simple personal trust in Him as your certain provider of eternal life. It is entrusting your eternal wellfare into His hands.

    Faith in Jesus does not equal repentance of sins does not equal submission to Christ's lordship does not equal believing in historical and doctrinal facts. These are all mutually exclusive things.

    It is also sad that "push must come to shove"!

    Either salvation comes by believing in Jesus or it doesn't. There is no need for push to come to shove.

    I have confuted and confounded your ill-representations of my position and evangelistic practice, and you have done nothing but substantiate my claims about yours.

    Good day,

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 5/07/2008 2:28 PM  

  • Colin, So if I am not mistaken, you are saying that the passages like 1 Peter 2:11-25 and Matthew 5:38-42 are not about how to become saved, but about the evidence of salvation. Would you agree then that teaching the unsaved to "do" the evidence of salvation is not a gospel (evangelstic) message?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/09/2008 9:42 AM  

  • Thank you, Jonathan. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/09/2008 9:43 AM  

  • Good morning Rose/Antonio:

    Antonio: Thank you for the privilege of the last word, at least on this debate in this post.

    No thank you, however, for trying to either to define my faith for me, or to be more precise, redefine it. I respectively suggest that you stick to trying to defending your own beliefs than recasting the faith of others. I'm stay trying to work out which is best: You doing a runner or staying around to rearrange to your advantage what people believe :0(

    Rose: You write: So if I am not mistaken, you are saying that the passages like 1 Peter 2:11-25 and Matthew 5:38-42 are not about how to become saved, but about the evidence of salvation.

    I am not necessarily saying that the Lord or the Apostle necessarily had "evidence of salvation" at the top of the agenda when they communicated these things. But, yes, they are not about the way of salvation, but part of the evidence.

    Would you agree then that teaching the unsaved to "do" the evidence of salvation is not a gospel (evangelstic) message?

    Yes, 100% again.

    BTW: "When push comes to shove" is just another way of saying: "At the end of the day" which is so overworked over here that people positively cringe when they hear it.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/09/2008 11:01 AM  

  • Hi, Rose,
    James is a great book for diving into faith and works. The preacher at my former church had a sermon series on James that got me to thinking a little more deeply on the issue than I had before. (I will make a shameless plug here for the book that was published with that sermon series from Tom Ellsworth and additional commentary from William Baker.)

    As for the debate on whether it is "merely" faith or faith plus a laundry list, this is pretty interesting too! From a slightly different angle, I've been concerned when some Christians seem to make an extremely narrow cut-off on who is truly saved (in some denominations down to membership in that particular denomination being prerequisite). But on the other hand, we all make a cut-off somewhere, we often can't help ourselves. What must a person believe, minimally, such that I am convinced that person is truly a believer whom I will someday see in heaven? This is from a human perspective of course, when only God truly knows hearts and souls.

    As for evangelism and new believers, I think Colin hit the nail on the head:

    "...it is indeed faith in Jesus Christ that brings eternal life to the soul (John 5:47) but it is faith in the Biblical Jesus who describes Himself in a number of ways."

    I believe that, yes, it is "merely" faith. Faith, however, has to be in something. If I have a sock puppet I name "Jesus" and say, yes, I have faith in Jesus, this is not saving faith. If I say there was this cool dude Jesus who taught a lot of bold and controversial things and knew how to turn a good phrase (but I don't buy into the deity thing or the resurrection, etc.), and I have faith in this Jesus, neither is that saving faith. (But how close does it have to come to biblical teaching before we recognize it as saving faith? Perhaps some would say the previous scenario is in fact called true faith by God...?)

    Repentance and so forth seem to me to be responses to saving faith, much like works. Repentance should be a natural response to faith. How can I possibly think of the agony Christ endured on the cross and not repent of my sin that he bore there?

    Do others view repentance as preceding faith? I have not really traced the scriptural evidence for the orders of these things -- so thanks for another thoughtful post that sends me back to my Bible!

    By OpenID pointnine, at 5/12/2008 10:57 PM  

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