I was a panel member at the Free Grace Alliance National Conference today on the subject of the death and resurrection of Jesus in relation to the gospel.
But before I write about that, let me write about a different panel which I attended. This other panel was on the issues of assurance, eternal security, and justification.
Assurance, Eternal Security, and Justification
The panel which I only attended was related to the issues of assurance, eternal security, and justification. The basic question was “Does a person have to know that what they get from Jesus can never be lost in order to receive it?”
Of the three panelists, I heard one, Tim Nichols, give a clear answer “Yes” and the other two were a little more evasive. This was not really their fault since many of the questions from the audience were not really on topic. Some questions were related to the death and resurrection of Jesus, or the deity of Jesus, and other things.
The last question, however, was very revealing. It was “If you are witnessing to an unsaved person, and you want to tell them how to be saved, what would you say?”
1. Dave Anderson answered first with two words: “Free Grace.” I’m not sure what he meant by that. I doubt the person he was evangelizing would understand it either.
2. George Meisinger said that he tells as much of the gospel as he can to the person in the time he has. If it’s on an airplane, he is able to tell them lots more than if he is sharing with someone on their deathbed.
3. Tim Nichols answered similarly to George Meisinger, but emphasized that the message we share with unbelievers must come from the Gospel of John.
All in all, it was a great conference session.
Death and Resurrection of Jesus and the Gospel
The second panel discussion I attended was the one in which I was a participant. It concerned whether a person had to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus in order to be born again. The following are terribly poor summaries of the views presented:
(Note that due to comments for clarification, edits have been made to what was originally written. These are the crossed out sections below.)
1. Ken Wilson said, “
Yes. We don’t believe in Jesus for everlasting life, but we have to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who takes away our sins.” I’m not sure who in Christendom (including Catholics) doesn’t believe this, but maybe I misunderstood him.
2. Tim Nichols argued that since nobody would ever dream of not presenting the death and resurrection, the question doesn’t really matter. This is true. Sometimes, Satan’s greatest ploy is to get us talking about theology rather than living out the theology we do know.
3. Larry Moyer said, “Yes, because the death and resurrection is central to the Gospel, and we must always share the Gospel when telling people about Jesus.”
4. Tom Stegall argued similarly to Larry Moyer, but more emphatically.
5. I certainly do believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus are central to the Gospel, and that without the death and resurrection of Jesus, there is no Gospel. All the truths of the Gospel (of which there are dozens-if not hundreds) are for the purpose of getting a person to believe in Jesus and so receive everlasting life. So I always present the death and resurrection of Jesus when I witness to people. So I argued similarly to Tim Nichols–that it’s a moot point.
Some did Believe in Jesus, but not in His Death and Resurrection
However, I did point out that we do have examples of people in Scripture who believed in Jesus and received everlasting life, but did not know about the death and resurrection of Jesus, and even when presented with these truths, did not believe them (cf. Matt 16:31-32; Mark 9:31-32; Luke 9:44-45; 18:31-34; 24:19-26; John 20:9, 24-30). There may be some examples from Acts and the Epistles as well, but it’s almost 2 am, and I’m tired.
But just one example: One reason Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15 is to persuade and convince the Corinthian believers about the resurrection of Jesus. It sounds like some of them had believed in the resurrection, but had turned away from it, but there apparently were others who had heard about the resurrection, but denied it as fiction. Paul is correcting these believers in Corinth about this.
So apparently, there are people who believe in Jesus, and lots of correct things about Him, but don’t have all their theological ducks in a row, but who are still considered by Biblical authors to be regenerate. It is possible to believe many wrong things about Jesus, but still receiver eternal life by believing in Him for it. I think it is possible there are people in the same category today. I may have talked with one a few weeks ago, which I mentioned in a previous post.
Due to the number of panelists, and the limited time, only one question from the audience was asked, and that one had nothing to do with the questions that I had come up with which I hoped to receive answers to. So I still don’t know how Tom Stegall would answer those questions. I refuse to speculate how he might answer them, because if there is anything more dangerous that theological speculation, it is theological speculation about someone else’s theology.