OK, the cat is out of the bag (I guess it was never in the bag)…The article I referred to in the previous post about the Crossless Gospel is indeed the one by Tom Stegall. But I am also now including Rokser’s “Two Clarifications” from the most recent issue of the “Grace Family Journal.”
It appears from Comments to my previous post that although Stegall is accusing various Free Grace writers and speakers of having a “Crossless Gospel,” what he really means is that we have “Crossless evangelism.” I see these two things as distinctly different since nobody ever shares the entire New Testament gospel when they evangelize. So the issue isn’t whether the cross is part of the gospel or not. Of course the cross is part of the gospel.
Instead, the issue seems to be, “Does a person need to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to receive eternal life?”
So to help clarify the debate, I thought it might help to share what I try to do when I evangelize…after all, this is what it is all about, right? Please note that I don’t exactly know what the evangelistic method is of Zane Hodges, Antonio DaRosa, or any of the other Free Grace people accused of teaching a “crossless gospel.” I do, however, know that the evangelistic practice I describe below closely resembles what Bob Wilkin does. I know this, becuase I work with him, and we have talked a lot about it. Even still, I am not speaking for him, but for myself alone.
Stegall’s Gospel Checklist
But before I get to my practice, it is probably best to begin with what Stegall says a person must believe to receive eternal life. If I remember correctly, Stegall has five things he says must be believed if a person is to be born again. These five things were not listed in his article, but I think I heard him list them in a talk he gave at the Annual Fall Conference at Duluth Bible Church. (So my memory may be wrong on these five…).
He says that for a person to be born again, they have to believe in:
- The death, resurrection, and substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
- The full humanity of Christ.
- The full deity of Christ.
- The sinfulness of man.
- Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
Technically, this is more than five, but I’m not going to quibble over that.
My question for Stegall is: “Why these five?”
What if a person believes all these five, but doesn’t believe in the virgin birth and believes that Jesus sinned? What if a person doesn’t believe in the Trinity, and instead is a modalist? What if they believe these five things, but believe that Jesus is “a god” just like the rest of us? What if they believe these five things, but don’t believe in life after death, and “salvation” is only a good life here and now?
Personally, I believe that the virgin birth, the sinlessness of Jesus, and the Trinity are all essential to the gospel, as well as numerous other truths. But do I expect a person to know and believe all of this in order to become a Christian? No. So I don’t have a “crossless gospel.” I have a gospel that includes all five elements Stegall includes, plus a bunch of other Scriptural truths that Stegall does not.
So the real issue is, “What do I share when I evangelize?” Right? Though not directly stated, it seems this is what people want to know. Here is how I evangelize.
How I Evangelize
I share any truth of the gospel I think is necessary to get a person to believe in Jesus for everlasting life. All of the truths of the gospel either prepare a person to believe in Jesus for everlasting life, or prove that He can make good on His promise.
So, when I evangelize, I always begin with the gospel invitation and tell them that if they believe in Jesus, He guarantees them eternal life.
Then, I allow the convicting and drawing work of the Holy Spirit upon that person and their natural, logical questions to lead me into what other information about the gospel I might share. Most people, I find, already know and believe that Jesus was God, that He died on the cross for their sins, and that He rose again from the dead. Even most unbelievers believe this.
So generally, the conversation centers around how Jesus can guarantee eternal life to those who believe or how it can be only faith without works, or why a good person cannot get into heaven. This is when we get to Stegall’s five truths plus any of the other gospel truths that will convince the person to believe in Jesus for everlasting life.
One time, I actually talked to a person in the United States who didn’t know who Jesus was. I was pretty amazed that they had never heard of Jesus, but went on to explain to them that He was God, who came to earth 2000 years ago, and lived a sinless life, yet died a painful death on a cross for the sins of the whole world. His resurrection three days later proved that His death was acceptable to God as the payment for our sin. We were able to have a long and lively discussion about the gospel and the offer of eternal life. The conversation naturally led to all of Stegall’s five points, plus several others. But even if the conversation is short, I have still expressed the bottom line gospel invitation.
Natural Conversational Evangelism
This, it seems, is the most natural and biblical way to evangelize. It’s what Jesus did. It’s what Paul and Peter did. I’m not trying to run through a checklist of ideas, which have no basis anywhere in Scripture, or in actual practice. I can’t find any place in Scripture where a person shares all five of Stegall’s points when evangelizing or defining the basics of the gospel. Even 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 10 don’t include all five of these truths. And when compared, those two passages don’t even include the same gospel truths. The truth is, I can’t find one Scriptural passage that includes all five of Stegall’s truths. He has to pick and choose from various passages to get his essential gospel truths, and these five seem pretty arbitrary.
He may accuse me of having a crossless gospel (which I don’t), but I can accuse him of having a cherry-picked gospel.
So what do I share?
When I evangelize, I share anything and everything I can in the time I have that I think will get the person to the point where they become persuaded that simply by faith alone in Jesus they have everlasting life.
Once, when I was a pastor in Montana, I was outside by my woodpile (we use wood to heat our houses in Montana) talking with a man about all of this, and he wasn’t persuaded. He said, “I just don’t know if all of this is true. If it is true, I wish God would just hit me over the head with a 2×4. Then I would believe it.”
I almost reached out and grabbed a 2×4 and whacked him on the head with it! If he said “Why did you do that?” I could have responded, “God told me to, and He wants to know if you’ll believe in Jesus for everlasting life now.” If I had done that, I would have called it the “2×4 gospel,” because not only did I share with him about his sin, the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I also got a 2×4 in there…all in an effort to get him to believe in Jesus for everlasting life.
Lou Martuneac says
You wrote, “The issue is, ‘Does a person need to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to receive eternal life?'”
The Bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” (Romans 10:9-10).
This passage is about what must be believed for salvation. It is a conditional verse, “if thou…thou shalt be saved.” The conditon is, “believe…God raised Him from the dead.”
There is now way around this, other than to reject what is here.
Lou Martuneac says
As you are aware at my site I have been doing a series on what has come to be known as the “Crossless” gospel. I link to Stegall’s two articles. The series falls under the head The Teaching of Zane Hodges.
One element that is missing from this discussion, and should be addressed later is that Hodges has also shifted his position on repentance. He has now come to the point of not only finding biblical repentance absolutely unnecessary for conversion, but no longer accepts the generally accepted definition “change of mind.”
He wrote, “I myself once held the ‘change of mind’ view of repentance and taught it. But the Scriptures have persuaded me otherwise.” (Harmony With God, p. 11).
Lou Martuneac says
You wrote, “The issue is, “Does a person need to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to receive eternal life?”
I think it goes deeper than that.
At Unashamed of Grace Antonio wrote, “There is but only one object of faith which is the irreducible minimum to be believed: Jesus Christ in His promise of eternal life to the believer.” 1) From what I am reading by Antonio, which I think you are in agreement with, your position boils down to the belief that the only thing a lost man must believe to be born again is that Jesus is the Giver of eternal life. 2) From what I can tell you believe nothing else from the content of the Gospel as found in 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Romans 10:9 needs to be acknowledged, understood or believed by the lost man and he can still be born again.
Do I have the two assumptions above correct?
After reading your post, I read the articles by Stegall again. Here is a quote that I think gets to the heart of my thoughts and observations about your latest post:
“The Gospel which contains the cross, resurrection, and deity-humanity of Christ is now considered by crossless proponents to be a fuller gospel needed only for Christians for their sanctification in time, but not necessarily for the unsaved regarding their justification before God. With the very definition of ‘the Gospel’ there has been an abandonment of a once universally held position within the grace camp.” (Tom Stegall, “The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel, Pt. 2” p. 6: http://www.duluthbible.org/246451.ihtml)
My first observation is that you fumed over a particular distinction that the articles supposedly did not acknowledge, but the fact is the distinction is acknowledged right here and over 17 other places I counted and numbered with pen on my printed pages of the article. I would be happy to scan it for you so you can see yourself. You protested that the articles suggested you do not include the cross in the “Gospel” which you defined yourself in your latest post and in previous articles as “the entire New Testament gospel”. However, the quote above directly states you include “the cross, resurrection, and deity-humanity of Christ” in what you consider the “gospel” in the very general sense of New Testament revelation. The articles acknowledge this fact, but specifically highlight the REAL issue that you do not include this as an essential element for the lost to believe for salvation. I have 14 instances marked, that are either statements by the author or quotes from GES members, where this issue is specified very clearly as being what is essential for the lost to believe for salvation–NOT whether you believe the message of the cross and Christ’s deity-humanity are part of general New Testament revelation. You express great offense that the articles claim your version of “the gospel” is crossless, but your complaint hinges entirely upon a distinction that you’re making that 99.9% of evangelicals would never understand — that you consider “the gospel” to be all the good news of the NT, not the message that the lost need to believe to receive eternal life. And even then, the article specifically states this distinction and acknowledges what you claimed it did not — you do indeed include the cross, ect., in what you define as “the gospel”, i.e., the entire NT revelation and, and your words “possibly the Old Testament too”. In light of these facts, I must say–even as I am humbly looking to our gracious Lord and remembering that my speech must “be with grace, seasoned with salt”–a serious question is thus raised as to the purity of your intentions in protesting a supposed misrepresentation that is not even true and leveling an attack on the author, claiming “the author of that article is making himself look foolish…”; “I laughed in his general direction…”; “as for the article…the only thing it does reveal is a lack of scholarship…”; “his baseless claims..”, ect.
Now if the true issue is so clearly defined in the article–THE ISSUE OF WHAT THE LOST MUST BELIEVE TO BE SAVED–and I believe it is, and like I said, I can scan my own copy of the article with with notes and numbering in my own handwriting–and if your position on this issue is so Biblically solid, then why do you not deal with the real issue at hand, rather than raising all these sorts of protests and all this fuss about the author that can be directly quashed by quotes from the articles?
What I am most interested in defending the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Again, the quote above gets to the heart of my thoughts on this. Christians have recognized that there is a general sense of the word “gospel” meaning “good news”, e.g., “The Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke, ect.” But based upon a plethora of New Testament passages, Christians have also recognized that there IS indeed also a technical usage of the term “the gospel” that came into effect after Christ’s resurrection that refers not to good news in general, nor to the general revelation of God given through the Old and New testaments, but to the specific message that must be preached to the lost and must be believed by the lost to receive eternal life. For years, even GES recognized this and took this for granted in all their literature which sought to defend “the gospel”, i.e., not the general revelation of God given throughout time, but to the message of salvation that the lost must believe to be saved. Even the title of Zane Hodges book, “The Gospel Under Siege” refers to this very thing–not NT revelation in general–but to the specific message that must be given to the lost and received by the lost for salvation. In light of the denial of “the gospel” as a technical term for this message by GES advocates and the insistance that “Jesus guarantees eternal life to whoever believes in Him” by itself, without any substantiating truth such as His crosswork or Deity, constitutes the message by which sinners are saved, for consistency, Hodge’s book should be retitled to “The Promise of Eternal Life Under Siege”. But of course “The Gospel Under Siege” refers to a specific message that nearly all evangelicals recognize because it is a thoroughly Biblical usage of the word that is substantiated in so many passages that it would be impossible to miss unless a person had some pre-determined reason to argue “the gospel” is never a technical term for the message the lost must believe to receive eternal life.
What could this pre-determined reason be? It seems once you accept “the gospel” as a term that in addition to being used in its general sense also as a prominent technical sense, then you are forced to admit Jesus Christ’s death for sins, resurrection, Deity, and humanity are an essential element to it. The claim that this belief also forces us to include the virgin birth and all sorts of other NT teachings in “the gospel” is simply wrong, ill-conceived, and contradicted by Scripture.
Jeremy, I realize you’ve written articles about all the NT revelation basically compromising “the gospel” but I would be I would be happy to post several passages with notes pertinent to this issue that I believe prove there is a very common usage of “the gospel” that refers to the specific message the lost must believe in order to be saved. I already spent the last few hours preparing that, but out of respect for this forum, I wanted to get your permission before posting it. I would be happy to hear your feedback on it. Let me know if it would be okay.
I meant “comprising”.
Jeremy Myers says
Regarding Romans 10:9-10 and 1 Cor 15, I am in agreement with Antonio’s posts about these passages. The term “salvation ” in Romans is not equivalet to “justification.” You can see this from the immediate context itself, even without the rest of Romans. Logically and exegetically in Romans 10, justification precedes “salvation.” But you have gone round and round on this with Antonio, so I don’t want to repeat all of that here.
The same goes for 1 Cor 15, which Antonio has clearly explained as well. You cannot arbitrarily stop at verse 4 when Paul continues to talk about the gospel he preached in verses 5ff. Yet not Stegall or you includes the information in verses 5ff as essential to the gospel. I do. So it is not my gospel that is defective.
And Greg, the “particular distinction” I am fuming over is a biblical distinction. If there is anything in life that we must be precise on, it is theology. For example, I hate it when people want to call themselves Calvinists, but then they redefine the five points of Calvinism to fit their own theology. People who do this should be honest with words, and either define the five points as Calvin (actually Beza) did, or not call themselves Calvinists.
Similarly, what if I started calling your position “doctrinal legalism” because in my view, you are making doctrinal requirements of a person which the Bible does not. Yet if I were honest with the definition of “legalism” I will not use this term, because by definition, “legalism” is when additional works are required from a person in order to get into heaven. It is not typically used of extra requirements of doctrine.
So Stegall’s whole paper is definitionally false. He takes an area where he disagrees, recasts it in a way we would not agree is an accurate representation of our view, and then throws rocks at his manufactured disagreement. In the realm of logic and argumentation, we call this a “straw man fallacy.”
The worst part about all of this is that in Rokser’s recent “Two Clarifications” he claims to have attempted contact with some of the people Stegall criticizes, but says he was “stonewalled.” If I remember correctly, there were only five or six men that are criticized. I have personally asked three of them if Stegall contacted them, and all three said they never got a call or a letter. He critizes me briefly as well, and he never contacted me. So that is four out of six that were not contacted, and yet he says we stonewalled him. Maybe he has a different definition of “stonewalled” than I do. Or maybe he is just using character defamation in a poor attempt to support his false claims. If both men had actually contacted more of us, much of this “controversy” could have been clarified and focused. As it is, Stegall and Rokser are only fostering confusion with their poorly argued articles.
As Don Reiher pointed out in the first comment of the previous post, it it tempting to go through Stegall’s article paragraph by paragraph and point out all the misquotes, false definitions, false conclusions, and logical fallacies. But I figure my time is worth more than that. As I’ve said earlier, those who know better won’t be fooled by such articles.
The only thing that is going to convince me I am wrong is clear and compelling exegetical arguments. I haven’t heard or seen any of that yet. Instead, I’ve seen a great reliance on tradition and a few passages pulled out of context.
So, with that in mind, if Greg wants to post a short and concise study of the word “gospel” that is fine. Having spent hundreds of hours over the past two years on this study already, my prediction is that the passages he has in mind either use the term “saved” which in context does not refer to justification, OR, the term “gospel” is not clearly defined in the context so it is unclear what exactly the person believed. But hundreds of hours of study doesn’t guarantee accuracy. Maybe I missed something.
So fire away, Greg…
Jeremy, I am at a loss for words because as I have already pointed out, the distinction you are fuming over was pointed out and addressed in the paper. When I read the paper, I came away understanding your view exactly as you have said it yourself — that you believe Christ’s death for sins, resurrection, and deity-humanity are not necessary for the lost to believe in order to receive eternal life but they are part of something you can “the gospel” in a very broad sense of all NT revelation. Stegall’s articles accurately portrayed your view and criticized it for what it is. I’m sure you’ve noticed dealing with LS advocates they always claim, “you misrepresent us, you don’t understand us, you misquote us…blah blah blah”. But Jeremy, I understand your view and it was portrayed in the article exactly as you’ve explained it yourself with the exception that it was criticized rather than extolled. I am truly baffled because I think deep down you know this.
Lou Martuneac says
Your first post is compelling and irrefutible. Thanks for carefully, working through it all. I would appreciate a copy of the document you made your notations on, if that is OK with you.
“I’m sure you’ve noticed dealing with LS advocates they always claim, “you misrepresent us, you don’t understand us, you misquote us”
Boy, don’t I know that to be true. If I had a domer for very time I heard that about my book.
I noted this same observation to some of the men in the “crossless” camp. They are making the same claims that the LS men do when their doctrine comes under scrutiny.
BTW, I would add, “you CAN’T understand, Straw man (like above), combative, etc, etc. etc.
Anyway, the men who have adopted the “crossless” gospel are very deeply entrenched in it. I suspect they are very unlikely to be recovered to an orthodox, balanced position. I think the best that can be done is to cointinue to define and expose the position so that unsuspecting believers will be warned of it and know how to recognize it. This was they can resist being drawn into the error, and Lord willing, refute it in their circles of influence.
Before posting these verses, allow me to clarify what my intention IS and what it is NOT. My intention is NOT to exegetically identify the elements that comprise the specific message for salvation termed “the gospel”. I’m sure this will be done through a medium more suitable for such a study such as a more formal article. My intention is to informally and briefly address a more basic question — is the term “THE GOSPEL” ever used after Christ’s resurrection as a technical term for the specific message that the lost must believe to get saved?? Until some statements by Jeremy, I have never heard any evangelical ever who would deny that indeed the term “the gospel” does have such a technical usage. I do not think GES even made such an assertion. This is a totally new and revolutionary idea. Secondly, let me clarify my intention is NOT to prove *every* instance of the term “gospel” is applied in this technical sense. For example, in 1Thes. 3:6 Paul uses the Greek word for “gospel” in its very general sense of good news… “Timotheus…brought us good news of your faith and charity…”. That is obviously the general “good news” sense. But we will see when a message is referred to “the gospel” after Christ’s resurrection, it usually refers to this specific message preached to the the lost, which they must believe in order to receive eternal life. The reason we are talking about after Christ’s resurrection is because “the gospel” that we are talking about was never termed as such before, and for example, during Christ’s earthly ministry, “the gospel of the kingdom” was preached to the Jews–even then “the gospel” had a technical usage then for a different specific message that applied to that particular time (Mt. 4:23, 9:35, cf. 10:7; Mk. 1:15). This is a basic Biblical distinction that has already been well recognized and explained.
Does the term “the gospel” ever have a technical usage for the message the lost must believe to be saved?
A. Acts 15:7-9
In Acts, six passages speak about preaching “the gospel” to the lost (8:25; 14:6; 14:21; 15:7; 16:10; 20:24). Notice according to 11:14, an angel told the Gentile, Cornelius to call for Peter who would “tell you WORDS BY WHICH you and all your household will be SAVED”. In Acts 15:7-9, Peter recounts the story of his evangelism to the household of Cornelius:
“Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of THE GOSPEL AND BELIEVE. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by FAITH.”
Is Peter talking about the general revelation of God by the term “Gospel”. No, he is talking about the specific messsage by which the lost are saved. The Gentiles were “saved” by “faith” in the “gospel”.
As a secondary point, anybody other than a GES follower will recognize the word “life” in Acts 11:18, which recounts this same incident, refers to the Gentiles’ reception of eternal life. It is included in the concept of “saved” (11:14) which also includes “forgiveness of sins” (10:43) and “washing/purification” (15:9). This was received via “repentance”, properly understand as a change of mind, inherent to faith, regarding the truths of the gospel.
The ultimate point is this: The Gentiles were saved through faith. Faith in what according to the context? The Gospel. The gospel here has a technical meaning for the message that the Gentiles were required to believe to be saved.
If Jeremy somehow wants to argue that “saved” (11:14; cf. 15:11) and “forgiveness of sins” (10:43) and “gospel” (15:7) and “believe” (10:43; 15:7) and “washed” (15:9) do not refer to the event in which these Gentiles were justified before God and saved from hell, and if he wishes to contend they were already saved from hell before Peter preached to them, he still must admit this is the event that they were placed into the body of Christ via the baptism of the Holy Spirit which Peter mentions in 11:16. The condition to be placed into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (cf. 1Cor. 12:13), which is the essense of salvation in the church age (compare Col. 2:11-13 with Eph. 2:4-6) is the same for us — to believe the gospel (cf. Gal. 3:26-27).
B. Romans 1:16
“For I am not ashamed of THE GOSPEL of Christ, for it is the power of God to SALVATION for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
Here is a passage that will fulfill Jeremy’s prophecy: “my prediction is that the passages he has in mind either use the term “saved” which in context does not refer to justification”.
Well, GES advocates have been much satisfied with their claim that Romans 1:16 does not refer to the message preached to the lost but rather refers to general truth preached to believers for salvation from God’s wrath (even though the Bible teaches believers are NOT subject to God’s wrath).
To the contrary, I believe there are several proofs this particular verse speaks about the gospel brought to the LOST for first-tense salvation/ justification/ eternal life, not to a message brought only to believers supposely for God’s wrath toward carnal believers! The most obvious, in my eyes, is that “the gospel” which is “the power of God unto salvation” is carried “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” This is concerning the evangelism of the LOST. There is no sense whatever that the gospel is “first to the Jew” among BELIEVERS who are “in Christ” where “there is neither Jew nor Gentile” (cf. 1Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27-28; Col. 3:11).
Let me summarize a couple points why this is talking about salvation from hell and evangelism to the lost:
1. “…for the Jew first and also for the Greek” refers to the NT pattern of evangelism of the lost. To claim that spiritual truth among Church-age believers somehow applies to the “Jew first and also to the Greek” specifically contradicts the NT teaching that… “the new man who is renewed in knowledge [I believe this does refer to a progressive application of general truth from God] according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised…” (Col. 3:10-11). The NT specifically teaches that the new man, which refers to the positional identity of believers in Christ, is to be renewed in the knowledge of God’s word, but that there is absolutely no distinction between Greek nor Jew who have “put on the new man” and thus have an entirely new identity before God. How then could general revelation for believers be “first to Jewish church age believers, then to Gentile church age believer” in light of Colossians 3:10-11??? Such an idea also contradicts the general teaching about believers being positioned in Christ where there is neither Jew nor Gentile (cf. 1Cor. 12:13, Gal. 3:26-27).
2. Romans 1:2-4 also refers to “the gospel” which was promised previously in the “Scriptures”. This is significant for a couple reasons. First, idea of truths of the gospel involving salvation by faith in Christ is applied in a couple other places in Romans, each refering to first-tense salvation (cf. 3:19-26; 9:30-10:4; 10:16). Second, I am unaware of any OT Scriptures prophesying of a message that is ONLY applicable to the salvation of believers in the church age [!] but I am aware of OT Scriptures prophesying how Christ’s death and resurrection would make the payment for our sins so we could be reconciled to God (e.g. Isaiah 53). Third, this gospel message emphasizes the Deity, humanity, death, and resurrection of Christ (1:2-4), all of which are preached, for example, in Acts to the LOST. While obviously, this is also important truth for believers to hold fast, it is simply implausible to suggest this “gospel” is intended only for believers to escape the temporal wrath of God, not for unbelievers to be saved from hell! Fourth, this corresponds with Paul’s point about “the gospel” being “according to the Scriptures” in 1Cor. 15:1-4. He is referring to the same gospel. We will see the significance of this as we go on.
3. There is a change in pronouns between 1:15-16. Although Paul intended to preach the gospel to the Romans, so that they could gain a greater understanding of how Christ’s death and resurrection affected their lives, Paul does not say in v. 16, “so that it can save you”. Rather, his intention is to refer to the POWER of the gospel. How does he extoll the gospel’s power? By reminding them “it is the power of God to salvation for EVERYONE who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” This refers NOT specifically to “you”, i.e., “you believers” but rather to all people (“EVERYONE”) among the Jews and Gentiles.
4. For some reason GES advocates are very adamant about claiming there are TWO conditions to “salvation” from God’s temporal wrath for believers when they get to Romans 10:9-10. They argue that “confess” means to live a life of discipleship in which one outwardly confesses Jesus Christ. They specifically point out this is in ADDITION to believing. And yet, Romans 1:16 — which they claim also speaks of salvation of temporal wrath for believers — only mentions one conditon: “the gospel is the power of God to salvation for everyone who BELIEVES.” This sounds like salvation by faith alone to me, not salvation by faith plus discipleship. Why the inconsistency?
…I could go on. But I’ll limit myself at this last point.
5. Notice, also, that this passage is parallel to the next which is clearly a reference to the gospel brought to the lost for salvation:
C. 1Corinthians 1:17-23:
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach THE GOSPEL, not with wisdom of words, lest the CROSS of Christ should be made of no effect. For THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS is foolishness to those who are PERISHING, but to us who are being SAVED it is the power of God….For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of THE MESSAGE PREACHED TO SAVE THOSE WHO BELIEVE. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach CHRIST CRUCIFIED, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness”
Notice that the message that must be preached to the lost and must be received by the lost for salvation is called “THE GOSPEL” (1:17). This gospel heralds the “cross of Christ” (1:17) and is actually called “the message of the cross” (1:18). This is “the message preached” by which it pleases God “to save those who believe”. Notice that this message specifically involves preaching “Christ crucified.”
A GES blogger on another forum indicated that it is insufficient to cite this passage as proof the message of the cross involves Christ’s death. Instead, I needed some exegesis to show “the message of the cross” by which Paul preached “Christ crucified” includes Christ’s death. Huh?? Well, can this “message of the cross” be something other than what Paul mentioned in 1Cor. 15:1-4?? Exegesis is needed to prove the “message of the cross” involves Christ’s death as an essential element!? For the man who so lacks fear before God that he would somehow divest “the message of the cross” of Christ’s death, whatever fear he does not have, I fear for him. O, I beg you not to shut your eyes, not to harden your heart, not to resist the utterly clear statements of Scripture on this subject.
Paul points out that what separates those who are PERISHING from those who are SAVED is that the saved were saved via faith in the message of the cross which is also called “the gospel” (1:17, 18, 21)?? Lest anyone claim that this only has to do with salvation of believers, let me point out the terms “saved” and “perish” (1Cor. 1:18) are articular participles that function like adjectives to refer to two GROUPS of people, without reference to time element. Notice that faith in the “message of the cross” is what separates the “saved” from the “perishing”.
Furthermore, let me point out that the message of the cross is a STUMBLING BLOCK and FOOLISHNESS to the world! Even though the world was stumbled by this message, Paul thought it ESSENTIAL to preach to the world so that they could be saved! How utterly ironic–and how incredibly sad–that GES members would accuse people like me of STUMBLING the lost by insisting they believe in Christ Crucified!! Zane Hodges said, “Most of us deplore efforts made by Lordship people to add provios to the message of faith in Christ…We rightly reject such ideas. But in our own circles, there is a tendency to add theological information to our message of faith”. That extra theological information explicitly includes “the cross” or “Christ’s substitutionary atonement” or the insistance on telling the unsaved the must believe “Jesus died for your sins” as an essential element of the saving message that must be believed for salvation. This is in his “How to Lead People to Christ Pt. 1, 2” articles. Other GES advocates have accused us of stumbling the lost by insisting they believe the message of the CROSS for salvation, and their posts are on this blog, Atonio’s blog, the GES forum, and Lue Martuneac’s blog. Yet, how utterly ironic that you have placed us into the same company as the Apostle Paul–stumbling the lost with the message of the CROSS by insisting that they believe the message of the CROSS for salvation! Paul indicated that YES, the message of the cross IS a stumblingblock for the lost, and yet he did not offer them any other message by which they could be saved!
Please notice very carefully that the message of the cross was not confined inside the churches but is specifically what “Jews” and “Greeks” heard and rejected.
“The gospel” isn’t used for the specific message that lost need to believe to be saved!?
D. 1 Corinthians 4:15
“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.”
Please notice that Paul has “begotten” the Corinthians through “the gospel”. How you can deny that the term “the gospel” DOES have a technical usage that refers to this essential message of salvation in light of passages like this floors me.
The term “begotten” refers to regeneration (cf. John 3:3, 7; 1Pet. 1:23-25). This refers to the salvation of the LOST, not some sort of spiritual awakening of those already saved!
Paul’s idea of “the gospel” through which the Corinthians were regenerated in 1Cor 4:15 is certainly no different than “the gospel” aka “the message of the cross” we read about in 1Cor 1:17-21 and will read about in 1Cor 15:1-4.
E. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures…”
My comments about this will be brief. I agree v. 2 is properly translated “are being saved” and refers to second-tense salvation of believers. However, Paul’s point is that the Corinthians initially “received” this message when he “evangelized it” at a certain time in the past. This certain time in the past certainly refers to the same thing as 1Cor. 4:15, when Paul begot the Corinthians “through the gospel”. Notice he says this is the message he delivered “first of all” (en protois).
I think the idea that “Christ died for sins” and rose again is ONLY “good news” for BELIEVERS, not “the gospel” for the lost is so absurd it hardly needs comment. I do not believe specifically emphasizes every aspect of the gospel, but it focuses on the foundational truth that counters the Corinthian heresy. But I believe this passage proves that the gospel message focuses on Christ’s “death for our sins” and resurrection, though this is NOT to the exclusion of Christ’s promise of salvation by faith alone which is implied when Christ’s DEATH “for our sins” is properly understood, nor to the exclusion of the essential facts that define WHO this Christ is. The very mention of “Christ” or “Jesus” as the main character of the message of salvation raises the question, “who is He?”
GES advocates love to claim that if we say this passage references the gospel brought to the lost, then we must say Christ’s burial and witness by 500 are part of the gospel. Instead, they insist this is just good news to believers–not “the gospel” for the lost. Antonio has remarked that each of the clauses in v. 4, 5, 6, 7 begin with hoti, and somehow that is supposed to mean that they are equivalent as essential elements to the gospel.
But I wonder if they are so treacherous in their own application of this passage!? Do they seriously insist that believers must keep in mind and “hold fast” to the truth that specifically 500 witnesses saw Him and who saw Him first? No, I assume not. I assume they use some common sense. I assume they would explain the essential elements of Paul’s point here is that Christ died for sins and was raised—and even in their own interpretation in which they claim this “good news” is only essential for believers–they have enough sense to explain to believers the burial is mentioned as proof of His death, and the witnesses are mentioned as proof of His resurrection. And even in their own interpretation, I seriously doubt they would insist that all believers “hold fast” to the truth of who saw Christ first and exactly how many people saw them as an essential element for progress or salvation in the Christian life! Again, if we allow some common sense to temper our understanding, the reason the burial is mentioned is proof of Christ’s death. The reason the witnesses are mentioned is proof of Christ’s resurrection.
Secondly, allow me to make another point that contradicts Antonio’s argument. Paul says this gospel is “according to the Scriptures”. Talking about repetition in clauses, this phrase only modifies Christ’s death for sins and resurrection in v. 3 and v. 4 about the death and resurrection of Christ “He died for our sins according to the Scriptures” and “He rose from the dead according to the Scriptures”. Aside from that, we know the Scriptures did not predict anything referenced in vv. 5-10 regarding who saw Christ. This is all proof of the truth of the gospel, but it does not consistute the gospel, which just like Paul said in Rom. 1:2, God promised before in the Scriptures. The extra elements Paul mentions are proofs of the gospel truths that were promised in the Scriptures.
What follows in Corinthians is Paul’s discourse on the resurrection. Christ’s resurrection implied the resurrection of believers. Actually, the resurrection of believers in the general sense is part of Christ’s promise of everlasting life (cf. John 6:39-40; 11:25-26). I do not see Jeremy’s point about something following v. 4 contradicting our view of 1Cor. 15:1-4.
F. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Again, what separates the “lost” from the saved is “the glorious gospel of Christ”. Again and again, we see that “the gospel” does not refer to general revelation for believers which may include all of the NT and OT. No, it is a specific message that divides the lost from the saved. What is it that the lost “believe not”? What is it that Satan blinds them from? What message will save them if they but believe? The glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.
G. Ephesians 1:12-14
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, THE GOSPEL of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
Notice, “the gospel of your SALVATION.” Jeremy, does this also refer to the “salvation” of believers for temporal wrath?
How can you say THE GOSPEL is just a term for “good news” and does not have a technical usage for the message of salvation by which the lost are saved?
I could go on. Some other passages that immediately come to mind include Rom. 10:16; 2Cor. 11:4; Gal. 1:6-9 4:13; Col. 1:5; 1Thes. 1:5; 2Thes. 1:8; 2:14; 2Tim. 1:10; 1Pet. 1:23-25; 4:17.
I believe all of these show, beyond any doubt, that there IS a technical usage of the term “THE GOSPEL” that refers to the specific “message of the cross” that MUST be preached and believed by the unsaved in order to receive eternal life, justification, salvation, regeneration, forgiveness, or whatever you want to call it. How important is this?
F.2 Thessalonians 1:7-10:
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey [or believe] not THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Please notice… those that disbelieve the gospel our Lord Jesus Christ shall be punished with EVERLASTING destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.
The verb form (not talking about the adjective form) of peitho (translated “obey”) or apeitho in the NT always refers to response to propositional truth, i.e., believing or disbelieving truth.
If we cannot say “the gospel” refers to the specific message to be preached to the lost for salvation, how shall we escape this horrid prediction.
I must remind you of the sacred ground you are treading when claim there is not a specific message found in the NT called “the gospel” that the lost MUST believe to be saved. Where is the fear of God? You are doing something very dangerous when you relegate specific elements identified in Scripture to be part of this “gospel” to simply good news for believers or just “important preparatory” info for the lost to believe “Christ’s promise” yet need not be accepted themselves for salvation.
I hope you will think about these passages.
“The gospel” does indeed have a technical usage that applies to the specific message the lost must believe to receive eternal life.
Lou Martuneac says
I commend you for the fine work you have done in the post above. I am going to store it in my personal files and direct my friends and associates here so that they can avail themselves of your piece.
I don’t know if we have met/interacted on line before, but I would like to get to know you better. If you are open to this please e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks again for the excellent work on and in the Scriptures. You have made an important contribution to defining and understanding the error and dangers in the “Crossless gospel.”
Jeremy Myers says
Thanks for the study.
It seems like maybe we are speaking past each other.
To my knowledge, I have nowhere denied that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to the New Testament gospel. If I have, I misspoke. And yet you keep trying to convine me that it is. I am, and have been, convinced of this for quite some time.
Furthermore, to my knowledge, I have nowhere denied that the death and resurrection of Jesus as part of the New Testament gospel was preached to unbelievers. Again, if I have, I misspoke. In my own evangelism, I nearly always refer to the death and resurrection of Jesus as the means by which Jesus secured eternal life for those who believe in Him.
So for the most part, I agree with your study of the term gospel, and found that it parallels my own study and those of many others who I cite in the ariticle published by the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society. Sure, I disagree with some of your conclusions about the word “salvation” (and by the way, Ephesiasn 2:1-10 defines what “salvation” is in Ephesians) and that the term “gospel” is a technical term for what must be beleived to be born again.
By the way, that the term “gospel” is not a technical term is supported by numerous books and articles, some of which I cite in my article. The fact that you believe that this is a new and revolutionary idea simply shows you haven’t done much research on the term.
I could offer other critiques as well (for example, in several of your references above, you make the exegetical mistake called an “illegitmate totality transfer”), but frankly, this is getting tiring. Especially Lou’s continued use of the term “crossless gospel.” It seems, despite all the evidence, he is using the term just for spite, which is unbecoming of someone who desires to have serious theological dialgue.
So, feel free to post more comments here. I will read them, but I’m not going to respond to this thread any more. I’ll let you have “the last word.” Besides that, Antonio’s blog has a wider readership, and he can argue all of this just as well, if not better, than I, so your time would proably be better spent posting there. Maybe, if some progress is made, I might post there.
I would recommend, however, that in the future, before you start criticizing someone’s theology, make sure you understand it. I still get the feeling from your posts that you have no clue what I believe and teach. You think you know, and you criticize what you think I believe. But when I read it, it’s like you’re talking about someone else, because I don’t believe what you say I believe.
Furthermore, I have raised a lot of questions about your own position, which have not yet been answered. I read in Antonio’s posts where he refused to answer any more accusations against his position until those who disagreed responded to his questions about theirs. But of course, so far, nobody has responded. It seems like our position is the only one that can take the hard questions and provide answers for them. I think his approach will be adopted here.
We have responded over and over to the critiques thrown at our view (and the views invented for us), but i haven’t read any answers to his or my critiques of your position. A position is only as good as it’s ability to handle the critiques thrown at it.
So I’m off to more productive things, like trying to spred the news that anyone can have everlasting life if they believe in Jesus for it.
Lou Martuneac says
It appears you are checking out. After what Greg posted, it is my opinion, that not just your position on the Gospel, but in addition your attempt to counter Stegall’s articles have been totally unwound.
You wrote, “I could offer other critiques as well (for example, in several of your references above, you make the exegetical mistake called an “illegitmate totality transfer”), but frankly, this is getting tiring. Especially Lou’s continued use of the term ‘crossless gospel.’ It seems, despite all the evidence, he is using the term just for spite, which is unbecoming of someone who desires to have serious theological dialgue.”
As I have said before I did not coin the label, but I believe it is appropriate. You men may well preach the cross in a gospel message or soul winning situation, but as far as what a lost man must believe to be saved you men have completely eliminated the cross of Christ, i.e. “Crossless.”
The cross, however, is just one element you have eliminated. There are other choices that labels could be drawn from. This is because repentance has been eliminated, and as we learned from you and Antonio a lost man does not even need to know or understand he is a sinner, and yet he can be saved.
The position some of you men have adopted is a departure from the biblical plan of salvation. It is so severely reduces the Gospel that it has little left of what most Bible believing pastors would call orthodox. Because the cross is the center piece of the Gospel, and you men have removed it from what a lost man must know, understand or believe, your position is aptly come to be known as a “Crossless” gospel.
Finally, I want to make sure that the casual reader understands that this “Crossless” gospel is not widely held to by men in what is known as the Free Grace movement.
Zane Hodges, who is widely recognized, is promoting this interpretation of the Gospel. Men who do not agree with the position might be considered by some to be in agreement with Hodges, simply by being identified with him through the Free Grace movement.
Jeremy, I thank you for this opportunity to post on your forum. I have a certain level of respect and appreciation for that, but I also hope there is someone close to you who can point out some things you are just plain refusing to see. For example, you completely missed the point of my post. How many times do I have to included in the “New Testament gospel”??? But that’s just it: you believe “the gospel” is the entire New Testament and that THERE IS NO SUCH THING as the term “the gospel” being used in a technical sense to refer specifically to the message the lost need to believe to be saved. I explicitly clarified at the beginning of my post that the point was to examine whether there is a such thing called “the gospel” by the NT that the lost must believe to be saved, not to define the elements of it. And yet, you replied as if my point was all about defining the content of the gospel. Each of the passages I showed and commented on shows there is indeed a such thing as the term “the gospel” refering to that message the lost must believe to receive everlasting life in Scripture.
Instead of answering my point on any of the verses I posted, you have sought to change the subject. It is worth noting you say “I still get the feeling from your posts that you have no clue what I believe and teach” and yet, you did not point to one example where I or Stegall’s articles failed to understand what you teach. Also, you said numerous books and articles agree with your position, but do they say “the gospel” is never applied as a technical term for the message the lost must believe to be saved? I read your articles, “Just the Gospel P’s” and “The Gospel is More Than ‘Faith Alone in Christ Alone'” on your site and I did not see any works cited in either that supported your position on the usage of the term “the gospel”.
I have also been careful to clarify that not every occurence of the word “gospel” is a technical term. But what I have shown, and evangelicals have always believed, is that there is a technical useage of the term “the gospel” in the NT for the message the lost must believe to be saved. It is as clear as day from the passages I cited above.
You say I am guilty of illegitmate totality transfer. I wonder why you say this. From what I see, I think this is highly ironic, because it is you who is guilty of illegitimate totality transfer by claiming “there are about 50 things the NT includes in its definition of ‘Gospel'” on your “Gospel Word Study” chart!!! On this chart, you take different elements from different contexts where the word “gospel” or “good news” is mentioned and clump them all up to say “this is the New Testament Gospel”. For example, you include elements from “the gospel of the kingdom” and “the full story in Mark”. But even you distinguished “the gospel of the kingdom” in your “Gospel is More Than…” article. You know that it would be illegitimate totality transfer to take 1Cor. 15:1-4 and apply that to define the “gospel of the kingdom”. Likewise, it is illegitimate totality transfer to take “the gospel of the kingdom” and the completely separate use of the term “the gospel” in 1Cor. 15:1-4 to claim “there are about 50 things the NT includes in its definition of ‘Gospel'”.
An analogy for what you are doing would be this. In a book about different families, we read:
– The Johnson family members are named “Mike, Mary, George, Sally, and Joann”
– The Hansen family members are named “Tom, Liz, Sue, Ron”
– The Smith family memembers are named “Brad, Kara, Don, Jane”
And then you conclude “the definition of ‘family’ is Mike, Mary, George, Sally, Joann, Tom, Liz, Sue, Ron, Brad, Kara, Don, Jane.” Furthermore, you conclude that the term “the family” in a context about the Hansen family cannot refer specifically to the Hansens because “family” has a broad range of meanings and it is also used to speak of various families. And these are two just of the errors of your summary.
I would like to conclude with something I believe the Lord put on my heart from Scripture:
“Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the GOSPEL and BELIEVE. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by FAITH.” (Acts 15:7-9; cf. 11:14)
“For I am not ashamed of THE GOSPEL of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who BELIEVES, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Rom. 1:16)
“But they have not all obeyed the GOSPEL. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has BELIEVED our report.” (Rom. 10:16)
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach THE GOSPEL, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God….For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of THE MESSAGE PREACHED TO SAVE THOSE WHO BELIEVE. (1Cor. 1:17-21)
“But if our GOSPEL be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which BELIEVE not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2Cor. 4:3-4)
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, THE GOSPEL of your salvation; in whom also, having BELIEVED, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1:13)
“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that BELIEVE* not THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that BELIEVE (because our testimony among you was BELIEVED) in that day.” (2Thes. 1:7-10).
“…What shall be the end of those who do not BELIEVE* the gospel?” (1Pet. 4:17)
* The verb form (not talking about the adjective form) of peitho (translated “obey”) or apeitho in the NT always refers to response to propositional truth, i.e., believing or disbelieving truth.
Please notice that very conspicuously, the New Testament repeatedly emphasizes there is one condition to receive everlasting life and NOT go to HELL. That is to BELIEVE THE GOSPEL. If our eternal destiny hinges upon BELIEVING the GOSPEL, we BETTER admit there is a SPECIFIC message called “THE GOSPEL” that we believe for salvation. If “The Gospel” is just a broad term encompassing all New Testament and possibly Old Testament revelation, as Jeremy defined it, then we are ALL DOOMED.
It is not illegitimate totality transfer to identify different elements in different passages that are emphasized about this ONE specific message required for salvation. I think there is nothing more I can do but pray for you and anybody who may be misled on your dangerous conclusions about the gospel.
Somehow part of one of my lines got cut off. I do not know how this line got cut out! It is still in the document from which I copied and pasted it from. At the beginning of the article:
For example, you completely missed the point of my post. How many times do I have to repeat that you believe the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to the “New Testament gospel”???
I’ve been following this discussion regarding the so-called “crossless gospel” being preached (as some say) by Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, Jeremy Myers, and others.
It makes me sad that the biblical message that Jesus says brings eternal life is being misunderstood, and sometimes deliberately rejected. Even before I ever heard about this particular debate, I was saved when I believed God’s promise to give me everlasting life when I believed in Him alone for it. (John 3:16).
I am so thankful for the teaching of GES. I was saved long before I ever heard of them, but they have helped me so much see how the pieces in the Bible all fit together perfectly. And through it all it has strengthened my understanding of the freeness of God’s gift of eternal life— no strings attached.
Here’s what I saw years ago. Peter and the other apostles HAD eternal life BEFORE they understood how Jesus would provide for it.
John 20:31 (Some call the purpose statement of John) was written AFTER Jesus’ death and resurrection. People were saved the same way before and after the death of Christ. They were to believe that Jesus was the Christ. John 11:25-27 clearly shows what it meant to believe that Jesus was the Christ. He was the giver of eternal life.
I know that Zane Hodges, Bob Wilkin, and Jeremy Myers all praise God for HIS blood that was shed for them. Without the shedding of blood there is no salvation. But these men (and myself) want people to receive God’s gift of eternal life. Believing that He died for their sins and rose from the grave does not save anyone UNLESS they understand (believe) that Jesus HAS given them eternal life (life with Him forever). Many people who believe in the cross and resurrection of Christ are still lost because they have a works mentality. It’s Jesus PLUS their part. If a person can’t be saved without first understanding about His death and resurrection, then Jesus was wrong in what He said in John regarding having eternal life by believing in Him. Paul was wrong when he said to the Philippian jailer, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”
I like the approach Jeremy Myers takes in evangelism. Point people to Jesus as the giver of eternal life FIRST. THEN the conversation will probably move to the cross of Christ and His resurrection. BUT believing in Jesus alone for eternal life is the TRUTH that causes a person to pass over from death into life. That’s why the emphasis should be there. People aren’t saved unless they get to that place of understanding…. that Jesus has given them everlasting life (life with Him forever) just by believing His promise. That’s “believing in Him.”
I think most people come to that point AFTER they hear about the death and resurrection of Christ. But starting at that place….. (believing in Jesus for eternal life) is the best place to start because that’s the place a person MUST get to to be eternally saved.
BTW— I admit that I don’t understand how that old testament saints believed in Christ without understanding about His death and resurrection. But they did. It’s recorded clearly in Scripture. They had enough information to know that the Christ would come and give them eternal life when they believed in Him.
I always present the crosswork of Christ and His resurrection when witnessing. But I like the way Jeremy and Bob start the conversation out—- “Do you know that Jesus gives eternal life to all who believe in Him alone for it!” (Something like that.) That emphasis is great because that’s where a person must get to before they can be eternally saved.
Thank you Jeremy for loving people enough to point out the saving proposition.
How sad the message of Scripture necessary for eternal life called “the gospel” has been abandoned by GES advocates and replaced with “the saving proposition”.
I don’t mean to say that Jesus (my Savior) is a proposition. I just used that terminology to try and explain that in order to possess Him as my Savior I need to believe in Him alone AS the giver of eternal life. He alone saves me from the eternal death that I deserve. He has saved me to enjoy Him forever. He IS Eternal LIFE. He has given me eternal life… a life with Him forever. He has given me His life. He’s the only One who can give it to me. There is no other Savior but Him. When I used the terminology… “saving proposition” I was trying to convey that “believing in Him” MEANS to believe in Him FOR eternal life. Any other truth short of that truth doesn’t save according to Jesus’ own words. I can’t believe in myself. I can’t believe in another. I can only believe in Jesus. God saved me when I believed in Jesus alone FOR eternal life. I now have eternal life that can never be lost. It’s a done deal. Jesus is my Savior. He is the One who gave me eternal life just like He promised He would do in John 3:16. I know I’m saved forever because of His promise. You can’t separate His promise from His Person. Please forgive me if I sound argumentative. I don’t mean it that way at all. I just want to express to the world (at least those who read this) that Jesus will give anyone eternal life when they believe His promise of John 3:16. There is no other truth that saves. There are truths that bring us to the place of understanding that He is the giver of eternal life. But there is no other truth that saves. There are many people in all kinds of denominations who believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and rose from the grave, yet they are not saved. It’s because they have not yet believed that He has given them eternal life as He promised. That’s the gift He offers to the believer. In order to have His gift, we must believe Him for it. That’s what it means to believe in Jesus. That’s what I called the “saving proposition.” But I in no way meant to insinuate that He was less that my personal Savior. He alone is worthy of all our praise!
TO HIM ALONE BE ALL THE GLORY!!!
Dear Grace, the reason I think your new terminology is tragic isn’t because the gospel does not involve propositions and the promise of eternal reconciliation to God. It does. The reason I think your new terminology is tragic is because such terminology has been purposely developed by GES advocates to avoid the term “the gospel” because some of them do not think there is a such thing called “the gospel” that is the specific message a person must believe to be saved. Please notice that I posted and commented on several passages that indicate it is absolutely essential to believe a specific message called “THE GOSPEL” for everlasting life. If you do not think this is true, please deal specifically with the passages I posted and the comments I made about them.
Throughout our Christian walk, there are many things that will challenge our faith. One of those things is the question of “how do you know this for sure?” and “how do you know that?” Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox followers point out there are thousands of Protestant groups and all sorts of major disagreements in every brand of Protestantism, and the question is raised “how do you know what YOU believe is right?” This is something I think about every day. I’d like to tell you a couple of things that are reassuring to my faith.
The first is that after Christ’s resurrection, the New Testament consistently teaches about this certain thing called “THE GOSPEL”. We find that true salvation is not tied to an institution or a line of succession, but there is power–the power of salvation–in this specific message called “THE GOSPEL” (Acts 15:7-9; Rom. 1:16; 1Cor. 1:17-23; 4:15; 15:1-4; 2Cor. 4:3-4; Eph. 1:12-14; 2Thes 1:7-10). For more info on these citations, see my comments above. If anybody still wishes to argue there is NOT a specific message called “the gospel” that must be entirely believed for salvation, please deal with my comments above in your response. All true salvation, and thus, all true Christianity sprouts from “THE GOSPEL”.
The second is that Christ died “for my sins” and rose again. You can casually say that lots of people believe Christ died for their sins, yet remain unsaved, but actually you are wrong. Sure, anybody can say “I believe that” and remained unsaved. I’ve interacted with Catholics a fair amount. When I say “Christ died for your sins”, it is true–they say “I believe that”. But when I show them John 3:16 or John 6:47 about Christ’s promise, it is also true, they say “I believe that too.” They claim to believe everything in the Bible including every verse in John. But do they believe the true SIGNIFICANCE of John 3:16? No. Do they believe the true SIGNIFICANCE that Christ died for our sins? No. The fact is, if they believed Christ’s death was the payment for their sins, they wouldn’t look for penance to pay for their sins. They wouldn’t look for indulgences or the treasury of merit to pay for their sins. They wouldn’t look for their works to pay for their sins. “The gospel,” which is the power of God to salvation (Rom. 1:16) is also called “the message of the cross” (1Cor. 1:17-21) because it focuses on this truth that Christ paid for our sins, and that His payment was accepted by God is proven by His resurrection. Your casual claim that tons of people believe the message of the CROSS yet remain unsaved goes againt 1Cor. 1:17-21 where Paul says the message of the cross is a STUMBLING BLOCK and FOOLISHNESS to the world! Even though the world was stumbled by this message, Paul thought it ESSENTIAL to preach to the world so that they could be saved! Paul indicated that YES, the message of the cross IS a stumblingblock for the lost, and yet he did not offer them any other message by which they could be saved!
The third is that Scripture consistently teaches that salvation is by faith alone. This teaching is found both in the book of John and also the rest of the New Testament…
Now, all three of these elements fit together. Sometimes the object of faith is not indicated (for example, Ephesians 2:8 simply says “through faith”).
Sometimes the object of faith is called “the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31). Often, though, the object of faith for salvation the object of faith is called “THE GOSPEL”. This occurs both POSITIVELY (e.g. Acts 15:7-9; 1Cor. 1:17-21; Eph. 1:12-12) and NEGATIVELY (e.g. Rom. 10:16; 2Cor. 4:3-4; 2Thes. 1:7-10; 1Pet. 4:17) . In other words, every person who believes the gospel is saved and will go to heaven (positive sense) while every person who never believes the gospel is going to HELL (negative sense).
When you say the term “the gospel” in Scripture never refers to this specific message a person must believe to be saved, you shake the entire foundation of our faith. The Bible says if you do not believe “the gospel” you are perishing and going to hell (1Cor. 1:17-23; Rom. 10:16; 2Cor. 4:3-4; 2Thes. 1:7-10). If there is isn’t a specific message called “the gospel” that includes the promise of salvation, what is the point of our faith!? If “the gospel” is all NT truth, what is the point of our faith!? If failing to believe “the gospel” and yet “the gospel” means all of God’s revelation, maybe the Catholics are right!! You see, maybe your interpretation of John 3:16 is wrong if it leads you to say person does not need to believe “the gospel” for everlasting life and yet 2Thes. 1:8 says everyone who does not believe the gospel will go to hell! Are you comfortable living with this tension? This is just like the tension we criticize LS advocates about when they say salvation is both free and costly. In fact, this tension leads right into the Roman Catholic interpretation of John 3:16. You see, when you say “the gospel” is all of God’s revelation in general, not a specific message we need to believe to be saved, and yet the Bible says those who do not believe “the gospel” are going to HELL, then the necessary conclusion is that you must be faithful to believe everything God says in order to go to heaven. This IS the Roman Catholic understanding of John 3:16. They say that yes, those who believe in Jesus, in the sense that they are faithful to believe all He teaches, have everlasting life. If what you say is true–that it is impossible to identify a specific message as “THE GOSPEL”–and yet 2Thes. 1:8 says those who do not believe the gospel are going to hell, then maybe we should all flock into Roman Catholicism!!
No, dear friend. After Christ’s resurrection, there is a specific message called “the gospel” that tells us about the Lord Jesus Christ, His death, resurrection, and the promise of everlasting life by faith in Him. This message, unlike the LS gospel and unlike the Roman Catholic gospel, tells us what He has done for us (cf. 1Cor. 1:17-21; 15:1-4) and heralds this specific work as the grounds of our salvation and content of our faith, not what we must do for Him.
I recommend you read my earlier post which addresses the question: Is there a specific message called “THE GOSPEL” the lost must believe for salvation?
That’s all I have to say for now. I’ll pray for you and I may respond to some of your other comments later.
I’m not saying that we REJECT the preaching of the cross. I praise God for the cross of Christ. It’s there that He took my sins away. Christians DO believe in the cross work of Christ. It’s THAT TRUTH that brought me to the place where I understood the “saving gospel” message. I use “saving gospel” because I’m now talking about the “good news” that saves. In context the word “gospel” means good news. You need to determine in context what good news is being talked about. But, for me, I needed to get to the place where I understood WHY He died. It was for the purpose of giving me everlasting life. If a person understands WHY He died, then that will PROBABLY be the moment they believe in Him for everlasting life. For me, the WHY He died never dawned on me until I was in high school even though I grew up believing that He died for me and rose again. The Holy Spirit turned the light of truth on for me and I understood for the first time WHY He died. That’s when I believed in Him for eternal life. That’s when I was born again. I will forever praise Him for His wonderful gift that was purchased with His own blood on the cross of Calvary. But I wasn’t born again until I believed His promise to give me everlasting life. At that time I had absolute assurance of my eternal salvation BECAUSE God promised it to me in His Word (John 3:16). I believed Him. He saved me eternally. DONE!
How do you answer the question of the disciples being saved BEFORE they understood about the cross? You can’t say that they were saved by believing something different than us. The book of John was written AFTER the cross. The book of John records the signs that Jesus did for the purpose of bringing someone to believe in Him for everlasting life. The verses in John that record how to have eternal life were true of the disciples and N.T. believers. We believe the same promise.
I do not believe that born again people today DENY the cross work of Christ. I’m just saying that SOME may not understand all the implications of the cross work of Christ and His resurrection at the MOMENT they believe in Him for eternal life.
You may say…. who are these people? I don’t know. Maybe some children would fall into that category? It could be anyone who picks up a Bible and starts reading the book of John. I’m not God. I don’t know who these people might be. All I know is what God’s Word says. He says the whoever believes in Him (Jesus) has everlasting life. Those who believe that Jesus is the Christ (the giver of eternal life) are eternally saved.
John 20:31… “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 11:26-27… “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? She said to Him, Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Martha believed in the Christ…. the giver of eternal life.
So here’s my question to you. What did Peter believe (or any of the disciples) that brought them to the place where they were eternally saved?
Lou Martuneac says
First, and this is not huge issue, but I usually find it odd when a man will not identify himself. I know of one man, who has good reason, and not for himself, that he is allowed by a site to use an alias.
You wrote, “I’m not saying that we REJECT the preaching of the cross.”
I trust you are not claiming that those of us who reject your view of soteriology charge you with NOT preaching the cross. That is not the case at all, and that has been made abundantly clear.
You men hold to that position I spite of the very clear and plain teaching in Romans 10:9-10.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Removing the death and resurrection of Christ from what lost man must believe is how your position came to be known as the “Crossless” gospel.
Then we have Antonio and Jeremy who claim that an unsaved man does not even have to know or acknowledge he is a sinner, but can be born again. Is that a position you would support?
The position you men espouse boils down to this: All that a lost man must believe is that Jesus is the Giver of eternal life and he is saved. He does not need to know he is a sinner, nothing about the wrath of God, his guilt before God and pending judgment, the cross, or His resurrection. Just believe for eternal life and you have it not matter what else you may or may not believe.
Frankly, “Crossless gospel” may be to general or to specific depending on how one looks at it. I have to conclude that your position would appropriately fall under the “Easy-Believism” umbrella.
First, I must confess that I am a woman, not a man. Hope it’s OK to enter into this discussion being female.
I really think it would be helpful if you would answer just one of my questions at a time. Other wise we just talk over one another. The question I would love for you to answer is this. “What did Peter believe (or any of the disciples) that brought them to the place where they were eternally saved?” I’ll be looking forward to your answer.
I will gladly try to answer your Rom. 10:9,10 question later, but for now I would like for you to answer my one question above (if that would be OK). We need to take one point at a time. But I know that my anwers will not even begin to be as clear and precise as Antonio and Jeremy. I think they have been abundantly clear.
Thank you for your time.
Lou Martuneac says
Thanks for clarifying this is a name, not an alias. Antonio uses “Free Gracer” at another site.
The brief answer is that you seem to have framed your question with either no opinion of, or you possibly don’t recognize the importance and fact of progressive revelation. I am going to defer to Greg to answer your question, if he chooses to, in detail.
I find it noteworthy that the NT was written in approximately a 60 year period. The OT was written over a span of many centuries. Salvation has always been by faith: either looking to the Messiah and the promise of His coming, or looking back to Him and what He did.
You seem to have landed on the Gospel of John as the exclusive repository of God’s plan of salvation. The Gospel of John for the “crossless” advocates appears to trump any other mention of or reference to salvation in the rest of the NT. The 1 Cor. 15 & Rom. 10 passages are brushed aside in spite of their clear context and meaning.
Frankly I have interacted enough with the “crossless” advocates and reading Hodges’ to be convinced you folks have erred grievously. You have bounced of one unbiblcal position (Lordship Salvation) to another extreme (Crossless gospel).
I’m sorry. I didn’t understand your answer to my question. You talked about progressive revelation, but never answered my specific question. Greg hasn’t answered either. Here it is again…..
“What did Peter believe (or any of the disciples) that brought him to the place where he was eternally saved?” What SPECIFICALLY did he believe about Jesus that caused him to pass from death to life?
I’ll be looking forward to your specific answer. Thank you so much.
Grace, I will be happy to answer your question and even respond to your post in detail, one part at a time. But first, since we don’t back track on everything that has already been posted, I would like you to answer mine.
“I use ‘saving gospel’ because I’m now talking about the ‘good news’ that saves. In context the word ‘gospel’ means good news. You need to determine in context what good news is being talked about. ”
As I already stated, I know the word translated “gospel” means “good news”. But my point is there is an abundance of passages that use the term “the gospel” to refer to the specific message the lost must believe to be saved. My question is: do you agree with this?
My question right now is NOT “what is the contents of the ‘saving gospel’?” My question is even more basic and elementary than that. It is whether the New Testament at times uses the term “the gospel” to refer to the specific message the lost need to believe to be saved?
Here are some verses that will help you answer this question. So that we don’t back-track again on the fact “gospel” means “good news”, I will substitute “good news” for “gospel” in the verses below:
“Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of THE GOOD NEWS AND BELIEVE. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”
“For I am not ashamed of THE GOOD NEWS of Christ, for it is the power of God to SALVATION for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach THE GOOD NEWS, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God….For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of THE MESSAGE PREACHED TO SAVE THOSE WHO BELIEVE. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness”
1 Corinthians 4:15
“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through THE GOOD NEWS.”
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you THE GOOD NEWS which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures…”
2 Corinthians 4:3-4
“But if OUR GOOD NEWS be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, THE GOOD NEWS of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10:
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey [or believe] not THE GOOD NEWS of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
…What shall be the end of those who do not believe THE GOOD NEWS? (1Pet. 4:17)
Notice, Grace, that each of these passages condition salvation/everlasting life upon faith alone in something called THE GOOD NEWS. Right now, I am not asking you to agree with me on what this GOOD NEWS entails. All I am asking is whether you can see this very basic truth–that the Bible uses the term THE GOOD NEWS (or “the gospel”) to refer to the message the lost MUST believe to receive salvation?
Again, I am not asking if every use of the term “gospel” in the Bible refers to this message. It does not. But I am asking if you can see, in light of all the passages above that predicate salvation upon faith in THE GOSPEL, that these various passages I quoted refer to the one saving message the lost need to believe to be saved by using the term THE GOSPEL??
I will be more than happy to respond to your question if you can agree on this elementary truth.
P.S. If anyone wishes to comment on my use of the passages I quoted, please also interact with my comments on all of them in a previous post above.
I PROMISE that I will do my best to respond to your questions (above), but there’s no reason you can’t at least answer my one small question FIRST. If you do that, I’ll know that you are SERIOUS about this discussion. After you answer my question, I’ll do my best to respond to your questions above.
Here again is my question…..
“What did Peter believe (or any of the disciples) that brought him to the place where he was eternally saved?” What SPECIFICALLY did he believe about Jesus that caused him to pass from death to life?
Grace, the fact that I’ve already posted dozens of pages of Biblical information shows I’m serious about this discussion. I don’t feel I need to prove that further to you. I’d be happy to answer your question, but your post does not take into account the very clear truth I have already driven at. If you are unwilling to admit this clear truth, you will be unwilling to admit any truth I post in response to your question. So I hope to hear from you soon. In Christ, Greg
I spent part of my afternoon thinking about your questions as I looked over the verses you posted. I WOULD LIKE TO RESPOND. But I really don’t think you’re serious about answering MY specific question. If you were, you would answer it. I can only conclude that you don’t have an answer or I don’t matter to you.
I am not in this to win an argument. I enjoy Bible Study. I love to be challenged on biblical issues because it sharpens me in what I believe. Sometimes it helps me to see where I am wrong. So I think interaction around the Word of God is good. But the fact that you won’t answer my question makes me think that you don’t really care about what I think. It makes me think that you’re only in this to prove your point and win an argument.
Forgive me if I’m wrong. I’m not trying to be unkind. I’m just wanting an answer to a VERY, VERY, VERY IMPORTANT question. If you don’t have the answer, I would like to reach out to others who read this post and ask them for their answer to my SPECIFIC question. Is there anyone out there who can answer this question for me….. (AND THEN, Greg, I will gladly reply to your above questions). In fact, I would love to respond. I do have thoughts that I think are pertinent to those verses.
Again, here is my question for ANYONE who will answer. Please be SPECIFIC. Thank you.
“What did Peter believe (or any of the disciples) that brought him to the place where he was eternally saved?” What SPECIFICALLY did he believe about Jesus that caused him to pass from death to life?
Grace, as sweet as you sound, it is abundantly clear to me that you are not serious about learning the answer to your question.
In light of everything I posted, someone who cannot say there is a such thing Scripture calls THE GOSPEL that a lost sinner needs to believe for salvation has obviously committed to the theology of GES rather than the plain teaching of the Word of God. I think I have proven my point, and I’m sure someone will respond to peripheal issues about it, but no GES advocate so far has chosen to admit there is a such thing Scripture itself calls “THE GOSPEL” the lost needs to believe to be saved. And I highly doubt any GES advocate will seriously attempt to deal with the passages I cited that all prove this simple proposition that there is something Scripture calls “THE GOSPEL” the lost need to believe to be saved. Having reached this impasse, I will bow out of the conversation. If anybody is seriously seeking more answers, feel free to email me at ymkkLL@yahoo.com. — Greg
Jeremy Myers says
I have just e-mailed Grace asking her not to answer your question until you answer hers. She says she has an answer, and I believe her. I have also asked that she e-mail me her answer. I present the same offer to you. If you have an answer to her question, and would like to e-mail it me, I seriously want to know what it is. I am “seriously seeking more answers.”
I know you are kind of new to the blogosphere…so am I. But there are many similarities between what we are doing here and a formal debate. In debates, both sides have the opportunity to question the other side. If the person cannot answer or refuses to answer the questions posed to them, they are considered the “loser” of the debate. This is also Biblical: “The first to present his case seems right, until another questions him” (Prov 18:17).
So Grace is going to send me her answer (I hope) and I make the same offer to you. If you have an answer to her question about Peter, send it to me. I reiterate: I am seriously seeking answers. And for those of you who are seriously seeking more answers, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com to get both answers (unedited) from both parties.
Jeremy Myers says
Greg’s questions was “whether the New Testament at times uses the term ‘the gospel’ to refer to the specific message the lost need to believe to be saved.”
I have received an answer from Grace to Greg’s question. Thank you, Grace!
Jeremy…. I was ready to post this message to Greg when I read your above post. So I just wanted to end my conversation with Greg this way. Thank you so much for the opportunity!
I will respect Greg’s decision not to answer my Specific question. Thank you Greg for the time you took with me.
Now I would like to appeal to anyone else out there who has an interest in this discussion. If anyone else has an answer to my SPECIFIC question, I would be very interested in reading it. It’s not a trick question. It’s not put there to win an argument. I’ve put it forth because it is very clear in scripture that Peter and the other disciples were eternally saved BEFORE they understood the crosswork of Christ and His resurrection. This is a fact. It can’t be disputed.
It’s also important to realize that the purpose statement of John’s gospel is written AFTER Christ’s death and resurrection (John 20:31). So you can’t say that Peter and the disciples believed something different than we do today to be eternally saved. It would be the same. So AGAIN here is my SPECIFIC question that I am asking SOMEONE ELSE (not Greg) to answer.
“What did Peter believe (or any of the disciples) that brought him to the place where he was eternally saved?” What SPECIFICALLY did he believe about Jesus that caused him to pass from death to life?
Jeremy Myers says
I still have not received a reply from Greg (or anyone else) to Grace’s question though she did send me her reply to his.
A theological system is only as good as its ability to answer the tough questions. If Greg has no good answer to Grace’s question, his position must be suspect as well.
Jeremy Myers says
I finally received clarification on what Rokser meant when he said he had been “stonewalled” by key Free Grace Leaders.
What he means is that in July-Sept of 2005, Tom Stegall had an e-mail conversation with Bob Wilkin over some of these issues. Rokser sent a few e-mails as well. That was two years ago.
Last year, I went to a local conference and talked for three hours with three men who are part of the Stegall/Rokser group. They apparently went back and reported to Stegall and Rokser what we had talked about.
Also, about two years ago, Tom Stegall gave a talk at the Fall Bible Conference in Duluth on “The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel.” I ordered and listened to the message, and had Bob listen to it as well.
And that is the extent of Stegall and Rokser being “stonewalled” by key Free Grace Leaders.
Well, I take it as an honor to be considered a key free grace leader, but honestly, if I am a key leader, Free Grace theology is in trouble! (Stegall can quote me on that. Ha ha.) But aside from this, I have never talked with Stegall or Rokser, nor have they ever e-mailed me or written a letter to me. Me ordering Stegall’s CD and then not responding to it can harldy be considered stonewalling. Also, I sat down and talked with three of Stegall’s friends for three hours. I never received an e-mail or a letter stating a desire to carry on the conversation. How is this stonewalling?
Regarding Bob, he engaged them in an e-mail conversation for three months. This is not stonewalling either.
What this reveals is an intentional distortion of the facts. Rokser’s claim makes it sound like he and Stegall tried to contact Bob Wilkin, Zane Hodges, John Niemela, and others, but never got a response back. Yet the opposite is true. They only contacted Bob, and he dialogued with them for three months. If Rokser and Company can distort the facts on something as silly as who had conversations with whom at what times in order to make themselves appear more sanctified in this debate, what other facts are they willing to distort?
My answer is that they distort most of them. I still emphatically deny most of what they say about my position. I know what I believe and it does not match up with what they say I believe, however many quotes they rip out of context. Even the term “Crossless Gospel” is an absurd misnomer, which they recognize as an inaccurate title to my view, yet they continue to use it.
So the bottom line is that NOW I am going to stonewall them. Not because I’m afraid of theological debate, but because I’ve got better things to do… like telling people how they can have everlasting life through faith in Jesus Christ.
Brad Doskocil on Facebook says
To be criticized by Stegall may just be a badge of honor……
Jeremy Myers on Facebook says
Ha! It just might be! Of course, this was nearly 5 years ago. He has long since forgotten about me, which is a good thing.
Well, not getting into the arguments of these other people and whatever email correspondence has taken place in the past, I’d be interested in discussing evangelism, specifically, how you do it.
So, when you talk to people, you begin with if they believe in Jesus they can have eternal life? Now, to me, that would seem to be more along the lines of why you disagreed with the Way of the Master (WOTM). You had stated that WOTM teaches people to say: “God loves you so much that He wants to have an eternal relationship with you. And if you don’t want to have one with Him, He’s going to punish you forever in hell.”
But that is not how evangelism starts with WOTM. I would start by showing a person their NEED for a Savior first. The Bible tells us that the message of the cross is foolishness to unbelievers.
How would you witness to me? Here I am, a person who is open to this sort of discussion. How would the conversation go?
Jeremy Myers says
You seem to already know a lot about Scripture and Jesus. Did you grow up in the church? Are you a pastor? Did you go to Bible college or seminary? What church are you part of now? What do you think about the teaching of Jesus that eternal life is freely given to anyone who simply believes in Him for it?
Well thanks for all that. I grew up believing I was a Christian long before I ever really was. I believed but did not follow, and went to church off and on through childhood, and stopped going at all as a young adult, since I was too busy sinning and enjoying my sins to be bothered with anything like that. I thank the Lord that I didn’t die during that period of my life. I am not a pastor, I have no college or seminary experience, and I currently go to an Evangelical Free Church.
I understand the teaching of Jesus that eternal life cannot be earned and we do not deserve it. But I also recognize that even the demons believe (James 2:19-20), yet I would not consider them to be saved. Scripture does not contradict itself, so there must be more to it than that.
We cannot earn our way into heaven through works, but our lives will be changed, we will be a new creature (2 Cor 5:17). I do not believe in what is commonly called “carnal Christianity”, and I think that Hebrews 10:26-27 clearly points out that error. We cannot deliberately keep on sinning and think that we are saved.
The scariest words in all of Scripture are Matt 7:21-23, where people standing before Jesus, fully expecting to be let into heaven, yet are told, “Away from Me, I never knew you.” These were not unbelievers, they called Him Lord and did works in His name – but they did not do the will of the Father.
The path is narrow and the gate is small that leads to eternal life (Matt 7:13-15). We must be sure that we are on the right one, and doing the will of God, not making up our own ideas or deceiving ourselves.
With all that said, Scripture is clear that God doesn’t want any to perish (2 Pet 3:9), and that we must repent (Matt 3:2, Luke 13:3-5, Acts 17:30) as well as believe Jesus Christ, trusting in Him for the payment of our sins. We will even be held accountable for those we do not warn, as per Ezekiel 33:8-9, and Paul seemed to be referring to this verse when he said that he was innocent of the blood of all men because he proclaimed the whole will of God (Acts 20:26-27).
So, how would this witnessing encounter go? How would you go about talking to me about my salvation?
Jeremy Myers says
We are talking about it. What I am doing is exactly what I do. I start with where the person is, and ask questions, and let them ask questions in return.
With you specifically, I would go to each and every one of those Scriptures you quoted, and one at a time, show you how I think they mean something completely different than the way you referred to them above. I would argue that if this is the way you read these verses, then you are believing in a works-based religion, not in the free gift of eternal life through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
Well, to be fair you only started because I initiated the conversation – does that happen a lot in your experience? Or do you only debate fine points of theology with other believers? I wouldn’t consider that to be witnessing.
Did you see the part above where I said, “We cannot earn our way into heaven through works”? Tell me how I could be more clear regarding my rejection of works-based religion.
If my interpretation of Scripture is incorrect, I want to know about it. Let’s go through some verses, I’d like to start with Hebrews 10:26-27, which says:
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”
Help me to understand how that could possibly mean anything else, other than what it clearly states.
Jeremy Myers says
I don’t consider debating theology with other believers to be witnessing either. But you asked how I would witness to you, and so I took what little I knew about you, and went with it. This is what I see Jesus doing over and over in the Gospels, and all the apostles follow His example. They start with where people are at (wherever that is), and just have conversations with them. There is no set outline or bullet points they must discuss.
Regarding Hebrews 10:26-27, there is probably ten different interpretations of that passage. If you are only aware of your own, I suggest you read some commentaries written by people with different viewpoints than your own. I am not about to try to deal with that text (or any text for that matter) in the comment section of this blog.
Eventually I want to write a whole series of posts on the warning passages in Hebrews, as well as some of the other texts you reference above. If you want to wait until I do that, we can discuss the text in more detail at that time.
Look, I haven’t “interpreted” Hebrews 10:26-27, I only posted it and asked how it could be saying something other than it seems. You say that I’m wrong based on what? Whose commentaries do you recommend?
The plain text of the verse is perfectly clear unless we want to check with every heretic through history who twists the words of Scripture until we find the one we like. There’s really no need for changing the plain meaning of what it states.
Once again, when pressed, I cannot get any details from you, only generalizations on how I’m wrong, but nothing to show me the error of my ways or help to correct them.
How about Matt 7:21-23, then? Can you give me any of your own insight on how I misinterpret that one?
Jeremy Myers says
Stripped of the Jewish (Hebrew) historical/cultural context, and based on some faulty definitions of terms that have crept into Christian theology over the past 500 years, the verses sound quite dire.
And indeed, they are dire. But not in the way that most people assume.
Do you recognize that people might read and understand these passages in a way that is different from one another? And I’m not talking about heretics, but good, scholarly, Godly, biblicaly-based, wise individuals. I mean, check out this book: Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews. And that is just four views. My view on the warning passages is not even in there, and I am aware of 2-3 others that are not in that book either. It would not be too difficult to write a “10 Views” book.
As for myself, I am partial to the treatment of Hebrews as found in The Bible Knowledge Commentary [New Testament Edition]. It’s not perfect, and I wish it was longer and somewhat more scholarly, but it gives the general thrust of these warning passages that seem to make the most sense to me.
Thanks for the links, I’ll check those out. But I must say, I’m a little skeptical. I really don’t see how it could be any more clear than it is written. It really doesn’t matter how many different ways it can be interpreted, but what the Author meant when it was written. Looking at it in context, I’m curious to see what other views there could possibly be.
Jeremy Myers says
Let me know what you find out!
Eventually, I write more on Hebrews 10, Matthew 7, and some of the other texts you mentioned. I will be interested to get your input.
Thank you for this article. You have no idea how this helped me.
I was never comfortable with the “checklist” evangelism used to share the Gospel, but I was never able to put into words why. You helped clarify that. Thank you.
I also read the whole debate in the comment section and am saddened to see how far people go just to prove themselves right. It’s like we can’t agree to disagree anymore. For a non-believer looking in, this doesn’t look good.
My thought is, if it’s not blatantly heretical, and it works for you, you are allowed to have the theological worldview you feel comfortable with, just don’t try to make me agree with you when I simply say ‘I disagree’.
I hope I’m not misunderstood. I am definitely not saying “just believe whatever you want to believe if it feels right and warm and fuzzy!”
I may not be able to express my thoughts into words like everyone here, but I just wish we could agree to disagree at times and save ourselves the headache of discussion.
Keep up the great work, Jeremy. You have been a great influence in my life, even if you have only know of my existence now. 🙂
May God continue to bless you tremendously.
Edwin Alvarez says
Very interesting, I was hooked on Way of the Master. I agree I don’t think it “was the way of the Master” pun intended but at least it got you going on evangelizing. I have been recently trying to find ways I can evangelize or make it natural to me. God speaks to us in different ways, so shouldn’t we be open to speaking to others differently as well? What helped me become a Christian was someone telling me about God’s love and his sacrifice on the cross. I did not know much about Hell other than bad people went there but neither did I consider myself a good person but I thought I wasn’t a bad person either. It was God’s love and the acts of Christians in my life that helped me believe God was real and that his gift of salvation was open for everyone to receive it. I did not know about sin, full knowledge only came later after I was saved.
As Christians we can become very dogmatic and become just like the Pharisees we like to condemn all the time. We can become very narrow-minded in many things like watching Fox News, voting Republicans into office, only watching Christian TV etc. There is a lot of gray in certain areas. If WOTM works for you and you see the fruits of your labor then continue using it. If its not your way no worries proclaim the kingdom of God and Christ crucified and resurrected in the way you know how. At least the message is out there.
One other example, a friend of mine recently got saved in a Joel Osteen event. Do I agree with Joel Osteen’s message? no but does that nullify my friend’s all of sudden interest in God and Christ also no. God will lead my friend, it’s the Holy Spirit job who convicts us and empowers us to live for Christ.
I been wanting to go out and evangelize more but I’m an introvert. I don’t like being the center of attention and I’m shy yet I realize I have to find the best way to speak the truth in the way that works and feels natural to me. Your article has helped clarify my thoughts and focus on this purpose. I feel convicted to use my time wisely to spread the Good News because I am grateful of all he has done for me. I know I can never pay him back but I want to give back out of gratitude. He has been amazing to me. Lastly another important point is that we should make disciples. We need to mentor and invest in the lives of believers who want to grow so that they in turn can help others and solidify our fellowship and as a whole become like Christ to others in this world.
Thank you for your article, I like your method it seems more natural to me.