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|The Nashville Statement
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
| The Way of Salvation
| OK. The post title -sounds- a little sensational, but it really isn't.
I was over at Brad William's blog a few days ago, and I noticed that in describing the gospel he didn't once mention repentance.
For simplicity's sake, Brad distilled the gospel (as outlined by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4) into two points:
1. Jesus Christ died for our sins.
2. Jesus was raised from the dead.
I took umbrage at this particular distillation - recalling elsewhere how Christ Himself preached for men to repent and believe in the gospel, which is precisely what Paul was preaching, as Luke records in Acts 20:21, that men should exercise repentance towards God, and faith in Jesus Christ.
Brad's distillation, as I say, gave me some concern, because he seemed to be teaching a different gospel than the one our Lord preached, and was preached by the apostles.
I expressed my concern in the meta, and was relieved that Brad was not off the deep end, but was merely defining what the "good news" was.
In thinking about it, the parable of the sower came to mind, and in the light of that parable I began to agree with Brad's summation:
Recall that the parable of the sower explains that there are three effects of the seed landing in good soil - it produces thirty, sixty, or an hundred fold. Recall as well, that there are three sorts of bad soil - the beaten path, the rocky soil, and the thorny/weedy soil. The seed, Christ explains, is the word of God, and the various soils represent the heart condition of the hearer.
In this formula salvation equal the word of God plus a penitent heart, that is,
The way of salvation = Repentance + The Gospel
In my own life, whenever I think of "sharing the gospel" I generally describe the way of salvation, as opposed to simply stating that Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our justification. But technically, that information by itself -is- the gospel. If I fail to mention repentance and say only this much, I have, "technically" shared the gospel - even though I have fallen short of teaching everything that Christ and the apostles taught about the way of salvation.
I agree that the "word of God" (the seed) saves a person, but I also recognize that this seed will not produce salvation unless/until it finds purchase in good soil. So when I preach the "way of salvation" it is repentance plus the gospel.
But we typically do not make that distinction - if you're like me, you regard "the gospel" and "the way of salvation" as being synonymous; even perhaps going so far as to frown upon any distinction between the two.
In the book of Acts, at Pentecost we see the Jews hearing the gospel, and after hearing (and believing) it they ask, "What must we do to be saved?" They had the gospel, they believed it, but they weren't regenerate yet - they needed something, and they asked Peter what it was. His response was that they should repent and also be baptized. (Not that Baptism -is- salvific, but that it was a work in line with, or demonstrative of, the genuine nature of their repentance. Recall how Paul says to the Corinthians in 1 Corinathians 1:17, "For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel..." - if baptism had to do with regeneration, then Jesus was sending Paul to preach the gospel without actually leading anyone in the [baptismal] way of salvation.)
Later in the book of Acts we see an opposite scenario. At Cornelius' house we see a household that is already repentant - they have turned away from falsehood, and are seeking to follow the one true God - that is, they are repentant - but they lack the gospel. Again Peter comes, and this time he doesn't demand that they repent - rather he preaches the truth to them - and SHAZAM! Pentecost, take two.
What a joy to preach the gospel to a heart that has been prepared by repentance! To see up close that brokenness giving way to light - which in turn gives way to peace, joy, and genuine fellowship.
Contrarily, how unsatisfying it is to see the gospel "accepted as true" by a heart that has never been anything other than impenitent, and receives the "seed" as it were, into that useless soil - at first there is great joy over the bonus of eternal life - but that dwindles quickly even as the proverb says - "For lack of wood the fire goes out" - who is raised from the dead in newness of life? The one who, in repentance, has gone to the cross with Christ.
Anyway, I found it an interesting distinction because, even if we failed to preach repentance (and I wouldn't do that since both Christ and the Apostles preached repentance alongside the gospel), yet even if we did - the gospel is still "the power of God unto salvation" when that same gospel is believed in a penitent heart.
It is good to note that while scripture teaches us that God is the One who gives us the desire to repent (we don't generate that ourselves) - yet we are still required to act on that desire!
Yet I can't see myself presenting the gospel in isolation - I would always have to couple it with the teaching of the soils.
posted by Daniel @
Funny. I just left a comment on the Extreme Theology blog about this same thing - or at least an aspect of this that included the Acts 2:38 passage. Over there, in an effort to talk about what Baptism does (from a Lutheran perspective), the author neglected repentance and moved straight to the statement about baptism being for the forgiveness of sins.
Joe, I am reminded of how Paul says in first Corinthians 1:17, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel..."
If salvation rested on baptism, it would certainly have been fruitless for Christ to send Paul to preach the gospel while -not- sending him to baptize.
I purposely left the baptism part out of my post so as to focus on the point I was making, and also to avoid the whole baptismal regeneration thing.
Glad to see you back.
Excuse me in advance for this long comment, as I wanted to reply to as much of your post as I could.
I must say that I also believe that the gospel and the way of salvation are distinct, yet not in the fashion that you here put forth.
I believe that the gospel (as pronounced in 1 Cor 15:3ff) is the good news we preach as a testimony to the way of salvation. (The gospel message is only one of many things I relate to the potential convert in support of the way of salvation).
The way of salvation is simple, and I believe that its simplicity is an offense to most.
"Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47).
The way of salvation is faith in the promise of Jesus Christ to guarantee eternal life to the believer in Him for it.
Therefore the gospel is "Jesus died... and rose again from the dead..." and the way of salvation is simply believing Christ in His promise.
Why believe that Jesus guarantees eternal life to the believer? Because He is the one who died and rose again. And this is where we add that He was sinless, that He was God, etc.. All that we say to the convert must bring Him to conviction that Christ guarantees for him eternal life by faith alone.
It is interesting that you equate "the gospel" message with 1 Cor 15:3-4, and then propose, imply, that Jesus, during His early earthly ministry gave this message.
Did Jesus preach to the masses his death and resurrection? Did he even teach his disciples this truth so early in His ministry (as you have referenced Mark 1:14-15)?
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
It wasn't until "that time" that Jesus spoke of His death and resurrection, and this clearly to "His disciples".
Were the disciples not saved until 3 years into Jesus' ministry?
Also, in your explanation of the parable of the sower, you seem to be equating the "production of fruit" with regeneration. The parable is clear that life "sprang up" upon entrance of the seed into the heart in the last three soils (see Luke 8: 6, 7, 8, where in each of these verses we find that the seed "sprang up", "sprang up" and "sprang up") and thus produced life.
(For an exposition of the parable of the sower that takes into account the whole parable, click on this link to my blog: Free Grace Theology: Exposition of the Parable of the Sower, where no answer concerning the exposition itself has been given from those in the Experimental Predestinarian, Calvinist, camp.)
I take issue with your formulation, Daniel, that states:
"The way of salvation = Repentance + The Gospel"
in several different ways.
First, it can be aptly shown that someone can have a penitent, repentant heart, believe the message of 1 Cor 15:3,4, and still remain unsaved!
I, when I was a Roman Catholic, and countless others, displayed repentance toward God and also believed that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead. I believed Paul's words in 1 Cor 15: 3ff, as do countless penitent Roman Catholics, who, nevertheless, remain unsaved.
Secondly, I have you on record saying:
That is why when I read how Paul describes the gospel that he preached in Acts 20:21 ("testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ") I do not imagine for one moment that Paul was "adding repentance" to the gospel - or inventing some new "two step" gospel, whereby repentance comes before faith...
But in your illustrations and teachings here you HAVE created this dichotomic "two-step" gospel. In your teaching in this current post you have stated that one may believe the gospel and yet remain unsaved, as in the case of Acts 2:37! Therefore you give us this formula of your "addition" model of a two-step "way of salvation". Furthermore, in your Cornelius example, you relate, you give another testimony to your two-step, multi-conditional "way of salvation". For they repented and then much later believed the gospel, is this not "repentance coming before faith"?
I agree that the "word of God" (the seed) saves a person, but I also recognize that this seed will not produce salvation unless/until it finds purchase in good soil.
1) The word of God produced life in not just the last soil, but in the last 3 soils.
2) You, with this affirmation, condition salvation on the fruit that is produced: no fruit = no salvation, or expressed negatively, no fruit = hell, thus fruit becomes a condition of salvation.
You confuse me sometimes, Daniel. You at times say that faith and repentance are sides of the same coin, then at other times you completely distinguish them.
You say that it is not enough that the crowd in Acts 2 believed that Jesus was the Christ, which they did:
36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do [now that we believe your message that we have responsiblity in Jesus' crucifixion, and that Jesus is in fact Christ]
But John is clear:
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.
1 John 5:1
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God
John is emphatic, and cannot conceive of any person who believes that Jesus is the Christ (not merely that Christ is his last name, but IS the Christ) and nevertheless does not have life and not born of God!
The hearers of Acts 2:37 have believed that Jesus is the Christ and are therefore saved!
"Repent and be baptized" are co-ordinate conditions for the results that are intended follow. In light of your use of acts 2:38 in support of your argument, it i s telling how you don't mention water baptism in your formula for "the way of salvation". I don't have time nor space to address verse 38, but suffice it to say two things:
1) eternal life and forgiveness of sins are distinct
2) God, at any time, may require any conditions He deems appropriate, in order for forgiveness of His already eternal-life-possessing children (such as the sacrifices in the Old Testament, and confession of sins in 1 John 1:9, in the New). Here it is clear that God gave the requirement to the hearers in Acts 2:38 that they both repent (of what in the context? their association with the crucifixion of Christ) AND be baptized in order to be forgiven!
See: THE GOSPEL AND WATER BAPTISM: A STUDY OF ACTS 2:38Under Point VII. For more on my position.
Any casual reader of the "proof-text" from Acts 20:21 would know that there are two separate things going on here: repentance and faith. This is not the same action. And the actions both have different objects.
The burden of proof is on you to show that this verse equates repentance with faith, or two different conditions in your "way of salvation", and that this verse is Paul’s proclamation of the his simple "way of salvation".
Lets look at this verse in its context:
From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Knowing that he may not see the Ephesian elders again, Paul was encouraging them, stating that he had performed his ministry to the fullest with regards to them and provided them all the teaching that they needed (Paul “kept back nothing that was helpful”). Paul taught them publicly and from house to house. Paul ministered for some time in Ephesus (over 2 years). Paul’s teaching during this time can be summarized as teaching repentance and faith. These are the hallmark teachings of the Christian life.
Paul did not keep anything back in his preaching that was helpful! He proclaimed God's whole counsel. Repentance toward God and faith in Christ are to be regarded as the essense of all his preaching for their benefit. To say that because Paul preached "repentance toward God" in this verse and context means that Paul preached repentance as a necessary requirement for salvation is to import that meaning into the text.
Paul, in his apostolic defense of the "gospel" (in its sense of "the way of salvation"), the book of Galatians, fails to mention jot nor tittle of repent, repentance or any of its cognates within the letter’s confines. Throughout his letter he regards faith alone the sole conduit bringing justification to the believer.
It is telling that Paul pronounces an anathema on anyone preaching any other gospel than the one that he delivered, then goes on to expound and defend that gospel, and utterly fails to mention even once the doctrine of repentance. Why does he fail to mention it even once in his defense of the gospel? Because he knows that the messages of "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" and "Repent" are two different exercises for different intended results.
also to your last comment,
you are now not being discerning between the gospel and the "way of salvation"
Your argument using 1 cot 1:17 falls in your distinctions of "the gospel" and "the way of salvation".
Paul added "repentance" to the gospel, why did he not include repentance AND baptism as did Peter in Acts 2:38?
The one who believes in baptismal regeneration could charge that you are not being consistent with your distinction between the gospel and the way of salvation. You can't have it both ways.
They would just say that Paul preached the gospel and that others, for the most part, did the baptizing for Paul.
They may even charge you in believing in a penitential regeneration.
I would charge you with that also.
For now it is not "faith alone in Christ alone", it is not by faith only, it is by faith AND the action or work of repentance.
This is a faith PLUS "way of salvation" you preach.
Antonio! Long time no hear!
You said, "But in your illustrations and teachings here you HAVE created this dichotomic "two-step" gospel."
Perhaps you were only skimming my post? I think you overlooked where I said, "if you're like me, you regard "the gospel" and "the way of salvation" as being synonymous..." a statement which at once says that they are distinct, and also that I typically refer to them as synonymous. I expect any honest reading of my post will show that I have explained how I can make a distinction here between  the information that is required in order to be saved (what the good news is), and  the repentance that enables that same information to be salvific.
I don't deny that Luke records Christ as describing the seeds which fell into the rocky and thorny soil as having sprouted. I don't conclude as you have, nor do I need to, that this "sprouting" represents genuine salvific faith - rather I think it is plain that it represents a dead faith - a faith that doesn't produce salvation (James speaks of such faith). The faith that does produce salvation is evident by the fruit that accompanies that faith.
As a former catholic myself, I can tell you plainly that I believed the truths, and had you asked me then I would have imagined myself to be as repentant as anyone else - but the truth is I wasn't repentant - I didn't even know what repentance was, that is, the repentance that I was so busy displaying was of a sort that refused Christ the rightful rule in my life. My Catholic repentance was "bogus" - and as such it produced nothing.
But that isn't to say that I believe that there isn't some genuine Christians amongst the Catholics. I believe that there are some saved even in Rome - not because they are Catholic, but against all odds in spite of it.
I appreciate the effort you have put into your comment, and confess that I lack your zeal in offering much of a reply to it. We do not agree on the interpretation of the parable of the sower - and it seems therefore that in order to be consistent, our conclusions must reflect that difference - a reality that means we are not going to get much further than gainsaying.
Antonio said, "They may even charge you in believing in a penitential regeneration."
Oh they might, but it would land pretty flat.
Seriously, do you describe your version of the gospel as "impenitent" ? That is, do you insist that a man is saved by assenting to the truth even if that truth doesn't cause him to accept Christ as His king - or to only accept Christ as king in name only?
I am curious.
it is abundantly clear from reading your post that there are internal inconsistencies.
You state you don't believe in a two step, in other words, multiple conditions.
But you said yourself in two different ways:
1) The hearers in acts 2:37 believed the gospel but weren't saved. It took the ADDITIONAL step of their repentance (and in the context, the co-ordinate condition of baptism) to be saved.
Thus believing the gospel + repentance = salvation
2) You illustrated with Cornelius. He was repentant but not saved! It took the additional step of believing the gospel to get him saved.
Thus repentance + believing the gospel = salvation.
Here, it is unmistakeable, that even though you deny it, you have presented a two-step requirement to salvation.
repentance is not enough, one must believe the gospel
believing the gospel is not enough, one must repent
It is abundantly true that one can repent and believe 1 Cor 1:3,4 and not be saved. One is saved when he believes the promise of Christ to guarantee for him eternal life through faith in Him for it.
The sincere, pietistic and penitent Catholic can believe 1 Cor 15:3, 4 and not be trusting in Christ in His promise alone to guarantee for him eternal life through faith apart from works.
As Dan Philips of pyromaniacs said yesterday on the blog:
"Roman Catholics and Mormons believe in Christ, faith, grace, and the glory of God. It's the 'alone' that separates Biblical doctrine from Romish doctrine. With Christian leaky-canon pop-off-ets, Roman Catholics and Mormons believe in the Scripture. It's the 'alone' that distinguishes the one from the other."
Salvation comes by faith alone in Christ alone apart from works.
But salvation comes by believing Christ's promise to guarantee eternal life and resurrection to the believer in Him for it, not by repentance + belief that Jesus died and was resurrected. Many people under the umbrella of Christendom are sincerely pietistic and repentant and believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again from the dead but aren't saved. Why? They haven't believed Christ's promise to guarantee for them eternal life by faith in Him for it.
I describe my position concerning soteriology as "faith alone in Christ alone". Penance, repentance, or any other works, are not the issue. The issue is that Jesus Christ is the Sole Guarantor of eternal life and resurrection to the believer in Him for it. He has an absolutely free gift that He offers. He bids us come as we are and drink of the water He alone can provide.
In reference to making Jesus King of your life, you put the cart before the horse.
"Eternal life is free. Discipleship is immeasureably hard. The former is attained by faith alone, the latter by a faith that works. The former brings with it the righteousness of God so that a man is "justified freely by His grace" (Ro 3:24). The latter developed a personal righteousness, based on good deeds, so that a man was also "justified by works" (Ja 2:24). The former constituted the believer God's workmanship, the latter fulfilled the wonderous purpose for which he had been created. The former cost man nothing, the latter could cost him everything including life itself. Thus the former assured man his entrance into God's kingdom, but the latter assured him that the kingdom would be his to possess (Luke 12:31)" (Zane Hodges, The Hungry Inherit, pg 123)
I almost wonder if Antonio is so worried about violating the "alone" of Reformation theology, that he's denying the commands to believe, to repent, to follow that are thrown around the entire Scriptures – or what some of the Reformers said about faith (or understood about “alone”).
One of the big issues with the Reformation – something that revolutionized Luther’s life – is the issue of repentance, rightly understood. He came to the Vulgate, and realized it had been unfortunately translated “do penance” when it should have simply said, “repent.” (Of course, not a complete stickler for Bible translation, Luther also famously added the word “alone” into his translation of Romans 3:28.)
Repentance – at least in the Greek – means only “a change [of direction] of mind.” That’s it. So yes, it would seem repentance is still a pretty key issue. Especially since all those NT epistles spend a lot of ink telling us what kind of “mind” we should have if we’re in Christ. They seem to be quite clear, Paul included, that a changed mind is pretty big in the “plan of salvation” or whatever you want to call it.
Of course, speaking of two-steps, you could make this interesting. You could back everything up a "step": do we believe or are we given faith?
Antonio, I don't think you and I have the same understanding of what "abundantly clear" means. ;-)
You seem happy with the idea that repentance is a work - though the very idea seems incredulous to me.
Rome believes that one produces a temporal grace through a temporal work - that is, we work in order to get the grace that God (no so) freely gives. By equating repentance to works (as you do) I presume you mean it in this way - that we can generate our own grace by way of our repentance.
If this is how you imagine I see repentance, I can appreciate how offensive you find it.
Thankfully, I don't regard repentance as something I "do" to earn grace, but rather it is a grace that God extends to me which makes me willing to submit to God and so permits the word of God to produce its fruit (salvation).
I reject the idea that merely assenting to the truth saves anyone - Judas knew that Jesus was the Christ - and it was his continued impenitence that kept that knowledge from saving him.
Joe, While I am sure Antonio can defend himself - his main point seems to be that men are saved by faith alone and that this faith doesn't require repentance to be effective.
I have not read the huge commentary here already, but since my name is here I thought I might say some things that might indicate I'm off the deep end after all.
I believe, as I think you do, that repentance is a gift of God. I also believe that faith is a gift.
The thing that may push me over the deep end is that I see repentance as a fruit of regeneration. I also believe that faith follows regeneration. I will not say firmly that faith in Christ as salvation necessarily precedes repentance, but I believe that regeneration precedes both.
My point being is that in the example of Acts 2:37, I'm not certain that these men were not regenerate when they spoke. After all, they asked what they must do before Peter volunteered it. Then Peter told them to repent and be baptized. They would, as regenerate men, happily obey this command. Repentance and baptism being a sort of "first fruit" of their new heart.
Let me tell you how I would phrase it. If you said, "Must a person repent to be saved?" I would take it the same as if someone said, "Must someone believe to be saved?" Certainly! Faith and repentance are not conditions that must be met for regeneration to occur, they are necessary conditions that follow rebirth. Our faith and repentance certainly don't add to the gospel, they are fruits of it.
Are we still in agreement?
Brad - I think we are more in agreement than disagreement. ;-)
We understand that a faith that sprouts out of an impenitent heart cannot produce salvation, and because of this we use words like follows and precedes to describe that in a way that is comprehensible to us - and since we understand cause and effect as a chronological mechanism our nomenclature is understandable.
I believe that we have a similar if not an exact understanding - that the gift of faith from God is only given to a heart that is also receiving the gift of repentance.
I know that I was saved the moment, the very moment I repented. -That- is when God's Spirit came into me. I had heard the gospel a few minutes earlier, and while I assented to the truth of it - that is, I believed that this was -THE- gospel, and the only gospel, that there was no other way for men to be reconciled to God, and that this same gospel was entirely true and real - yet for all that, I couldn't believe that God would save -ME-.
It amazes me that I could believe something to be absolutely true, and at the same time have absolutely no faith in it - but that is where I was. I knew the gospel was true, and I knew that logically it must apply to me, but that knowledge didn't give me faith in Christ to save -me-. As I struggled to "have faith", to believe the promise for me, I suddenly (and I mean suddenly) repented of that wicked unbelief, in an instant God became GOD, and his promise became more surer than the ground I was standing on - I repented of my unbelief and came into saving faith simultaneously as God's Spirit filled me, everything else fled away.
Rather than say, "Faith and repentance are not conditions that must be met for regeneration to occur, they are necessary conditions that follow rebirth"
I would say, "Faith and repentance are not conditions that must be met for regeneration to occur, they are the necessary gifts that accompany rebirth."
Faith and repentance are gifts that are given by God when He is saving a person through the truth of the gospel. Faith and repentance are not something we add to the gospel to make it effective, they are something God provides as part of the package.
In that sense, I have no problem understanding them as first fruits of our new birth, so long as I am not saying that they occur "after" one is saved, as though they were absent during the moment of salvation, likewise I think it is a mistake to imagine that they were present before salvation occurred. The matter has been confused by the mindset that we are saved the moment we say a prayer, rather than the moment we are able to say that prayer if that makes any sense.
Having said all that, I feel that I would still be remiss if I preached the way of salvation without mentioning how faith and repentance factor into it.
Academically speaking, I accept that if I was preaching the gospel to ten thousand people, and I never once mentioned faith or repentance, yet I preached the truths that Christ died for our sins, and was raised from the dead for our justification - I believe that some people would be saved, that is, they would repent and have faith even though I didn't ever mention it.
Yet I expect that those who were saved would be outnumbered by those who "thought they were saved" who, like me before God granted me faith, heard the truth and accepted the truthfulness of it - and imagined that because they believed the truth to be true that God became covenant bound to save them.
By failing to hit on faith and repentance in presenting the way of salvation, I expect I could (and likely would) deceive many people into thinking themselves regenerate when they are nothing of the sort.
I think we are pretty much in agreement, I may be overly optimistic, but I think we are close if not right on the same page. What do you think, are we still in agreement?
"It amazes me that I could believe something to be absolutely true, and at the same time have absolutely no faith in it"
This statement of yours is completely contradictory. If you believed it, you had faith in it, and contrarily, if you had faith in it, you believed it. "to exercise faith" and "believe" are exactly the same in meaning.
The classic English Bible, the KJV, is basically Anglo-Saxon in vocabulary and completely so in structure. But the 1611 translators were not afraid to use some choice Latin-type words, especially in the theological texts: justification, salvation, faith, cross, glory, and propitiation, to name a few.
But this dual origin of English vocabulary occasionally poses a problem. Oddly enough, the most important Gospel word-family in the Greek NT is obscured in English. This is because we translate the Greek verb pisteuo by the Anglo-Saxon word believe, and the related noun pistis by the totally unrelated word faith (from the Latin fides, by way of French).
At least partly due to this lack of similarity, many preachers who are weak on grace are able to maintain that the Greek lying behind one or both of the English words includes a whole possible agenda of works, such as commitment, repentance, perseverance, etc.
Actually, believe and faith, as the Greek shows, are just the verb and the noun for a concept that is really no different in English than in Greek.
(Art Farstad, The Words of the Gospel: BELIEVE/FAITH)
Believing is not enough in your theology, you must have faith, which is belief + repentance, I gather.
Upon closer examination, people ought to see this as the hulabaloo it actually is. "faith" and "believe" are exact corresponding cognates, the former a noun, the latter a verb, the former coming into English through the Latin by way of French, and the latter came by way of Anglo-Saxon.
In order to clearly demonstrate this fact we would like to take three of the most famous "believe" verses in the NT and re-translate them a little by using the word "faith" to show they are really the same in the original.
First, the best known verse of all, the one Martin Luther called "the Gospel in a nutshell":
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever has faith in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Next, Paul's clear, simple Gospel command to the seeking Philippian jailer:
Put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).
Third, our Lord's wonderfully gracious promise:
Amen, amen [lit. Greek text] I tell you, whoever hears My word and has faith in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24).
These edited translations should help show that believe and faith really convey the same meaning.
Now let's go in the other direction; let's take three famous "faith" passages and re-translate a bit to bring out the fact that the word in the original is just another form of the "believe" concept.
First, the verse that gives us, not an abstract, but a working definition of faith:
Now believing is the substantiation of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1).
And here is probably the number two Gospel text for grace-believers:
For by grace you have been saved through believing, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph 2:8-9).
And finally, another verse from that great teacher of salvation by grace through faith, the Apostle Paul:
But to him who does not work but believes [from pisteuo] on Him who justifies the ungodly, his believing [pistis] is accounted for righteousness (Rom 4:5).
Thanks for the link to the Dr. Farstad article. I especially liked his point:
Actually, believe and faith, as the Greek shows, are just the verb and the noun for a concept that is really no different in English than in Greek. That concept is taking people at their word, trusting that what they say is true.
Having a correct understanding of the timing, necessity, power, and results of regeneration is important in understanding this parable. Your view certainly seems correct to me and our views are probably close on regeneration as well. I would make the following comparison with the free grace advocates and reformed theology on regeneration:
The free grace advocates see saving faith as preceding regeneration which means it really does not contribute to salvation although they claim it is necessary. I believe regeneration comes first, which makes it 100 % necessary to salvation. I believe the power of regeneration is required prior to salvation, while they believe salvation can be achieved by human decision with the unaided free will. I believe salvation comes from a free will that flows from a new creation brought about by the awesome power of regeneration. I believe that this power of regeneration will always produce some fruit while they believe it is possible that a saved person will not show any love or obedience to Christ. Their guru, Zane Hodges has even said in a sermon that a preacher friend of his, that has denounced Christ, left the ministry and now openly expresses unbelief, is a saved person and will remain so even if he is never restored to faith.
Is it little wonder that Antonio and others of the F.G. movement are at odds with orthodox Christianity. They see anything other than faith as a works for salvation when we say fruit flows from the power of God. Amazingly, they call our view of repentance a work but human generated faith not a work. However, they do hold out a place for selfish works for heavenly rewards as a Biblical concept. They seem to have made a ‘Joseph Smith’ out of Zane Hodges and they expect us to take them seriously.
Antonio said, "This statement of yours is completely contradictory."
I responded to you on your own blog - but I am reposting it here for the benefit of those who are following this meta.
A teacher once explained the pendulum effect to a classroom of students. He demonstrated that with each iteration, because of friction, the pendulum would swing a little less each way, each time.
He showed the mathematics, and demonstrated that this was a scientific certainty - a truth that could not be denied.
He asked the class if they believed that these calculations were true. They all agreed - with each passing iteration the pendulum would lose energy due to friction, and that this loss would be manifested by shortening (ever so slightly) the length of each iterative arc.
Then the teacher took a 600 lb wrecking ball, and suspended it from the main beam which was high enough above the lecture hall to allow a physical demonstration.
He then asked for a volunteer to "test their faith" in the pendulum effect, and so had the volunteer stand flat against one wall - then the professor, with the help of some students pulled the wrecking ball towards the student so that it just lightly touched his nose. He then demonstrated the difference between acknowledging the truth, and having perfect trust in it, by telling the student to remain there.
They let the weight go, and through its silent arc across the room the class was hushed, but as it began to come back, 600 lbs, the student who fully accepted the pendulum truths, upons seeing this weight accelerating towards him - the same stepped to the side in fear before the weight fully returned.
One might argue that the student didn't really believe the maths - or one might come up with some explaination that satisfies their intellectual position, but I recognize, even if you cannot, a grand difference between an intellectual assent that something is certain and true, and a willingness to trust that truth. The first is mere intellectual persuasion, carnal consent that something is fact - the second requires more than an assent to the truth - it requires faith in the pendulum effect. No one can exercise trust in the gospel truth except that God's Spirit enables them - they may, like anyone, accept that it is true - but that is not the same as trusting "in" that truth.
I confess - this seems quite obvious to me, but then, I am not merely articulating it - I lived it. I know full well what it means to believe that God saves people, but to refuse to believe that God will save --ME--. God be praised for the grace He freely bestowed on me so that I was able to exercise faith in what I knew to be true (that is, I was able to believe what I already held to be true - to apply that truth to myself.)
I think your focus on the synonymity (in English) of the words "faith" and "believe", perhaps has clouded your thinking?
Clearly, (even in English!) we see a gulf between acknowledging (assenting to) the truth, and trusting in the truth.
I think that Dyspraxic Fundamentalist’s post on Blondin a while back did a good job of discussing this concept of faith that Daniel is articulating in his most recent comment.
I posted this excerpt from the internet in the comments of that thread as well, but it seems relevant when these types of discussions occur.
As a child and youth I was taught that in addition to my assent to the propositions that the Scriptures clearly assert are the only necessary and sufficient conditions for salvation that I must also do something more. This usually was presented in the form of an analogy. They said, “You can accept the fact that this chair will hold you if you sit in it but you must actually sit down on it to demonstrate your belief.” But even that is generous. It was not so much said that I must sit down do demonstrate my belief but that I must sit down to complete my belief. In some mysterious way I was expected not only to assert my belief in the saving propositions but also “sit down on the chair.” And I was never told exactly what that meant. In fact, no one could ever tell me what it meant because it didn’t mean anything that could be rationally described. And quite frankly, things that cannot be described rationally cannot be discussed! So I was left with the totally mystical notion that saving faith required a step that could not be described.
The entire article can be found here . The author, David Dilling, has posted his bio . He is a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church.
I too see some similarities between the chair analogy and my description above.
I personally have heard the chair analogy used, and don't much care for it - it doesn't really picture what it is trying to model very well.
Believe it or not, there are Satanists who intellectually acknowledge that the gospel is true. They believe that there is such a God, and that Jesus Christ is His Son who died for sins on the cross - that is, they believe the gospel to be true, but hate it and reject it for themselves.
These Satanists are not "saved" simply because they possess a correct understanding of the gospel and assent to it's truthfulness - that is, they are not saved because they believe the gospel is true, nor do they imagine themselves to be saved because they agree to its truthfulness.
The chair analogy, though imperfect, attempts to explain the difference between knowing something is true, and using that truth to some effect - meaning that one can believe the gospel is true (such as a satanist), but never apply the gospel to themselves in order to be saved (never sit in the chair).
A person may believe that penicillin will cure their sexually transmitted disease, but they are not cured unless they take the penicillin themselves. Believing the concept doesn't cure them no matter how "pure" their assention to that truth is.
Whatever model is put up, the thing that is being modeled is that one is saved by obeying the gospel, and not by acknowledging that the gospel exists.
If belief were mere intellectual assent, Paul would have been a fool to suggest that someone examine themselves to see if they are in the faith or not.
The point is - if I may continue - that there are people out there who have been told the truth, who acknowledge that it is true, but who don't have faith in God.
Some of them are Satanists such as I described above - but some of them are deceived into thinking that merely acknowledging that the truth is true makes them a Christian - and these same are slapped on the back in some churches and declared "saved" - then they are promptly indoctrinated into a habit of religious activity (that rivals Rome), until like the Pharisees before them, they are devout followers, bible readers, church goers, and prayer warriors, and even admirers of God - but not children of God. Because these have never obeyed that same gospel that they know to be true.
These are the stony ground hearers who grow in everything but fruit! Likewise these are the thorny ground hearers who love all that truth, but can't let go of the world long enough to produce fruit in their own lifes.
They are false, converts - deceived and deceiving.
Thanks for the cordial discussion. These types of dialogues can tend to get heated rather fast. While I’m sure Antonio may have some further input, below are my responses to your comments.
***I too see some similarities between the chair analogy and my description above.***
Yes. The similarity is that in addition to knowing and agreeing with the promise of the gospel, both your pendulum analogy and the chair analogy seem to make another step required.
***I personally have heard the chair analogy used, and don't much care for it - it doesn't really picture what it is trying to model very well.***
I’m not sure that being willing to stand against a wall next to a swinging pendulum is a better model.
***Believe it or not, there are Satanists who intellectually acknowledge that the gospel is true. They believe that there is such a God, and that Jesus Christ is His Son who died for sins on the cross - that is, they believe the gospel to be true, but hate it and reject it for themselves.***
The content of saving faith necessarily includes the promise of the gospel. The death, burial, and resurrection are critically important to understanding how God made our salvation possible, but does the person take Christ at His word when He promises them eternal life?
***These Satanists are not "saved" simply because they possess a correct understanding of the gospel and assent to it's truthfulness - that is, they are not saved because they believe the gospel is true, nor do they imagine themselves to be saved because they agree to its truthfulness.***
If by gospel you are referring to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then nobody is “saved” because they possess a correct understanding of those events and assent to their truthfulness. It is critically important that a person believe the promise of the gospel. God justifies a person when they believe the promise of the gospel – that Christ guarantees their eternal destiny.
***The chair analogy, though imperfect, attempts to explain the difference between knowing something is true, and using that truth to some effect - meaning that one can believe the gospel is true (such as a satanist), but never apply the gospel to themselves in order to be saved (never sit in the chair).***
Applying the gospel to ourselves is not some additional step to believing the promise of the gospel. When we take Christ at His word, i.e., that He is the Guarantor of our eternal destiny, we are applying the gospel to ourselves. We are simply agreeing that what He has promised is true. Cp. Romans 4:21-22 - and [Abraham] being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."
***A person may believe that penicillin will cure their sexually transmitted disease, but they are not cured unless they take the penicillin themselves. Believing the concept doesn't cure them no matter how "pure" their assention to that truth is.***
Now instead of standing against a wall next to a swinging pendulum, we are taking penicillin. Christ gives us penicillin when we take His word for it. Christ gives us eternal life through the instrument of faith. Believing (assenting to the truth of) the promise of the gospel does cure us because Christ has told us believing the promise cures us.
***Whatever model is put up, the thing that is being modeled is that one is saved by obeying the gospel, and not by acknowledging that the gospel exists.***
The model you are proposing (a type of faith analogous to a willingness to stand in front of a pendulum) is something altogether different than believing the promise of the gospel. In your case it is something that you do; in the other case, it is taking Christ at His word, i.e., believing Him.
***If belief were mere intellectual assent, Paul would have been a fool to suggest that someone examine themselves to see if they are in the faith or not.***
Please note your use of the pejorative “mere.” Understanding and agreeing with Christ’s promise of the gospel is never “mere.” Paul was not asking his readers to question their salvation. He was commanding them the make sure their practice was in line with the teachings of the Christian faith. In the event that you have never seen a Free Grace understanding of the passage (2Cor. 13:5), one such example can be found here.
***The point is - if I may continue - that there are people out there who have been told the truth, who acknowledge that it is true, but who don't have faith in God.***
If the truth is the promise of the gospel, and they are persuaded that it is true, i.e., they believe that Christ guarantees their eternal destiny, then they do have faith in God—they take Him at His word.
***Some of them are Satanists such as I described above - but some of them are deceived into thinking that merely acknowledging that the truth is true makes them a Christian - and these same are slapped on the back in some churches and declared "saved" - then they are promptly indoctrinated into a habit of religious activity (that rivals Rome), until like the Pharisees before them, they are devout followers, bible readers, church goers, and prayer warriors, and even admirers of God - but not children of God. Because these have never obeyed that same gospel that they know to be true.***
Yes, that’s why assurance does not come by looking at our lives. These religious people may very well think they pass certain “tests” and are therefore Christians. The question, however, is have they believed the promise of the gospel?
***These are the stony ground hearers who grow in everything but fruit! Likewise these are the thorny ground hearers who love all that truth, but can't let go of the world long enough to produce fruit in their own lifes.***
As you mentioned earlier to Antonio, it is clear that you hold a different understanding of this parable than many in the Free Grace community. Suffice it to say that most in the Free Grace community do not believe that salvation is attained by letting go of the world long enough to produce fruit.
***They are false, converts - deceived and deceiving.***
Anyone who thinks that they are justified apart from faith alone (taking Christ at His word in the promise of the gospel) is deceived.
Thanks for your time. If you have not done so already, you may want to pick up a copy of Gordon Clark’s, Faith and Saving Faith. He was a Calvinist who espoused a view of faith which in some ways is very similar to many within the Free Grace community.
Solifidian - we may be talking past one another to some extent. You acknowledge that "the promise must be believed" - I concur.
Using your nomenclature, I would say that there is a difference between "believing that the promise is a valid promise" and "believing the promise." The Satanist may understand and believe that the promise is a true promise, and that if the Satanist were to trust Christ to save them, that they could be saved - but having that knowledge doesn't save them unless/until they actually believing the promise for themselves. I think you would concur? That is what the chair analogy is all about. Not that they have to do some else besides "believe" - but that belief is not simply having the knowledge of what you must believe in order to be saved, but actually believing it!
Once again, here are my responses.
***Solifidian - we may be talking past one another to some extent. You acknowledge that "the promise must be believed" - I concur.***
I’m not sure we are talking past one another. I think that we have fundamentally different understandings of the nature of faith. Your viewpoint seems to involve something more than knowledge and assent (understanding and agreeing with the promise of the gospel).
***Using your nomenclature, I would say that there is a difference between "believing that the promise is a valid promise" and "believing the promise." The Satanist may understand and believe that the promise is a true promise, and that if the Satanist were to trust Christ to save them, that they could be saved - but having that knowledge doesn't save them unless/until they actually believing the promise for themselves. I think you would concur? That is what the chair analogy is all about. Not that they have to do some else besides "believe" - but that belief is not simply having the knowledge of what you must believe in order to be saved, but actually believing it!***
There is certainly a difference between knowing something and believing something. The difference is assent or agreement. My local politician may promise to lower my taxes. I understand that he makes that promise. I, however, do not agree with him. Jesus Christ offers me eternal life if I believe Him, i.e., take Him at His word. Unlike my lack of faith in the politician, I do agree with Jesus Christ’s promise to me of eternal life. I take Him at His word. I believe Him.
The chair illustration, as I understand it, implies that in addition to knowing and agreeing that the chair will support me (support is the promise implied by the chair designer), I must be willing to sit on the chair or choose to sit on the chair. Comparing that to the promise of the gospel is to suggest that in addition to knowing and agreeing with Jesus Christ's promise to guarantee my eternal destiny (i.e., I believe Him), I must then be willing or choose to believe Him. If I already understand His promise and agree with it, then I already believe Him. There are no additional steps involved. Adding additional steps is, in my humble opinion, to confuse the simplicity of faith alone in Christ alone.
Thanks again for your time. Enjoy your weekend.
I have to say that Solifidian aptly and cordially answered Daniel It is completely worthy, and I will make it a new post on “Unashamed of Grace”. (I hope he has not objections!)
Not to tread on any ground that Solifidian already covered, I would like to include these points:
1) Pistis (faith, comes from the Latin by way of French) and Pisteuw (believe, comes by way of Anglo-Saxon) are exact corresponding cognates: Pistis (faith, or belief) is the noun, and Pisteuw (believe, exercise faith) is the verb.
They both can be translated using the Latin or the Anglo Saxon derivatives:
Pistis: faith or belief
Pisteuw: believe or exercise faith
They are used interchangeably as in Romans 4:5
But to him who does not work but believes (pisteuw) on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith (pistis) is accounted for righteousness.
Apart from the times the word “pistis” is used of the “the body of beliefs (of Christianity)”, “faithfulness”, and “pledge”, the terms at no time, in the Greek New Testament, have distinguishing shades of meaning from each other, or any additional import such as “obey” or “using the truth to some affect”. As the standard Greek lexicon (BAGD) makes clear, pistis is “trust, confidence, faith in the active sense = ‘believing’”.
I would suggest that Daniel, of Doulogos, or any other Traditionalist make a Biblical case that there resides some difference between “believing”, which Daniel says is “mere intellectual assent” and “faith”, which Daniel says is “using that truth to some affect” (thus equating “faith” with the doing of works “sitting in a chair”).
There are no differences between “having faith in Christ” and “believing in Christ”. They are exactly the same!. And I would challenge Daniel to use his Bible and prove this assertion wrong.
2) Language is ever evolving. Words take on the meaning of their current contextual usage in the language of the day. For instance, “gay” is not used for “happy” anymore, but “homosexual”.
In the usage of today, the terms such as “trust” and “believe” are now used in a variety of ways. No longer (as in Biblical Greek) do they convey the sense of “absolute certainty and assurance”. A few examples:
“I am not certain that my roommate will pay rent on time. I am just going to have to trust him” (IOW, “I will just have to hope he will do it”).
I may say, "I believe he will come," when I am not really certain that he will. Usually when we use the word this way, we signal our doubt by a tonal inflection.
Nevertheless, these are legitimate usages of the English words, for meaning is determined by current usage. The words are still used of “certainty” in other contexts. They just have a wider semantic range now.
It is interesting to note that Daniel, who is distinguishing between “belief” and “faith”, nevertheless uses them interchangeably in his illustration:
“He asked the class if they believed” and “He then asked for a volunteer to ‘test their faith’”.
Many people, though, currently use the term “belief” and “faith” relatively, as in degrees. What they mean when they use these words that way is that they “are disposed toward” rather than “are certain”. The Biblical usage always means “certainty, assurance” and never anything less.
3) Doubt precludes faith, faith precludes doubt.
But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?"
The parallel accounts have this to say:
But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"
But He said to them, "Where is your faith?"
When they doubt, Jesus asks them why they "have no faith", and "Where is your faith". Jesus here is full aware that doubt precludes faith.
There can be degrees of doubt from:
being fully undisposed toward
being greatly disposed toward
(and everything in between)
But there are no degrees of faith. It is a question of possession. You either have faith or you do not.
Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
Jesus places faith and doubt here in complete contradistinction:
"does not doubt... but believes"
Here again, faith precludes doubt
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith;
Paul makes it abundantly clear that the one who "doubts" does not possess "faith".
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
The doubter should not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. This man is double-souled. Faith and doubting are again put into contra-distinction.
Faith and doubt cannot reside in the mind at the same moment in the same proposition. There may be a rollercoaster of faith and doubt as time elapses, but never faith and doubt at the same time in the same issue. Since faith = certainty, assurance, faith precludes doubt.
In such an instance as the Daniel’s illustration, a few different options can be shown:
1) The person who moved out of the way had faith, believed, that the wrecking ball would not hit him before he got up there, but when the wrecking ball started toward him, this circumstance caused his faith to be broken, and at the moment he moved away, he experienced doubt, and was no longer exercising faith.
This perfectly parallels Peter’s experience when he was walking on the water. He had faith, but when he contemplated the wind and the waves, this circumstance “broke” his faith, IOW, he no longer was exercising faith, but was doubting.
This is what weak, or little, faith is. It is faith that has not been satisfactorily strengthened by time and the successful completion of trials, so that when the circumstances come, the faith is “broken”.
2) The person was not really certain (did not believe in the Biblical sense), and was using the concept of “faith” or “belief” that is something less than certain (a current usage of the word that denotes “disposed toward” rather than “certainty”). Apart from being convinced (believing, being certain), he, by an act of the will and not one of being persuaded, determined by the will to perform in the experiment. When he saw the wrecking ball coming for him, the determination that was prompted by his relative disposition faded, and so he stepped out of the way.
Daniel’s view of faith and belief are dangerously skewed.
Imagine for instance a genuine new Christian (for the sake of argument, he is a definitely regenerate man). He is brand new to the faith and is but a mere babe. He hasn’t invested the time to possess a strong faith. He has been told that lying is wrong. He is convinced that lying is wrong! But a week after he had been saved a gun was pointed at his head and he was told that if he is a Christian that he would be blown away. He starts thinking about his wife, pregnant with their first child, and says, “I am not a Christian”. He, thus, has acted contrarily to his conviction, to his faith!
What, you don’t think that is possible?
Be honest with yourself, if you lived your faith all the time, you would not sin! But we often sin against those principles that we have faith in!
Being greatly disposed toward is not the same as faith, belief, for a disposition is not being convinced.
Daniel recognizes “a grand difference between an intellectual assent that something is certain and true, and a willingness to trust that truth” (italics his).
I would ask him “What is the element lacking between the one who merely believes the wrecking ball won’t hit him and the one who has faith that the wrecking ball won’t hit him?” What is the difference between the one who is certain (believes) that the wrecking ball will sway the other way before hitting him, and the one who has faith? The only thing that I can think of, if I were to answer him, is faith = mere belief + obedience (in action, works, in doing!!).
Maybe he would say, “The person would be willing to actually stand by the wall”. But this is where his “willingness” doctrine breaks down! In his illustration, the one who “believed” but nevertheless “did not have faith” was “willing” to test out his “faith”! He went to go stand by the wall! So it isn’t a matter of “willingness” it is a matter of “action”, i.e. works!
What Daniel has done is confused “faith” with “acting on faith”, or “belief” with “acting on our beliefs” and has made an illegitimate difference between “belief” and “faith”. Daniel thus defines faith in terms of “the works” that, in his view, mere belief must accomplish in order to be true faith! Daniel has imported the idea of “works” into the semantic value of “faith” and has thus made eternal life the result of “belief” + works (his definition of “faith”)
--men are saved by faith
--faith is belief (mental assent) + obedience to works
--men are saved by a works salvation
The Bible knows of no difference between “faith” and “belief”. They are the same word (pistis). The Bible knows of no difference between “believe” and “have faith”. They are the same word (pisteuw). The difference resides in the mind of the Traditionalist, who, giving lip service to “faith alone in Christ alone”, nevertheless is convinced that works, in a real sense, and on a genuine level, are a necessary requirement for entrance into heaven.
For good reason Traditionalists do not believe that believing in the promise of Christ alone saves. The promise is “Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). This promise does not have an action referred to in the span of its proposition. You couldn’t get in front of a wall and wait for a wrecking ball to swing toward you in order to add to and fulfill your mere intellectual assent, making the belief into faith, and thus “prove” your faith. They prefer the proposition “You must make Jesus Lord of life!” for in this, they could deem you saved or lost by inspection of your works, which they proclaim fulfill your belief making it faith. But this command of theirs is not the promise of the gospel, but another gospel altogether.A
(Yes. The similarity is that in addition to knowing and agreeing with the promise of the gospel, both your pendulum analogy and the chair analogy seem to make another step required.)
Solifidan, since this, your very first premiss, is wrong, then your entire argument is worthless. The chair argument is used to define faith. The fact that it includes something you do not like does not mean it adds another step. It means you disagree with this definition.
Nowhere has Daniel suggested that faith requires another step. This is a diversion you are using to prop up your seriously flawed theology.
This nonsense of a person professing faith and later becoming an unbeliever for the rest of his life, yet remaining saved, is just one example of this Zane Hodges lunacy.
You are right-on. These people like to distort and deflect what we say. Half truths, calumny and twistings are the order of the day. I am beginning to believe that it is willfull, and not just a simple misunderstanding.
You say: "Nowhere has Daniel suggested that faith requires another step. This is a diversion you are using to prop up your seriously flawed theology."
The more we expose this system as the fringe and unorthodox system that it is, the more the truth is preserved. Repentance and the remission of sins is part of the Great Commission. Man, in his willfull folly,tries to strip this vital aspect (repentance) away from the Great Commission. Why not also eliminate baptism or obedience to Christ as found in Matthew 28:19-20. Well, I guess that will be next for some future, and more advanced version of the fg movement. One step at a time,eh. Chop away, here a little, there a little.
Paul, in his recounting his ministry before king Agrippa, said this of his calling:
Jesus is speaking to him here-
" I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you.
to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me" - Acts 26:17-18.
Paul goes on in his testimony:
"Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance" - Acts 26:19-20.
In the above we see that Paul obeyed his Lord in preaching repentance to unbelievers. They must "turn to God", corresponding to the things he said in verse 18 above, "in order to turn (convert) them from darkness to light,and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins...". Here it is evident that the order is, turning to God, then the forgiveness of sins.
Yes, let's use one portion of scripture to wipe out the teachings of another portion of scripture. Let's teach people to disobey the Master by teaching them not to present unbelievers with the command to repent. Let's fill the pews with "mental assenters".
When I was little I believed that Jesus died for people's sins. I believed that if sinful people believe that Jesus died for their sins, they would be saved.
I did not yet realize my own sinfulness, therefore I did not see that I was not saved.
I believed the Promise given to all men, but I did not yet believe or understand that it directly affected myself. (I think this may be somewhat like where Daniel was at before he was saved, as he related).
The night I was saved, God convicted me of my own sinfulness, and I realized, to my own amazement, that I was among those sinful people that could believe that Jesus died for their sins and be saved.
Now my understanding of salvation was complete. It wasn't that Jesus died for people and they could believe and be saved. It was that Jesus died for people including me, and we could believe and be saved.
As I believe it now, I did not understand the real concept of salvation until I understood that it applied to me. When I understood that it applied to me, I was saved. I believed and was saved.
So perhaps what Daniel was referring to as "intellectual assent" or "intellectual persuasion" or "intellectual acknowledgement that the gospel is true" is a belief in most of the gospel, but an incomplete understanding of the gospel. I can provide some further examples of this (my own testimony is one) if anyone wishes.
Solifidan said, "Your viewpoint seems to involve something more than knowledge and assent (understanding and agreeing with the promise of the gospel)."
"Seems" is the key word here - perhaps it seems that way because you imagine I am suggesting that the term "believing in the promise of God" is different from "having faith in the promise of God" - that is, you see it that way because you imagine that I am trying to invent some distinction based on synonymous language that isn't there.
I can appreciate how difficult it would be to see what I am saying if you have set your heart to defend against someone whom you believe to be saying that.
Thankfully I find the two statements perfectly synonymous, which hopefully will give you pause to hear what is actually being said, as I suspect and hope (since you still misrepresent what I am saying) that our problem is only a misunderstanding of what is being described.
...in addition to knowing and agreeing with the promise of the gospel, both your pendulum analogy and the chair analogy seem to make another step required
This seems to be the place where you misrepresent the various analogies. Believing "that the chair holds my weight" does -not- represent having faith in the gospel - it represents the knowledge that there is a gospel, and the details about that gospel. It does not represent placing faith in Christ, it represents acknowledging the validity of the gospel. Just as the Demons in the book of James acknowledge that the gospel is true - so too what is being modeled is not the exercising of faith in the promise of the gospel, but rather in having the ability to say, "I believe that God has made mankind a valid promise" That is different than actually sitting in the chair, which would be like saying, "I believe that God's promise is valid, and so I trust God to save -me-"
In the first instance I believe that God's promises are real promises, and that by these same promises he saves people, but I havn't yet applied this same knowledge to God saving me, and in the second place, I take the knowledge that the promise is valid, and I put faith in it to save me - that is, I go from believing that God saves people, to believing that God will save me.
It is important to understand - These analogies are not trying to model faith as a progression.
It isn't that I am suggesting that one must first believe [A] and then move onto believing [B]. I am saying that -only- believing "in" the gospel can save a person, and consequently that simply believing "about" the gospel cannot.
Solifidan, surely you are not suggesting that a man is saved the moment he believes that there is a gospel and it works like such and such? Surely you would insist that in order to be saved a person must believe that Christ is going to save them personally, as opposed to simply believing that Christ does in fact save people, and since they are people He will save them too? My presumption is that you are no universalist, and that now at least you surely see the distinction I am making - even if you think I am making it poorly, you do/can see it?
Let me know. It may be that I am simply a very poor explainer of such things.
Mark said, "These people like to distort and deflect what we say"
I would agree that some of these people are entirely aware of the truth, and hate it, and contend with it. But I would caution because while some are this way - others only believe what they have been told, and even believe whatever caricaturization of our position they have been spoon fed by their teachers.
Antonio "must" paint our position the way he does - the more outlandish he can dress it up as - the less likely anyone who respects his teaching will examine what we are saying closely - it behooves Antonio to misrepresent what we say - how else could he deceive people into his "free grace" bent?
While we deal with the people themselves, we must remember that behind the people are ideas, or more specifically, are the powers and principalities that parade these ideas through willing and (typically) deceived puppets.
I would have liked it better had you said, "These ideas are being defended by distorting and deflecting what is said."
Like yourself, I am no fan of this latest twist, and like yourself, I see it as just the tip of an uglier, more twisted iceberg - yet I do believe that some who currently support free grace, do so because they misunderstand both what they are supporting, and what it stands against - thinking that they believe the same things as those in the FG movement, when in fact they don't - they are just confused because FG has been presented to them in orthodox sounding language.
For that reason, I try not to dimiss everyone who defends FG or attacks orthodoxy - many are defending the same ideas I am - but have been taught that they are in fact attacking something else, and defending something else.
Antonio - you sure knock the stuffing out of that straw man. ;-)
Way to miss the point.
Daniel, I have presented an analogy of the saving faith at my site dated July 2 under the airplane photo. I would be curious about your thoughts on it.
Jazz - you did such a good job, I am going to link to it in my post.
Though, as I say there, I worry that the Free Grace crowd will still be unable to discern what you are talking about.
Thanks. I like to use photos and analogies to make points. The chair analogy is one of many used in the EE ministry. Some of them are very good others seem to miss the mark to me.
Thanks for the feedback. Sometimes I think a phone call would go a long way in straightening out misunderstandings and/or miscommunications. While I suspect that this dialogue has run its course, here are my responses to some of your most recent comments.
Daniel said, ***Solifidan said, "Your viewpoint seems to involve something more than knowledge and assent (understanding and agreeing with the promise of the gospel)." "Seems" is the key word here - perhaps it seems that way because you imagine I am suggesting that the term "believing in the promise of God" is different from "having faith in the promise of God" - that is, you see it that way because you imagine that I am trying to invent some distinction based on synonymous language that isn't there. ***
Daniel, please note that I deliberately use the word “seem” in my responses to convey the fact that I am speaking from my point of view. I do not want to attribute something to you that you are not actually trying to convey. I understand that both sides are seeking the truth in this matter. Misrepresentation is of no value when the truth is being sought. When you write things such as, “I reject the idea that merely assenting to the truth saves anyone,” and then apparently disagree when I suggest your viewpoint seems[!] to involve more than knowledge and assent, you can see how a reader might be confused on your position. If you and I mean the same thing by believing/having faith in the promise of God, then we obviously don’t disagree.
***Thankfully I find the two statements perfectly synonymous, which hopefully will give you pause to hear what is actually being said, as I suspect and hope (since you still misrepresent what I am saying) that our problem is only a misunderstanding of what is being described.***
My apologies if you think that I “still misrepresent” you. If by standing in front of the pendulum, you only are trying to assert that a person must understand that the promise of the gospel is true for them personally, then I have no qualms. I would still argue, however, that if one understands that the pendulum will not hit them personally and agrees that it will not hit them personally, they don’t need to stand in front of the pendulum. They have already exercised faith in the implied promise of physics when they understand and agree that the pendulum will not hit them personally. Likewise, if one understands that the chair will hold them personally, and agrees that the chair will hold them personally, they don’t need to sit on the chair.
***This seems to be the place where you misrepresent the various analogies. Believing "that the chair holds my weight" does -not- represent having faith in the gospel - it represents the knowledge that there is a gospel, and the details about that gospel. It does not represent placing faith in Christ, it represents acknowledging the validity of the gospel. Just as the Demons in the book of James acknowledge that the gospel is true - so too what is being modeled is not the exercising of faith in the promise of the gospel, but rather in having the ability to say, "I believe that God has made mankind a valid promise" That is different than actually sitting in the chair, which would be like saying, "I believe that God's promise is valid, and so I trust God to save -me-"***
Once again, if by faith in Christ you simply mean taking Him for His word in the promise of the gospel, that He guarantees your resurrection and eternal life because you take Him at His word, then I have no qualms. Like Dr. Dilling, however, I don’t think analogies such as the chair analogy or your pendulum analogy convey the simplicity of saving faith. They seem[!] to make another step necessary and only confuse the issue. After reading Clark’s Faith and Saving Faith, I am now convinced that faith is comprised only of notitia and assensus. There is no additional component of fiducia which these types of analogies seem[!] to convey.
***In the first instance I believe that God's promises are real promises, and that by these same promises he saves people, but I havn't yet applied this same knowledge to God saving me, and in the second place, I take the knowledge that the promise is valid, and I put faith in it to save me - that is, I go from believing that God saves people, to believing that God will save me.***
Great. If by “believing that God will save me” you mean understanding and agreeing that Christ guarantees your resurrection and eternal life because you take Him at His word, then we are in agreement.
***Solifidan, surely you are not suggesting that a man is saved the moment he believes that there is a gospel and it works like such and such? Surely you would insist that in order to be saved a person must believe that Christ is going to save them personally, as opposed to simply believing that Christ does in fact save people, and since they are people He will save them too? My presumption is that you are no universalist, and that now at least you surely see the distinction I am making - even if you think I am making it poorly, you do/can see it?***
I am suggesting that a man is saved when he believes Christ’s promise in the gospel (i.e., that He is the Guarantor of his resurrection and eternal life because he takes Him at His word). If that is what you hold to be true, then we have no disagreement.
***Let me know. It may be that I am simply a very poor explainer of such things.***
If you have an understanding of faith that involves no more than simply understanding and agreeing with Christ’s promise in the gospel (that He guarantees your resurrection and eternal life because you take Him at His word), then we are in agreement. Let me know. It may be that I am simply a very poor understander of such things.
Solifidan - I -do- think we have a similar understanding of the gospel.
I think this is the gospel
If you have an understanding of faith that involves no more than simply understanding and agreeing with Christ’s promise in the gospel (that He guarantees your resurrection and eternal life because you take Him at His word)...
But I think by removing "...and agreeing with..." and the qualifiying parenthetical - this becomes -not quite- the gospel:
If you have an understanding of faith that involves no more than simply understanding Christ’s promise in the gospel...
On the one hand the object of our belief is the promise in the gospel, but on the other the object of our belief is that the facts are (in fact) factual.
That is, I believe that one has to actually call on the name of the Lord to be saved.
I don't believe that "knowing that calling on the Lord will save you" is the same thing as actually calling on the Lord.
Would you agree with my assessment?
Romans 10:9-10 also weighs in on the matter of salvation being faith and repentance:
"If you confess with you mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
Ryan - Amen. I think the subtlety of that is lost on some. ;-)
Funny. I just left a comment on the Extreme Theology blog about this same thing - or at least an aspect of this that included the Acts 2:38 passage. Over there, in an effort to talk about what Baptism does (from a Lutheran perspective), the author neglected repentance and moved straight to the statement about baptism being for the forgiveness of sins.