Thursday, January 18, 2007

Evangelicals have made the Gospel too easy:
taking up the cross is a gospel demand.

I am honored to welcome guest contributor to COT, my friend, Alan Kurschner of The Calvinist Gadfly. Our hearts have been absolutely united these past two weeks on the issues surrounding the content, call, and cross of the gospel of Jesus. He is a true yokefellow in the ministry; and I thank the Lord greatly for how He is using Alan in the greater body of Christ and in my life personally.

Read his words carefully... and may they impact you as they have me this evening.


The Cross is a Radical Thing,
Steve
2 Cor. 4;5-7


by Alan Kurschner

The Gospel is not a free offer to anyone. It costs--it costs your life.

Jesus said,

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it.'" (Mark 8:34-35)
Those who preach a gospel absent of this demand, preaches no gospel.

Question: Who did Jesus say the following words to? “And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

Answer:Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said” (Luke 14:25)

This is the “pre-evangelism” of Jesus, if someone wants to use that term. Can you imagine the seeker and emergent leaders using this as pre-evangelism? Rather, what we see is contemporary leaders speak in front of “large crowds,” appealing to creaturely-centeredness. Jesus' language of cost and self-denial is conveniently left out.

Jesus functioned on the truth that we heard this past week, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” I.e. If you win them with the demands of self-denial of the gospel, you will win them to commitment and authenticity. If you win them with a phantom gospel with nothing more than self-improvement and a God who is subjected to their terms, you win them to self-deception and unregenerateness.

Will God’s sheep be offended by the Shepherd’s own words of self-denial? No. They will willingly submit to them.

Our Western/American Evangelical myopia of a creature-centered gospel embarrasses me. Embarrass does not describe it all; I am afraid. Just Stop and Think. One sweep of persecution in America would immediately wash away the Evangelical pablum-speak. I don't wish that persecution but it should cause us to take a step back and view our western accretions on the gospel vis-à-vis the non-western understanding of the gospel.

The following words of Paul must be on the lips of these two precious disciples of Christ below, who have taken up the cross:
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” (Phil 1:12-14)


Shabaz Kaka
Location: Pakistan
Arrested: June 2001
Days Imprisoned: 2053


Shabaz Kaka boarded a bus bound from Lahore to Faisalabad in June 2001. When the bus stopped at Jamia Mosque in Faisalabad for a break, Shabaz visited the restroom along with the other passengers. The leaders of the mosque saw he was wearing a cross and began to question him. Learning of his Christian faith, the authorities objected that he had visited the restroom adjacent to the mosque and therefore accused him of desecrating the Koran saying he had torn out pages and trampled them under his feet. This is a common lie used by Muslims to trap Christians. They contacted the nearest police station and filed a complaint. Shabaz was arrested and charged with committing offenses under articles 295a and 295b of the Pakistan Penal Code generally referred to as the Blasphemy Law. He was held in the local jail. The authorities did not advise his parents of his arrest or imprisonment. For more than a year, his parents did not know what had happened to their son or where he was. More than three years after his arrest, Shabaz appeared in court in Faisalabad for his hearing. On September 25, 2004, Judge Shahid Rafiq made the final decision of life in prison for this young man. His attorney has appealed this decision.

Mua Say So
Location: Vietnam
Arrested: April 2003
Days Imprisoned: 1387


In 2002, police and militia burst into Mua Say So’s home and beat and tortured his four married brothers in front of their families. His younger brother, Mua Bua Senh, died after he was beaten twice mercilessly. Seeking justice for his brother’s murder, So tried to petition the government. He photographed his brother lying in the coffin along with a sign that said, “Beaten to death because of following the gospel.” Because of this action, he was later arrested and charged with the murder. During his hearing in April 2003, Mua Say So was sentenced to three years in prison for murdering his brother and for falsely accusing the police. He lost his house, and his wife fled with their children to a safe area.

While in prison, he has been forced to break rocks for construction projects. He also has had to plant vegetables. The prisoners are given only two meals a day, consisting of two bowls of rice with vegetables and salt. Families that are able take food to the prisoners to supplement their diet and maintain their health.

Mua Say So is not allowed to pray over his food. The police told him if he would deny God, he would be released. He continues to stand firm in his faith, following Jesus.

41 comments:

Breuss Wane said...

Just as the Shepherd gave up his life for the sheep (John 10:11), anyone who would be a sheep will follow the Shepherd-Lamb (Rev. 14:4/7:17), even if it means to their own cross (Rev. 14:13/6:9,10).

Denise said...

Wow.

jdlongmire said...

I saw this quote in this article

Burch Brown notes that Precious Moments and Kinkade art, along with some contemporary worship songs, use sentiment to trigger an immediate (and perhaps calculated) emotional response. By portraying only part of life, they indulge in a beautiful lie—just as preachers do in sermons on Isaiah that use only what John Witvliet calls “the pretty texts...all light, no shadows.”

Simply replace "worship songs" with "evangelical appeals" and "life" with "the Gospel" and you'll see what I mean.

Grace and Peace,

-JD

Drewski said...

Recently I had dinner with some friends of mine that attend a rather large church in the northern suburbs of our city. Over dinner we talked about many things: life, relationships, how things were at church, study groups, etc.... & then they brought up the topic of God wanting us to live prosperous lives.

I asked them what they meant by this & they said, "you know... God wants us to be prosperous & wealthy & have an abundant life. It's really just a matter of having faith enough in God that He will give us this abundant life."

This got under my skin somewhat & I asked them up front, "what about the Christians on other parts of the world?" They looked at me blankly for a few moments before I continued...

"Well, what about the Christians that live in parts of the globe that are being persecuted & martyred for their faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Don't you think that most churches in Australia, for that matter most Christians in churches in Australia really have NO IDEA what it really means to have their faith tested?"

"We've become too focussed on feel good messages, programmes for the youth or the 'un-churched', air-conditioning, whether the 'worship' music has a catchy tune, or where to put the new plasma display or expresso coffee machine. Please don't confuse having enough faith with what we have or want."

"It's only a matter of time before our faith is really tested in this country & I wonder how many church-goers would really stand up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ if our life or lifestyles were threatened. Or for that matter who would lay down their lives for a fellow Christian for the sake of the Gospel?"

Needless to say this put "having enough faith" into perspective... for a while at least.

My point....

The Gospel of Jesus Christ says we will come under persecution, we shouldn't store up our riches on earth where moth & rust destroy. The modern evangelical church really has no idea because it has traded Truth for popularity.

Thank you for sharing the plight of our brothers & sisters overseas.

Drew
Brisbane, Australia

ron said...

I am humbled by the story of these true soldiers of Christ.

I pray that from the Reformed to the Emergent that each one knows that except for the grace of God, the professions of man may be made foolish when facing persecution.

Terry Rayburn said...

Alan wrote:

The Gospel is not a free offer to anyone. It costs--it costs your life. Jesus said,
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it.'" (Mark 8:34-35)
Those who preach a gospel absent of this demand, preaches no gospel.


Brothers and sisters, this is not correct. This is Bonhoeffer legalism. It is Galatianism rearing its head.

Without going into great detail, Jesus was preaching in a transition period *before* the New Covenant was put in place. His Gospel was the Good News that the Messiah had come to set up His spiritual kingdom.

The Gospel of the New Covenant is the Good News that by repenting of one's self-righteousness and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, one would not perish, but have eternal life. Even Jesus, speaking in John 3:16 was speaking of the near future when He would be "lifted up" on the Cross.

The call to discipleship, even if used as "pre-evangelism", only serves to show the crowd their inability, and their need for the Gospel.

But it is not the Gospel.

Discipleship is for those who are Saints. It is for the born again. It's not a component of the Gospel.

The New Covenant is unilateral. It is fully accomplished in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It is by grace through faith, not of works [not of discipleship], lest anyone should boast.

Read Romans 5:15,16,18 and tell me how a "free gift" has a cost:

"But the *free gift*....the grace of God and the *gift*....and the *gift*....but the *free gift*....even so through one Man's righteous act the *free gift* came..."

It's one thing to say the Gospel should be preached with all it's components. That's good. It's another thing to ADD to the Gospel some "Cost", thereby nullifying Grace.

Just to clarify, I'm not implying the so-called free-gracer idea that a person can be saved and not show the discipleship fruits of salvation, a la Ryrie and Zane Hodges. A born again person is a New Creation who now loves Jesus as Lord, as well as Savior.

But to say that the Gospel is not a free offer, and that it costs something other than Christ's cost, is to add works to grace, thereby making it not Grace at all (Rom. 11:6).

Even *after* salvation, keeping one's salvation doesn't *cost* anything. It remains by Grace alone. Our right response to this Grace, should of course, be fervent discipleship, and God *will* work in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).

Discipleship may "cost" our lives in martyrdom, as in the case of those precious brothers mentioned above, but it's not a *cost* to be paid for one's salvation, which is a free gift of Grace.

The Gospel is a message of Grace, and Grace is the "offense of the cross", as in a comment I posted here on Campi's blog.

Calvinist Gadfly said...

Terry,

How on God's green earth could you possibly misunderstood me? :-)

Your suggesting that I have recanted "faith alone" and "Christ alone."

It is not contraditory to say that we freely receive God's grace, and when we make him our Lord there is a cost.

My post clearly indicates what I mean by "cost." We cannot earn salvation, but when someone makes Christ their Lord there is commitment (i.e. a cost).


The gospel is "free" in that we cannot add to what Christ did for us on the cross. And grace is "free" in that God freely chooses according to his all-wise decrees to save a people unto himself.

But as Christ teaches no one can come to him without making that commitment of cost.


Blessings,
Alan

p.s. Frank read into my remarks wrongly as well assuming I was suggesting something that I did not intend.

Terry Rayburn said...

Alan,

I sincerely hope I misunderstood you, but there is a common teaching of the Gospel that teaches it as a *transaction*, along the lines of "to give all that I have for all that He is", or "selling all that we have to purchase the Pearl (portrayed as Jesus)", as though we had to pay something to get His Grace.

I believe this comes from the mistake of building a soteriology primarily out of the Gospels, instead of the epistles.

We have to remember that Jesus Himself lived under the Law of the Old Covenant, and taught in a transition period, with Light dawning at a furious pace, but culminating in His death and resurrection.

If we had to "give all" to be saved, we'd be in big trouble. I've never met anyone in that category.

Even a "commitment" from a new believer is a pretty shallow thing, tested, developed and strengthened over time. Thankfully, his Justification was not dependent on the strength of his "commitment".

Sorry if there is any misunderstanding, but when you said the gospel is not "a free offer", I had to at least clarify.

Much is taken care of when we understand the primacy of the new birth. Jesus told Nicodemus that until one is born again, he can't even *see* the kindgom of God, let alone believe in the King.

Blessings,
Terry

Denise said...

Terry, here are some thoughts to consider. I hope they are helpful.

Christians are always disciples. In fact the terms are used interchangably in Scripture. See for instance the Great Commission in Matt. 28:19 about making disciples of all nations. I've always (as well as every church and every pastor and elder I've ever known and heard) understand this verse to mean to and make converts.

Consider these passages:

Luk 14:25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'

Luk 14:31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Mat 13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

John MacArthur says (see the link below for the whole transcript): "The call that Jesus gave was a call to follow Him, a call to submission, a call to obedience. It was never a plea to make some kind of momentary decision to acquire forgiveness and peace and heaven and then go on living anyway you wanted. The invitations of Jesus to the lost were always direct calls to a costly commitment."

Mar 10:21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!"

I think "you" have to come to the end of yourself and see your total need for Christ in order to be saved, which can only be done by God’s hand.

Terry, I think MacArthur addresses your concerns:

MacArthur said, "Again I point out because they're fearful that if you have conditions involved in salvation, you have negatively affected grace. In other words, they want salvation to be purely of grace, only believe, purely grace, do nothing, just believe. And they say if you add the fact that you have to turn from sin, confess your sin, repent of your sin, surrender to Christ, you've added all these human works to grace....Let me say it again. I do not believe that these are human efforts, I believe that this is what God does in your heart. God gives you a love for Himself. God gives you a heart to obey. God turns you from your sin. They're not pre-salvation human works, they're inherent in God's saving work."

For the complet article go to:

http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/90-23.HTM

donsands said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ann_in_grace said...

Following up on all of your scholarly comments: I live in a country that prides itself as being Christian, at least formerly so.
Those standing on the positions of Christianity are mostly Pentecostals and so called "free churches", the meaning of the latter escapes me although I tried to understand it, throughout all my 15 years of living here. The simplest way of explaining is "free from the official Church of Sweden". The little church I attend, a congregation of 5 families, is probably the only one in the whole south of Sweden. To confess to the reformed Christianity is unheard of, in fact, a friend of mine, studying at a Bible School, had never heard the word 'reformed' or Calvinism. Must be some School...

What many of them have in common is looking for what Jesus can offer the man, and what a man can offer another man, in terms of moral support, helping hand... Jesus is needed for healing and wonders, for Sunday excitement, for self-approval.
Here - anything goes. Bible Schools that teach heresies, churches that are rich in words, but poor in The Word, pastors that never preach the Gospel...
My pastor told me a story of another 'pastor' of one of those free churches... The man, when asked if he reads his Bible, answered that he had absolutely no time for such a thing, because he was busy preparing his sermons...
This is reality. Outside the USA. In the heart of, once Christian, and today totally secular, country. One of many european pagan countries.

Bhedr said...

I hope you don't waver here Terry. The clarity and understanding that God has gifted you with is important. Allow me to lift your arms back up. I know the Gadfly can be intimidating standing there like that:-) But no worry brother. For the repentant sinner first coming to faith we must maintain a Just As I Am foundation at all costs brother...one that God builds on and no anxiety of human exertion is given place to in God's salvation of man.

I have been monitoring the great debate that has been going on. Personally I feel Chad has set up his own double standard in that a few months ago he was defending Jack Bauer as a Christ figure and a workable means to lead people to the Saviour and now he is saying this. I am sure he will come on and say that he has his reasons and built some base for it, but inevitably this discussion is turning into a tar baby. I have not watched the Chan Video and do not really feel like it. I do think there was much wisdom in the Pyros side on this and reading their insights I believe they have a more balanced understanding of presenting the gospel.

I love Steve and have been greatly ministered by him and know that loves God but we all have the tendency to try to help God out from time to time.He certainley has born with me and Steve has himself been patient in some of my buffoonery in the past; however I do believe he and Alan are incorrect here and the temptation for Galationism in group building with a twinge of law base foundation will not justify itself against the foundation of the free gospel to whoever will call upon the name of the Lord. Of course it is the elect who will respond but as Spurgeon so often stated the idea that we must preach like an Arminian and believe like a Calvinist when giving the gospel call. Phil has posted some good stuff by Spurgeon here of recent. I have learned to find much balance by reading his sermons. I think we all can. He had a truly God given method that has helped to correct some of my own erroneous thoughts of the past...but we are all growing from differant angles and so I have faith that one day men will see that when they place the emphasis of their cost on themselves they are both misleading others as well as risking insult to the finished work of Christ.

So good to see of those faithful martyrs. If only we here in America had but a taste of what they experience then we would see that as we all drink our coffee and eat our donuts have not gone out into these harvest fields as they have and set up a battlefield just yards from the gates of hell. But I know that he will work this out in all of us in His time as we learn to wait on Him free of anxiety and self vexation that often ends short of the mark when we place emphasis upon ourself by mingling a bit of flesh in with the standard of grace alone.

Brian said...

This is my first time to this website, serendipitously found via James White's aomin.org website. It's a great thing to hear from such like minded brothers and sisters in the Lord!

I just wanted to comment on Terry's post. While I agree with what Denise said, and I do think Terry misunderstood Alan, I think Terry's standing up for the gospel is something we should ALL do. Even if there was a misunderstanding, Terry's post was worth it. Better to stand up for the gospel and find out there was a misunderstanding than to say nothing at all.

As for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps some of you may have heard of Voice of the Martyrs (VOM). It is a superb organization that helps support persecuted Christians. I'd strongly recommend your considering supporting this organization. It truly is amazing to see what some of our brothers and sisters go through. I remember reading of one Indonesian brother who was sliced across the face with a machete by a Muslim. His cheeks were cut, his tongue sliced and his front teeth knocked out. As someone else said, I wouldn't wish for persecution here in America, but it would certainly strengthen our faith. May the Lord God bless our persecuted brethren.

In Christ,
Brian

Nathan White said...

Terry said: Without going into great detail, Jesus was preaching in a transition period *before* the New Covenant was put in place. His Gospel was the Good News that the Messiah had come to set up His spiritual kingdom…I believe this comes from the mistake of building a soteriology primarily out of the Gospels, instead of the epistles. We have to remember that Jesus Himself lived under the Law of the Old Covenant, and taught in a transition period, with Light dawning at a furious pace, but culminating in His death and resurrection.

Sir, are you coming from a dispensational or NCT perspective? And, did Jesus accomplish the setting up of His kingdom? Because from the historic reformed perspective, your comment above is misguided. Yes, the administration and revelation of the law changed in the New Covenant, but to say that Jesus was ‘operating’ under the old covenant is to misunderstand Paul and then re-insert that misunderstanding back into the gospels instead of coming to that position exegetically (IMHO). Was there not a Covenant of Grace when Jesus was teaching?

So, if we take, say, John chapter 3 and build a soteriology out of that, would that be a mistake? Yes, Jesus did speak of being lifted up, but that does not displace the fact that Jesus is talking in the present sense about the Spirit and believing, and that revelation of the gospel came progressively.

But I do see your point in the comment, I’m not trying to sidestep that, but arguing that some of Jesus’ words were ‘futuristic’ (like John 3, and the discussion of the church in Matt 16-18), and that some of His words were ‘under the Old covenant’, cannot be exegetically defended in my opinion. If you are basing your comments on a theological foundation such as Dispensationalism or NCT, then that would help clear up your position in my mind, and we don’t have to discuss it any further.

But personally, Jesus taught grace, He taught law (rightly so, for the Apostles after Him did too), He taught about the church, He taught about the Spirit, etc. So, I personally stand with Alan in that ALL of Jesus’ teaching in the gospels falls under the NC and is relevant to us today. The gospel demands our life, it is only ‘free’ in the sense that our ‘filthy rags’ do nothing to merit justification.

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” –Luke 17:7-10

SDG

Des said...

J.C. Ryle's Expository thoughts on Matthew, Chapter 8:16-22

16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” ~ Matthew 8:16-22, ESV


"In the first part of these verses we see a striking example of our Lord's wisdom in dealing with those who professed a willingness to be His disciples. The passage throws so much light on a subject frequently misunderstood in these days, that it deserves more than ordinary attention.

A certain scribe offers to follow our Lord wherever He goes. It was a remarkable offer, when we consider the class to which the man belonged, and the time at which it was made. But the offer receives a remarkable answer. It is not directly accepted, nor yet flatly rejected. Our Lord only makes the solemn reply, "the foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head."

Another follower of our Lord next comes forward, and asks to be allowed to "bury his father," before going any further in the path of a disciple. The request seems, at first sight, a natural and lawful one. But it draws from our Lord's lips a reply no less solemn than that already referred to, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead."

There is something deeply impressive in both these sayings. They ought to be well weighed by all professing Christians. They teach us plainly, that people who show a desire to come forward and profess themselves true disciples of Christ, should be warned plainly to "count the cost," before they begin. Are they prepared to endure hardship? Are they ready to carry the cross? If not, they are not yet fit to begin. They teach us plainly that there are times when a Christian must literally give up all for Christ's sake, and when even such duties as attending to a parent's funeral must be left to be performed by others. Such duties some will always be ready to attend to; and at no time can they be put in comparison with the greater duty of preaching the Gospel, and doing Christ's work in the world.

It would be well for the churches of Christ, if these sayings of our Lord were more remembered than they are. It may well be feared, that the lesson they contain is too often overlooked by the ministers of the Gospel, and that thousands are admitted to full communion, who are never warned to "count the cost." Nothing, in fact, has done more harm to Christianity than the practice of filling the ranks of Christ's army with every volunteer who is willing to make a little profession, and talk fluently of his experience. It has been painfully forgotten that numbers alone do not make strength, and that there may be a great quantity of mere outward religion, while there is very little real grace. Let us all remember this. Let us keep back nothing from young professors and inquirers after Christ. Let us not enlist them on false pretenses. Let us tell them plainly that there is a crown of glory at the end. But let us tell them no less plainly, that there is a daily cross in the way."

These timeless and pertinent words by John Charles Ryle were first published in 1856!

"though he died, he still speaks." ~ Hebrews 11:4, ESV

Terry Rayburn said...

hphDenise,

I had written in my previous comment, "...the mistake of building a soteriology primarily out of the Gospels, instead of the epistles."

And you counter that with 15 verses from the Gospels (and a quote from MacArthur) to make your point.

There are two things you are neglecting:

1) the Analogy of Scripture, that is, that to make a point with Scriptures you need to compare them with other Scriptures which are the most clear.

I gave the examples of Romans 5:15,16,18 which clearly show salvation as an absolute free gift, and you didn't even acknowledge such clear passages. Several other passages in the epistles make it crystal clear that there are no "conditions" in the Gospel, but the Good News of the finished work of the Messiah, to those who believe in Him.

2) Progressive Revelation, that is, the way in which God has shed more and more light on the Gospel as time and Scriptures marched on. In other words, we have to acknowledge that the epistles give us the most light, clarity and "theology" about the Gospel of the New Covenant.

And these epistles make clear that salvation is a free gift, God's righteousness is a free gift, and the Gospel is an offer of the free gift.

Contrary to the MacArthur quote, there are no "conditions" given for the Gospel [sidenote: you'll find I seldom quote men to prove a Biblical point...if I can't make the case with the Bible, it's probably not much of a case]. I shudder to use mere logic to make the case, either, but think for a minute....does it make any sense for "good news" to be, "You can have the free gift of salvation, but it's not free...you have to *purchase* it by giving all that you are."??

Too often when Galatianism creeps in, the defense is very similar to Romanism's silly defense of their so-called "grace", and goes something like this:

"It's not works. It's grace. But you've got to DO something to get that grace. You can't expect it for free, can you? There are CONDITIONS you must fulfill for that grace. But mind you, those are not meritorious. They're not works. They're just things you have to DO to get the grace. Understand?"

(*Saying* it's not meritorious doesn't make it not meritorious. Though I must admit I've gotten very few Romanists to understand that concept.)

How could Paul make it any clearer than to say that if you add something to DO as a "condition", it's no longer grace? (Rom. 11:6)

BTW, why is this Grace so important to emphasize (aside from the simple fact that it's true)?

Because often we disciples fall short in our discipleship (I don't know any exceptions, do you?). And when Performance-based Bonhoeffer Galatianist legalism is taught, some of these precious disciples are led to focus on their own performance, instead of on the Author and Finisher of their faith, and they despair of even being a Christian.

They "fall from grace", as Paul put
it to the Galatians, and get off of the ground of Grace, and on to the ground of Law, and are "troubled".

And so they shy away from the Lord, thinking He is frowning on them or even angry at them, and their fellowship with Him suffers. So they pull up their boots and "try harder" to be a good disciple, to get in good with God, and the cycle repeats itself.

The Gospel is Good News. And it's Good News because it's not dependent on our performance, before or after our initial salvation.

Again, I wholeheartedly agree that we are changed when we are born again. That's not the issue. The issue is whether the Gospel of the New Covenant offers a free gift, or one to be "purchased" or "traded for".

It's a free gift.

Terry Rayburn said...

Nathan wrote, "Sir, are you coming from a dispensational or NCT perspective?"

Terry: Neither specifically. I have problems with Dispensationalism, because I don't see two separate futures/covenants for the Church and saved Israelites.

I have trouble with New Covenant Theology, in that I don't think they have gone far enough to uphold Romans 6:14, which teaches that believers under the New Covenant are no longer under Law, but under Grace.

But I have the most trouble with Covenant Theology, which fails to rightly divide the differences between the Old (Mosaic) Covenant and the New Covenant, and tends to be most subject to Legalism.

Nathan wrote: "So, if we take, say, John chapter 3 and build a soteriology out of that, would that be a mistake?"

Terry: Notice that I previously said that building a soteriology primarily from the Gospels is a mistake. Of course John 3 must be consulted, and particularly since John was written specifically for evangelism, that is, to reveal this Christ in whom we must believe.

But you sure wouldn't get a very complete soteriology from John 3 alone, minus Romans 1-5, for example.

Nathan, it's hard to believe you would say that Jesus was not operating under the Old Covenant (technically I said "living under"). He was "born under the Law", He came to "fulfill the Law", He practiced the religion with it's feasts, sacrifices, etc.

When you say, "ALL of Jesus’ teaching in the gospels falls under the NC and is relevant to us today," you seem to forget that the New Covenant had not even been instituted, since it was ratified by the death of Jesus Himself.

And much of His teaching is directly relevant to us, but much is directly related to Mosaic Law, for example, reporting to the priest when one's leprosy is healed, or tithing of one's dill and mint, or practicing the Passover.

But you are right that He taught Grace, even before the Cross which paid for it. He was full of grace and truth.

And through the Cross, that Grace is free, and until you or someone can address the clear teaching in Romans 5:15,16,18 and others, that the Gospel offers a "free gift" of salvation, here I stand, I can do no other.

Denise said...

"The Contemporary church often fails to present the gospel clearly enough for the non-Christian to reject it." --John MacArthur

Denise said...

Terry,

I guess I find it quite disheartening that you would ignore the Gospel in the Gospels.

What Jesus taught is what Paul taught and what Peter taught. There has always been but one Gospel that saves. To ignore all those verses because they come from the Gospels---Jesus Himself---is quite disturbing to me. He taught but one way of salvation and that has never changed, either prior to or after His death.

I don't understand why someone would reject the teaching of salvation by Christ.

Mat 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Denise said...

"Go and make disciples" --do you agree this passage is about missions? Or do you believe this is about making more mature or more obedient Christians?

Btw, no one as yet has denied that salvation is solely by grace alone in Christ alone, and that anything we do that pleases Him is by Him working in us.(Phil. 2:13).

So, is the Great Commission about declaring the gospel to the lost (making disciples)? Or is it about making more obedient Christians?

donsands said...

des,

That was a superb quote from John Ryle.
What a blessing from the Lord to preserve the writings of some of most faithful and humble servants. J. C. Ryle was truly one of these men of faith.

"No Cross, No Crown".

Douglas said...

The gospel is preached freely, without charge of dollars and cents, that is the free offer of the gospel, but the gospel came at a terrible price, at the cost of the life of our LORD Jesus Christ and the life of the believer.

1 Corinthians 9:18What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

2 Corinthians 11:7Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge?

As R. C. Sproul says, there is a paradox here:

"The late Christian philosopher Gordon H. Clark once defined a paradox as a "charley horse between the ears." His witty remark was designed to point out that what is sometimes called a paradox is often nothing more than sloppy thinking. Clark, however, clearly recognized the legitimate role and function of paradox. The word paradox comes from the Greek root that means "to seem or to appear." Paradoxes are difficult for us because at first glance they "seem" to be contradictions, but under closer scrutiny resolutions can often be found. For example, Jesus said, "He who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39). On the surface this sounds akin to a statement like "God is one hand clapping." It sounds like a self-contradiction. What Jesus meant, however, is that if someone loses his life in one sense, he will find it in another sense. Because the losing and saving are in two different senses, there is no contradiction. I am a father and a son at the same time, but obviously not in the same relationship." pg. 8 Essential Truths of the Christian Faith

The Christian life costs you in one sense and you gain life in another sense. The free offer of the gospel is not earned, as wages are earned. The free offer of the gospel is received by those who are born again. The unregenerate will always reject the free offer of the gospel until they are born from above by the Holy Spirit of God.

There surly is a cost involved in the Christian life but many a professing Christians does not want to pay it, they want to avoid it at all cost, in today’s soft wimpy 21st century western materialistic society.

Some verses regarding times of trouble, being hated, despised, suffering, tribulations, afflictions, hardships, trials, troubles, persecutions, beatings, whippings, etc., even unto DEATH, for the cause of our LORD Jesus Christ and His Gospel:

Psalms 27:5; Psalms 46:1; Psalm 119:67; Ecclesiastes 7:14; Matthew 5:10-12; 43-48; Matthew 13:18-23; Matthew 24:9; Mark 10:23-31; John 15:20; John 16:33; Acts 5: 41; Acts 9:16; Acts 14:22; Acts 19:16; Romans 5: 3; Romans 8:17; Romans 8:31-38; Romans 12:14-21; 1 Corinthians 4: 8-13; 2 Corinthians 4:7-18; 2 Corinthians 11:16-33; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5; Philippians 1:29; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 1:8; 2 Timothy 3:10-17; Hebrews 11 (Sufferings and trials of the Old Testament Saints); Hebrews 12:11; James 5:10; 1 Peter 2:20-21; 1 Peter 3:14-17; 1 Peter 4:16; 1 Peter 5:10.....

How Few There Are Who Die So Hard!

Suffering and Success in the Life of Adoniram Judson: The Cost of Bringing Christ to Burma

How many professing western Christian's are willing to follow in Adoniram Judson's footsteps? A challenge to myself as well. Go to Iran, Syria, Iraq even, to proclaim the gopsel? What happens to western Christians in Iraq, especially if they are Americans?

Maybe it would be much easier and safer to just send over a few million copies of Francis Chan's DVD's: A fifteen- minute film that may change your life forever. That should do the trick, eh?

Terry Rayburn said...

Denise,

In our home we often use a hilarious line from Pirates of the Caribbean from Captain Barbosa. He had just told Miss Swan not to use fancy words because they were just "simple pirates". Then when she asked him to do something, he came back with the best line of the movie: "I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request....means 'No'."

I think it would help if we [temporarily] used the term "Good News" instead of "Gospel", because that what "Gospel" means, both literally and practically. We could, of course, use the Greek word, but it means "Good News" :)

With that in mind, allow me to make a couple of points:

1) All men everywhere have always been under the obligation to bow the knee to the Creator God of the universe, and thus to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. All men still are under such obligation.

That is not the Good News, however. That is merely a requirement of the Holy God, and righteousness.

2) When Jesus admonished the crowds, indicating that they should follow Him as disciples, He was bringing forth the above principle, and stating the simple fact that all men are under obligation to bow the knee to Jesus as Lord. This is clearly stated in the Biblical statement that "God calls all men everywhere to repent".

That is not the Good News, however. It is merely the Lord King declaring His rightful place as the Lord King.

3) The Good News of salvation was first put forth in an embryonic way in the Garden of Genesis, alluding to the Cross, where the serpent would bruise the heel of the Christ, and the Christ would crush the head of the serpent. This Good News was real and powerful, but primitive in its portrayal.

4) The *basis* of the Good News was put forth later in the life of Abraham, who it is said, "believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness". This is the first revelation that "faith" for salvation was not only not a meritorious "work", but was not even a "decision" or a "commitment".

And this pattern of "believing God" and being given His righteousness as a free gift, became the pattern for the New Covenant.

5) The term "Lordship Salvation" has become a very un-useful term, because it pits the apples against the oranges, and ducks away from the simple New Covenant Good News (on the part of Lordship Salvation people), and it ducks away from the awesome heart-change of the New Creation of 2 Cor. 5:17 (on the part of the anti-Lordship Salvation people).

6) The simple fact is that when one is born again, he is given a new heart (that's the ancient promise of the New Covenant). With this new heart, he not only *can* believe in Jesus Christ AS LORD and as Savior, he can't NOT believe. It has been given to him as a revelation. It has been given to him as a free gift. He has been made a disciple, apart from any "work" or "commitment". I say again, if we are saved or kept in any way by our "commitments" we are in trouble, friends.

7) Under what circumstance is one born again? The answer is, in the preaching of the Good News of the death (for sins), burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What specifically must someone to believe to be justified?

We must admit that the Scripture is not crystal clear about the answer to this, and I believe this is the reason why:

When a person is born again, he "believes God" about Jesus Christ. It's a package deal. I believe in Him. I once was blind and didn't believe in Him. Now I see, and DO believe in Him.

Believe what? Whatever God says, insofar as I can understand what He's saying! He says Jesus is Lord and should be worshiped...I believe it (I also want to...it's in my heart now). He says Jesus is God...I believe it. He says Jesus died to pay for my sins...I believe it. He says Jesus is born of a virgin...I believe it. He is risen...I believe it. And so on and so on.

At what point do I not believe what God says? At no point. Insofar as He gives me light as to what He means, I believe Him.

That's what a believer does.

8) Thus, "Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me" is a valid charge to all men. "Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" is a valid charge to all men. "Hate your mother, father, spouse, etc. for Jesus' sake" is a valid charge to all men.

But it's not the Good News.

In fact, it will condemn many, as just one more command transgressed.

The Good News is, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, His death for your sins, his resurrection from the dead, and you will be saved, you will not perish, you will be spared from the wrath of the just God, you will be given eternal Life...

...for free."

Millions have been saved under that simple message, whether in the imperfect Romans Road, the imperfect 4 Laws, the imperfect stumbling of a country preacher, or the imperfect preaching of an erudite scholar who bores and confuses his hearer, but accidentally lifts up Jesus Christ in his complicated treatise.

Salvation is of the Lord, after all.

Brian said...

I think Terry has spoken well - the Gospel has to stay separate from works lest we make the fundamental mistake us Reformed folk hate so much - adding to the Gospel something that we have to do (making it not grace).

danthomas said...

bhedr said:
"I have not watched the Chan Video and do not really feel like it. I do think there was much wisdom in the Pyros side on this and reading their insights I believe they have a more balanced understanding of presenting the gospel."
During a visit with my Mother last
Easter she commented how she could
not understand how we could believe
all that stuff in the Bible, and basically in the same sentence admitted that she had not read much of the Bible. I too followed the debate over the past week or so with
regards to the Chan video and I watced the video several times. I believe team Pyro took a position, misunderstood those trying to point out the dangers of a confusing
gospel presentation, and became a little defensive in the end. This is borne out by Mr. Philips sarcastic opening to his final statement, which, by the way, was far too long to make a simple point,
and the fact that they shut the thing down after 70 comments on the final post. Apparently a lot of folks thought this was important
and it would have been nice to let
something that a lot of folks thought important play itself out.
We all could have benefitted. Regardless, James'and Steve's points
are not to be taken lightly. One of the first things that came to my
mind was a sermon John MacArthur
preached blasting the "try Jesus, see if he fits" movement. Chan's
'see what your missing' presentation
seems similar. The criticisms regarding the presentation of the Gospel are also well founded. Again
John MacArthur's first instruction
to those seeking a church is "how do
they handle the word of God". The marrige proposal just does not square with "take up your Cross".
I am curious if anyone knows how
successful Chan's video was at luring potential believers from his
area. I suppose it probably did OK.
Thanks Steve for your blessed ministry.

Bhedr said...

Danthomas.

Love you brother and realize that we all can be misunderstood at times. I wish I had more strength for debate right now as I really learn a lot from these blogs and especially Steves. He is a great man of God and his ministry has been a tremendous source for a trial my familly is experiencing right now. Terry also is much more thoroughly versed in this area than I am and so I am not going to cut in to much but I would like to pass this on if it is permissable>Learning Not To Cut In

I understand the burden that the MacARthur camp shares and how he at times has been misunderstood. Allow me to say that I stand where Terry does on this though. He truly has a balanced understanding of scripture. I think that many of us can learn from him. The FG camp can as well. Having said that I want to say that I am thankful for men of God in the FG camp. Men like Ryrie still put shoeleather to pavement and street preach. I always like it when seminarians get out and witness and that goes for James White and others who do as well. It is a wonderful thing to see. All of you who reach people with the gospel are a blessing and have sweet and precious feet. May we all endeavor to present the gospel with clarity and give this sinsick world what they so desperately need...The Lord.

Adjutorium said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nathan White said...

Terry wrote: I have trouble with New Covenant Theology, in that I don't think they have gone far enough to uphold Romans 6:14, which teaches that believers under the New Covenant are no longer under Law, but under Grace.

I think you misunderstand the NCT position, for they specifically argue against the notion that the Decalogue (or 10 Commandments) has any place in the life of a new covenant believer, which is in essence, antinomianism at its core.

For the most part, Dispensationalism and NCT are essentially the same except for their view on Israel. They both believe that Jesus essentially ‘abolished’ the law, contrary to Matthew 5:17-20. But if you honestly think that NCT takes the law too far, are you then identifying yourself with the 'free grace' crowd of Zane Hodges and his other 'anti-Lordship' crew? I can see no other way given what you have said.

But surely you don’t believe that we in the new covenant haven’t been given a law? If anything, Jesus and the disciples gave much more law in the NT as opposed to the old. Yes, we are no longer ‘under’ it in that we must perfectly obey it for eternal life, and it does not give us any merit in our justification, and we have been given the Spirit and power to obey it, but most certainly we are still under law as we have been given commands like ‘love your neighbor’, and ‘bear one another’s burdens’, and ‘repay no one evil for evil’, and 'children obey your parents' etc. Are you saying that these instuctions (commandments) are optional for the new covenant Christian?

Terry said: Nathan, it's hard to believe you would say that Jesus was not operating under the Old Covenant (technically I said "living under"). He was "born under the Law", He came to "fulfill the Law", He practiced the religion with it's feasts, sacrifices, etc.

What I am saying is that salvation has always been one way. Read the Psalms. David got it. You read him and it’s like someone from the new covenant is speaking. To say that Jesus presented differing views on the gospel (some old C and some new C) is to severely miss the point. Read the book of 1st John, it’s like a mirror image of the gospel of John. Read the book of James, it’s like a mirror image of what Jesus taught while on earth.

Terry said: When you say, "ALL of Jesus’ teaching in the gospels falls under the NC and is relevant to us today," you seem to forget that the New Covenant had not even been instituted, since it was ratified by the death of Jesus Himself.

This is the crux of the matter between NCT, Dispensationalism, and Covenant Theology. I disagree firmly with your position, as I think you are reading into the text a concept that isn’t there. But I don’t want to get in a big discussion about it, I just wanted to point out that traditional, historic, Reformed theology does not teach what you are saying. Dispensationalism and NCT have only been around for a couple hundred years, if even that.

Terry said: And much of His teaching is directly relevant to us, but much is directly related to Mosaic Law, for example, reporting to the priest when one's leprosy is healed, or tithing of one's dill and mint, or practicing the Passover.

We must distinguish between what happened during Jesus' time and what specifically Jesus taught. Yes, Jesus told the leper to obey, but everything He specifically taught (like the sermon on the mount) is completely relevant to us today. Surely we are smart enough to recognize narrative from didactic teaching.

Terry said: And through the Cross, that Grace is free, and until you or someone can address the clear teaching in Romans 5:15,16,18 and others, that the Gospel offers a "free gift" of salvation, here I stand, I can do no other.

Terry, I would encourage you to read the book of James and 1st John, along with the ‘7 letters’ to the churches in Revelation, and contemplate the fact that NT is a perfect balance of law vs grace. They cannot be separated. Paul was more inclined to talk about grace, but he did not deny the law. Jesus and the other writers of the NT were more inclined to talk about the law before grace, of course never denying grace. There is and has been only one way of salvation from Adam to consummation, and that is by faith. Jesus taught this in everything He said, as did His disciples.

SDG

Douglas said...

3,000 Christians added daily in China
Faithful undefeated by beatings, arrests, confiscations and destruction of churches

I wonder if that many are being added to the church in the west on a daily basis? America? Gt. Britain? Europe? Australia? New Zealand?

Beatings, arrests, confiscations and destruction of churches. Heavy. Much rejoicing I'd say though?

Aprox. 150,000 People Will Die Today. How many will be cast into the lake of fire?

Stamp eternity upon our minds O God.

donsands said...

douglas,

Thanks for the article from VOM.
Made me think.

The Lord surely has blessed me with many things. I deserve nothing, and yet He has granted me to be tremendously blessed with material things. I thank Him for them, and know that it's only His graciousness that I am as blessed as I am.
I always try to honor His name, and give glory to His grace, for all His blessings to me.
I am always humbled when I see how our fellow servants of Christ are being treated in other countries.

I was able to see Richard Wurmbrand a few years ago. He preaches sitting down, because of the injuries to his feet from being tortured for his faith.

God bless, and have a blessed Lord's day.

Douglas said...

God bless, and have a blessed Lord's day.

Thanks Bro donsands, you have a good one too.

Nothing wrong with material wealth, it is our heart attitude towards them and being good stewards of them that counts.

"The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe when man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil. There is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The Communist torturers often said, 'There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.' I have heard one torturer even say, 'I thank God, in whom I don't believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.' He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflected on prisoners." Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1967), p. 34.

That sort of thing is going on in Iraq on a daily basis practically, except it is done in the name of Allah who doesn't exist.

Terry Rayburn said...

Nathan,

I would like to address your comments directly in a separate post for brevity's sake. But first I'd like to take a little side road:

I think the church of God can be blessed greatly by you in the years to come, because you seem to care about the truth. But it will be blessed far greater when you allow your creeds and systems to take a back seat to the pure milk of the Word.

I'm not saying to throw your creeds and systems out completely. We all have some kind of creed or system in our head, if we're honest. But we should always be ready to toss them, if we come fresh to the Word of God and see something different than our system allows.

I seriously don't want this to be taken as an insult, but you seem almost desperate to put me into a theological box that you can then throw overboard into the ocean, and then brush your hands together with a, "There! That takes care of that box."

Meanwhile the box you've boxed yourself into is sound-proof so that you have a hard time hearing.

For example, in a previous comment I specifically disavowed the Zane Hodges so-called free grace teaching, yet amazingly you ask, "...are you then identifying yourself with the 'free grace' crowd of Zane Hodges and his other 'anti-Lordship' crew?"

You seem like you'd be delighted for me to say I'm a Dispensationalist (I'm not), or a New Covenant Theology guy (I'm not), or a Free Gracer (I'm not), so that you can pull out your "27 Arguments Against ______" and dispatch me between the eyes.

I prefer staying out of the labeled boxes, free to exegete the Word day by day, year by year, without filtering everything through an unchangeable strainer. And free to fellowship in love with others in the precious Body of Christ, whom I may disagree with.

In that vein, I admire people like D.A. Carson, who fight to be free of labels, so that they can continue to learn, even while they teach.

Just don't call me a Carsonite :)

Blessings,
Terry

Terry Rayburn said...

Nathan,

You wrote: "I think you misunderstand the NCT position, for they specifically argue against the notion that the Decalogue (or 10 Commandments) has any place in the life of a new covenant believer, which is in essence, antinomianism at its core."

It is you who misunderstand the NCT position, since they repeatedly point out that 9 of the 10 commandments are repeated in the NC Scriptures, and are thus relevant to the NC believer. Only Sabbath-keeping is seen as not a New Covenant practice. They believe that Jesus has replaced Moses as the Lawgiver, but point out that His laws are even higher than Moses' (as in for example lust in the heart = adultery, etc.).

So to call NCT "antinomian" is either parroting incorrect talk that has been said by others, or flat-out bearing false witness (one of the 10 Commandments, in case the irony escapes anyone).

You wrote, "But surely you don’t believe that we in the new covenant haven’t been given a law?"

Of course we have been given many imperatives in the New Covenant. Yet Paul clearly says that all things are lawful for us (but not all things are expedient, etc.).

And Rom. 6:14 clearly says that we are not under law, but under grace. This is a critical verse to the Christian walk, because it's the very reason that sin shall no longer be master over us, according to the passage.

Because of grace, we are free to grow, and fail, and yet be assured of God's love, favor, and blessing. That love, favor, and blessing is not dependent on our performance. This takes the wind out of the sails of sin, because the Law is the "strength of sin". In other words, being "under law" actually inflames sin.

So, if we are no longer under law, but under grace (Rom. 6:14), then why do we have all the commands in the NC at all?

I believe there are two main answers:

1. The commands show us the heart and mind of the One we love. Since we love the Lord, as believers in Him, doesn't it make sense that we want to know the things that He desires, the things that please Him? Of course. And these commands, although they bring us no condemnation, reveal to us the heart of the Lover of our souls.

2. The commands reveal to us when we are not walking by the Spirit, but are walking by the flesh. It shows us that we have been deceived by the world, the flesh, and the devil to be somehow "conformed to the world". This acts as a wonderful prompt to us to get back in communion with the Lord, to get back into the fulness of His Spirit, to get back in touch with our own new spirit, to again have our minds renewed by His Word, and to again walk by the Spirit.

Isn't that what we want in our heart of hearts? Isn't that what we crave as a New Creation?

It's not legalism to want to obey Him, when our obedience comes from our love for Him, or from His very Life living out through us.

But it is legalism to teach that God's love, and favor, and blessing is dependent on our performance (that's what being "under the law" means). To teach that is a straight denial of Rom. 8:28 which says that God is working ALL things together for our good.

You wrote: "I just wanted to point out that traditional, historic, Reformed theology does not teach what you are saying. Dispensationalism and NCT have only been around for a couple hundred years, if even that."

Nathan, when you use "traditional, historic, Reformed theology" to prove a point, you have abandoned sola scriptura. When you discount teachings of another system because the *system* itself is new, you not only abandon sola scriptura, you ironically use the very argument the Romanists used against the Reformers.

You wrote: "everything He specifically taught (like the sermon on the mount) is completely relevant to us today. Surely we are smart enough to recognize narrative from didactic teaching."

You make a good point here in distinguishing between didactic and narrative Scriptures from the Gospels. I would only add that we also need to distinguish between the didactic teaching and the Old Covenant practice of Jesus and His contemporaries.

You wrote: "Paul was more inclined to talk about grace, but he did not deny the law."

You are right. Paul not only did not deny the law, he said it was holy, and just, and good, and spiritual. But he also said that we died to the law, that we were released from the law, that all things are lawful to us, and that we are no longer under the law.

And that's why Paul said, in 1 Tim. 1:8,9, "...the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane...."

Blessings,
Terry

Captured! said...

I read the article and comments and then reread the article. How can it be said that the Gospel is not free? We cannot go after God on our own, but solely by the Spirit's drawing. We cannot so much as repent unless the gift of repentence has been given. We cannot say 'Jesus is Lord' apart from the faith that is freely given us. No conditions are required of one who cannot believe unless faith and grace are first imparted. If the Gospel had conditions upon my first embracing it, then clearly I was never saved, born-again, nor am I a new creation in Christ. But, I am and thanks be to God that nothing was required of me. My initial repentence and subsequent submission to God's Lordship was done without my permission. I did not decide to follow Christ. It was decided for me and given to me despite efforts to resist. I was apprehended, as Paul says, rescued, and captured. I agreed to nothing until I was born again of the Spirit. Now, I take up my cross daily, try to obey God, embrace goodness and yes, love the law. It has cost me friends, the love of certain family members, my pride, my ability to make decisions on my own and to run my own life. Let's keep the Gospel what it is - simple, understandable, true, and the greatest, free-ist gift given to anyone!

cyd said...

Dear Captured:

Beautiful testimony!

I love this:

"My initial repentence and subsequent submission to God's Lordship was done without my permission. I did not decide to follow Christ. It was decided for me and given to me despite efforts to resist. I was apprehended, as Paul says, rescued, and captured."

Amen. Have a blessed Lord's day!

cindy

Nathan White said...

Terry,

I specifically asked what 'theological camp' you are in so that we wouldn't waste time arguing over the details. The topic of this post is not CT, NCT, and dispensationalism, and I had no intention of seriously taking it in that direction. I simply wanted to point out where your position was coming from so that readers would better understand why you made the initial objection that you did. Naturally, within the 3 stated camps, there is going to be some dispute over what Jesus meant in some of His teachings. If your position was clear (which it still isn’t, being that it has consistently appeared to be inconsistent), we wouldn't even still be writing right now.

Furthermore, historically, as I understand it, denying the Decalogue as a rule for the NC Christian life is referred to as 'antinomianism' (However, in your view, I don't have to worry about 'bearing false witness', since we're under grace, right? Then I don’t have to obey, as it’s just a good suggestion.)

So, again, my point was that if you see NCT as holding too much law, which would make your position a step even further below that, then I personally see no other option than to place you side by side with Zane Hodges, given that you have failed to do anything but 'parrot' Rom 6:14 without any serious interaction with the text. Why would you take my summarization so offensively when you haven't given any real explanation of your system? I wasn’t trying to be harsh, I was simply amazed at the 'old C' statements concerning Jesus' words that sounded like they came straight from the hyper-dispy's themselves. Even still, looking back on your comments as a whole, you still seem stuck on this unbiblical notion that there are ‘two ways’ to salvation (between the old and new), which would make me wonder why anyone would want to read the OT and Psalms out of fear of getting their soteriology wrong. But regarding the rest of your comments, I don’t fully understand your position and I’d rather not interact with it at this point.

Terry Rayburn said...

Nathan,

You wrote, "....historically, as I understand it, denying the Decalogue as a rule for the NC Christian life is referred to as 'antinomianism'."

Oy vay! You're with the "historically" thing again. A word about Biblical antinomianism is in order, since legalists often call non-legalists "antinomian" incorrectly.

In the Scripture, there are the "lawless" (those who don't revere the law of God as good and just and holy) and there are the "righteous" (those who have been given a new heart, and revere the law of God as good and just and holy, as Paul and you and I do).

The former, the "lawless", are Biblical antinomians. They may be blatant unbelievers in Christ, or they may be professors of belief in Christ (but deny Him by their lifestyle of lawlessness).

But to call someone an antinomian who, like Paul, reveres the law of God as just, good, and holy, but declares, with Paul that believers are no longer "under law" but "under grace", is to dodge the pursuit of the truth by the smokescreen of a dirty word.

You wrote: "...I personally see no other option than to place you side by side with Zane Hodges...

How could you say that, if you know what Hodges teaches? He teaches that when a person "trusts Christ's work on the cross" he is saved, and may theoretically never follow Christ for the rest of his life, and may theoretically never do any good works, and may even live totally as an unbeliever, having been truly saved and remaining saved.

Since I have repeatedly said that the New Birth causes us to have a new heart, and that this new heart causes us to love Christ and hate sin, and that God *is* working in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure...I have taught exactly the *opposite* of Hodges.

You either didn't hear what I said, or don't know what Hodges teaches.

You wrote: "...you have failed to do anything but 'parrot' Rom 6:14 without any serious interaction with the text."

Are you serious? I'm the only one who *has* interacted with the text, first by declaring it true, and secondly by defining what "under law" and "under grace" means.

For example, I wrote:

"...Rom. 6:14 clearly says that we are not under law, but under grace. This is a critical verse to the Christian walk, because it's the very reason that sin shall no longer be master over us, according to the passage.

Because of grace, we are free to grow, and fail, and yet be assured of God's love, favor, and blessing. That love, favor, and blessing is not dependent on our performance. This takes the wind out of the sails of sin, because the Law is the "strength of sin" [1 Cor. 15:56]. In other words, being "under law" actually inflames sin."


You wrote: "...you still seem stuck on this unbiblical notion that there are ‘two ways’ to salvation (between the old and new)..."

I'm seriously surprised at this comment, since I never said one single thing regarding "two ways" to salvation. I would challenge you to quote me once regarding any other way of salvation than by Grace. In fact, I specifically alluded to the thread of Grace starting in the Garden, extending to Abraham, and culminating in the New Covenant.

Are you sure you were reading my comments?

And that brings me back to my original point, and that is that the Gospel is the offer of the free gift of righteousness and salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ.

Nothing you've said has put a dent in that.

Blessings,
Terry

Antonio said...

How far will the Lordship Salvationists go in corrupting the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ?

shame!

Nathan White said...

Terry, I have no desire to argue with you, and providing 'historical' sources to back up some of what I said is not in the best interest of my time. However, just so you know that I'm not making this up, Gene Bridges left a comment on the Founders blog today (1-25-07), where he stated that rejecting the Decalogue does make one antinomian. Thus, whether you agree or not is beside the point, but the designation that you deny is held by many.

Antonio said...

R.T. Kendall states that his predecessor, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, used to say "If the gospel we preach is not accused of being antinomian, it is probably because we haven't really preached the gospel!" (In Pursuit of HIS Glory, p. 97).

Terry Rayburn said...

Nathan,

For someone who doesn't "desire to argue", you sure are a persistent little rascal.

1. I don't disagree that some people do indeed call those who "reject" the Decalogue antinomians.

However,

2. "Reject the Decalogue" has to be defined.

If one rejects the Decalogue because one is "lawless" in his heart, as I previously said, then they don't revere any law of God as good and just and holy, and they are true antinomians.

But if one has a view other than Covenant Theology regarding the Old Covenant laws of Israel, to automatically call them antinomian is just silly.

3. Our view about who is truly antinomian should come from Scripture, not Gene Bridges or any other writer.

4. Legalism is very subtle, and it's been my experience that law-based teachers are sometimes more interested in being right, or winning the law-based argument, than in keeping the law themselves. (I'm not saying this is true of you, Nathan.)

This is what Gal. 6:13 means when it says, "For not even those who are circumcised [legalistic] keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised [become legalistic] that they may glory in your flesh [put a notch on their belt for "winning" the debate and justifying themselves, even though they don't keep the law very well themselves]."

Blessings,
Terry