LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Free Gracers -- I am Confused -- Is They Or Ain't They?

Before I get into this, I want everyone to know that I have nothing against Free Gracers on a personal level. I have shared some private corraspondense with Antonio that has really blessed my heart, for example. I would also say the same in regards to Rose, HK Flynn (Jodie), and Matthew. I admire their zeal, as none of them take the punny, wimp way out of things and say something stupid like, "This is my truth, and what you have is your truth." They stand by their convictions, no matter if Free Grace theology, in the end, be true or false.

But I am very confused about their stance concerning works in the life of the believer. Is there double talk going on? For example, here on a latest thread we find a quote from Zane Hodges:

Of course, there is every reason to believe that there will be good works in the life of each believer in Christ. The idea that one may believe in Him and live for years totally unaffected by the amazing miracle of regeneration, or by the instruction and/or discipline of God his heavenly Father, is a fantastic notion—even bizarre. We reject it categorically." (Zane Hodges: We Believe in Assurance Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society) Emphesis made by Antonio


Next we read this:

Zane further writes:

"Finally, we must add that there is no need to quarrel with the Reformers' view that where there is justifying faith, works will undoubtedly exist too. This is a reasonable assumption for any Christian unless he has been converted on his death bed!" (Absolutely Free, pg 215).


Here we seem to have an affirmation that where there is faith in Christ, there will also be works. We even have a "categorical" rejection to the otherwise. Even Bob Wilkin writes:

Reformed theologians suggest that good works are the inevitable result of the new birth. All believers will produce good works, they say.

Some people from the Lordship Salvation position seem to think that we in the Free Grace camp deny such teaching. While GES has no specific statement directly on this point, most members of GES would not have a problem with the above statement--at least in terms of what it actually says.



Please note what Dr. Wilkin says: 1) That Reformed theologians teach that good works are the "inevitable" result of the new birth. 2) All believers will produce good works, and 3) in terms of the actual statement, "most" Ges members would not have a particular problem with it.

But alas, it would appear that a problem does come up. Wilkin writes:

There is a difference between what is hypothetically possible and what is likely and reasonable.

I would say that it is hypothetically possible for a believer never to produce even one good work. However, I don't think that ever has or will occur--except in the cases of people who trust Christ at the very moment of death. (Most consider such cases outside the scope of this issue.)



Wilkin introduces a hypothetical catagory. He then negates the possible reality of it, but then goes on to build a theology from that catagory. In his article, he actually weds what he has just said was hypothetical to what he teaches concerning the new nature. In doing so, he winds up negating all of his above affirmations. Wilkin writes:

The real issue in this discussion is to be found in the degree to which one's new nature will manifest itself. The question is: Is it possible for sin to dominate the life of a believer, and if so, for how long?


"Good works are inevitable," he writes, but brings in the extreme duality that the new nature can be dominated by sin. One might rightfully ask just how, if the new nature can be dominated by sin, can works in any serious way be affirmed as inevitable? I ask this because he writes:

The Reformed view cannot say how long a believer might be dominated by sin. Weeks? Months? Years? Decades? The reason for this imprecision is because the doctrine itself is unscriptural. There are many verses which warn believers not to let sin have dominion over us (e.g., Rom. 6:12-14; 1 Cor. 3:14; 2 Cor. 12:20-21; 1 Tim. 1:18-20; 2 Tim. 2:14-26; Jms. 5:19-20; 2 Pet. 3:17). There are none which say that there is a time limit on how long a believer can be dominated by sin.

(God does take disobedient believers home. In some cases, such as Leviticus 10 and Acts 5, God acts swiftly. In some cases, such as 2 Samuel 11 and 1 Corinthians 11, He does not. There is no indication in Scripture how long God might allow an errant believer to continue in sin before He would choose to take him home. He is sovereign and makes such choices as He knows are best in individual cases. He has not bound Himself to some formula.)


Since Wilkin introduces another catogory that the new nature can be dominated by sin lasting until death, in the case of God's judgment, with the possibility of domination being life long (years, decades), it appears to me that he has just committed a cagagory error that he himself introduced. That is, what is affirmed on the one hand, he appears to deny on the other.

And of course, I am left confused. Are good works inevitable or not?

Going on with my confusion, I wonder why Antonio would quote Hodges as affirming the reality of good works when Antonio himself has written this.

From his article, Antonio wrote:

...the intellectually repugnant paradox that Christian growth is "inevitable" but "not automatic"


Since good works are part of Christian growth, I am still left with confusion. Does Free Grace Theology teach good works to be inevitable or not? The appearance of things is that Free Grace theology wants to teach both. But then again, I am confused..... :-)

(Lord willing, I hope to offer a critique of this article next weekend. It is my hope to have a weekend series looking at Free Grace Theology.)

Labels:

51 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you raise a significant question. I have no interest in joining the discussion, but you may be interested to see where Antonio and I interacted on this very issue:
http://www.sfpulpit.com/2006/10/24/1-corinthians-69-11-and-the-lordship-debate/#comments

Matt Waymeyer

P.S. I can't stop by without giving a hearty hello to Mark!

June 09, 2007 3:29 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Mr. Waymeyer - I am deeply honored!

Teammates - please leave this post stand by itself for at least 3 days, if not more, because a number of serious issues have been raised by it and I want Antonio, Matthew, Jodie and Rose to join this conversation.

It will be a conversation, not a fight. I am more guilty than anyone for being so pugnacious (I lost tract of where my dictionary went, hence the probability of misspelling). My desire is that this will be a peaceful exchange, nothing other than.

Great post, Douglas!

June 09, 2007 4:59 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Doug,
Good questions. Maybe will hear from someone who can explain these contridictions.
wayne

June 09, 2007 5:17 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

"Faith without works is dead."
I guess I'm less concerned about what Zane Hodges thinks about "works" and more concerned about what God says about them.
Faith can be there without works, but it's dead faith - hence pointless and worthless.
God says He's given to each a measure of faith. But not unlike unregenerate souls, some faith can be dead.
I'll be interested in seeing how this conversation goes forward. I hope to learn something from it.
I also hope the Free Gracers choose to comment here. Like Mark said, I expect it will be respectful and peaceful.
Now I'll duck out of the way...

June 09, 2007 5:23 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Uh, I'm an impatient lassie and couldn't wait three days to post something, so hop on over to my newly created blog to read another thread - if you dare.
Woooo hahahahaha.
ourdailythread.blogspot.com
Cya there I hope. I got the espresso machine fired up so come on over!

June 09, 2007 5:36 PM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

Hi Mark,

I left an invatation over there. Hopefully one will come and try to unravel this for us.

Hi Matt,

I certainly shall.

June 09, 2007 6:02 PM

 
Anonymous danny said...

Hi Mark. I'm a Free Gracer. I understand your confusion, so I'll be happy to share my thoughts. And let me say hi to Doug. Hi Doug!

Pragmatically, it is reasonable to assume that all believers will manifest good works at least at some point in their lives. Now, let me say that it's not entirely correct to say that Bob teaches that the new nature can be dominated by sin. Bob and I believe that no Christian ever sins as an expression of his new nature, for the new nature is sinless (1 John 3:9). When a Christian performs selfless good works, he is not dominated by sin at that moment.

We believe that Christians can be dominated by sin to the end of their lives, but at some point or various points in their life, they most probably manifested some good works as an expression of the new nature. But once they become dominated by sin, they no longer act out of the new nature.

James 5:19-20, 1 John 5:16,1 Corinthians 11:30 and many other passages speak of the reality of sin unto death. But it is reasonable to assume that believers who sin unto death manifested good works at sometime before they died. Again, at the time they manifested selfless good works, they were not under sin's influence.

Also, before judging anyone's actions, we need to realize that believers often perform God-honoring works that are not seen by people.

Another problem is that many times people, like the false prophets in Matthew 7:15-23, manifest so many good works, that everyone assumes they are saved. But they never did the will of the Father (which in relation to eternal life, is simple faith in Jesus for eternal life). They point to their works in Matthew 7:22, pleading with Jesus to let them in because of these works. So we can identify false prophets by their fruit - which in the context of Matthew 7:15, are the words they speak (cf. Matthew 12:33-37). Anyone who denies salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone falls under the Matthew 7:15-23 category.

Now, I should point out that I see Matthew 7:24-27 applying to both believers and unbelievers. In the sermon on the Mount, Jesus has words for believers and for unbelievers. The believer who doesn't do what Jesus says is a foolish man who will lose rewards. The unbeliever who tries to work his way into the kingdom is also a foolish man, for he doesn't "do" the will of the Father for entrance into the Kingdom - that is, the unsaved foolish man doesn't believe in Jesus for eternal life. I relate John 6:27-29 to Matthew 7:21.

Mark, I apologize for the long post. I can't help myself!

Blessings,
Danny

June 09, 2007 8:04 PM

 
Anonymous danny said...

Oh, this is Doug's post! I just checked back here and noticed. Doug, I should have addressed you first!

June 09, 2007 9:03 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Danny, thanks for your response and tone.

You say here "We believe that Christians can be dominated by sin to the end of their lives, but at some point or various points in their life, they most probably manifested some good works as an expression of the new nature. But once they become dominated by sin, they no longer act out of the new nature."

This is where we differ to some extent. 1 John 5:4 states that "whatever is born of God overcomes the world". We see that God's plan for all Christians is conformity to Christ; that God saved all the saints in order to conform them to the image of His Son. We see that Romans 6 teaches that people coming to Christ are now slaves of righteousness and of God, where as before they were slaves of sin. We see in Romans 7 that we are married to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. And, in Romans 8 we see that the resident Holy Spirit will lead us in the steps of Christ.

The presence of the Holy Spirit, dwelling in full New Covenant power in each and every believer, is responsible for the new life and will bring each one to conformity to Christ.

Do believers get caught in sin? Yes. I myself, as a believer, lived for a period as a slave to porn. During that whole time I was aware of the fact that my life was grievious to the Holy Spirit. Finally the chastening occured. That was 1978 and I've been porn free since. Now there is a dread of grieving the Holy Spirit like that again, as well as a fear of chastening.

June 09, 2007 9:48 PM

 
Anonymous danny said...

In a nutshell, this is what Bob and Zane and I believe - all Christians will most probably manifest good works through the new nature at some point in their lives, but that doesn't mean that all Christians will continue in these works. It's one thing to expect good works, and another thing to expect a life-time of consistent good works from all believers.

Some Christians will indeed produce a life-time of good works. Others won't. Bottom line, when it comes to assurance of salvation, Jesus is enough. To argue that salvation is by Grace through faith while assurance of that salvation is by works is nonsense.

I know whether or not I believe Jesus' promise to freely provide me with eternal life. I believe His promise. His Death and Resurrection is sufficient - therefore, I will not look to my works for assurance. Do I have good works? I do, but I don't see them as verifying my salvation in any way, shape, or form. They mean nothing when it comes to assurance of my salvation. My assurance comes from Jesus and His promise alone.

June 09, 2007 9:52 PM

 
Anonymous danny said...

Hi Mark!

Romans 6 contains both positional truth and experiental truth. On account of the fact that we have died positionally with Christ (6:8), Paul tells us to reckon ourselves dead to sin experientially in light of that position (6:11). In 6:12, 13 he tells them to put away sin because they have been positionally justified. It is possible for them to continue in sin, but Paul invokes their position in Christ so they can be practically who they are positionally.

I gotta go, I'll go through the other passages tomorrow.

June 09, 2007 10:05 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

" Jesus is enough. To argue that salvation is by Grace through faith while assurance of that salvation is by works is nonsense."
=======
Can you identify just who exactly says that and provide the context, please.
=======

I know whether or not I believe Jesus' promise to freely provide me with eternal life. I believe His promise. His Death and Resurrection is sufficient -"
=====
Every so called "Lord Shipper" would shout a hearty Amen! with you there.
=========
"therefore, I will not look to my works for assurance. Do I have good works? I do, but I don't see them as verifying my salvation in any way, shape, or form."
========
Don't you at this point acknowledge the Holy Spirit's Masterfull artwork in your life when you see that He has taken one who was once a slave to sin and turned that life into a life that walks in the footsteps of Christ?
========
"They mean nothing when it comes to assurance of my salvation."
========
When a life is dominated by sin, with no remorse, then legitimate questions can and should be raised. The book of 1 John gives us much information in regards to a life that has been born of God.
=======
"My assurance comes from Jesus and His promise alone."
======
AMEN!

I do believe that it is possible that you have never actually personally interacted with those on the "Lordship" side of the debate. If you don't mind my saying so, your answers and responses seemed canned, for much of your presentation of our views seem terribly inaccurate. I don't mean this as a slam; but that is how things seem while reading your views on my position.

June 09, 2007 10:17 PM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

Hi Danny,

I hope you are doing well this evening. I don't know where you are located at, but I hope you are staying cool in the heat. I am not feeling too well tonight. I moved earlier today and was drenched all the way through.

I have your responses copied over to WORD. Lord willing, I should reply tomorrow afternoon.

June 09, 2007 10:21 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

"positional truth and experiental truth."
====
Do these terms and concepts appear in the Bible? I do not see that. I believe that what is going on here is the need to be able to defend an assurance driven system.

Where it is that I am coming from is that God's program is for all to be conformed to the image of His Son. We see in Rev.1:6 that Christ has made us a kingdom and Priests to His Father.

June 09, 2007 10:25 PM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Bob Wilkin seems to want to insist that a believer will do some works.

While not wanting to get into a debate with my friend Abtonio, I find that slightly problematic.

I would say that while it is almost inevitable that a believer will do some good works, there is at least a possibility that a believer might not do any, though it is unlikely that such a Christian life would continue without the termination of God's judgment.

I think in the case of a person enslaved to drugs or involved in prostitution there is a possiblity of very little transformation because of the oppressive nature of those circumstances.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

June 10, 2007 4:32 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Danny,
Do you believe that Calvinism teaches "assurance of salvation by works"?
I'm not rephrasing what you said. I'm just asking based on what you wrote:
To argue that salvation is by Grace through faith while assurance of that salvation is by works is nonsense.

June 10, 2007 7:46 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Matthew,
It's interesting that you bring up prostitution and drugs as examples for possibility of very little transformation.
I've seen documentaries of folks enslaved to those very sins, yet set free by Christ to have effective ministries to folks still trapped in those sins.
In one documentary, one woman went back into strip clubs to speak to the dancers during break times as a witness for Christ. I remember watching that and wondering about it, but she felt very driven to do it - knowing the mentality of the lifestlye and the difficulties of it.
Then there's that woman who wrote a book recently "Unlikely Angel." It was a case in Atlanta of a woman addicted to crystal meth and on a trip one night to buy cigarettes, she was taken hostage by a murderer. Her testimony is interesting, since she offered her captor crystal meth. When he wanted her to take it as well, she felt strongly impressed upon that God was telling her she could do it and he would call her home, but if she didn't, she would live to testify about Him. She declined the drug, for the first time she said. I haven't read her book, just saw an interview of her on TV.
In your examples, I also thought of Mary Magdalene. Isn't there some suggestion that she was a harlot? I've heard that said, at any rate.
No doubt there are some struggles greater than others - and some folks weaker than others - but I fully believe that God can deliver from all sins - no matter how great and no matter how long it takes.
All He needs is a willing repentant heart - willing to submit daily - not just once. Willing to repent again when failure occurs.

June 10, 2007 7:50 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I forgot to mention something in my last comment.
I know a woman from a Bible study I used to attend who was gay. Her testimony is powerful - although I don't know if she speaks to gay groups. I doubt it. But she spoke openly to our female study group one night about her previous lifestyle. She's now married with several children.
That's a sin that I think would be most difficult to overcome, and yet I think she (and other gay folks) have successfully.
The only way to do it, I suspect, would be full submission to God.
Not that I want this thread to migrate to that topic, but since I commented on those other sins (prostitution, drugs), I wanted to mention this since I think homosexuality is probably one of the most difficult changes one would have to make when turning to God in repentance.
But if He changes some folks, I have no doubt He can and does change others - if they're willing to let Him.

June 10, 2007 8:02 AM

 
Blogger Baptist Girl said...

As soon as you become a believer, you are a new creature.

2 Corinthians 5: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

What are the outter works of your faith whereby you identify yourself as a true believer?

Jesus also said, "by their fruits you will know them."

1 John 1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.

How do we know we are saved or not?

1 John 2:3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.
1 John 2:5,6 This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

1 John 3:10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

1 John 5:18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.

1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.

When we are saved there should be a difference, no matter how small, there should be signs that we are a follower of Christ. If a person says they are saved and goes all the rest of their lives with no proof, no signs, how can you say they are in Christ, when there are no signs of Christ in them?


Cristina

June 10, 2007 10:10 AM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for your answer! I am still a little confused, though. For example, there is the quote from Zane Hodges:

"Of course, there is every reason to believe that there will be good works in the life of each believer in Christ. The idea that one may believe in Him and live for years totally unaffected by the amazing miracle of regeneration, or by the instruction and/or discipline of God his heavenly Father, is a fantastic notion—even bizarre. We reject it categorically."

And

"Finally, we must add that there is no need to quarrel with the Reformers' view that where there is justifying faith, works will undoubtedly exist too. This is a reasonable assumption for any Christian unless he has been converted on his death bed!"

From what I am seeing so far, the answers given by Danny and yourself are at a distance from what was said in the above. Hodges uses the word bizarre and that he has no quarrel with the Reformer's view. In doing so, he has supposedly alinged himself with the Reformers. He doesn't qualify anything. Yet for him to say that, and then to break it down as has been done here, is to betray what Hodges himself has said. If Hodges' ultimate answer is that there will be some works sometime, then he has distanced himself from what he wrote and shows that he actually does quarrel with the Reformers and actually does hold to some version of what he has termed as bizarre. Is what he wrote merely an overstatement of what he actually believes when compared to the totality of Free Grace theology? If so, he should ammend his statements, and say that he kinda, sorta, agrees with the Reformers.
*********************************

"Bob Wilkin seems to want to insist that a believer will do some works."

I fully agree with you. That is certainly what he does seem to insist upon. However, by the end of it, it also seems that one finds otherwise. Hence, my confusion.
*********************************

"I find that slightly problematic."

Again, I fully agree with you. the thing is, I would also say that I find Wilkin in the same article agreeing with what you have laid out here. Hence, once again, the confusion. Perhaps that confusion has to do with appearances? That is, he wants to appear to claim the Reformers on the one hand, but deny any substaintial agreement on the other? If so, that would amount to a debate tactic where he wants to give the appearance of a strawman on behalf of his opponents where no strawman on behalf of his opponents actually exists. I say that because he winds up affirming the very thing that you have affirmed. If so, like Hodges, he should ammend his statement that in reality he finds no agreement.
*********************************

"I would say that while it is almost inevitable that a believer will do some good works, there is at least a possibility that a believer might not do any, though it is unlikely that such a Christian life would continue without the termination of God's judgment."

That is the very thing I actually see Wilkin actually affirming by articles end. I most certainly do commend you for your use of the word "almost." It gives, what I would say, to be the actual teaching of the Free Grce position. There may be works, or maybe not. It distances you from the above words of both Hodges and Wilkin. You introduce, at least it appears to me, the hypothetical at the start. In other words, your use of "almost" speaks like this: "While good works ***should*** be the inevitable outcome, there is no guaruntee that they will be. You should have no problem saying that both Hodges and Wilkin are both wrong in their assertions. What Hodges has termed bizarre is in actually what Free Grace theology does in fact teach and that his statements are in fact wrong, as well as the statements of Wilkin. In short, in interests of a consistant argument being made on behalf of Free Grace theology, you should have no problem affirming that Hodges and Wilkin has misrepresented either the Reformers or Free Grace theology since you have argued that against the explicit statements made by both of them.
********************************

"I think in the case of a person enslaved to drugs or involved in prostitution there is a possiblity of very little transformation because of the oppressive nature of those circumstances."

In John, Jesus states that He Himself makes one free. Admittedly, I do not say that you deny that. However, based on your above comments, I do not see you as saying that Jesus is sufficient. That is, you appear to be saying that it takes Jesus and......The question I am about to ask is very relevant to the topic of the thread: Do you see sanctification as part of salvation (salvation itself being very broad as it includes justification, adoption, reconcilliation, ect.)?
**********************************

One final thing, in relation to my confusion, based on what you have said, it appears to me that Free Grace theology teaches that works are not inevitable in a strict sense, but that they should be in a hypothetical sense. Would that be then a fair summation?

June 10, 2007 10:42 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Gojirah,
Do you want me to say the words-

Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin are wrong?

Yes, I think there position does not correspond to mine.

"One final thing, in relation to my confusion, based on what you have said, it appears to me that Free Grace theology teaches that works are not inevitable in a strict sense, but that they should be in a hypothetical sense. Would that be then a fair summation?"

Maybe.

I can only answer for myself.

Good works are not inevitable, but they are almost certain.

I do not think that Bob Wilkin and Zane Hodges (and Antonio) share that position.

Susan

I do not deny the power of God to deliver people from drugs and prostitution, but most street evangelists can point you to people who have made professions of faith, but who remain in bondage to such things.

Whether we see those people as carnal believers or false professors who have fallen away depends upon our theology.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

June 10, 2007 3:47 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Matthew,
Ultimately, as I am sure you will agree, it will depend on whichever is the correct view in God's eyes.

I admire you and Danny for leaving leaving your home field so to speak and coming here.

Wayne

June 10, 2007 5:40 PM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

Hi Matthew,

"Do you want me to say the words-"

And what words would those be? That the Jedi council, especially Obi Wan, was just as responsible for Anakin going to the dark side as Anakin himself?

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

Okay, I was in my own little world on that one.

Anyway, no, wasn't really looking for those words. But now that you mention it......

Seriously, I do not see anything in what Hodges and Wilkin holds to in doctrine to be any different than what you hold to. Since that would be the case, and I would say that has always been the case, then either a) they purposfully misrepresented either the Reformers or b) misrepresented Free Grace theology. Or C) they did not have then, nor have now, any idea of what the Reformation position was/is. Either way, for Free Grace proponents to continually use those quotes by either Hodges or Wilkin is a seemingly bogus action since Free Grace theology does not express what those very quotes say.
*********************************
I asked:
"One final thing, in relation to my confusion, based on what you have said, it appears to me that Free Grace theology teaches that works are not inevitable in a strict sense, but that they should be in a hypothetical sense. Would that be then a fair summation?"

You reply:
"Maybe.

I can only answer for myself.

Good works are not inevitable, but they are almost certain."

Alrighty then. Now I am confused again. (I get that way alot...) Alrighty then....you said earlier "I would say that while it is almost inevitable that a believer will do some good works..." But now you appear to want to say that good works are not inevitable, they are just almost certain. However, what is the real difference, if any, in saying as you did earlier that good works are "amlost" inevitable and now saying that they are almost "certain"? If there is no real difference, then why do you now say that good works are almost certain? I mean, to say: "It is almost inevitable that you will do good works" really sounds no different than saying "It is almost certain that you will do good works." Both stress a hypothetical awareness of what may (hopefully) occure (i.e. good works) Yet you have also qualified the position further by stating previously: "...there is at least a possibility that a believer might not do any..." In light of this, I must ask, is the Free Grace position, or at least your expression of it, that the Free Grace position has no idea if good works will occure at all? That is-- they might, but then again, they might not -- that it all depends upon the person?

June 10, 2007 5:41 PM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

Hi Wayne,

"I admire you and Danny for leaving leaving your home field so to speak and coming here."

I very much agree with you. And let this be known far and wide, no matter what one may think of their theology, both Matthew and Danny are to be commended for having the courage of their convictions.

June 10, 2007 5:43 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Whether we see those people as carnal believers or false professors who have fallen away depends upon our theology.

I guess I never thought about it that much or that way. I don't figure I really know the status of anyone else's salvation - other than my own. I thought that is why Scripture talks to us about faith and works - for the working out of each reader's own service to God.

There are some folks who I see in humble and honest servitude to God that I believe to be saved, but I don't ponder much about their salvation. When I have pause to think about the salvation of folks I know and love and of whom I'm not sure with respect to salvation due to lack of "fruit" or witness or just outright walking in darkness, all I do is pray for God's mercy on them. But I don't dwell on them. I need to pray for myself for God's mercy and help and strength each day.

June 10, 2007 10:06 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Almost forgot to add. This caught my eye today (from the back of one of our recent church bulletins):

"Prov 16:3 Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established."
"Although we are not saved by our works, a Christian who is saved is fitted for them by God - Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."
... Notice that we are to commit our works to the Lord first, and then our plans will be established.
...It's not about us, it's about Him! All of our labor is to be brought before the Lord,... Whatever we seek to accomplish in any area of our lives it must be #1 in God's will as revealed in the Bible and #2 committed to Him for His good pleasure and glory. Simply put, if we seek only to do God's will in all things and not our own, He will establish us in all things! ...
We can rest knowing that our circumstances and even our very lives are committed to Him. This was Christ's way..."

Our pastor wrote that. Not me.

June 10, 2007 11:54 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Matthew, I'm curious how you would interpret the "obedience of faith" of Romans 1:5? I assume that you would not say that faith necessitates obedience, so would you say that the obedience is faith itself? If so, does that not also militate against the FG position? Good discussion here.

June 11, 2007 12:40 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Jonathan, I think the usual Free Grace interpretation is that faith is the obediance here.

I do not think the fact that men are commanded to believe presents any problems.

June 11, 2007 3:35 AM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Gojirah, are you trying to get me to think?

June 11, 2007 3:35 AM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

Matthew,

"Gojirah, are you trying to get me to think?"

If you have any insight into the Anakin Skywalker question, I would appreciate any insight. ;-p

June 11, 2007 7:22 PM

 
Anonymous danny said...

Hi Mark and Susan! I've interacted with Lordship folks many times. I've been reading works by Calvinists for years now. I've also been visiting all of your blogs, without actually posting for a long time now. I've seen the variations within Calvinism and the variations within Free Grace. I do realize that not all Calvinists believe that assurance is to be found in works, but many do.

Let's take John MacArthur, who says this:

"How can we know our faith is genuine? Examine your life in the light of God's Word. Do you see these characteristics in your life? Do you have a love for God, hatred for sin, humility, devotion to God's glory, a pattern of personal and private prayer, selfless love, separation from the world, the evidence of spiritual growth and obedience. These are the real evidences of genuine saving faith."

Believing Jesus' words are not enough for MacArthur. Look at all the things he lists to be used as guidelines for determining the genuiness of faith. As soon as you start looking to your performance to verify your faith, you no longer look to Christ.

Here's one from R.C. Sproul:

(begin quote) There are people in this world who are not saved, but who are convinced that they are. The presence of such people causes genuine Christians to doubt their salvation. After all, we wonder, suppose I am in that category? Suppose I am mistaken about my salvation and am really going to hell? How can I know that I am a real Christian?

A while back I had one of those moments of acute self-awareness that we have from time to time, and suddenly the question hit me: "R.C., what if you are not one of the redeemed? What if your destiny is not heaven after all, but hell?" Let me tell you that I was flooded in my body with a chill that went from my head to the bottom of my spine. I was terrified.

I tried to grab hold of myself. I thought, "Well, it's a good sign that I'm worried about this. Only true Christians really care about salvation." But then I began to take stock of my life, and I looked at my performance. My sins came pouring into my mind, and the more I looked at myself, the worse I felt. I thought, "Maybe it's really true. Maybe I'm not saved after all."

I went to my room and began to read the Bible. On my knees I said, "Well, here I am. I can't point to my obedience. There's nothing I can offer. I can only rely on Your atonement for my sins. I can only throw myself on Your mercy." Even then I knew that some people only flee to the Cross to escape hell, not out of a real turning to God. I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation. Then I remembered John 6:68. Jesus had been giving out hard teaching, and many of His former followers had left Him. When He asked Peter if he was also going to leave, Peter said, "Where else can I go? Only You have the words of eternal life." In other words, Peter was also uncomfortable, but he realized that being uncomfortable with Jesus was better than any other option! (end quote).

Notice that R.C. Sproul looked to his performance in one of his moments of profound regret. In his prayer he tells God that he is only going to rely on Christ, and he's still unsure! If Sproul is truly relying on Christ, why isn't He sure? Sproul is unsure about his heart and motivation, but he reasons that Peter wasn't either. This makes Sproul feel better - but he's not sure - like Peter, he's only "uncomfortable with Jesus."

Here's Dr. Kenneth Gentry:

"Assurance is subjective, rooted in the heart of the believer. If we say assurance is essential to saving faith, then we are ultimately saying no man is saved in Christ until he has come to believe that Christ has saved him forever. This would not involve faith in Christ for salvation, but faith in faith. R.L. Dabney rightfully notes that this requires a revelation beyond the Scriptures because the Bible does not specifically speak to the individual in question. Nowhere in the Bible do we learn, for instance, that Ken Gentry is among the elect."

Notice that Gentry says that believing that you are saved by Christ is faith in faith and not faith in Jesus. He makes it crystal clear that assurance doesn't come with saving faith. The only way Gentry can know if he is saved is if his name is written in Scripture. I can go on, but the post is already getting long enough.

As to the distinction between the positional and experiential, you already know that in Romans 6, Paul tells them that they have died with Christ. They're justified.

Using Jesus as the ultimate example of one who died to sin once for all and now lives to God, Paul tells the Romans to "reckon" themselves dead to sin and alive to God as well (6:10-11). Of course, we all know that Jesus didn't sin, but since he took our sins upon himself, Paul could say he died to sin for once for all and now lives to God. The same way Jesus lives to the Father is the way we are to live. Then in verses 12 and 13, he admonishes them not to let sin reign in their mortal bodies. In verse 13, he tells them not to present their members as instruments of unrighteousness in light of their position. Why would Paul bother penning verses 12 and 13 if presenting their members as instruments of unrighteousness were impossible? In verse 19, he still has to admonish them to present their members as slaves of rigtheousness experientally.

Then we get to Romans 8:9. If a person doesn't have the Spirit of Christ, then he does not belong to Christ. But is the rest of the chapter a guideline for determining whether or not one has the Spirit? I think not. How does one get the Spirit of Christ? By believing in Jesus for eternal life.

Once someone receives the Spirit of Christ, they have two options. They can ignore the Spirit and walk according to the flesh, in which case they will die. Or they can walk according to Spirit, and live. Those who walk according to the Spirit are the sons of God (Gk - huios theos), a much greater position than simply being a child of God (Gk - teknon theos).

I apologize again for the length guys :)

June 11, 2007 11:12 PM

 
Anonymous danny said...

I didn't document the sources, so here they are.

1. MacArthur. Grace to You website.

http://gty.org/resources.php?section=issues&aid=176372

2. R.C. Sproul. TableTalk (November 6, 1989). Page 20.

3. Kenneth Gentry. "Assurance and Lordship Salvation: The Dispensational Concern."
Dispensationalism in Transition (September 1993).

June 12, 2007 12:11 AM

 
Anonymous danny said...

Hey guys. Let me clarify something I said about Sproul. I didn't mean to imply that Sproul should have found assurance in his prayer to God. I don't believe praying a prayer saves. Those of us who are solid FG believe that simple faith in Jesus for eternal life, NOT a prayer, brings eternal life. Sproul should have rested on Romans 4:1-5, Galatians 2:16, John 5:24, or any of the other clear Gospel texts.

June 12, 2007 1:52 AM

 
Anonymous danny said...

Baptist Girl and everyone,

Dr. Thomas Constable, a Free Gracer, has verse-by-vere notes on all 66 books of the Bible at www.soniclight.com.

Baptist Girl, you quoted verses from 1 John to prove that love for God verifies genuine faith. To get the FG perspective, read Constable's notes on 1 John. You also quotes Matthew 7:15 - by their fruits you will know them. I dealt with that passage in my first post. The false prophets in that passage have good works - they are wolves in sheep's clothing. Read Matthew 12:33-37 to see what "fruit" refers to in 7:15.

Remember that like Calvinism, FG isn't unanimous. But Constable's notes are excellent. So check them out.

www.soniclight.com

June 12, 2007 2:05 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Danny, you say "Once someone receives the Spirit of Christ, they have two options. They can ignore the Spirit and walk according to the flesh, in which case they will die. Or they can walk according to Spirit, and live."

Not true. Romans 8:5-8 is a description of the unsaved versus saved("live according to the flesh",vs "live according to the Spirit"; "carnally minded" versus "spiritually minded"). I know some draw from this the unscriptural and very dispensational false concept of the carnal Christian. Hmmm. Rom. 8:9 and 14 are clear: The Spirit dwells in true Christians, and those so indwellt will be led by Him.

Also, I'm curious, who outside the Free Grace camp holds this view:
"Those who walk according to the Spirit are the sons of God (Gk - huios theos), a much greater position than simply being a child of God (Gk - teknon theos)."?

I find no clear teaching any where in the Bible that states such things.

June 12, 2007 7:21 AM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Matthew, if "faith is the obedience" as you say, doesn't that imply that faith itself is a fruit? Jesus said correct belief about Him was a fruit ("you will know a tree by its fruit"). Consequently, if this initial step of the knowledge of God and faith is a "fruit" (or "obedience") then how can you say that it is possible to find no fruit it a believer's life? Am I making sense?

June 12, 2007 10:20 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Danny,
Mark accurately covered one point that I was going to make at the end of your lengthy comment, so I will address the other point where I believe your theology is off a bit…….
You said speaking of Romans 8:9………..
How does one get the Spirit of Christ? By believing in Jesus for eternal life.

Romans 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

I believe you have the order reversed here. Verse 2 states that the Spirit sets you free. It does not say that you believe, set yourself free and then get the Spirit. If you can do all that before getting the Spirit, then why do you need the Spirit?
I said the following in my photo devotional on Romans 8:2
The Holy Spirit regenerates sinners that are enslaved to the law of sin and death by setting them free and enabling them to seek refuge in Christ Jesus. This is the amazing grace that we rejoice in and sing about. It is the grace that sets sinners free from death and condemnation. This is a grace that does more than make salvation possible; it does the entire job by changing the heart and enabling a sinner to willingly come to Christ.

You may also want to look at Romans 8:28-30 or what Jesus said in John 3:3.

June 12, 2007 11:34 AM

 
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

Hello Doug:

I was linked here by a friend. I am reading the thread with interest, and watching to see how this unfolds. You raised interesting issues.


Lou Martuneac

June 12, 2007 5:59 PM

 
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

June 12, 2007 6:09 PM

 
Blogger Lou Martuneac said...

Jonathan:

I saw you wrote this earlier, “Matthew, I'm curious how you would interpret the "obedience of faith" of Romans 1:5? I assume that you would not say that faith necessitates obedience, so would you say that the obedience is faith itself?

At my site is an article that addresses your question. The title is, The Gospel Controversy: Faith & Obedience.

Hope you and others find it helpful. This is the link address

http://indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com/
search/label/Obedience

Kind regards,


LM

PS: I messed up the previous post, had to delete it.

June 12, 2007 6:14 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jesus said correct belief about Him was a fruit ("you will know a tree by its fruit").

To me, knowing a tree by its fruit would be what you see the tree produce - in other words, its "works." I have never thought of faith as fruit (although the 'fruit' of the Spirit includes faithfulness).

Moreover, to all are given a measure of faith, n'est-ce pas? Obviously not all have correct faith.

I've never thought of "faith is the obedience," however. Especially since "by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God."

June 12, 2007 9:24 PM

 
Blogger Antonio said...

Doug, I don't see why your problem persists. I have read your post and the comments in the meta. Danny has superbly answered you, in a consistent, non-contradictory, and understandable way, even if you aren't persuaded.

I must say that for the most part, this has been a Christ-honoring back and forth.

Antonio

June 12, 2007 11:55 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, in the context of that "fruit" passage, Jesus is speaking of the doctrine of the Jews.

June 13, 2007 11:47 AM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

Hey Antonio,

I don't know if you will see this, I hope that you do. Actually, Danny has changed my plans regarding my intended post for this coming weekend. Something he wrote gave me an idea. I waqs originally just going to review an article. But now I am going to do something else. I'll need your help for it, though. So I am going to send you an email a little later.

June 13, 2007 5:14 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Jonathan,
Really?
I thought Jesus was speaking about false prophets, not doctrine of the Jews.
Matthew 7:15-20:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."
Jesus goes on to say "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" and that "everyone [not just Jews] then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock."

June 13, 2007 5:26 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, the only indicator I see to measure fruit is what the bad guys were saying. They were "false prophets." The focus is on the content of what they were preaching. Nothing is said of their outward works in the pericope. Although the FG people generally agree with me on this text, or me with them, I think this actually establishes the so-called "Lordship" position.

June 14, 2007 8:16 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I think this actually establishes the so-called "Lordship" position.

How so? What do you mean?

I agree with you re: the context of this passage. Technically it may not be 'works,' but 'fruits' as in what is said (or not said - as in not attesting to Christ's deity or annointing) by the false prophets.

June 14, 2007 9:50 PM

 
Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

Susan, the content of belief for folks like Matthew and Antonio is basically this: believe in Jesus for eternal life and you will be saved. To add any other doctrinal information, like who this Jesus actually is, is tantamount to works salvation (IOW, a person believing in the Mormon Jesus could be saved).

What I like about this passage is that there seems to be a focus on what is believed as a sign that someone is saved or not. Either interpretation (doctrine or works) is bad for FG because both function as a sign of salvation - taboo for FG.

BTW, since we've had all these Israeli anniversaries lately, I've been praying for Gil. I hope things are well with you and your family.

June 14, 2007 11:14 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Thank you, Jonathan. I'm deeply appreciative of those prayers on Gil's behalf. I'll be seeing him in fewer than two weeks when he flies here for a short leave.
I suppose with Hamas and Fatah busy with each other for the moment, the IDF isn't tied up directly in Gaza at the moment.
Gilad Shalit (and family) could continue to use all of our prayers as well. (Wow, a quick search for correct name spelling led to the discovery of his own page at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilad_Shalit )
Btw, didja see that Shimon Perez at the age of 83 is the new president-elect of Israel? Scheduled to serve a seven-year term? (I told my dad that at 86 he could start studying for a new career path.)
Note that he's "scheduled" to serve that long. Israeli politics tends to be messier than the US.

June 14, 2007 11:41 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

To add any other doctrinal information,
Jonathan,
That's interesting.
Because the thought behind this is that the persons who hold other than Free Grace theology are themselves adding information.
But they're only reaffirming what Scripture says, not adding new info.
Why would Free Grace fight so hard against other Scriptures that tell readers of the Bible what to do, such as "repent"?
I can only think that it's the flesh fighting against the Spirit's directives.

June 15, 2007 10:29 AM

 
Anonymous Erin said...

Hello everyone

In regards to the apparent "double talk" issue, let me note this.

The point that we free gracers are making is that while we born again people have a radical new nature at the moment of salvation, its all in seed form. While it is nearly inevitable that there will be good works produced, we are NEVER to look to those good works as tests of whether or not we possess eternal life. We are to look at those good works as a test of whether or not we are maturing in the faith.

July 29, 2007 5:20 PM

 

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