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GES Controversy in John’s Gospel - Comments (5)

Printer Friendly Category: Articles,Doctrine,GES: Hodges, Wilkin, et.al.
Author: John Malone
Date: 24th March, 2005 @ 07:19:53 PM

There shouldn’t be any controversy at all! Why and from where do such issues arise?

The Grace Evangelical Society (GES) has attracted the support of good churches and the men that lead them because it underscores and amplifies the good news of eternal life as “Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.”

The phrase is a wonderful one – and accurate – but not inspired.

It turns out that there are those in important positions of leadership in the GES that are, in my view, toying with turning beefsteak faith in the Lord Jesus Christ into twinkie faith in a non-Divine, unrisen, non-incarnate “Christ” who guarantees eternal life to all who trust in Him.

Not that ANY in that organization, to my present knowledge, believe erroneously concerning the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. However, there are those who want to count as brethren those who do not assert – or for that matter, who flatly deny – the Lord’s Divinity, material existence, and/or bodily resurrection from the dead, providing they believe that Jesus is the “guarantor of eternal life” to them on the basis of faith alone. In brief, this phrase is regarded as a sufficient definition of “Christ” by some.

It’s a tragic thing that these who are truly born-again, who hold the truth of the Lord Jesus’ Deity, His virgin-birth-incarnation, His bodily resurrection, His present priesthood, and His literal return would somehow call them “brethren” who believe none of these things.

The most disturbing aspect of this unhappy turn is that it is those who have given themselves for years to the defense of the simple gospel of eternal life against the siege waged against it on all sides have now taken to mounting such formidable ramparts against it!

I hope I just don’t get it but what worries me is that I do.

It occurs to me that it is incipient ecumenism, a part of a three-pronged attack organized by the adversary of the faith, and of the saints. Strategically, of course, it’s a master-stroke.

Reformed theology with its Calvinism has already so Romanized the faith that one can scarcely tell the difference between a Protestant and a Roman Catholic. The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) has built many tentacles since Vatican II toward Bible-believing churches by way of political alliance over issues common to “people of faith.”

Reformed theology has made such a comeback as to nearly destroy almost all Bible-oriented seminaries, including especially in the present instance Dallas Theological Seminary.

Pentecostalism and other forms of Arminian teaching, while conducting an age-old argument with the Calvinists arrive at the very same practical conclusion – I’ll never know in this life if I HAVE the gift of God, everlasting life – and therefore their argumentation becomes just so much noise on the path to Roman church conduct.

These last holdouts in the so-called “free grace” movement have been sedulous in their defense of salvation from the second death unto everlasting life, standing upon the bulwark of the person of Christ and His finished work as the source of the grace coming to any sinner by faith alone.

So, to see some of this doctrinal bulwark crumbling is disappointing indeed!

I can make no sense of a non-Deified, unrisen “Christ” except in purely gnostic terms. I’m sure I am not done with this issue.

Comment by Chester Davis » 18th July, 2006 @ 10:48:20 AM

It seems as though Mr Malone has it wrong, in all due respect, regarding GES doctrinal points.

First, they (and I) would say, that eternal salvation is God’s free gift found in Christ alone through faith alone, and discipleship is correlated, but distinct.

Secondly, that No act of obedience, preceding or following faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, such as commitment to obey, sorrow for sin, turning from one’s sin, baptism or submission to the Lordship of Christ, may be added to, or considered part of, faith as a condition for receiving everlasting life.

Thirdly, assurance of everlasting life is certainty that one is eternally secure simply by faith in Jesus. This assurance of everlasting life is based only on God’s promise that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ alone possesses everlasting life. Good works are not necessary for a person to have assurance of everlasting life, though they can and should follow regeneration.

Thus, in regards to the issue of calling a person a brother in Christ, it is impossible to determine a persons eternal salvation by simply looking at the performance of the persons faith, or by the emotional state, or present tense doctrinal ideas.

Thus is it critical that we call brothers those who believe that Jesus Christ is sufficient to come through on His promise of eternal life to those who believe. When we other doctrines to the simplicity of this message we are erring towards forcing additional non-Biblical requirements for eternal salvation, and how many requirements can we add before we have distorted the gospel of Christ.

The issue here is that the proposition that those who believe Jesus Christ is sufficient to make good on the promise of giving eternal life to those who believe Him for it is a simple and non complex gospel. When we add requirements to this gospel, we are in danger of distorting it.

For example, when we say that a specific knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ is required before the proposition can be believed, we must with absolute certitude define the specific line which must be crossed, and subsequently we must also define what happens to those who defect in some portion of the ‘essential’ presuppositions.

God never desires a person to ’sit, soak, and sour’ in terms of knowledge or discipleship but if we say that we must fullfill some portion of the wholeness of God’s plan other than simple faith in the sufficiency of Christ, it is an additional requirement to the gospel.

Comment by John Malone » 18th July, 2006 @ 11:10:59 AM

I’d like to answer brother Davis’ remarks above, especially because I don’t disagree with him at all, but think he has misunderstood my concerns.

I call you my brother, because you have named the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in such a way that I understand your faith in Him.

As to your first point, we are in complete agreement. In fact, for many years I have taught God’s gift and prize are distinct, as can be heard on my series “God’s Gift and God’s Prize” in the archives of his site.

Discipleship is about the life of the believer, not his inaugural calling.

Secondly, I agree with you, again, completely and verbatim. “Repentance,” (metanoia) is not found in John’s gospel in any of its forms.

Thirdly, I agree that assurance of eternal life is only found by grace through faith, and not in performance of any kind. However, I would disagree with GES people, such as Bob Wilkin, Zane Hodges, and Bob Bryant, who now claim that if a person does not have assurance of eternal life, he has never believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Assurance comes by faith in God’s Word, and that faith may not necessarily come with the revelation that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

I am not in favor of adding extra-Biblical requirements to call a brother a brother. But when I read the Scriptures, I discover that in the new birth God DOES identify Jesus Christ to the believer as more than some indistinct “guarantor of eternal life,” as named by Hodges, Wilkin, and Bryant (H,W&B), who might not event be a human being!

Peter found Him to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Thomas found Him to be “My Lord and my God.” The centurion at the cross found Him to be “the Son of God.” The thief on the cross found Him to be “Lord.”

The problem I have with the indistinct “confession of faith” allowed by H,W&B is that is actually necessitates a new doctrine of persistence, but instead of the Calvinistic “persistence in good works,” it supplants it with “persistence in sound doctrine.” Why do I say that? Because ostensibly, HW&B allow that faith in “Jesus the frog” is sufficient so long as the believer regards THAT Jesus (or, in my argumentum ad hominem, “Je”) as “the guarantor of eternal life.” And yet, would I call such a professor, that “Je the frog” is his savior, my brother?

Of course, I would not. The argument that he is MUST be that, while he inaugurally believed in “Je the Frog,” he followed up by learning the Lord Jesus Christ was Who that passage was about, and now has come to a persuasive testimony concerning His person and work. We must have some basic requirement of faith in order to have fellowship together, and God DOES intend for us to have fellowship together! Therefore, there MUST BE a standard by which we can tell our faith, and it is not a works standard.

I would hope brother Davis agrees with this.

Davis then says this: “when we say that a specific knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ is required before the proposition can be believed, we must with absolute certitude define the specific line which must be crossed, and subsequently we must also define what happens to those who defect in some portion of the ‘essential’ presuppositions.”

I will point out that, already, brother Davis has drawn a line short of H,W,&B, by drawing a line at all! When he says “specific knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ,” he implies acceptation of Jesus Christ as a person regardless of the requested specification. That is beyond the doctrine of H,W&B, and even already goes to considering the Lord Jesus Himself.

Its apparent from Scripture that one who acknowledges Jesus Christ is the Son of God, is thereby Lord of that believer. These are the confessions of faith we find either direct or implicit in the mouths of all those who are quoted in their confessions, as given above. “Guarantor of eternal life” is not found.

In my view, whoever brings this faith to me, and does NOT bring denials of His incarnation, is my brother.

In fact, the Bible teaches that knowing HIM is what brings eternal life, not knowing-Him-as-bringing-eternal-life. It may seem like a small distinction, but it is NOT.

In fact, Hodges hypothetical that a lost man inhabits an island all alone and yet is somehow evangelized without another human being is, on its face, completely farcical: a red herring. No one has ever been evangelized except personally by another human being, and the only case where we see someone trying to adduce from the Bible alone Who the Savior is, the Ethiopian Eunuch, was given Divine help by the sending of Philip. This occurs despite the corollary fact we know, that no one can reveal the Lord Jesus Christ to someone except His (and my) Father in heaven. I leave the simultaneous occurence of these two matters to the Author of time and coincidence.

I hope I have made myself clear in this matter, and am willing to be assessed in it.

Comment by Keith Melton » 7th December, 2007 @ 02:35:36 PM

John 17:3 (KJV) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

This seems rather precise and not abstract, like some impersonal guarantee-er.

John 4:10 (KJV) Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

Here Jesus states it’s knowing both the giver and the gift. If I’m understanding this correctly.

Comment by Keith Melton » 11th December, 2007 @ 06:03:27 PM

Salvation is caused by faith properly focused on Jesus, as to the following. Who He is, What He has done. What He Provides. All three aspects are needed for salvation. For anyone to improperly focus on one aspect to the neglect of others causes a dangerous imbalance and possible heresy in regards to the particular Gospel about/of Jesus the Christ. Paul’s description of the “Gospel” contains all 3. John’s “gospel” contains all 3. Any “Gospel” presentation lacking these 3 will be lopsided, and conducive to errors.

In addition I would say that anyone who denies any one of these aspects is either an unbeliever or an apostate.

Who Jesus is, God
What has He done, died for the sins of the world, and rose again.
What He provides, eternal life to all who believe in Him.
Salvation must stand on all three of these things or it falls.

Comment by Franlk Cantu » 18th January, 2010 @ 12:38:11 PM

beleiving that God exists is only the beginning; even the demons believe that much (James 2:19,20). God is not satisfied with you just knowing who He is. He wants a personal relationship with you that will transform your life. Because belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is beleiving in every thing He stands for, He is after all our example of everything.

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