Friday, April 27, 2012

Ian Juby's Travelling Creation Museum

I had the pleasure of meeting Creationist Ian Juby this week. He is on his second stop with a travelling Creation Science museum. I'm impressed with the man, and his exhibit. Not only is he as likeable in person as he is in his videos, he seems to be authentic and transparent. Here are some photos I took of his current setup at Cole Harbour Place in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Ian's Blog is HERE. His highly informative, and exceedingly helpful YouTube channel is HERE.

This is the main exhibit, Noah's Ark in the center and
fossils around the outside.

Noah's Ark was made of "gopher wood" which was not a
type of wood, but a type of cross-bracing of the wood.
One human footprint fossilized inside
a dinosaur's fossilized footprint. Obviously
the evidence shows humans and dinos
were alive at the same time.

Another human print inside a dino print.
There are several others of these at the museum.

Indian rock art, do these things look like
dinosaurs to you too?

Dinosaur carving on a temple in Cambodia? Yep.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Amazing Night of Witnessing on Friday

Real witnessing encounter in Ottawa, Ontario.
It was being filmed for a training DVD.
Late last Summer, and again in the Fall I was able to share the Gospel with a man named Buddy (name changed for his privacy). Until Friday I hadn't seen him since. Since then I've found myself praying for him more often than almost anyone else I have witnessed to. When I think about the ministry on the streets of my city Buddy is never far from my mind.

This Friday past we ran into him again. For the first 40 or so minutes we simply had the same old conversation that I've had with him twice before, and others have had several times. He's a really nice guy, but he can be hard to converse with. He tends to think that we can't actually know anything.  For example I asked him if he had ever driven in a car and he didn't want to answer because we may not both agree what a car actually is.

Thankfully, his barriers started to break down. Fred was praying constantly through the conversation, and an old friend who I hadn't seen in several years was also praying and aiding in the conversation. The Spirit gave us favor and Buddy really started to open up. He asked about our testimonies, and what being a Christian is really about - not his words, but that is what he was getting at.

We must have spent over an hour and a half speaking with him. It was about 12:40am by the time we finished. Every second of it was amazing though. At first I was just very glad to see him. Then I was glad to be sharing the Gospel with him again. Then I was excited because he was opening up.

When Buddy left us, he realized he could know things. He also took an apologetics book that I hand out, and a Gospel of John. There is nothing in this world more exciting or satisfying as being used of God to witness to lost souls.  I believe that God is drawing that man to salvation; I'm so thankful that He has allowed me to be used in the process.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What Gospel is That?

This article is the second I've written today. It was written quickly so the grammar is probably very poor in places.

Today I noticed an article authored by Ken Neff and originally published by the Grace Evangelical Society(GES) in 2009 duplicated and republished by another organization.  The article is entitled "What Is the Free-Grace Gospel?"*UPDATE* link fixed as of 8 Aug 2012 (capitalized as authored).  This article is from the March-April 2009 edition of the GES publication "Grace in Focus."  There are a number of things of interest in the article, not the least of which is the description of the early controversy over the new GES doctrine which they call "The Free-Grace Gospel" but which is more commonly called "The Crossless Gospel" or "Promise Only Gospel." I didn't become aware of this controversy myself until 2007. Here is what Neff says about the early days of this doctrine:
There has been debate raging in the Free Grace (FG) community for several years. And it concerns something surprising: the gospel. In 1999 Zane Hodges gave a two-part message at the GES National Conference entitled, “How to Lead a Person to Christ.” Those messages were published in the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society (JOTGES) in Autumn 2000 and Spring 2001. 
Hodges indicated that the saving message is found in the Fourth Gospel, John (cf. John 20:30-31), with John 3:16 and 6:47 stating that all who merely believe in Jesus have eternal life. According to Hodges, Christ and His promise of eternal life is the only necessary content required to believe at conversion. 
I am not aware of anyone ever previously having preached or believed such a doctrine as presented by Zane Hodges at the GES National Conference in 1999.  One may find Hodges' teaching given at that conference here: How to Lead People to Christ Part 1. I am not alone in being unable to find any reference to any such view in the history of the Church. Dr. Fred Lybrand, while he was still President of The Free Grace Alliance(FGA), authored a letter about the controversy:  Fred Lybrand's Open Letter "Re: The GES Gospel (AKA The Crossless or Promise Only Gospel)" This letter was also authored in 2009, April 14th to be exact. 

In the letter to Dr. Fred Chay, the then incoming and current FGA President,  Lybrand says:

My suspicion is that many folks involved with the Grace Evangelical Society are simply unaware (as was I) that profound doctrinal shifts in the organization have occurred since 1999, culminating in sweeping doctrinal changes in their Statement (August 2005) and the recent attacks (the Hydra-headed article and the review of JB Hixson’s book) against those who disagree with the GES reformulation of The Gospel of Grace.

And having discussed these sweeping changes, and the reformulation of the Gospel of Grace Lybrand says:

To my knowledge, no one has ever held this view in the history of Christianity.

The new doctrine which Hodges presented at the 1999 GES National Conference has been dismantled and discredited in several venues. Lybrand's letter, linked above, is probably the most graceful and generous refutation to be found. Even still the GES still presents the doctrine as true, and GES followers seemingly still present it as true. The article "What Is the Free-Grace Gospel" is an apologetic for the idea that one can believe the Gospel of the Christ declared by Paul in 1Cor 15:1-11 and yet not be saved.  Does this article actually establish such a fact though? Could such an assertion be true, even if perhaps the article does not establish it? Let's find out!

After a brief overview of Hodges' doctrine, Neff states:

However, not all within FG circles found these arguments convincing. Some in the FGA disagree with Hodges’ claim that the saving message has not changed since John’s Gospel. They point to progressive revelation and say that since Calvary and the empty tomb, Jesus’ substitutionary death and bodily resurrection must be included in the gospel message and must be believed for anyone to receive eternal life. 
This is what Neff intended to argue against in 2009 while he was writing. His first shot is a description of how Hodges answered. That requiring belief in the crosswork of Christ is a "legalist gospel" and that the real issue is how much evidence, if any, a person needs to believe concerning Christ and His works in order to be born again. Then Neff states his position, using some of his and some of Hodges' words.
Arguing from 1 Cor 15:1–8, some have supported a progressive concept of the good news. In his recent Hydra article (Grace in Focus, Sept-Oct 2008), Hodges counters that that particular text indicates eight items are associated with the good news. He writes:  
Beyond question, all of these truths are of infinite importance. But Jesus never conditioned eternal life on believing any of them…In fact one could believe all eight of the truths listed above and not yet be born again. Believing all these truths is not the same as believing in Jesus for eternal life [emphasis his].  

One could easily get distracted from Neff's main point and bring up passages like John 8 where the Lord, speaking of His death and resurrection, and His deity says that unless you believe that He is Who He says He is you will die in your sins. Or John 6 where we read that unless you eat of His flesh, and drink of His Blood you have no life in you, but that if you do that you will have Eternal Life. Or that one must see their sins judged in Him as He is lifted up on the cross like the serpent in the wilderness. John 3. One could look at the passage that the GES, and Neff, hang their doctrinal hat on. John 20:30-31 and see that "these things" have been written that the reader would believe Christ is the Christ, the Son of God, and having believed this ABOUT Him the reader would have Eternal Life. Not "believing in Jesus for eternal life." So, obviously one could refute Hodges' doctrine all over again, but one could do so and yet still miss the point of Neff's article which I believe we will discover is a bold attack on the Gospel of the Christ.

Neff has in fact ever so subtlety developed a straw-man argument. When Paul describes someone having saving faith he goes back to Abram who "was assured" by God's word (about the Messiah) and this was accounted as righteousness. Rom 4:1-8 ; Gen 15:6 Paul doesn't talk about "believing the facts" but being assured by the message. Of course there is a huge difference. What one might discover, is that when Paul discusses how one is justified before God, there is nothing in his argument about "believing in Jesus for eternal life." Instead Paul focuses on the guilty man being accounted as righteous in spite of his terrible sin. Neff cleverly avoids the real issue, and the real solution and instead develops a Straw-Man he thinks he can easily knock down.

Neff then attempts to establish areas of agreement between his fictionalized group of detractors, and the GES. He states:

Both sides say that it is necessary to believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved. 
Yet both sides do not agree on this. His own position is that one does not "believe IN JESUS CHRIST" but that:

Hodges and GES says that anyone who simply believes in Jesus for eternal life has it, regardless of whether he understands and believes how it is that Jesus is able to fulfill this promise. 

They say one must "believe in Jesus for eternal life" or in other areas "Believe Jesus for Eternal Life." Nothing about Him being Lord (Deity), or Christ. Both of which are required by their favorite proof-texts. Jn 20:30-31, and Acts 16:31

One side, even with its fictional doctrine created by Neff, believes that one must believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and because of that belief God will give the person Eternal Life, and the other side says that one believes "Jesus for eternal life". Not believing in the person, but believing in the perceived promise of eternal life for anyone who believes Him for it. Neff's assertions aside, there is no actual area of agreement here.

With respect to disagreement Neff says the following:

Some in the FGA say that one must not only believe in Jesus for eternal life, but he must also believe in the deity of Christ, in His death on the cross (understood specifically in terms of substitutionary atonement), and in His bodily resurrection on the third day. Absent these beliefs, a person who believes in Jesus and Him alone for eternal life is on his way to hell according to some in FG circles. 

Personally I would not say that one must believe (in) Jesus for eternal life, and also believe the Gospel. I would say that when one Believes the Gospel they are given Eternal Life. 1Cor 15:1-2 ; Acts 18:8 ; Gal 3:2 ; Eph 1:13-14 ; Rom 1:16 ; Acts 16:29-34 ; Jn 20:30-31... and so on.

Here is what the FGA has to say in their membership covenant.
The sole means of receiving the free gift of eternal life is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose substitutionary death on the cross fully satisfied the requirement for our justification.

Having misrepresented belief in Christ as portrayed by Paul in the Corinthians having received the Gospel, and misrepresenting the FGA's position, Neff then goes on to make some "observations" about his fabricated detractors' doctrine. He says:

It Seems Arbitrary to Say That Some, But Not All, of the Good News Must Be Believed. 

As a result, the necessity of picking and choosing the four or five or six items from some ten or more as absolute essential requirements for salvation causes one to pose and ponder—“Which ones?” 


Schliesmann’s essential elements of the Gospel are his required checklist and conditions for initial salvation. For him, nothing less can be the gospel. 


Tom Stegall proposes a different set of essentials, in his case, five: 


J. B. Hixson also has five essentials, but not the same five. Jonathan Perreault has six essentials. 

and finally

It seems that there is as yet no consensus as to what the essentials are or even how many there are. 

All of this appears to be stated in an attempt to discredit the view that one must believe the Gospel of the Christ in order to be saved by showing that several (albeit high profile) persons disagree one which "facts" are essential to be believed. This of course is bait for distraction again. I will but nibble at the hook a bit anyway.

Paul declares the Gospel which he preached to the Corinthians, that they received and were saved by, which all the Apostles preached and the Corinthians believed. 1Cor 15:1-2 ; Acts 18:8 ; 1Cor 15:11 These passages, and the others I've cited above state that believing the Gospel of the Christ results in Eternal Life. It does not matter what disagreements other men have. Let's continue with Neff's argument however.

We come to something on which I find that I largely agree with Neff on. He makes the following "observation":

Evidence That Can Lead to Saving Faith Is Not the Object of Saving Faith. The “content-of-faith” terminology is, in fact, a misnomer. Faith is only a persuasion. Faith is merely a realization of the truthfulness of a proposition that is proven by evidence. Evidence, therefore, is the basis of faith. 
In the case of saving faith, it is more than mere "persuasion" of something being true but actual "assurance" as a result of something being true. Gen 15:6 ; Rom 4:16-22 Some years ago I wrote a series of posts called "Identity" which were focused on God's emphasis on His Identity throughout the Scriptures. One of the many, many, problems with the GES doctrine is that they don't identify who this "Jesus" is that one is supposedly to "believe for eternal life."

John 20:30-31 says that if one believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God they will have Eternal Life. Rom 1:1-4 Paul talks about his call to preach the Gospel which identifies Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

Notice, that just like John 19 & 20 are completely focused on Christ's death, burial and resurrection, and these things are written so that one will believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, so is Paul's Gospel focused on identifying this same Jesus. It is Christ's having been raised from the dead that identifies Him as the Son of God.

Likewise His crosswork having been accomplished "in accordance with the Scriptures" reveals He is the Christ.

Yet still we have not gotten to the thrust of Neff's argument. All of this so far has been nothing but distraction. He then briefly returns to his argument:

The “legalistic-gospel” proponents argue the evidence that must be believed concerns Jesus, His works, and His promise of eternal life—though they have at least four different lists; while “crossless-gospel” proponents argue it doesn’t really matter what evidence convinces a person, but that anyone who believes in Jesus has eternal life. 

John in his evangelistic letter, which is often called "God's Gospel Tract" and otherwise known (somewhat incorrectly) as "The Gospel of John" states the following in John 20:30-31
30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
This is immediately after two chapters dealing with the death burial and resurrection of Christ. There are "many other signs" but these signs are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing (that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God) you may have life in His name.

John chose which facts to present. His goal was not to convince you that Jesus guarantees Eternal Life for any who "believe Him for it." John's goal was to present particular evidence that would demonstrate that He is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you would have Eternal Life.

Under the title of "Is The Gospel of John Really Outdated?" Neff takes another shot at a Straw-Man argument, and knocks the Straw-Man down by stating:

However, when penning his Gospel many years after Christ’s death and resurrection, John doesn’t place an asterisk anywhere to indicate that the saving message had actually changed since Christ’s time on earth. 

Who is saying that the message changed? John clearly demonstrates the same Gospel that Paul declared. In fact Paul tells us that John preached the very same Gospel. 1Cor 15:11

After all of this, I need to be reminded of what Neff is arguing against. So let's quote him from the beginning again.
Beyond question, all of these truths (the eight truths the GES recognizes in 1Cor 15:1-8) are of infinite importance. But Jesus never conditioned eternal life on believing any of them…In fact one could believe all eight of the truths listed above and not yet be born again. Believing all these truths is not the same as believing in Jesus for eternal life [emphasis his].  
On the final page of his article, under the title "From One Man's Perspective" Neff finally gives his actual argument. I have quoted a great deal from this article, but I have also left much of it out. I've done my level best to maintain Neff's context. However, since this passage is his actual argument I wish to quote it here in full.

I grew up the Mormon Church and before I was born again I believed in Jesus. In fact, I believed in His deity, His virgin birth, His miracles as proof of his deity, His sinless life, His death on the cross for my sins, His burial, His bodily resurrection on the third day, His ascension to heaven, His preparation of a place for His own, and His birth in Bethlehem.  
But as Hodges indicated, “one could believe all…of the truths listed above and not yet be born again.” I am proof of that fact.  
However, due to the ministry of a good friend and Campus Crusade in my life, I began to reevaluate the faith-works teaching of the Mormon Church. I remember, like it was yesterday, driving my Rambler back to the University on a Sunday evening. Suddenly I realized what my friend had said was true. Jesus alone, without my help, provides eternal life on the basis of faith alone. That evening, I believed in Jesus. I had previously believed many true things about Jesus, but only then did I believe in Jesus, and in Him alone, for eternal life.  
Requiring more than what is required is a type a legalism. I believe that is the heart of Hodges’ appeal. The issue is not a check-off list, but a Person. It’s captured in the saying, “You can know all about Him, but not know Him.” Reformed Theology misuses this saying. However, it communicates the reality of the current debate between the “legalistic-gospel” camp and the “crossless-gospel” camp. At least, that is how I see it. 

Do you notice the subtle usage of his Straw-Man argument, previously developed at the beginning, here?

He says that he believed many of the "facts" Paul includes as part of his Gospel, and some other facts. He states emphatically "But as Hodges indicated, "one could believe all... of the truths listed above and not yet be born again." I am proof of that fact." His straw-man is fully revealed however when he states "Suddenly I realized what my friend had said was true. Jesus alone, without my help, provides eternal life on the basis of faith alone." He doesn't stop to acknowledge the Straw-Man however, and I'm convinced there will be some GES followers who have read all this way and may as yet not seen what it is. He seals his argument with "Requiring more than what is required is a type a legalism. I believe that is the heart of Hodges’ appeal. The issue is not a check-off list, but a Person. It’s captured in the saying, “You can know all about Him, but not know Him.” " In his mind he has defeated the detractors he has invented.

However, no one is saying that if one believes the facts of the Gospel that they will be saved. One must receive the Gospel as Abram received the promise from God. You are assured in Him. Gen 15:6 ; Rom 4:1-22

Neff says that he was not saved while he was a Mormon. Yet he claims to have believed in Jesus. Does not Jesus Himself say "MOST ASSUREDLY he who believes in Me has Eternal Life"? John 6:47 So what is the problem? I'll tell you there were two problems. First he was believing in the wrong Jesus. The Jesus the Mormons have fashioned for themselves. Second, he was not assured because of those "facts" that he claimed to believe. He thought he still had to work. He hadn't had "faith in Jesus alone" so he had not "received" the Gospel. 1Cor 15:1 He believed in faith (in a fake Jesus) plus works. Of course he was not saved. He had not believed the Gospel, even though he claims to have believed several of the facts (not all, he missed the "in accordance with the Scriptures" part for example) that are part of the Gospel.

Because he had a faith (in a made up Jesus) + works religion he thinks this disproves the doctrine that one must believe the Gospel of the Christ as declared by Paul. He makes his argument by subtly changing the doctrine he is arguing against into a false doctrine which he thinks he can knock down without anyone noticing the difference.

Sorry Neff, I noticed. Even if other people haven't, I have. I also know that no matter how many have missed it, I am far from alone in this observation. This article was unconvincing in 2009, when last I read it, and it remains so even to this day. It should have faded into history, yet I hope that by giving this attack on the Gospel exposure it will somehow help others also to see what was really going on with it.

There is a reason why no one ever before the GES in 1999 ever held to this view, and why since 2009 it has all but disappeared from discussion. I suggest that it is unwise to promote this view given that it has been refuted in every way imaginable.

I don't know what this so-called "Free-Grace Gospel" is, I have believed and do preach the Gospel of the Christ. Such is the only Gospel I will preach. I have neither authority, nor freedom to preach any other.

The Gospel(s) Adam Believed

Gen 2:15-17
15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And theLord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
It was bad news. In that day you shall surely die. It is also significant that this command was given prior to the creation of Eve. It was given to Adam, it was Adam's responsibility. I've previously linked to to an article at Answers in Genesis explaining the death in this passage is starting on the day you disobey in dying you will die. This was the first Adam had ever heard of death and separation from God. We're not told how Adam reacted to this news, but we find in the very next passage that the Lord God said "It is not good for man to be alone, I will make him a helper comparable to him." Gen 2:18

God makes woman and Adam says that she will be called "woman" because she was taken out of man. Gen 2:23 Then we are given a short picture of the man and woman together, and before God.

Gen 2:25
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
They were innocent before God, they felt no need to cover anything up from His sight.

In Gen 3:1-5 we see the Serpent tempting the woman (the name Adam had give her) with becoming like God through eating the fruit and becoming aware of Good and Evil.  In Gen 3:6 her desire overtakes her, she succumbs and tempts Adam as well.

Gen 3:7
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
Now they saw their unrighteousness, and the very first religion was born. They sought to cover their own nakedness & guilt with leaves of plants. We read of the first lie, the first temptation, the first lust, the first murder, and the first religion ever in History happen in just 7 verses. Sin took opportunity with the first commandment and sprung forth in full bloom.

In Gen 3:8-12 we read of God pursuing Adam, giving Adam the opportunity to confess. Yet Adam takes on the character of the Serpent whom he had surrendered his rightful dominion of the Earth to. He  twists the truth, accuses Eve, and even implicates God Himself in his sin. “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” 

On a bit of a side note; I find Gen 3:13 fascinating. While Adam lied and made excuses the woman simply confesses.
And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
The Lord God curses the Serpent immediately as we read in Gen 3:14-15
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent:“Because you have done this,You are cursed more than all cattle,And more than every beast of the field;On your belly you shall go,And you shall eat dustAll the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmityBetween you and the woman,And between your seed and her Seed;He shall bruise your head,And you shall bruise His heel.”
Gen 3:15 is often referred to as the Protoevangel or the prototype of the Gospel. Yet another fascinating thing to me is the first time the Gospel of the Christ is ever mentioned in History it is mentioned as a CURSE of Satan.

In Gen 3:16-19 the Lord God curses the woman, and Adam. Look carefully, the woman is cursed personally. The woman and women after her are included. Adam however is personally cursed, and all that was to have been under his dominion is also cursed. Creation that was to be a blessing to him was cursed to cause him suffering.
16 To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”

In Gen 3:20 we find the first act of faith in God in History.
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
Adam knew that he would die physically Gen 3:19 and knew that he had already died spiritually Gen 2:17 ; Gen 3:7, and he knew that God had cursed Satan with the knowledge that He would make things right, and destroy Satan through a non permanent injury to the Seed of the woman whereby though Satan had tempted the woman, God would separate that from her. Gen 3:15 

Adam believed God, that God would make it right. Adam had the knowledge of good and evil. He knew what he had done was evil. He knew that his new nature, what we would call our "old" nature today or the Adamic nature, is evil. Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. In so doing he demonstrated that he knew God would be faithful to his promise to make it right. That God would not destroy man.

Adam knew that God would restore the relationship of man to Him, that Satan's new dominion (not sovereign rule like God has, but restricted dominion like God had given Adam Gen 2:15) would be crushed.

It is interesting to me that God did not promise Adam or the woman (who now has the name Eve) Eternal Life. He had promised them death, both physical and spiritual, for disobedience but not once did He promise them restoration to Eternal Life.

Yet Adam believed what God had told them, and was assured of God's faithfulness to do exactly what He said He would do.

How does God respond to this faith in Adam? 

God kills an animal to make a covering for them. It is not explicitly stated here that this was for sin. However, it solves the problem that Adam and Eve had identified when they realized their nakedness. Gen 3:7 It also matches the patterns observed through out the Old Testament. It is also done in the context of the broken commandment of Gen 2:15-17, and the curse of Gen 3:14-19. We see God's response to Adam's faith in Gen 3:20 in His actions of Gen 3:21
Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
They were no longer naked before the Lord, He had covered them. They became witness to a graphic picture of what the cost was going to be to restore their relationship. Gen 3:15.

With Adam reconciled to God, the God-Head (Trinity, Elohim) discussed what to do with man kind now that we were aware of Good and Evil, and could reach out to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life and live forever in our fallen current state. God decides to put us out of the garden of Eden and ensure we cannot enter.

What was the Gospel, or good news, that Adam believed? 

Adam first believed a prototype of the Gospel of the Kingdom, that God would crush Satan's kingdom and restore rightful dominion on the Earth through the Seed of the woman. Adam then was shown the price this Seed of the woman would pay, graphically, and that this would be a covering for man so that man need not be afraid of God any more.  Adam, apparently, also believed a prototype of the Gospel of the Christ.

Adam never promised God anything, nor Believed God "for" anything. Adam believed God in one thing, and God then shared with Adam the most important thing: Christ Himself as revealed through the Gospel of the Christ.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Presuppositions of the Desert Island Scenario

Glenn, of the Wisdom and Knowledge blog has posted an article about the presuppositions of the Grace Evangelical Society's "Desert Island Scenario" which is used to explain their view of what a sinner must do to receive Eternal Life. Glenn's article is unique because of two things. First he looks at the presuppositions that one may or may not be aware of which are the foundation of the doctrine. Secondly, and of particular interest to me, is how Glenn puts the burden squarely on the evangelist, not the one receiving the message.

Here is the scenario as detailed by the late Zane Hodges.

Let me begin with a strange scenario. Try to imagine an unsaved person marooned on a tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He has never heard about Christianity in his life. One day a wave washes a fragment of paper up onto the beach. It is wet but still partly readable. 
 On that paper are the words of John 6:43-47. But the only readable portions are: “Jesus therefore answered and said to them” (v 43) and “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (v 47). 
Now suppose that our unsaved man somehow becomes convinced that this person called Jesus can guarantee his eternal future, since He promises everlasting life. In other words, he believes Jesus’ words in John 6:47. Is he saved?
So how would you answer Zane's question, and why would you answer that way? This is a subject I've discussed at great length in the past. I'm greatly concerned at the strange sudden revival of this discussion. Glenn's article is interesting and thought provoking.  I'm struggling with what to offer as a quote. There is one important point made which I consider to be brilliant. I'm not going to quote it though, I want you to benefit from it in context. So here's a different short quote:
That is the Deserted Island Scenario and it seems deceptively simple but it isn’t. That first paragraph, short as it is, is actually packed full of presuppositions which perhaps even the author was not aware of. It is my goal to help the reader find and understand them.
I hope this is just the beginning of a series of articles discussing the presuppositions of the scenario. You can read the article at the Wisdom and Knowledge blog.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Reminder of Gossip and Murder

This week I experienced the sting of gossip. The situation has reminded me of an article here at OMW posted way back in 2007.

Of Gossip and Murder

 This is a much shorter version of this article. I previously posted a longer post explaining more but I actually think that it would have been taken ALL WRONG by some particular people. So I deleted it. Normally I want the reader to go on a journey through a post, to have emotions and reactions to what they read and then find themselves in the situation so they can learn from it like I am learning. However, given the sensitivity of some recent readers of this blog I have decided to delete the post. I think the old article speaks well enough on its own.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The 5 Points of Gospel Preaching

This is me preaching the Gospel
to a group of Muslims, including their Imam,
at Dundas Square in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Here are what I suggest are the 5 points of good Gospel preaching.

Preach THE Gospel of the Christ such that it is:
Totally True;
Totally Clear;
Totally Convicting;
Totally Free; and
Totally Christ.
Have confidence you who do the work of an Evangelist! Such Gospel preaching is totally effective! Any who believe do not do so in vain, for they are totally saved to the uttermost! The worst criminal, the sweetest Grandmother, anyone at all who believes will TRULY be saved! If you preach the Gospel with these 5 points, you must treat the people who believe it likewise. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Privilege

Is this man saved?
Today I was given the opportunity to aid in the editing and honing of an article discussing the presuppositions behind the Grace Evangelical Society's "Desert Island Scenario." Over the last week or so I have gone from being surprised to being greatly concerned with this doctrine's sudden resurgence in several venues.

When the article I was privileged to help with today is published I will link to it. Can anyone explain why this topic is being discussed again all of the sudden? If it becomes an issue for the Church which is His Body again I will write on it myself.

Here's a serious question though: Why is my grammar so much improved when I'm reading someone else's work? Working with an editor is a severely humbling experience. If I could manage to improve my grammar when I'm writing my own stuff perhaps the experience would be more pleasant; like living on a desert island might be!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Strong Explanation of Good Hermeneutics

As I begin to re-engage the subject of Election I have been studying a number of resources. A few years ago I quoted an author on the subject of the history of attacks on the Gospel. That article has since been deleted from his website (I am not sure why) but I decided to take a look around at other things there. One thing I found was a very large, intellectually strong, and detailed discussion of Election in the light of Dispensationalism.

Included in this discussion was an article on biblical hermeneutics. The author gives a fairly complete study on the subject and accomplishes more than I even hoped to with my whole book in a single article. I  could wish that I would have authored his work.

Please check out Principles of Biblical Interpretation

Friday, April 13, 2012

That is SO 2008....

After a few months of attending a house church I found out something shocking, or it finally became clear to me, or I finally opened my eyes, or I finally let myself hear what they were saying... or something! Whatever it was, I suddenly felt like I must have been going 88 Miles Per Hour because what I finally heard sounded like a repeat of the ridiculously lame, and intellectually insulting, arguments of the Grace Evangelical Society(GES) from about 2008. Update 16Apr2012: OK I can admit that this sentence is harsh. However, it is in response to being berated with the same esigesical arguments that the GES used years ago for 5 days straight.

Now I've been baited in a few ways to write an article about this assembly's doctrine. But why would I?

"The Gospel in this dispensation is to believe Jesus for Eternal Life" is the doctrine that the GES set ablaze in the Free Grace movement from 2007-9. Sure there are quotes from before that, and some small discussion after that but that is the period when the discussion was being had. Not only that but in reality the doctrine was ridiculous when it was presented by the GES and it hasn't gotten any better with age.

The doctrine failed any and every test against Scripture back then so why would anyone devote time to it now?

If anyone is truly interested in what was discussed back then these things may well be helpful:

UPDATE: Lou has posted an archived article from 2010 "Vigilance Regarding the Truth of the Gospel: Reengaging the Heresy of the GES “Crossless” Gospel, Part 1"

1. Fred Lybrand's Open Letter "Re: The GES Gospel (AKA The Crossless or Promise Only Gospel)"
2. Thomas L. Stegall's exhaustive book The Gospel of the Christ: A Biblical Response to the Crossless Gospel
3. Search Google for "The Crossless Gospel"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Short Open Letter to Those Who Would Teach Christ's Church

To Those Who Would Teach in the Church Which is Christ's Body,

I am thankful to God that He has given, and continues to give Teachers to the Body of Christ. Eph 4:11-16 I am most eager to be built up by those He has given.

Do not feel you need to justify your doctrine to me. You shall justify it to the Lord God Almighty when you stand before Him. James 3:1

Do not feel you need to establish your doctrine by quoting others. You may establish doctrine by rightly dividing the Word of God. 2Tim 2:15 I will not be reading your favorite author to determine if what you say is true, I will be reading what God authored.

Do not feel that your position, fame, influence, or name (or that of those you quote) will give credence to your doctrine.  Know that I will test your doctrine and only hold fast that which is good regardless of what I think about you or those you quote. 1Thes 5:21

These are the standards which I will use to test your doctrine:

By employing the Historical Grammatical Hermeneutic I will determine if your doctrine is explicitly and contextually: stated, demonstrated, and/or required by the inspired Scriptures.

If you, or any unaddressed reader, considers this quarrelsome or any part of it offensive please consider how God the Holy Spirit calls this noble. Acts 17:11

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Well Done Abram?

Did God say "Well Done!" to
Abram in Gen 15:6?

I really don't know how the concept of "faith" got to be so messed up.  To me it appears to have started being perverted immediately after the Church which is His Body came into existence. We read letters like Romans and Galatians and they make it clear that people had tried to pervert the Gospel of the Christ while Paul was still alive and ministering. We read in 2Tim 4 that all except Luke had abandoned Paul.

Along with the subject of whether God gives a few chosen people saving faith or not there is an idea that someone having faith is something "good." This is what we will be discussing today.

Normally I would go to Rom 4:16 to show that faith cannot be something "good" it cannot be meritorious because then salvation could not have been by grace and through faith. Paul says that it had to be through faith so that it COULD be by grace, or unmerited favour.
Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 
In this verse we see that our salvation is like Abram's salvation. In this way he is the father of all of us who are saved by grace through faith. To me this verse is clear enough. Faith cannot be something "good" or something that "merits favour" because Paul says that salvation had to be of faith so that it could be by unmerited favour. This isn't proof-texting, because Paul is making a statement of fact here. However, let's continue because this is not clear enough for everyone.

Romans 4 intrinsically links how ungodly sinners are justified before God, and reconciled to Him to the experience of Abram in Gen 15:6.
And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
We read in Rom 4:20-22:

20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
It is because Abram was assured that God therefore accounted him righteous. What does "accounted" mean?

In the Greek it is the word Logizmai and in the Hebrew it is Chashab. Both of them mean to consider, or impute, a characteristic on someone or something. It means to look upon someone AS THOUGH they were what you are considering them to be.

God did not RECOGNIZE righteousness in Abram, He RECKONED Abram AS THOUGH he was righteous. God did not say "Well done Abram! You believed Me, and that was good to do!" God didn't look at Abram's faith as something that needed to be rewarded. Abram believed God, and yet God YET EVEN STILL had to RECKON Abram as though he were righteous. Abram was not yet righteous, he was only reckoned so.

As a further point; with regard to regeneration prior to faith as a means of God giving people faith because unregenerate people are "totally depraved" or so utterly evil that they cannot believe consider what Paul says in Rom 4:22.
22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Abram was not first made good enough to believe through Regeneration. Abram believed and yet even still had to be merely accounted as righteous.

The word therefore in Rom 4:22 in Greek is Dio and means "on account of." Further if we read Gen 15:1-6 we do not find God inserting faith into Abram but God reasoning with him.

Clearly it was on account of Abram's faith that God called him righteous. Clearly, as Paul puts it in Rom 4:1-8 God justifies ungodly sinners on account of our faith in Him. That faith is nothing more that the reasonable assurance of God's promise. It doesn't consist of anything, it doesn't do any thing, it is reception not offering. Faith is not "good" or meritorious.

It is the one who disbelieves that is "doing" something, or taking action, that demands a type of reward. Rom 1:18-32.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

What is Not of Works?

I've been having a number of conversations about whether "faith" is the, or a, gift of God. It can be debated that if one reads Eph 2:8 in English that it seems to be saying that faith is the gift of God.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
While I am settled on what I have come to understand, I sympathize with people with various other views. After some strong discussion with a dear Brother at the House Church my wife and I gather at,  and also after discussion with Brother Stephen here at the OMW blog I purchased a Greek Grammar by Daniel Wallace. His discussion of Ephesians 2 was most helpful to me, and pushed me on my own views. You can find more about that in the article Wallace on Ephesians 2:8-9.

The discussion came up again today at our assembly and as my wife and I drove home the verses were flowing through my mind. My mind kept returning to the fact that Paul didn't write in verses, and his sentence didn't end in what we now call Verse 8. It actually ends in Verse 9.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
I sympathize with people who struggle with what the "gift" is in this passage, really I do. However if I asked you the following question what would your answer be?

What is not of works in Eph 2? 

Is there any debate on this subject? Salvation is not of works is clearly Paul's point. He is not saying that Grace is not of Works, for Paul contrasts grace and works continually. He expects his audience to know that grace, or unmerited favor, cannot be of works. He refutes legalism, and "faith+" religions over and over again by showing that works negate grace. Is he saying that faith is not of works? Does that even make sense? No more sense then pointing out that grace is not of works.

At the end of verse 8 Paul says that "it is" the gift of God, and continues the thought into Verse 9 "it is" not of works. While I believe that the Greek shows that it cannot be that faith is the gift of God, while understanding there are other seemingly valid views, even in the English this passage shows that Paul is saying that Salvation is the gift of God, and that it is not of works. Just like we read in Rom 6:23.

When we answer the question "What is not of works in Eph 2?" we also get the answer to the question of what is the gift of God. The gift and what is not of works are one and the same singular concept of Salvation that is by grace and accessed through faith.