The Truth LIES Somewhere in Between

Author, our regular commenter, John.

All of us have to make compromises in our day to day lives. This is because our interests, and the interests of the people we are trying to influence, are often different. We usually get to what we want through negotiation.

When we go to buy a car, we want the lowest price we can get, while the seller wants the highest price he can get. The way each party goes about this varies, but a typical approach is to try to get the other guy to tip his hand and to try to keep from tipping our hand about what our bottom line really is. The reason that a negotiation is possible in this case, is because each party to the transaction has something with which to negotiate.

I recently read a fascinating article entitled Deal or No Deal – the Art of Negotiation by Drew Stevens, PhD. Here are some excerpts

The most vital idea to comprehend about negotiation is definition. Negotiation is nothing more than an exchange of ideas and values between two or more parties with different interests&

Negotiation would not exist if not for the power and the reciprocity of compromise&

It is not easy to win friends and influence decisions in negotiation, yet if we understand motives, create a thorough plan and expect the unexpected, each negotiation we have becomes easier and more effective.

One thing we must never negotiate or compromise is the purity of the Gospel message. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) We are to be stewards of the Gospel, which does not provide for compromise under any circumstances. Here’s why:

First, the Gospel belongs to God. We do not have any authority to negotiate.

Second, once it is compromised, it is no longer His Gospel. It becomes just another false gospel, which robs us of His power for living and has no saving power for the lost.

Third, it is not in our interest to compromise the Gospel.

And, last, once we compromise, it gets easier to compromise further.

So, who wants to see the Gospel compromised? I ll give you a hint he is very old, loves the art of the deal , is very subtle, wants to devour us and he would make a great used car salesman (my apologies to my Christian brothers and sisters in that profession).

How does he do it? Any way he can! Consider this adage, which I recently saw used in a discussion of faith and works by a well-meaning church (Middletown Bible Church).

“The pendulum swings, ridiculous extreme, bypassing the truth which lieth between.”

And this from Middletown Bible Church’s quote “The so called “free grace” position and the Lordship salvation position are two extreme positions. The truth is to be found somewhere in between. This is common in theology. With most areas of doctrine, there are usually extreme and unbalanced views on both sides of the truth.”

The trick here is to make us feel like outliers, or extremists, for defending the purity of the Gospel. If the truth lies between, where in between does it lie?

Here are some thoughts on the art of compromise from the word of God

Matthew 7:13-15 (NKJV) Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

Luke 12:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.

John 7:43 So there was a division among the people because of him.

Romans 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  (Note: you will be accused of causing division and dissension by refusing to compromise – and this verse will be thrown in your face. But note that this refers only to people who cause divisions by teaching things that are contrary to sound doctrine – that is, the compromisers).

Here is a closing thought, from the article The Baptismal Regeneration/Believer’s Baptism Debate by Dr. J.O. Hosler

This ideal of oneness cannot be even properly attempted except through a consensus on the clarity of the saving gospel. Otherwise, we are not speaking of spiritual unity, but of mere uniformity based upon an apostate version of the gospel.

“The truth LIES somewhere in between” is just one more of Satan’s lies!

The Truth of God’s Salvation << Click

45 responses to “The Truth LIES Somewhere in Between

  1. Tyler
    Yes believer souls can loose and shipwreck their Faith. but never loose their Salvation Justification.
    at anytime belivers are either being spiritual or carnal in our thinking. hopefully we stay in fellowship with God in our thinking before sin finds expression..

  2. Tyler, the Bible does teach that someone can believe only for a while (Luke 8:13).

    It is extremely important to put on the full armor of God, and to avoid false gospels and associations with those that teach or tolerate them. That is the best way to stay grounded in the truth.

  3. because of all the lordship Salvation I got mixed up over the years and from what I can see from 2nd Timothy 2:13 the Bible teaches that a truly sade person can totally abandon the faith deny Christ and deny the gospel and even mock the Christian faith and a True Believer can have a life characterized by and dominated by a morality Disobedience and wickedness and they are still saved to teach otherwise is to teach work salvation

  4. Thank you for sharing John, I got stuck on 4 and couldn’t find 5.

  5. I’ll try to repost them:

    http://www.duluthbible.org/filerequest/9753.pdf
    http://www.duluthbible.org/filerequest/9761.pdf
    http://www.duluthbible.org/filerequest/9773.pdf
    http://www.duluthbible.org/filerequest/9783.pdf
    http://www.duluthbible.org/filerequest/9795.pdf
    http://www.duluthbible.org/filerequest/9806.pdf
    http://www.duluthbible.org/filerequest/9817.pdf
    http://www.duluthbible.org/filerequest/9826.pdf
    http://www.duluthbible.org/filerequest/9834.pdf

    Please note that the website from which these links were copied uses articles by George Zeller (Middletown Bible Church) and Charles Spurgeon. Please do not consider the links to the above article series to be a blanket endorsement of the website “Grace Family Journal.”

  6. The link above didn’t work.

  7. I only have through part 4 on Tom Stegalls, “Must faith endure for salvation to be sure”.

  8. Jack – we sure all appreciate this resource, and although I know you all allow respectful debate, I appreciate how you also protect others from the assaults of those who would attack us personally. What you said brought a couple verses to mind…

    What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? Rom 8:31

    Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:

  9. Bruce, I had no idea what I might be talking about 🙂 I just wanted to be sure I hadn’t had my foot in my mouth unaware, never do I want to hurt or offend one of His, especially in myself. I truly am touched that it is possible you could have learned anything from me. You all are in my prayers, keep speaking the truth! So thankful for the body of Christ.

  10. Jim Floyd, Yes, he was one of them, I pick up things pretty fast once I have learned something, and I know how to do research, have had to do it so long for my business, might have made a good detective 🙂 I appreciated you saying something, sometimes when it seems like you are the lone voice, you do wonder at times if you are too “nitpicky” as I hear so often. But I just keep thinking of Jesus asking, “Do you love me?”

    If they loved Him, how could they feed people this poison, and how could anyone stand by as they scatter the deadly stuff?

    Thanks always for all you do.

  11. Holly,

    Great comments… and I agree with Jim F.

    I have learned that while witnessing, we will try to be “as harmless as doves,” but we must also be as “wise as serpents.” Matthew 10:16

    We try not to allow those who preach a perversion of the Gospel of God’s Grace, nor allow them to spout off their “religion.” Folks can go just about anywhere on the net and read/hear the Lie — so we try to keep our focus on the Truth. However, FB might be slightly more difficult to manage that way.

    Keep up the good work; be brave and strong in the Lord. Stay encouraged and optimistic — the Holy Spirit is your guide through God’s Word!! The opposition cannot match that.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  12. Hi Holly,

    Thanks for your kind comments. I think that you were responding to something that was said almost two years ago, probably before you were even onboard at ExP. I always appreciate your knowledgeable comments about LS/Calvinism and the latest false teachings that surface. I have learned a lot from you. You sure are a hard worker for the Lord! Thanks again.

    Blessings to you and your family!

  13. Holly, I think I know which guy you are talking about. I gave him the gospel and he rejected it. He needs to be told to leave. At the least he should not be able to post his own topics.

    I think he is more interested in drawing some after him rather than learning about the gospel.

    Jim F

  14. Wow John, good for you, praying somehow he will see the truth.

    I am pretty sensitive, and don’t like to offend anyone, but I want to be obedient when error crosses my path, for I believe if I don’t warn them, I can be guilty of their blood. It’s more like the Tim Keller’s themselves, or the ones that come into ravage the flock that I wonder why not too many speak out about (if any). I also wonder if it’s even appropriate for me as a woman to do it, it’s a hard line sometimes to know exactly in each situation. I keep praying and searching His Word.

    Plus, I am a little sad when I see so much compromise too, with sound teachers, my heart breaks, and I know I can’t save the world (as my dad used to tell me) but Jesus came that the world might be saved, and these wolves are murderous liars, deceivers and deceived themselves…. I know Jesus even bought them, so I want to be wise as I speak and Biblical, and sometimes when it seems like it’s going good for a few moments, the next ones roll around…

  15. Holly, I know what you mean about not knowing when to say something. There is a guy at work who had attended Tim Keller’s church in NY. I told him that Keller was doctrinally aberrant, and showed him our article on ExP. He didn’t take it that well.

    I followed up by giving him a copy of Tom Cucuzza’s booklet, linked below. He seemed interested, and told me that he and his wife had some disagreement on how to explain God’s plan of salvation to their young daughter.

    https://expreacherman.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/how-to-be-sure-you-are-going-to-heaven-with-cover.pdf

  16. And somehow I didn’t read all the above as thoroughly as I should, plus missed an awful lot of comments, I sure hope that you know I appreciate you Bruce, and if I sound harsh ever, I sure want to know.

    You know what I have trouble with? Knowing when to reprimand a false teacher. I see them in groups, and I will ‘out’ them by asking them about their gospel or if I happen to know based on a couple things they are likely a Torah Keeper or even recently a Seventh Day Adventist. When you see them proselytizing others, should you outright say you are not to give them place for even an hour? I saw this one guy in a group and the leaders have done nothing, and now he’s getting one girl in there to read stuff by SDA authors. I warned her not to take teaching from false teachers. I don’t feel any animosity, but I do feel anger at God’s Word being maligned, and also seeing them prey on others and people stand by and do nothing. If you say anything, people think you are harsh, and you should try to win them over.

    Aren’t we to rebuke sharply once it is established that they are not seeking truth but teaching a false gospel?

    I always want to be reminded of grace, salt, soundness of speech, but it is hard to know when to draw the line, so I appreciate any accountability.

  17. Ah…. a couple people still staunchly defend Turn-or-burn Spurgeon. I’m getting really weary with the “eat the meat, and spit out the bones” teachers… I do not understand why they do not see the harm they do. I did not know he taught the same basic doctrine as Lordship, I too will be avoiding now, thank you very much John.

  18. Holly, I think it’s fascinating that Zeller denounces both Lordship “salvation” and Calvinism, yet functionally endorses the point at which Calvinism and Lordship “salvation” intersect – perseverance of the saints.

    His church also says that Spurgeon did not teach Lordship “salvation.” Maybe he didn’t sometimes. But, he did often enough for me to avoid any of his work.

    Zeller is an “eat the meat, spit out the bones” kind of guy that I avoid altogether. Same with Spurgeon.

  19. Lots of great information here, I had seen some compromise, but hadn’t gone into enough depth into George Zeller’s site to know how problematic some of the compromise. He does offer a lot of information of the reformed theology issues, and I have shared with those who don’t understand the basics of TULIP, but I will absolutely keep this in mind for anytime in the future, there will be a more detailed caveat. I have given my own, but now am way more informed, thank you all, we sure need each other.

  20. Thanks Jack,

    Your comments are much appreciated.

    Bruce

  21. Bruce,

    Re: your comment: What I plead for, in the Free Grace community, is that we would always express our thoughts, not with harshness or mean-spiritedness, but WITH GRACE!

    I agree wholeheartedly — and If I have not followed that idea with you, I sincerely apologize. You know how much I appreciate you as a brother in Christ, a friend, Bible scholar and such a tremendous help on this web site.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  22. The truth, on the other hand, is that predestination has nothing whatsoever to do with salvation. Service of the believer, yes. Salvation, no. As seen in the previous example (“balanced” view), it couldn’t help but go astray since it started with the wrong premise.

    For those interested, pastor Max Younce has some excellent articles on the topic (and many more important topics for that matter):

    http://www.heritagebbc.com/archive3/0212.html
    http://www.heritagebbc.com/archive3/0214.html
    http://www.heritagebbc.com/archive3/0211.html
    http://www.heritagebbc.com/archive3/0209.html

  23. Getting back to the notion of “The truth lies somewhere in between”, I’ve noticed, even in some traditional Free Grace writings, the tendency to adopt a so-called “middle ground” or “more balanced” position with regard to the topic of predestination. Such a position looks like this:

    1) There’s no doubt predestination has to do with salvation from hell to heaven.

    2) But, double predestination is decidedly unbiblical

    3) Single predestination, therefore, is the “balanced” view

    4) While we may never be able to reconcile this side of heaven how God’s sovereignty in predestination/election harmonize with man’s free will/responsibility, be sure that we will be able to see, on heavn’s side, the two threads coming together perfectly. *I can’t remember Spurgeon’s quote on this matter, but it essentially says what I’ve communicated here.

  24. For those that missed it in the Lordship Probation thread, here are excerpts from Shea’s comments on Grace:

    “Please see the “Four Perversions of Grace” at http://www.cleargospel.org/booklet.php?b_id=3&i_id=328&s=2
    This is not the BIBLICAL definition of grace. It is not the LEXICAL definition of grace from an analysis of the field of meaning of this Greek word in extant Greek literature. This is a PERVERSION of the word grace, unknown in Greek literature, and unknown in the Bible.

    Biblically speaking, there are five elements of Grace: 1) The “Res” (the “thing” being given, e.g. a piano, forgiveness of a debt, water skiing lessons, etc.), 2) the giver, 3) the free will of the giver to bestow the Res without cost on the recipient, 4) the recipient, and 5) the “mirroring of the mind of the recipient,” that is, the willingness of the recipient to receive the gift the same way as it is offered . . . freely.

    (Interestingly, FREE WILL therefore becomes an inherent element of GRACE . . . a serious problem with the MacArthurites).”

    For a clear definition of grace, please read: http://www.cleargospel.org/topics.php?t_id=8

  25. JR, very interesting stuff! I did not intend for this article to be a research paper on Middletown, but I think we are productively advancing the Gospel by delving into it.

    Middletown (wrongly) teaches a true believer is only someone who paternistically obeys Christ, who wants to obey Christ, even if he fails miserably. Oh that this would be the case! But, it is not. It is false teaching. It is perseverance of the saints. And the logical conclusion of perseverance of the saints is salvation by works.

    The truth is, that an unbeliever is spiritually dead. Once an unbeliever becomes a believer, he has life and all of its potential. Whether he realizes that potential is dependent on his Christian walk – or lack, or absence, thereof. This is because he continues to have free will after he is saved.

    I will say unabashedly, that salvation does not require any merit on our parts. This includes any resolutions to change our behavior, toward God or man, either before or after we are saved. I will say further, also unabashedly, that the presence or absence of obedience to the Lord (including one’s desire or lack of desire) on the part of the believer is not the determinant of his position in Christ.

    Middletown disagrees. One of us is wrong (hint: it is Middletown)

    Following is an excerpt from Middletown’s site:

    “Can a true believer receive Him as Saviour but reject Him as Lord?

    If we are honest and face reality we must admit that there are times when every true believer rebels against Christ’s authority and is disobedient to His Word. Total submission to His Lordship requires total obedience to all His commands, and we all have fallen short of this. Consider the following two statements from professing believer A and from professing believer B:

    Professing believer A: “I have received Christ as my Saviour but I refuse to submit to Him as Lord! I reject His authority over my life and I refuse to obey Him. I’m glad to have Him as my Saviour from hell, but He is not going to tell me what to do.”

    Professing believer B: “I want to obey my Lord, the One who died for me, but there are many times when I fail. My heart is deeply grieved when I fail to obey Him and I’m convicted and bothered and often miserable. I have dishonored my Lord and brought shame to His Name.” We are reminded of Peter who, after he had sinned, “went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62) or of Lot whose righteous soul was vexed (2 Peter 2:7-8).

    Professing believer A, by his words and attitude, does not give much evidence of having a real, personal, saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Professing believer B seems to be a true possessor of Christ, because although he has sinned and rebelled against his Lord, he was bothered and broken about it. The Spirit of God who indwells a sinning believer is grieved, and He makes His grieved presence felt. As R. Gene Reynolds has written, “A person who is living sinfully, who knows he is living sinfully, who enjoys living in such a manner, who intends to continue that sinful way of living—that person does not have the Holy Spirit living within him. The very fact that he is ‘comfortable’ about his sin is proof of the Spirit’s absence. His spiritual vital sign registers, ‘no life.’ ” [R. Gene Reynolds, Assurance (Tyndale House), page 73]”

  26. Here is how Ron Shea would says to evaluate whether or not you are saved:

    Wrong answers:
    1. You can be sure that you have truly been saved if your life begins to change, showing that God has really come into your life
    2. You can be sure that you have truly been saved if you bear the fruit of good works
    3. You can be sure that you have truly been saved if many years from now you are still walking in faith with Christ

    Correct answer:
    4. You can be sure that you have truly been saved if you heard the gospel and believed it

    (Source: “The Gospel” tract)

  27. Hi everyone, been reading your posts and me too have been suspicious of Zeller’s teaching at Middletown Bible Church. I t had been my favorite site for a long time, their strong stand on the fundamental doctrines of the faith, their stand against Reformed Theology, and other issues as well. I have read the “Signs of Life” portion on their website and what an awkward moment when a strong opponent of Lordship Salvation agrees somehow with their “If you are not this or that then you are not really saved” doctrine.

    And that is why if you have noticed, he doesn’t say a word about the “Perseverance of the Saints”, which is crucial in the discussion of the Lordship/Calvinist position.

    I am not sure if he had written these ones below: http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/salvatio/looking.htm
    http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/salvatio/truebel.htm

    If he did wrote them, then how does he explain the “Dispensationalists” he agreed with and quoted:

    http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/doctrine/GES35.htm

  28. “Jimmy, Zeller also thinks that soil 2, in the parable of the sower, represents someone who is unsaved.”

    Yea, I saw that. Consequence of the P of TULIP. Every bad idea has consequences.

  29. No. I just saw where he made a post on this blog earlier.

  30. Did you happen to ask Ron about the “inheritance position”?

  31. Jimmy, Zeller also thinks that soil 2, in the parable of the sower, represents someone who is unsaved.

    I disagree completely.

    Luke 8:13 (NKJV) “But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.”

    The moment someone believes, he is indwelled and sealed by the Holy Spirit:

    2 Corinthians 1:23 (NKJV) “who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

    Ephesians 1:13 (NKJV) “In Him you also trusted , after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,”

    Not that in both verses, the term “sealed” is the past tense of seal.

    Zeller is wrong. Zeller is leaving the back door open to LS.

    The parable of the sower is a very important passage. I don’t know how someone can believe in eternal security, while disbelieving that soils 2 and 3 represent saved people.

  32. Jimmy, I read a lot of this nonsense. Since Ron Shea was kind enough to join this blog today, I will present what I think are his views on this matter:

    “Those who believe one may lose their salvation through abandoning their faith may be genuinely saved. They may believe in salvation by grace through faith, and apart from man’s works. And faith is not a work (Romans 4:16). But such persons have placed upon themselves the heavy burden of what might happen if the faith within their heart might fail. It is not to the cross that we must direct such a person. If they are trusting in Christ alone, they are surely saved. We must encourage them regarding the regeneration of the Holy Sprit. That, even “though we are faithless, he remains faithful, for He cannot deny himself.”

    and

    “Eternal Security We believe that a Christian, having believed in Jesus Christ as Savior, is, from that moment in time, forever secure in his eternal relationship with God, in spite of human frailty or subsequent failure. The security of the believer is attested to in Scripture on multiple independent grounds, any of which would, by itself, be sufficient to establish the doctrine of security. Those independent grounds include, at least,

    (j) That Scripture attests to believers falling into terrible sins, including incest (1st Corinthians 5:1-5); murder (1st Samuel 11:14-16), ritual infant sacrifice (1st Kings 11:7), and even falling away from the faith or denying Christ (1st Timothy 1:19-20; 2:Timothy 2:17-19), each of whom, though outside the realm of fellowship with God and subject to divine chastisement, remained in an eternal relationship with God.

    (k) That those who fall away from true faith and embrace false Gods or false gospels remain saved, and that God is able to distinguish those who were truly His (2nd Timothy 2:19).”

  33. Here’s an article you may not have already read over at Middletown:

    http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/doctrine/departff.htm

    There are numerous problems in the article, but I have only time to point out a few. Zeller, writing to an unnamed Pastor, writes:

    “Are you saying that in some saved people God’s chastisement does not yield any fruit?”

    I hope the pastor replied, Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying. We are informed in Scripture of God’s different forms of divine discipline that can be applied to believers when deemed necessary by the Father, and which can run the gamut of: loss of joy– Ps. 51:12, some occasions of loss of health–James 5:14-16 and 1 Cor. 11:30, loss of property–Amos 4:6-9, loss of loved ones–II Sam. 12:14 and Amos 4:10. But there is one specific form of heavenly chastisement I’d like to focus on as it relates to your question. In 1 Cor. 11:30 and 5:5 we are warned about God the Father’s ultimate form of chastisement–premature death. My question to you is this, What fruit can be produced by the believer who has experienced the Father’s rod of premature death?

    “I believe that John MacArthur is a saved man who has fallen into serious doctrinal error (denial of eternal Sonship although he has recently recanted, confusing the TERMS of SALVATION, etc.). On the other side I believe that Zane Hodges, whom I consider to be a saved man, has fallen into serious doctrinal error also. I would not place either of these men in the category of being a total apostate, one who has departed from the Christian faith and rejected Jesus Christ and totally ABANDONED THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL.”

    “So I agree with you that a true believer can fall into error, even very serious doctrinal error. A true believer can fall into sin, even very serious sin. But a true believer will not totally abandon Christ and become a total apostate to the point where he “stops believing” the gospel or EVEN TEACHES CONTRARY TO THE GOSPEL.”

    Unbelievable. Is not McArthur’s false gospel by addition (LS) a teaching which is “contrary to the gospel”? Was not Hodges (towards the end of his life) reductionist heresy (name-only, promise-only, crossless gospel) “contrary to the gospel”?

    I have no way of knowing whether or not McArthur ever believed salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone, but it doesn’t matter to me insofar as he’s since had the Gospel shared with him. As for Hodges, having read his writings prior to his departure into the cross-less gospel, I’ve no doubt he’s in heaven. Nevertheless, what’s important is that it is indeed possible to be an eternally secure believer and yet fall far enough to find oneself teaching a false gospel which is the same as becoming apostate.

    NOTE: Zeller mentions Lot in this article, but I’ve yet to have time to find out his treatment of him.

  34. Thanks John and Jimmy for your kind and helpful comments.

    Bruce

  35. I refer to that article by Stegall often. It’s a good one.

  36. Thanks for the context.

    From his statement, “What we are concerned about is the teaching that a truly saved person can totally abandon the faith, deny Christ, deny the gospel, and even mock the Christian faith, or that a true believer can have a life that is characterized by and dominated by immorality, disobedience, and wickedness”, we can deduce that Zeller has more in mind with his pejorative label of “Free Grace” than just the promise-only, name-only, GES cross-less gospel.

    Zeller’s “clarification” is not only a failed attempt at trying to disassociate himself from the BDA to LS, but it creates added confusion. Believers can “walk as unregenerate” on one hand, but if they commit the wrong sin or walk further in sin then what he would like, they were never saved in the first place. The Bible knows nothing of this man-made philosophy other than to warn us about it (Col. 2:8).

    I am going to take a look at Zeller’s writings to see if he’s offered his opinion on Lot. I’m bracing myself.

  37. Jimmy, the most beguiling trick used by Middletown is to attack LS on almost every point, but to persist in embracing LS in a couple of other ways.

    Their perspective on LS includes this quote:

    “Does every true believer surrender to Christ’s Lordship?

    This question needs to be answered very carefully in light of the Scriptures. The answer to the question is both YES and NO.

    1) YES, every true believer surrenders to Christ’s Lordship.

    The person who surrenders to Christ’s Lordship is the person who bows before His authority and obeys His Word. The New Testament indicates that one of the characteristics of a true believer is that he obeys God’s Word and keeps God’s commands: “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3-4). The same was true of the original disciples. Jesus said of them, “They have kept My Word” (John 17:6). This was a remarkable statement for our Lord to make in view of the obvious shortcomings of these men. Peter, for example, did not represent a surrendered, obedient believer when he denied his Lord three times. Nor was he being submissive in Acts 10:14 when he said, “Not so, Lord!” Nor was he surrendering in Matthew 16:22 when he rebuked the Lord and strongly contradicted His Word! If you were to take a snapshot of any of these isolated acts of failure you could say that Peter was a disobedient believer who did not surrender to Christ’s Lordship. But as you look at the overall picture of his life, as the Lord Jesus did, you would have to conclude that this was a man who kept Christ’s Word. As you look at the whole panorama of his life you would say that Peter, in spite of his shortcomings, was a man who surrendered to Christ’s Lordship.

    2) NO, every true believer does not surrender to Christ’s Lordship.

    We desire and want to please our Lord, but there are times when we fail to surrender as we should. If we are honest we would have to admit the following: All believers have sinned and come short of perfect submission to Christ. Every believer falls short of perfect surrender, perfect obedience, perfect submission, perfect compliance with all the demands of discipleship. Thank God we have an Advocate with the Father, Christ Jesus the Righteous One (1 John 2:1-2)!

  38. Jimmy, a better perspective is offered by Tom Stegall, in his article entitled “Must Faith Endure for Salvation to Be Sure?” I have atached a link to part 9 of this series, below.

    Some salient points that Tom Stegall makes, all of with which I agree, are these:

    “The Bible actually teaches that it is possible for one who is eternally saved by God’s grace to:

    1) Commit idolatry and apostasy (1 Kgs. 11:1-10)
    2) Believe only for a while (Luke 8:13)
    3) Not continue in the Word of Christ (Jn. 8:31)
    4) Not abide in Christ (John 15:1-8)
    5) Become disqualified in the race of the Christian life (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
    6) Resist God’s chastening and correcting to the point of physical death (1 Cor. 11:30-32)
    7) Stray from the faith (1 Timothy 1:5-6)
    8) Shipwreck faith (1 Timothy 1:18-20)
    9) Fall away from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1-3)
    10) Deny the faith (1 Timothy 5:8)
    11) Cast off initial faith and follow Satan (1 Timothy 5:12-15)
    12) Stray from the faith by loving money (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
    13) Stray from the faith by professing false doctrine (1 Timothy 6:20-21)
    14) Deny Christ and be faithless (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
    15) Have faith overthrown (2 Timothy 2:14-18)
    http://duluthbible.org/widgets/download.aspx?file=%2ffiles%2fResources%2fGrace_Family_Journal%2fGFJ_2003_PDF%2fGFJ_2003_04_Fall%2fGFJ_2003_04_MustFaithEndure_09_Stegall.pdf

  39. Jimmy, this is the immediate context:

    Are Good Works the Necessary Fruit of Salvation?

    In his book, The Gospel Under Siege, Hodges:

    1) Denies the necessity of good works in the life of a true Christian: “Consideration [in this book] will be given to some of the major texts that are thought to teach the necessity, or at least the inevitability, of good works in the life of a true Christian. The inconsistence of this view…must be faced” (p.8);

    2) Denies that good works are an essential fruit of salvation: “Can I know that I belong to Christ and belong to Him forever? If good works are really…an essential fruit of salvation, the answer to this question must be: No” (p.9);

    3) Says that good works are not a necessary outcome of saving faith: “If works are a necessary outcome of saving faith, the problem is equally great” (p.11; and the argumentation here used makes it clear that Hodges does not believe that works are a necessary outcome of saving faith);

    4) Denies that good works are an inevitable outcome of genuine saving faith: “Certain passages in the Pauline letters have been taken to prove that good works are an inevitable outcome of genuine saving faith. As has already been pointed out, this kind of deduction destroys the believer’s ground of assurance” (p.79);

    5) Says that the Bible does not teach that a true Christian will persevere in good works: “Some believe [wrongly so, according to Hodges] the Bible teaches that a true Christian will persevere in good works” (p.11).

    [In a later edition of The Gospel Under Siege, I have been told that Hodges has modified some of these statements, thankfully].

    Clarification:

    In being critical of the position of Hodges, Dillow, Faust, etc. we do not mean to imply that true believers always live lives that are pleasing to God and super-abounding in good works. We recognize that carnality can be a major problem among believers and that regenerate people can and do backslide. Saved people can be in a very sad spiritual state, and this we do not question. They can even walk as unregenerate men (1 Cor. 3:1-4). These important issues are dealt with in detail in the following document: Saved By Grace Alone. We do not hold to the Lordship salvation teaching that good works automatically and unfailingly result from saving faith. There is a delicate Biblical balance on this issue that must be maintained. “The pendulum swings, ridiculous extreme, bypassing the truth which lieth between.” The so called “free grace” position and the Lordship salvation position are two extreme positions. The truth is to be found somewhere in between. This is common in theology. With most areas of doctrine, there are usually extreme and unbalanced views on both sides of the truth.

    What we are concerned about is the teaching that a truly saved person can totally abandon the faith, deny Christ, deny the gospel, and even mock the Christian faith, or that a true believer can have a life that is characterized by and dominated by immorality, disobedience, and wickedness.

    IF GOOD WORKS ARE NOT A NECESSARY OUTCOME OF SAVING FAITH, THEN…

    …why did Jesus say, “even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit…a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit…a good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things” (Matt. 7:17-18; 12:35)?

    …God’s work of chastening has failed to bring about the desired result (Heb. 12:10-11). Note: Those who are not God’s legitimate children can live any way they please all the way to the grave, but God, in His love, does not allow His children to live any way they please. Just as a human father uses a rod to keep his child from persisting in evil behavior, so the Heavenly Father chastens His children so that they will not persist in sin. [Zane Hodges claims that the “bastards” or illegitimate children mentioned in Hebrews 12:8 are probably regenerate people who do not inherit the kingdom! See the Bible Knowledge Commentary under Heb. 12:8.]

    …the God who saves is powerless to sanctify [thus, the prayer of Jesus in John 17:17 will not be answered for some believers].

    … the indwelling ministry of the grieved Spirit of God in convicting erring saints is ineffective

    …for some believers God’s workmanship is never realized and never displayed and thus there are some believers that never walk in those works which God has before ordained that they should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).

    …Jesus’ parable of the sower ought to be revised so that it would read as follows: “But other fell into good ground and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold and some zerofold” (Matt. 13:8). As the parable stands it teaches that all believers are fruitful but not all believers are as fruitful as they should be or could be. Actually, Hodges and Dillow and Wilkin teach that many believers bear ZERO fruit as represented by the stony and thorny soils.

    …John the Baptist was being too severe and demanding when he challenged the profession of the Pharisees and Sadducees and when he told them that every tree not bearing good fruit would get the axe and the fire (Matt. 3:7-12).

    …John the Apostle must have been mistaken when he wrote, “He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God” (2 John 11).

    …God is not changing all believers into the image of His Son, or if He is changing them, this change is not evident and not seen (2 Cor. 3:18).

    …God’s grace has failed in its teaching ministry (Titus 2:11-12) and God’s purpose of redemption has not been realized (Titus 2:14).

    …God’s purpose for believers in light of the cross would not be fulfilled (see 1 Pet. 2:24).

    …God’s holy new nature (Eph. 4:24; 1 John 3:9) is consistently concealed in the lives of those believers who are devoid of good works.

  40. John:

    I was first introduced to Zeller by a lady who had previousely helped me come to an understanding of the evils of TULIP theology. I later on pointed out to her some troubling things in his writing’s (i.e. BDA to LS, pejoritive usage of terms like “Free Grace”, unbiblical understanding of “predestination”, inherent contradictions, etc..), but to no avail. She had become so impressed with his writings (almost hero worship in my view) that any traditional free grace literature I sent her was deemed unworthy of her time and attention. In short, as a result of her apparent fixation on man (as opposed to simply testing any and all teachings in light of the Word regardless where or from whom the teaching comes) she allowed herself to come to the erroneous conclusion that “Free Grace” = GES, as well as remains to this day (as far as I know) confused on saving repentance, predestination, works being so-called evidence of salvation, etc. As an aside, and this is for Eddy, this person is the same person we discussed in the previous thread.

    I would be interested to know what specific teachings Zeller includes under his label of “Free Grace”. Moreover, the notion that the “truth is found in between “extremist” doctrinal position” is at minimum flawed in the respect that many doctrinal positions labeled “extreme” by some are indeed biblical.

  41. John:

    This article is spot on. Nice job! More on this later…

    Bruce:

    Dear brother, I hope you know that I do not in any way shape or form view you as someone “collaborating with the enemy camp” or “holding to a LS/Free Grace combination”. What I’ve read from you clearly shuts and locks the front and back door approaches to LS. Moreover, as I stated in the previous thread, it is clear you have a deep concern for those believers who, as a result of LS, lose…or never attained assurance of their salvation to begin with. I share and really appreciate that compassion and concern.

    When I brought up, in the previous thread, the validity of another commenters question, (i.e. ““Are you able to discern that someone who is actively promoting such doctrine truly believes in Christ alone by faith alone?”), please understand I wasn’t thinking of you specifically (even though the question was directed to you), but rather I was thinking about the possibility of any one of us giving salvific benefit of the doubt to those who are caught up in a false gospel, but who have never expressed an understanding of faith alone in Christ alone. You would agree such a person needs to hear a clear and accurate presentation of the Gospel, which makes me believe the person you brought up did in fact express to you (prior to her entanglement in LS) the aforementioned sentiment…though maybe not in those exact words. In closing please forgive me if I came across mean-spirited or harsh. Though I can indeed come across harsh at times, and am working on that, I have nothing but love and respect for you brother.

  42. Bruce, I know you to be a tireless Grace advocate. I have read several of your published articles, including “A Hole in the Gospel or a Whole Gospel.” In that article, you clearly stated your belief that LS was a false gospel. For those who have not read the review, I have attached a link. The essential quote is below:

    “Final note: I could go on and on with more quotations from this unbiblical book, this declaration of a false gospel, but I think that you have seen enough to get the point!”

    http://www.freegracealliance.com/pdf/A%20Gospel%20With%20a%20Hole%20or%20a%20WHOLE%20Gospel%20review%20by%20Bauer.pdf

    I also love you as a Christian brother and want to be gracious in how I make my points. If I have offended you, please forgive me.

    Regarding child salvation, I am sure that children can be and are saved all of the time. In fact, as I said this in an earlier post under the Piper thread (Luke 18:17). But, if we are to help anyone evaluate his spiritual position, we do need to make sure he has believed in the correct gospel – unfettered by any of the man-made religion add-ons.

    I think a decent diagnostic of someone’s understanding of God’s plan of salvation is well-summarized by this excerpt from Dennis Rokser’s book “Seven Reasons Not to Ask Jesus Into Your Heart”:

    “Over the years I have talked to hundreds of people about their salvation. I have found that asking them 3 basic questions normally discloses their understanding of God’s grace plan of redemption:

    The 3 questions are…

    If you were to die in 13 seconds, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven?

    If Jesus Christ was at the gates of heaven and asked you, “Why should I let you in?” what would you say?

    Is there anything you can do or fail to do to lose your salvation?

    It is amazing that while people have “come forward” or “made a commitment to Christ” or “surrendered their lives to Christ” or “asked Jesus into their hearts, ” many do not yet grasp that salvation is all by God’s grace, based solely on Christ’s cross-work and received through faith in Christ and His finished work alone.”

  43. Good article John.

    Of course the Middletown quotation sends the wrong message. The Free Grace gospel is NOT an extreme theology. It is the correct age-old biblical theology of Ephesians 2:8-9, Acts 16:30-31, John 3:16, Romans 4:5 as well as many other strong biblical texts.

  44. Dear John,

    Thanks for your excellent article. I once came across Middletown Bible Church’s website and found something I did not like. Hence, I never bookmarked that site among the “koshered” websites.

  45. John,

    Thanks, this is an excellent example and analysis of the subtleties of compromise.

    Though many folks do it, we must strive never to compromise the Gospel of God’s True Free Grace message.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

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