Category Archives: Grace

Faith is NOT the Gift of God

Holly and I put together an article based on her response(s) to a commenter on her “Redeeming Moments” website.

Please find the link to the article, as well as the full text, below:

Faith is Not the Gift of God

By Holly Garcia and johninnc

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

One of the more common attacks on the gospel is that God chooses who will believe in Jesus as Savior by giving them the faith to believe, while depriving everyone else of this “gift of faith.”

The teaching that faith is the gift of God, or even part of the gift of God, is the cornerstone error of reformed theology, or Calvinism. This error has been one of Satan’s primary tools in perpetuating the lie that we can earn eternal life by our works.

From Clear Gospel:

We observe from church history that the corruption of “grace” into an ethereal vitalizing substance, though often starting with the seemingly “innocuous” view that “grace” vitalizes the lost sinner to belief in Christ, deteriorates, almost inevitably, to the belief that the effects of grace, being sovereign or irresistible, will ultimately empower man to “repent of his sins,” to perform certain acts of righteousness, and/or to “persevere to the end” in faith and good works. Finally, we observe that the frequent conclusion of this heresy is that, if permanent and significant lifestyle changes are not manifest in the life of a sinner, God’s “grace” was never received.

As a consequence, we believe that such a corruption of the meaning of the word “grace” historically portends a grave likelihood, if not a virtual certainty, of a theological system deteriorating into a system of salvation by “Christ plus works,” (Romans 11:6-7, Ephesians 2:8-9), the very opposite meaning of the word “Grace.”

Contrary to the heretical teaching that faith is the gift of God, the Bible teaches that eternal life is the gift of God.

Faith is not the gift of God.

“Faith” does not = salvation.

One can have faith and not be saved. Having faith in the right object (believing upon Jesus Christ – who He is and what He has done-1 Corinthians 15:3-4) is how we receive the free gift of salvation.

Romans 5  lists the gift of God seven times, and not once is it suggested the gift is making someone believe. But it is clearly identified as salvation – justification unto life (eternal), the gift of righteousness (His righteousness imputed to us), eternal life. Again not once is “faith” named as being the gift.

It is concluded in Romans 6:23, that the gift of God, the free gift, is eternal life (which comes by belief).
We know that some people in the Bible are commended for their great faith, others challenged to have greater faith, and still other criticized for having little faith.

Luke 7:9: When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Mark 11:22: And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

Luke 12:28: If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Jesus could not commend someone for great faith, if such faith were a gift from God. To do so would be attributing God’s glory to man. It is simply inconceivable that God would allow His glory to be given to any man.

Similarly, Jesus could not challenge someone to greater faith if such faith were to come from God. In so doing, Jesus would be challenging the Triune God (which includes Himself) to provide someone with greater faith.

Finally, Jesus could not chastise a believer for having little faith, if such faith had been provided as the gift of God.

So, it is clearly evident from scripture that faith itself is not the gift of God.

ETERNAL LIFE IS THE GIFT OF GOD.
The Bible clearly shows that eternal life (by grace you are saved) is the gift of God.

Ephesians 2:8-9: [8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

John 4:10: 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.

Acts 2:38: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The Gift of God is identified throughout scripture as eternal life itself or as the Holy Spirit who regenerates us (imparts eternal life to us) and indwells us, once we believe.

Scripture is clear. Eternal life, not faith, is the gift of God. One receives the free gift of eternal life the moment he believes in Jesus as his Savior. Once received by faith, eternal life can never be lost or forfeited.

For more information on how to have eternal life, click here: The Gospel

Good News for Thanksgiving 2015

By johninnc

2 Corinthians 9:15: Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.

In preparing to write this article, I spent some time reviewing the articles that have been featured on ExPreacherMan over the years around the time of the American Thanksgiving holiday. As I did so, it brought back to me a flood of memories of the late Jack Weaver, the founder of this online ministry. This is our first Thanksgiving without Jack, and I am very thankful for his life and his witness for Jesus.

Jack was a faithful preacher of the good news of Jesus Christ and an ardent defender of the gospel. He loved the Lord and shared in God’s desire to see all men come to know Christ as Savior.

Romans 10:14-15:

[14] How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
[15] And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. It is the best news imaginable, because it tells us who Jesus is, what he has done for us, and how we can have eternal life through Him and Him alone.

What is the Good News (the gospel)?

The good news is that Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He was raised from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4:

[1] Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
[2] By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
[3] For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
[4] And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:


Who is Christ?

Christ (Jesus) is God in the flesh. He took on human form to become our kinsman redeemer – our Savior. He is fully God and fully man. He is the only begotten Son of God and the Son of man.

Colossians 1:15-17:

[15] Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
[16] For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
[17] And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Luke 2:11: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Why do we need a Savior?

We all need a Savior, because we have sinned (done wrong things) against a Holy and just God. Our sin separates us from God, who cannot allow sin in His presence. And, we can do nothing to save (or help save) ourselves.

Romans 3:23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Revelation 21:27: And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

The consequence of our sin includes physical death, and, without God’s provision for our salvation through Christ Jesus, we would all have to spend eternity separated from God in a place of conscious punishment.

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

2 Thessalonians 1:9: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

How did Jesus save us?

Jesus bore the sins of the world. He died a horrible death on the cross to take away our sins. He was raised from the dead to prove that His payment for our sin was complete and accepted.

2 Corinthians 5:21: For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Why did He do it?

He did it, because He loves us!

Romans 5:8: But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Why is this good news?

The gospel is good news, because God provided completely for our salvation. It was bought and paid for by the precious blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus.

John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The Bible calls eternal life God’s unspeakable gift to us, because He offers us eternal life freely, without cost or obligation to the believer in Christ.

To summarize:

1. Everyone is a sinner
2. The penalty for sin is death (eternal separation from God in a place of conscious torment – hell)
3. One must be perfect to get into heaven. Not good. Not great. Perfect.
4. One cannot do anything of himself to obtain this perfection – this includes turning from sin, committing your life to Christ and so on. God offers eternal life as a gift – it’s not for sale or barter.
5. God provided a sin-bearer for us (The Lord Jesus Christ, God in the
flesh. He had no sin of his own, but he came to die for us, paying the full penalty for our sin. He was raised from the dead, proving that His payment was acceptable).
6. All we can do to receive everlasting life is to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
7. Eternal life, once received by faith in Christ, can never be lost or forfeited, no matter what happens in our lives down the road.

What is there to do to receive eternal life? Simply BELIEVE that Jesus made that payment for your sin – for you.

For additional detail about eternal life, click here: UNSPEAKABLE GIFT

Playing Church

By johninnc

2 Corinthians 6:14: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Our friend and frequent commenter at ExPreacherMan, Bryan Roach, posted the following comment that I thought would provide a good springboard for an article on “playing church.”

Wow, if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought both of y’all were visiting churches in my area. I have dealt with the exact same situation with several preachers seeing no problem with preaching grace, yet distributing LS material and associating with other preachers and organizations that promote the LS gospel. I’ve had meetings with several who have told me that “I’m being too picky, or over thinking it.” They don’t want to start a debate between LS members and the grace members, because unity is their top priority. One pastor said, “My church will have some Arminians, some 5 point Calvinists, and some 0 point Calvinists, but what I love about our church is that we are all here in unity and we take pride in that.” It’s sad and frustrating to say the least.

“Playing church” refers to people gathering under the mistaken belief that they are gathering in Christ’s name.

Matthew 18:20: For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Unlike the many false substitutes that go by the name “church”, the true universal church is comprised of those who have believed in Jesus alone as Savior.

John 1: 12-13:

[12] But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

[13] Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

In a sense, only those that believe on His name (believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone) can be truly gathered in his name.

Anything else is just playing church.

If your “church” teaches, or tolerates,  any of the following things (note that this is not an all-inclusive list), particularly after you have tried to teach them the truth, they are simply playing church.

  • You have to be willing to turn from your sins to be saved
  • You must repent of your sins to be saved
  • You must want to follow Christ to be saved
  • You must want to have a relationship with Christ to be saved
  • It’s not faith and works. It’s faith that works
  • God will never take away your salvation, but you can walk away from it
  • You can lose your salvation through serious, habitual sin
  • If you die with serious, unconfessed sin, you won’t go to heaven
  • You have to be water baptized to have eternal life
  • You have to make a public confession of Christ to have eternal life
  • You will not be sinless, but you will sin less
  • A true Christian will bear the fruit of a changed life
  • Intellectual assent is not saving faith
  • Jesus didn’t save us in our sins, He saved us from our sins
  • Faith is the gift of God
  • A true Christian wants to obey Christ
  • He can’t be your Savior if he’s not your Lord
  • A true Christian may stumble every once in a while, but he won’t live in persistent willful sin
  • A true Christian will…

There are all kinds of “churches,” ministries, books, DVDs, youtube videos, and so on run by people who insist that they believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Sadly, most of them that I have encountered do not really believe or teach that.

Below is an example from an internet ministry that I recently came across. They claim to believe in salvation by grace through faith, but their further statements belie that.

Saving Faith is trusting in Jesus Christ, and Him alone, for your Salvation…

Are you willing to repent of your sins right now, and become a responsible member of God’s forever family, following Him and serving Him as a member of His forever family, following Him and serving Him as a member of His body, the Church? If your heartfelt answer is, “Yes”, then we can go to Him now in prayer, and we can tell Him that you want to cease trusting in anything else for Eternal Salvation, especially in what you can do for yourself.

This so-called ministry is teaching that one receives eternal life by TRADING willingness to repent from sins and follow Christ. This is a false gospel of works that will not save anyone. The Bible teaches that eternal life is a gift, not a trade.

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

If you have understood and believed the gospel, please don’t continue to yoke yourself with those who teach, or tolerate false gospel substitutes.

And, if playing church has kept you confused about how to receive eternal life, click here: THE GOSPEL

Christ Follower, or False Gospel Swallower?

By johninnc (with thanks to our friend Curtis for suggesting this topic, and our friend Preston who provided input through previous commentary)

John 10:27: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 

The above verse is often used as a proof text by those who think that works are necessary for eternal life.

Following is an example from a recent comment:

Don’t you all have verse 27 of John 10 in your Bibles? Why are you quoting verse 28 ALONE without 27? John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, [they know My voice] AND THEY FOLLOW ME. And I give them eternal life …”

Following are excerpts from the sound Biblical response that our friend Preston provided, along with a link to the entire comment:

So do we have “to follow” to be saved. the answer is YES (but not by works). Let me explain…

although faith is NOT a work, Jesus called it a “work” in CONTEXT when He was asked, what must we do to work the workS of God” and Jesus replied, this is the work of God, that ye believe on the one whom He hath sent” John 6:28-29…

SUMMARY/POINT – what did Jesus say to do to have eternal life? He said to “believe in Him” or “TRUST in Him” to have eternal life. So if one “believes in Him”, that HE died for our sins and rose again they HAVE FOLLOWED and done the “ONE THING” that Jesus said to do for everlasting life.

https://expreacherman.com/2015/02/10/i-give-unto-them-eternal-life-2/#comment-53291

Despite the confusion caused by conflating following Christ in discipleship with believing in Christ as Savior, or perhaps because of it, it has become fashionable in the world of professing Christendom to use the term “Christ follower”  as a synonym for “Christian.”

The term “Christ follower” can mean a lot of things. One of the more benign uses of the term is to connote a Christian, who is a also a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, the term “Christ follower” can communicate much more sinister messages. Among them are:

  • That use of the term “Christian” should be avoided, because it carries  a stigma in broader society
  • That there are clearly-defined strata of Christians – that one is either a “Christ follower” altogether, or not at all
  • That the message of salvation is about what we are doing for Jesus, instead of what He has done for us
  • That believing in Jesus as Savior is not sufficient for eternal life

In his sermon entitled “Living in Light of Our Redemption”, delivered March 10, 2013, Tom Cucuzza discussed the use of the term “follower of Christ”, and how it communicates the wrong message. Following is a pertinent excerpt:

Minutes 41:10- 42:30

We don’t talk about believers anymore. Well, we do, ‘cause that’s what the Bible calls us. But, you know what? Because of the huge impact that those who are preaching Lordship salvation, which is works for salvation, because of the huge impact they’re having on Christendom today, the new buzzword is “followers of Christ.”

You hear that a lot – followers of Christ? A follower of Christ. Where’s the emphasis there? It’s on how you’re living, right? Not what you believe, but how you’re living. There are people who have followed the moral teachings of scripture their whole lives, who when they die, they won’t go to Heaven. They have followed the Sermon on the Mount as best they can. I’ve had people tell me “I’m going to Heaven.” Why? “Because I follow the Sermon on the Mount.” And I’m thinking, “no you don’t. No, you don’t. You can’t. It’s an ideal. It’s great. There are great principles there. I believe them. But, you know what? If you’re going to follow that, your gonna have to be perfect, and none of us are. You’re not gonna make it there by that.”

So, when somebody says, “oh, they’re a follower of Jesus”, my question is “what do you mean by that?” Well, usually they’ll say “well, they follow the teachings of Jesus.” Well, that has to do with how you live. Are you gonna get to Heaven by how you live? No. You get to Heaven by faith in Christ.

If you would like to know how to have eternal life, whether you are a Christ follower, or not, please click here: The Gospel

“I Give Unto Them Eternal Life”

Note: the following article was originally posted on July 30, 2014. I decided to re-post it today, in memory of my earthly father, who died yesterday at the age of 95, and in honor of our heavenly father who gave his only begotten Son through which all might be saved.

img_0677John10:28:  And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 

My family and I recently traveled to France for vacation. Among our stops were the beaches of Normandy, on which the allied invasion of France began on June 6, 1944 (D-day), and the American Cemetery.

These sites held particular significance for me, as my father was among the soldiers who fought in the Normandy campaign. He and my mother were able to visit Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-day about a month before we were there.

The American Cemetery tells the stories of many of the brave soldiers who fought and died to liberate Europe from the grip of tyranny. There is also a chapel at the Cemetery. The chapel contains an altar that tells the story of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice to save mankind. The altar has an inscription that reads: “I GIVE UNTO THEM ETERNAL LIFE AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH”.

This brief inscription, which quotes Jesus, is extremely well chosen. Its eleven words affirm many Biblical truths that are central to the gospel, including the following:

Jesus is God.   The Bible says that God grants eternal life. So, if Jesus gives eternal life, it follows that He is God in the flesh.

John 1:14:  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Eternal life is a gift.  The Bible calls eternal life a gift – unmerited favor.

Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

The gift of God is eternal life. Jesus is not only necessary for eternal life. He is enough. Believing in Jesus as Savior means believing that our good intentions or good works have nothing to do with receiving eternal life. Neither does their presence or absence prove whether or not we possess eternal life. We need only believe in Christ alone as Savior in order to receive eternal life.

Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Eternal life is available to everyone.  Who is the “them” to whom Christ gives eternal life? The Bible says that anyone who will believe in Christ as Savior will receive eternal life.

John 20:31: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.  

The God of the Bible did not choose some to receive eternal life, while making it unavailable to others. The Bible says that God desires that everyone be saved.

1 Timothy 2:4: Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

Eternal life is eternal.  The doctrine of eternal security of Christians is taught throughout scripture. Eternal security is a necessary conclusion of grace. We cannot work our way into eternal life, and we cannot work our way out of eternal life.

Ephesians 1:13-14: In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Every one of the soldiers who has defended our freedom on the battlefield deserves our gratitude. Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save that which was lost, deserves our gratitude infinitely more. He died for our sins. He was buried, and He rose from the dead. He offers us eternal life as a free gift.

All one needs to do to have eternal life is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.

Helping a New Believer Find an Oasis of Grace in a Desert of Lordship Salvation

By johninnc and Jack Weaver

We recently received an e-mail from a fellow grace believer who wants to spread the gospel to people with whom he comes into contact.  Following are excerpts from the e-mail:

When l share the simple plan of salvation and they believe in Jesus to give them the gift of eternal life, what do l do with them to help them grow as christians. lt seems to me that if l send them to a church in my area, they will get this LS teaching…l know that l will have to have a fellowship in my home to encourage and also be encouraged, if you know of a web site that would teach new christians ” what’s my next step” i would love to know about it.

This is a great question.  Many of us do not have a home church, and would not be comfortable steering anyone – much less a new believer – to any church that distorts the gospel in ANY way.

Before anyone begins looking for a church, he should be thoroughly grounded in the gospel.

In addition to the home fellowship that you suggested, below are some recommendations to help new believers grow in grace, and some things to avoid.

1. Suggest that they repeatedly read clear explantations of God’s plan of salvation.  Such resources will remind them of the Biblical truth that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. This will also reinforce the truths of eternal security and assurance for the believer in Christ.

We recommend two such resources at ExPreacherMan.

“The Gospel” booklet by Ron Shea

https://expreacherman.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/the-gospel.pdf

“How to Be Sure You are Going to Heaven” by Dr. Thomas Cucuzza:

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

2. Have them learn to read God’s Word.  Start by suggesting they read through the book of Galatians several times, one chapter per day. The book of Galatians is a defense of the gospel that will help new believers understand the nature of the attacks that they will face from the world of professing Christendom, and the Biblical response to those attacks.

3. Emphasize the importance of  not looking to changes in our lives for assurance of salvation, nor to let the lack of sufficient changes in our lives undermine our assurance of salvation.

4. Suggest they read ExPreacherMan articles and comments.

5. Have them listen to online sermons from sources that you have evaluated and are convinced are reliable.  We recommend Dr. Cucuzza’s sermons.  See link below:

http://northlandchurch.com/go/downloads

6. Warn them to avoid playing “Russian Roulette” with books, sermons, and websites that claim to be teaching Christianity. There is more bad teaching out there than good.

7. Make yourself available for questions – within reason. Some people will fail to do things they need to do to grow in grace, or will do things to undermine their faith (see number 6) and be pretty shaky. Challenge people to take an active role, and not just have you feed them.

8.  Pray that God will provide for them, and for you, a church in which the gospel is taught clearly, consistently, and without contradiction. If you are unable to find a church, don’t despair.  ExPreacherMan is available as a place for fellowship, discussion and encouragement for people who have church homes, as well as for those who don’t.

9.  Let them know to never let down their guard and to maintain vigilance. Avoid any church where there is evidence of Calvinism or Lordship “salvation.” Many churches and pastors will claim to believe in grace, but their words will betray them.   Consider the following from one false teaching mega-church:

From “Core Beliefs:

Those who put their faith alone in Christ for Salvation are children of God and heirs of eternal life.

From the Senior Pastor’s blog:

Through my obedience, my Father has given me the final authority to execute judgment over all humanity. One day, everyone will hear my voice and appear before me in final judgment. Don’t marvel at this saying. It is true. This judgment will solely depend on those who have believed in me. John’s gospel repeatedly states this truth (3:16;5:24,25; 14:6). However, good and bad deeds will prove an individual’s faith. If good deeds aren’t there, it proves faith isn’t present. These people face eternal judgment. If good deeds are there, it proves faith is present and they are granted eternal resurrection life.

10.  Tell them to share the good news with others.

Want to know the good news?  Here it is:  Good News!

My Story: What This Fellowship Of Believers Means To Me

By John and Jack, Administrators

This article will be somewhat different than our norm. Our Goal at ExPreacherMan has always been to share with you the simplicity of the Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ alone — and to expose those who would pervert that Good News message.

If you, as a friend of ExP feel so inclined, we would appreciate you telling us and our readers in a short note, what ExPreacherMan means to you. Your note may include your thoughts of how ExP has helped you understand God’s Word, His Grace, salvation, your assurance of salvation, your encouragement, helping get you out of LS, Calvinism, etc. We know all of our readers will be thrilled and encouraged.

A short time line of ExPreacherMan:

  • 2006 was the first year.
  • 2011 we added Bruce Bauer as a co-Administrator. We were so thankful for him and saddened when he resigned due to his other ministry pressures. Thanks Bruce, the Lord used you wonderfully.
  • 2013 John came on board as co-Administrator. [Jacks comment: We are so thankful for John and Jane.]

 Since we launched ExP, we have been blessed by the Lord with:

  • Over 609,000 total views of the web site.
  • Viewers from 53 different countries in just the last seven days, many more in entirety.
  • Views ranging from 400 to 600 or more views per day.
  • ExP has 256 personal subscribers who have signed up to receive notices of our posts.

We see so many folks have been positively influenced by ExP, including your ExP administrators who have been encouraged. The Lord has blessed this ministry by your participation.

We will appreciate you telling us your short story to encourage us and our readers.

Thank you!!!