Category Archives: Justification

From Time to Eternity

By johninnc

Acts 1:3: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:

Pastor Tom Cucuzza recently delivered a sermon that discussed the concept of eternity and provided compelling biblical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, what His resurrection accomplished, and the responsibility of people to respond with belief to the gospel message.

This is a good message for people who aren’t sure what happens when we die, and who may question the reality of who Jesus is, and what He has accomplished.

Click here for the complete sermon: From Time to Eternity

 

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

“The Naked Gospel”: Just Another False Gospel of Works


by johninnc

My wife and I were recently introduced to a book called “The Naked Gospel,” written by Andrew Farley.

The first thing I do when I hear about a biblical book or author is to deteermine where they stand on the gospel. If someone gets the gospel wrong, I am not interested any of their biblical teaching.

Unfortunately, Farley clothes a false gospel of works under the clever guise of grace. Nowhere is this more telling than in his section called “Looking for Evidence” (pages 197-199).

Farley spends close to 200 pages beguiling the reader with personal yarns and anecdotes, mixed with some scripture, before finally coming to his false gospel.

Following are extensive excerpts, with my comments (interspersed, parenthetically, in bold):

James 2 clearly says we’re justified by works too, not by faith alone. To dance around this passage by saying it refers to works after salvation is faulty. The passage specifically asks, “Can such faith save them?” (James 2:14). In addition, it repeatedly addresses being justified before God, a status that occurs at salvation. Without a doubt, James says we’re justified by works and not by faith alone. But, the important question is: What does James mean by works?

(James 2 NEVER says that one is justified before God by works. Farley has simply invented this into scripture. Romans 4:2 gives the real story: For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.)

I believe the key to understanding this passage is to avoid bringing our twenty-first century mind-set to the table, especially with regard to the term works. Rather than assuming that works should be understood as a life-long record of religious activity, one should consult the biblical text and let the writer himself define the term. James own use of the term works is quite different from how we use it today.

(Nonsense. “It depends what the definition of is is”).

James explains that even the demons can believe the basics of Christianity – that there is one God, and so forth (2:19). He shows us the difference between nodding with your head with dead faith versus expressing living faith. The purpose of the passage is to communicate that faith without decision or response is dead faith.

(There is no “…and so forth.” Again, Farley has fabricated scripture. James 2:19: Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.)

James uses two Old Testament examples, Rahab and Abraham, to explain justification by works. Both characters actively responded to God’s message. They didn’t sit back passively and claim they believed God. Rahab decided to open her door to the spies (Joshua 2:1), and Abraham chose to offer his son on the altar (Genesis 22:3). They went beyond mere intellectual assent and did something in response to God’s message.

(Neither Abraham, nor Rahab, receieved eternal life by these acts. They were not justified before God for these acts. Nor does this imply that good works are automatic in the life of a believer. Rahab and Abraham were faithful when their faith was tested. James is using their examples to exhort the BELIEVERS to whom he is writing to an active faith).

But, how many times did Rahab open the door? Once. And how many times did Abraham hoist his son Isaac on the altar? Once. Hence, works in this passage is really not about a lifelong track record of good behavior. It’s actually about the importance of responding to the truth – an act that goes beyond mere intellectual agreement. James 2 might be summarized by the following train of thought:

  • We’re justified by works (but works needs to be defined in context).
  • Works are like what Rahab and Abraham did.
  • Living faith involves opening a door (of your life) – a work.
  • Living faith involves offering someone (yourself) – a work.
  • So living faith involves decision – a work.
  • Any faith without decision is just dead faith.

(So, Mr. Farley, we’re not saved by works, but by a single work that proves our faith? Would I have to be willing to kill my son to receive the free gift of eternal life? Do I have to be willing to let Jesus come in and change my life? Or, would some other work of righteousness be acceptable to God to prove I wasn’t exercising mere intellectual assent?)

James 2 communicates that personal decision is necessary in order for true salvation to occur. Those who appear to fall away from belief in Jesus are those who merely associated themselves with certain doctrines for whatever reason. They may abandon Christianity the movement. They may abandon Christians, sometimes accompanied by personal resentment. But, they don’t abandon Christ, since they never knew Him. Ascribing to certain doctrines is one thing, but opening the door of your life and receiving the life of Christ is altogether different.

(Farley has cleverly redefined decision to include WORKS. One receives eternal life by believing in Jesus as his Savior. The content of that belief is that Christ – God our Savior – died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead. As soon as one believes that Jesus’ death and resurrection were sufficient to take away his sin and give him everlasting life, he is saved.

In addition, the parable of the sower teaches that some believe only for a while. Farley seems to have re-written this part of scripture as well.)

Once James 2 is seen in context, it doesn’t conflict with Romans or any other faith-centered passage. We need to recognized that this passage in James does not seem to be referring to a post-salvation experience. It’s specifically addressing the question, “Can such faith save them?” (James 2:14). From there we must grasp James’s own use of the term works by consulting the examples he gives. James’s purpose is to contrast mere intellectual agreement with active, saving faith that involves receiving the life of Christ. When Christ stood at the door and knocked, did you respond by opening the door, as Rahab did? If so, I think you’ve met the requirement of this historically controversial faith-works passage.

James 2 is not inviting us to introspect and assess our long-tem track-record of good works; in context, it appears to be contrasting dead faith (intellectual assertion only) with living faith (true conviction followed by decision).

We must never forget that truth is supposed to set us free!

(We receive the life of Christ when we believe the gospel. We do not have to “open the door” or any other such nonsense.

Yes, the truth is supposed to set us free. The truth starts with the gospel. If one thinks that he must do works (or make a decision), as defined by Farley, to receive eternal life, he does not believe the gospel.)

If you would like to know how to have eternal life, click here: THE GOSPEL

 

New Video Message from Dr. Thomas Cucuzza: “There’s Room At The Cross For You”

Dr. Thomas Cucuzza has posted a new video sermon on youtube that you might enjoy.  It is entitled “There’s Room At The Cross For You.” It is linked below:

Dr. Cucuzza makes the point that the thief on the cross is a type of all of us. This is a critical point, because all of us were condemned before we believed.

John 3:18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

 

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

The Gospel According to Internet Comments

The false gospels that pervade our churches are reflected in comments that show up in response to articles on the internet. Whether the subject is moral, political, or religious, “defenders of the faith” can be counted on to respond with their versions of how people can receive eternal life.  I have rarely seen anyone who gets it right.

Following are some examples that I have garnered over the past few months. The comments are in italics, and my responses are in bold:

Jesus Christ, the Son of God loves you! As a matter of fact He loved you soooo much that He came to Earth and lived a sinless life and died on the Cross for your sins and if you Repent of your sins and accept Him as Lord and Savior, then you will be saved. Jesus Christ loves you! 🙂

 My comment: Repenting of your sins is not a requirement for eternal life.

…I have a changed life and heart after turning my life over to the god of the universe. I struggled for 20 years to obtain these changes to no avail. His word did the work that I could not. If you really want proof I can tell you how to obtain it, but you have to really be serious. If you are joking around it won’t work. If you really want to know and if God is real and He proves it to you will you give him the rest of your life? Will you make Him your God? If you are serious, God says that when you seek him with all of your heart you will find him. You must be willing to give up everything. If you are willing He will answer you. The God I serve cannot lie. Willing to take me up on it? I will lead you every step of the way.

My comment: We are not saved by giving God our lives. We are saved by believing that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead.

 It is also clear that there are those who don’t like rules, don’t want to be judged, and want unconditional forgiveness. Jesus didn’t say there wouldn’t be any rules. Jesus said “if you love me, keep my commandments.” So I can understand why some would want to call me a hypocrite for pointing to the commandments. Because it causes people examine their own faults. But the bigger picture here is that Jesus paid the price for sin. He didn’t take away the rules, but He paid the ransom for breaking them if we abandon our lawlessness and follow Him. To all sinners, there is forgiveness, but it wad bought with a price, and we must repent of our sins, abandon them and walk in the light. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t serve two masters. We can’t live in sin and live for God. True Love is Jesus dying on the cross for you while you were yet an enemy of God and extending peace to you if you will surrender your life to Him and follow Him and deny yourself.

My comment: This is full of errors. We are not saved by surrendering our lives to Christ, nor are Christians under the law.

 doesn’t matter if the muslims love and follow Jesus.it doesn’t matter if ISIS loves and follows Jesus or angels.if either group is not saved and have not repented for their sins all of the above groups are lost in eternal hellfire.without accepting JESUS as LORD and savior NO ONE can be saved according to the bible which IS GODS word.it is simple really,do you believe Jesus is the son of GOD and do you believe he rose from the dead for the remittance of sins? just pray and ask Jesus to come into your heart and save you and forgive you of your sins and GOD promises in his word you WILL be saved.this is the ONLY way to heaven.see Romans 10:9,10,11,12

 My comment: We do not have to repent of sins to receive the free gift of eternal life. Jesus is Lord – we cannot make Him Lord.

______________________________________________________

The Bible says that we are saved by grace, through faith in Christ

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.

If you are a “defender of the faith”, but have never received eternal life by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, click here:  The Real Story