You CAN Handle the Truth

By johninnc

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.

In the 1992 legal drama “A Few Good Men,” a self-important marine officer was caught in a lie during a trial. When asked for the truth, his response, dripping with contempt and condescension began with: “You can’t handle the truth.”

We have heard this kind of equivocation so many times that many of us have become numb to it. We hear it, in various forms, on the lips of politicians, military officers, public health officials, and rank and file members of society.

The truth is never going to win a popularity contest in our world, and so many people take solace in the crowded world of lies. Satan, whom the Bible describes as “the father of lies,” is hard at work, trying to keep people from understanding or believing ANY truth, including the most important truth of all: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:4: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Within the world of professing christendom, there are three general types of lies that undermine the gospel message, as follows:

  1. That eternal life may be received through a combination of faith in Christ plus our own works.
  2. That eternal life really isn’t eternal life, and must be maintained by our good works or faithfulness.
  3. That our assurance of eternal life can be based on examining ourselves for evidence of eternal life, in terms of sinning less, doing more good works, changes in attitudes, etc.

We cannot know the motives for why people teach, or tolerate these lies. We know that Satan’s motive is to deceive people, and that he is behind all of these lies.

Jesus warned against following the crowd in believing lies versus believing the truth about how to have eternal life:

Matthew 7:12: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

He defined Himself as both the straight gate and the narrow way that leads to life:

John 10:9: I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

John 14:6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

One sure way to evaluate purported biblical teaching for error is to consider whether it meets the following three tenets, consistently taught throughout the Bible:

1. Is it consistent with eternal life by Grace alone through Faith alone in Christ alone?

2. Is it consistent with eternal security?

3. Is it consistent with assurance of eternal life, based on God’s promises alone (i.e., it is not internally-focused on changes in attitudes, behavior, etc.)?

If a scriptural interpretation clears all three tests, it might be true. Otherwise, it can be categorically dismissed as false.

Jesus summed up the truth about eternal life, the permanence of eternal life, and the proper basis for assurance of eternal life in the following verse:

John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

If we could not handle the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we would not be accountable for it. But we can handle this truth, and our eternal destinies each rest on whether we believe it, or not.

You CAN handle the truth.

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

Easy Believism

By johninnc

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.

I have a Christian friend who was relating a conversation he had with someone who said “I don’t believe in Lordship Salvation, but I don’t believe in Easy Believism either.” My friend’s excellent response was “well, pick one!”

I define Lordship Salvation (LS) as follows: LS is the unsupportable and unbiblical belief that the performance of good works, the promise of good works, or the evidence of good works MUST accompany faith in Christ in order to establish, or provide evidence, that such faith has resulted in eternal life.

LS can be overt (one must forsake all of his sins and follow Christ in obedience and discipleship in order to receive eternal life) or VERY SUBTLE (one’s behavior will change once he has received eternal life, one must desire to get better in order to receive eternal life, one must want to have a relationship with Jesus in order to receive eternal life, or one must go beyond mere intellectual assent (head faith vs. heart faith) in order to receive eternal life.

Following are some quotes containing LS concepts from influential pastors/evangelists:

Greg Laurie: Jesus essentially said the only way your sins are forgiven and to know you will spend eternity in Heaven is by putting your complete trust in Him. And there will be tangible results to show you have done that...

You must admit you are a sinner, repent of that sin, and put your faith in Christ.  

(Laurie’s definition of “repent of that sin”: To repent means to “change” or to “turn.”  It’s like driving down the highway, pulling a U-turn and heading the other direction. More than simply being sorry, it is a word of action. Many people feel remorse for their sin but never truly repent. Remorse is being sorry, repentance is being sorry enough to stop.)

My comment: The Bible says that a person receives eternal life when they believe in Jesus as Savior (see John 3:16, above). The Bible also says that a person can be assured of having received eternal life upon believing in Jesus as Savior.

John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Notice in John 3:16 and 5:24 there is no mention of stopping sinning being a requirement for eternal life, nor is there any mention of any tangible results to show that you have received eternal life. Jesus spoke the words in John 3:16 and John 5:24. Greg Laurie gave the above quotes that contradict Jesus’ words.

The late A.W. Pink: There is a faith in Christ which is saving, and there is a faith in  Christ which is not saving. Possibly, the reader says, “But I know that mine is the former: I have seen myself as a lost sinner, realize I can do nothing to gain acceptance with God, and have put my trust in the finished work of His Son.”…

Dear friends, others who were equally sure as you are  now in Hell! Suffer us to enquire, Have you tested your faith by Scripture? Have you taken the trouble to ascertain whether your faith is accompanied by those evidences which are inseparable from a saving faith?

My comment: A.W. Pink contradicted Jesus’ words from John 3:16 and 5:24. Jesus gives no requirements for self-introspection for evidence of eternal life.

The late Billy Graham: As I approached my 95th birthday, I was burdened to write a book that addressed the epidemic of “easy believism.” There is a mindset today that if people believe in God and do good works they are going to Heaven. But there are many questions that must be answered. There are two basic needs that all people have: the need for hope and the need for salvation. It should not be surprising if people believe easily in a God who makes no demands, but this is not the God of the Bible. Satan has cleverly misled people by whispering that they can believe in Jesus Christ without being changed, but this is the Devil’s lie. To those who say you can have Christ without giving anything up, Satan is deceiving you.

My comment: The Bible never says that believing in God and doing good works are how one receives eternal life. The Bible says that a person receives eternal life when he believes in Jesus as Savior. It makes no mention of “giving anything up.” If we had to give something up in order to receive eternal life, then eternal life would not be a gift. It would be a trade. Billy Graham contradicted Jesus’ words.

Not surprisingly, advocates of LS denigrate faithful preaching of the gospel using terms such as “easy believism,” “cheap grace,” “greasy grace,” “sloppy agape,” and the like. Such denigration is in keeping with their contradiction of the truth. To add further weight to their attacks on the gospel, LSers often falsely conflate the faithful teaching that a person receives eternal life by believing in Jesus as Savior with teaching that a person can receive eternal life in other ways, such as “raising a hand,” “walking an aisle,” or “saying a prayer.”

I personally have no objection to the term easy believism, because simply believing the gospel always results in eternal life that can never be lost or forfeited. Always. Belief in the truth of the gospel message means that a person understands and believes that Jesus is not only necessary for eternal life, but that He is enough. If you want to call that easy believism, then I am guilty as charged!

As my friend would say, “pick one!”

If you would like to know more about the gospel click here: THE GOSPEL

Lordship Salvation: No John 5:24

By johninnc

John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

The Bible is explicitly clear that eternal life is received by grace through faith in Christ, that a person receives eternal life that can never be lost or forfeited from the first moment of belief, and that assurance of eternal life rests solely on God’s promise to the believer.

Alternatively, Lordship “salvation” (LS) encompasses myriad false teachings that emphasize the PERFORMANCE of good works, the PROMISE of good works, or the EVIDENCE of good works as essential accompaniments of (or even components of) faith in Christ. LS points to works as necessary to receiving, or at least providing evidence, that faith in Christ has indeed resulted in eternal life.

LS is a pernicious evil that both serves to keep people from coming to faith in Christ and to rob believers of the joy and assurance of eternal life. LS is also pervasive, and has become imbedded throughout professing Christendom.

The most subtle forms attack the objective promise of God as the only reliable basis for assurance, in favor of references to subjective forms of assurance. Some real life examples are:

1. The genuinely saved person hungers and thirsts for righteousness, even when he is struggling with temptation or even if he stumbles into sin. In fact, this writer is not overly concerned with the destiny of those who struggle nearly as much as he is about those who do not care enough to struggle. Indifference is more of a red flag than weakness.

My comment: One should not look for “red flags” such as indifference to sin for evidence of eternal life, nor lack thereof. If one starts to stratify the motives for sin into “struggling with sin”, “stumbling into sin”, and “indifference to sin” in order to look for “red flags”, they are no longer fruit inspecting but inspecting the motives for fruit or lack of fruit. This is a red herring that is more consistent with LS than it is with grace.

2. The hallmark of a true Christian is the decreasing presence of sin in his life.

My comment: If that statement were unequivocally true, then the basis for assurance of eternal life would be the decreasing presence of sin in one’s life.

The Bible says that we can have assurance of eternal life based on God’s promise alone, without reference to the extent, if any, to which our lives begins manifesting positive change.

3. There is no works required – and yet THERE IS a fundamental, paradigm shift. We are no longer putting “Self” in front of “God”. Not talking about actions.. but …”INTENTIONS”.
When we are born again our intent is to follow
Him deliberately at the expense of self ambition.

My comment: A “paradigm shift” in which one intends to follow Jesus at the expense of self-ambition is not a requirement for receiving the free gift of eternal life. Nor is an evaluation of our intentions for evidence of such a “paradigm shift” any kind of a basis for assurance, nor lack of assurance of salvation.

4. When we pursue Jesus as Lord and trust our lives to Him and determine that we are going to follow Him regardless, we find in Him all the assurance for our salvation that we need. And that will then put our minds and hearts at rest and led us into the arena of peace we so need. You need the assurance of your salvation, and that is exactly what Jesus means when he says. “I am the Bread of life.” He gives you the full assurance of your salvation when you trust your life to Him and follow Him faithfully for the rest of your life. Jesus is the Bread of life.

My comment: the author mixes truth with error in the above excerpt, and in so doing manages to mix God’s grace with man’s works for providing the assurance of eternal life. Man’s efforts are imperfect, can be inconsistent, and fleeting. Even if one has followed Jesus faithfully (based on his own quantification standards), how can he be sure that he will continue to do so for his entire life?

This false teaching would naturally lead to unhealthy introspection for a believer,  and could also reinforce a non-believer’s natural inclination toward thinking that works were necessary to receive eternal life.

How can teaching something different than what God’s word teaches on something as important as the basis for assurance of eternal life constitute following Him faithfully? Quite a conundrum, isn’t it?

So, you see from the above examples subtle undermining of the only reliable source of assurance. I would encourage anyone who reads this article to compare any statements about how to have assurance of eternal life to John 5:24. Substitute the claimant’s words or phrases for the basis of the promise Jesus makes in John 5:24 and see if they line up. If they don’t, you can dismiss them out of hand!

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