Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Revival Review (1 of 5)

What is the Gospel? How is this "good news" being presented today?

That was the subject of the first in a series of revival messages at the Little River Congregational Church, February 10-13, presented by Dr. J.B. Hixson, Executive Director of the Free Grace Alliance.

In a message entitled, "The Gospel: Kaleidoscope or Microscope?" Dr. Hixson outlined six mistaken gospel models that are propagated in our postmodern society:

The Purpose Gospel-- The hope of this gospel focuses exclusively on the present age, like better relationships, less stress, more meaningful purpose, etc. Good stuff, but there's no mention of the afterlife-- heaven or hell-- nor emphasis on personal accountability to God.

The Puzzling Gospel-- What people should believe in order to be a Christian is not really made clear or is presented in contradictory ways. A lot of people live in this muddy puddle. Are you a Christian? The best they can answer is, "I'm trying."

The Prosperity Gospel-- A popular message that promises material riches with "name it and claim it" formulas. Again, it focuses on this world alone and obligates God to things He doesn't promise.

The Pluralistic Gospel-- All religions are equally valid pathways to heaven. Jesus is the normal path to heaven, but not the necessary path.

The Performance Gospel-- Believing in Jesus requires you either clean up your life before you believe or you must demonstrate a certain number of good works after you believe. Either way, salvation is in part dependent upon what you do.

The Promise-Only Gospel-- This gospel invites people to believe in Jesus, but without explaining who Jesus is and what He did. Knowing who He is and what He did isn't essential.

Finally, Dr. Hixson explained the "good news" message that best summarizes all the biblical data:

The Pure Gospel-- This gospel proclaims these essential elements:
  • Jesus Christ-- This person is at the center of the Gospel message.
  • Jesus' Identity-- He is the Son of God. In other words, deity with a unique relationship to God.
  • Jesus' Work-- He died on the cross and rose again on the third day.
  • Jesus' Accomplishment-- His death and resurrection pays your personal sin penalty and makes available to you the righteousness of God.
  • Jesus' Offer-- He offers you the free gift of eternal life, which you may receive by putting your faith in Him.
The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 declares that the gospel that saves is the message about the death and resurrection of Jesus. More than 160 times, the Bible calls us to "believe" this good news. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone (Ephesians 2).

So why did this exposition start off our revival conference?

Simply this.

When you know and appreciate what God did for you in Christ, then you can really rejoice, give thanks, and be revived.


Antonio said...

JB said this:
"The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 declares that the gospel that saves is the message about the death and resurrection of Jesus. More than 160 times, the Bible calls us to "believe" this good news."

This is a falsehood. More than 160 times the Bible calls us to place our trust in Jesus of Nazareth.

There is not a single place that says that we must place our trust in some acts that Jesus did for eternal life. Not one.

Please ask JB this question.

Where is there one verse that says either:

1) One must place their trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus for the express purpose of receiving everlasting life, justification, or eternal salvation.

2) If one doesn't place their trust in the acts of Jesus that they go to hell.

The fact of the matter is that if JB said that there are 160 places that talk about believing the news about Christ's passion and resurrection, he is being disingenuous and lying.

There is not a single scripture that conditions everlasting life, eternal salvation, or justification on placing one's trust in Christ's death and resurrection.

The Bible says over 160 times that we are to place our trust in Jesus, who made the radical claim:

"Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (Jn 6:47).

If your blog entry is faithful to what JB has said, I would call him out on it.

Are we to say that saving faith has multiple objects of doctrine such as he stipulates?

Or are we to say that saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as Savior, as the one who guarantees and promises irrevocable eternal life to all who simply believe in Him for it?

Antonio da Rosa

Antonio said...

To clarify for you, I am one of those who JB has condemned as the "promise only" crowd, which is a total misrepresentation of the position I take.

Jesus Christ has the authority and ability to dispense everlasting life to any whom He pleases. In the counsel of God, it was decided to dispense eternal life to all who simply trust in Jesus for it.

Jesus makes a promise that all who believe in Him (= trust in Him) has everlasting life.

What JB has done is confused the basis of salvation (the death and resurrection) with the means by which one receives everlasting life (simple faith in Christ).

Why confuse the issue?

Is saving faith a conglomeration of a multitude of stipulations and steps such as JB posits?

Or is saving faith simply entrusting one's eternal destiny into the hands of Jesus?


Antonio said...

BTW, I work in the same town as Taylor Guitars are made:

Santee, California.

My brother has worked there and I have friends that do as well.

I wish I could afford one.


Living the Biblios said...


JB did not "say" the quote you cite. This is my summation of all the biblical data.

Technically, you are correct to observe that all 160+ verses do not call for explicit belief in Jesus' passion, but this observation misses the bigger contextual picture.

For example, John 20:31 says, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

Yes, this verse says nothing explicitly about Jesus' death. However, to claim that the meaning of "belief" in this verse is empty of Jesus' passion is to rip the verse out of context. "These things are written" summarizes John 1-20-- the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

What does 1 Corinthians 15 say? Here Paul declares one of the very first confessions of the early church (15:3), one that he happens to say, "by this gospel you are SAVED" (15:2). The content of that gospel is in 15:3--"Christ died for (greek word 'hyper' meaning 'substitute')our sins." The early church made this confession because it came from Jesus himself, who said at the Last Supper in Luke 22:19-20 he was giving his body and blood for ('hyper') you.

The bottom line, and this what JB said and I affirm, is that a gospel presentation that calls for trust in the NAME of Jesus needs to describe WHO Jesus is and WHAT he did.

The Gospel is not a name-only gospel. Otherwise, one can claim, "Yes, Christ died, but it wasn't necessary for salvation." Plenty of people espouse that view, but it's wrong.

Antonio said...

The opening post stated this:

"The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 declares that the gospel that saves is the message about the death and resurrection of Jesus. More than 160 times, the Bible calls us to "believe" this good news."

I have viewed the area on JB's website that posts the 160 verses in question. Not a single one of those verses comes even close to clearly stating that one must consciously consider the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as the contents and/or objects of saving faith. Not a single passage conjoins a command to believe in Jesus' death and resurrection as a condition for receiving everlasting life, eternal salvation, and/or forensic justification.

The simple fact of the matter is that not one single verse in the entire New Testament states that it is theologically necessary from the standpoint of God to assent to the death and resurrection as required before one receives everlasting life from God.

There is not one verse or passage, taken prima facie, that supports the doctrinal checklist position, not even 1 Cor 15. Yet literally dozens of texts that condition everlasting life on simply trusting in Jesus of Nazareth can be pointed to. One's view of the content of saving faith ought not to first stem from their theological methods and presuppositions. It should proceed from a careful and objective consideration of the texts. In light of the fact that there is not even one concrete passage requiring an assent to multiple doctrinal points as steps for receiving everlasting life, but rather dozens upon dozens conditioning it on simple reliance upon Jesus for it, the position requiring multiple steps and multiple contents to saving faith is thus falsified, if in fact, we take the Word of God as the final authority on the matter.

Appeals to tradition are not warranted. Soteriology down through the centuries should be no justifier of one's doctrine, seeing the departure from grace so early after the exit of the apostles from the scene.

I apologize for stating that JB Hixson was "lying". I really and and do now regret it. I retract that statement and sincerely apologize.

Yet, in view of the aforementioned discussion, for it to be stated that those aforementioned 160 passages require conscious assent to "orthodox" doctrinal points, theologically required for eternal life from the standpoint of God, when in fact, not a single passage does so, is to be less than forthcoming and genuine with the evidence. To me, and I believe any objective and impartial observer, the claim that there are 160 passages that require one to consciously believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus as a theologically necessary condition from the standpoint of God (in other words, it is God requiring this assent before He will allow regeneration to occur) is completely false, erroneous, and misleading; it requires sophisticated arguments, and is taking great liberties with the word of God.

To end, the way the Pastor summarized JB's position on my position was this way:

"The Promise-Only Gospel-- This gospel invites people to believe in Jesus, but without explaining who Jesus is and what He did. Knowing who He is and what He did isn't essential."

This is a complete misrepresentation and falsehood concerning the position he supposedly is speaking against. It is a straw man. Now if one really want to fairly and accurately represent this position, one should run by those who actually espouse this position their comments about them.

No one will believe in Jesus without understanding something about who He is. No one I know who takes my position will invite someone to believe in Christ "without explaining who Jesus is and what He did." This is a complete false representation. Knowing who Jesus is IS essential. One must understand that Jesus is authorized, having the power given to Him by God, to dispense everlasting life to all who simply entrust their eternal destinies into His hands. Jesus is the "Christ of God" who has the power and authority to guarantee one's eternal well-being through faith in Him.

In this debate, it gets tiring and frustrating that these mis-statements concerning the position I hold are tenaciously propogated to churches such as the one here. It is a poisioning of the well, rather than giving a fair testimony of the opposing side and allowing one to come to his own conclusion on the matter. If the position of JB is as strong as thought, there will be no need to perpetuate these kind of falsehoods concerning what has been dubbed "the Promise-only" post-modern gospel.

Someone in such a position, and scholarly background, ought to be a bit more cautious in making statements concerning a free grace position that shares a rich theological heritage with one's own, and a position that is taken by some of the members and board of the FGA (I am a member there).

Again. I sincerely apologize for my statement concerning JB Hixson. I have met him and throroughly enjoyed my time with him. Yet I must stay true to my convictions and I will persevere in contending for them and will continue to endeavor to see that those who object to them will at the very least represent them fairly.

Antonio da Rosa

Living the Biblios said...


I've made my case with 1 Corinthians 15. For you to simply deny it doesn't cut it. Interact with the evidence.

You state, "One must understand that Jesus is authorized, having the power given to Him by God, to dispense everlasting life to all who simply entrust their eternal destinies into His hands."

Paul say explicitly this is the message passed on to him: the gospel content that saves is Christ dying for sin. That is the creed of the early church, who also affirmed that this death unto salvation is according to the OT Scriptures.

Glad to know that you believe people should know something about Jesus other than his name. In your witnessing, do you include the fact that Christ died for sin and rose again, or is that not essential for people to hear?

Lou Martuneac said...

Greetings Ted:

Sorry I am late to the discussion, but...

I want to dispel the misnomer being spread by some Grace Evangelical Society (GES) members, especially Antonio da Rosa. The misnomer, and it is a major misnomer, is that GES is the voice of the Free Grace movement in general.

The GES has in fact become a shrinking cell of extremists that have fallen into the trap of Zane Hodges’ “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel. This “contrary doctrine” of Hodges and Bob Wilkins’s “Crossless/Deityless” interpretation of the Gospel has been the cause of “division and offences” in the FG camp and churches. (Rom. 16:17-18).

The teachings of Hodges is what has come to be known and accurately defined as the Crossless Gospel,” “ReDefined Free Grace Theology” and the “Promise Only Gospel.” It is largely because of GES’s heretical views of the Gospel; many men in the Free Grace community have separated from GES and do not want their name or ministry to be identified with the GES.

Once the Free Grace Alliance (FGA) was formed it became the new home of many men who departed GES over the egregious errors coming from Hodges and Wilkin.

Exposure of the egregious errors of Hodges, Wilkin, Neimela, Myers, and lesser knowns like Antonio da Rosa has put GES in cardiac arrest. It is my hope and prayer the GES is soon to become totally isolated and outside any relevant discussion of the Gospel. May I share this article with your guests, Is “ReDefined” Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

The article will help them understand that Hodges, Wilkin and especially Antonio da Rosa do not speak for and do NOT represent the general population of men who identify themselves as members of the so-called Free Grace community.

The Free Grace community has been fractured, and it is a good fracture in that large numbers of FG men have withdrawn from GES over the Hodges/Wilkin “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel.

Lord willing not one more unsuspecting believer will fall into the trap of the Crossless gospel.


Lou Martuneac said...


Beginning tomorrow, (Sunday, June 8) a new article will be introduced at my blog.

The article is written by Dr. J. B. Hixson. Sunday's announcement will include an excerpt. The full article will appear on Tuesday morning.

Just an FYI in case this is of interest to you.