Archive for the ‘Salvation’ category

The Importance of a Name in Hebrew Thought

November 1, 2014

A few weeks ago I finished reading “Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith”. There was one section a mere two paragraphs long in that book I have been thinking about ever since and think is worth sharing with anyone who is interested.

Before I provide the quote a little back story is in order. Once upon a time I became embroiled in what I like to call the “free grace wars”. It was an internecine battle between Christians with five point Calvinists at one extreme and the followers of Zane Hodges on the other. The experience was unpleasant but in the end it caused me to grow in understanding of the scriptures which is always profitable. The five point Calvinists tended to graft repentance of sin into the Gospel message. Of course repenting of your sins is a work but since, according to them, God does all of the work including giving us faith that is no big deal. For those who believe that each person can freely choose to accept the gift of salvation this adding of works to the Gospel message was anathema.

Of course it is possible to react too far against the five pointer works gospel which is what I believe that Zane Hodges did. I was always taught, and I believe rightly so, is that one must believe on the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Hodges and his followers went so far as to deny the need to believe in the work of Christ on the cross for our salvation. These same people also advocated that believing in “Jesus” didn’t really involve knowing who He is.

There is one time in particular that I was debating (arguing) with one of these persons when they said that all a person has to do is believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and they will be saved. I agreed because I knew scriptures such as the following:

23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. (1 John 3:23)


16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16-19)

I also pointed out that the word “name” has more meaning than a string of letters spelling out someone’s name to which he replied “no it doesn’t!” How does one argue with that?

With that in mind here is the quote from Marvin R. Wilson’s book:

Another perspective on the nature of salvation concerns the name of Jesus. In Hebrew thought, the name of an individual was considered to be more than a title or label for identification. Rather a name was believed to reveal the essence, character, reputation or destiny of the one to whom it was given. This is why the moral Law of Moses forbids defamation of another’s name by false witness (Exodus 20:16). Indeed, “a good name [i.e. reputation] is more desirable than great riches” (Prov. 22:1). Thus the name of every Hebrew sent out some sort of message with it. This was particularly so in the case of Jesus, as we shall now demonstrate.

The fact that Jesus was a Jew by birth is crucial for understanding the nature and person of Jesus as presented in the Gospels. Jesus was given the Hebrew name Yeshu’a. (“Jesus” is the Latin form of Iēsoús, the Greek transliteration of Yeshu’a). The name Yeshu’a, derived from the Hebrew verb yasha (discussed above), revealed the destiny he was to fulfill in his life and ministry on earth. The angel of the Lord said, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith
pp. 180-181


Talking to Mormon’s (LDS) and Jehovah’s Witnesses

April 27, 2012

This has been a busy week for me and I haven’t been able to put much time into blog writing. I do have something to share that I think is very interesting though the post will be short. Sometimes good things come in small packages.

One of the reasons I started this blog was so I could organize and collect all of the cool information I have found on the internet. In that spirit I present you all with the following resource:

Behold, I Stand at the Door and Knock
What to say to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses when they knock on your door
by Michael Licona

The book is fifty-two pages long and spends about an equal amount of space discussing issues related to each group. I think this would be a good resource for personal Bible study since the topics touch on many fundamental Christian doctrines.

This is a subject that hits home with me. I grew up in Colorado where there is a larger population of Mormons (aka the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) than there are in most states. Just like Mr. Licona says they are generally friendly and trustworthy people (they follow the Ten Commandments better than most Christians I know). I cannot remember giving any of them the gospel which I should have done. It wouldn’t have been difficult to do since they are taught to take any opportunity to proselytize.

In the introduction Mr. Licona writes:

If you want to be ready the next time they come, this book is for you. Its purpose is to provide the knowledge you need to see why these groups do not represent God’s truth and to share this information effectively with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses the next time they knock on your door!

In the book Mr. Licona doesn’t explicitly mention giving the gospel to them but then I don’t think he really has to. If any of you follow his guidance you will have multiple opportunities to provide the gospel. Of course it is a lot easier to do that when you are properly prepared.

The Presuppositions of the “Deserted Island Scenario”

April 20, 2012

I have posted multiple times regarding the “free grace wars” that I stepped into the middle of a few years ago. The Free Grace movement began as a reaction to the Lordship Salvation movement and the two sides have been battling under those labels since the 1970s. I have blogged about aspects of my experience with this and I will probably continue to do so in the future. This is a critical topic to me and I think about it a lot. I would certainly count myself as believing in “free grace” and it saddens me to see so many believers who should be making common cause with each other actually separating from each other. This is very sad indeed.

One of the prominent voices in the Free Grace movement is the late Zane Hodges who founded the Grace Evangelical Society (GES). Dr. Hodges published a two part article in 2000-2001 titled “How to Lead a Person to Christ” (link for Part I, link for Part II) which is still used by many members of the GES as the blueprint for providing the way of salvation to the unbeliever. What I am going to concern myself with in this post is the “Deserted Island Scenario” which Dr Hodges gets into at the very beginning of Part I of his seminal article.

When I first encountered the Deserted Island Scenario I incorrectly understood it to be a “thought experiment” which Dr. Hodges used to extrapolate and apply his version of “free grace” theology in real life situations. That is actually incorrect. I now realize the Deserted Island Scenario is nothing more than a concise summary of all the conclusions Dr. Hodges had come to in his years of study. He had developed the application of his theology long before he came up with the scenario. (more…)

What About Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?

March 16, 2012

I am going to take a one week break from my posts on Molinism and do what is basically a summary of some teaching I heard last week. Lately I have been listening to Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s study of the Minor Prophets during my commute to and from work. There is really some very good doctrine to be found in those books! In one of Dr. Fruchtenbaum’s lessons he discussed Hosea 4:6 which I found to be fascinating.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Hosea 4:6 – KJV

Dr. Fruchtenbaum went out of his way in this passage to emphasize that Israel was being disciplined for a willful lack of knowledge of God. They had the opportunity to learn of God but they rejected the light they had so God didn’t give them any more. Israel is no exception when it comes to this kind of ignorance: those who live in the dark do so because they want to. Anyone who has never heard the gospel is ignorant because they don’t want to hear it not because God wants them to spend eternity in the lake of fire. (more…)

Defining Antichrist and Some Application

February 3, 2012

I have been listening to Robert Dean’s study of 2nd John (link here for the audio downloads) and something really caught my attention that most people wouldn’t really think about. When teaching on verse 7 Pastor Dean taught that an antichrist is not someone who is against Christ. Rather, it is someone who is substituting themselves for Christ. Maybe that sounds like a small difference but it isn’t. After I provide the etymology for the term antichrist I will discuss why I find the alternative definition important.


The English word antichrist (Strong’s G500) is a compound noun composed the words christos (Strong’s G5547) and anti (Strong’s 473). Of course the word christos is translated Christ in English and there really isn’t any controversy over that word. However, the word anti means two different things depending on whether it comes from the Greek or the Latin. Here is Strong’s definition of anti:

1) over against, opposite to, before
2) for, instead of, in place of (something)
**a) instead of
**b) for
**c) for that, because
**d) wherefore, for this cause

So, if Pastor Dean is right, definition 1) above really comes from the Latin and we shouldn’t be using that definition. The definition of anti that we should be using is 2) which, in turn, makes the definition of the word antichrist to be “a substitute Christ.” (more…)

1 Corinthians 15:1-8

August 19, 2011

Every once in a while I bring up the fact that about five years ago (that would be in 2006 A.D.) I stumbled onto some Christian blogs that were arguing over the Gospel message. These arguments weren’t between Roman Catholics and Protestants who have very different views on what is required to be saved from eternity in the Lake of Fire. No, these arguments were between believers who held basically the same view that eternal salvation comes through faith alone in Christ alone. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well it is most definitely not simple.

During the next year I involved myself in some of those debates over “Free Grace” and witnessed some very un-Christ like behavior between fellow members of the body of Christ. I know that I also crossed the line at times and wrote some things that I shouldn’t have. It was definitely an opportunity to grow spiritually and to learn to have the discipline to bite my tongue or, rather, to stop typing.

What does this have to do with 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 you ask? Well this was one of the main battleground passages in that argument. Does this passage say that a person must believe that “Christ died, was buried, and then rose again” in order to be saved? If it does then doesn’t it contradict other Gospel passages? The opportunities for strife were almost endless. (more…)

The Way of Salvation

October 16, 2009

All of us came into this world with a terrible problem, we are born physically alive but spiritually dead.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
Romans 3:23

This means that we cannot have any relationship with God, it is not in our power to heal the rift that our sin has caused. However, it is in God’s power to provide a solution to our problem which He, in His grace, has provided.

16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Jesus Christ paid the penalty of sin. He became our substitute.

21He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21

All you have to do is accept the gift that the Son provided for us all on the cross when He paid the penalty for our sins.

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

It is as simple as believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

28“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:20-28

Would you like to know more? If so I encourage you to click on this link to the booklet “A Matter of Life & Death.”  You are also free to leave me a comment and I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.


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