John Piper on What One Must Believe to Be Saved

Have a look at this video of John Piper telling what he believes one must believe to be saved. To read a transcript click here.

He includes the following:

  • Believe and confess his Lordship and his resurrection
  • Recognition that we sin
  • That God exists and that he created a world where sin is a possibility
  • That God has expectations for mankind – to trust, love and live for him
  • That we fail in those three things
  • God is holy and we are not
  • God is judge
  • Deity of Jesus
  • Jesus lived a perfect life
  • Substitutionary atonement, basically – he died in my place
  • Jesus’ resurrection
  • We receive salvation from Jesus Christ’s work on our behalf

A few things I would like to point out. The first is where is baptism? When the Ethiopian asked what he needed to do to be saved Philip didn’t give this list of core beliefs he must first understand. Undoubtedly he understood many of these things. All of these things? We don’t know. But he knew enough to realize he needed God and that what he needed to do in response was to be baptized. That is biblical but it didn’t make the list. Before you say this is a list of beliefs so no wonder something we do isn’t on there. He did mention the need for faith and for confession. To be fair to Piper, I don’t know what his view is on baptism but I suspect if he had much of a view of it being a part of what God expects of us he would have included it here.

Second, notice at the end he says God causes people to believe by the work of the Holy Spirit. I would say God certainly plays a role in our faith by revealing himself to us through the Word and in some way the Spirit plays a role in our faith. But to say God causes our faith is missing out on our responsibility to believe and have faith…two things he pointed out in his answer to the original question.

Last, his list is very logical and if you really examine the core truths of the Gospel you understand why he logically pulled these points together. At the same time he is leaving out some very plain biblical teaching that doesn’t take any logic to expand upon or to be elaborated upon. Baptism really is important not just because I attend a Church of Christ and have heard that my whole life but because God clearly teaches us that in scripture. So my list would include,

“Part of God’s expected response would include repentance (not included above), belief/faith, confession, and to submit to his will by being baptized for the forgiveness of my sins.”

Wouldn’t it just make sense those things would come ahead of understanding the nature of substitutionary atonement?

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

48 Responses to John Piper on What One Must Believe to Be Saved

  1. ozziepete says:

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for sharing that. I know a lot of us read Piper’s stuff and it’s generally good. It’s always challenging to confront these fundamental differences when so much else of what they say is beneficial.

    I don’t mind toeing the Bible/CoC line and saying I believe baptism should be present on the list. However, I’m not sure how you meant that last comment. Isn’t an understanding of substitutionary atonement the motivation for our baptism into Christ and into his death (Rom 6:3-5)? (Even if we don’t understand those exact words.) Otherwise we just act out of obedience or following an example and the power is in the act of baptism. I would argue strongly that the power is in Christ’s sacrifice and any other motivation is problematic, so yeah, it’s pretty important.

    I don’t really think you and I disagree on this, it’s just that the last sentence confused me a tad.

    Keep up the good work!!

    • mattdabbs says:

      Let me explain what I meant by that. Couldn’t one be just as saved if they believed Jesus came to conquer sin and death and not understand the substitutionary nature of his death? I wouldn’t be as hardline on substitutionary atonement as I would be on baptism. Again, no one in scripture when asked what they must do to be saved were preached a “must believe in substitutionary atonement sermon” but all were told to be baptized. That is why I would put it ahead of it. It is a very important concept and one we should help people understand. The other part of it Piper alluded to…which nuanced teaching of it is the one that is essential to believe? I would agree with Piper as I am sure you would, the most basic version is best. And he outlined it briefly in his comments.

      • ozziepete says:

        I’m actually uncomfortable setting a list of “must believes”, (Really, you’ll miss out on eternity with God if you don’t believe that he’s judge??) particularly if we mean prior to baptism in order for the baptism to be valid. I don’t want to get into that as I consider it really a pretty short list and not one identified in Scripture. I don’t really know a fireproof way for determining what has to be known before baptism and what can be learned afterward.

        On the other hand, if you believe the opposite to these things it’s hard to see how you would be saved, or that you’d want to be saved. It’s more ambiguous when someone simply hasn’t considered the particular issue.

        To directly answer your comment… I guess it depends how one presents the Gospel. If I start with Rom 3:23; 6:23 discussing sin and the consequences of sin, then it seems natural to me to share that Christ died in our place, taking on our punishment. (substitutionary atonement) Off the top of my head, that seems to be the primary answer to the question “Why’d Jesus have to die?” That’s a significant question for me as I consider the Gospel basics, but it may not occur to everyone.

        But if you talk about sin as separating us from God and Christ dying to restore that relationship, allowing us to be adopted by God… then maybe the whole SA conversation takes place post-baptism. I can see that.

  2. Royce Ogle says:

    I tend to agree with you. In my view this list is perhaps a bit too detailed. Of course you know that baptism is not mentioned in many places in Paul’s teaching about salvation so Piper is not the first to not mention it.

    I’ll only make two more observations. We (coc) will call someone “brother” who flat out denies the deity of Jesus but if he has been baptized and faithfully attends a church of Christ we accept him. No, not everyone in every congregation does, but too many do. Secondly, you might be surprised at what Piper does teach about baptism if you listen to or read some of his teaching on the subject.

    I appreciate your life and ministry.

    Royce

    • mattdabbs says:

      Thanks Royce,

      I will do more digging on his views on baptism. Not because I am on a witch hunt because those never end well but because he is a real thinker and you are really making me curious. I will be fair to his view here and post what I can here on the blog that is worth pointing out. Thanks.

  3. Royce Ogle says:

    In answer to the question “What is baptism?” Piper gives this answer.

    “What is Baptism?

    Now this is fundamentally important in our understanding of what baptism is in the New Testament. James Dunn is right I think when he says that “1 Peter 3:21 is the nearest approach to a definition of baptism that the New Testament affords” (Baptism in the Holy Spirit, p. 219). What is baptism? Baptism is a symbolic expression of the heart’s “appeal to God.” Baptism is a calling on God. It is a way of saying to God with our whole body, “I trust you to take me into Christ like Noah was taken into the ark, and to make Jesus the substitute for my sins and to bring me through these waters of death and judgment into new and everlasting life through the resurrection of Jesus my Lord.”

    This is what God is calling you to do. You do not save yourself. God saves you through the work of Christ. But you receive that salvation through calling on the name of the Lord, by trusting him. And it is God’s will all over the world and in every culture – no matter how simple or how sophisticated – that this appeal to God be expressed in baptism. “Lord, I am entering the ark of Christ! Save me as I pass through the waters of death!” Amen.

    I certainly can’t argue with his understanding of it.

    Royce

    • mattdabbs says:

      I wonder if in his thinking that just naturally fell into his definition of S.A. so that he didn’t even mention it. Given his definition it puzzles me even more why he didn’t mention it in this video. That is really good stuff.

  4. WesWoodell says:

    Don’t know about Mr. Piper, but I know Mark Driscoll (who views Piper as a mentor) teaches that if you believe you need to be baptized to be saved then you believe in works-based salvation and if your church teaches that then you’re part of a cult.

    I’d be curious to know if John Piper believes the same.

    -Wes Woodell, a happy cult member.

  5. Jr says:

    John Piper, by not mentioning baptism, sounds a bit like Alexander Campbell. No way, you say?

    Way.

    Here is Alexander Campbell in the “Millennial Harbinger” in 1837 (in response to the Lunenberg Letter):

    “I cannot, therefore, make any one duty the standard of Christian state or character, not even immersion into the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
    -and again-
    “There is no occasion, then, for making immersion, on a profession of faith, absolutely essential to a Christian – though it may be greatly essential to his sanctification and comfort.”

    So, not even AC thought baptism was essential for belief. This isn’t new in our heritage.

    I do not believe that complete knowledge of the meaning of baptism is essential for baptism to hold. In other words, I do not believe a lack of knowledge of the meaning negates the purpose of it. I did not fully understand substitutionary atonement (I would add “penal”) in it’s wonderful and loving truth when I was baptized, yet I proclaim it loud and clear and do believe it as a primary understanding of the Cross. And I think relying on baptism for salvation is relying on the wrong thing: namely, Christ.

    I also think Royce is on to something. The Churches of Christ is such a theological vacuum that a vocal heretic could claim baptism and we would call them “brother.” But it is not baptism that saves, it is Christ that saves. Which leads to this point…

    I think it would be good for us to further explore the singular work of Spirit in salvation. Our heritage is so tied to rationalism, the Baconian method, the bogus “steps to salvation,” that man’s efforts have gained far too much prominence; even so far as kicking God out the door (thus, our churches are filled with Pelagians and semi-Pelagians). We must recover what grace is in salvation. Grace is grace. Grace is not grace+plus. Much more to say, but I think this is cause for further reflection amongst our brethren.

    Lastly, one may disagree with things, but it cannot be denied that Christ oozes out of Piper’s pores. It’s contagious and it’s good for us.

    Grace to you –
    Jr

  6. Jr says:

    Let me edit an incomplete sentence above:
    I wrote “And I think relying on baptism for salvation is relying on the wrong thing: namely, Christ.” and that should read “And I think relying on baptism for salvation is relying on the wrong thing; when what we should rely on is One Person, namely, Christ.”

    Thanks.

  7. ozziepete says:

    I think we often underestimate how important baptism is to other denominations. They just can’t bring themselves to say it’s FOR salvation because they label it a work and that then proves to be a major barrier to making that statement.

    Adrian Rogers, 32 years as senior pastor at Bellvue Baptist in Memphis, wrote a book called “What Every Christian Ought to Know”. In his chapter on baptism he makes the following statements:

    – “Baptism is not incidental; it is fundamental.” (p112)
    – “When I got baptized… baptism pictured the burial of the old Adrian.” (p122) Yes, he still teaches that baptism is a representation, or picture, of the divine transaction that has already taken place.
    – “Baptism not only pictures my death with Him, my resurrection life with Him, but it pictures my ultimate glorification with Him. (Rom 6:5)” (p123-4)
    3 Motives:
    – “You are identified with the Lord Jesus when you are baptized. In the Bible… the confession of faith was baptism.” (p125)
    – Baptism “is preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ without saying a word. It’s a silent but graphic sermon.” (p127) He then criticizes women who don’t want to get baptised because it will mess up their $25 hairdo, reminding them that Jesus died on the cross.
    – “Jesus did not request you to be baptized, He commanded you to be baptized. (John 14:15)” (p127)

    Maybe I should do my own post on this… sorry it’s so long. But we need to realise that other groups consider baptism to be essential for spiritual growth, but because of their theological perspective they just can’t say baptism and salvation in the same sentence. Rogers even argues that you might not understand the Bible or have power in our lives, or have unanswered prayers because we haven’t been obedient to baptism. (p128)

    Despite all the strong affirmations Rogers make regarding the importance of salvation, he also intersperses many disclaimers that “baptism is not necessary to salvation” and that it should only be performed “after one’s been saved”.

    I really think the core question is “what does one have to believe (about baptism, about Christ, about…) for the baptism to be valid?” I have a problem with churches that I see giving unbaptised believers an unbiblical assurance of salvation, but I’m not sure what grounds we have for distancing baptised believers with a different understanding of baptism. (Yes, I know the argument involves a Greek grammar word study of Acts 2:38!!)

    Okay I’ve probably said too much, so I’ll stop.

    • What’s the difference between being baptized into Christ and someone just getting dunked in a swimming pool? The purpose for the immersion.

      Anyone that claims they were baptized for this or that reason, but emphatically claims that it was definitely NOT to receive salvation, I have serious doubts.

    • There is certainly a groundswell of respect for Baptism as a spiritual practice among faith traditions that had previously given it less attention. Most of us in churches of Christ are unaware of how that conversation is developing, and carry assumptions that keep us from offering some insights that are, i think, very helpful.

      The critical point is, in my mind, that when we take an extremely hardline approach here, it often invalidates entire decades of what many people consider part of their christian experience! That experience is a powerfully difficult things to fight against, and we need to be slow to discount it.

      • mattdabbs says:

        I agree very much with what you said in that first paragraph. In the second paragraph are you talking about people who were never baptized but very much considered themselves Christians? Experience is important and I would never say God is incapable of saving someone who wasn’t baptized. That is just not my place to call the shots. On one hand, our experiences are not the ultimate standard. On the other hand I have met some people who were very zealous for God who didn’t believe baptism was essential or played any role in God’s saving acts on our behalf. So I am not here to shoot anyone down. But the question is not what do our experiences tell us but what is the biblical teaching on this. Some people have fought so hard against legalism and works-based righteousness that they have been turned off from baptism. But that still doesn’t make their approach any more biblical than works-based righteousness that they were rejecting was.

  8. Jr says:

    ozziepete:
    What you describe in the latter part of your comment is exactly the dispute that took place during the time of the Lunenberg Letter (Campbell vs. the Thomists). In the late 1830s John Thomas advocated that immersion was not true immersion unless one believed and understood the following things: the full remission of sins and its effects, the future hope, the premillennial reign of Christ, and the Jews returning to Israel. Campbell, on the other hand, declined that one needed to have a full knowledge of things in order for immersion to count. He claimed an immersion was valid if it was through faith in Christ. And he also said the things that I quoted in my previous comment above (that immersion was not necessary to claim one as a brother).

    It’s an interesting discussion; and not a new one!

    Grace to you –
    Jr

  9. Bryan Fraser says:

    I would argue that one only needs to believe the first bullet: “Believe and confess his Lordship and his resurrection.” I am concerned that, in Piper’s view of essential beliefs, he incorporates confession of sin into salvation. This confuses salvation with discipleship. The invitation of the gospel is to believe in Jesus, not to confess one’s sins. My book, Winning a Generation Without the Law, addresses this “addition” to the gospel common in contemporary Christian culture. It is available for review at http://bfraser53.wordpress.com/.
    Cheers,

    Bryan Fraser

    • Matt Dabbs says:

      But even the demons believe in God (James 2:19)…the difference is they aren’t confessing Jesus as LORD. Belief is essential and so is confession – Rom 10:9-10

  10. Bryan Fraser says:

    No argument there. Confessing “Jesus is Lord” is what separates saving faith from demon belief. Confessing the lordship and deity of Jesus is the obligation of one who would believe in him unto eternal life,

    My point is that confession of sins is the privilege of the believer to restore/maintain fellowship with God. It is not a condition of salvation. God did not deliver the law to Israel in Egypt, but at Sinai, after he had delivered them from their living death under Pharaoh. God redeemed a people unto himself before establishing the rituals for putting away their sin.

  11. K. Rex Butts says:

    When I read this the first question that came to my mind is where is “obedience” in the discussion of salvation? In the New Testament, obedience is not separate from faith. Yet the New Testament seem clear that our salvation is brought about by God alone in Christ. How do we articulate and practice a doctrine of salvation that relies on the work of God alone and yet is obedient? It seems like contemporary Christians (of which I believe John Piper is a Christian, as far as I can observe) fall into one of two camps…either 1) eliminating “obedience of faith” (Rom 1.5) from the doctrine of salvation because of a fear of teaching a works oriented salvation or 2) espousing the necessity of obedience in such a way that it does become a works oriented salvation.

    A second thing that comes to mind. In scripture, salvation is not depicted as a punctiliear event but rather a process that will not be complete until the second-coming of Christ. Salvation is more than justification (and some would argue that justification is not a punctilear event either, but that is more controversial)., yet so much contemporary discussion on salvation reduces the doctrine to a punctilear act of justification. This is done against the witness of scripture.

    With that in mind, I am just finishing up Gordon T. Smith, “Transforming Conversion: Rethinking The Language and Contours of Christian Initiation.” In this book, Smith (an Evangelical Christian) argues for the rightful place of repentance and baptism as the normative point of initiation into the Christian life (Christ, church, salvation). He argues this thesis by showing the function of repentance and baptism within a biblical view of salvation that is in process. For Smith, salvation is not just about “getting saved” (in fact he calls for a moratorium on that phrase) but about transformation into the image of Christ. Thus, repentance and baptism are inseparably related to becoming disciples. (Smith’s book is not just a critique on contemporary Evangelicalism, his argument for repentance and baptism would shame even the Restoration Movement).

    That brings me to a final observation…while the question of what must be done to be saved is raised in scripture, is that a question divorced from the call to discipleship? Yet that is what one might conclude based on the assumed practice in much of contemporary Christianity (including the Churches of Christ). Perhaps we need to hear the “Great Commission” once again. Jesus’ first imperative was to make disciples. While that certainly includes people coming into salvation, the command to “make disciples” seems much deeper and broader. So perhaps all this talk about what one must know to be saved is misguided. Perhaps we should be asking the question “what must take place for a person to become a disciple of Jesus?”

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

    • mattdabbs says:

      Really, really good stuff Rex. I may have to quote that in a new post because that is really worth sharing more than just in this post. There is a post I did roughly a year ago that addresses your question, “How do we articulate and practice a doctrine of salvation that relies on the work of God alone and yet is obedient?” It was called “Misconceptions about our contribution to our own salvation” – https://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/2009/07/28/misconceptions-about-our-contribution-salvation/

      This is a real problem as are the other things you listed so well. If it is good with you I may make a post out of your comment.

  12. Bryan Fraser says:

    I would have to conclude that repentance must be separated from the requirements for salvation. Repentance is not simply the intention of the unrenewed mind to turn to God in obedience; it is the actual accomplishment of obedience made possible by human will acting upon the renewed mind.

    Repentance is a spiritual transaction that is inaccessible to one dead in trespasses and sins. “…the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” I believe it is in this sense that Scripture describes repentance as a process that God must grant. “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” And again: “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.’”

    I would argue therefore, that everything changes at salvation (as a punctilinear event). The unbeliever has only one obligation: to believe. Immediately upon being indwelt by the Spirit, he assumes the obligations (and the capacity) to repent, obey and pursue discipleship. The natural man has only one spiritual transaction available to him and required of him: to believe in Jesus Christ according to the gift of faith God provides to him. Until this regenerating process is accomplished and his spirit is made alive he cannot initiate any of the obligations of discipleship.

    Cheers,

    Bryan Fraser

    • mattdabbs says:

      So what do you do with Acts 2:38? People asked what to do and Peter answer they had to repent and be baptized so that they would receive the Holy Spirit. According to your view they would have already had the Holy Spirit as soon as they realized who Jesus was and what they had done. Am I reading you right/is that a fair assessment of what you are saying?

  13. Bryan Fraser says:

    I would have to argue that Peter’s statement does not describe sequential events: first repent, then be baptized, then receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. If it did, we would have to conclude that the Holy Spirit is withheld from one who has believed, but has not yet been baptized. Therefore, Peter is saying that both repentance and baptism are essential obligations, but does not clarify in this address on which side of salvation they are to occur.

    I believe that every call to repent (for example, John’s in Matthew 3:2) must be interpreted in the context of a complete NT theology of repentance. It is not clear from Matthew 3:2 and Acts 2:38 that one’s spirit must be made alive before one can repent. But Paul clarifies that the carnal mind cannot be subject to the law of God. And repentance is a response to a departure from God’s law.

    At any rate, we step onto a slippery slope if we want to make repentance a requirement of salvation, given the number of passages that only require belief as a condition of obtaining eternal life.
    __________________________________________________________________________

    And no, one does not have the Holy Spirit upon realizing who Jesus is. One must believe: “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

    Regards,

    Bryan

    • mattdabbs says:

      So you are saying that on the front end when you first believe, you can believe who Jesus is and what he did but not yet repentant and still God would give you the Holy Spirit? I just don’t see how that would be personally. If you really believe it and want to be a disciple of Jesus you first have to recognize how wrong you are on make that turn. It is impossible to follow Jesus (be a disciple) and be unrepentant at the same time. These things are all so connected that to fine tune everything gets really hard. But I just don’t see God sending His Spirit to someone who believes but doesn’t yet care to repent.

    • K. Rex Butts says:

      Why don’t we do New Testament theology in light of the Old Testament context it springs forth from rather than from a Reformed systematic theology approach. There are plenty of examples of repentance occuring in the Old Testament without the Holy Spirit as we understand from the New Testament. Second of all, Romans 8.5 seems like a bad proof-text since in that context Paul is not discussing how one enters into salvation but rather is discussing how one can trust in the promise of no condemnation in Christ…by setting their mind on the Spirit rather than the flesh, for those who set their mind on flesh set their mind on death.

      Let’s stay with the narrative when we are talking about the verb “repent” in Acts 2.38. There, the verb “repent” is an imperative active verb which the Israelites had heard many times in their history. Only this time, they are being told to change in regards to Jesus who is the Messiah and Lord…and to confirm that God is acting in this salvific way, they are promised the Spirit which they have seen outpoured in the Apostles of Jesus. Thus, in the narrative, the promise of the Spirit is not about being empowered to life so that one can repent. Instead, the promise of the Spirit is about the assurance that in Jesus is the promise of God’s salvation…the day of hope which Israel has waited for. But to believe this, they must change their mind about Jesus (repentance), which assumes a change of behavior to follow, and align themselves with the Lordship of Jesus by allowing God to baptize them in his name (notice in Acts 2.38, that though “repentance” is in the active voice – something the one repenting does – that “baptism” is in the passive voice – something that God does to the one repenting). Thus, while God grants us the opportunity to repent (cf. Acts 11.18).

      Grace and peace,

      Rex

  14. Bryan Fraser says:

    I agree absolutely that “It is impossible to follow Jesus (be a disciple) and be unrepentant.” But as I stated above, one does not become a disciple until he receives the Holy Spirit. Grace always precedes law and redemption precedes sanctification. God did not deliver the law to Israel in Egypt, but at Sinai, after he had delivered them from Pharaoh. God redeemed a people unto himself before establishing the rituals for putting away their sin.

    I recommend the chapter on the one condition of salvation in Lewis Speery Chafer’s book: Salvation. A strong dispensationalist slant, but he provides a challenging discussion on belief being the only condition of salvation.

    Regards,

    Bryan

  15. Chris Pierson says:

    I have read here often, but never commented. I sure appreciate the attitude and atmosphere of all of the participants in this discussion.
    I would argue that repentance and faith are two sides of a coin. To repent is to reject myself or others as Lord and faith is to believe and trust that Jesus is Lord.
    Then the act of baptism is a repentant action – to submit myself to die and to be born into a new reality recognizing Jesus Christ as the Holy One of God.
    But I like the emphasis above on salvation as a journey, a relationship with God that has begun at baptism but is going to grow and develop over time. Yes there is a point where we draw a line in the sand, but that is only the beginning.
    Thanks my brothers for your Christ-like spirit.

  16. Vic Pruett says:

    Does being a disciple mean that we are saved? Judas was a disciple; I don’t know how secure his salvation really was. Discipleship is all about our relationship with Jesus; it is about our desire to be with Him every moment of life. Judas at some point disconnected from Jesus, his story is symbolic of what happens when we try to be independent from Jesus. Death by independence.
    Baptism is a symbolic event that is relational in nature. Baptism enters us into a relationship with the Gospel story of Jesus. It is our relationship with Jesus that saves us, He took our place, He took our sin, and he connects our prayers to the Father. I’m leery of anyone who tries to narrow the point at which salvation occurs to one single event. Salvation is found in an active relationship with Jesus. However baptism by faith in Jesus is a relational event with Jesus, therefore one could assume it is a salvation marker.

    John Piper even though he is a Baptist (I’m a Church of Christer🙂 ), makes me feel like a huge liberal, he is an old school Bible thumper who knows his stuff. I have learned so much from listening to his sermons online or just in His book “Don’t Waste Your Life”. I doubt he believes that baptism is an essential part of the salvation moment, however if the interviewer had asked him about baptism I don’t think he would have completely dismissed it either.

    I thought everyone had great thoughts on this subject, and I feel kind of inadequate responding to such well written thoughts. Matt you have a great blog!

  17. Theodore A. Jones says:

    “It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Rom. 2:13
    A law has been added to the law after Jesus’ crucifixion so that your salvation from the penalty of eternal death can only be secured by the faith of obeying this added law and be baptized into it.
    The assumption that the crucifixion of Jesus is a death caused by bloodshed which is in place of yours is in error. There cannot be a direct profit to anyone by the commission of the sin of murder caused by bloodshed. However a change has made to the law after Jesus’ crucifixion to make your salvation predicated upon your faith to obey God this Way. The Acts 2:38 command can only be obeyed by the faith of confessing directly to God that you are sorry Jesus’ life was lost by bloodshed when he was crucified. Those who accepted this message and were baptized into this Way of faith and were added to the Church of the Firstborn which the Lord Jesus is the head. But the truth of God that the crucifixion of Jesus is an accountable sin by law has been exchanged the lie that Jesus died in your place. Everyone who believes this lie does not give God the confession he has demanded by Jesus’ crucifixion as a sin. Therefore they are not born again of God no matter how many sins they confess or how times they are baptized.

    • mattdabbs says:

      So are you saying that anyone who believes in substitutionary atonement is lost? That would be quite a BIG statement that I would have to disagree with. Does God expect us to get down your exact understanding of what Jesus did on the cross in order to save each and every person?

  18. Theodore A. Jones says:

    Everyone who teaches or believes that the crucifixion of Jesus has perfected the doctrine of substitutionary atonement or any variant of this doctrine has not been born again of God. So yes they are lost. You need to recall that it is only a few who find, that is locate in the scriptures, what Jesus has perfected for the small narrow gate that each individual must have the faith to use to save himself from the wrath of God. Each and every person is not saved and in fact no one has been saved by crucifying Jesus.
    For didn’t he teach you that the issue of guilt relative to sin remains as the outstanding issue to be resolved AFTER his crucifixion? “When he comes he will convict the world of guilt in regard to a sin.” Nothing was resolved between men and God by crucifying Jesus. However all men have been reconciled by God to be held accountable to God for judgment in regard to the sin of crucifying the Lord Jesus.
    For hasn’t God promised Jesus by saying “Sit! Until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” and hasn’t God prepared a table before Him in the presence of his enemies? And doesn’t this table sit right down front center of every Christian church house in existence? For not discerning that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus who is the Christ is an accountable sin one makes himself guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord by thinking Jesus died in my place. You may not believe me on this side of the grave, but your sinning lying recalcitrant pompous ass will surely wish it had have when you get to the other side of the grave.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Thankfully we are saved by the grace of God and not by a perfect understanding of exactly how God does the saving. If we all have to agree with your fine-tuned interpretation of scripture to be saved then all of a sudden you become the standard rather than scripture. That is untenable.

      I also have no room for the kind of tone, attitude, or language you are exhibiting in your posts. Show me where I have been pompous in this discussion and then re-read your posts and see who is displaying that kind of attitude here.

      We can discuss scriptures…you have referenced a few here or there but nothing really that substantiates your point that those who believe in substitionary atonement are condemned. The discussion will have to be mature and devoid of profanity, name calling and unChristian attitudes in the process. Deal?

  19. mattdabbs says:

    Theodore,

    You wrote, “The assumption that the crucifixion of Jesus is a death caused by bloodshed which is in place of yours is in error.”

    and

    “But the truth of God that the crucifixion of Jesus is an accountable sin by law has been exchanged the lie that Jesus died in your place. Everyone who believes this lie does not give God the confession he has demanded by Jesus’ crucifixion as a sin. Therefore they are not born again of God no matter how many sins they confess or how times they are baptized.”

    First, let me ask some questions to make sure I am understanding you. Some of what you wrote above is a little hard to follow and has all sorts of clauses modifying all sorts of other clauses mixed in with a ton of adjectives that make it a bit hard to follow your train of thought. But I think I get what you are saying here. Tell me if I am missing your point. I hate to find out after the fact I am agreeing with someone and just didn’t know it!

    You are saying that Jesus didn’t die in our place because he was murdered. Are you saying this because you think God would not participate in the murdering of his own son or what? Tell me where you are coming from on that one. That is what it appears to me you are saying but you never just came out and said it.

    You wrote, “in fact no one has been saved by crucifying Jesus.”

    Romans 3:25 seems to disagree with you here. “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—”

    How do you interpret that verse in light of the track you are taking here? Your view and Paul’s just can’t fit together.

    Hebrews 9:22-28 also pokes holes all in what you are saying here. There we learn that Christ died for our sins through his crucifixion. What do you do with those verses? They are very clear…I will quote just a part but please read all those verses:

    “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness…But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many”

    So how can you say his crucifixion had nothing to do with our sins or our forgiveness when this and many other scriptures teach otherwise, very, very clearly?

    There are many other scriptures one could site that seem to fly in the face of your points here…
    2 Cor 5:21 – For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

    1 Peter 2:24 – He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

    1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.

    I am not saying that I buy into everything in the S.A. view but I do think that scripture teaches us that Jesus died for our sins…that his death was meaningful in the process of reconciliation. What do you do with these scriptures? In light of all of these, how on earth can you write something like, “Everyone who teaches or believes that the crucifixion of Jesus has perfected the doctrine of substitutionary atonement or any variant of this doctrine has not been born again of God. So yes they are lost.” Show me from scripture that God, the judge, feels as you do on this one. The narrow way argument is not about S.A. at all so that doesn’t hold water.

    Looking forward to your response…God bless

  20. Royce Ogle says:

    I think all of us make salvation more complicated than God intends. Hoe much theology did the crowd Peter preached to at Pentecost understand? Not much. Read his sermon once more. They knew the Cjrist of God had died and been raised from the dead.

    Matt, a careful reading of Peter’s words in defense of baptizing Gentiles in Acts shows plainly that he received the Holy Spirit not at baptism but when he believed just as Cornelous and those in his house. It is there, we either believe his personal testimony or we can ignore it but that’s what he said.

    We must be careful to not give more weight to a thing than the Bible does. Those earliest evangelists did not have a New Testament, not even one of our proof texts. Yet they won thousands to Christ. They leaned heavily on the resurrection of Jesus. A question we should ask is”What is the basis of my assurance?” The answer to that question pulls the curtain back and reveals your theology of salvation.

  21. Theodore A. Jones says:

    “The Lord is our Lawgiver.” Isa. 33:22 and “For law will proceed from Me.” Isa. 51:4
    If your assumption is true that God is a participant in the sin of murder, which the crucifixion of Jesus is, then you are accusing God of a sin. This is one of the pied Piper’s false doctrines. “God killed Jesus”. But it is a blasphemy against God. God cannot sin nor does he lie. Jesus was put to death by the hands of wicked men according to the set purpose of God for each man. Secondly you are disputing that it is not true that it is only a few whom ever discover, that is find, what the small narrow precise gate into the kingdom of God actually is and have aligned yourself with a majority to please them. What is it that Jesus’ teaches in the parable of the Tenants? Does he teach that God has the slightest intention of exonerating anyone by his only begotten son’s murder? Yes or No? What does God say that God’s intention is regarding the crucifixion of Jesus?

  22. Theodore A. Jones says:

    Well boys, wait and don’t obey God as the Lord thy God has commanded each of you by law. But the clock is ticking and you are beginning one more day closer to hell than you were yesterday.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Theodore,

      First, I wasn’t saying God participated in the murder of Jesus Christ. I was asking if that was your position. You never answered that question. Then I laid out scriptures that clearly run counter to everything you are saying and you don’t respond to any of it but talk over all my points. Instead you continue to condemn and fuss and argue without addressing anything from the scriptures I have presented.

      So here is how this works…I have had many “discussions” like this on this blog by people who don’t want to listen and who don’t want to fairly examine any scriptures except their own proof texts. If you want this discussion to continue then I suggest you deal fairly with the points and scriptures I have presented. Then we will go forward from there. If you aren’t willing to do that then what is the point of even continuing this? I would really like to discuss it with you and learn where you are coming from but you aren’t helping me out here or helping your case at all.

  23. Chris Pierson says:

    I am resisting the urge to be very sarcastic. Wow.

  24. Theodore A. Jones says:

    The parable of the Tenants and Jn. 16:8 are direct quotes of Jesus that are counters against the false assumption that his crucifixion would perfect the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. If the theory of substitutionary atonement would have been perfected by crucifying Jesus there cannot be any remainder of guilt relative to sin. But there is, and it is His direct quotes that expose the doctrine’s falsehood prior to his crucifixion. As for your referenced citations to support your thesis of error. Note the word might. If Jesus by submitting to the the taking of his life by bloodshed has perfected the false doctrine of substitutionary atonement these verses you cite for support should read “He who knew no sin became a sin for us so that we have become the righteousness of God”, but there is that word, might. And don’t you admit that there is a “process of reconciliation” after the fact of Jesus’ crucifixion? What process?! If the doctrine of substitutionary atonement is true there cannot be any additional process to reconciliation, but as you admit there is.

    • mattdabbs says:

      John 16:8 explains itself and has nothing to do with what you are saying. Let me quote 16:7-9
      “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me;”

      He elaborates on exactly how the world will be wrong about sin, which is the part you are referencing. He says the world will be wrong about “sin, because people do not believe in me.”

      Here you are totally saying something different. You are twisting this verse to say something it is not. You are saying Jesus would have said, “about sin, because people have atonement all wrong.” But that is not what he said. You are taking this verse way out of context here and as a result coming to the wrong conclusion. Really, what it appears is happening is you know where you want to end up, about having a new law under Christ that everyone else but you is misunderstanding, and then prooftexting verses to prove your point.

      You wrote, “If the theory of substitutionary atonement would have been perfected by crucifying Jesus there cannot be any remainder of guilt relative to sin.”

      When Jesus died on the cross did everyone who has ever lived then or since stop sinning? Of course not. Sin still exists. What Jesus did on the cross was to take the penalty we deserved on himself (Isa 53 and so many other verses…some cited above make abundantly clear. I would still love to hear your response to those verses). Paul preached the atonement of Jesus Christ and preached that he was a sinner. According to the quote I just referenced you would say those two things cannot go together. How was Paul able to acknowledge both at the same time?

      Before you make a dozen new points, please address the questions and scriptures I have already laid out.

  25. Theodore A. Jones says:

    Pierson. Act on your urge.

  26. Theodore A. Jones says:

    And the parable of the Tenants? What does the Lord thy God teach you about his father’s intention as his response to killing Him?
    Yes your are wrong about Jesus’ crucifixion not remaining as an accountable sin just as the “world” was wrong about the idea that “It is a good idea that one man die to save the nation.”
    By the way. What “Bible” are you using anyhow?

    • mattdabbs says:

      Parable of the tenants? I think it is pretty ironic that you are asking for my response to your point when I have responded to many of yours but you have responded to very, very few of mine. Address some of the questions above and then I would be glad to give you my perspective on that parable. Otherwise, this is not really a discussion…just you making points, me responding and asking you questions that you refuse to address. All I am really getting from you are broad generalizations, accusations, profanity, and a refusal to have meaningful dialog. Hope to hear from you soon.

  27. Theodore A. Jones says:

    If I happen to be in any debt to you even owing you the time of day I am not aware of it. Neither am I interested in any of your perspectives down to which door the garbage is carried out of. For you think, but erroneously, that God is a respecter of persons. If it is true that you are a direct beneficiary of Jesus’ crucifixion then you are in contradiction of what He teaches by stating the parable of the Tenants in the first place. But no student in any case can be of greater understanding than the Teacher no matter how many verses of Scripture he cites in support of an argument that you believe is true, but the Teacher has contradicted before you were even a gleam in your daddy’s eye. In no case is God a respecter of persons.
    Since the people who did crucify Jesus most certainly did not obtain any direct benefit from crucifying Jesus neither has your stinking behind either. Is that clear?

    • mattdabbs says:

      Since you are unwilling to actually discuss anything, this thread is closed. That, at least, is clear enough to me. Sorry we couldn’t have a better dialog. I tried and tried but you wouldn’t have any part of it. If you really believed what you believe, wouldn’t it make sense to actually engage those you disagree with in an actual conversation rather than just talk over them? At least then you might actually have a chance to change someone’s mind. But the tactics you are using will only close doors to people. If what you are saying is true and we are all wrong and going to hell, then I pity you for the approach you are taking because you aren’t doing “the truth” right by your approach.

      Comments on this post will now be closed.

      I have never done that in the four year history of this blog but I feel it is warranted in this case. Anyone reading this can read the comments above and see that I really tried to listen and I really tried to engage in a meaningful conversation but Mr. Jones would have nothing to do with that. Sorry if I have been lacking in any way and I hope everything I have said in the above comments has been read with the tone of love and serious inquiry and not the least bit of harshness or bitterness.

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