Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Clearing the haze of "always"

GES/Crossless advocates have long fussed over how we should ease up on'em because they "always" present the same information in their evangelistic presentations that we do, namely Jesus' deity, atoning sacrifice, and resurrection. Thus, we are told that our concerns are "theoretical".

Well, a fellow blogger (Dave of Free Grace Believer) pointed out the following article on GES' site which proves that crossless advocates, if they are logically consistent with their view, in fact do NOT always present those facts.

This is what the author, writing in an approved GES publication, says about her gospel presentation:

When I share the gospel with children, I tell them the same thing I tell everyone with whom I share the gospel, “God loves you so much that He sent His Son Jesus to this world long ago. The Bible promises that whoever believes in Jesus will live forever in heaven with Him. And the great thing about the Bible is that it’s always true!” (emphasis added)

First, Jessica is clear that this is what she tells "everyone". Second, she summarizes that God "sent" his son. While true, it's a terrible oversimplification of what Jesus did when he was "sent". He wasn't just "sent" (eg. apostello & pempo), he was "given" (eg. didomi in John 3:16) which means "to give, to give something or someone, ... to bestow a gift". That, in the evangelistic context of John 3:16, carries a truckload of meaning which "sent" is insufficient to convey.

I applaud Jessica for making some statements that are indeed very good about presenting a clear gospel of salvation. I also applaud her for being logically consistent with her view. However, her article which was accepted by GES and not (to the best of my knowledge) contested in any way as a valid application of their view in practice, proves what we have said all along -- that if Jesus' deity and finished work on the cross are merely psychologically helpful then they may indeed be left out of the gospel presentation entirely, only injected at such time as they are believed to be specifically helpful to whoever is being presented to.

Jessica's accurate portrayal of the crossless view in practice clears the air of the obfuscating smog offered by crossless advocates that they always present the same info we do.


  1. This was the article I came across yesterday when I was looking for helpful tips on how to present the gospel to my 6 year old boy. My boy is doing fairly well in understanding the gospel, but I was only seeking as to how to make it clearer from people that have experience in dealing with children.

    I have a serious problem with presenting to my son a mystery "Jesus" out there that gives eternal life for who knows what reasons simply because this man promises it. What makes this Jesus any different from the Spanish boy in his class named 'Jesus'??

    I just wonder what would be the case if some person out in the world made the claim to be Jesus and will give eternal life to whomever believes on him. Would God hold this man's followers accountable even though they believed the same message but clearly the wrong person that had the same name? It appears that GES and others do not see the importance of stressing who Jesus truly was as deity or His purpose for dying and so on. It is my opinion that any "Jesus" out there would be sufficient according to them as long as his name is Jesus and that he promises eternal life. This might be a silly conclusion but it does make me wonder. What Jesus are they preaching? If someone referred to me as the 39 year old Dave that lives in Arizona would quickly rule me out. The name is right and so is the age but the location is off. Why can't they accept that a deityless Christ that someone claims to believe to be different from the true God and Savior, Jesus Christ? It is sad because I have heard Muslims tell me that Muhammad their prophet and Jesus Christ are basically one and the same. You have the crossless gospel people arguing that a person that does not believe Jesus is God is of no importance when giving the gospel as Antonio seemed to make clear about the Mormon Jesus if I am not mistaken. That is something that we can address later according to them in the vain hope of converting them to believe that this Jesus is indeed God and not a mere man.

    To present the gospel to my son the way the author for GES recommended then God must have given birth to some man that totally discredits the reason for the virgin birth and the fact that God became man. My son will not see the seriousness of sins by what this author gave. My son will not see the reason for the death of Christ and His resurrection.

    I am amazed that my boy 6 years old can understand that Jesus was virgin born, lived without doing one bad deed, can understand the death, burial and resurrection of Christ to the point he is defining imputation. The only problem that I am having is that he sees sins as spots on the body that gets transferred to Jesus who took those spots to the grave to never have those spots resurrected again. He needs to be constantly reminded about what a real Jesus has done for him nearly 2000 years ago, but I do not need to leave out parts of the gospel to best suit him though.

    It is sad what people are doing to the Bible. I can imagine a group someday that will quote Romans 10:13 and claim that one must merely say the name "Lord" to have eternal life because that is what that verse says and anything more than that is "theological legalism."

    The next time a crossless gospel advocate cries out to me, "Who isn't preaching the cross?" as a way to hide their deception then clearly this article proves it. Not only does that author hide the facts from children but adults as well. This movement is clearly heretical.

  2. I've only got time for a short note right now.

    Dave, I really appreciate your comment and that you directed me to this article in the first place. You have made some excellent observations about what's at stake here -- the eternal destiny of your 6 year old -- and that most certainly is not theoretical.

  3. This brings to mind another article by Stephen on this blog. When Bob Wilkin came to our church, he presented a lesson on evangelism. He said we should "Do What Jesus Did" and that we should evangelize as Jesus did. Then in an email, Wilkin told us how he thinks Jesus evangelized. Wilkin said that Jesus rarely if ever even alluded to his death and resurrection. His conclusion was, how could we then require the lost to believe those things. But if we are to copy Jesus' evangelism method, then in order to be "consistent", CG people should ALSO "rarely if ever" even allude to Jesus' death and rez. Such comments raise the question as to whether Wilkin and other CG folks really do "always" preach Jesus' death and rez like they say they do.

    Interestingly, awhile ago someone named "Jeremiah" posted on Antonio's blog, essentially asking how he could be saved. Stephen responded with a clear, concise answer from the historic FG perspective. Antonio actually deleted Stephen's entire comment, and refused to even put his own "plan of salvation" on his blog! Antonio simply asked Jeremiah to email him if he wanted to know how to be saved! What a strange thing to do, IMO. Here you have a person openly asking how to be saved, and Antonio would make the person email him personally rather than just give him the gospel. Many people are afraid to even ask such a thing, let alone go a step (or two or three) further and personally email someone you don't even know. Why wouldn't Antonio simply tell the man right there how he could be saved? It certainly does bring into question what exactly Antonio really does tell the lost in a witnessing situation.

  4. Dave,

    Regarding children being saved, Jeremy Myers (formerly of GES) has stated that he believes his daughter was saved at the age of 2! Yes, you read that right, 2 (two) years of age is when Jeremy thinks his daughter was saved. Jeremy stated this in a forum which I have a link to, but the forum redid their website so the link only goes to a home page now and you have to be a member to access the forums. Perhaps they still have this in their archives somewhere.

    Anyway, I do still have the quote from Jeremy. He said,

    "“Take my two year old daughter. She is not a good example for argumentation purposes, but hey - I’m a proud daddy. She doesn’t know much about Jesus. We haven’t yet been able to figure out how to explain to her that Jesus is God. We think she knows she does some bad things from time to time, but how can we explain to her that these things require a death penalty? We can’t. She doesn’t understand resurrection or justification.

    But she does know and believe that Jesus exists, and that people who believe in Him get to go to heaven. She is persuaded of this in part because her parents convinced her. Is that “saving faith”? I think so. We will give her more details as she gets older so that she can grow in the faith."
    (emphasis added)

    As one of the deacons at our church once said, if all we do is tell kids they just need to believe "in Jesus" and they can go to heaven, just about all of them will be "believing in Jesus"! Of course, we DO want all of them to believe in Jesus and go to heaven, but just believing that Jesus can take you to heaven is not enough... not according to the Bible. And we are risking many false conversions and false assurances to bring such a message to anyone, let alone our kids.

    Btw, our oldest son is 5 and about this time last year (when he was 4) he began really asking a lot of questions about sin, Jesus dying on the cross, etc. We've had many talks with him, and one night, all on his own, he suddenly declared that he believed in Jesus, that he believed Jesus died on the cross for his sins and came back to life. And since then he hasn't asked much about it, but does occasionally restate that he believes in Jesus, that he believes Jesus died and rose again whenever the subject comes up. So not only do we believe he is saved (as much as we can know about someone else), but apparently the historic FG gospel isn't as complicated as the CG people try to make it out to be. They think that the gospel must be simple enough for a child to understand it... guess what, it is!

  5. Stephen,

    I just wanted to thank you for your job over there with JP, I see your humility and kindness and it is quite exemplary.


  6. Hey Rachel...excellent article. Truly this is the land of reason. Whenever I come here I just feel a bit of relief that some of you out there "gets it".

    You said>Antonio actually deleted Stephen's entire comment, and refused to even put his own "plan of salvation" on his blog! Antonio simply asked Jeremiah to email him if he wanted to know how to be saved! What a strange thing to do, IMO. Here you have a person openly asking how to be saved, and Antonio would make the person email him personally rather than just give him the gospel.<

    This has long concerned me. What really compels me to bring this up is the fact that many in the crossless camp and those sympathetic to it are always telling us that we are judging motives and yet they leave the door wide open here in doing very odd things that at times seem to work against the gospel and yet they tell us we need to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    It is not motives we are judging. We are simply trying to figure out why in the world they seem to always respond in a negative way toward telling the wonderful story of love.

    I am sure many of them have pure motives and are sincere about what they believe, but they are simply not in agreement and yet they continue to say that they are. Two can simply not walk together unless they are in agreement and far too many out here in the blogisphere are trying to tie us together with what is simply irreconcilable and thereby making the situation far worse than it would have been and confusing many in the process.

    Grace upon grace,


  7. Stephen/Rachel:

    Jessica's accurate portrayal of the crossless view in practice clears the air of the obfuscating smog offered by crossless advocates that they always present the same info we do."

    It has been widely reported that the Crossless advocates claim of “always” was disingenuous. Hats off to Dave for finding this article and the investigative work to verify the disinformation coming from Bob Wilkin and the reductionist extremists in the GES.

    Lord willing, Rose will accept the obvious proof she needs to understand that the Crossless/Resurrectionless/Deityless teaching of Zane Hodges is no mere “theory” or “doctrinal nuance.”


  8. My finding that article was by pure luck as I was not searching for the crossless gospel. I simply typed "How to present the gospel to children" in a google search engine and the third article down was titled 'Grace in Focus.' Looking for additional help in presenting the gospel to children led me to that ridiculous article that would save nobody.

    Thanks Rachael! You did remind me of what I have heard many times in church about how people have questioned their salvation because their parents told them that when they were 3 years old. I guess Jeremy Myers might tell his daughter someday that she was saved at the age of 2 and that she knew that she was a sinner by not drinking all of her juice one day or taking the cookie out of the cookie jar when told not to do that. I personally made a decision to NEVER tell my son that he was saved at any age but for him to find all of his assurance in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. I never want my son to grow up thinking that daddy must no best and that there was a certain date that he made a profession of faith. I'm very confident that my son has trusted Christ, but I will keep teaching him the same gospel as there are no certainties with how my son is really perceiving things. I do love the fact that my son enjoys talking about the gospel. I always ask him when I am done sharing the gospel as to how a person is saved then it excites me when he shares back what I said but with a childlike twist to it. He does view sins as spots on the body that makes me smile when he says that, but as he ages then these things will become clearer for him.

  9. Hi Dave,

    I hear what you're saying about the childlike "twist" on things. :-) Last week our church had our annual Missions Conference, so our oldest heard a lot about missions. Today he looked at his crayon and saw that it said "Made in USA" and noted that other things say "Made in China". That got him talking about how some people in China don't believe in God, how some think there's a god of the water, and a god of the trees, etc. (these are his words) So I asked him, "how many gods are there?" he said, "one!" And he said, "some people in China don't know about God, they don't know to trust him so they can go to heaven. But I do, I believe in God and the Bible!" I said, "great! what do you have to believe about God to go to heaven?" He said, "you have to believe that Jesus died for your sins and he came back to life. I believe all that!" Funny how a simple crayon can enable a conversation about the gospel. :-)

    But to me this drives home the point that the gospel of Jesus' death for our sins and resurrection from the dead is so simple that even a child can understand it. So many CG people complain so loudly that the historic FG gospel is just complicated and requires some sort of seminary degree to understand and believe it all, while their new gospel is so much simpler.

    I've stated several times that "simple" isn't the standard by which we decide what the gospel is anyway, but even so, the historic FG gospel IS simple! I was saved when I was 5, and our oldest was saved at 4.

    I graduated from a 4-year Bible college (Calvary Bible College) and I remember one time in chapel, the speaker asked people to raise their hands if they were saved before the age of 10. Approximately 90% of the room raised their hands, and most would say they were saved by the age of 7. And the reason the others weren't saved until their later years is because they didn't grow up in Christian homes, rather than that the gospel was too complicated.

    So I just shake my head at the CG charge that the historic FG gospel isn't simple enough. They're just trying to pull at the heartstrings without any factual basis whatsoever.

  10. Hi Rachel,

    I found the gospel seems to be easier to teach to a child than an adult. I have found many adults that have a confused look on their face, but a child understands and embraces it. It is good to evangelize our kids before the wisdom of this world destroys the simplicity that they all seem to share. It's sad that those that teach the crossless gospel do not see that they are resorting to worldly wisdom to convert others instead of relying on the power of God.

  11. Hello, I am sorry for posting of topic. I would like to thank Stephen and Rachel for your careful study and patents in dealing with the extremism of JP. I am/was a personal friend of JP for many years. I knew JP from the time he was a little boy. I have gone to church with him for many years as well. JP came up with this idea of his for only the last year. I spoke with him on this topic many times, even when he was only "3 points" out of his now "4 point Gospel". I am not a scholar, I am a construction worker. I have been saved by faith in the death and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of my sins for 30 years according to ROM 4:25 "He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification." I have even went through my Bible and wrote "2 key points" next to every verse I could find that only lists the death and resurrection. In fact the "Gospel" as JP would like to define it seems to be lacking is its entirety throughout the New Testament. One of my points to JP was that if the "Burial" and the "appearances" were a necessary object of faith in order to be saved it would be overwhelmingly stated throughout the Scriptures. The burial and appearances are a few times mentioned, in a few passages, and sometime one or the other is present but the significance is clearly mentioned as a Proof of the death and resurrection, and a means to substantiate rather that a requirement of faith.
    I was open, patient and gentle with JP to discuss his position even inviting him to have an open discussion with his friends at my home. He was willing at first but then he made requirements for the discussion similar to those you would find in a formal debate.? This is not what I desired. Then JP concluded that he would not be willing to discuss this with me any longer unless I would discuss it through means of posting on his blog. I did not want to have to go back and forth on the blog. for me being uneducated as I am I can communicate in 15 minutes in verbal dialogue what it would take me in 4 hours to type on the computer. The final result is now JP has separated from me on the basis that he believes that I am "double minded" and not "strait forward" about the truth for not posting on his blog, and that I advocate an incomplete false Gospel, according to him.
    JP accuses me of being one of the most out spoken proponents of the "groundless Gospel" that he knows, After reading the posts from Stephen and Rachel I have to disagree.
    I would like to say that I do love JP as my brother in Christ, He is very dear to me. I fear the Lords chastening in his life. I ask that you continue to pray for him. Thank you for reading my comment.
    Stephen/Rachel, I ask that you please contact me via my e-mail,

  12. Hello MC, thank you for your insightful comment. I have e-mailed you and look forward to your reply.

  13. MC:

    My thanks to you for trying to meet with and help JP. I'm sorry your outreach to him was not better received.

    God bless you,


  14. Dear Vince,

    Do you feel that perhaps there were other issues going on that were of concern to JP and hence is his unwillingness to meet with you in your desired format?

  15. Dear Liam,
    No, The issue was that JP was unwilling to have a sit down meeting with me, (with others present, and go through the Scriptures in real time) if I was unwilling to post on his blog, period. It is clear to me that when JP has his own idea about a topic he becomes short,unreasonable,rude and unwilling to give people the time they deem necessary to consider the issues, even to the point of requesting silly guidlines inorder to continue to talk with someone. This is clear to me from reading other posts and coments from others. He has dealt with others the way I suspected he would deal with me on his blog,The very thing I was trying to avoid online. It also seems that instead of lifting up Christ and giving HIM the glory, JP has now published all of the good things others have said about him, and what he has accomplished in his posts. This lengthy list of praise is written out in the right hand column of his latest post. I still love him though and will continue to pray for him.

    I apoulogize to the host of this blog, I do not mean to use your post for a debate about my friend JP. I will refrain from this in the future as I hope Liam will also.
    Thank you

  16. Vince,

    I would not agree with several of your comments you left here. If you do not wish to dialogue on these matters then please feel free to dialogue with me over e-mail. I hope that sometime you and JP can sit down and work through theses issues.

  17. Stephen/Rachel:

    As I noted earlier, JP's unique issue has rendered his blog a very lonely place for him.


  18. Hey Lou, I've been quiet this week because I've been traveling lately (drove 1600 miles of Kansas and Nebraska in three days!) and I've been sick to boot. If I gave that kind of reasonable explanation to JP, as I did in several ways, I think he'd accuse me of "stalling". Because of his blatant antagonism I don't even read JP's blog anymore. Rachel may still read it and/or have it in her feed reader but I've told her I don't even want to know what's said there anymore.

  19. I barely look in myself, maybe once a day, just out of curiosity, nothing more. No way will I interact with or even acknowledge him, his views and/or antagonism.


  20. Dave wrote regarding faith in the Jesus in the Gospel of John vs. the Jesus in his son's class at school: "What makes this Jesus any different from the Spanish boy in his class named 'Jesus'??"

    The difference is obvious - the Jesus in the Gospel of John can give eternal life to those who believe in Him for it while the boy in his son's class cannot.

    Thus, those who are reading the information presented in John's Gospel and place their faith in that Jesus are saved.

  21. Dave wrote: "It is my opinion that any "Jesus" out there would be sufficient according to them as long as his name is Jesus and that he promises eternal life."

    You couldn't be more wrong in this regard. And since many have apparently listened to Zane's recording of the desert island scenario, his detractors ought to be able to easily discount the idea that anyone named Jesus is acceptable. He flat out states there is only one Jesus that fulfills the promise of eternal life through faith Him and it is the Jesus in the John's Gospel and other relevant Biblical passages. Zane says, “Now we are talking about the Jesus of the New Testament, not Jesus Espinoza who lives in the barrio of Los Angeles."