Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Facts of Saving Faith

Pastor Keith Krell stands in defense of the gospel with his dynamic sermon "The Facts of Faith (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)". Krell plainly sets forth the biblical truth that the gospel of salvation and the content of saving faith1 include four basic facts:

Fact #1: Christ died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3)
Fact #2: Christ was buried (1 Cor. 15:4)
Fact #3: Christ was raised (1 Cor. 15:4)
Fact #4: Christ was seen (1 Cor. 15:5)

The apostle Paul emphasizes that these gospel facts must be "received" (1 Cor. 15:1) and "believed" (1 Cor. 15:2, 11; cf. Acts 13:26-41, 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:21, etc.) - therefore it's not surprising that Krell calls them "The Facts of Faith". Todd Still affirms: "In 1 Corinthians 15, the tradition about Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, and appearances is common ground between Paul and all the other apostles: 'Whether then it was I or they, this is what we preach and this is what you believed' (v. 11)."2 Likewise, Luter writes: "Just as it is very common for preachers to add unnecessary complexity to their presentations of the gospel, there is the opposite tendency to over-simplify. It should be remembered, though, that there is a bedrock historical basis for the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-5) that is true (and, hence, must be articulated and believed) or 'our preaching is useless and so is your faith' (v. 14)."3 William R. Newell writes: "this good news concerning Christ's death, burial, resurrection, and appearing, 'is the power of God unto salvation unto every one that believeth.'"4 Newell goes on to declare: "Again we repeat that it is of the very first and final importance that the preacher or teacher of the gospel believe in the bottom of his soul that the simple story, Christ died for our sins, was buried, hath been raised from the dead the third day, and was seen, IS THE POWER OF GOD to salvation to every one who rests in it, - who believes!"5

Unfortunately Tom Stegall and other groundless gospel advocates (those who teach that among other things "the burial isn't really part of the gospel") no longer hold fast to these facts of first importance in the gospel. For example, notice how Stegall subverts "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3, NKJV; cf. 1 Cor. 15:3; Gal. 1:23) when he writes: "There are a few extreme Free Grace advocates [like Keith Krell and others] who, in their overreaction to the crossless gospel, have concluded wrongly that Christ's burial and post-resurrection appearances to Peter and the twelve (1 Cor. 15:5) are also required content for saving faith."6 In response to Stegall's undermining of the biblical gospel we may ask the following questions: "If I don't like some of the things in the Bible, can I just alter the Bible to make it pleasing to me? If I don't like the message that Christ died for my sins, was buried, and rose again the third day, and that he was seen by eyewitnesses, can I just invent a new gospel?"7 Stegall's new  interpretation of the gospel is an assault on the gospel of Christ and an affront to every bible-believing Christian who holds firmly to the gospel of salvation. We must not allow the traditions of men to invalidate the Word of God. That's why I encourage everyone to read Keith's article "The Facts of Faith" - or if you prefer a more in-depth study, there's a link at the top of that article to the sermon audio (which is approximately 50 minutes long).


ENDNOTES:

1 Notice that there is no dichotomy between the gospel of salvation and the content of saving faith. Even Tom Stegall affirms that "Free Grace Christians must be clear and unequivocal in using biblical language, as we confidently proclaim 'the gospel of the Christ' as God's saving message to the lost." (Stegall, The Gospel of the Christ, p. 271, italics his.) In a twist of irony Stegall actually bears witness against the groundless gospel position when he says: "some Christians [like J. B. Hixson, Getting the Gospel Wrong, 80] insist...that a lost person can be saved by believing only part of the gospel. But Scripture nowhere endorses such a possibility. In the Bible, people are never said to be saved by believing 'part of' the gospel but only by believing 'the gospel.' According to the New Testament, people either believe the gospel or they don't. To reject it in part is to reject it in whole." (Ibid., pp. 563-564, italics his.)

2 Todd D. Still, Jesus and Paul Reconnected, p. 110.

3 A. B. Luter, Jr., A. Scott Moreau, Harold A. Netland, Charles Edward Van Engen, David Burnett, Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, p. 454.

4 William R. Newell, Romans Verse-By-Verse, p. 19.

5 Ibid., caps and italics his; cf. pp. 20, 24, 397.

6 Stegall, The Gospel of the Christ, p. 375. For further discussion see "Beware of the Wolves Within Free Grace".

7 James Utter, "Church For People Who Don't Like Church!," http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/lochurch/dontlike.htm (accessed October 2, 2010), italics added.