Tuesday, March 27, 2012

John Wycliffe's Testimony to the Gospel

John Wycliffe (1324-1384) has often been called the "Morning Star of the Reformation". He was a leading scholar at Oxford University and the first to translate the Latin Bible into the common English language. He was also an early proponent of the gospel of grace, saying:

"Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is all-sufficient for salvation, and that without that faith, it is impossible for any man to please God; that the merit of Christ is able by itself to redeem all mankind from hell; that this sufficiency is to be understood without any other cause concurring; and that therefore men ought, for their salvation, to trust wholly to Christ, not to seek to be justified by any other way than by his death and passion, nor to be righteous by any other method than by a participation of his all-perfect righteousness....It is not good for us to trust in our merits, in our virtues or our righteousness; but only in God's free pardon, as given us through faith in Jesus Christ." 1

Notice Wycliffe's testimony to the truth of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 and how he highlights the four facts of faith:

"Paul delivered to the Corinthians the faith which he received from the Lord, the faith should be the source of meritorious works that follow. The four articles of the faith of Christ preached to the Corinthians which presupposes the incarnation of Christ and the birth. For he taught them first that Christ died for our sins not for His own (as is clear from Isaiah [53]:5); was buried to prove the truth of his death more miraculous (as is clear in Matthew 27); thirdly He rose again the third day according to the first day and ultimately a synecdoche of the fourth [day], beginning the natural day from the middle of the night; fourthly He appeared to Peter and others (the end of Matthew). 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 5." 2


ENDNOTES:

1 John Wycliffe, quoted by Thomas Murray, The Life of John Wycliffe (Edinburgh, A. Balfour and Co., 1829), pp. 62-64, ellipsis added.

2 Wycliffe, "Sermon XLV [1 Cor. 15:1-11]," Johann Loserth, Editor, Johannis Wyclif Sermones, Vol. 3 (London: Published for the Wyclif Society by Trubner and Co., 1889), p. 386, italics his. The reference to 1 Cor. 15: 3, 4, 5 is cited in the footnotes in the book. Translated from the Latin with Google Translate.
     Wycliffe's reference to "the fourth [day]" seems to be an allusion to Psalm 16:10-11. In Jewish thought, corruption of a dead body would not begin until the fourth day after death - the body was supposed to be really dead by that time (Jn. 11:17, 39). Jewish Christian scholar Alfred Edersheim affirms: "It was the common Jewish idea that corruption commenced on the fourth day". (Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah [London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1912], 2 Vols., Vol. 2, p. 324.) This Jewish mindset could explain why Jesus waited until the fourth day to raise Lazarus from the dead - by that time there could be no question that Lazarus was indeed really dead, and hence, no question that he was actually raised to life by Jesus. In distinction to Lazarus, Christ "was raised on the third day" (1 Cor. 15:4), thus fulfilling the words of David in Psalm 16:10: "Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay" (see Peter's explanation in Acts 2:27-32; cf. Acts 10:39-41).
     Wycliffe seems to be saying that by synecdoche (a figure of speech in which the part is exchanged for the whole, or one idea is exchanged for another associated idea) Christ's resurrection on the third day still has meaning and significance in regards to the fourth day in Jewish thought. Although Christ in the tomb did not undergo decay, He was nonetheless truly dead and has truly risen!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

One Way!







"Jesus said...'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."

(John 14:6)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

WELCOME BACK, STEGALL?

I want to say "WELCOME BACK, KOTTER" but in this case it's "WELCOME BACK, STEGALL!"

Pastor Tom Stegall has gone back to his home church to become the new Publications Director.  Notice the following announcement posted on the Duluth Bible Church (DBC) website:
 
 "Publications Ministry New Publications Director! DBC welcomes Tom Stegall, GIBS [Grace Institute of Biblical Studies] graduate and former pastor of Word of Grace Bible Church in Milwaukee, WI, as the new Publications Director effective January 1, 2012. Look for new publications in 2012"1

Wait a minute - "DBC welcomes Tom Stegall, GIBS graduate and former pastor of Word of Grace Bible Church"?
 
  • Is this the same Tom Stegall who in 2007 wrote: "The years ahead will require us to define what is the sine qua non of the Gospel"?2 (But hasn't God already defined the Gospel for us in His Word?)
  • Is this the same Tom Stegall who in 2007 also wrote a "Proposed Change" to his church's Doctrinal Statement on the "SOLE CONDITION FOR SALVATION" and removed the truth of Christ's burial from the gospel?3 (But isn't the Gospel by which we are saved something to "hold fast" and not change?)
  • Is this the same Tom Stegall who in 2009 used "the amazing triangular testimony" and "virtual mirror reflections" of a pagan symbol to redefine the gospel to exclude Christ's burial and resurrection appearances?4
 
No word of warning by Duluth Bible Church regarding any of this? But what does the apostle Paul say?

"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears." (Acts 20:28-31, NKJV)

The real tragedy here is that instead of warning the flock, DBC is welcoming the false teacher!
 


ENDNOTES:

1 Posted on the Duluth Bible Church website (accessed March 18, 2012), underlining added. Also see the article "NEW PUBLICATIONS DIRECTOR" in the Summer 2011 edition of The Grace Family Journal. The article is written by groundless gospel advocate Pastor Dennis Rokser of Duluth Bible Church, and he introduces Stegall to the sheep by saying: "We are very excited to announce that Tom Stegall has become our new and first publications director at Duluth Bible Church". (Ibid., p. 1.) Rokser goes on to write: "So join us in welcoming Tom to the staff at DBC". (Ibid.)

2 Stegall, "THE TRAGEDY OF THE CROSSLESS GOSPEL (Pt. 1)," The Grace Family Journal (Spring 2007): p. 4, bold added, italics his.

3 Stegall, "Proposed Change" to the "SOLE CONDITION FOR SALVATION," Word of Grace Bible Church handout (circa 2007), no page number, bold and caps his.

4 Stegall, The Gospel of the Christ (Milwaukee: Grace Gospel Press, 2009), p. 19. For a detailed expose of Stegall's groundless gospel please read the article "The Strange Beliefs of Stegall's System".

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Is Tom Stegall's Gospel the Traditional Free Grace Gospel?

Tom Stegall, author of the book The Gospel of The Christ (Duluth: Grace Gospel Press, 2009), would like us to believe that he's traditional classic Free Grace in his theology. His publishing company "Grace Gospel Press" is even printing a new book titled Freely By His Grace: Classic Free Grace Theology. But in regards to the gospel - an issue "of first importance" (1 Cor. 15:3), Stegall is a wolf in sheep's clothing (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-30).1 He may advocate many tenets of traditional Free Grace theology, but his groundless interpretation of the gospel (that the burial of Christ is not really part of the gospel) is not the traditional Free Grace gospel. His own words verify this truth.

The Traditional Free Grace Interpretation of Acts 13:16-41

Stegall is on record as affirming that "the traditional Free Grace interpretation of the gospel can accept the prima facie [i.e. first sight or face value] reading of the text of Acts 13:16-41".2 I find this statement quite interesting because Acts 13:16-41 includes the burial of Christ in the good news (Acts 13:29) - a fact that Stegall contends is not part of the gospel. The passage in Acts 13 also includes the resurrection appearances of Christ in the good news (Acts 13:31), another fact that Stegall contends is not part of the gospel.

The truth is that Stegall's interpretation of the gospel simply does not accept the prima facie or face value reading of the text of Acts 13:16-41 - he explains away Christ's burial and resurrection appearances as somehow not part of the gospel even though both are included in the text as part of "the message of this salvation" (Acts 13:26) - "the good news" (Acts 13:32)!

Let's take a closer look.

Stegall's Non-Prima Facie Reading of Acts 13:16-41

Stegall says that Acts 13:23-41 is the gospel:
  • "It is imperative to understand, for the purpose of determining the content of the gospel, that from Acts 13:23 onward Paul is preaching 'the gospel' of Christ."3
  • "we may safely conclude that Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus Christ as Savior starting at Acts 13:23."4
  • "the actual content of the gospel itself [is] (13:23-41)."5

Stegall says that Acts 13:29 and Acts 13:31 are not part of the gospel:
  • "It is enough to note that the additional elements of Christ's burial in a tomb, His post-resurrection appearances to the apostles...These extra details [!] in Acts 13...offer proofs of the gospel but are technically not the gospel. For example, in Acts 13, the mention of Christ's burial 'in a tomb' (13:29) gives proof to the fact that He really did die. The fact that Christ was 'seen' by many 'witnesses' following His resurrection (13:31) provides evidence that He really did rise from the dead."6
  • "the burial and post-resurrection appearances of Christ are not technically part of the gospel"7
  • "the cross and resurrection are elements of the gospel in distinction to the burial and appearances"8

Tom Stegall's interpretation of the gospel does not accept the prima facie or face value reading of the text of Acts 13:16-41 and therefore cannot be called "the traditional Free Grace interpretation of the gospel". Stegall's view is not traditional Free Grace; nor is it biblical.


ENDNOTES:

1 See the article "Beware of the Wolves Within Free Grace". It's very revealing that Stegall used a pagan symbol to redefine the gospel! See the article "The Strange Beliefs of Stegall's System".

2 Stegall, "The Tragedy of the Crossless Gospel, Pt. 9," The Grace Family Journal (Special Edition 2008): p. 18, italics his.

3 Ibid., p. 8.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid., p. 9, italics his. Several pages later in his article Stegall references the same passage, referring to it as "that first Galatian gospel presentation in Acts 13:23-41". (Ibid., p. 18.)

6 Ibid., p. 21.

7 Stegall, The Gospel of the Christ (Milwaukee: Grace Gospel Press, 2009), p. 578.

8 Ibid., p. 579.

Friday, March 2, 2012

It Is Finished!


"When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!' Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit."

(John 19:30, HCSB)