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Todd Mathis

The Intersection of Eschatology and Soteriology in John Piper's Theology

The Intersection of Eschatology and Soteriology in John Piper’s Theology

Introduction

No matter what one’s view is of the teaching ministry of John Piper, we can affirm that Dr. Piper is consistent in his teaching. This writer finds many positive contributions in his books to help a Christian deal with a range of common struggles and sins (e.g., bitterness, impatience, pride, etc.), and especially insightful in the book Future Grace is the discussion of how Jesus fought despondency throughout His hours of difficulty. With all of these positive contributions, it is unfortunate Dr. Piper adopts the position that there is no heaven without an ambiguously defined practical holiness:

I will try to show from Scripture that saving faith means, in its essence, prizing the superior worth of all that God is for us in Jesus. And I will try to show that this faith is not just the key to heaven, but also the key to holiness. Which is why the Bible can teach that there is no heaven without practical holiness (Hebrews 12:14), and yet heaven is reached “by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).[1]

Intersection

John Piper’s theology emphasizes that obedient works are the necessary condition of final salvation. Piper writes, “Faith alone is necessary for justification, but the purity that confirms faith’s reality is also necessary for final salvation.”[2]

Piper’s theology that obedient works are the necessary condition of final salvation is also seen in two related aspects: (1) the use of the eschatological judgment passages to present an event where works are used as corroborating evidence to validate the possession of eternal life vs. the judgment according to works as a means for God’s evaluating response to the life lived, for believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ and for unbelievers at the Great White Throne Judgment; (2) the use of conditional eternal life passages as a means to evaluate the possession of eternal life vs. instruction for a deeper experience of eternal life in this present life through intimacy with God.

In the article “How can eternal life be a free gift and yet ‘According to Works’?”[3], Piper writes the following:

How Can Eternal Life Be a Free Gift and Yet “According to Works”?

Meditation on Romans 2:6–8

God will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. (rsv)

One of the questions raised about death is whether Christians face a divine judgment and, if so, why and what kind. It is a good question because, on the one hand, we believe that our acceptance with God is based on free grace purchased by the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ and that this acceptance is attained though faith not earned through meritorious works. But, on the other hand, the New Testament frequently teaches that believers will be judged by God along with all men and that both our eternal life and our varied rewards will be “according to works.”

For example, Romans 2:6–8 says, “God will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury” (rsv).

This passage teaches that eternal life will be “according to works.” To those who seek glory by patience in well-doing, God will render eternal life. The same thing is taught clearly to believers in Galatians 6:8–9, “The one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap [eternal life] if we do not grow weary” (emphasis added). So in both Romans 2 and Galatians 6, eternal life is rendered in accord with patience in well-doing.

But this does not mean that it will be earned by works instead of obtained by faith. In Romans 6:23 Paul says, “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Eternal life is not earned. It is free. “By grace are you saved through faith, and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9, emphasis added). Faith receives eternal life freely as a gift. There is no way it can be earned as a wage through works.

But eternal life is rendered according to our works. This is made plain not only in Romans 2:6–8 and Galatians 6:8–9, but also in 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; Galatians 5:6, 21; Ephesians 5:5; James 2:14–26; Hebrews 12:14; Matthew 7:24–27; Luke 10:25–28; and many other places that teach the necessity of obedience (which is the fruit of faith) in the inheritance of eternal life.

So we must learn to make the biblical distinction between earning eternal life on the basis of works (which the Bible does not teach!) and receiving eternal life according to works (which the Bible does teach!). Believers in Christ will stand before the judgment seat of God and will be accepted into eternal life on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus covering our sin (Ephesians 1:7) and the righteousness of God reckoned to our account through faith (Romans 3:22; 4:5; Philippians 3:9). But our free acceptance by grace through faith will be according to works.

“According to works” means that God will take the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and the “good deeds” by which the light of our faith shines (Matthew 5:16), and he will accept them as corroborating evidence of our faith. His sentence of acquittal will not be because we are not guilty. It will be because Christ bore our guilt. The place of our works at the judgment is to serve as corroborating public evidence that we did indeed put our trust in Christ. “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). Therefore when we are acquitted and welcomed into the kingdom, it will not be earned by works but it will be according to works. There will be an “accord” or an agreement between our salvation and our works. (See A Godward Life, Book One, reading #90.)

If these things are so, two practical effects emerge. One is a sense of peace with God that Christ has died for us and lives again to intercede for us with an all-sufficient sacrifice and a perfect obedience. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This is precious beyond words in the times of assailing doubt. The other effect is a sense of urgency and seriousness about the demand that we be real and not phony in our faith. If a changed life of love (the sum of good works) is the evidence of our faith, then oh, how vigilant and earnest and passionate we should be about the things of God and the fight of faith. Lord, let us heed 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.”

Some observations regarding this article:

  1. The word for “render” in Romans 2:6 is apodidōmi which means to “repay” or “pay back.” This word is also used in many other places as translated by the NASB as “reward” or “repay” (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18; 16:27; Romans 12:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; 2 Timothy 4:14; Hebrews 12:11; 1 Peter 3:9; Revelation 18:6; 22:12). Revelation 22:12 states, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.” In essence, the Lord is bringing his wages or reward (Greek misthos) to pay back (Greek apodidōmi) every person according to their works. The passage is a judgment passage that teaches that God will repay every man according to their deeds, for there is no partiality with God (Romans 2:11).
  2. As one sows to the Spirit, he will expand his own capacity to experience eternal life in this present life (Galatians 6:8-9). This is similar to the passage that Piper uses for “Fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12) where it is best understood that one takes hold more fully of the eternal life that they already possess rather than fighting to possess eternal life in the future inheritance. This concept is further amplified in 1 Timothy 6:19 with, “storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (ESV) One receives the free gift of eternal life by faith and as one sows to the Spirit they will spiritually grow and increase in experiencing eternal life in this present life.
  3. For sanctification salvation, obedience is critical for continued growth, but it appears as though Piper also uses the necessity of obedience for the inheritance of eternal life. After quoting verses with varied contexts, he writes that “many other places that teach the necessity of obedience (which is the fruit of faith) in the inheritance of eternal life.” There are varied contexts for the word “inheritance” as some passages discuss the inheritance of the saints (Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 1:12) and partnership in the kingdom of God (Matthew 5:5), while others discuss the reward of the inheritance (Colossians 3:24; Hebrews 6:12). The way that Piper uses these passages is not within a set of categories related to the context of the inheritance but to make the blanket point that continued obedience is a necessary condition of receiving eternal life. I would recommend the book from Dr. Charles Bing entitled Grace, Salvation, and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages as a resource to study each of the passages to determine if the passage actually teaches the necessary of obedience to inherit eternal life. Chapter 3 concerning the principles of Bible Study gives an outstanding foundation for studying any text.
  4. In the final judgment courtroom scene that Piper constructs, the individual’s faith is validated by the evidence of our works and “our free acceptance by grace through faith will be according to works.” Or as further described, “There will be an ‘accord’ or an agreement between our salvation and our works.” Piper is writing that one takes the first step by faith and necessary obedience is required as a condition for the transfer of eternal life at the judgment.
  5. There are significant implications to counter Piper’s teachings. The assurance of salvation is found by focusing on the faithfulness of God and looking toward Christ rather than confirming inward evidences of regeneration. It is possible for Christians to struggle with perseverance in faith, even to the point where there are lapses into carnality with the risk of temporal discipline. The danger presented by the warning passages is not a loss of salvation nor to confirm the lack of salvation, but to present the risk of temporal discipline and loss of reward at the judgment seat of Christ. There would also be a tendency toward a surface view of sin as the very nature of sin is deceptive, especially relational sin.

Conclusion

In reviewing John MacArthur’s book The Gospel According to Jesus in 1989, which similarly adopts a soteriology that requires a continued obedience to inherit eternal life, Darrell Bock writes,

“[MacArthur’s] overemphases tend to underestimate sin in the believer, erode assurance, and challenge the walk of some who are saved as if they are not saved. There are potential dangers in his approach, for it can produce psychologically crippled believers.” [4]

I see the same imbalances and risks advocated by John Piper’s eschatology and soteriology.

Todd Mathis, M.Div.
Phoenix, Arizona

[1] John Piper, The Purifying Power of Living by Faith in Future Grace, [Multnomah Publishers: Sisters, OR, 1995], 14.

[2] Ibid., 333.

[3] John Piper, Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2005), 169–171.

[4] Darrell L. Bock, “A Review of The Gospel according to Jesus,” Bibliotheca Sacra 146 (1989): 37.

Grace Theology Press interviews Dr. Joe Wall, Director of Training Partnerships, East-West Ministries International

Grace Theology Press interviews Dr. Joe Wall, Director of Training Partnerships, East-West Ministries International

Grace Theology Press interviews (Part 2)

Dr. Joe Wall

Director of Training Partnerships,
East-West Ministries International

Introduction: Dr. Joe Wall has pastored several churches in Texas, including Grace Bible Church of College Station, Spring Branch Community Church (renamed Bridgepoint Bible Church), and Cypress Bible Church. He has also served as the Academic Dean of Dallas Bible College, President of Colorado Christian University, and was a part of the founding team of the College of Biblical Studies in Houston.
For the past twenty years, he has served in numerous leadership positions with East-West Ministries International, including Executive Vice President of Field Ministries and Vice President of Training.

Dr. Wall is also the author of three books: Bob Thieme’s Teachings on Christian Living (Church Multiplication, Inc., 1978), Going for the Gold, Bible Study Edition (Grace Theology Press, 2015—originally published by Moody Press in 1991, and Effective Church Growth Strategies, (Word Publishing, 2000) which he co-authored with Dr. Gene Getz. He has been married to Linda for more than 50 years, and they have two sons and four grandchildren.

 

Todd Mathis: Why are eternal rewards an important topic for Christians to really think through? The topic of eternal rewards doesn’t get a lot of discussion or focus. Why is it an important topic?

Joe Wall: I believe there are two or three major motives we have for everything we do that’s worthwhile. We should be motivated out of love for God, for what he has done for us. That ought to be the primary motive. But motivation for rewards in the presence of Christ at His Judgment Seat is also a good motive.

You see, every reward to us is also an honor to Jesus, because without Him we can do nothing. And thinking about eternal rewards is a way of helping us to be serious about what really is important in life. It helps us to focus on obeying and pleasing our beloved Savior, even if no one else understands why we choose to do things that seem of no earthly value. Whether or not anybody in the world ever sees it—whether or not I’m recognized by anybody—if it’s worthwhile to Jesus, then it makes my life worthwhile. It means something.

For me, it is an extremely important truth that impacts my life. Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? How do I make decisions? For me, it’s not just a side issue; it’s a core issue of life.Anyone who is disciple of Jesus needs to be asking himself one major question is…What’s important to Jesus?

Todd: It’s very hard to ignore the topic, especially considering Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 9, verses 24-27, and the way he talks about it in 2 Timothy 4:7-8. Those are such very clear passages on the concept of a future reward.

Joe: You’re right. Those are two of the crown (or stephanos) passages that are found in Paul’s teachings. James and John (in the Revelation) also write about the crown rewards. But many other different rewards are found throughout the Scriptures.

Todd: The question some people may have is, “What happens if I mess up with parts of my life or all my life or I ignore this important event?” How do you respond to those folks?

Joe: First of all, it is true that a mess-up can end up losing reward. I had a pastor friend of mine whom the Lord took home in his 40s. Instead of true repentance, he kept excusing himself and spiraling deeper into sin. One time he made a comment to me: “You know, I’m messing up now, but think of all of the things I’ve done in the past. I’ll get rewarded for those.” I said, “But there are passages in Scripture that talk about losing one’s rewards.”

The big issue is whether or not you will bounce back after you mess up. You can bounce back if you will just acknowledge your failure and get back in the race.

Everybody stumbles. The issue is not whether we stumble or not. The issue is giving up the race. One of my favorite movies is Chariots of Fire. In one of his races, Eric Liddell falls down; then he gets up and goes on to win. To me, that’s the picture of what the race of life is all about.

Todd: How would you describe our experience of heaven in light of eternal rewards?

Joe: The Scriptures says a lot about heaven—a place of enjoying the presence of Jesus forever. What we get to do when we die is to go directly to heaven. Then, when Jesus returns, we get our resurrected bodies and appear before His Judgment Seat where our lives are revealed openly and evaluated. Then He grants us rewards for what He has been allowed to do in us and through us—including positions of honor and rule in His Kingdom.

Todd: What are some final words of wisdom you want to pass along to people who are reading this?

Joe: For me, the wisest counsel would be to read the book with the purpose of seeing what God wants to do in your heart. Don’t read the book just so you can say you read a book. Read it for the purpose of listening to God, and if you see stuff in the book that you don’t think the Scriptures teach exactly like you see it, don’t let it bother you. Just follow the Word of God. Don’t follow my book. Follow the Scriptures. Take away from the book, “I want my life to be changed by having an eternal perspective.”

Todd: What do you want people who buy your book to really get out of your book?

Joe: Make your life count for Jesus.

Todd: If somebody wanted to find out more about you and your ministry, how would they find out about that?

Joe: They can go to two websites. I work with a mission called, East-West Ministries which has a partnership with Grace School of Theology for the purpose of providing grace-oriented training for national leaders among unreached peoples in many limited access countries around the world. Information on East-West Ministries can be found at www.eastwest.org. Information on Grace School of Theology can be found at www.gsot.edu.

Thank you to Dr. Wall for this inspiring and motivating interview. Dr. Wall’s book Going for the Gold: Bible Study Edition (2015) should be in everyone’s libraries. Be sure to pick this book up through your printed book or computer library sources.

Todd Mathis, M.Div.
Phoenix, Arizona

http://gracetheology.org, Joe Wall

Grace Theology Press interviews Dr. Joe Wall, Director of Training Partnerships, East-West Ministries International

Grace Theology Press interviews

Dr. Joe Wall

Director of Training Partnerships,
East-West Ministries International

Introduction: Dr. Joe Wall has pastored several churches in Texas, including Grace Bible Church of College Station, Spring Branch Community Church (renamed Bridgepoint Bible Church), and Cypress Bible Church. He has also served as the Academic Dean of Dallas Bible College, President of Colorado Christian University, and was a part of the founding team of the College of Biblical Studies in Houston.
For the past twenty years, he has served in numerous leadership positions with East-West Ministries International, including Executive Vice President of Field Ministries and Vice President of Training.

Dr. Wall is also the author of three books: Bob Thieme’s Teachings on Christian Living (Church Multiplication, Inc., 1978), Going for the Gold, Bible Study Edition (Grace Theology Press, 2015—originally published by Moody Press in 1991, and Effective Church Growth Strategies, (Word Publishing, 2000) which he co-authored with Dr. Gene Getz. He has been married to Linda for more than 50 years, and they have two sons and four grandchildren.

 

Todd Mathis: This is Todd Mathis and I am with Joe Wall, who is the professor of Systematic Theology at Grace School of Theology. We’re going to be talking about Joe’s new book, which is Going for the Gold. It’s the third edition of this book, which is an achievement in and of itself.

I know in 1992 as I was starting out in seminary, I read the first edition. That was my first introduction to a systematic presentation of eternal rewards, so I’m excited and really thrilled to be talking to Dr. Wall here. First, Dr. Wall, can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

Joe Wall: I serve with a mission agency. When I wrote the first edition of the book, I was serving as the president of Colorado Christian University. I had pulled together several schools to form the university; then the Lord put on my heart to train pastors and church planters in the former Soviet Union, which was in the process of breaking up at that time.

Bill Bright heard about my interest in overseas training, and he recruited me to work on a Campus Crusade for Christ training project. Then, for budgetary reasons, Bill pulled back from the training project, and he apologized and said he was willing to put me on loan to another ministry if I wanted to do so. At that time, a gentleman by the name of John Maisel was forming a new mission focused on evangelism and church planting in the former Soviet Union, East-West Ministries, Intl. I was his first recruit and began to work with him. Today we work in more than 50 countries focused on unreached peoples in limited access countries.

One of the driving forces of my life has always been the teaching on rewards. For me, the perspective is one of the joys of being in the presence of Jesus, for Him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” That’s what a reward is. And our lives can either honor or shame Him. He has done so much for us. The driving force for me is the potential of seeing Jesus smile and say, “Well done” and rejoice with me and celebrate what He did through me.

As to my book on eternal rewards, Going for the Gold, it was originally published by Moody Press in 1991 and later republished by Xulon Press. It has been translated into Russian, Spanish, Korean, Burmese, Azeri, Georgian, and Nepali, and is currently being translated into Arabic, Hindi, and Bengali. A couple of years ago, I was asked by the president of Grace School of Theology to consider publishing it through Grace Theological Press.

As I got excited about publishing through Grace Theology Press, I began to think, “Yes, I’ll publish the book again, but this time I want to make it so people will multiply.” As I’ve worked as a missionary, I’ve been overwhelmed by the impact of multiplication worldwide. We were trained in doing church planting differently about 10 years ago. Instead of planting 5 to 10 churches out of every Bible school class that graduated, we started planting hundreds and then thousands of churches through multiplication.

In that process, we developed training that goes along with that multiplication. I wanted my book to multiply, so I determined, “I’m going to put together a book that the reader then can go teach the book to someone else.” That’s why we did it. I simplified the book. It was 16 chapters. I reduced it to 12. I took some of the material and put it in the appendix, combined a few chapters together, and organized the chapters into three sets of four chapters.

My wife leads a lot of women’s Bible studies and uses a lot of different Bible study materials, so she helped me develop the discussion questions. Each chapter has two or three discussion questions. Then it has some “digging deeper” questions that could be used in a Bible study or in individual Bible study. We also added some application questions. It’s designed to be a book you can read and then teach someone else.

Todd: As I read through your new edition I thought not only were the study questions really valuable with each of the chapters, but I also thought you had a lot of content in there that was even in addition to the whole topic of rewards. I thought “How to Wisely Invest Your Life” was a very important chapter. Also, you provided a nice summary of the prophetic program in there. There’s a lot of value, I thought, in the book that would make it really valuable for any study group or introduction.

There are some critics of our understanding of eternal rewards. Some will say we are creating a performance culture by the way we teach eternal rewards. Others will say, “Well, we claim that we enter into heaven by faith, but we say we’re being judged by our works. How does all that make sense?” How do you answer some of those critics?

Joe: I think those are some good questions. It is good to consider your motives, Are you doing things selfishly? It’s kind of like a guy on a football team who tries to excel and do the very best job he can for the team and for his coach. He wants the team and the coach to be honored, and he especially wants his team and his coach to appreciate his service. It is their reward that means the most to him, not the acclaim by the world.

I picture rewards as a way to more greatly engage in the joys of heaven, and it’s a way to bring greater joy to Jesus. My life is worthless except for what he does through me, and what he does through me always has to be by faith. Colossians says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus…so walk in him…” All that is worthwhile is by faith. The rewards are rewards that are celebrations for both Jesus and for his work in my life. I just look forward to that

I guess the illustration that captured me more than anything else was my dad. My dad was a strict colonel in the Air Force. He was a strict father. I grew up in a messed-up home. My mom was schizophrenic, and she was in and out of mental institutions. My dad was both Mom and Dad to me for a lot of my life growing up.

As I remember going through all of that, on one specific occasion I decided to mow the yard. I was a young kid. In those days, we had no power mowers. They were push mowers. We didn’t have any edgers of any kind, except a hoe kind of a thing you’d stick in the ground. We had a lot of sidewalks in our little house in that little neighborhood, so I spent three or four hours mowing the yard and doing it as a kid.

I remember my dad came home, and I surprised him because I had mowed the yard. He put his arm around me, and he said, “Son, you have to quit doing this.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “The neighbors are going to be jealous.” That marked my life. That’s what I want Jesus to do. The passion of a life that makes Jesus proud. That’s what rewards are all about.

Dr. Wall’s book Going for the Gold: Bible Study Edition (2015) should be in everyone’s libraries. Be sure to pick this book up through your printed book or computer library sources, and, be on the lookout for Part 2 of this interview with Dr. Wall.

Todd Mathis, M.Div.
Phoenix, Arizona

http://gracetheology.org/, The Free Grace Alliance, Dr. Roger Fankhauser, Grace

Grace Theology Press interviews Dr. Roger Fankhauser, President of the Free Grace Alliance

Grace Theology Press interviews

Dr. Roger Fankhauser

President of the Free Grace Alliance

Introduction: Roger and Debbie Fankhauser met and were married in Puyallup, Washington (south of Seattle). They married in 1974 and have five children (counting the daughters-in-law!) and seven grandchildren. Matt, his wife Christina, and their chidlren Lily and Ryan live in Phoenix, as does their daughter Emily. Joel, his wife Alice, and their four children, Silas, Micah, Liza, Milli, and Lee live in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Before coming to Burleson Bible Church, Roger served as the Senior Pastor of Shreveport Bible Church for 11 years, and then taught math at Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport for 2-1/2 years. Prior to entering seminary in 1991, he worked as an engineer in Victoria, Texas, for 13 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Washington State University, a Master of Divinity degree from Phoenix Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree, also from Phoenix Seminary. Roger and Debbie began serving in Burleson in October of 2009 on a part time basis while completing his teaching commitment in Shreveport. He began serving full time June, 2010.

Roger’s greatest passions in ministry are helping people see the greatness of God’s grace, helping them grow in their relationship with Jesus, and seeing them respond to God’s grace in both their personal growth and their serving others.

 

Q: We’re here at the Free Grace Alliance National Meeting in Arlington, Texas and are having a conversation with Dr. Roger Fankhauser. Roger is the pastor of Burleson Bible Church and President of the Free Grace Alliance. Can you share with us a little bit about your ministry?

A: I have a number of hats that I wear, and one is being Senior Pastor at Burleson Bible Church. We have two staff members, about one hundred fifty people, and I’ve been there for six years. I am involved in pastoring, teaching, preaching, counseling, and just hanging out with the sheep, which is great fun.

I am also involved with Burleson Crisis Pregnancy as past President of the board for that agency. I have also been President of the Free Grace Alliance for two years, after having been involved on the council for a number of years. To do all of these things takes time, more than I really have, and that’s okay. I give the time that I have to the Free Grace Alliance and it’s a great organization that desires to proclaim a clear, Free Grace message. It’s not only the simplicity of the gospel, but also the impact in the day to day living in the lives of people. It’s not just academics. These three things keep me pretty busy. On top of that, I’ve been married for forty-one years with the last several years involved in foster care. Every once in a while I try to sleep.

Q: When did you decide that you would get into full-time ministry?

A: The decision to get into full-time ministry was a really a long process.  I was in Victoria, Texas in a church with a pastor by the name of Hampton Keathly III and later Dr. Kem Oberholtzer. He was a great guy and great mentor. I was working as a chemical engineer and I was finding that I spent more and more time and energy in ministry of the church. I then found myself thinking about career moves based on how it impacted ministry instead of how it impacted my career. At one point, we thought about seminary, put the house on the market, and thought “what happens if the house sells?”. After a few more years, we then put the house on the market and thought “what if it doesn’t sell?”. After graduating from college, my single greatest fear was getting in front of people and speaking. This is definitely a God thing to get me here.’

Q: Let’s talk about being the President of Free Grace Alliance and where the Free Grace message is going. What’s your view about where the Free Grace message is at and where do we want to go.

A: The Free Grace message is getting attention from outside circles. Rather than looking at it from the inside, there are some from the Reformed camp that are responding with a negative critique so we’remore than a movement on the side. Another data point is that the Free Grace Alliance is growing and there have been bumps along the way. I think that we’re past those major battles and are able to put together a stronger and unified alliance. Also the Grace School of Theology, although not directly associated with the Free Grace Alliance, just announced that they have more than 300 students enrolled and its growing all over the world. We need more Free Grace churches proclaiming a Free Grace message because that is what the Scriptures teach. The students are on-board because that is what the Bible teaches rather than advocating a system.We want people to be convinced about the simplicity of the Gospel of faith alone in Christ alone, that we are empowered for living and that we receive grace when we fall flat on our face. We believe that because that is what the Bible teaches and rather than what a system teaches.

Q: Cross-cultural ministry is an important part of your ministry. You and I have ministered together in Ghana. What would you share about your ministry and the impacts from that, and what would you share with others?

A: There are a lot of things that come into my mind. One is, I think it would be great if Christians in America could visit other countries. It’s challenging to see face to face people living in different situations. People may say that they don’t have anything to give, but it’s great to just go to learn from the situation. The other thing is that people are really hungry. In other places they may not have good opportunities, good churches, good schools, and a chance to give back. It’s also interesting that in Free Grace circles, we interact with Reformed Theology but the real issue in many parts of the world is losing your salvation, legalism, even if the church is a Reformed denomination.

Q: Can you talk about the book that you are working on?

A: I’ve been working on it for about one thousand years, it seems. Sexual purity is such a huge issue in our culture and in our church. If you go to a Christian bookstore, you can find a lot of books on marriage, the end times, other topics, but there are not a lot of resources on sexual purity. Within Reformed theology, if you struggle with sexual purity many times the answer is that you’re not really saved. This results in the need for the person to get born again. That is not giving the right solution. You have to figure out what resources God has given to us to battle sexual temptation. We are sexual beings but it’s not a battle that we have to lose. It doesn’t mean that we will win 100% of the time, but we can apply grace to it. A Christian can have serious sin or on-going sin issues, and take the tools God has given to us to apply to the struggle.Also, many times we’ve only heard the one step of”flee immorality”, but we are to flee it to what? The name of the book is Storm-Proof Living and I’m hoping to get it out as soon as possible.

Q: What are one or two of your favorite set of tools and go to materials that you use consistently?

A: I try to look at the passage and get comfortable with it. I also use Tom Constable’s Expository Notes. Dr. Constable writes concisely and thoroughly which is good. I also use Charlie Bing’s doctoral dissertation as a good resource to study topics, and his newest book Grace, Salvation, and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages. A great contributor to improved materials is Grace Theology Press where we have materials that have been reviewed and edited, and that we can pass on to others.

Q: What are some final words of wisdom that you would like to pass on others? What’s hot in your thinking?

A: If you are reading this and you agree with our message, then join the Free Grace Alliance. We have a passion for the simplicity of the Gospel message and it’s a chance to join together with others to participate in the message. Second, look for good Free Grace resources and get them on your shelves. Also, see how you can be involved in proclaiming the Free Grace message. If you can go on a cross-cultural mission, then go. If you can participate financially with others, then do that. Think beyond your backyard. The grace message is powerful. I had the chance to go to Nepal. Nepal is a Hindu kingdom closed to the outside world until 1950. I had the chance to work with Bishwah Karmacharia, and his wife Ramilla, whom I had met earlier in the United States. We had nine people participate in the class and I had them all tell their stories. They need us not because we have the answers, but we can support them by encouragement and prayer. And I need them to help me stay fresh and alert about real issues in the lives if real people that need real grace!

Thank you to Dr. Fankhauser for this encouraging interview. Dr. Fankhauser is the President of the Free Grace Alliance and to sign up for membership, please go to http://www.freegracealliance.com/membership/.

Todd Mathis, M.Div.
Phoenix, Arizona

http://gracetheology.org, Dr. Gary W. Derickson, www.corban.edu

An Interview with Dr. Gary Derickson (Part 3)

http://gracetheology.org, www.corban.edu, Dr. Gary W. Derickson
Dr. Gary W. Derickson

Dr. Gary Derickson is Professor of Biblical Studies at Corban University (http://www.corban.edu) in Salem, Oregon, where he has taught for over twenty years. He has published articles in Bibliotheca Sacra, ETS Studies Series, The Master’s Seminary Journal, and The Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society. He contributed to The Nelson’s Complete Study Bible, is co-author of The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher, and is author of the 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.Dr. Derickson studied Biblical exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, and earned his Masters of Theology in 1986. He continued his doctoral studies under four godly men at Dallas Theological Seminary: Drs. Elliot E. Johnson, Stanley D. Toussaint, J. Dwight Pentecost, and Homer Heater, completing his Ph.D. He left Dallas to teach at Western Baptist College, which later became Corban University.

I think that we both share an admiration for the life and legacy of Dr. Earl Radmacher. Dr. Radmacher was my hermeneutics professor in my seminary training in Phoenix. The content of what he taught was tremendous and he would emphasize important points with this big booming voice that would just put this exclamation point of all of the things we would learn. You wrote the book The Disciplemaker with Dr. Radmacher, what are some of your thoughts on what you learned from him and his legacy?

I learned of course an appreciation for accurately teaching God’s Word and reflecting the passion of Christ. One of the great things about that project is when we began it, I did the exegetical work, the research, the writing, and then he and I sat down together. He added a lot of illustrations and then sometimes made the choice on which view was going to be expressed in the book, which would be his view. The great thing is, after the initial work was done, actually near the end of the process, he and I sat down side by side and went through chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph and discussed everything. What I learned was just a rich trove because it was coming from all of his knowledge and experience and it was just being able to sit next to him and go through these things and learn from him. That was a great legacy to be a part of.

You’ve written The Disciplemaker and the commentary on 1, 2 and 3 John – are there other articles, books, or future projects?

My school has an e-journal that’s available to all called Dedicated, where several of my articles have been published. I also just finished a book for Lexham Press, which I think will be entitled, A Biblical Theology of 1, 2 and 3 John, and will be the first in a series that the publisher is releasing.

I have some other projects going – one project on Revelation for Kregel Press, and another project for Lampion Press taking my Master’s thesis and converting it into a book. My Master’s thesis makes the case that miracle workers ended in the first century though God still intervenes today. Those are some other upcoming projects that will keep me busy and tired for the next few years.

Thank you to Dr. Derickson for these tremendously helpful interviews. Dr. Derickson’s books, The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher and 1, 2 & 3 John (Evangelical Exegetical Commentary), should be in everyone’s libraries. Be sure to pick them up through your printed book or computer library sources.

Todd Mathis, M.Div.
Phoenix, Arizona

http://gracetheology.org, Dr. Gary W. Derickson, www.corban.edu

An Interview with Dr. Gary Derickson (Part 2)

http://gracetheology.org, www.corban.edu, Dr. Gary W. Derickson
Dr. Gary W. Derickson

Dr. Gary Derickson is Professor of Biblical Studies at Corban University (http://www.corban.edu) in Salem, Oregon, where he has taught for over twenty years. He has published articles in Bibliotheca Sacra, ETS Studies Series, The Master’s Seminary Journal, and The Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society. He contributed to The Nelson’s Complete Study Bible, is co-author of The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher, and is author of the 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.Dr. Derickson studied Biblical exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, and earned his Masters of Theology in 1986. He continued his doctoral studies under four godly men at Dallas Theological Seminary: Drs. Elliot E. Johnson, Stanley D. Toussaint, J. Dwight Pentecost, and Homer Heater, completing his Ph.D. He left Dallas to teach at Western Baptist College, which later became Corban University.

I know that in your study you came to a perspective on what many people have called a “purpose statement” for the book of 1st John, and it is with Chapter 5 verses 11-13. Can you share some of your perspective and your study in that in terms of what your learned from 1 John 5:11-13?

As I studied the book of 1 John, both in the commentary and even continuing to study it, I see its role more as providing Christians assurance that will enable them to really enjoy their life with God more. It has more to do with sanctification than it does with justification. It does apply tojustification, that we have this assurance from God that life is in His Son, but is written to believers so that they will continue to put their faith in Christ and enjoy the eternal life that God has given them. I guess one of the big things that I learned in my study of 1 John is that eternal life is both the person, Jesus Christ, and then the outgrowth of that relationship with Him. It’s not just a future destiny, but it’s a present experience.

You’ve put a lot of time in on the book, both in your dissertation and additionally with this commentary. Are there, for example, three truths that you really take from this epistle that you would want Christians to know, understand and apply? What are important truths from 1 John that Christians need to understand and apply?

I think one of the main truths really comes out of the first chapter. It’s foundational to our relationship with God, and it is our honesty with Him about our sin. Throughout 1 John, we do struggle with sin and it’s a reality in our lives that God has provided for. If we really want to experience and express the eternal life of God in and through our lives, we have to be honest with Him about our sin.

The second thing would be that we experience eternal life directly in proportion to our relationship with Christ. We can’t have a healthy relationship if we don’t have assurance of salvation, as described in 1 John Chapter 5, and, also if we don’t consciously, willingly, actively, obey his command to love one another.

A third lesson that I learned from 1 John is how central it is to God’s heart how we treat each other. It matters to Him how we as His children treat His other children. In fact, what I see in Chapter 4, which is what I’m going to talk about tomorrow [at the Free Grace Alliance meeting], is that the way God loves you and me is through you and me. We are His agents through whom He expresses His love to other Christians. If we don’t actively love one another, God can’t love us actively. He’s chosen not to use angels, but He’s chosen to use us and so we’re those agents through whom He manifests Himself to the world. He manifested Himself and made Himself visible through Jesus Christ, and now He makes Himself visible through you and me. He does it by our actively loving each other because that was what really moves His heart. That’s His passion and that’s what John brings out in the epistle.

Dr. Derickson’s books, The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher and 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, should be in everyone’s libraries. Be sure to pick them up through your printed book or computer library sources. Be on the lookout for Parts 2 and 3 of this interview with Dr. Derickson.

Todd Mathis, M.Div.
Phoenix, Arizona

http://gracetheology.org, Dr. Gary W. Derickson, www.corban.edu

An Interview with Dr. Gary Derickson (Part 1)

http://gracetheology.org, www.corban.edu, Dr. Gary W. Derickson
Dr. Gary W. Derickson

Dr. Gary Derickson is Professor of Biblical Studies at Corban University (http://www.corban.edu) in Salem, Oregon, where he has taught for over twenty years. He has published articles in Bibliotheca Sacra, ETS Studies Series, The Master’s Seminary Journal, and The Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society. He contributed to The Nelson’s Complete Study Bible, is co-author of The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher, and is author of the 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.Dr. Derickson studied Biblical exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, and earned his Masters of Theology in 1986. He continued his doctoral studies under four godly men at Dallas Theological Seminary: Drs. Elliot E. Johnson, Stanley D. Toussaint, J. Dwight Pentecost, and Homer Heater, completing his Ph.D. He left Dallas to teach at Western Baptist College, which later became Corban University.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do at Corban University?

I teach Bible exposition courses beginning with a Bible survey class. I also teach Hermeneutics classes and the Life of Christ. One of my favorite courses that I teachis Daniel and Revelation together. I also serve as the Department Chairman for the Bible and Theology Department within our School of Ministry.

When did you decide that you would get involved with Bible and theology teaching?

When I was on active duty in the Army people kept asking me why I was in the Army and why I wasn’t a preacher or a counselor or a teacher. One day someone challenged me to pray about it and so I spent a year praying. I loved being in the Army as I was having a successful career, and after six months of prayer I felt like I would stay in the Army and teach Sunday School or lead Bible studies. Every time I said something like that, the Army sent me off for a month of training and upon my return the Sunday School class or Bible study was gone.

After a year of prayer I came to the realization that when I was an 8-year-old child I felt called by God to ministry and that call was still alive, still real. I resigned my commission and went to Dallas Seminary to study, where initially the idea was to go back into the military as a chaplain. Through my studies I became interested in Archeology, so after my Master’s degree I tried to get into an Archelogy program at Southwestern and was rejected. As a result, I stayed at Dallas to study Bible Exposition.

While I was finishing up my doctoral program, I was invited to come out to Oregon and teach and I’ve been there ever since. I discovered that that’s where God wanted me. So I ended up a teacher through a series of decisions essentially to obey God’s call, but I didn’t know where he was taking me. The author of Hebrews talks about entering into God’s rest and I can say I’ve entered into the place where God wanted me to be.I know that I’m doing what He wants me to do and it’s exciting.

I wanted to talk to you some about your commentary on 1st, 2nd and 3rd John. I am a Logos user and very early on signed up for the Evangelical Exegetical Commentaries and I was thrilled to get this first commentary by Dr. Gary Derickson. This is the same guy that co-authored The Disciplemaker. What was involved with producing this work? What motivated you to write the commentary?I have greatly appreciated my reading and study from this book.

I learned that the commentary series was being launched and at the initial time it was going to be written at the lay level. My dissertation had been on 1st John and I knew the general editor, Dr. Wayne House. I told him that I was available and he said “OK well why don’t you do this one?” and so he invited me to write it. I took on the project because of my love of 1st John and the desire to extend my impact beyond a classroom and hopefully help the broader body of Christ.

I think we’ve seen that reviewers with an alternate perspective on some of your views have been very complimentary. In the commentary, you used a theological method in writing it that exhibits and kind of an unfolding of researching concepts. Can you describe the method that you used as you wrote the commentary?

First, I personally performed exegesis and outlining to decide on what I felt the passages meant and then I began consulting the commentary tradition. In commentaries, I went back at least a couple hundred years and I also researched everything that I could find from modern times, both in commentaries and in journal articles and various other books to see what the different views were. One of my goals was, on every verse, on every issue, to honestly reflect all the alternatives and then to defend my view.

In addition to that, I presented the evidence when it came to my views because I knew that some of my views are minority views. My views are a grace view and not Reformed nor Lordship, and I knew that my view would bring challenges. I made sure that when I took a position I understood why I took the position and could also explain and show that I knew the other positions. I wanted to demonstrate that it wasn’t out of ignorance that I took my view. Also, one of my goals was to make the commentary a resource. As I studied, I saw the different ways commentaries were done and I wanted to make mine a useful tool for study and research.If someone wanted to study an issue then they could use my commentary to find all the sources and it would be a good tool even if they disagreed with me. In the end, I wanted the work to be a good tool that that could be used for personal studies.

Dr. Derickson’s books, The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher and 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, should be in everyone’s libraries. Be sure to pick them up through your printed book or computer library sources. Be on the lookout for Parts 2 and 3 of this interview with Dr. Derickson.

Todd Mathis
Phoenix, Arizona

http://gracetheology.org, Sandra Abbott, God's Grace

An Interview with Author Sandra Abbott

http://gracetheology.org, Sandra AbbottSandra A. Abbott (B.S. Ed., M.A., Ed., Biblical Studies Diploma, Phoenix Seminary) retired after 25 years teaching in her neighborhood schools. Since then, she has researched and written her own teaching commentaries for the following books of the Bible: John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and 1, 2, and 3 John. Through these writings, she has been teaching her weekly study group called Fellowship of Friends for over 10 years. Sandra has been the featured teacher at retreats, brunches, and other gatherings. Sandra has been married to her high school sweetheart, Bill Abbott, for over 50 years. She is a mother, grandmother, mentor, cancer survivor, and lifelong learner. Her passion is to teach biblical truths wrapped in a soft smile by God’s grace and for His glory.

 

 

Can you tell us a little about the title of the book – God’s Grace for Daughters of Eve: Lovers, Mothers and Others?

You will read the timeless truths of God’s goodness to a girl who giggled, a woman who wept, and one who went to war. You will also learn about His grace for a mama by a manger, a well woman, and a beloved bride. God adores mothers, lovers and others, just because He can. And so He does.

C.S. Lewis, in his Chronicles of Narnia, called girls of all ages: Daughters of Eve. This devotional book is written through the perspective of God’s grace for Daughters of Eve. Love rules. Grace reigns. God’s unreasonable kindness is unearned and often quite unexpected. License ignores it and legalism wants to supervise it. But liberty lovingly lives it, because God generously gives it. Grace is truly amazing

Who is the intended audience for the book?

It took a long time, but that which was planned before time was braided into the tangles of time by the hand of God, through His grace and for His glory. This is a story of Daughters of Eve: for men who marry them, sons who honor them, daughters who delight in them, people who pastor them and above all for women who are them.

It seems as this book gives us glimpses of God’s grace as demonstrated to women in Scripture?

My passion is to teach biblical truths wrapped in a soft smile, thus God’s Grace for Daughters of Eve was born. Linda Dillow wrote of this book, “A devotional with depth but also humor? Can a Daughter of Eve learn and laugh at the same time? I did and you will too!”

What do you mean in the summary of the book that in each story there is a little glitch?

Just like your story, and my story, you will discover a glitch in each of these stories; a minor mishap with major meaning — when life falls short, because we all fall short. Yet God rescues us, His perfectly imperfect children through one simple earthshaking sacrifice. Grace abounds.

Can this book be used in a Bible study group?

This devotional book can form the foundation for a retreat, group Bible study, or personal quiet time.  It also can be used to mentor or disciple others. In addition to the stories of many different Daughters of Eve, each chapter has a workbook section for personal application. Teaching tips are included, as are extensive Scripture readings.

What do you want people who buy your book to really get out of it?

Lessons linger and a line lasts which became a lifeline of love from the Father to the Son through the Holy Spirit for all who would believe the powerful promises of God—by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

What are some final words of wisdom that you would like to pass on to people reading this article?

By seeing glimpses of God’s great grace for other Daughters of Eve, the reader may be able to experience His lavish love personally, and permanently, through God’s amazing grace.

To find out more about Sandra’s ministry as a Bible teacher, retreat speaker, and her other books, contact her at aslans@cox.net.

Dr. Charlie Bing, gracetheology.org, gracelife.org

Understanding Difficult Bible Passages: An Interview with Dr. Charlie Bing (Part 2)

Grace, Salvation and Discipleship , Charlie Bing, gracetheology.org

Editorial Note from Dr. Fred Chay: One of the purposes of Grace Theology Press is to provide fresh resources concerning grace theology to the church. This week we highlight a new resource from a veteran author and choice servant of the Lord, Dr. Charlie Bing. For the past 30 years, Charlie has provided leadership and resources for those of us who hold to grace theology. We are pleased to have published his latest book and hope you enjoy our interview with him.

GraceLife Ministries Founder and Director Charles Bing earned his Th.M. and Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Bing pastored Burleson Bible Church in Texas for 19 years before transitioning to GraceLife full-time in 2005. He has served as Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies for LeTourneau University from 1992-2011 and is a former President of the Free Grace Alliance. He is active as a speaker for churches and conferences in the United States and abroad and has published a number of books and articles on the gospel, salvation, evangelism, and discipleship. Dr. Bing recently partnered with Grace Theology Press to release his book Grace, Salvation and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages.

I’ve read the book and there is a lot very helpful content in it. I thought the appendixes were helpful as well as a very useful summary of the principles of Bible interpretation presented early in the book. Can you give us an example of a passage and how you explain that in an A Truth / B Truth format?

Well, one example might be Matthew 7:15-20 where Matthew talks about false prophets and how to know them. It is in this passage where the statement is made, “By your fruits you will know them.” That passage is often used in the A Truth sense where it is used to assess who is a Christian by what they do. The problem with that is that the context there might lead us to another interpretation that’s not talking about our salvation and how to recognize a Christian, but how to recognize a false prophet. It says that they come to us as wolves in sheep’s clothing. If these false prophets are wearing sheep’s clothing, then obviously they look like Christians in that they are doing what Christians do. The question is, what is their fruit? We look in the context and we continue on to Matthew 12 where we see that the fruit could very well be referring to their words because that is the test of a false prophet in Deuteronomy. The false prophet is confirmed by his teaching. By reviewing the context and comparing it with other Scriptures we see that the passage is not teaching that we can recognize Christians by what they do, but we recognize false prophets by what they teach. This is not necessarily an A Truth but more of a B Truth on how to recognize false prophets.

Now the book is organized sequentially through the New Testament. You have Matthew, Mark, Luke, the Gospel of John; you have a section on Acts, the Epistles of Paul, Hebrews, James, Peter, John and then Revelation. How did you pick the passages you addressed in the book?

I picked the passages first of all because these are the passage that people have questions about when I teach at conferences. Secondly, they’re also the ones that many people with differing theology will often bring up against our view that the gospel of grace is absolutely a free gift. After about 30 years of Bible teaching, I hear the same questions over and over again. I initially began to write GraceNotes to answer these questions, and this book is really an extension of GraceNotes.

What do you want people who buy your book to really get out of it?

First of all, I want them to take away a sincere love and appreciation for God’s Word, especially if it is allowed to speak for itself. I want to be pulled by God’s Word, and I don’t want to be pushed by theology. So much of our Biblical interpretation is based on a theology that we have adopted from somewhere, and it pushes us to certain understandings or traditional understandings without thinking about what the passage really says in its context. I want people to let God speak for Himself, and the best way to do that is to let the Bible interpret itself in its context. The highest appreciation that we can have for God’s Word is to understand it in context, and from there go out with a clear idea of God, the gospel and discipleship.

What are some final words that you would like to pass on to those who are reading this? Do you have any additional comments for people who will buy your book?

Well, first of all, I know that not everyone’s going to agree with every interpretation I offer of a passage. Sometimes I’m not extremely settled on some of them myself, but that’s not the point of the book. The point of the book is to get you thinking about where the context leads us, and it may lead us to a different interpretation. The point is to be faithful to the context and faithful to principles of Bible study. In response, I show how the gospel remains absolutely free and discipleship remains our constant commitment to follow the Lord Jesus Christ after we have trusted in Him as our Savior.

Thank you to Dr. Bing for this interview. To find out more about Dr. Bing and GraceLife Ministries, go to gracelife.org where you can receive more information on the ministry. At gracelife.org, sign up for the newsletter or purchase the book Grace, Salvation and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages.

Todd Mathis
Phoenix, Arizona

Dr. Charlie Bing, gracetheology.org, gracelife.org

Understanding Difficult Bible Passages: An Interview with Dr. Charlie Bing (Part 1)

Grace, Salvation and Discipleship , Charlie Bing, gracetheology.org

Editorial Note from Dr. Fred Chay: One of the purposes of Grace Theology Press is to provide fresh resources concerning grace theology to the church. This week we highlight a new resource from a veteran author and choice servant of the Lord, Dr. Charlie Bing. For the past 30 years, Charlie has provided leadership and resources for those of us who hold to grace theology. We are pleased to have published his latest book and hope you enjoy our interview with him.

GraceLife Ministries Founder and Director Charles Bing earned his Th.M. and Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Bing pastored Burleson Bible Church in Texas for 19 years before transitioning to GraceLife full-time in 2005. He has served as Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies for LeTourneau University from 1992-2011 and is a former President of the Free Grace Alliance. He is active as a speaker for churches and conferences in the United States and abroad and has published a number of books and articles on the gospel, salvation, evangelism, and discipleship. Dr. Bing recently partnered with Grace Theology Press to release his book Grace, Salvation and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages.

Can you tell us just a little bit about what you do?

GraceLife Ministries is a ministry that shares the gospel of grace with those who need to hear it and are unsaved, but also shares the grace of the gospel with those who are saved and need to understand what it means to live and grow in grace. In the United States, our ministry takes the form of speaking at church and Bible conferences. With our overseas ministry, it takes the form of training pastors and leaders in the clear gospel so that they can share a clear gospel with their people.

You just wrote a new interesting book called “Grace, Salvation and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages.” Why did you write the book?

I wrote this book because I saw that it was needed. The book deals with some passages that are often confused when it comes to salvation and discipleship. If pastors and teachers are confused about these passages, they will present an erroneous or confused gospel. There are a lot of questions which have arisen in my past teaching, and usually they’re the same questions over and over. We also see that when we teach on these passages, we encounter the same misunderstandings. I wrote the book to address these issues. I thought that it would be a much-needed tool greatly needed right now for those who are trying to understand these difficult passages that we sometimes call “problem passages.”

Who was the audience that you wrote this book for? Who would get the most use out of your book?

Well, obviously the audience is for anyone who wants to understand some of these difficult Bible passages. I think that the book will be used by those who really study the Bible, serious Bible students, especially those who are teaching at any level from Sunday School teachers to preachers and even in the seminary classroom. I think that they will all find it helpful to see how some of these passages, when taken in context, can be determined as speaking to salvation or discipleship.

You just can’t get away from the distinction that you have used with how you wrote the book. You wrote the book in what you call an A Truth / B Truth format. Can you describe a little bit about what that format is and why you chose it?

A Truth/B Truth refers to salvation or discipleship. A Truth is truth about our initial salvation and reception of eternal life, and B Truth is truth about discipleship, which is the Christian life or growing in grace. Originally, I actually titled the book A Truth / B Truth, but then realized that no one would know what it is about and therefore changed the title to Grace, Salvation and Discipleship. The A Truth / B Truth model is applied to every one of the 130 passages that I address in the book. I have found that it’s a very simple model and approach for people to use when they look at a passage on either salvation or discipleship to determine which it is talking about. I’ve received such a good response in using that model everywhere that I thought this is something that might really be a helpful tool if explained in a book.

To find out more about Dr. Bing and GraceLife Ministries, go to gracelife.org where you can receive more information on the ministry. At gracelife.org, sign up for the newsletter or purchase the book Grace, Salvation and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages. Be on the lookout for Part 2 in this interview with Dr. Bing.

Todd Mathis
Phoenix, Arizona