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Fred Chay, Grace Theology Press, www.gracethehology.org

Finding Clarity

One of the primary goals  of GTP is to provide biblical and theological resources to help clarify biblical and theological questions. One of our latest resources does just that. In the book Grace, Salvation and Discipleship, Dr. Charlie Bing provides not only answers but also an approach to finding answers. Read on as he explains the purpose and procedure of his book:

“I MAY SEEM obsessed or arrogant, but I just can’t get over the fact that most people don’t seem to agree on the gospel and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. We might expect that of those who are not Christians, but many Christians don’t agree with one another or hold differing views about these subjects. Many other Christians don’t see any issues or don’t care. To them I might appear both obsessed and arrogant. I guess I see the gospel and discipleship as two important things a person should understand clearly. Craig’s email typifies the confusion many people encounter in trying to understand the gospel:

Hey Dr. Bing, I love reading your articles/notes and I even purchased/read your book Simply by Grace…. However, I am still very concerned with some passages in the Bible that seem contrary to the freeness of God’s salvation and grace by faith ALONE. This troubles me so much that I have absolutely no assurance of my salvation nor do I even know how to get salvation if I were to discover I didn’t have it. There are so many different versions of “how to get saved” out there that it leaves people confused like myself. Anyways, the problems I have with this free grace theology lie within the teaching and parables of Jesus found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (John’s whole book basically supports the free grace position of salvation by grace through faith alone without any attachments.) However, in the 3 synoptic gospels . . . we see something totally different. We see Jesus telling people how hard it is to get saved, enter the kingdom, and remain in the kingdom, etc. We see parables such as the 10 virgins where if we don’t have lanterns lit, we are out of luck in entering the banquet feast. Many parables Jesus spoke about referred to being obedient and doing good deeds in order to “get into the kingdom.” Of course, this “getting into the kingdom/heaven” was mostly portrayed as being invited and entering a feast, wedding festival, etc…. It seems that there are SEVERAL ways that achieving salvation is presented in the New Testament. The synoptic gospels portray Jesus’ parables and teachings concerning obtaining salvation as experiencing and making lifestyle changes, good deeds, and obedience to His Lordship. John’s gospel focuses on Jesus’ deity and the idea that to be saved one must believe Jesus is God, etc. And then we have Paul who is different than both of them with this idea that to be saved you must believe in a resurrected Christ, and that belief alone (without any works) is what saves you due to God’s grace. I am very very confused. On top of that, we have passages in 1 John that seem to show that if we sin then we are not saved, or if we hate our brother, we aren’t saved…. Can you please help me? – Craig  

This book is an attempt to help Craig and others like him understand the Scriptures, the gospel, and discipleship. But in doing so, I hope to make a genuine contribution to something dear to all Christians and others who want to understand the Bible. It seems the main source of confusion about salvation and the gospel is the misinterpretation of New Testament passages that either speak about salvation or seem to speak about salvation. Too often a singular approach is used that lumps Bible passages indiscriminately together to produce a muddling jumble of sometimes contradicting conditions for how to be saved. I believe the Bible teaches clearly that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. The tragedy of misinterpreting many Bible passages is that the gospel of grace is perverted, while enriching truths about the Christian life in such passages are neglected. Let God speak in veiled form about the end times, but let Him be clear about our salvation!

I want to demonstrate a consistent approach to the Scriptures that equips people to discern the meaning of a passage for themselves. I don’t want to call it a method. For lack of the perfect word, I call it an approach. But there are no secret formulas in this approach. I’m just advocating good principles of Bible study to yield the best interpretation. Neither are my interpretations unique. You will find others who have taught or written about them. What I hope to show is a consistent approach that you can use to see (or test) these interpretations.

My purpose is not to exhaust the exegesis or explanation of the selected Bible passages, but to show enough evidence to convince readers that there is another interpretive option than the one many assume. (I have more detailed explanations for many of these passages elsewhere.) I am hoping to show a key but neglected distinction in the interpretations of what we might call difficult or “problem passages” about salvation and the Christian life. Also, I want to show the process used to get the most accurate interpretation. I purposely do not distract you with footnotes citing other commentators because I want you to see how the Bible interprets itself when context is emphasized.”

Let me invite you to read this helpful book that will clarify questions, provide answers and give insight as to how to study your Bible. It is available in the Grace Theology Press store.

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, PhD
Managing Editor,
Grace Theology Press