Category: Theology

When believing is never enough

The only book of the Bible that has the specific and stated purpose of preaching the message of eternal life is the Gospel of John. He himself tells us: 

Now Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these were written, that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and, that, by believing, you may have life in his name.

JOHN 20: 30-31

John repeatedly reiterates the only condition to obtain eternal life: to believe in the One whom God has sent (cf. Jn 6:29). In fact, the Greek verb pisteou (to believe) appears 98 times in the Gospel according to John , almost a third of all biblical occurrences.

In the first letter of John the verb appears 7 more times, and the noun also appears once, in one of the most beautiful verses of the epistle:

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

1 JOHN 5: 4

The emphasis on doing

The following sentences, many of which you have surely heard, give us an example of how the church today is focused on doing:

You will have eternal life if …

  • … Give your life to Christ
  • … You have a relationship with Jesus
  • … (Take up your cross and) follow Jesus
  • … Commit your life to Jesus
  • … Make a choice for Jesus
  • … Become disciples of Jesus
  • … Accept Jesus
  • … Receive Jesus in your heart
  • … You have been invested in power by the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues

What do they have in common?

  • None resemble John’s message.
  • None talks about believing , but about doing or feeling
  • All imply that belief is not enough , implying — intentionally or unintentionally — a salvation by works

For example, just a few days ago I heard the phrase: “you will not go to heaven by following the Law, but by following a person: Jesus”. Though uttered with the best of intentions, the emphasis is once again on doing and not believing .

False assurance and false “tests”

Many say that if you do not persevere and progressively sanctify yourself , you have not truly believed (typical is the out-of-context use of Matthew 24:13, where enduring to the end guarantees escape alive from the tribulation). Others believe that failure to persevere indicates a loss of eternal life. Still others believe that “a visible transformation” or “a concrete commitment” must necessarily follow, otherwise one has never really believed (similar to the first group). Some others teach that one must have a spiritual experience, such as the Pentecostal view of the gift of tongues, to be “true believers.”

One could continue with similar examples, but the concept is clear: belief is not enough for any of these groups.

Systematically, when saying these things, I am accused of offering people a licence to sin. I welcome this accusation, which comes to those who preach the same message of justification by faith alone that Paul preached (Ro 6: 1-2). As Michael Eaton says

When you preach the gospel properly you are likely to be misunderstood. Someone is likely to say, “You are preaching grace too much. You are preaching that we can just sin.” […] If you are preaching what Jesus and Paul preached, you will get misunderstood in the same way.

(MICHAEL EATON, LIVING UNDER GRACE, P. 17)

The fact that Paul receives this objection shows that the apostle preached a message that left open the possibility of carnal believers (1 Co 3: 1-2) who, never maturing, are virtually indistinguishable from unbelievers. But the fact that there is this possibility does not mean that Paul was teaching people to continue in sin! Far from it. But Paul (as well as others) never uses a believer’s perseverance in sin as proof of his alleged non-genuine faith.

Therefore, I do not mean at all that we should not try to imitate our Master, far from it. But you have to discern the context correctly and understand that “following Jesus” is not how you get the gift of eternal life. Following Jesus is what makes us disciples , not what makes us believers.

But the real question is: shouldn’t we also imitate Jesus in his preaching? And imitate Paul too, as he imitated Christ (1 Co 11: 1)? And what did they say?

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; On the other hand, those who refuse to believe in the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

JESUS (IN JOHN 3:36)

The jailer, asked for a light, jumped inside and, trembling, threw himself at the feet of Paul and Silas; then he led them out and said, “Gentlemen, what must I do to be saved ?” And they said, ” Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you and your family will be saved.”

PAUL (IN ACTS 16: 29-31)

That said, two questions remain for us to discuss; one legitimate, the other not.

Legitimate question: what is one to believe?

Since believing is the only condition for obtaining eternal life, it is legitimate to ask what to believe. According to John, for “you to have life in his name” you must believe that ” Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God ” (Jn 20:31). This is not an isolated statement; for example, John reiterates this in his first epistle:

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.

1 JOHN 5: 1

 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 

1 JOHN 5:5

This would be sufficient as an answer, were it not for the fact that John wrote about 2,000 years ago, meaning very specific things that his audience had no difficulty in understanding, but which could leave us a little perplexed: is it too simple to say just “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God”? No.

The things that John’s audience had no difficulty in understanding from that simple statement are the same things that John wrote in his Gospel, “that you may believe” (Jn 20:30). Therefore, believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, means believing the things that John presents to us in the first book of him. And thank God, such things can be summed up in two categories , which John himself provides us:

He is the true God and eternal life .

1 JOHN 5:20

Jesus is the Son of God: he is divine. Jesus is the Christ: he gives eternal life. To corroborate this, the conversation with Martha comes into play. Jesus said to her:

“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, he will live; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? “

JOHN 11: 25-26

What did Martha say to Jesus?

“Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ , the Son of God who was to come into the world”

JOHN 11:27

Note that Martha did not simply answer “Yes, I believe it”, but “Yes, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,” clearly equating what Jesus had just said about himself with the fact that He was the Christ and the Son of God. Note that in this exchange Jesus emphasizes only the fact that he is the resurrection and the life, not his divinity. Yet Martha’s answer makes us understand how the two are inextricable for a believing Jew of the first century.

For Martha, as well as for John, the fact that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God was equivalent to the fact that He was the True God and that in Him — and in Him alone — is found Life and Resurrection.

But why was it so clear to them? Have we not been told that the Jews of the time had a distorted view of the Messiah? Of course, those who ended up rejecting the Messiahship of Jesus certainly had a distorted view of the Messiah, having in mind only a Mashiach ben David (Messiah son of David) without the corresponding Mashiach ben Yosef (Messiah son of Joseph). But those who believed clearly had a correct idea of ​​the Messiah; the sheep that the Father had given to the Son (Jn 10:29) believed in Jesus because they had already believed in the Father, or the Scriptures, and not the religious leaders.*

That the Messiah was the one who would give them resurrection and life was clear from Isaiah 53 (cf. Is 53: 11-12). And that the Messiah was Divine was evident from innumerable passages (e.g., Zc 12:10).

This is why John opens his Gospel with the famous prologue which openly and clearly declares that Jesus is God in the flesh. The rest of his Gospel cannot be read except in the light of the prologue (which is why sectarians such as Jehovah’s Witnesses alter the first verses of this book), and therefore we see Jesus repeatedly described as the author of the resurrection and of life, roles reserved for the living God.

This is why John continually emphasizes that to have eternal life one simply has to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Paul does the same when he says “believe in the Lord Jesus” to be saved.

It is wrong, whatever the reason, to change this message into something that involves doing and not believing

Illegitimate question: what does it mean to believe?

This is the illegitimate question; let’s see why.

First of all, I want to clarify that asking “what it means to believe” is not the same as asking “what John meant when he said he believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God”. Why? Because the texts must be analyzed in their Sitz im Leben , or in the light of the original historical-cultural context. And John used clear words in his time. Not only that, but his texts alone explain what he meant.

In light of this, let’s talk about the verb translated “to believe”. This is still clear today, which is why it is always translated that way. The Strong Concordance clearly tells us that pisteuó means ‘to believe, to trust, to affirm, to be persuaded, to entrust’. This is also confirmed by the BDAG dictionary .

Yet, too many times I have heard pastors ask themselves rhetorically from the pulpit “but what does it mean to believe?” and then go on to explain that it means something “more” than believing (and obviously, this “more” implies, in one way or another, doing ).

One of the problems with asking what “believe” really means is that the question takes us into Gnostic territory . When one wonders if there is something more behind the clear meaning of a word, then, like the Gnostics, one believes that the true meaning of something is hidden (and usually reserved for a select few).

In the case of the Bible in general, this attitude directly attacks the just and equitable character of God, who intends to “give mercy to all” (Ro 11:32). And in the specific case of the Gospel of Eternal Life, the Gnostic investigation directly undermines the sola fide : once again, the attack is on the sufficiency of faith to obtain the grace of eternal life. Once again, people who are rhetorically asking this question from the pulpit are declaring to their audience that “believing” is not enough.


*For reasons of time and space, I will not go into detail, but the Dead Sea Scrolls and the various commentaries found among them confirm that the expectation of the believers of the time was that of a Divine Messiah and Redeemer.

A Theology of the Face: How Endless Mask-Wearing Hides the Image of God and Hinders the Church | Via Emmaus

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18 – For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our…
— Read on davidschrock.com/2020/10/31/a-biblical-theology-of-the-face-what-endless-mask-wearing-does-to-the-image-of-god-the-gospel-and-the-church/

The Giant Company: a piece of tech for the image of the beast?

I have before looked at many passages in the book of Revelation as requiring advanced technology. After all, John the Apostle had a limited vocabulary with which render his visions. But one passage I never actually linked to a technological advancement is this:

”And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed”

Revelation 13:15

This technology—or some refined form of it—could actually provide the basis for the moving and speaking image of the beast that the world will be asked to worship.

Dear English churches that have decided to close despite being allowed to stay open

I hope this finds you well, and your year has started well enough, all things considered.

I’ve read with sadness and disappointment that some English churches have decided to close the doors once again, despite the government allowing them to stay open. Amongst reasons for doing this there is:

  • alleged increased risk-factors due to the new more-virulent form of the virus, which could allegedly put people at risk through the action of opening the church building
  • desire to be seen by the local community as acting responsibly; gathering might be a “bad witness”.

Based on that, I am going to say a few things. Please, understand this is not me pointing the finger. It’s me sharing and caring for my brothers and sisters in England.


The image above is proof enough that the government is willingly and knowingly imposing unnecessary lockdowns. If I have access to this basic data, they do too. At the time of the first lockdown (which in hindsight I still find unjustified, dangerous, and outright unconstitutional anyway) there’s a peak in excess deaths that we simply no longer find later on.

To those who object that the “NHS is under immense strain”, I can only answer that based on my research over the past months, this is in most part “normal” for winter period. There’s an additional strain that I believe is due to hysteria and misdiagnoses due to a flawed mass-testing strategy. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] Either way, the money should be spent in upgrading the healthcare systems (which everywhere in Europe, for example, have undergone cuts after cuts for the past 10 years at least), and not on flawed testing campaigns and unconstitutional tracing systems (22bln/year in the UK for test & trace, and they turn around and say they closed down Nightingale due to lack of staff?).

The number of cases in the UK is high mainly because the testing capacity of the UK has reached absurd levels; as an example, the UK carries out on average 14 times more tests per day than Italy, at the moment.

Number of cases mean absolutely nothing if you don’t have excess deaths, which is the standard way of measuring the severity of an epidemic.

Number of cases also mean nothing if the testing strategy is flawed.

WHO themselves said the new variant does not really behave any different to the old ones. Also, from medical literature, when coronaviruses mutate, they become more infectious, but less deadly. Meaning, they spread more but do less harm.

I believe it’s about time to stop looking up to the government, and realise that there is a concerted effort to bring the western countries on their knees, in order to enact the World Economic Forum’s agenda that goes by the name of Great Reset. The WEF founder himself has written a book called COVID-19: The Great Reset, clearly linking the pandemic to their agenda, which however was already public matter as of 2017. I appreciate it’s hard for some people to conceive such a large scale communal effort. Yet they are not hiding it. Though they have the ability to market it positively, as in this video from the Royal Family, some politicians have had enough discernment to call it what it is in an official UN address: global totalitarianism (as a related aside, watch this creepy conversation between Neil Ferguson and Tony Blair; or this review of Pope Francis’ latest book by catholic apologist Taylor Marshall).

The Western Church (in general) must acknowledge their faulty understanding and application of Romans 13 during this period. This article does a very good job at explaining how Paul never suggested an unquestioning submission to the authorities; Paul’s own experience instructs us to use every legal means in our society to push back evil, and correct abusive governments, which, though are meant to be God’s servants, can easily fall away from that. The Bible clearly teaches that people and nations chosen by God for a purpose can easily end up disobeying God. Israel itself is the prime example of this.

Never before in the history of the West we used totalitarianism to handle a healthcare emergency. Lockdowns, social distancing, and face masks on healthy people (no, there’s no such a thing as an asymptomatic spreader) are unconstitutional in all western countries that I checked, and violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Both these things would be completely meaningless if the rights codified in constitutions and human rights declarations weren’t the very God-given liberties bestowed onto us by the Creator God; liberties that our own brothers and sisters over the centuries, with their influence, and their boldness in walking in justice with God (Micah 6:8), have ensured would be codified in such earthly documents.

The mentality of lockdowns stems from worldviews that are vehemently opposed to our biblical worldview; they are tools normally used by totalitarian states like China (though many think of Communism in terms of politics, it is instead a fully fledged violently atheistic worldview, where the Party or the State takes the place of God).

The West has been blessed with biblical wisdom more than any other part of the world, and we have understood over the centuries that imposing draconian regulations on people is not the way. It is far more adequate and just to leave the choice open to each and everyone. In this case, the choice to either come to the physical gathering or stay home.

Enforcing a closure isn’t Christian, because it tramples upon the very liberties each of God’s image-bearers has.

Enforcing a closure isn’t compassionate, because there’s not just Covid in this world. The Church (as a whole) is failing to look at the big picture. Several studies have now proven that lockdowns, from the stricter to the milder, have had no effect whatsoever on the spread of the virus. I quote from a paper:

The lockdowns in most Western countries have thrown the world into the most severe recession since World War II and the most rapidly developing recession ever seen in mature market economies. They have also caused an erosion of fundamental rights and the separation of powers in large part of the world as both democratic and autocratic regimes have misused their emergency powers and ignored constitutional limits to policy-making. Comparing weekly mortality in 24 European countries, the findings in this paper suggest that more severe lockdown policies have not been associated with lower mortality. In other words, the lockdowns have not worked as intended.

No photo description available.
https://www.reddit.com/r/LockdownSkepticism/comments/kn2xe4/all_the_detrimental_effects_of_lockdowns_divided

Lockdown have created misery, despair, a gigantic economical crisis, increase of suicides by 1000%, destroyed the mental health of many, increased domestic abuse, child abuse, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse.

Why is it that since 2020, all that everyone cares about is Covid, the risk of Covid, or people sick with Covid? What about all the other people? What about the state-mandated child abuse, that is, forced isolation of little human beings that need socialising in order to grow mentally sane? And shall we talk of the psychological damage face masks cane have on both grown-ups and youngsters?

Above all, as Christians, what about all those people we can’t reach? Why has the Western Church largely accepted to suspend all outreach until further notice? (And no, there’s no way we can make up for that with online outreach). How is that ‘Christian’ in any meaning of the word? What kind of message does that give to the people around us? That we care more about “this life” than the eternal life offered by Jesus?

How different was the Church during the Cholera Outbreak in London, 1854

Therefore I dissent with the choice of closing a church in the face of the privilege of being able to remain open. I disagree wholeheartedly with the idea that a church closing willingly despite the liberty of remaining open provides the community with a testimony of acting responsibly. Rather, I maintain it will give the message that we believe just as the world does. That we are afraid, just like they are. That we have no hope, just like they don’t.

Churches have always remained open, no matter what kind of crisis was raging. They have been a beacon of hope in the midst of wars and plagues. A light in the dark. And what do we do since 2020? We put the light under the bushel. Worse, we blow off the candle; we switch off the lamp.

The bottom line here is that we are witnessing a massive satanic involvement in the western governments. They are lying knowingly. We’ve been told there’s no treatment, when it’s not true. This is a review from the University of Liverpool about Ivermectin as a treatment for Covid. Doctors have been saying it works, since April. Referring to Ivermectin, renowned professor Thomas Borody said that Covid is easier to treat than the flu; it was back in August. Also, this is a meta-analysis that estimates the number of deaths we could’ve avoided if we didn’t irrationally ban hydroxychloroquine— 945,000 people and counting at the time I write this.

However, the worst thing is that they have disguised as science what are really coercitive methods straight from the Biderman Chart of Coercion (see this psychology class material, then compare to this table).

They have no intention to stop using these abusive methods that China managed to cleverly smuggle over here (Notice how China has been fine since March, suddenly all disappeared. No, it wasn’t the lockdown, because we know they don’t work).

Inasmuch as the Bible tells us that the time will come when Satan will manage to unite the world and prepare the field for the Antichrist to come, in no way that means that we, the Church of God, the Pillar of the Truth, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Restrainer (2 These 2:6), are to stand by, and watch evil happen. Even worse, obey the laws of Satan (through the government) as if we were obeying God himself!

Dissenting experts all around the world said time and again that the most compassionate and “normal” way to handle this is to protect the vulnerable and let everyone else go on with their lives, back to normal, without restrictions of any kind. Yet 2020 has been the year of censorship: any expert that wasn’t agreeing with the narrative has been almost completely banned from TV, papers, and even social media, which all went on a censorship spree, taking down video after video, and article after article, if they didn’t agree with the narrative. Orwellian at the very least, since they have also started “editing history and science”, by editing old articles from before 2019 so they’d support 2020’s narrative!

Given these people have no intention to stop abusing their powers, the Church is at a crossroads: do we continue to submit to Satan? Or do we submit to God?

With every blessing in Christ.

“Again, the new oligarchy must more and more base its claim to plan us on its claim to knowledge. If we are to be mothered, mother must know best. This means they must increasingly rely on the advice of scientists, till in the end the politicians proper become merely the scientists’ puppets. Technocracy is the form to which a planned society must tend. Now I dread specialists in power because they are specialists speaking outside their special subjects. Let scientists tell us about sciences. But government involves questions about the good for man, and justice, and what things are worth having at what price; and on these a scientific training gives a man’s opinion no added value. Let the doctor tell me I shall die unless I do so-and-so; but whether life is worth having on those terms is no more a question for him than for any other man.”

C. S. Lewis

Ethnic Gnosticism

Very relevant sermon in this period.

Voddie is possibly the only Reformed scholar/preacher I can actually listen to. Unlike the majority of Reformed I know, he actually has a Christian heart. Plus he’s funny. Plus he’s quite good a Jiu Jitsu.

Ethnic Gnosticism is a term crafted by Dr. Voddie Baucham to explain the phenomenon of people believing that somehow because of ones ethnicity that one is able to know when something or someone is racist. In this sermon, Dr. Baucham sheds light on the way this ideology is undermining the gospel and compromising genuine christian relationships in the church today. In recent years we have a growing concern about “social justice.” What is meant by that phrase, however, varies widely among those who use and promote it. What is too often missing—even in the calls for “social justice” coming from Christian leaders—is a clear understanding of biblical justice. Justice exists because God is just and righteous. He is the One who defines justice and He has revealed what true justice is in the Bible. For more resources on these topics, you can visit www.founders.org. This presentation was given by Dr. Voddie Baucham on January 4, 2019 at the Southeast Founders “Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly” regional conference in Cape Coral, Florida.

Reformed are Sola Patres, not Sola Scriptura

Like all disagreement with Reformed chaps, yet another one just resulted in the same pattern: «the church fathers held this and that» and «but the Reformers held such and such».

The Bible is hardly quoted, and when it is, it’s out of context and filtered through the presuppositions of the church fathers.

In this, they are no different than Roman Catholics. In fact, “pure breed Reformed folks” aren’t but Catholics without popes, saints, relics, indulgences, and marianism. Even their soteriology is more similar than they actually realise. And appeal to tradition is one of the main informal logical fallacies they are constantly guilty of.

Reformed are not Sola Scriptura. They are Sola Patres. They are so presuppositionally committed to the church fathers that it is no surprise their exegesis is never coherent nor consistent, but adopts multiple standards. As it is no surprise that they quote the fathers more often than they quote the Bible. They are slave to a fake intellectualism, having repudiated true wisdom in favour of man-made self-indulgent knowledge.

Let me break it to you: church fathers were wrong on a good number of things.

Adopt a sound exegesis, put the fathers aside, and understand the Scriptures.

The catharsis of the sabbath rest

Christians. They are all the same. No matter how committed we are to follow our Lord, no matter how well we claim to know the very simple yet extremely powerful message of the Gospel, we all have been there: we forget the extent of that power. We forget what it really means and entails to be saved by grace alone through faith alone. And we get entangled in our ‘deeds’, we look at ourselves, our own performance, our own fruits. And we end up using these things as the way to perceive the security of our salvation; to determine whether we are truly saved or not.

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Does anything happen outside the sovereignty of God?

So, it’s Sunday, I’ve just come back from Church and had a nice Sunday meal with my family. Then I went and had a peek on Facebook.

From a recently-joined theological group I read this question from a Calvinist:

Does anything happen outside the sovereignty of God? If so, what? (Scripture references please)

Funny enough, having spent a good year in an apologetic group filled with reformed folks very much acquainted with reformed apologetics (aka presuppositional apologetics — possibly the one and only thing I’ve made my own from the “reformed” camp), I can spot blatant logical fallacies with great ease.

So, whilst others are actually answering his question (giving him a leverage by ignoring the fallacy), my immediate response to the reformed brother is

Loaded question fallacy.

A good lesson I learnt is this: never answer a fallacious question without first pointing out that it is indeed fallacious (Proverbs 26:4-5). The built-in fallacy gives leverage to the questioner; whether it was planned or not, it will put them into an advantageous position, since you’ll end up trapped in the fallacious presuppositions they laid out for you.

The brother, asked, of course, why his question was fallacious. Well, it’s easily said.

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Your faith is not your own?

Hands up if you have heard a Calvinist say this before. I have. Ad nauseam. The argument goes like this: the Calvinist (who usually holds that saving faith was not a genuine expression of the sinner reaching out to the Saviour to be saved upon conviction of the Gospel) will tell you that if you hold to the view that your faith is actually yours, then faith becomes a good work. Since the Bible teaches that you are saved by grace through faith apart from works, the non-Calvinist view of saving faith is considered impossible, because that would contradict the teaching of the Bible regarding the role that good works play in salvation.

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