In Grace, Salvation & Discipleship, Charles C. Bing asserts that the distinction between Christian and disciple is clearly taught in the passage John 8:30-31.
While he was saying these things, many people believed in him. Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples”
In the last post (link) we looked at the assumptions Bing held regarding apostasy and how they influenced his interpretation of John 8:30-31. In this post we will examine his interpretation in light of two more assumptions:
- The Jews described as believers in John 8:30-31 are genuine Christians who receive eternal life.
- Jesus’ dialogue that follows is directed to another group of Jews in the crowd and not the same people in verses 30 and 31.
The first question we must ask is what did the Jews, described as having believed in Jesus in verses 30 and 31, actually believe about Jesus? Did they believe that Jesus was their Savior who would save them from their sins? Did they believe in Jesus for eternal life as Bing claims?
As Jesus is teaching them that He is the Light of the world, the Jews in the crowd are asking “who are you” (v 25). Jesus replies to this question that it is not until after He has been lifted up, referring to the cross and resurrection, that they would know who He was (v 28). At the point in time that Jesus is dialoguing with these Jews, it is more likely that the crowd believed/accepted Jesus as a miracle working teacher that has come from God claiming to be the Messiah (John 2:23; 3:1-2). And this belief was probably nominal, as they quickly reject Jesus’ teaching that they must be set free, instead relying on their ancestry to Abraham (v 32-33). Continue reading
If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine – Jesus
I am reading and blogging through Grace, Salvation & Discipleship by Charles C. Bing, a book given to me by a friend who was eager to hear what I thought about it. In the first post we looked at how the book framed the idea of faith within the Free Grace movement (link).
In this post we will examine Bing’s presentation of discipleship. The purpose of the book and the Free Grace movement is to defend the idea that the term disciple is not a synonym for a Christian (aka believer).
Salvation is not Discipleship. This distinction is the basis of this book.
In defining a disciple, Bing offers four good observations:
- “A disciple is a learner, someone who is learning to become like his teacher”
- “The word disciple does not automatically refer to someone who is eternally saved”
- “the term disciples seems to to refer to Christians as a whole without distinction [in Acts]”
- a true disciple is “a follower of Jesus Christ as Master”
He then tries to defend the distinction, that believers are not disciples, using John 8:30-31 as the primary text. 
This [distinction] couldn’t be clearer than in John 8:30-31 where Jesus tells those who have already believed in Him how they can become disciples …
and later: Continue reading
When exploring the topic of eternal security, one of the primary passages used to defend and describe the security of the believer is John 10:27-30. In Christian Theology, Millard Erickson writes (page 1003):
Jesus’ words in John 10:27-30 constitute a powerful declaration of security. … Jesus is categorically excluding the slightest chance of an apostasy by his sheep. … All in all, this passage is as definite a rejection of the idea that a true believer can fall away as could be given.
Charles Stanley, in Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure, agrees (page 18):
Think about it. If our salvation is not secure, how could Jesus say about those to whom He gives eternal life, “and they shall never perish” (John 10:28)? If even one man or woman receives eternal life and then forfeits it through sin or apostasy, will they not perish? And by doing so, do they not make Jesus’ words a lie?
Is that the case?