by Jerry Shugart
Joel W. Finck
Today the teaching concerning "works" and salvation in other dispensations among most Mid Acts believers has expanded far beyond what Pastor Stam taught. Today most Mid Acts teachers, including Pastor Joel Finck, believe that the Jewish Episles or General Epistles contain doctrine that teaches that "works" of one kind or another are required for salvation, and that the primary application of these epistles is for a time after the present "dispensation of grace" has ended:
"What do we mean by the 'Jewish Epistles?' We are referring to the New Testament books of Hebrews through Jude...to view the Books of Hebrews through Jude as 'Jewish Epistles' is because of the contents of their message. These epistles clearly present a soteriology (doctrine of salvation) which is compatible with the Jewish program, not with the Dispensation of Grace committed to the Apostle Paul" (Finck, Lordship Salvation and the Gospel of the Grace of God, [Bible Doctrines Publications, 1998], p.16-17).
Pastor Finck's book Lordship Salvation and The Gospel of the Grace of God is fairly representative of the teaching among most Mid Acts dispensationalists today so we will examine that book and see if the ideas contained therein can stand up to the scrutiny of the Scriptures.
Salvation at the Time of Christ
Pastor Finck writes that "The covenant is clearly in full force at the time of Christ...under the covenant, they did have to believe, but their faith had to be demonstrated by their works. In the case of the covenant, they had to be circumcised, and they had to keep the Law" (Finck, Lordship Salvation and the Gospel of the Grace of God, pp.13-14).
According to Finck the Jew at the time of Christ could not be saved apart from the works of the Law. However, Pastor Finck quotes the words of the Lord Jesus where He speaks of salvation by "faith" only. Here is the verse:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life " (Jn.5:24).
Pastor Finck does not address the fact that the Lord Jesus speaks only of "faith" for salvation but instead he attempts to prove that this verse does not teach eternal security. He says, "Several observations can be made. First, this verse must be taken in the broader context of John's Gospel, and not isolated from other statements of Christ " (Ibid., p.49).
Let us look at the Lord Jesus' words in regard to "faith" only in the "broader context of John's gospel". Some Jews came to the Lord Jesus and asked Him: "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" To this the Lord answered, saying:
"This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent" (Jn.6:28-29).
It is the Words which the Lord Jesus spoke that brought "life", not His Words plus "works" of the Law, as witnessed by His own words:
"It is the spirit that giveth life...the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" (Jn.6:63).
Can there be any doubt that the sinner received everlasting life when he believed the words spoken by the Lord Jesus with the following verse in view?:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn.3:16).
Pastor Finck asserts that "The message of the Old Testament and of the Four Gospels is this: 'Not only must you believe, you must also do' " (Ibid., p.14).
J.C. O'Hair disagrees with Finck's assertion, writing that "The message of grace, eternal life by faith alone, in John's Gospel, is on the grounds of the death and resurrection of the Son of God" [emphasis added] (O'Hair, A Comparative Study of the Four Gospels, "Bible Study for Bereans", June, 1937).
These words of O'Hair should not be taken lightly, especially considering the following words which can be found on the Berean Bible Society Website: "Pastor O'Hair was, without a doubt, the one person who, more than any other, was used of God to establish among believers what Paul, by inspiration calls, 'the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery.' "
Of course O'Hair understood that those who "believed on the name" of the Lord Jesus while He walked the earth were "born of God" and therefore became "children of God":
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name: Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jn.1:12-13).
Here are Pastor Finck's own comments on the meaning of the phrase "children of God" in the present dispensation:
"Here is the first aspect of our inheritance as believers: by virtue of the fact that we are children of God, we also become 'heirs of God.' That is, we will literally inherit God, or the privilege of being in His presence for all eternity" (Ibid., p.27).
Those who believed in the Lord Jesus while He walked the earth became "children of God" when they believed in His name. Therefore they "will literally inherit God, or the priviledge of being in His presence for all eternity".