by Jerry Shugart
Salvation in the Jewish Epistles
The Apostle Peter makes it plain that the Jew was "born again" and received life in the same manner by which they were saved at the time the Lord Jesus walked the earth:
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God...And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Pet.1:23, 25).
I will once again quote the words of Cornelius Stam in regard to the means of salvation taught in the Jewish epistles:
"Finally, we would emphasize the fact that 'in the nature of the case' men born of Adam must be born or begotten again to be saved...The sinner is born anew and receives the life of the Spirit as the Spirit implants the Word in his heart, so that he accepts it by faith: James 1:18: 'OF HIS OWN WILL BEGAT HE US WITH THE WORD OF TRUTH...' " (Stam, TRUE Spiritually, p.34).
Paul describes the Jewish believers who lived under the Law as a "remnant according to the election of grace":
"Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace" (Ro.11:5-6).
Pastor Stam understands that if "works of the law" are required for salvation then that salvation cannot be described as being of grace": "Grace is not grace if mingled with works. The two principles are mutually exclusive (Rom. 4:4,5). Thus in salvation there is no 'your part' to perform; it is the gift of God's love, to be received in simple faith (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8,9)" (Stam, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, p.87).
According to Pastor Finck the believing Jews who lived under the Law, which would include Peter, could not be saved apart from works of the law. Therefore, if Pastor Finck is correct then Peter could not be included in a remnant where salvation is not of works. But yet Peter himself states in no uncertain terms that he was saved by "grace":
"We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are" (Acts 15:11; NIV).
Pastor Finck writes: "A commonly used security verse is John 5:24, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and belleveth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation: but is passed from death unto life.' 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. We have already pointed out that Christ's definition of faith is to continue in my word" (John 8:31). This is actually reflected in the grammar of John 5:24. The first three verbs are in the present tense, which in Greek is the tense of continuous (or, "durative") action. Therefore, Christ is telling His hearers that those who continue hearing and continue believing will continue to enter into eternal life. Granted, the verb, 'is passed' from death unto life is in the perfect tense. But all this means is that the kingdom believer is no longer in a state of separation from God, so long as he believes. It is a complete state of life, not part death and part life" (Ibid., p.49).
Finck says that since the "present" tense is used then we must understand the Lord's words are in regard to a person "continuing" (or "durative") to hear His words and "continuing to "believe". However, the Lord was referring to His "spoken" words. Are we to believe that for the Jews who heard His words that they must have "continued" to hear His spoken word into the future? Of course not!
In fact, Pastor Finck says that Paul's words to the Jews recorded in the following verses refer to the "gospel" by which those in the Body of Christ are saved:
"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38-39).
Finck comments on these verses, saying: "This is the Gospel revealed to Paul...The stated condition is, 'all that believe'... Here is justification by faith, without works. That's what Paul was preaching" (Ibid., pp.7-8).
The word "believe" in these verses is in the "present" tense and is therefore "durative". If Finck is going to be consistent then he must teach that those in the Body of Christ do not have eternal security either because they too have to continue in faith. He must either acknowledge that the "present" tense does not necessarily mean to continue into the future or he must teach that those in the Body of Christ do not enjoy eternal security.
According to the Greek experts the Greek present tense can be in regard to a continuous action beginning in the past and continuing into the present time:
"The durative (linear or progressive) in the present stem: the action is represented as durative (in progress) and either as timeless or as taking place in present time (including, of course, duration on one side or the other of the present moment" (Blass & DeBrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, p. 166.)
"The present tense may be used to describe an action which, begun in the past, continues in the present. The emphasis is on the present time" (Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 519).
"A Present Tense form is called durative when the context conveys an action that began in the past and continues into the present" (Young, Intermediate Greek, p.111-112).
The Lord was not telling anyone that they must continue to hear Him speaking in the distant future in order to be saved. Instead, those who were believing Him as He spoke His words were at that moment passed from death unto life and will not come into judgment.
Let us look at another verse:
"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).
Kenneth S. Wuest writes the following in regard to the Greek words translated "whosoever believes": "'whoever believes' = 'pas ho pisteuon' = relative pronoun with a participle verb functioning as a noun, lit. 'everyone who is believing'...Contrary to objectors who insist that Jn 3:16 stipulates everyone who maintains a constant state of believing as result of the phrase 'whoever believes' = 'pas ho pisteuon', the form of the verb to believe is not a present tense form but it is actually a nominative, singular, masculine, present active participle, i.e., a participle acting as a noun indicating 'one who believes' [in Christ as Savior], i.e., a believer. The participle acting as a noun does not require a perfection of continuous action such as continuous believing in order for an individual to be qualified as a believer" (Wuest, Wuest's Word Studies, Vol. 3, [Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1992], p. 67).