Piper and What We Must Believe

Piper and What We Must Believe August 17, 2012

I have a friend who has chatted with me for years about what a person must believe in order to be saved. In his case the issue often comes down to whether one must believe Jesus is God, and he has contended that no text telling people what to do or believe in the NT ever says that, which at one level is of course true. No one asked Peter “What must I do to be saved?” to which Peter said, “You must believe in the Trinity!” Yet, yet, yet … things are not as simple as that.

Recently The Christian Post reposted a piece by John Piper in which Piper asked this question — “What are the most basic things a person needs to believe in order to be saved?” I’d like to sketch Piper’s response.

First, he conflates Acts 16:31 (Paul’s statement to the Philippian jailer) with Romans 10:9 (confess Jesus as Lord, believe he was raised from the dead).

Second, he unpacks what he thinks is at work, and I would not criticize for unpacking what is implicit. Though unpacking can be tricky; we can find what we want even if it is not there. Here is what Piper draws out and I have given them numbers:

So I take texts like that and begin at the core-the death of Jesus. He died for our sins, which means (1) I must believe I am a sinner. A person that doesn’t believe he is a sinner can’t be saved….So you must believe you are a sinner. (2) You must believe that there is a God who has created the possibility for sin. That is, sin by definition is the falling short of the expectations of your Creator. So there has to be a Creator God out there who has expectations of humans. God expects humans to trust him, love him and live for him. And we fail. Which leads us to the third thing we must believe. Because we fail to trust, love and live for God (3) we are under his holy judgment-his wrath. You’ve got to believe that. If you are a sinner and there is a holy God … you must understand that God is angry about sin. He is a good and just judge. So, what has he done to solve the problem of our alienation from him? He has sent his Son into the world. (4) You’ve got to believe in the deity of Jesus….He couldn’t have used John, or Peter or Paul to die for us. He had to have the God-man die for us. So the deity of Jesus is essential. (5) You also must acknowledge what Jesus did. He lived the perfect life. I don’t think you can believe that Jesus sinned and still be saved….(6) This substitutionary dimension of the death of Christ for my sins is necessary….Let’s just say that what is required is the core of the gospel-that the remedy is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who never sinned got in my place and took the wrath of God for me. He died in my place. (7) If he had stayed dead, we would still be in our sins. So you must believe he rose from the dead….

I am willing to stop there. This is the cluster of essentials for salvation….

(8) for salvation you must believe that instead of working for this salvation, Jesus has already done what needs to be done. We receive it. “As many as received him, who believed in his name, he gave them the right to become the children of God.” So I think sin, God, cross and faith. That is the summary, the core of truth surrounding those four things.

Which leads to a question about whether one must believe in the Trinity, and Piper’s conclusion is that one must not deny what is central to the Trinity. His approach is more that once we learn about the deity of Christ and the Spirit and then deny those verities, then he questions whether the person is saved for not.

I want to press back against this. And I want to use Piper’s own recent response about focusing on the Person of God vs. theological articulations about God. Piper quoted Acts 16 and Romans 10 and I’d like to draw our attention to what Paul himself focused on, and I want to suggest we can be satisfied with Paul said. Over all Paul’s words lead me to what I have said on numerous occasions since writing The King Jesus Gospel: first christology, then soteriology. Piper has put soteriology first. This issue of order is notable in the texts Piper himself quotes.

1. Paul told people to believe in King Jesus. Piper does not deny this but neither does he emphasize it or even articulate it: the essence of our faith is to trust in and surrender ourselves to Jesus, the Person, the one who lived and died and who was raised for our redemption. This is why in Romans 10 Paul says something about heart and mouth: the heart is the personal engagement with the Person of God. What is necessary for salvation is personal engagement — as trust/surrender/faith/etc — with God as Person in the face of Jesus as Person. To the Philippian jailer Paul only calls him to engage this Person: believe in the Lord/King Jesus.

Acts 16:31: Believe  in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved

2. Paul said confessing Jesus as Lord is central to salvation; again, christology first. I don’t see any focus in Piper’s sketch on Jesus as Lord, as King, though he does articulate the deity of Christ. I’m not so sure believing in the deity of Christ is identical to confessing — which is an existential surrendering to — Jesus as King/Lord. I am fully persuaded John Piper would agree with what I’m affirming here.

Romans 10:9 If you declare  with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,”  and believe  in your heart that God raised him from the dead,  you will be saved.  10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

3. Paul said believing Jesus was raised from the dead is central to salvation. Of course, resurrection only comes into play if Jesus died, which is at work in Paul’s words here when he says “from the dead.” I would not wait until item #7 to bring up the resurrection. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and exaltation/coming again are vital elements of the one saving Story about Jesus.

There you have it: for Paul salvation is about surrendering to the Person Jesus, who is Lord, Messiah, King and Savior. It is about believing he was raised from the dead. This Person indeed saves, but I want to stick with what Paul says right here when he lays down the bricks for all to see: these are fundamental statements by Paul in Acts 16 and Romans 10. Lordship and resurrection; he saves — which then leads to all the elements in Piper’s breakdown: if he saves he saves from something, and that something is sinfulness (in all its hideousness), and he does that, Paul says elsewhere but not in the text quoted, by dying on the cross for us … and his death is atoning (and that can be unpacked).

4. I don’t deny what Piper says about salvation; in fact, I would affirm them. But what I would urge us to think about is not going first to what is implicit but first to what is explicit — and from the explicit we can infer what is implicit. What is explicit is christology and resurrection; soteriology flows out of christology.

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  • Stephen W

    The problem I see with Piper’s view of salvation (which is somewhat reaffirmed by Scot) is that it relies on intellectual belief. This would exclude anyone not able to intellectually assent to the criteria as laid out by John/Scot (lack of knowledge, lack of mental ability etc.)

    In Roman’s 10 Paul speaks of believing “in your heart” – this to me suggests an attitude that is oriented to Christ. Similarly Acts 16 says to “believe” but does not specify in what way one must do so.

    Furthermore, the quote from Romans 10 begins “if” – “IF you believe…”. This is not an exclusive statement, it is not saying “YOU MUST believe…” in order to meet the criteria for salvation. As I read Paul’s statements he is making things as simple for his audience as possible, stripping away any complicated criteria (especially law) that needs to be met in order to be saved. What he isn’t doing is narrowing salvation down to a single formula (the modern equivalent of which is the “sinner’s prayer”).

    Just to be clear I’m not dismissing the “belief” criteria (and I, like I guess most people here, prayed the sinner’s prayer) but what John Piper seems to be doing is setting boundaries outside which people ARE NOT saved.

    I don’t see the bible doing this therefore neither do I.

  • Val

    Is Piper saying Eastern Orthodox believers aren’t saved, since they say Jesus set us free from the enslavement our sin caused us (bondage to Satan) rather than his death was a substitute for God’s wrath against our sin?

  • It’s a curious that the ‘good news’ gets buried within or becomes a secondary consequence of what must be believed in Piper’s description. Like you Scot I can affirm what he says, but points 1-3 begin with ‘bad news’. This list has a sin-solving rather individualist focus of dodging bullets of judgement, sin and wrath. I’m especially struck by one of the first things you must believe about God is ‘he created the possibility of sin’.

    The gospel framed this way begins with a negative and struggles to get to the positive. I haven’t read the full context of the quote you give, but there is a rationalistic and rather joyless feel to the way these essentials are framed. And I say that as someone who has been blessed by Piper’s writings on ‘Christian hedonism’.

    Two missing words in Piper’s list of essentials for salvation: Holy Spirit. That’s an interesting discussion right there.

  • Peter

    Like Stephen W (#1) and many others, praying the sinner’s prayer almost 30 years ago was a turning point in my life; I can’t help but see it, and the same is said by many who have known me for that long. But since then there have been so many experiences that have broadened my understanding of the gospel, including a long hard dose of John Piper’s writings and preaching and then those of Scot McKnight, NT Wright, Peter Enns, etc. While I can accept what John Piper has said (above), I really mourn over a presentation of the gospel (really good news) that makes my sin and my consciousness of my sin not only central but foundational to my relationship with God. Certainly the coming of the Holy Spirit brings that gentle conviction (the goodness of God does indeed lead us to repentance), but is that really all the He and I have to discuss? Is that all there is to this relationship? I am eager to repent and see eagerness to repent as a core identifier of someone who has the Holy Spirit in his or her life, but I am not comfortable with a presentation of the gospel or a gospel life that weaves sin, sin, sin all the way through it. I am really dissatisfied with this attempt of mine – is there anyone out there in Jesus Creed land that can help me with what I am trying to say? Thanks, friends.

  • T


    Good word here. The scriptures clearly emphasize what you highlight here. I walk away from Piper’s explanation more with a checklist than a person. That seems like something is off when that’s the case.

  • Stuart B

    I noted you are talking about what salvation is for Paul.
    Just wondering how does this jibe with Matthew 19 and how Jesus responds when he is asked the same question?

  • Michael Teston

    Over the years I have understood salvation to encompass that which is to understand the Hebrew “life,” life in all its fullness. I think Jesus’ extension of “abundant life” in John’s Gospel is akin to this salvation. Whether inside or outside theological/church circles or not, every human being gets that, whether they can articulate that or not with any precise “Pipe-rian” rhetoric. Hebrew folk recognized the need for Messiah in their chaotic world long before Paul’s letter to the Romans, I think. Paul’s different use of language and rhetoric among different people groups I believe speaks to a much broader grasp of how people receive/get/grasp the Good News of the Gospel (I know redundant). The question is can we assist the Holy Spirit in such a way as to present a compelling Jesus (Frye’s Gospel Shepherd Jesus) who summons each of us into that, dare I say it, “imaginative” place called Kingdom, where they actually live out and practice a discipleship of trusting, following, and transformation with God, others, and themselves? The script that Piper or any others offer does not create that “place.” Jesus called it in John’s Gospel, “abode.” I go to prepare a place, later he will say, and the “Father and I will come and make our abode IN you.” The Apostle Paul said it this way, “Christ IN you” the hope of glory. Script, cranial must believe texts, have never really made such realities REAL, living for me or many of those I have discipled. Can we make “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Can we make that compellingly real for a world that understands that they might be shortchanging themselves on this thing called LIFE. “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.”

  • Doug Hendricks

    Stephen W #1 Agreed, I know a special needs child who loves Jesus but if asked some basic theological questions would come up with some bizarre answers 🙂

    Also, what about those of us born into a Christian family? My experience (and pondering of scripture) seems to indicate that we are born already “in” the family of God but may choose to “convert” out of it as we grow older. Where does this fit into the discussion?

  • AF

    But surely Piper’s definition of sin, and turning from it, as he’s put it here, is the same thing as turning from rebellion to serve the king?

  • Kenton

    This whole discussion pivots on the meaning of the words “saved”, “salvation” (even “eternal life”), not to mention “judgment”, “wrath”, “perish”…

    What do we mean by those words, and is it the same as what those words meant to the first disciples and their audience? I don’t think it is. “Salvation” was a political term used to describe the “peace” the Caesars brought to the world. If we don’t have that it mind when we have this discussion, we’re lost in trying to read scripture.

  • Michael Teston

    Kenton . . . ditto . . . I couldn’t agree more.

  • DH

    Thanks for posting this. I needed this today. We get bogged down with complex theological discussions and doctrine and forget that the Gospel is actually simple.

  • Scot, Forgive the simplicity of this question, but what does it mean to beleive in Jesus? I agree with Christology first and then soteriology but how do we define belief?

  • Joey Elliott


    This is a good and helpful post. I think that Piper would respond very well to it (though I’m sure with many thoughts!).

    T #5,

    I completely appreciate the fact that you walk way from Piper’s explanation more with a checklist than a person. And I agree that is not good. However, there are many who walk away from Piper’s approach (here and elsewhere) with a person, namely, Jesus Christ, the Savior King. I am one of them, and could write a million words on my testimony.

  • Aaron

    According to the texts he cites (without his unpacking) if someone can be saved simply by what the scriptures say by confessing Jesus as lord and believing God raised him from the dead. Why the focus of acknowledging our sinfulness as a core essential. This verse does not acknowledge that? One could argue that Sin brings us to the point of recognizing our need to be saved by confessing him as Lord. But couldn’t someone simply surrender to Jesus as Lord without understanding their sinfulness? (This discussion reminds me of Scot’s gospel series a couple years back)

  • Aaron

    and must we believe in The penal substitutionary atonement theory to be saved? wouldn’t this disqualify most of the church fathers who believed in more of a ransom / Christus victor understanding of atonement.

  • Phil Miller

    I do not believe a person has to believe they are at risk of God’s wrath in order to be saved. I’d say that in my experience of testimonies I’ve heard from people’s conversion experience, that is actually something that doesn’t happen very often. I know many people who became Christians simply because they experienced what they would explain as the overwhelming love of God.

    Which gets me the point I think Piper seems be skirting around. I have a hard time believing that Paul or the apostles would frame conversion in this manner. As other have gotten at already, there is really nothing in this view that has anything to do with actually encountering or experiencing the Holy Spirit. It is ironic given Piper recent comments about putting our love of theology above our love of God.

  • Kristin

    Is not Romans 10:9-10 written as an inclusive statement with Paul is basically saying “salvation is more inclusive than you think.” It just doesn’t sit well with me when we use the same verses and use them as a statement of exclusivity and “if you don’t do this, then you aren’t saved.” It may be correct from an objective standpoint, but the heart of it is backwards.

  • Scot McKnight

    Belief, essentially, is trusting surrender.

  • michael

    @ Val – #2

    We certainly wouldn’t want those closest to Jesus to influence our understanding of faith and salvation would we? I would suspect that Piper would denounce Orthodox theology insist upon a substitution atonement belief. The Chronological Snobbery of the Protestant churches in america is never-ending amazement to me.

  • Cory

    It seems that much of the criticism of Piper’s “list” here is centered around what he mentions first, or, his apparent lack of focus/priority on Jesus as resurrected King. But I find the Piper quote here to be more of a description that is intended to give us the whole picture, where it even has a logical chronology to it. In his response, he provides a lot of answers to “why” questions – which is helpful to hear. It doesn’t seem that he was asked for a “list” of what we must believe in order of importance. In that case case, he may have started somewhere else in the discussion. Of course, he would have gotten to our sinful nature later in the list. After all, Christ’s resurrection and Kingship is only Good News if you believe that it saves you from something.

  • scotmcknight

    Cory, it is the “gospel” whether we believe it or not, whether we benefit from it or not. In other words, the good news is not “I got saved, see how it helped me” but “Jesus is the King, Lord and Savior.” To be sure, there are benefits for us but the good news is not our benefit but the Story has reached its King. The good news is that the Stone Table cracked and Aslan is roaming Narnia again.

  • Alan K

    Is faith gift or is it offering? How we answer this question will govern what we conclude a person must believe.

  • This reminds me of the shift in Pauline studies (was it Sanders?) from “plight to solution” to “solution to plight.” It seems that this encapsulates your disagreement with Piper’s way of putting things in this context: Piper moves from plight to solution – which reflects a classically Lutheran way of handling Paul – while you suggest moving from solution to plight (God has acted, therefore there must have been some need for this action).

  • If salvation is based on checking off a list of intellectual assents, what stops Satan from being saved? I’m sure that he could win the loftiest debate and correct us all on the most obscure points of theology.

    When you confess with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord,” this is not a statement of factual belief. It professes loyalty to him as one’s King and as God’s rightful ruler over the world. It’s like saying “Caesar is Lord” and committing oneself as a servant of the Roman Empire. The most basic requirement for salvation is to receive Christ as one’s Lord and King. That’s what Satan would never do. Obviously you need to believe he is who he is, but beliefs are a mere beginning, not the ultimate goal

  • I’m more inclined to say that we trust Jesus more than we trust points made about him (even if those points contain very important information). I doubt very much that the thief on the cross understood that Jesus’ death was, in some way, for our sins, but that didn’t stop the Lord from promising him a spot in Paradise, anyway. I think it’s possible to trust and be saved by the Person without fully understanding the theology about that Person.

  • scotmcknight

    Rory, well, I’m not so sure. The Sanders’ proposal from solution to plight and the plight to solution is all within a soteriological paradigm. A christological paradigm shifts it all.

  • Mark H.

    I’m troubled with some basic assumptions about christology and soteriology here:

    1) That the person and work of Jesus are mutually independent or exclusive in determining who/what we need to believe

    2) That the earliest Christians made the same “theory” distinctions we do today (post-Aulen) about atonement

    I find an old guy by the name of Zach “the Bear” to be helpful here: “during his whole life on earth, but especially at the end, Christ sustained in body and soul the anger of God against the sin the of the whole human race.”

    On that note, I also think its much clearer in Scripture that Jesus fulfilled the religious offices of prophet, priest and king than that his work on the cross fit easily into categories of substitution, victory, or example.

  • Bill

    I think Scot’s take is quite appropriate. In fact, I was relieved to see Scot’s analysis. Belief and confession of Christ as far as I know is not a checklist. I never got this impression from Jesus or the gospel. It’s a lot of cerebral stuff from Piper that I cannot see Peter or James or John or even Paul for that matter, checking all the boxes like Piper seems to prefer.

    Christology, is first like Scot says. It all flows from there.

    Confession time: I am with the Orthodox on that substitution thing.

  • James Rednour

    “Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you yand your household.” Acts 16:30-31

    Seems pretty simple to me. Believe in Jesus and follow His way and will for your life. I don’t see anything about being under God’s wrath, substitutionary atonement or an acknowledgement that Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life.

  • Kenton

    James (#30)-

    That’s a perfect example of better context in understanding the word “saved.” I doubt that at the moment the jailer was realizing his life was hanging in a balance for “allowing” the security of the jail to be breached that he was thinking, “so… I wonder what the prerequisites are for going to heaven when I die instead of the torments of hell.” I think he was asking, “how do I get myself out of the mess I’m currently in?”

    And Paul’s response was not, “ascribe to a certain theology and you will go to heaven.” I was, “look, you’re in the system where Caesar has the power of life and death over you. In the way of Jesus, death doesn’t have the last word. Resurrection does! Buy into the same story we do!”

    (HT to Brian McLaren for those thoughts)

  • Kenton

    That should read “I*t* was”

  • Glenn Lashway

    I am amazed that in this whole discussion I have not seen the word “repent.” It seems to me that it would help to unpack that word which occurs over 50 times in the New Testament, in the Gospels and the Epistles.

  • James Rednour

    Glenn @33

    Repentance just means turning away (i.e. turning away from your old sinful life and turning towards Christ). I think everyone who has stated that following God’s will for your life instead of following your own is displaying repentance.

    Although I understand theology and why it is important, I think it is largely a human construction and, as such, is flawed. I know Piper loves Jesus, but he makes it a lot harder than it needs to be, IMO. Love God and love man was good enough for Jesus and that’s good enough for me.

  • DRT

    Lois Tverberg#25 has an angle that I like. I have heard the whole “Satan believes Jesus is god” thing before, and find it useful, But! the question of what he was lacking really does need to be explicitly stated and provides a great contrast and insight. Satan did not ” profess[es] loyalty to him as one’s King and as God’s rightful ruler over the world”. That brings it into focus.

  • Bev Mitchell

    I’m currently reading Denis Noble’s wonderful little book on systems biology. Bev’s lost it now, you might say – posting to the wrong blog, at least. Well, it turns out that we biologists have problems identical to evangelical theological problems on approaches to gospeling. Here is how Noble expresses it from the biological perspective – can you guess who is who if he were talking about evangelicals?

    “There is an interesting asymmetry between reductionists and modern integrationists in biological science. An integrationist, using rigorous systems-level analysis, does not need or wish to deny the power of successful reduction. Indeed he uses that power as part of his successful integration. Many reductionists, by contrast, seem for some reason to require intellectual hegemony.”

    Denis Noble, is a physiologist and systems biologist (not at all the same as systematic as in systematic taxonomy or systematic theology). His book is entitled “The Music of Life”. It’s an easy, informative read. You will learn a lot of biology in its 150 pages and take away more than 30 quotes that highlight exactly the same problems discussed here.

  • Bev Mitchell

    Interesting point re the Holy Spirit that several have made. I don’t Piper, so I’ll have to take your word for it that he does not emphasize the Holy Spirit in his writings. But, I have also heard that he is quite fond of the book of Romans and all things Pauline. Gordon Fee managed to write a 1000 page book with the subtitle “The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul”. The book is appropriately titled “God’s Empowering Presence”. Could this have something to do with how the wonderful special needs fellow comes to love Jesus?  We have a young man with down’s in our congregation who loves him too. There will be no theology exam on Judgement Day.

  • Marshall

    If you surrender with your heart to Jesus as Lord then your desire is to serve him. Lots of stuff about faithful and unfaithful servants. Serving means various different things, always within the context, life-situation, of the Servant. So theology would be required only to the extent that one is a theologian … some are, some aren’t.

    I notice that the next verse in Acts 16 is “And the spoke the Word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.” So it wasn’t a simple call to belief in the abstract, there was specific content which I would suppose was intended to be understood, absorbed, and acted upon.

  • Steve Sherwood

    What would Piper say to the man who’s sins are forgiven because he’s got faithful friends (the paralytic) or that enters paradise just because he asks Jesus to remember him, or…? I absolutely understand the value of theologically considering the essence of the Gospel (and I come down much more with Scot than Piper), but don’t the many and varied ways Jesus seems to extend forgiveness to people in the Gospels give us reason to be slow to systematize things?

  • jim

    “trusting surrender”
    How have I never heard that before!!!!! I have struggled to articulate what belief means so many times.

  • Scot, I like the answer you have given, “Belief, essentially, is trusting surrender.” I think this answer cuts across much of the discussion about who is in and who is not. Piper seems to advocating for a kind of ‘badges of salvation’. If people believe this, this and this then they are in. If not, they are out. Sounds like ‘Circumcision, Sabbath and food laws’. For Piper, and many others, salvation is not about belief per se but about what one believes.

    Here is my follow up question: In your opinion what did ‘believe’ mean within the first century context and did it have anything to do with patron client relationships?

  • Mike M

    I’m glad this was already mentioned because it reveals much about how God works. Our 12 year-old son Jon (can you believe that, Dr. M?) has Down Syndrome. He loves God the Father, Jesus, and others like no one I’ve ever seen. The spirit of God moves through him not only in rushing winds but also small whisperings. Is he “saved,” whatever that means? Definitely yes. Did he ever say the “sinner’s prayer” or does he carry around a “date” when Christ entered his heart (I hate that “proof by dates” theology)? No. It’s not a question of intellectual assent but rather loving back because we were first loved.
    For the record, “believing Jesus is God” is the Lazy Man’s Guide to Christianity. It is neither biblical nor productive.

  • Victor Hoffman

    Did Jesus really make it that difficult to be saved? I’m not a theologian but as a preacher’s kid I probably have more “exposure” than many. However, the debate about “sin” and what prevents salvation makes my head explode.

    So I ask this….would not “sin” be anything that interferes or gets in the way of my relationship with God? If that is the case then, it is our response to actions that are the sin, not so much the actions themselves. Belief that the action itself is the sin, tends to make it seems like our action (not doing that action) is where our salvation lies…when in fact my experience has been that once you accept the gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit does a pretty good job of taking over from there….and man’s thoughts are unfortunately often interfere with God’s voice….sometimes even to the point of causing one to question what God has pretty simply promised!

    Seems to me that many Christ-followers tend to take their own sins and create “check-lists” for everyone else. An example that comes to mind, might be to extrapolate out on the “rich young ruler” and say that being rich is a sin when in fact being blessed with money, without the trust in or love of money can be a huge blessing to God’s works.

    CAVEAT: I’m not a religious scholar so some of this is currently over my head perhaps and I may have gotten a little lost in all of the scholarly discussions above….but in simple terms if this Piper guy is right it would seem that only the highly (some would say overly) educated can be saved.

  • Mike M

    That’s correct Victor Hoffman which is why I revealed Jon’s “state of salvation” publicly. It doesn’t take a checklist, regurgitation of a “sinner’s prayer, or a “date” on which you were saved. Just full submission, faith, and acceptance. Compared to what follows, quite easy, in fact.

  • Very articulate. I like john piper’s cookbook approach (this step, then that step, etc). And yet, there is a huge relational aspect that is missed. The facts are important, so are the facts of an internal combustion engine. But looking at an engine and knowing it works does nothing until you start it. But for clarity of how this works, very clear. Is piper a Calvinist?

  • Wright

    ” Is piper a Calvinist?”

    And how.

  • A 21st c religious guy presents a laundry list of “salvation essentials” and yet, when Jesus is asked to name the highest spiritual priorities, he seems to paint a dramatically different picture. This religious idea of “being saved” and “going to heaven” so often gets in the way of simply loving other people, and loving the creator of it all.

    Tell Mr. Piper I’ve not yet learned how to love my neighbor very well, and have no clue how to love my enemy. I remain hopelessly stuck at the feet of MT22:37. I promise to let you all know when I have learned how to truly love (self, neighbor, enemy, God) so that I can then move on to tackle Mr. Piper’s religious laundry list, and then truly be saved.

  • pete zimmerman

    here is what you must do to be saved. be enveloped in divine love. accept it. then your fruit will show it. you may stumble, you may fall, but here is the deal. I am a terrible heretical liberal by most standards, but the spirit is CONSTANTLY pressing me to bear the fruit of the spirit, and when I am rude, mean, arrogant, the spirit is grieved. So when I see evangelicals like Mark Driscoll worship power and violence, and have such anger…I wonder where the holy spirit is. Salavation is non-rational. not irrational. and like AA says, sometimes it comes quickly, sometimes slowly. maybe always both.

  • Paul Dulaney

    I’m awfully late to this party, but it is something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I am a big fan of John Piper’s — it is apparent that most folks here are not.

    We can ask any question we want, but we need to be careful when we ask questions which the Scriptures have not addressed with a fair degree of intentionality. “What must I believe to be saved?” is one of those questions. People often point out that the thief on the cross didn’t have opportunity to do much in the way of good works. But it is also true that he didn’t have much time to develop a coherent belief system either. So perhaps it makes more sense to ask not, “What must a person believe in order to be saved?” but rather, “What will someone who has been saved end up believing? (given the time, exposure to truth, etc.)”

    It is a good start to say that Jesus is Lord, Messiah, King, and Savior. Will a saved person also believe that Jesus is God? I think so. Will he believe in the virgin birth? I think so. Will he believe that homosexuality is sin? I think so. That last one is provocative, but it points to the question: Will the true child of God reject any truth that is clearly taught in the Scriptures? Perhaps so, but to the degree that an alleged Christian doesn’t believe in a tenet clearly taught in Scriptures it is fair, is it not, to ask, “Why not?” After all, to paraphrase Augustine, if you pick and choose which parts of the Scriptures you are going to believe, you don’t believe in the Bible, but yourself.

  • Matthew Davidson

    The problems with the Trinity doctrine are as follows: 1. The Bible never specifically names the doctrine, or says we have to believe in it at all, whether we are believing it to be saved, or not. 2.The doctrine of the Trinity was given to the church nearly 400 years after Jesus ascended to heaven, and before that, it was only one of several possible understandings of the nature of God, not widely or universally accepted. 3. The assumption of the different aspects of God as “persons” is not stated in the Bible, nor is it complimentary to the doctrine of God’s singleness as stated in the Shema, which states that God is a single, solitary being, with no equals or other gods as His compatriots. A person is a being with a completely autonomous nature, and a free will, capable of independent thoughts and actions. By the very nature of the definition of person, a separate, free willed autonomous individual that is god and that shares that godhood status with two other separate, autonomous free willed individuals would in fact be a separate god. There is no way to circumvent this. Finally, the nature of God is by its very definition a mystery (Colossians 2:1-3) There are things about God that only being in His presence will we be able to fully understand (1 Cor 13:12). The worst disservice that is done pertaining to the Trinity is the forced manner in which all who come to Christ in childlike faith are given this doctrine. They are told from the first day of Bible study that the doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of the Christian faith, and that we must believe in it, even if we can’t understand it, or find it in scripture. Then, when the person accepts that it is absolute truth, they are shown “proof texts” which they then are told to study and commit to memory, so they can defend the doctrine against any and all heretics that might see any aspect of it any other way. They say that to believe Jesus is God, one must believe in the Trinity, and to not believe in The Triny is to deny Jesus deity. They say that to deny the fact that God is a single God, divided into three persons is to deny that they are actually separate, functioning simultaneously. Neither of these things is true. I believe that Jesus is God, he is the only God, and I also believe The Father is God, and is the only God. I believe that when Jesus was on earth praying to the Father, the Father was in heaven, but the prayer was not for Jesus, but an example for us. Jesus need not pray, because he is God. The mystery is how God can be a single being, but be three (possibly more) personages or aspects acting simultaneously, but that mystery does not have to be interpreted or quantified as persons, it can be explained by the fact that God is almighty and omnipresent, without the need to separate God in the manner in which Trinitarians do. Trinitarians need a dose of humility, and need to get their doctrines from God, not handed don to them by a long dead Catholic master.