Periodical Reviews -- By: Jefferson P. Webster

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 166:661 (Jan 2009)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Jefferson P. Webster


Periodical Reviews

By The Faculty and Library Staff of
Dallas Theological Seminary

Jefferson P. Webster

“The Gospel in the Gospels: Answering the Question ‘What Must I Do to Be Saved?’ from the Synoptics,” Edmund K. Neufeld, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 51 (June 2008): 267-96.

Is salvation by faith alone? Or is obedience to Christ necessary to obtain eternal life? These questions are addressed in this article by a pastor and a professor of biblical studies at Providence Theological Seminary, Otterburne, Manitoba. He discusses Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels and affirms in his opening paragraph that “in the Synoptics people are saved by what they do” and that “eternal life comes by an active saving obedience” (p. 267). And in his next-to-last paragraph he writes, “If there is no saving obedience, there is no saving faith” (p. 295). He uses the terms “saving obedience” and “active obedience” repeatedly throughout the article to suggest that a life of obedience to Jesus’ commands is essential for salvation. In his conclusion he unequivocally states that “saving obedience is the normal Synoptic way to receive eternal life” (p. 291).

Commenting on the Sermon on the Mount, Neufeld writes that “there will be no eternal life but rather judgment for those who do not practice his [Jesus’] righteousness” (p. 275). To be merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker, and persecuted for righteousness’ sake are conditions “by which the follower of Christ receives salvation from God” (p. 273). Typical of the author’s comments on several passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels is his view that one must live a life of obedience, be loyal to Jesus, and be willing to relinquish one’s possessions.

Neufeld does not face the fact that this view contradicts many other Scriptures that affirm that salvation is by faith alone. In the Gospel of John, for example, salvation is said to be obtainable simply by believing in Jesus Christ. (The verb for “believe” occurs ninety-eight times in the Gospel of John, and no conditions are attached to it.) Examples are John 3:15, 16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:29, 40, 47. Other passages with the words “believe” or “faith” include Acts 16:31; Romans 3:22, You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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