Cheers and Jeers

Assured salvation

As a follow-up to Les Longdens article, Wesley and Predestination (Good News May/June 2009), we can be profoundly grateful to Wesley for preaching that one who has trusted Christ can have the assurance of salvation.

The doctrine of predestination, of course, does not stand alone; it is an integral and necessary part of a theological system based on the doctrine that Christs death actually paid the penalty for sins. On that interpretation, as I learned from John Mileys Systematic Theology in seminary, then either everyones sins have been atoned for and everyone will be saved, or the sins of only a limited number of persons were atoned forpersons arbitrarily chosen by God from antiquityand only they will be saved. (The latter, of course, is the generally accepted Reformed theology view.) Then, since God cannot require or permit a person whose penalty has been paid to pay his penalty again, these elect must accept their forgiveness, and they can never lose their forgivenessunconditional election, limited atonement, and absolute eternal security.

One problem, among many, of this interpretation, is that assurance of salvation is impossible; for no one can know whether he is one of the elect. And in Wesleys time and long before, this theology prevented sincere Christians from having the blessed assurance of salvation.

Another problem is that it makes Gods moral standard for himself lower than he requires for us; for if he chooses some persons to be lost eternally, he does not love them, and no specious argument can change that fact. Yet God requires us to love everyone.

John Wesley saw correctly that the Atonement was not a substitute in penalty, as Miley calls it, the actual payment for sin; but rather a substitute for the penalty, whereby as many or as few as accept Christs atoning death receive forgiveness and new life. Only on this basis can anyone have the assurance of salvation.

This, of course, fits in with the Old Testaments foreshadowing of Christs death. The death of the animals sacrificed on the annual Day of Atonement did not carry the sins of a specific number of the Israelites; it was accepted by God for as many as believed in that sacrifice. The bronze serpent that Moses set up after the people were bitten by poisonous snakes (Num. 21:9, Jn. 3:14) did not contain a specific number of antitoxin doses; the healing was for as many or as few as looked on the image in faith.

So let us rejoice in John Wesleys message of assured salvation.

Harold Greenlee, via e-mail

Shortly after the Good News Board of Directors announced the selection of the Rev. Rob Renfroe to replace Dr. James V. Heidinger II upon his retirement, letters of congratulations were received at our office from friends of this ministry. What follows are a few of the messages.

Dear Jim,
Congratulations and best wishes on your retirement from the position of president and publisher of Good News. I should have known, but had not realized the length of your tenure as President and Publisher of Good News. You are to be congratulated on length, but more than that the effectiveness of your ministry. I once told my bishop that Good News had kept a million people in the United Methodist Church. You have produced a fine magazine that is a credit to the faith. You have done it without bitterness or rancor.

I am sure that there have been times when you could have descended into a spirit of bitterness and recrimination but didnt. I know there must have been times of disappointment and frustration. I want you to know that I have appreciated your fine spirit.

I also am grateful to have had you as a friend. I trust that you and that dear companion of yours will have many more years of happiness together. He is risen!

Virgil and Jane Maybray
Tequestra, Florida

Dear Jim,

It is your fine work that will serve as a broad platform on which your successors will build. You have pioneered in molding a dynamic and fruitful approach to calling the UM Church to greater faithfulness and accountability for being what Christ calls his church to be. You have helped achieve great change, building a foundation for still greater change. Now we are in a much, much better position to move forward.

Thank you for years of faithful service. Well done!

Gerry Charlotte Phelps
Retired United Methodist pastor

Dear Jim,
The May/June 2009 issue of Good News arrived and I compliment you on another excellent issue. The article, The Changing Map of Global Christianity, was outstanding. Timothy Tennant matches commitment with scholarship in this comprehensive article.

I also read your editorial, Reflections on Passing the Torch. Jim, it has been a personal privilege to know you. I appreciate the leadership that you have given the crusade begun by Charles Keysor. You always spoke with conviction, you were ahead of the nominal church executives in your vision, and you had a workable strategy to represent our Wesleyan heritage. You have been a been a friend, both personally and professionally.

Harvey Chinn
Retired United Methodist pastor

Dear Jim,
I want to personally thank you for answering Gods call to Good News 28 years ago. Your excellent leadership has made an impact upon our United Methodist denomination. Your prayers for our UM Church, I feel, helped birth Celebration Womens Ministry I co-founded 10 years ago. We have joined you in bringing renewal and revival to the UM Church.

A call to renewal is not an easy one, but you have exemplified such gentlemanly qualities in the face of opposition. You are a man of integrity who never waivered. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Well done, good and faithful servant of the Most High.

Judy Graham
Celebration Womens Ministry
Houston, Texas

Dear Jim,
I want to say with heartfelt sincerity, Congratulations, Jim Heidinger, for a job faithfully and well done. You have provided a lifetime of leadership for the Good News movement and now you leave a well-established ministry in what appears to be good hands for the unknowns of the journey ahead.

Lowell Nelson
Retired United Methodist pastor

Dear Jim,
You will be missed. Thanks for the years and service for God and us. I have been a subscriber and supporter of Good News since at least the spring of 1970. I have been a part time local pastor and associate pastor for many years. Rob Renfroe is from the Texas Annual Conference and I know he will do well leading Good News.

Elvis Davis
Beaumont, Texas

Dear Jim,
I want to congratulate you on a job well done. Your investment in the kingdom of God is one of immeasurable proportions. We at the American Family Association and I personally appreciate you for your stand for righteousness in the United Methodist Church. Without your leadership in the Good News movement, the great Wesleyan vehicle of Methodism would, indeed, be in a much worse state.

Thank you for your boldness, your insight, your wisdom, your courage, your life. May our gracious God continue to guide you and use you in his kingdom work.

Randall Murphree
AFA Journal

Dear Jim,
I want to thank you for your service and leadership at Good News over the last few years in our effort to bring new life to this old denomination called United Methodism. I personally have been a proud supporter of Good News since the late 1960s. Thank you again and may the blessings of God be upon you in your retirement years. We appreciate your work and effort to try to bring about renewal of the church.

Robert L. Kates
Pascagoula, Mississippi

Dear Jim,
I want to join the many others in expressing thanks and appreciation to you for your leadership in the Good News movement for the past 28 years. I received a copy of the first issue of the magazine in 1967 after reading Chuck Keysors Methodisms Silent Minority in the Christian Advocate in 1966. I dont recall missing any issues since.

Thanks, Jim, for your deep dedication to Christ and the faith once delivered to the saints. I know Good News will be in good hands with the Revs. Rob Renfroe and Walter Fenton.

Daryl K. Williams
Retired United Methodist pastor


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