I like Bible Study Fellowship. They do good work. They promote Bible Study. They teach people about Jesus. I’ve seen the good influence in my family’s life.
But I’ve noticed they sometimes get the gospel wrong.
I’ve noticed they have preached salvation by works, if only inconsistently.
In an earlier post, I noted how their lessons on the Gospel of John definitely taught salvation by works (see here). That was bizarre because John’s Gospel teaches we have eternal life through believing in Jesus (John 3:16, 36:5:24; 6:47). Jesus even goes out of His way to say that no one has ever kept the Law of Moses (John 7:19) and that the only work required to be saved is to believe in Him (John 6:29). How could BSF get John so wrong? Was it just a fluke?
This semester BSF has started to study Romans, a book that unquestionably teaches that we are justified by faith apart from works. And yet here is a quote from Bible Study Fellowship’s Notes on Romans 2:
“God saves people only through faith in the work of Jesus Christ. But no one can reach eternal life without actually being on the path of righteousness” (Lesson 3, p. 4, emphasis added).
That’s works salvation.
Let’s be clear about something. As phrased, the BSF note makes it seem like eternal life is an uncertain future goal based on works, instead of a certain present possession based on faith.
That is wrong. Gravely wrong.
Jesus gives believers eternal life through faith, apart from works (John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 6:47; Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). If you believe in Jesus, what do you have right now? Everlasting life.
Living deeply in Christ, growing in Christian maturity, and becoming practically righteous—”being on the path of righteousness”—all come after you have everlasting life that cannot be lost.
Bible Study Fellowship has that in reverse.
In other words, having eternal life is not a consequence of being on the path of righteousness; being on the path of righteousness is a consequence of already having eternal life.
What an amazing opportunity for Free Grace people in BSF to share the saving message these next few weeks.
If you’re attending BSF please bring this up. Challenge it. Show that eternal life is a present possession that you have by faith apart from works. And email me to let me know what future Lecture Notes say about the condition of salvation. Does BSF teach that it is by faith alone, or by faith plus works, or by faith that works?
For more info about this subject, buy my book, Beyond Doubt: How to Be Sure of Your Salvation available here and here. I’ll even put in on sale on our website for over 50% off, this weekend only! Don’t miss out!
You might also check out a new book by my friend Lucas Kitchen called Salvation and Discipleship; Is There a Difference? available here.