Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

Good Doctrine, and Salvation

with 9 comments

I’ve noticed a recent and disturbing trend in the modern church to act like people are saved by their good doctrine. This is far from the case. I wrote the following study to help combat that sort of thinking.

Matthew 8:29

Mark 1:24

Mark 3:11

Mark 5:7

Luke 7:34

Luke 4:41

And of course James 2:29


What I hope you’ll notice from these passages is that demons have really impeccable theology. You were of course already intimately familiar with the earlier part of 7 where Satan himself reveals to have memorized scripture.

Now compare that with the disciples.

Matthew 17:4

Luke 8:45

Matthew 16:22 (also in Mark 8)

Galatians 2:11

Mark 10:35-37 (Note that he’s “teacher”, in that passage. Not “son of God” like the demons, not even “good teacher” like the rich young ruler. Not also Jesus’ reply “yeah you want to obey me, sure, sure, what do you want?” and of course their final desire.)

And my personal favorite: Matthew 16:6-7

Seriously guys? Jesus just fed a huge crowd of people miraculously, YOU passed out the bread! How do you think he has a problem with you now because he got hungry and suddenly he can’t take care of that. I mean Really?

But consistently, the disciples of Jesus demonstrate to us that they just don’t get it. They missed the point, they’re confused, they’re not sure who Jesus is exactly. The scriptures go to great length to communicate this “loserness” to us. At the transfiguration we learn that “the disciples were very sleepy” In the garden at Gethsemane they actually fall asleep when they should be praying. John, when recording the story of the resurrection, sees fit to inform us that Jesus Christ is raised, and death has been defeated, and the world will never be the same, and also that he’s the faster runner!!! (John 20:4)

Peter finally figures out who Jesus is “the Christ, of God” (Luke 9:20) but his revelation comes in a lackluster way. Not only because he completely fails to affirm the divinity of Christ “The Christ, Who is also God in the flesh” but also because immediately afterward (as we learn in parallel passages) he brazenly asserts that Jesus will never be crucified! leading to the famous “get behind me Satan” quote I offered above.

Now do this one on your own.

How many times does Jesus affirm the faith of children? Of Samaritans? Of thieves? Of people who have no idea how or what or who this Jesus character is but they’re sure they want a piece?


Jesus is who saves us.

Not what we do, not what we know, not the information we have about Jesus. Jesus isn’t what saves us, Jesus is who saves us, and he does it by grace, alone through faith alone.



Written by RyanGaffney

October 2, 2010 at 12:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses

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  1. I’m not saying I agree or disagree with you, but there is a gaping hole in your logic.

    Jesus did not come to save the demons. They are fallen angels who are unsaveable, as Jesus did not take the form of an angel.

    So the fact that the demons have good theology is irrelevant to the discussion.

    Also, I cannot disagree that Jesus saves us. But what does that mean exactly. There is definitely some study of theology that needs to be done to determine who exactly is saved. Is it everybody? Is it only the perfect? It is obvious to me that those two polar opposites are not the answer, so there has to be some determination of the exactitude of “who” exactly is saved. That’s where theology comes in.

    Denny Fusek

    October 6, 2010 at 2:07 am

    • I don’t see how It is a gaping hole at all. As a matter of fact What you’re calling a hole I’m calling exactly the point! Demons have great theology, but Jesus didn’t save them. The disciples have comparatively awful theology, but they are saved by Jesus. Jesus is a person who saves, not a doctrine that saves.

      So you’re right that it’s complicated to determine who is and who is not saved, but the measure of it is not the quality of a person’s doctrine, and we should stop acting like it is.

      In the end it’s a mystery of course. We can’t know for sure who has a relationship with Jesus and who does not. But Jesus suggested we look at the fruit.


      October 6, 2010 at 2:55 pm

      • It sounds like you are saying that Jesus didn’t save the demons despite their great theology. That’s not the issue at all. Jesus wouldn’t have saved demons whether or not they had great theology. He never took the form of a demon / angel and died for demon / angel sins. Jesus is fully God and fully man. He is not, nor ever has been fully angel. Therefore demons can’t be saved.

        I don’t know where you get that we can know who has a relationship with Jesus by looking at their fruit. I believe you are “eisigeting” there. I don’t know of Scripture that says this.

        Denny Fusek

        October 30, 2010 at 2:17 am

      • Matthew 3:10
        Matthew 7:15-19
        Matthew 12:33
        Luke 3:9
        Luke 6:43-45
        Luke 13:6-9
        And Jude 1:12

        Now you give me a verse that says we can tell who is a disciple from the quality of their theology.


        October 31, 2010 at 2:34 am

      • I never said you can tell who a disciple is by looking at the quality of their theology.

        Denny Fusek

        November 28, 2010 at 10:13 pm

      • You said and I quote “There is definitely some study of theology that needs to be done to determine who exactly is saved.”

        This blog is now at http://www.ryangaffney.com/blog.shtml


        November 29, 2010 at 3:49 pm

  2. I might actually disagree with you both on one primary point. Colossians tells us that, referring to Jesus, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Chapter 1, verses 19-20). As such, I would posit that Jesus did come to save the demons as well.

    You have to either argue that the demons are not part of creation, or that God does not intend to reconcile them to Godself.

    The first is false, because as we know, God created all things. The second is false because we’ve been assured that God reconciles all things to Godself through the person of Jesus who was fully God.

    Therefore, whether we like to admit it or not, the demons will, at some point, be fully reconciled to God as well. And this will come through Jesus. Not because of what they know, or proclaim; but simply because that’s what Jesus does. He reconciles ALL of creation to God, its creator.


    October 18, 2010 at 11:26 am

    • I think that’s a interesting defense of universalism, but I don’t see how that’s what the original author intended to communicate to his original audience. The claim is one about Jesus that he is the guy through whom it all happens, he’s not just a man, he’s not just a spiritual form forsaking humanity, he’s both. The “all” in this passage (at least to me) seems to give weight to the greatness of the work of Christ, rather than a literal indicator of who all is reconciled.

      The traditional church seems to agree. I’m not positive, but I’d guess the conservative answer to something like this is that Christ is the one who has the –power– to reconcile everything, but not that he necessarily will

      Me personally, I have even less to say about it. I take a more Augustinian take on the crucifixion, than many. I don’t think the cross was so much about something owed that had to be paid, but something broken that had to be fixed. He died, in an ultimate act of love, and fixed it. Now it’s fixed. Demons still as they are, children still starving, but reconciled. Now it’s the church’s turn to help restore this world that is simultaneously redeemed and broken.

      But let me say again. Very interesting point, don’t let me minimize that.


      October 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm

      • To Ryan’s October 31st post:

        I never said that we can tell who a disciple is by the quality of their theology.

        Denny Fusek

        November 28, 2010 at 10:12 pm

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