QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM
Group Number 99
It's surely true that none could be saved by perfect obedience to law. Still, the law separated the good from the bad. The good TRIED to keep the law. The bad made no effort, or little effort to do well. The law defined what was good so that students of the law were aware of what pleased and what displeased God. The writer of Hebrews picks out some who lived under the law and names them champions of FAITH. Yet they lived under law. If I point out that Jesus was teaching how ones who lived under the law could be saved, who dares say He was not teaching ones who lived under the law how best to please the giver of that law code? And thereby save themselves?
I had thought to conclude my responses to brother ________ postings, but the above is of such a pivotal nature that I am, after considerable thought, compelled to reply to it. It evidences a woeful ignorance of matters pertaining to both the Law and the salvation of God. The view, of course, is not original with brother ______, so I am responding more to the view itself than to brother ______’s person. I love and respect him in the Lord, but I have neither love nor respect for this view.
FIRST, it is indeed true that none could be saved by “perfect obedience to law.” The caveat in the whole matter is that the law REQUIRED perfect obedience, and had not so much as one promise or blessing for any imperfect obedience. The law offered blessing if the people “will diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to DO ALL His commandments” (Deut 28:1).
Paul summarized the matter in these words, “Cursed is everyone who does not CONTINUE TO DO EVERYTHING written in the Book of the Law” (Gal 3:10. NIV). James confirmed, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is GUILTY OF ALL” (James 2:10). That, of course, was the agreement that Moses had the people confirm: “Cursed be he that confirmeth not ALL the words of this law to DO THEM. And all the people shall say, Amen” (Deut 27:26).
Trying was not enough. Partial obedience was not enough. Seasonal or cyclical obedience was not acceptable. It was not enough to think about the commandments – all of them. Rather, they ALL had to be done, and done consistently and without interruption. Every command had to be obeyed, and the obedience had to be all of the time. That was the covenant that was struck with Israel. All of the commandments were to be “performed” (Deut 4:13). Solemnly the people were told ", to love the LORD your God and to walk ALWAYS in His ways” (Deut 19:9). If they loved the Lord, it had to be with “with ALL thine heart, and with ALL thy soul, and with ALL thy might” (Deut 6:5, KJV). A partial love or obedience was not acceptable. Thus God said of the people and the covenant made with them, “which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD” (Jer 31:32).
SECOND, the Law was never intended to separate “the good from the bad,” as brother ______ states. The law never stated or remotely suggested that “good” people “TRIED to keep the law.” That is a purely imaginary hypothesis. If we were merely bantering about ideas and opinions, we might be willing to consider such a theory. But that is not the case. God has spoken plainly concerning the purpose of the Law. “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and ALL THE WORLD BECOME GUILTY BEFORE GOD” (Rom 3:19). From yet another perspective, the Law was “was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal 3:24).
Rather than defining who was good, the Law confirmed that no one was good. Thus Paul affirms that, apart from Christ, “there is no one who does good, not even one” (Rom 3:12, NIV). David saw this truth as well, and He was an expert in the Law, having hidden it in his heart (Psa 14:1). Even Solomon saw this, and stated it as well, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl 7:20). If, therefore, the Law had actually pointed out someone who was “good,” it would not have born witness to the truth, and would have strayed from its appointed objective.
Once “a certain ruler” saw in Jesus what he conceived to be a “Good Master.” He did not see Jesus for who He really was, but only as an excellent rabbi. When he called Jesus “Good Master,” Jesus replied, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Luke 18:19, NKJV). Jesus was not affirming that He Himself was not “good,” for elsewhere He declared that He was “good” (John 10:11,14). He was rather pointing out that this man’s understanding was deficient. He was defining “goodness” by the Law, not by Christ’s character. Thus we have a four-fold witness concerning no one being good: David, Solomon, Jesus, and Paul. It was the demands and definitions of the Law that defined that condition. It is true that writings of old contain a few references to a “good man” (2 Sam 18:27; Psa 37:23; 112:5; Prov 12:2; 13:22; 14:14). Those few references, however, were not within the framework of the requirements of the Law, but were according comparative character – men being compared with other men, not with the Law or with the God who gave the Law.
THIRD, when the writer of Hebrews “picks out some who lived under the Law,” they are nowhere associated with the Law. As brother _______ stated, but appeared not to understand, their FAITH is what distinguished them. It is what prompted their obedience. Such notables as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah are first mentioned as having “died in the faith.” All of them lived before the Law. All of them are said to have “seen the promises afar off, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the earth” (Heb 11:4-13). The next cluster of people were also noted for what they did by faith: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses (verses 17-28). All of the things they did by faith was also before the Law. The next cluster were noted for their faith following the giving of the Law: Israel, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, David, Samuel, and the prophets (verses 29-34). None of their deeds were a response to the Law. None of them were defined by the Law, or a requisite of the Law. All of them were accomplished through faith. There is then a reference to some anonymous people who realized great benefits, as well as unparalleled suffering and martyrdom (verses 35-38).
Of this entire group of spiritual dignitaries it is written, “And these all, having obtained a good report THROUGH FAITH, received not the promise” (Heb 11:39). And what was the promise they did not receive? Was it a promise delivered by the Law? Indeed, it was not, for the Law did not offer one syllable about anything beyond death! In fact, the Law neither commanded or blessed faith. It only said “DO,” and never said “BELIEVE.” We are not left to conjecture on this. Paul makes a point of this very circumstance. “The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, ‘The man who does these things will live by them’” (Gal 3:12, NIV). The AMPLIFIED BIBLE reads, “ But the Law does not rest on faith [does not require faith, has nothing to do with faith], for it itself says, He who does them [the things prescribed by the Law] shall live by them [not by faith].”
It ought to be apparent that the “faith” that is commended in the book of Hebrews had nothing whatsoever to do with the Law. Faith “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1) – and the Law did not testify to “unseen” things. It made no mention of “eternal life,” much less promise it. Yet those saints in Hebrews eleven “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God” (Heb 11:10). The Law certainly did not speak of such a city, much less enunciate a promise of obtaining it! Those saints “desired a better country, that is an heavenly” (Heb 11:16). Where did they learn of such a country? The Law made no mention of it and said not so much as one word that would lead someone to suspect there was such a environ.
FOURTH, Jesus was not teaching people how best to please the One who gave the Law. It was Moses who performed this ministry, not Jesus. The contrast between the two is made by John: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Jesus did not come to teach men how to please God, but to show them the Father Himself, and to announce the bountiful provision that would be brought to men through Him. That is why He stood up in His hometown synagogue and read, “"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” (Luke 4:18-19). Following the reading He declared “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Lk 4:21).
So far as I am able to discern, Jesus never mentioned the word “please” in regards to the people to whom He spoke. He did say He always did what “pleased” the Father (John 8:29). We do know that God twice spoke from heaven saying He was “pleased” with Jesus (Matt 3:17; 17:5). I do not known the source of this notion that Jesus was “teaching ones who lived under the law how best to please the giver of that law code.” I do know it did not come from the Word of God, and brother ______ is a champion of sticking with the Word.
FIFTH, brother _______ asks who would dare to say that Jesus was not teaching those under the Law to “save themselves.” Well, I will dare to say such a thing. Jesus Himself defined His mission while upon earth, and we do not need any opinions from men on the matter. To cite a few, He said He came to “fulfill the law” (Matt 5:17), that “they might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10), and “that whosover believes on Him might not walk in darkness” (John 12:46). All of these are associated Him entering into the world. These are things He held out to the people then. To be sure, they were spoken in anticipation of His death, resurrection, and exaltation – but men were granted the privilege of thinking about such remarkable benefits while He was yet among them. We are told that Jesus went about “preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14). Is that something Moses preached? Did the Law announce such glad tidings? Any person acquainted with Scripture knows the answers.
Prior to Jesus, there has been a lot of teachers – good teachers. Among them stand Samuel, Moses, David, Solomon, and all of the Prophets. Yet, none of them ever received a single inquiry about “eternal life.” None of them ever gave a discourse, or even a sentence concerning “everlasting life.” Moses never mentioned “eternal life.” David hinted at it when he said his ambition was to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psa 23:6; 27:4). In all of his wisdom, Solomon did not say a thing about life beyond the grave. But when Jesus was here, men asked Him about “obtaining eternal life” (Luke 10:25; 18:18). Why did they ask such a question of the Master. It was because His teaching left men pondering about what was to come. He spoke of “the world to come” (Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30), “the regeneration” (Matt 19:28), laying up “treasures in heaven” (Matt 6:20; 19:21), a “reward in heaven” (Matt 5:12), and joy being “in heaven” over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:7). That was a very new and fresh sound.
To be sure, Jesus spoke of earthly duties and obligations – but that was not the thrust of His message. He did urge men to do what God had commanded – but that was not the end of the matter. No less than eighty-six times Jesus used the words “believe” and “believing,” and “believed” thirty-eight times. He used the word “faith” at least twenty-nine times. By way of comparison, Moses used “believe” and “believing” seven times, “believed” six times, and “faith” once – mostly because believing and faith were NOT found were not found. Samuel, Kings and Chronicles mention “believe” and “believing” twice, “believed” three times, and “faith” none. The prophets mentioned “believe” and “believing” five times, “believed” five times, and “faith” once. The words “believe” and “believing” are not found in the Psalms, and “believed” is found seven times. Solomon mentioned “believe” twice, and neither one was in relation to God. In Genesis through Malachi, none of the references to believing and faith are in related to the Law, the Ten Commandments, or the ordinances of the Law.
What I am saying is that Jesus’ very vocabulary confirms that He was not teaching people how to keep the Law, or how to save themselves under the Law.
The THRUST of Jesus’ message pertained to the salvation that would be realized in Him. If people wanted to know what the Law said, Jesus referred the people to Moses’ spokesman. Thus He said, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matt 23:3). Jesus, however, did not come to delineate the words of Moses, but to speak the words that had been given to Him to speak. That is why He said, “as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things” (John 8:28) – not as Moses had taught Him. And again, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father” (John 8:38) – not with Moses.
I have more to say, but I am taxing the patience of our readers. My apologies for this lengthy response. I understand that much of this is Theology 101, but I am concerned that it not be lost amidst all of this discussion.
I don't know near enough. But I do suggest that what I say is based on having READ the Bible and properly understanding it as best I know how. Clear Bible teaching always trumps obscure passages. God intends that His Word shall be understood by even "common" people. It does not need to be explained to us by scholars. But we surely must apply "common" sense to our reading if we want to understand what God reveals in the written Word. We need always to understand difficult passages in the light of the clear truths elsewhere revealed.
Then here is a thought to ponder -- and it is an inspired one. What is more, the King Himself said it. "The law and the prophets were UNTIL JOHN. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it" (Luke 16:16).
Of course Jesus did not demean Moses and the Law. Moses was "faithful" in all of God's house (Heb 3:2), and "the law is (not "was") holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good," and "spiritual" (Rom 7:12,14). It is wrong under any circumstances to speak against Moses or the Law. The problem was not with the Law, but with human weakness. It was, as Paul said, "weak through the flesh" (Rom 8:3). The Law demanded more than men could give, and that was on purpose, in order to convince those who took the Law seriously that they needed a Savior. Jesus did not come to destroy the Law, speak against it, or disobey it. He rather came to prepare men for the transition to a "better covenant that was established upon better promises" (Heb 8:6). God had talked about this transition through Moses (Deut 30:6), Isaiah (Isa 35:6,9), Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34; Ezekiel (Ezek 36:26), Zephaniah (Zeph 3:9), and others. Holy people were not ignorant of the coming Messiah and the changes that would attend His ministry. When Jesus walked among men He ignited the hopes that those precious promises had created. As the prophet said He "magnified" the Law and made it "honorable" (Isa 42:21). But He by no means limited His ministry to the Law.
The Law was not where He rested His case. The Law did not offer amnesty for a woman caught in the act of adultery, but He did. The Law did not allow a woman with an issue of blood to touch someone (Lev 15:19,25), but Jesus did. Strictly speaking, and according to His own words, Jesus was in a transition period. It is He that said the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. That certainly did not mean that the Law could be broken while He dwelt among men. It did mean the way was being paved for a better thing.
John the Baptist introduced a new dispensation, announcing the Kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matt 3:2). Jesus took up the refrain when He came out of waters of Jordan and began filling Galilee with the good news of the Kingdom of heaven -- that it was "at hand" (Matt 4:16). Moses did not say a single word about "the kingdom of God" or "the kingdom of heaven." Both John and Jesus preached a message that was neither contained nor foretold in the Law. Men may speak about "The Mosaic age" and the "Christian age." If we correctly understand what is meant by those human terms, that is fine. But when all is said and done, we must also add to our spiritual vocabulary "the prophets and Moses" and "the kingdom of God." That is how Jesus spoke, and you should have no difficulty at all speaking the same way, adding our Lord's words to your vocabulary.
I realize that a lot of this bantering is nothing more than semantics. On the one hand, you speak of saying what is based upon having read the Bible and properly understanding it as best you know how. On the other hand you say God does not give repentance or faith when He categorically says that He does. You refer to the Mosaic age and the Christian age, and lay out their boundaries for us as though that was done in Scripture. You say that Jesus spoke things that were helpful to those then alive. Jesus said He also spoke things the masses could not understand, deliberately concealing from some so they would be not able to see or understand (Luke 8:10). Christ's earthly ministry was not to assist people in living better under the Law, but to prepare them for what the Prophets and Moses were pointing to.
Now, please take the time to list for us the words and teachings of Jesus that are not applicable to us. It will be of great assistance to catalog these things so we will know what to ignore. It certainly will not be what He said to Nicodemus, who was not only a Jew, but a leader among them. Jesus told him it was necessary to be born again (John 3:3,7), and "born of the water and the Spirit" (John 3:5). Where did Moses say that? He said the way that led to life was through a strait gate and a narrow way (Matt 7:13-14). Where did Moses say that? He said He was the "Bread of life," and that unless people ate His flesh and drank His blood, they had no life in them (John 6:51-53). Where did Moses say that? He said His sheep knew His voice and would not follow a stranger (John 10:5). Where did Moses say that? He said those who forsook all to follow Him would receive eternal life "in the world to come (Mark 10:30). Where did Moses say that?" He said the one believing in Him had everlasting life (John 6:47). Where did Moses say that? He said whoever committed sin was the servant of sin (John 8:34). Where did Moses say that? He said if a man kept His saying, He would never see death (John 8:51). Where did Moses say that? Jesus taught men to pray, "Thy kingdom come" (Matt 6:10). Where did Moses say that? He spoke of people who would find on the day of judgment that it would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for them (Matt 10:15). Where did Moses say that? He said except men were "converted" and become "as little children" they could not be saved (Matt 18:3). Where did Moses say that? He spoke of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28). Where did Moses speak about that?
Where did Moses speak about God's Kingdom, eternal life, faith, or hope? Jesus delivered a message that did not nullify Moses, but transcended what Moses gave -- the Law. He Himself said, ""For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (John 5:4647). He said Moses spoke about Him, instead of Jesus speaking of Moses -- and that is quite a distinction. When Jesus rose from the dead, He spoke to the two on the road to Emmaus concerning what Moses and the Prophets said about Him -- and that was before Pentecost (Luke 24:27,44). He told His critics that the Scriptures written hundreds of years before Him were actually speaking of Him (John 5:39).
I am beginning to wonder how familiar you are with what Jesus actually said and taught. I do not question that you have read His words. I know you are a student of the Scriptures. But I suggest that it may be time to subject your mind to the words of our Lord again. Jesus did say His words were "spirit and life" (John 6:63). Surely that has not become obsolete. He did say His words would never pass away (Matt 24:35). He did say that if any man would love Him and keep His words, the Father would love Him, and they both would make their abode with him (John 14:23). Perhaps there is a way to harmonize those sayings with what you have said. However, I must admit that I do not see how it can be done.
One other thing, I do thank you for providing an opportunity to speak of these marvelous distinctions and benefits. It is certainly refreshing to my spirit.
"Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so." Venturing beyond elementary teachings is challenging, isn't it?
The result of a failure to proceed beyond the elementary teachings is declared. First, remaining in an infantile state introduces the challenging situation, "God permitting," or "IF God permits" (NRSV). The conditional particle "if" is in the original Greek ("eanper"), and denotes indefiniteness or uncertainty. For those who choose to remain where they are at, there really is no guarantee that God will allow them to advance.
The following verses announce the unavoidable outcome of refusing to advance beyond the periphery of sound doctrine: "For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt" (Heb 6:4-6, NRSV). Again, although omitted in the NIV, the article "For" is in the Greek text ("gar"), and provides an explanation for the warning that follows. That is, "falling away" is the consequence of not moving forward. The matter is further explained in the next two verses that speak of the earth receiving frequent rains, yet bearing not fruit, but only thorns and briars. Such ground "is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end, it WILL be burned" (verses 7-8).
The uncomely propensity to remain near the shore of spiritual learning instead of launching out into the deep, throws one into a state of jeopardy. It is a realm where men, and the things men do, are more central than the God who made them, and the Savior who redeemed them. Jesus is thus upstaged by novel theological discussions and the articulation of opinions and mere possibilities.The catch is that such things are wholly lacking of Divine power.
Those who insist on emphasizing what men do instead of what God has done are, at best, wadding in shallow water, because they never get to the point where "Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again" (2 Cor 5:14-15).
This, of course, by no means suggests that men ignore "the elementary teachings." It does mean that if men choose not to build upon them, moving on to the place where genuine fellowship with Christ is realized (into which we have been called, 1 Cor 1:9), their religion will only be the means of their spiritual demise.
Why do you believe in the trinity?
This is not a proper use of the word "believe." I trust in God through Christ Jesus (1 Pet 1:21), having obeyed the truth through the Spirit (1 Pet 1:22). I know the Father sent the Son (1 John 4:14), gave Him honor and glory (2 Pet 1:17), delivered Him up (Rom 8:32), raised Him from the dead (Acts 4:10), and exalted Him (Phil 2:9). I know the Son sent the Spirit (John 15:26), and with the Father takes up residence in those whose hearts are purified by faith (John 14:21,23). I know Jesus is bringing us to God (1 Pet 3:18), and through His intercession is saving those who are coming to God through Him (Heb 7:25). I know Jesus will deliver the Kingdom back to the Father when all enemies have been subdued, and all of the children of God have been brought to glory (1 Cor 15:24-28).
When giving a gift or donation to the Lord's work, it is okay to use ones credit card to charge money that one does not have.? The scripture teaches that we are to owe no man only love. Thank you.
If you pay your credit card bill regularly, this is perfectly acceptable. It would be like paying a monthly utility bill. If you do not make proper payments on your credit card, I do not believe this would be a proper way to support the Lord's work.
What is the problem of spouse choosing for themselves?
I do not understand your question. Do you mean choosing your own spouse, or making decisions for yourself?
You have the right to do either one -- choose your own husband, or make choices as a wife. As a wife, your choices should not compete with those of your husband or be the source of friction. The only exception to that is found in choosing the Lord. If the wife chooses the Lord and her husband says she cannot do so, he is wrong. A husband cannot make choices for his wife in matters pertaining to the Lord.
A husband should also trust his wife to make proper decisions without having to ask him. This is why Solomon said of a virtuous woman who was married and had children, "her husband doth safely trust in her" (Prov 31:10). She is said to "consider a field and buy it" (Prov 31:16).She even stretches out her hand to the poor and needy and helps them (Prov 31:20). Of her own accord she "makes fine linen, and selleth it; and deliverth girdles to the merchant" (Prov 31:24). She also "openeth her mouth with wisdom" (Prov 31:31:26).
As you can see, there is no problem with a spouse choosing for herself.
If I have not understood your question, please clarify what you want to know. I will be glad to answer you.
There are things for us to do but not before God will save us. That is the point that you are missing. Your grace is conditional on my work, God’s grace is conditional on His work. There is nothing to do for me to be saved. There is plenty to do to grow in the grace of God, to become more complete in Him. And only through His power can I even do any of that, so I’m still left with nothing to boast of, as AP says. You may call what Coffman said “grace” but it’s works no matter how much you may protest.
God gives us an example of being "saved" -- and it is Israel being delivered from Egypt (Jude 1:5). That salvation is traced to God. Thus the children of Israel are said to have brought out of Egypt by the strength of God's hand (Ex 13:3). Moses reminded the people, "it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt" (Ex 16:6; Deut 7:8; 13:5). God Himself said to them, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt" (Lev 19:36; 22:33; Num 15:41). Jude says, "the Lord delivered His people out of Egypt" (Jude 1:5), paralleling that occasion with the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.
The fact that God carried Israel "on eagles wings and brought them to" Himself (Ex 19:4) does not mean they themselves were not involved in the process. A salvation that does not involve the people is no salvation at all. Before the deliverance, the women of Israel had to borrow from the Egyptians jewels of silver and gold, and clothing for their sons and daughters (Ex 3:22). A lamb had to be selected and sequestered for four days (Ex 12:3-6). That lamb had to be killed on the fourteenth day, and its blood put on the sides and top of their doorframes (Ex 12:7). The people had to roast the lamb with fire, prepare unleavened bread, and eat it in the night together with bitter herbs (Ex 12:8).They had to eat it quickly, fully clothed, their sandals on their feet, and their staffs in their hand (Ex 12:11). The people had to take dough in kneading troughs, wrapped in clothing, and carry it on their shoulders (Ex 12:34). They also had to bake bread and take it with them (Ex 12:39).
All of that activity was technically "before" they were saved -- and the Scriptures refers to their deliverance as being "saved" (Jude 1:5). Further, they were not saved by Law, for the Law had not yet been given. That salvation is traced back to God's "mercy" (Psa 136:10). God is said to have brought them out of Egypt because He "loved" their "fathers, and chose their descendants after them" (Deut 4:37). That was a precursor of the grace we experience.
If you were to interview any of those Israelites, and ask them if they had to do anything, what do you suppose they would say? If you were to ask them if they saved themselves by their own power, what would an insightful Israelite have said?
We should not philosophize about salvation when God has said so much about it, and so clearly made known its nature. It is the CAUSE of salvation that does not involve men, not the appropriation of it. The BASIS of salvation is wholly of the Lord, just as surely as Israel's spoiling of the Egyptians and deliverance from the land and its armies were of the Lord.
The glory of salvation is that we ourselves become involved in the process. When we are able to see clearly, we know it is God who works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure (Phil 2:13). Those who understand know that it is "given" to us to believe (Phil 1:29), and that Jesus has been exalted to "give repentance" (Acts 5:31). We realize that confessing Jesus to be Lord is related to the working of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:3). But that certainly does not suggest that "There is nothing for me to do to be saved."
The Jews asked what they should "DO" on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37). The Philippian jailor asked what he should "DO" to be saved (Acts 16:31). Neither Peter nor Paul replied that they should do nothing. They both gave the people something to do -- before they were saved.
I know what you are trying to say -- but it needs to be said better and more precisely -- in words that the Spirit teaches. What needed to be done to make it right for God to save us had to be done by Jesus, not us. It was His work alone that enabled God to be "JUST and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus" (Rom 3:26). Only Jesus could "take away the sins of the world" (John 1:26), putting it away (Heb 9:26). Only Jesus could "make peace" with God (Col 1:20). Only Jesus could "destroy the devil" (Heb 2:14), and plunder principalities and powers (Col 2:15). Only Jesus could reconcile us to God (2 Cor 5:18-20). That parallels the fact that only God could cause the Egyptians to give their goods to Israel. Only God could cause the Red Sea to part. Only God could destroy the armies of Egypt. However, with both Israel and ourselves, that does not suggest the people did nothing before they were saved.
However, whether God barks or shouts or whispers, sinners MUST pay attention to God's Words. We are not given faith or repentance. Grace is extended, but not as a gift to those who don't want it.
I am particularly responding to the words, "We are not given faith or repentance."
ON FAITH: "Peace to the brothers, and love with faith FROM God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph 6:23). "For it has been GRANTED to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him" (Phil 1:29). "And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant WITH faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 1:14). "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have RECEIVED a faith as precious as ours" (2 Pet 1:1).
ON REPENTANCE: "God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might GIVE repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel" (Acts 5:31). "When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has GRANTED even the Gentiles repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18). "Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will GRANT them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim 2:25).
No one of understanding will postulate that faith and repentance are given to those who do not want it, and that is not even the question. But, what of those who do want them? For such tender souls, it is glad sound to hear that the Lord gives them.
And we must also add that God does not force Himself on anyone. As we want to be like Him, He will make us so. I get in the way and try to do this under my own strength and power and I fail. When I get out of His way and let Him empower me, I win
This is so true, for God would have no trophy of His grace if we came kicking all the way. In His infinite wisdom, He is able to exert constraining influences upon men, whose tenderness is hidden beneath the dust of imperfection -- like when He sent a fish to tutor Jonah in the grace of willingness. Without imposing His will upon Jonah, He sent him to the bottom of the sea, where, with sea weeds wrapped around his head, he was able to think more clearly. You remember that the first words that came to his mind were, "Salvation is of the Lord!" The fish promptly rose to the surface so he could complete his mission. The same kind of experience can be seen in Saul of Tarsus, who also thought quite differently in the heavenly light that surrounded him.
The Psalmist referred to this as being "willing in the day" of God's power, declaring it to be a characteristic of the Savior's reign of grace, which we presently enjoy (Psa 110:1-3).
There is a powerfully constraining influence in the Gospel of Christ that will transform those who devote their attention to it. It is described as beholding "the glory of the Lord," which is found "in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor 3:18; 4:6). The Lord is not ambiguous about this devoted gaze, or steadfast look. That is the time the Holy Spirit changes us from one increasing stage of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18). Those who experience this and know what has occurred, rarely talk about what they have done -- and when they do, they will add something like, "yet not I, but the grace of God that was in me" (1 Cor 15:10).
It is certainly true that His "commandments are not grievous," confirming that Christ's "yoke is easy" and His "burden light" (Matt 11:30). Like yourself, I have found that to be true in the crucible of life, and have no greater desire than to walk as one of His "dear children" (Eph 5:1).
I have been moved to make an observation concerning this stress upon commandments. No person who knows God flinches at His commands, even if they speak of cross bearing and mortifying the deeds of the body, to say nothing of loving your enemies and not loving the world. There is a word from Jesus that will neutralize an inordinate emphasis on commandments. They must be obeyed, and there is to be no doubt about that (1 Cor 7:19). However, here is something that must be recognized by all who feel a sense of contentment in their obedience -- even though it is imperative. Jesus said, "So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty'" (Luke 17:10). Those who make a practice of saying "repeat after me," or "every one say . . . " would do well to repeat those words. They are in the red print.
I suggest that a person who must be told to do everything is something less that what God intends in His "great salvation." Those who fear to step out for God where he has not commanded them to do so do well to remember David. He desired to build a house for God -- a house God did not command him to build, and nowhere suggested by some previous prophetic word. God not only received his request, He gave him the plan for building it, and then said He would build David a house (2 Sam 7:5-13; 1 Chron 28:11-12). All of this was prompted by the desire to do something that God has NOT commanded.
I sense this is something like a tsumani wave to some, and so will let the matter drop. But there is much more that can be said on this subject. There really is a "better way" to serve the Lord -- a way that is without exception preceded by obedience, but does not end there.
While He lived on earth, He was teaching Jews how to save themselves while keeping the law of Moses. He told His apostles that AFTER He left the earth to go to prepare a place for them (and us) that THEY would be led into all truth and were then to wherever they went teach, baptize (in water, of course) and teach the fullness of the Way of salvation. Some might even be able to figure out that if Jesus deliberately did NOT tell all He wanted His disciples to later know, that we could memorize all His words spoken on earth and still not know "all truth."
Although I know you know this, I just want to reaffirm that the words spoken about the Lord giving repentance and faith were spoken and written after Jesus had been enthroned in heaven.
I do not know that the statement about Jesus teaching people how they could be "save themselves while keeping the law of Moses." That statement needs to be rethought. When Jesus sent people to the Law, it was not in order that they could be saved, but so they could see their need for a Savior. The Law was never given to save anyone, for life cannot come by a law. That is why Paul affirmed, "Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law" (Gal 3:21). Jesus did not send Nicodemus to the law, but told him he had to be born again -- which the Law did not require (John 3:3,7). He told the woman who anointed His feet that her sins were forgiven and that her faith had saved her (Luke 7:50).
Also, while Jesus did not delineate everything in detail to His disciples prior to His return to heaven, you will be hard pressed to find anything the Apostles preached or wrote that Jesus did not address in His words while upon the earth. It will be challenging to find anything they said that was not an enlargement of what Jesus had introduced.
Is it correct that there will be no contradiction between inspired writings? Does the idea that sinners must repent conflict with the teaching that God will do the repenting FOR the sinners He chooses to save? If repentance is a gift from God, then God surely is doing the choosing on who will be saved and who will not be saved because they didn't repent. Let's try re-writing Acts 2:38 to agree with the theory: "Turn loose and let God make you repent ..." Is that what Peter should have said? No, that's still telling the sinner to DO something. Or "Sit back and thank God he's gifted you with repentance ..." Or "Raise your hand now that (or if) God has given you repentance ..." Or "Will those whom God has gifted with repentance now come forward, and ..."
Instead of making assumptions, it is best to believe what God has said. If He says He has exalted Jesus to give repentance, then believe it. If He commands men to repent, then believe it. If you think one statement requires that you rewrite another, then you need to look to God, not to men, for He has made both statements. If you cannot put them together, then look at them like a set of railroad tracks that are headed the same way, and end up at the same place. When Jesus told a lame man to pick up His bed and walk, He did not mean to exclude His own working from the situation.
It is not wise to assume God "giving" something means He is choosing the ones to be saved and who will not be saved. What is the origin of that kind of reasoning? His Spirit is "given" to us (Rom 5:5). Grace is "given" (1 Cor 1:4). God gives "things freely to us (1 Cor 2:12). He gives increase (1 Cor 3:6). He gives victory (1 Cor 15:57). He gives the light of the knowledge of His glory (2 Cor 4:6). He gives "the spirit of wisdom and revelation" (Eph 1:17). He give "light" (Eph 5:14). He gives men to believe (Phil 1:29). He gives everlasting consolation and good hope (2 Thess 2:16). He give us peace (2 Thess 3:16). He gives us to understand (2 Tim 2:7). He gives repentance (2 Tim 2:25). He gives wisdom (James 1:5). He gives abilities (1 Pet 4:11).
Why do you have difficulty receiving what God has said about giving faith and repentance? He is the One who said He did. Some of us have simply chosen to believe it, not sift it through an elaborate theological system, or compare it with what Calvin or some one else has said. Believers are asked, "And what do you have that you did not receive?" (1 Cor 4:7). Will you step forward and say you have something you have not received? Is it your faith? Do you have it without obtaining it, as the Scripture says you have (2 Pet 1:1). If Jesus has been exalted to give repentance (Acts 5:31), then how is it that you, not having been exalted, have it without receiving it?
The Bible does not contradict itself. What we are dealing with is a lack of understanding. You really need to cease this kind of reasoning. We have only affirmed what God has said, and it has not moved us to deny anything else He has said. It appears to me that only a canned theology can cause a person to do that -- or perhaps, more accurately unbelief.
While we're rethinking, consider that for 1500 years God's people lived under the law of Moses. Are we to suppose none were saved during that time, which included all the days that Jesus lived on earth? Well, Jesus personally "saved" a few so it can't be doubted that those few were saved for a time at least. But were even they not responsible then to obey the Mosaic Law? The gospel had not yet been given. Law reigned. Everyone alive was damned, according to some. Jesus had no sin, but in fulfilling the Law, He did not die because of the Law. How about the prophet who lived only until he had seen the infant Jesus? Hell bound?
Can it be that you really do not understand these things? Salvation has always been by faith, whether we are talking about Abraham, Moses, or David. He has never saved a person by means of Law. If that was possible, the law would have remained. It is written, "For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law" (Gal 3:21). This is what Hebrews 11 is all about. Or are you advocating a salvation that is independent of life and righteousness? Do not even suggest that a person could not live by faith, and yet be under the Law. David, by Paul's own statement, had "the spirit of faith" (2 Cor 4:13) -- and he was under the Law. You will not be able to support such a postulate.
Underneath the heading is listed many other words or phrases that apply to the person who is "in Christ". Would you please tell me what you believe the meaning of "In Christ" is. This subject has come up in our Saturday morning Bible study and all members becoming familiar with your ministry, I am sure your comments would be taken seriously.
John 1:12 says "yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God". Do you believe that "believing in his name" is all that is necessary to become "In Christ" or do you believe that the baptismal experience is what places a person "In Christ".
I was talking to the men about what it means to be "In Christ". In my mind, Christ takes up His abode in us when our heart believes and wants his presence more than anything else. When that happens, though we have Christ in us, from God's perspective, we are "in Christ" and when God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of Christ.
Unfortunately, the glorious reality of the indwelling Christ has been largely institutionalized in our day. Explanations have been concocted that handily fit into merely human concepts of being "in Christ." Most of the explanations that have been created are designed for those (whom men conceive) to are considering, or have just come into, Christ Jesus. However, this is not the approach made known in Scripture.
The concept of being "in Christ" encapsulates the whole of salvation. It is precisely this identity -- being "in Christ" -- that constitutes deliverance from this present evil world and acceptance by God Himself. The burden of teaching concerning being "in Christ" is delivered to those who are already perceived as being in Him. I cannot think of a single word concerning being "in Christ" that is addressed to anyone else. I do reserve the right to be wrong on that assessment.
This subject must NOT be approached with the "what is necessary" mind-set. Being in Christ is not the result of a mere procedure, or fulfilling a set of requirements. This is a living relationship, and spiritual life can be neither initiated nor maintained by a system of rules or a law -- any law.
There are a number of statements made concerning being "in Christ," and all of them are to be taken seriously. Some of them cut across stereotyped lines that have been arbitrarily drawn by pretentious theologians.
When it comes down to the bottom line, God is the One who puts us into Christ. I want to say emphatically that this is not the result of a mere procedure. God, of course, looks upon the heart, and the condition of being "in Christ" is wholly of His own working. Thus it is written, "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor 1:30, NASB). I do understand this to be directly or immediately associated with our faith. As confirmed in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, "faith" is always associated with doing something -- specifically, with doing what God has required. There is no such thing as a faith that does not do, obey, or respond to God.
Even though it is exceedingly difficult for some to accept, the Word of God does say, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal 3:27). We know, according to Romans 6, that being "baptized into Christ" involves being "baptized into His death" (Rom 6:3), so that "in Christ" we experience death to sin and the world. Believers are also said to grow up "into" Christ in all things (Eph 4:15). These are the only texts in all of the Bible that employ the word "into" with Jesus as the objective or Residence into which we come.
The person who is "in Christ" IS (not ought to be) a "new creation." By virtue of that condition, "all things are passed away," and "all things are become new" (2 Cor 5:17). We are also said to be "created in Christ Jesus unto (or in order to) good works" (Eph 2:10).
If one understands what "believing on His name" means, I suppose one might conclude that "is all that is necessary." As I understand it, this involves a total reliance upon the Lord that does not balk at, or hesitate to do, anything and everything He requires of us. That is an exceedingly large matter, and can by no means be fulfilled by following a set of rules -- whether it is a single rule or a multiplicity of rules, laws, or commandments. However, this approach is nothing more than philosophizing about being "in Christ." The subject is never approached in this manner in the Scriptures -- never!
The Scriptures do not say that "believing on His name" puts us into Christ. Rather, they declare that those who do this are given "power to become the sons of God" (John 1:12). Several versions translate this verse "the RIGHT to become children of God." That, in my judgment, is not the precise meaning of the word. The Greek word from which "power" is translated is ex-oou-see-a), and involves ability more than the mere legal right. Such as believe on His name are granted the sort of competency, or ability, that is required to come into Christ. That includes such things as repentance (which Jesus gives -- Acts 5:31) and acknowledging that He is Lord (1 Cor 12:3), together with any other required responses.
To be "in Christ" is to be "one spirit" with Him (1 Cor 6:17). It involves having "the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16), the "truth of Christ" (2 Cor 11:10), and the "power of Christ" (2 Cor 12:9). It is being "made partakers of Christ" (Heb 3:14), so that His nature is found within us. Being "in Christ" is not an impersonal position or status, but a glorious fellowship into which we are called (1 Cor 1:9). In other words, being "in Christ" is confirmed by evidence of the same. This condition is not to be taken for granted.
As concerning Christ taking up His abode in us, Jesus Himself has spoken on this matter -- and it is quite different from the way men approach it. "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him" (John 14:23). Speaking of the same thing, Paul links this abiding presence to being strengthened within by the Holy Spirit. "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, SO THAT Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Eph 3:17). As you know, this is written to those who are "in Christ." Christ dwelling in us is a picture of spiritual maturity, not of the new birth itself. It is the process elsewhere referred to as being changed from glory to glory by the Spirit of God (2 Cor 3:18).
A TECHNICAL POINT. What I am going to say here is a technical point, yet something that must be seen. The righteousness that we are "made" is not the "righteousness of Christ." In fact, the phrase "the righteousness of Christ" does not appear in any standard version of Scripture (KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB. NIV, NRSV, RSV . . . . etc). To be sure, Christ was righteous. In fact, He is called "Christ THE righteous" (One) -- 1 John 2:1). Technically, His righteousness is what qualified Him to offer an acceptable sacrifice for sin, and make effective intercession for those who come to God through Him (Heb 7:25).
The righteousness that is imputed to us (Rom 4:22-24), is the righteousness of God Himself (Rom 1:17; 3:21; Phil 1:9.
We discussed the possible impact of their using on others who may not be as well disciplined as them. The individuals who are defending their right to take a smoke or drink once in a while are not saying that has anything to do with their believing in Jesus.
As long as they can do this in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him, they can go ahead (Col 3:17). As long as they have no objections concerning Jesus returning and finding them enjoying a smoke or a drink, they can continue thinking such practices (Mark 13:35-26). Candidly, I have serious doubts that either of these things is possible, but that is a decision for which they are responsible.
When approaching things like this, the rule is straightforward. The issue where this is stated regards observing different days or eating meat, but the principle applies to anything that is not specifically commanded or condemned by God. "One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone" (Rom 14:5-7). The expression "fully convinced" means persuaded that God receives the decision that is made. Once again, the question is whether or not God will receive their action as acceptable in His eyes, and conducive to His glory.
If what they do does not relate to their faith, that consideration alone makes it wrong. "But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23). At no point can the child of God step out of the role of God's children, conducting their lives as though this or that action had nothing to do with their relationship to God. Such a view is pure human imagination, and is dangerous beyond description.
These brethren are approaching this subject the wrong way. The question is not whether or not an occasional smoke or drink is wrong, but if it is right. Can it be that Jesus died to procure this right for them? We know that it is written, "And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again" (2 Cor 5:15). Precisely what is it that is being accomplished by these and other similar deeds? Do they have to do with the will of God or the will of man? We are categorically told, "our bodies are the members of Christ Himself" (1 Cor 6:15). Is this an appropriate use of that body? We are also told, "Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Cor 6:20). Does smoking or drinking in any measure do this? If these men decide that is really what they are doing -- honoring God by these deeds -- I choose to challenge their decision. I do not believe God is in the matter at all -- not even in the most miniscule way -- and if this assessment is true, nothing more needs to be said about it. If it not true, then those who defend these practices must show us precisely how God is honored by them -- how His name is glorified by them -- how their bodies are submitted to God by such actions.
It is not that we are to sit in judgment upon these men, and we refuse to do so. However, since they have brought the subject up, it is their business to now settle it before the Lord, to His honor and glory, and for the praise of Jesus. They must not leave this subject until they are convinced they can do it for the glory of God.
Good morning brother Given. Would you be able to give me a resource on the web that might be able to sum up what's wrong with the "positive confession" or "word-faith" teaching. There is a brother at work that talks to me about Kenneth Hagin et al. a regular basis. I just haven't really been able to discuss his views because I don't know about them. They just sound strange.
The principle error in the "word of faith" movement is that it views faith as a "creative power." Those holding to this doctrine wrest the Scriptures in their view of Hebrews 11:3: "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Their teaching is that God created the worlds through His faith -- which is an absurdity that boggles the mind. The meaning of the text is that by means of OUR faith, we understand that God made the worlds from nothing. We do not need a scientific explanation of the creation. God has told how the worlds came into being. He created them with His "word," not with His faith. God is nowhere represented as having faith. Faith is IN someone -- "in God" (Mk 11:22), "in Christ" (Acts 24:24), "in the Lord Jesus" (Eph 1:15), etc.
In breaking down "faith," the Scriptures say, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb 11:6). It is not possible for such a verse to apply to God Himself.
The "word of faith" view says that we call things into being by means of our faith. Thus, what we say comes to pass, just like the worlds came into being when God spoke. This distorts the meaning of Hebrews 11:1 -- "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb 11:1). It also forces men to be liars. This would make the "substance" and "evidence" of which faith persuades us, things of this world -- called into being by one's faith. Hebrews 11:1,, however, is speaking of another realm -- where God and Christ are -- and of other things, like "spiritual blessings" (Eph 1:3). These are things that are announced in the Gospel -- things that cannot be seen with human eyes. They include the remission of sins, the exalted Christ, the Intercession of Jesus, our eternal inheritance, etc., etc.
In my judgment, the "word of faith" doctrine is worldly, and has produced worldly desires. It speaks nothing about what the saints of God will enjoy after death, and after the present heavens and earth have passed away. It is centered in this world, which is the evidence that it is not from God.
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