QUESTIONS/ANSWERS FROM THE QUESTION FORUM

Group Number 100

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I am a missionary in Croatia and have only been on the field for 5 1/2 months but the longer I am here I am wondering if the role of the "modern-day missionary" (If I may be permitted to use that term) has changed from that of 50-100 years ago (the era of Gladys Alyward or Jonathan Goforth).  I was referred to you by a Mr Robert Cobb.  Can you answer my question? 

Greetings to you in the blessed name of Jesus, and may God Himself fill you will all joy and peace in believing (Rom 15:13). First, I commend you for your desire to serve the Lord, and assure you that this desire has been given to you by the Savior Himself. He will, therefore, sustain you in fulfilling that desire.
 
I will share with you my own perception of, as you call it, "the modern-day missionary." The missions of our day, in my judgment, have not, for the most part, been shaped by a quest to spread the Word of God. Institutionalism so dominates the missionary scene that it is difficult for a person to work independently, as former missionaries did. The emphasis has also shifted from the declaration of the Gospel to the care of the needy. This is largely the reason for the change of the face of missions during the last century.
 
This change in emphasis is wrong, and the results of it confirm this to be true. I have extensive involvement with a great number of foreign Christians, and virtually none of them, are spiritually stable. There appears to be few leaders or materials available to ground them in the faith as spiritual leaders are to do (Eph 4:11-16). I have perceived many sensitive and tender hearts. Yet, a dominating lack of familiarity with the objectives and ways of the Lord exists among them. All of the people with who, I have worked are products of American and European missions and evangelism. In my judgment, they confirm that a fundamental deficiency exists in many of these missionary programs. Such results in no way reflect the manner of the God, the nature of salvation, the purpose of Christ, or the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The change that concerns both of us is owing to a shift in emphasis from Christ to other matters -- and that shift is not acceptable. I am answering your questions in view of this perception.


What ways might a missionary, in today's generation, be most helpful on the foreign field and in what ways might a missionary hinder God's work rather than help.
 
First, when it comes to the salvation of God, every generation is actually the same. Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- about salvation is tailored for a particular generation of culture. The message of the Gospel is universal in respect to both time and people. It addresses the universal problem of sin, presenting a universal remedy, and announcing a universal hope. God does not have one thing for the Americans, and another thing for the other nations of the world. In order to be effective, the missionaries must see the people to whom they minister through the eyes of Scripture, not the eyes of culture. The Gospel must be perceived as the message through which God will change that generation. It must not be imagined that moral and spiritual change will come by means of social helps, cultural assistance, and the likes. The Gospel is God's "power" in order to salvation (Rom 1:16), and there are absolutely no competitors with it, or additions to be made to it.
 
Second, the missionary must live out the "newness of life" before the people. The person who brings the Gospel is the immediate commentary on that Gospel, and the chief exhibit of its effectiveness. Those who tend to moral lapses must withdraw from all missionary activity. They are nothing more than hindrances to the work.
 
Third, the fundamental thing to be accomplished is to cause the people to see, perceive, or understand. Paul identified his purpose as, "to make all men see" what God is doing in Christ (Eph 3:9). This was in keeping with his commission from Jesus Himself: "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me" (Acts 26:18). If that is not done, nothing else matters. As you can see, the objective involves more than a start, or conversion. The obtaining of the "eternal inheritance" (Heb 9:15) -- an inheritance that is reserved in heaven for us (1 Pet 1:4) -- is imperative. If that is not finally realized, all labor has been in vain.
 
The work of the Lord is hindered by an unholy life, a person who is uninformed in the ways of the Lord, a faulty message, and objectives that are not in strict harmony with those of the Head of the church, Jesus Christ the Lord.


Do you think a missionary is most helpful in the role of training local people to do God's work or do you feel they are better served to do the work themselves (ie. church planting, evangelizing, starting Bible schools, teaching in Bible schools etc).


Only people who are mature in Christ Jesus can carry the work of Christ forward. At its inception, work among the unsaved demands that the person of God do most of the work. However, that person must develop the people, just as salvation is designed to do. If the Apostles did not carve out a permanent place for themselves among a particular people, what modern day missionary would dare to do so. When Philip was used to convert a person from the unreached African quadrant of the world, the Spirit of the Lord took him away. Yet, he sent that man from Ethiopia on his way with the means of growth in both is hand and heart (Acts 8:27-40).
 
In my own judgment, the main work is to covert and build up the local citizenry. In that work, churches, Bible schools, etc., may very well be involved. They are, however, a fruit, and not an objective -- and there is a difference. The work of the missionary must not differ from the work of the Lord. Why did Jesus come? What is He doing now? What is the purpose of His salvation? Those are the things that must direct our own endeavors.
 
Consider what insitutionalized Christianity has done for modern America and Europe. It is exceedingly difficult to think of anything less impressive. In both regions immorality is raging out of control. Professing Christians are returning to the ways of the world. Unacceptable moral conduct has even broken out in the church itself. It is not enough to merely complain about this condition. Rather, we must seek grace from the Lord to resolve it. Allow me to briefly comment on this situation, for it bears upon the answer I am giving you. We know that Jesus does not create such conditions. Salvation does not produce this kind of society. The Holy Spirit does not move people in this direction. The Word of God does not lead to deviate conduct, or flawed thinking. How, then, do such conditions arise. They can only be brought about by a departure from Jesus, a neglecting of God's great salvation, a quenching of the Spirit, and a failure to imbibe the good word of the Lord.
 
The missionary must, at all cost, avoid replicating the conditions that have created the modern American and European church. This will require personal thought, prayer, and diligence in the Word of God. Take your own situation as an example. You appear to be concerned that the missionary landscape has changed -- and you do well to have such a holy concern. What you must do is bring a focus to your ministry that does not leave the people thinking like those who have pioneered these miserable changes. You know what has stabilized your own heart, and given you a desire to please the Lord and lead the people into an acceptable relationship with Him. Whatever has led you to have these desires is what you must give to the people. It will produce the same results in them as it has in you.   


I have been looking at this scripture in John 1 and wondering if there is any significance to the fact that the Spirit descended upon Christ in the form of a dove. Is there any spiritual nugget here?

Remember, it was a dove that Noah sent forth from the ark to see if the waters had receded from the earth. That dove found "no rest for the sole of her foot," so returned to the one who sent it forth. After pulling the dove to himself, Noah waited seven more days, then sent the dove out again. The dove returned in the evening, and an olive leaf was in its mouth. Noah knew the waters had receded. After seven days, Noah sent the dove forth again, and this time she found a resting place, and did not return (Gen 8:8-12).
 
This is a most marvelous picture of the Holy Spirit of God not finding a place to remain in the earth  before Jesus. Remember how the Spirit strove with men during the says of Noah -- but the earth was dominated with sin, and He could not remain among men. Periodically He would come upon certain holy men -- men who were like an olive leaf -- but there was still none with whom He could dwell. The Holy Spirit visited earth, as it were, but sin still covered the whole domain, like Noah's waters covered the world in Noah's day.
 
But the day the Son of God strode along the shores of the Jordan, an Olive tree was found in full bloom -- One upon whom the Holy Spirit could descend and remain (John 1:33). No more would He return to the Lord with an olive leaf, so to speak -- like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, the prophets, etc.--  scattered olive leaves. In the Son of God, He had found a place to remain.
 
Other Scriptural insights on a dove:
 
1.The dove was known for mourning for its mate (Isa 38:14) -- like the Spirit longing for a "man" upon whom He could remain. The righteous who longingly look for judgment are also likened to mourning doves (Isa 59:11).
 
2. The dove also made its nest in the walls of the yawning chasm -- finding safety, as it were, where there was peril (Jer 48:28) -- like the Spirit finding a resting place in Jesus while He was in the yawning chasm of this wicked world.
 
3. Students of the dove tell us that they are "easily  taught submission and familiarity with mankind, and, when domesticated, build in structures erected for their accommodation" (McClintok and Strong's Encycl). These structures are referred to as "windows" in the KJV (Isa 60:8), "roosts" in the NKJV, and "lattices" in the NASB. Thus the Spirit would be depicted as becoming accustomed to dwelling among men in the especially prepared habitation of Jesus.
 
4. David spoke of the dove as a picture of sensitivity, who could not dwell among hostility, but flew away to escape the storm and tempest (Psa 55:6-8).
 
5. We are also informed that the dove is noted for its fidelity, choosing only one mate, and remaining with that mate until death. Solomon alludes to this in his love song (Song of Sol 1:15).
 
6. Doves are presented as a picture of harmlessness (Matt 10:16).
 
7. Under the Law, being associated with purity, they were offered for purification (Lev 12:6,8,22; 14:22; Num 6:10; Lk 2:24).


What constitutes 'initial obedience' ... whatever that is?  Mere dipping in water apart from death to sin does not join one with the Body of Christ.  People who get dipped without making the king of commitment God requires of us have not 'obeyed the Gospel' and remain lost without anything but a false hope based on a false baptism. It is dangerous and sinful to preach a false baptism, just as it is dangerous and sinful to preach that any kind of watered-down faith alone saves.

As you already know, the propensity to law-keeping, or, as Paul would say, justification by works, leads to shallow thought and juvenile expressions. It also provokes endless and totally unprofitable controversy.

“Initial obedience,” as I am using the expression, is aptly described by Paul in Romans 6:17: "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered." The "form of the doctrine," involves baptism into Christ -- a baptism that necessarily includes becoming identified with both Christ's and resurrection. If that union is not, in fact, experienced, there has been no baptism at all -- only "dipping," as you very well infer. If the person does not become "dead to sin," losing an appetite for it, and "alive unto God," obtaining a compulsion to live unto Him (Rom 6:11), the individual has only gone through an empty ritual. I do understand that we are not charged with determining whether or not this has happened to others. However, it is our responsibility to confirm that it has happened to us. Further, this is not an area in which men are to philosophize and spout varied and contradiction views.

“Initial obedience” is described yet another way in the book of Ephesians. "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph 1:13). Another expression of the same is expressed to the Thessalonians. "For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess 1:9-10). Another is found in the book of Romans: "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed" (Rom 13:11). Another is found in Hebrews. "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions" (Heb 10:32) . . . . . etc, etc.
It ought to be noted that many are most uncomfortable with such expressions, for they do not reflect their own theological mind-set. However, they do reflect the mind of the Lord, and are most precise.

I feel compelled to note (and I am persuaded you are able to receive this) that the continual rehearsal and discussion of elementary things among brethren is strictly forbidden by the Lord. "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment" (Heb 6:1-2, NKJV). Such "discussions" yield all manners of unacceptable fruit, as is abundantly evident. Such elementary confabulation also opens the door for the inordinate expression of human opinion, where men move about in the things of God like blind men stabbing in there dark. I am personally repelled by such discussions, although I do not condemn those who choose to spend their time in such an empty arena.


My observation is that it has been easier to observe the teachings of Jesus than it has been to obey them.

First, the NIV has taken some of its characteristic interpretive liberties in its representation of this verse. The word Jesus used (tay-rien, from tay-reh-o) is not properly translated “obey.” The ordinary words from which “obey” (and its various derivatives, when speaking of human response) come are “hupakouo” (Acts 7:39; Rom 6:12,16; Eph 6:1; Col 3:20,22; 2 Thess 1:8; 3:14; Heb 5:9; and “peitho” (Acts 5:29,32; Rom 2:8; Gal 3:1; 5:7; Tit 3:1; Heb 13:17; 1 Pet 3:1; 1 Pet 4:17). Both of these words emphasize conforming the life to the word that is spoken.
 
The word Jesus used in Matthew 28:20 is best translated “observe,” and most versions do this (KJV, NKJV, ASV, NASB, RSV, DARBY, DOUAY, ESV,GENEVA, NAB, NAU, NJB, WEBSTER, YLT, MONTGOMERY, AMPLIFIED, TYNDALE). As used in this text, “observe” means “to attend to carefully, take care of, to guard” (THAYER). It is equivalent to the Davidic expression concerning hiding the Word in His heart (Psa 119:11), and the Pauline word concerning letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col 3:16).
 
Moses spoke of observing the statutes “AND” doing them (Lev 19:37; Deut 16:12; 24:8; 28:1,13). He also pointed out that the observing was necessary to the doing of the commandments; i.e. “observe to do” or “careful to follow,” NIV) (Deut 5:32; 6:3,25; 8:1; 11:32; 12:1 . . . etc). Jesus also spoke of observing “AND” doing (Matt 23:3). The NIV reads “obey them and do everything,” which, in my judgment, is redundant and totally misses the point.
 
The basic postulate behind “observing,” or “keeping, “attending to carefully,” “taking care of,” or “guarding,” is that once the teachings of Christ are internalized and the preference for them maintained, they will effectively work within the believer. Thus Paul affirmed to the Thessalonians that “the word of God . . . effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thess 2:13). The NIV reads, “which IS at work in you that believe.”
 
Those who go through the mechanics (if there be such a thing) of submitting to Christ’s teachings have neither observed nor obeyed them. They have not allowed the word of Christ to dwell in them richly, and so have simply gone through an empty and profitless routine.
 
Of the seventy-four times the root word for “observe” (tay-reh-o) is used, none of them clearly mean “obey” – which means to “conform to.” All of them indicate keeping, retaining, or maintaining a hold upon. Most of the time the word is translated “keep.” No person will ever be able to “obey” Christ’s teachings if he does not first keep, or retain, them. Also, the majority of Christ’s “teachings” (particularly their thrust) did not concern human requirements or response, but Divine purpose, provision, and promise – which is the nature of “Gospel.”


The traditions of men are burdens.  No one of us is free of those burdens. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

Absolutely true! I will make one further observation. A particular "brotherhood," as defined by men, is not a suitable context for the declaration of the truth. Neither is it the proper framework in which to consider the great salvation of God. I understand men are divided, but Jesus is not. There is, however, a Divine purpose for divisions, or heresies, and it is clearly stated. "For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you" (1 Cor 11:19). Or, as the NIV puts it, "No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval" (1 Cor 11:19). That certainly puts a fresh light on the subject -- and it has come from heaven!
 
It is not proper to probe error, delineate heresy, or enter into lengthy discussions about what is NOT true. If it is correct  that we are sanctified by the "truth" (John 17:17), then that should be the sum and substance of our focus.
 
It is true that we carry one another's burdens. However, that is one class of burden -- and it does NOT include "the traditions of men." We have been "redeemed from the empty way of life" handed down by the father's traditions (1 Pet 1:18), and it is wrong to be caught in the vortex of continually dealing with such things. It sometimes seems to me that if there were no errors, a good number of people would have nothing to talk about -- and it is not possible to put a good face on that.
 
 There is another kind of burden concerning which the same Galatian chapter says, "Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry HIS OWN load" (Gal 6:5). It is time for those who wear the name of Jesus to take this word seriously. We will confront it in the day when "God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ." Paul affirms that is "as my gospel declares" (Rom 2:16).


Water baptism is the only reality involved in Christianity's one baptism. As Jesus was buried and then raised up to new life, so are sinners who repent buried in water and raised up to new life.

Let us be more precise about this. Other overt realities include the individual being baptized, and the one doing the baptizing -- but what is seen, though essential, is not the "only reality."
 
In baptism, and separate (though not independent)  from the water itself, there is "the circumcision of Christ" (Col 2:11), "the operation of God" (Col 2:12), the washing away of sins (Acts 22:16), the answer of a good conscience (1 Pet 3:21), baptism into Christ (Rom 6:3), baptism into death (Rom 6:3-4), the crucifixion of the old man (Rom 6:6), freedom from sin (Rom 6:18), a raising with Christ through faith in God's working, (Col 2:12), and the putting on of Christ (Gal 3:27). This is the manner in which believers were addressed concerning their baptism -- a point in time  that appears to have been very clear to them.
 
As to the vain effort to disassociate baptism from an outward activity, it is good to ponder Paul's confrontation of certain disciples in Ephesus. When they responded unacceptably to his question, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?", Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" (Acts 19:2). It would be an exercise in vanity to imagine that this did not refer to when they were baptized "with water." How else can "when you believed" be so specifically identified? His question does not appear to me to make any room for mere speculation, or the offering of some personal opinion or interpretation. If "when you believed" cannot be associated with an observable and conscious point in time, the answer to the question will be as vague as the question itself. Such a scenario is not a proper framework for teaching, or being more perfectly instructed in the way of the Lord. The more ambiguous the experience itself is in the minds of men, the less likely it becomes for them to receive any profitable teaching concerning that experience.
 
One small technicality, the Scriptures do not say we are "buried in water." They are very precise at this point: "buried with Him by ("through," NIV)  baptism" (Rom 6:4), and "buried with Him in baptism" (Col 2:12). I believe those are the only two references where "buried" is related to baptism. The sixth chapter of Romans also uses a similar expression, "planted together in the likeness of His death" (Rom 6:5). The  word "likeness" cannot possibly refer to a spiritual transaction. "Likeness" refers to the activity of the body. The spiritual transaction was the ultimate reality, the external activity was the "likeness."  Properly conceived, baptism consists of both activities. Though rather elementary, it is to be understood that our bodies are put into the water, while our spirits are put into Christ. It is my understanding that this is the point made in Hebrews 10:22, where our waters are said to be "washed with pure water."
 
Without excluding any of these associations, they all should be expounded. For the most part, "our" brethren are sorely lacking in a proper representation of the whole of baptism.


But that the law of Christ is simply a reiteration of the "love commandment , to love your neighbor as yourself ". Paul tells us that this commandment comprehends all of the commandments that we are under . And Paul tells us why : "because love worketh no ill to its neighbor." 

Let us be clear about this -- the "love" that is commanded by Jesus is vastly superior to the "love" that was commanded under the Law. Jesus' commandment is a "new commandment" that reaches further and contains more than the old one (John 13:34; 1 John 2:8). Under the law, love was largely comprehended in doing "no harm to a neighbor" (Rom 10:10). However, that is far beneath the fulfillment of "the law of Christ." That has to do with participating  and sharing with the people of God -- with bearing one another's burdens (Gal 6:2), bearing the infirmities of the weak (Rom 15:1), upholding the weak (1 Thess 5:14), etc. Paul does NOT say that loving our neighbor "comprehends all of the commandments we are under." In the Romans thirteen text he is speaking of our associations with men -- (13:7-8). The one who "loves," he affirms "fulfills the law" (13:8,10). These are presented as rudimentary conditions, and by no means "comprehends all of the commandments we are under" -- whatever notion that somewhat clumsy phrase is intended to denote.
 
Several exhortations are included in this chapter that are worthy of notation. One might choose to call them commands. They go further than our dealings with men.
 
1. Let us cast off the works of darkness (13:12a).
2. Let us put on there armor of light (13:12b).
3. Let us walk properly (13:13a).
4. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ (13:14a).
5. Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (13:14b).
 
Are these part of the second commandment also? In addition to our interpersonal responsibilities, are there not transcendent obligations that have to do with our immediate association with God Himself? Like not tempting Christ (1 Cor 10:9), going on to perfection (Heb:6:1), growing in grace and the knowledge of Christ (2 Pet 3:18), laying hold on eternal life (1 Tim 6:12), seeking the things that are above (Col 3:1-2), growing up into Christ in all things (Eph 4:15), putting on the whole armor of God (Eph 6:10), working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12), being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:19), letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col 3:16), standing perfect and complete in all the will of God (Col 4:12), walking as children of light (Eph 5:8), making no place for the devil (Eph 4:27), running the race with patience that is set before us, looking unto Jesus (Heb 12:1), reckoning ourselves to be dead indeed to sin and alive unto God (Rom 6:11), putting to death the deeds of the body (Rom 8:13), letting the mind of Christ be in us (Phil 2:5), drawing near to God (James 4:8), drawing near to God with the full assurance of faith (Heb 10:22) . . . etc.
 
A failure in these areas that have to do with our fellowship with Christ (into which God has called us, 1 Cor 1:9), accounts for all deficiencies in interpersonal relations. Further, it is not possible to walk in the light and, at the same time, be inconsiderate of our brethren, or conduct ourselves unacceptably before men in general.
 
You are certainly correct in saying that God has not given us a "system of law" to regulate us. However, we must get to the reason for this condition. It is because in Christ we become a "new creation" (2 Cor 5:17). Now, instead of God's laws being written in tables of stone, they are put into the heart and written upon the mind (Heb 10:16). In fulfillment of the promise made by the prophets, we receive a "new heart" and a "new spirit" (Ezek 36:26). Because we are sons, God sends His Holy Spirit into our hearts (Gal 4:6). We are "made partakers of Christ" (Heb 3:14) and "partakers of the Divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4). Our hearts have been circumcised by Jesus (Col 2:11). We have been raised up and made to sit together with Christ in heavenly places (Col 2:6).
 
These conditions cause men to fulfill the righteousness of the Law -- something that is revealed to be involved in the objective of salvation (Rom 8:4). Where the effects of salvation are not being realized, there is a lack of the proper cause. That cause is not a commandment or some preconceived law. The cause is the new creation, which is the gracious outworking of God's "great salvation." Further, "the grace of God," which brings this salvation to us, effectively teaches us to do what the law required -- and more. It teaches us "that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:12-13). Where this is not being done, grace has not been teaching, for that is what grace does. If grace is not teaching, then any claim to being saved is only an presumption, and requires the kind of confirmation God has ordained.


Just as a side point, I wonder why they continue calling the Middle East the Holy Land? Judging from the amount of wars and bloodshed, it is anything but holy it is a place of violence and cruelty. A place were innocent bystanders are murder in the name of religion. Referring to the Middle East as the holy land is simply inaccurate and does not reflect the region's cruel reality. Of course there are many other high risk regions on this planet. Continue to pray for peace and safety.

It is better to have our minds molded by Divine statement than by outward circumstance. That land has always been characterized by social injustices and spiritual obtuseness. Yet, God has spoken in very pointed ways about the land itself. "Holy land" (Zech 2:12), "My land" (2 Chron 7:20; Isa 14:25; Jer 2:7; 16:18; Ezek 36:5; 38:16; Joel 1:6; 3:2), "His land" (Deut 32:43; Psa 10:16; Ezek 36:20; Joel 2:18; Zech 9:16), "the Sanctuary" (Ex 15:17), "the Lord's land" (Hos 9:3), Immanuel's "land" (Isa 8:8), and "Beulah" (Isa 62:4).
 
Are you suggesting that land was, at the time of these utterances, free from "wars and bloodshed," and "violence and cruelty?" Were there no "innocent bystanders" murdered in the "the name of religion" during those times. Would you have raised the voice of objection to the prophets when they, moved by God Himself, spoke in such a way about that land, saying that their references were "simply inaccurate" and did "not reflect the region's cruel reality?"
 
The same prophets, again moved by God, told the people their hands were "full of blood" (Isa 1:15). They said the land itself was "full of blood" (Ezek 9:9). Instead of seeing any contradiction of "holy land," and "His land" with these conditions, they said the land itself had been defiled by these things Lev 18:27; Jer 2:7; 3:9; 16:18; Ezek 36:17 -- a circumstance that actually postulates the fact that it is a "holy land."


It sounds like your major objection to what Paul says in Romans 13:8-10 is Paul's
omission of the commandment to love God from his list ; "If there be any other
commandment" . However , I'm sure Paul includes love for God in the : If there be any other commandment . For Paul knows that the only way one can love God (whom he has not seen) is to love his brother (whom he has seen) . In fact , he that does not love his brother cannot even know God , let alone love God ,1 John 4:8.


Do not represent me as objecting to what Paul has said. I have objected to what you have said about his words, and to the sophistry that you have hurled into Paul's writing as though he meant to say what you intend. Now you have gone too far, and spoken too foolishly. I will not allow a suggestion such as the one you have made to drift by me as though there was one weightless mote of truth in it.
 
Your statement that "the only way one can love God (whom he has not seen) is to love his brother (whom he has not seen)" is pure foolishness, You have conveniently omitted the fact that "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and EVERYONE who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him"  (1 John 5:1). You also cut Jesus Himself out of the scenario. John does not say that he who does not love his brother cannot even know God, but that he DOES NOT KNOW know God, and is pretentious in his claims to know him (1 John 4:8). Such a person is abiding in darkness (1 John 2:9,11), and the lack of love for God's people confirms it. Do you imagine that he can get out of the darkness by devoting himself to loving the brethren? Is that the means God employs to put us into "His marvelous light" (1 Pet 2:9). Or, do the saints love another because they are already in the light? The one who loves his brother does not, by that means get into the light. That is the confirmation that he is "abiding in the light" (1 John 2:10). How foolish to say that men love God because they love His children. It is just the other way around. That is John's whole point.
 
The love of the brethren is a confirmation that we have passed from death unto life (1 John 3:14) -- not the means of making that wonderful passage. Jesus spoke similarly when He said men know we are His disciples when we have love one for another (John 13:35) -- it is not the means of becoming His disciples. John also reasons, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments" (1 John 5:2). Only a fool would affirm that the love of the brethren precedes our love for God. It is our love for God that enables us to see them as brethren.
 
You stumble about in Romans thirteen like a blind man, saying "I'm sure Paul includes love for God in the "If there be any other commandment." You pass over the fact that he mentions the commands upon which he is focusing -- and all of them have to do with human relationships: not killing, not stealing, not bearing false witness, and not coveting (Rom 13:9). Of course, I suppose you would have us believe that fleeing from idolatry (1 Cor 10:14; 1 John 5:21) is also summed up in the commandment to love one another.
 
Paul tells us that he is speaking of honoring men, paying tribute and custom to men, owing no man, and loving one another (Rom 13:7-10).. He is not speaking about believing that God is (Heb 11:6a), and that He is the Rewarder of them who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6b). He is not speaking of fearing the Lord (1 Pet 2:17), seeking the Lord (Heb 11:6), coming to the Lord (Heb 10:22), hearing Him who is speaking from heaven (Heb 12:25), drawing near to God (James 4:8), praying to God (1 Thess 5:17), serving the Lord (Rom 12:11), putting on the whole armor of God (Eph 6:10), being strong in the Lord 1 Cor 16:13), presenting our bodies a living sacrifice unto God (Rom 12:1), being renewed in the spirit of our mind (Eph 4:23), rejoicing in the Lord (Phil 3:1), waiting for His Son from heaven (1 Thess 1:10), letting the peace of God rule in our hearts (Col 3:15), and many other such things.
 
Tell me, good brother, are all of those things "summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself?" Are we to also include perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord (2 Cor 7:1), giving diligence to make our calling and election sure (2 Pet 1:10), keeping ourselves in the love of God (Jude 1:21a), looking for His mercy (Jude 1:21b), presenting our members as slaves of righteousness (Rom 6:19), not grieving the Spirit (1 Thess 5:19), not quenching the Spirit (Eph 4:30), doing everything for God's glory (1 Cor 10:31, fighting the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12a), and laying hold on eternal life (1 Tim 6:12b) are also summed up in that commandment. Is that really what Paul is intending to say?
 
Are not brotherly kindness and love two of several other items to be supplied in our faith? Are we to imagine that virtue, moral excellence, knowledge,self-control, perseverance, and godliness ( 2 Pet 1:57) are also summed up in, what you choose to call, "the love commandment?"
 
Are we to conclude that our only responsibility is to our brethren? Have we none to the Lord Jesus? or to God Himself? or to the Holy Spirit? or to the truth itself? Are we free to cavort about and do our own thing if circumstances put us at a distance from our brethren, like John on Patmos?
 
You need to devote yourself to being a workman of whom God approves, learning to handle the Word of God aright (2 Tim 2:15). You are wielding it about, and lashing the air with it like a wild man. The sword does not fit in your hand, and that is you cannot do battle with it.
 
I had no desire to continue this miserable discussion, but if that is really what you want, then I am quite willing to deal with you as though you were the expert you imagine yourself to be. But I will tell you, that it is not on the part of wisdom for you to wade into this discussion armed with a the kind of weaponry you have displayed. If this discussion goes further, it will do you no good to let these trite little sayings float out of your mouth as you have been doing. You had best gird up the loins of your mind to do a lot more than you have done thusfar.






    


 

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