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September 25, 2007

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I have recently read Charles Spurgeon's The Power of Prayer in a Believer's Life. Let me just say it was amazing. Prayer is even more wonderful now that I have read this book.

It is really just a collection of manuscripts on Prayer by Spurgeon. I recommend it to everyone.

Currently working through Calvin's Institutes, Book 1.

Great quote
"We are accordingly urged by our own evil things to consider the good things of God; and indeed, we cannot aspire to him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves"

Runs completely contrary to our current culture's self-esteem mantra of
"The main problem is that you aren't pleased enough with yourself."

I LABORED painstakingly through Owen's Mortification of Sin. It was by far the hardest read of my short life. At the same time, it was the most challenging (spiritually). It was truly rewarding. I'm looking to read it again and actually study it (take notes and what not). "Be killing sin, or it will be killing you." The whole time reading it, I had a low self-esteem because I thought I was just a bad reader. When I was done, I read Don't Waste Your Life (Piper) and found that I can actually read better now after having my mind stretched like silly putty by Owen.

As for that shirt...i'm going to go find every one i can and burn it...we should have a big festival...like Burning Man...but it would be Burning ridiculous, misleading shirts

I just finished reading the biography of RC Chapman (1804-1903) whom Spurgeon call "the saintliest man I ever knew". My favorite Chapman quote is this:

“The book of God is a store of manna for God’s pilgrim children. The great cause of neglecting the scriptures is not want of time, but want of heart, some idol taking the place of Christ. A child of God who neglects the Scriptures cannot make it his business to please the Lord of Glory.”

Neglecting the Scriptures is "easy". That is my default mode. Getting up at 5:00 AM to read the Word because that is the only free time available to me as a father and husband is not "just that easy".

"If you know someone who owns this shirt, tear it from their body and then throw it away."

If I knew someone who owned that shirt, would I be wrong in punching the Easy Button to see if it works? It could be therapeutic.

Jesus as "Easy" button = cheap grace.

My small group is reading Richard Sibbes' "The Bruised Reed."

I'm happy to report that after the first meeting they want to keep reading more.

Started Watchman Nee's Normal Christian life, need to keep on it. And The Bible!

I've been reading through Spurgeon's sermons, and other writings which are available over at http://spurgeon.org

This has been enlightening to me.

I read a little of St. Thomas' Summa Theologica every night before bed. I've also been reading the Sayings of the Desert Fathers as well as some works on grace and the trinity by Augustine. I've been going for the old old books of late. :)

...Oh yes, and somewhat more recent: The Spiritual Combat by Lorenzo Scupoli.

I read Saint Augustine's Confessions. I liked the biographical parts although I admit the philosophical parts bored me. Contemporary philosophy is somewhat boring to me but ancient neoplatonic philosophy is much worse.

I also read On the True Doctrine, by Celsus, a second century pagan critic of Christianity. It is amazing to see how many contemporary objections to the faith have roots that go back that far. A very good read.

I usually stick to modern books but reading the ancient stuff is very good.

Last week I checked three GK Chesterton books from the library. I can't wait to find the time to start in on them. I am currently reading Lewis' Abolition of Man and recently complete Ideas Have Consequences by Richard Weaver which I do recommend. It's no wonder I find it hard get all my homework completed.

F.W. Boreham, Francis Schaeffer, G.K. Chesterton, C.W. Lewis. E.M. Bounds.

They just don't make 'em like that any more.

D.

This year I have read Redemption Accomplished and Applied, plugged through the second volume of Calvin's Institutes, re-read Bondage of the Will, Romans and Galatians by Martin Luther, Loci Theologici by Chemnitz and Hodge's Systematic Theology.

A book I reread every couple of years is a book on George Muller. He was a German who ran multiple houses for orphans in London in the 1800's. He never asked people for money or materials for his orphans but rather prayed several hours a day. Oh to develop that kind of faith!! There are several books written about him but the one I have is called, George Muller by Basil Miller. It is a great little book.

Reading Esubius right now. Just recently finished 'Mere Christainity' by C.S. Lewis

We so easily forget that we are commanded to take up a cross.

Why shouldnt it be as easy as Jesus?

Dewayneward,

It's the easy part I think people are objecting to. What we really have in reality is 1000's of buttons all wanting us to push them... "Do yoga and you will feel divine peace," or "If you succeed in life, then you will be truly happy," or "If everyone loves you, then you will be influential," or "If you shore up your own resources and abilities, you can handle anything that comes at you," etc., etc. The constant message of the Bible is: repent from your self-serving behaviour, from your sin, and put your active trust (faith) in God alone and He will be your peace. Though you may be persecuted and the least in this life, God's promise awaits you in the next. Is it "easy" to push this button, or is it hard knowing that it means you will have to live by faith?

The scripture is clear: "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." (Luke 13:24). The temptation to push all the other buttons is great...

If the button were to open the door to right relationship with God and thus eternal life, the obvious question is: "You mean I have to push only that one button and none of the others?"

Jesus being the only way to God means we must reject all other ways. That is where the hard part... the striving... comes.

Try this on a t-shirt:

Costly Grace:

"...costly because it costs a man his life ... grace because it gives a man the only true life."

D. Bonhoeffer
http://www.scrollpublishing.com/store/Bonhoeffer.html

Ryan, thank you for responding. I will agree with your second post "Jesus being the only way to God". To restate it for me to understand, I would say that Jesus is the only person able to pay for all of my past, present, and future sins so that I will be righteous in God's "eyes".

I do have another question with regard to:

"The constant message of the Bible is: repent from your self-serving behaviour, from your sin, and put your active trust (faith) in God alone and He will be your peace."

Is turning from sin a requirement for salvation? I do agree that you must believe that JC is who he said he was and accept the gift of salvation.

Can you explain this a bit more: Is it "easy" to push this button, or is it hard knowing that it means you will have to live by faith? Are you saying that if you stop living in faith that you would lose your free gift of salvation?

The scripture is clear: "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able." (Luke 13:24). The temptation to push all the other buttons is great...

I looked at this scripture and read all around it and it seems like those folks who are turned away were people that didnt take the gift of salvation. What is your take on it?

Francis Schaeffer, some of Shakespeare's tragedies, and I'm thinking of re-reading Paradise Lost because I love it so much.

Sorry guys... I keep getting thoughts about this. Its such an important concept to grasp...

Consider the name "El Shaddai," often translated "God Almighty" or more clearly "God, the All-Sufficient One". A Jewish pastor explained to me that this term literally means "God of breasts" (and he wasn't trying to be funny). In other words, God provides everything you need just as a mother's milk provides everything a baby needs.

If only the Israelites in the desert understood this and trusted God. But they constantly wanted to push the button called "Egypt" when it came to their sustenance, and the many times the button called "Whine and Bitterly Complain." Those who did this ended up perishing, unless God had mercy on them (and He was very patient); those who put their trust in God were sustained by Him.

Is it hard to push the right button when everything around you says to push another? It may be hard, but if only we knew the stew we were opting for in place of the eternal promises He has made...

Dewayneward wrote... "Is turning from sin a requirement for salvation? I do agree that you must believe that JC is who he said he was and accept the gift of salvation."

Believing the Jesus is who He said He was (the Son of God, God in the flesh) is something that even the demons believed... and trembled at. When we see that even the demons believed this but many in the time of Christ did not, we see how foolish they were.

However, if we think that intellectual assent is sufficient, we are fooling ourselves. Faith means active trust and not intellectual assent. If I truly believe that Jesus is God and saviour and have made Him my Lord, there will be a difference in my walk; if not, then I need to re-assess whether my profession of faith.

John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus. Why was he necessary? Because God only draws those who come to Him through the narrow way of repentance.

Luke 24:47 says "that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." That summarizes the point up well.

Maybe this explanation will help... God expects us to desire heart circumcision, but only He can accomplish it:

Deut 10:16: "So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer."

Deut 30:6: "Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live."

Dwayneward wrote... "I looked at this scripture and read all around it and it seems like those folks who are turned away were people that didnt take the gift of salvation. What is your take on it?"

Those who turned away are those who were not willing to repent. They all wanted salvation, but many are not willing to count the cost, and there is a cost. But when you compare the temporal cost to the eternal benefits there is just no comparison. So we need to see things from an eternal perspective and not look at the waves around us.

If you struggle with faith, then be honest and do what one man did..."Lord, I believe, help my unbelief" (Mark 9:22-24)

Dwayneward wrote... "Are you saying that if you stop living in faith that you would lose your free gift of salvation?"

Faith and belief are intertwined. Notice how John 3:36 says (NASB) "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

Also, when the apostle Paul referred to righteousness being credited to Abraham when he believed, it was because God knew that he had faith. James shows that when he was tested by God in his willingness to offer up the son of promise to Him, he obeyed, thus proving by visible manifestation that what was in his heart was true faith.

Testing proves whether our faith is real; if you are failing the test, then ask God to give you faith. Note, however, that it may not come in the way you expect... instead of dropping the magic pill in your lap, He may well show you that you have not made Him Lord. With salvation we cannot both be friends with the ways of the world and also be the Lord's. It's an either-or thing. Take home: if you want salvation, count the cost, deny yourself, take up your cross and make your decision.

I know this is hard to fully grasp, but may God be with you as you press in to understand this.

So you are saying that you must repent of your sins in order to be saved.

As far as the demons believing, I didnt think that the offer of salvation was open to them so I dont understand why this passage would be used the way that you are intending. Further reading around that passage (James 2:19)says "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder". I still dont see that this has anything to do with beleiving that Jesus Christ paid for my sins and I take the free gift of salvation.

Regarding your comment:
However, if we think that intellectual assent is sufficient, we are fooling ourselves. Faith means active trust and not intellectual assent.

Why not? Can you tell me what you mean by "active trust". When I read scripture, it really seems to say that all that was required for salvation was believing that Christ is who he said he was and paid for all who believe in him.

If I truly believe that Jesus is God and saviour and have made Him my Lord, there will be a difference in my walk; if not, then I need to re-assess whether my profession of faith.

Why do you have to make him your Lord? The gift of salvation is free (my understanding) and if you have to do something for a gift then doesnt it cease to be a gift?

Ryan,

You said, "Faith and belief are intertwined. Notice how John 3:36 says (NASB) 'He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.'"

Did you mean to say that faith and obedience are intertwined?

Tim wrote... "Did you mean to say that faith and obedience are intertwined?"

In essence, John 3:36 says if you believe you will obey; if you don't obey, what you said about believing (if you said anything) is meaningless. I am saying that faith in the NT context means belief that makes a difference. So my point was belief, and belief that makes a difference are intertwined. Can you believe and it make no difference and by this belief be saved? I think this should reveal that our profession is fruitless/meaningless. Jesus said that He would fertilize the tree and wait another year for it to bear fruit; if not, then He would cut it down and cast it into the fire. The tree is in great danger in this condition; something must happen or it will be cut down. God is merciful to us and allows us some time to understand. But we should not presume upon His mercy and long-suffering.

Dwayneward wrote... "So you are saying that you must repent of your sins in order to be saved."

I'm not saying that, I'm saying that the Bible says that.

You are correct - salvation is not open to the demons who fell, and they knew who Jesus was because they dwell in the spiritual realm and have existed since creation. Perhaps you are correct that I cannot use this passage the way I did. Sorry for the confusion.

Dwayneward wrote... "Can you tell me what you mean by 'active trust'. When I read scripture, it really seems to say that all that was required for salvation was believing that Christ is who he said he was and paid for all who believe in him."

Active trust means that what you believe becomes part of who you are; what you have eaten of God's word didn't just go out the other end, but has been assimilated and you walk differently because of it.

Think about it this way. I believe that He died for my sins and paid the price. Now an unbeliever comes up to me. Do I tell them that He did this? He doesn't believe he is a sinner. Will I show him this truth? He doesn't believe that his sin will result in eternal torment. Will I show him? Will I bear the shame of the cross, or do I hang onto the good news. The Jews only wanted the Messiah to come and rule and reign; but Jesus was showing that first He comes in submission requiring us to all do likewise; in the end He will come as the conqueror.

We cannot just do good deeds of feeding the poor, etc.: the fruit of salvation is confessing Christ and pursuing righteousness and that will result in persecution.

Dwayneward wrote... "Why do you have to make him your Lord?"

Because there cannot be 2 lords. Look at Rom 7:1-4 again; holding onto the old man is akin to spiritual adultery. We know that no adulterer will enter into the kingdom of heaven. So by implication, we must put away the old man and make a leap of faith to trust in God's promise of the Holy Spirit. Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him. Faith is active trust.

dewayneward,

I was going to quote some pretty pointed New Testament passages about repentance, but I think maybe something else is going on here and it would be better to start with this question:

What do you think "repentance" is?

Dwayneward,

For a better explanation than mine, take a look at Bob DeWaay's sermon on Luke 6:46-49 here: http://twincityfellowship.com/audio/sermon_mp3/20070617_tcf_sermon.mp3

Link too long... I'll split between 2 lines:

http://twincityfellowship.com/audio/sermon_mp3/
20070617_tcf_sermon.mp3

Where is there room for "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 in all of this?

I call the philosophy behind T-shirts like that "Bumper Sticker Theology". I'm not saying that the shirt itself is wrong, but it is certainly incomplete. I'm not sure if it's human nature or simply 21st century American life, but we do seem to have a tendency to want to trim down complex issues into simple buzzwords and then fight a war of ideologies over those buzzwords.

Ryan wrote:
Dwayneward wrote... "So you are saying that you must repent of your sins in order to be saved."

I'm not saying that, I'm saying that the Bible says that.

Sorry, I didnt want to appear to be marginalizing you point, I was just confirming that that was what you are saying.

Ryan wrote: In essence, John 3:36 says if you believe you will obey; if you don't obey, what you said about believing (if you said anything) is meaningless.....

The passage actually says "He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides in him.

I will have to do more reading here (as with everyone time is a preious commodity), but I dont see what you have written. I see that if you dont obey the Son, you will have the wrath of God abiding on you.

I agree that you should obey Jesus, but dont see where it states that your faith is meaningless (and we can discuss James if you'd like). Have you sold all your possessions? Have you? To look at this a little differently, was John maybe referring to a few paragraphs earlier(31 - )that believing That JC is God is what he meant by obeying?

Ryan wrote:
Think about it this way. I believe that He died for my sins and paid the price. Now an unbeliever comes up to me. Do I tell them that He did this? He doesn't believe he is a sinner. Will I show him this truth? He doesn't believe that his sin will result in eternal torment. Will I show him? Will I bear the shame of the cross, or do I hang onto the good news. The Jews only wanted the Messiah to come and rule and reign; but Jesus was showing that first He comes in submission requiring us to all do likewise; in the end He will come as the conqueror.

I agree with what you said here, however, is doing "the grat commission" a requirement for salvation? If so, how many times have you not carried out his "command". Does this mean that you are not saved?

I, personally, love to evangelize and share the gospel with the unsaved.

Ryan wrote:
the fruit of salvation is confessing Christ and pursuing righteousness and that will result in persecution.

Can you tell me where the bible says that pursuing righteousness is a requirement for salvation? I do agree that we should live righteously, JC being our example (and I agree that if we are doing it right, we will be persecuted), but I dont see where this is a requirement for salvation.

Ryan wrote:
Because there cannot be 2 lords. Look at Rom 7:1-4 again; holding onto the old man is akin to spiritual adultery. We know that no adulterer will enter into the kingdom of heaven. So by implication, we must put away the old man and make a leap of faith to trust in God's promise of the Holy Spirit. Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please Him. Faith is active trust.

The section is to believers and appears to me to be discussing the conviction of the law. When I read a little further, it states that we are freed from the law with out position with JC.

So what you are saying (to paraphrase) is that in order to keep the free gift of salvation, I must continue to live righteously, doing good works, etc. Essentially, if I stop doing these continued good works, etc. then I was "fooling myself". I know that most of this is my words, but I want to make sure I understand what you are saying with regards to the passage.

With regard to the part about without faith it is impossible to please God, I thought that it was accepting the free gift of salvation and that God will not see "us", but rather see JC?


Aaron, I dont see where my definition of repentence needs to be defined (I wasnt the one that has been making statements), but, repentence is the changing of one's mind. If you would like to discuss what repentance means, then I'd suggest starting a new thread. Please post the NT passages about repentance that you were referring to.

Eric, I will ask you the same question from your statement "I'm not saying that the shirt itself is wrong, but it is certainly incomplete. "

Ryan, thank you for the link. I will listen to it and this may help me in my understanding.

DeWayne
Col 2:8

Ryan, I listened to the sermon and was surprised at some of the comments. The pastor would read a passage to support making JC lord, however, the passage would be actually discussing that belief is what is required for salvation. The sermon was disciple vs hypocrite and he used various passages, but what surprised me most was that he used John 6:28-29 to support making JC lord of your life.

Here is the passage "therefore they said to him, "what shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?". Jesus answered them and said to them, "this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent".

Again, "believe" in him whom he has sent.

He went on to say that obedience is needed and that the jews left because they would not follow, etc. The odd thing was that he skipped over verse 40 when answering the folks there "For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who beholds hte Son and BELIEVES in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day".

I'll listen to it again to see if I missed anything, but the bible verses that he quoted actually support "belief" as the requirement for salvation.

Hi DeWayne,

Thanks for all the gracious feedback! I very much appreciate the challenges you have made. If I am incorrect, it helps very much to hear opposing views as it forces me to study to make sure my views are aligned with scripture. If not, then by God's grace I will change my views.

You said... "what surprised me most was that he used John 6:28-29 to support making JC lord of your life" and "The odd thing was that he skipped over verse 40...'everyone who beholds the Son and BELIEVES in Him will have eternal life...'"

You might be right that Jesus was technically not specifically addressing obedience in this passage. But as I would understand it, obedience means nothing if you don't yet believe. But the key question seems to be this: Can you believe and not obey? I didn't write down exactly what pastor DeWaay stated, and I agree that he could have been wrong exegeting this specific passage, but when Jesus speaks of belief He implies obedience. It is not always explicitly stated, but it is nonetheless implied. Let's see if I can demonstrate this quickly as I don't have much more time...

In Matt 7:21 He says, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter."

Jesus made it very clear what a believer is when He said, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it" (Luke 8:21).

James says in James 1:25, "But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does."

There are many similar scriptures which identify a true believer from a false one. For example, if you say you believe gravity will keep you on the ground but are unwilling to get out of bed and walk, how does anyone (including yourself) gain any assurance that you really do believe? It is a bit of a silly example, but I think illustrates my point. Belief and action go hand-in-hand, and this is the teaching throughout scripture. Works are not required for salvation, but they are evidence that what is in our heart is true.

Do you see this differently?

Pressed for time right now...so I will get back to your earlier post just as soon as I get a chance.

DeWayne wrote... "Can you tell me where the bible says that pursuing righteousness is a requirement for salvation? I do agree that we should live righteously, JC being our example (and I agree that if we are doing it right, we will be persecuted), but I dont see where this is a requirement for salvation."

The first thing that came to mind was this scripture. Hebrews 12:14 says "Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord."

It seems to me that the writer to the Hebrews is telling believers to pursue holiness or "the sanctification" -- so if you are not being made holy or sanctified, then you need to seriously evaluate whether you truly believe or not.

How would you interpret this?

Hi Ryan. Thanks for the reply. I too like to get my views challenged to make sure that I am on par with what Jesus wants (realizing that the definition of eternity will be the length of time it will take to show me all the parts I got wrong :-)

With regard to this comment:

But as I would understand it, obedience means nothing if you don't yet believe. But the key question seems to be this: Can you believe and not obey?

Of course you can believe and not obey. You should obey, but it isnt a requirement for salvation. If it is, please let me know the scripture that puts a number on it, i.e. if I commit x sin x number of times, I will have either lost my salvation OR was just kidding myself. I guess another question would be, what sin can Jesus not pay for?

You wrote:
....but when Jesus speaks of belief He implies obedience. It is not always explicitly stated, but it is nonetheless implied. Let's see if I can demonstrate this quickly as I don't have much more time...

Where is this implied? The gospel and the message of salvation is simple, believe on the lord JC to pay for your sins and thats it. I know that they are people that call that easy believism and cheap grace, but that is what the bible teaches. Again, you should obey, you should follow Christ, etc.

Ryan wrote:
In Matt 7:21 He says, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." & "Jesus made it very clear what a believer is when He said, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it" (Luke 8:21)."

The question then becomes, what is the will of the father. I think that it is answered from an earlier post "John 6:28-29 -- 28Therefore they said to him, "what shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" 29 Jesus answered and said to them, "this is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom he has sent".

A litte more with Matthew 7:21, the next few verses show that people who come to him trying to brag on their good works, even though they were dont in his name, will enter. That passage doesnt support obeying as a means of salvation.

Ryan wrote:
James says in James 1:25, "But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does."

I agree that in doing good works for JC can bring blessings, however, blessings have nothing to do with salvation.


Ryan wrote:
There are many similar scriptures which identify a true believer from a false one. For example, if you say you believe gravity will keep you on the ground but are unwilling to get out of bed and walk, how does anyone (including yourself) gain any assurance that you really do believe? It is a bit of a silly example, but I think illustrates my point. Belief and action go hand-in-hand, and this is the teaching throughout scripture. Works are not required for salvation, but they are evidence that what is in our heart is true.

The thing with this (or any analogy) is that it doesnt matter what men see (which is a lot of James) is that God knows and has made the commitment throughout scripture that if you simply believe that JC paid for your sins you will be saved. I grant that a person should obey (and I am by believing that JC paid for my sins). I dont see where evidence of my belief will ensure that I am saved. I look to scripture that repeats over and over that simply believing that JC paid for my sins is all that is required for salvation.

Ryan wrote:
The first thing that came to mind was this scripture. Hebrews 12:14 says "Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord."

When reading from Hebrews 12:4 on it is talking about a Father's discipline. Is there ever a time when you did not have a father based on you not following his rules? This also has nothing to do with salvation (note that he is talking to people aleady saved). I do agree that we should be sanctified, however, our justification is already settled as a result in beliving that JC paid for all our sins. Again, what can you do to no longer be part of your father's family?

I think that there may be a difference in how we interpret parts of scripture. I look at believers and disciples separately. A believer is saved and has a one way ticket to heaven. Nothing is required on their part (again, it is a gift...when you have to do something when accepting the gift, it is no longer a gift). A disciple is someone who has "taken up the cross and followed after Christ". There is a lot required of that person. Both groups are saved and going to heaven. I hope that makes sense.

A few questions for you,

John 3:16, what does this scripture mean to you?

John 6:40, what does this scripture mean to you?

Mark 16:!6, what does this scripture mean to you?

I am not asking for a drawn out answer, just to really state that all that is required for salvation is to believe...to accept the free gift of salvation.

In your writings, you talk about implying obedience, etc. I would like to challenge you to read John (or the other NT books) with the idea that:
1) belief is all that is required for salvation (justification)
2) believers and disciples (both saved) are two separate groups and when you see each word, take them separately.
3) when you encounter the word "repent" or "repentence", to look up the ACTUAL greek word and then match that actual work to its definition. For example, metamelomai & Metanoeo (or other word,which is then translated to be repent. You might be a little surprised at what you lean


Hi DeWayne,

I think I see better where you are coming from. Your view does make a lot of sense, but since I had the experience of 'believing' without fruit and then being converted much later, I began to see something I wasn't seeing at first. My turning point was when I truly made Him Lord and that happened when I saw myself as unworthy and completely sinful and unable to please God in any way (I violated all the commandments and wasn't innocent in God's eyes of the murder and adultery ones even though I hadn't physically committed them). At the point of true repentance, He entered my life and completely changed me. It disturbed me to experience this because it put into question whether I was even born again previously. Anyways, more on that later as is necessary to our conversation.

First, I would like to make sure that the difference I perceive in our viewpoints is not just semantics. If you could help me with that, I think it would be very useful. I fully plan on responding to your points as soon as I get a chance to sit down and study, but I think your answer here would be helpful. What exactly do you mean when you use the word 'believe'? The reason I ask is because when Paul said "test yourselves to see if you are in the faith," he didn't say, "do you believe?" but "is Christ in you?" So the question I'm reading from that is can I say I believe and not believe the way that the Father requires? Do you understand making Jesus Lord of your life as part of belief?

Thanks!
Ryan

Hi Ryan. Thank you for sharing this experience with me. It is certainly possible that you were not saved, because it is not merely an intellectual asset, but an acceptance of the free gift of salvation (how would you respond to a free gift from someone for a billion dollars or something). It also isnt the "saving a prayer". I dont disagree that good works should be the outward sign that a person is saved. I just dont think that turning from one's sin or nonproduction of good works prevents someone from being saved.

to pursue this a little further....you believe that you are saved and Christ is in you. The evidence of that is good works and a "turning" from whatever sins you have. What does that mean then when you succumb to your sin? Even once!!! Ask anyone, "how many times must I sin before I am just fooling myself". I dont want to lessen sin. We are all a bunch of sinners, we should hate our sin, not revel in it, however, if a person is a habitual sinner, does Jesus's sacrifice not cover those sins?

I will disagree with the intellectual assent, but I would say that a person can believe that JC paid the price, accept the gift, and go out and sin (because that is what we all do). If you dont believe that, when was the last second that you didnt love God with all your heart mind and strength? When have you not loved your neighbor as yourself.

Hi DeWayne and Ryan,

Boy, I wish I had more time here. Interesting conversation.

DeWayne, where in the Bible does it say that salvation is a gift, and must be accepted as a gift to be effectual? Where does it say that one must "accept the gift"?

I don't have time to lay this out as I'd like, so I'll just have to splatter some things on the screen here. Sorry in advance.

Check out Greg's thoughts on this, paying particular note to the notitia, assensus and fiducia distinctions he talks about at the end, here:

http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5391

Also, it may be helpful to check out this roundtable discussion on "What is faith?" from the White Horse Inn broadcast:

http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/The_White_Horse_Inn/archives.asp?bcd=9/2/2007

Christ's Lordship is a result of Biblical faith as much as salvation is. The relationship, it seems to me, between lordship and salvation is not one of logical priority, but logical parallelism. Please let me know if you need me to elaborate here.

Jesus described four kinds of responses to the gospel in Matthew 13: hard earth beside the road that allows the seed no purchase, and the birds steal it away; rocky places with little soil, in which the seed sprang up, but did not last when the sun rose because "they had no depth of soil"; thorns, which choke the life out of the new plant; and good soil, which yields crops of differing amounts. Here is Jesus' explanation of his parable:

19"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.

20"The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;

21yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.

22"And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

23"And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."

DeWayne, in light of your statement that "believers and disciples (both saved) are two separate groups", my question is: into which category do you put "believers", as you define them? One who "believes" and yet does not follow (the role of a disciple) hardly seems to be a plant that produces a crop in Jesus' illustration. Wouldn't you say that the one who initially "received it with joy", but fell away, believed and accepted by your definition? If not, then how do you know the difference? And where exactly in scripture do you get this distinction you are making between "believers" and "disciples"?

I like the Scriptures you posted from John and Mark - they're great. But wait, I thought you said that the only thing one must do is believe and accept the gift, and yet Jesus is recorded in Mark as saying that he who believes *and is baptized* shall be saved. What do you make of that?

Sorry, guys, for the scattered nature of this post, but as I see it the bottom line is biblical belief, properly defined, entails lordship and a transformed life (so I would probably say it differently than Ryan, though I think I know what he is getting at), but not perfection on the part of the believer (as I think DeWayne is wrongly assuming). Paul encouraged the Philippians by stating his confidence in the One who began a good work in them (saving faith) to complete it (final salvation and sanctification). DeWayne, of course someone with true saving faith can still go out and sin. The point is that a) there will be tangible evidence in the person's life of a genuine saving faith and b) that faith is such that it entails Christ as Lord (not a separate act, as the way Ryan's phrasing makes it seem, but part of what happens when you believe that Jesus died FOR YOU and trust that for your salvation).

Hi all,

I agree with Aaron. If you believe Jesus died to save you from sin, then He must be divine. If you believe He is divine, you believe He is Lord of all. If you acknowledge His Lordship and desire the benefits of His cross, then You eneter into covenant with God through Christ. If God is now your God, two things are now true of you: a) you have been saved by God from sin & judgment, b) through submitting to the gospel of Christ (He is Lord worthy to save).

Coming under the provision of the cross means surrendering to the authority of Jesus, like a criminal turning himself in to the divine Judge. This is the explicit meaning of becoming a citizen of God's kingdom, being declared righteous, becoming a child of God, and being named an heir of God. To whom are we being reconciled through the ministry of reconciliation if not to the supreme Authority? Has authority been transfered to God to rule and to save us, or are we still in our sins?

This is my reasoning on salvation and Lordship. Hope this helps.

BTW, how many criminals willingly turn themselves in simply for the benefits of being right with the law?

Herein lies the initial difficulty of submission.

How many law-abiding citizens diligently devote themselves to seld-discipline to attain to an Olympic gold medal?

Herein lies the difficulty of sanctification.

Wow, great discussion! ...and look at the time... another day gone and no time to respond in detail. I can see I don't communicate and/or phrase my thoughts as well as I could. (God please grant me the ability to communicate more clearly!)

Just a quick comment to DeWayne before I have to go... Yes, I believe that we will continue to err until the day we die. The difference as 1 John so clearly puts it is that anyone with God's seed in him does not "continue in" sin, does not willfully shake his fist (so to speak) at God and defy His commandments. I think Numbers 15:29-31 makes the difference clear, and the sins of one who is defiant, though he professed belief at one time or another, will remain on him. After all, the shadows of the sacrifices described by the law refer to the realities themselves and are meant to teach us God's ways. One can also see the defiant casting off of God's "cords" (ie. requirements) from themselves in Psalms 2. When God's Spirit entered me upon true repentance, I became insatiably hungry for the word and bold in my outreach which contrasts starkly with how I would describe my Christian life before. I desire above all to do what is right. I am by no means perfect and continue to fall short because I live in this imperfect body. Absolutely. However, I can now see that I was previously a shallow soil hearer with weeds choking me... no fruit and in danger of being cut down and thrown into the fire. But by God's grace His word cut me to my heart and He drew me to the cross and a true understanding of my state. I hope to be able to contribute more soon concerning DeWayne's questions, God willing.

Ryan and DeWayne,

It is important to remember Paul's discussions of justification (particularly in Romans):

There is one biblical requirement for salvation: the grace of God conferring belief in Christ (His Incarnation, death, and Resurrection). God justifies sinners by faith in Christ, once and forever (justifcation = declares righteous, like the judge's final verdict in a trial).

Whenever God justifies a person, there will be changes in that person's life by God's Spirit within him. If there is no change, then perhaps the Spirit is not present, and the profession of belief is not genuine.

Obedience does not guarantee salvation - only the cross of Christ does. However (and this is the paradox), salvation guarantees obedience. This only works in one direction - salvation forward. It does not work in reverse (obedience to salvation).

One last thought:

If you want assurance of your salvation, do not look to your own performance; look to the cross.

Hi Aaron, in response to the first part of your question:
DeWayne, where in the Bible does it say that salvation is a gift, and must be accepted as a gift to be effectual? Where does it say that one must "accept the gift"?

Romans 6:23 ...gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus

What can you do with a gift? Accept the gift? Refuse the gift? Not sure what you are getting at Aaron.

With regard to your comment about the parable in Matthew 13, where does it say this has to do with one's salvation? it talks about 4 types of believers. They all believed, therefore all were saved.

Aaron wrote:Christ's Lordship is a result of Biblical faith as much as salvation is. The relationship, it seems to me, between lordship and salvation is not one of logical priority, but logical parallelism. Please let me know if you need me to elaborate here.

I am familiar with the arguments (please elaborate as I may have missed something) and disagree with premise as it is not found in scripture. In the many verses that talk to believing and being saved, there was not a condition put on it that you MUST make Jesus lord of your life in order to be saved. If that is the case, Jesus, Paul, etc. lied to people telling them that all they had to do was believe in JC to pay for their sins.

Aaron wrote:And where exactly in scripture do you get this distinction you are making between "believers" and "disciples"?

Where in scripture do you get that they are synonymous? When I read scripture, I see Acts 16:1

"He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek."

Aaron wrote:I like the Scriptures you posted from John and Mark - they're great. But wait, I thought you said that the only thing one must do is believe and accept the gift, and yet Jesus is recorded in Mark as saying that he who believes *and is baptized* shall be saved. What do you make of that?

Why do you assume baptism is the physical act of being dunked? Actually, if you read the rest of the sentence, scripture states what condemns you...."; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."

When I read this scripture the thing that condmens me is not believing. That would mean that to be saved, I have to believe.

To summarize the other comments surrounding "of course I still sin". How many times must you commit a particular sin before you were just kidding yourself (or as a poster put it) or the holy spirit wasnt present when that happened. I will restate, I think that a person SHOULD do good works, and the SHOULD obey Christ, and there SHOULD be a "visible" difference, I am saying that it is not a requirement for salvation. Simply believing that JC paid for your sins (accepting the free gift) is all that is required for salvation. If you dont agree, please give me the number of sins that must be commited (since we all admit that we are still sinning) before the spirit really wasnt there.

DeWayne
Col 2:8

Hi DeWayne,

I apologize as I have been extremely busy lately. I will try to answer your last question: "Simply believing that JC paid for your sins (accepting the free gift) is all that is required for salvation. If you dont agree, please give me the number of sins that must be commited (since we all admit that we are still sinning) before the spirit really wasnt there."

I agree that belief is all that is required, but it is a particular kind of belief that results in good fruit. Even the criminal on the cross beside Christ believed and bore fruit. He rebuked the other criminal and demonstrated faith by his humble confession and request that Jesus remember him in paradise.

Only the good soil hearer's faith survives when the harvest time comes. Saving faith is more than a moment of decision, it is a taking up of one's cross daily and following Him. This kind of healthy survivable faith/belief requires repentance. Repentance means to turn from all sin, not perfection. Though we will still sin, we do not want to and as we mature, we will sin less.

So, it is not the number of sins that one commits that is the focus. Our aim is to commit less sin with the ultimate goal of perfection (unachievable in this life), but as we draw nearer to God, we start realizing more sins in our lives. The focus is rather on the TYPE of sin committed (see Num 15:29-31). If you are in the vine and receiving the life-giving sap of the Son, you are part of the body. But as Romans attests to, you can be cut off. The natural branches were in the vine because of belief, but were later cut off because of unbelief. Why? Because as their belief/faith was tested, it was found to be lacking true repentance. As Galatians and other scriptures attest to, you can believe in vain (ie. it is of no use to you). If a newborn refuses the milk of its mother, how long will it survive though it is a newborn? God called all the Israelites who left Egypt his children, but most became stiff necked and refused to believe and were cutoff from the promises.

Hello Ryan. I certainly understand the busy part. I am going to make this my last post for a few reasons , so you'll get the last word on this.

So far, I have stated scripture over and over that belief is all that is required. Instead of admitting the "repentance" with the definition that I know that you are using (i.e. turning from sin) is not required, only belief, you are using equivocation to change around what the word "belief" means. dictionary.com is pretty straightfoward on what believe means. I would urge you to reread passages and use the plain definition instead of injecting meaning into words.

you wrote:
Even the criminal on the cross beside Christ believed and bore fruit. He rebuked the other criminal and demonstrated faith by his humble confession and request that Jesus remember him in paradise.

So by this formula, you must show good fruit BEFORE you are saved? Also, how do you know that the criminal wasnt one of the folks before who was saved for believing? As a final thought on that passage, when I read the entire section, he was being saved because he believed that JC was who he said he was, NOT because he rebuked the other folks.

the rest of the comments are diatribes that have no basis in scripture. I hate to sound harse, but I have answered yours and other objections with scripture and what I get in return are man's theology. If I wanted to listen to man's theology, I would have stayed a Roman Catholic (which I take this brand of reformed theology to be one step away from). I am sorry to sound so harsh here, but your responses just restate your flawed position and do not answer the scriptures that I have laid out.

Just as you, I am busy going about the Lord's work, not to show that I am saved, but because I have believed the message and I am trying to fufill the great commission. I will stand saved right alongside the person who simply believed the gospel (believe and you will be saved) and did no good works or showed outward signs.

Now, so you can chalk me up to be one of those crazy "easy believers" (I use to say the same thing until a brother in Christ SHOWED me in scripture), I would urge you to read and listen to the materials located at sites like www.faithalone.org & www.gracelife.org

They will have answers to "even the demons believed" and things like that. Take a read and see if the answers convince you.

As I promised I will give you the final word on this.

Hi DeWayne,

It's too bad that you are planning not to respond (I hope you change your mind... I give you permission to break your promise). I was writing my response and haven't finished, and I began to listen to a message from one of your links by Dr. Bing entitled, "How a Good Person Gets to Heaven." Dr. Bing uses an analogy, and it highlights something that I think illustrates my point very well. Perhaps you missed it and the difference between our viewpoints is only a miscommunication (at least I hope so).

Here is the illustration as quoted by Dr. Bing: "What does it mean to believe? It means to be persuaded that something is true. To accept it as true for myself, to depend upon it. To be convinced of its truth. You believe everyday certain things. For example, I might have something wrong and I go to the doctor I hardly know, he writes a prescription I cannot read, I take it to a pharmacist I've never met, he gives me some pills I can't pronounce... But the prescription says, 'take one and you'll get better' and I do... and that's faith. It's simply believing what is written. Now that may sound too easy for some..."

In this example, I believe that Dr. Bing (whom I suspect you agree with) illustrates precisely the point I am making that belief implies action. To say that I believe that the pill will make me well but TO NOT BE WILLING to actually take and swallow it means that my profession of belief is ineffectual. Do we agree here?

But God sees the heart and He actually knows that when I said I believed (in my heart or verbally) I was fully willing to do whatever it took to make the cure mine. So HE credits my belief as righteousness before it is tested, as He alone knows precisely the heart of a person. If a time of testing of that faith had not come before I was hit by a car, I would still be saved (provided that I fully intended in my heart to do whatever was necessary to cure me). I think this is what you are contending for (correct me if I still don't understand you).

However, if the time of testing comes and it turns out that I am not willing to take the cure, then what have I proven? I have proven that I really did not believe in the first place -- or I do not believe any longer. Perhaps the seed that was sown in me to believe was stolen because an enemy came and whispered in my ear, "pills taste awful" or "all your friends will think you are nuts to eat that pill." Only if I have understanding of my plight and that this is the only cure and I must appropriate it will I be able to fend off such temptation. Understanding is akin to good soil in the heart.

So I stand by my assertion that belief implies more than just an inner "yes" to the terms... it implies that there also has to be a willingness to submit to them and to abide in them. This is where Lordship comes in.

Please feel free to respond and help me understand your view if I have misunderstood it or if you still think I'm missing something. I will most definitely get to the scriptures and questions you raised earlier, but I'm not finished my response yet.

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