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September 25, 2007

Comments

Hello DeWayne,

If you used to be a Roman Catholic, I can understand how you want to stay the furthest away from any teaching resembling salvation by works. I am also aware that there are those who adhere to some Reformed teachings out there and are getting very close to Rome's teachings as well. I want to be clear that I do not adhere to any system of works that merit salvation. You can do all the good works that you want to do and it wouldn't merit you one iota of salvation. You have sinned and there is no scriptural atonement made via good works. The fact that you submit to God's requirement and draw near to the altar of grace is not a works, it is faith! And you must be born again through this faith in Christ alone without which no one can be pleasing to God.

You are correct that dictionary.com's definition is straightforward: "to have confidence in the truth; to accept as true or real." However, it is false to say that I am equivocating to say that the clear implication OF SCRIPTURE is that the only kind of belief that results in righteousness being credited is the kind that produces repentance and action. Tell me, what things can you believe to be true but when tested demonstrate them to be false? Can you say you believe 2+2 is 4, but every time you write a test, you write a 5? Can you say that Jesus is Lord, but not submit to Him? Can you believe that He died for your sins without repenting of your sin? Christian belief and obedience walk hand-in-hand; this is not a life that can be lived hypocritically and end well.

Concerning my comments on the criminal on the cross who believed, you said... "So by this formula, you must show good fruit BEFORE you are saved?" To which I respond ABSOLUTELY NOT -- you misunderstand what I am saying. The fruit is the RESULT of salvation. Salvation starts in the heart. It is in your heart that you believe and make Jesus your Lord, and with your mouth you confess and with your hands and feet you obey.

Now to respond to the scriptures and questions you made on Oct 1.

I had written... "when Jesus speaks of belief, He implies obedience" and you responded, "where is this implied?" The following are some examples to support my claim:

This one was already mentioned, but is worth repeating here. John 3:36: "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." Clearly the implication is that if you believe you will obey, obedience being a marker of what is otherwise unseen in the heart.

Romans 2:5-8: "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious AND DO NOT OBEY (apeitheo) THE TRUTH, BUT OBEY (peitho) UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, wrath and indignation." The Greek word apeitheo is used in the Septuagint to translate Deut 1:26, 9:7, 9:23, Isa 50:5, Isa 63:10, Isa 65:2 which in English means rebellious and disobedient. It is unbelief manifested by disobedience.

Heb 5:9: "And having been made perfect, He became TO ALL THOSE WHO OBEY HIM the source of eternal salvation."

In Acts 5:32 we read: "...the Holy Spirit whom God has given TO THOSE WHO OBEY HIM." And in Romans 8:9 we read: "...But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him." These verses show that the Holy Spirit is only given to those who obey Him, and thus only those who obey Him belong to Him.

Deut 18:15 says, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen (shema) to him." Similarly, the Israelites promise "...All that the LORD has spoken we will do and we will be obedient (shema)!" (Exod 24:7).

So it seems pretty clear in these passages that effectual belief is the kind that comes from a heart that is willing to obey, because out of the heart comes the words and actions of the body. Can you lay claim to the promises of God if you are not willing to obey Him? The clear message of scripture is "no"... and this has nothing to do with works meriting salvation or perfection as evidence. We are perfect in the sight of God because of Christ, but still imperfect in this body as we are being sanctified day by day by the Spirit's working in and through us who believe.

You wrote... "The question then becomes, what is the will of the father. I think that it is answered from an earlier post '...this is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom he has sent.'"

Indeed, all that is required is belief... the kind that inclines its ear to hear and submits its will to obey as can be discerned from the above scriptures.

You wrote... "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."

Yes, you are correct -- good works cannot save anyone. But you also need to keep reading as verse 24 explains: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine AND ACTS ON THEM, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock." Continuing with verse 26: "Everyone who hears these words of Mine AND DOES NOT ACT ON THEM, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand." What do you think Jesus meant by "and acts on them" and "does not act on them"? Again, true biblical belief implies action.

In reference to my comments on James 1:25, you wrote: "I agree that in doing good works for JC can bring blessings, however, blessings have nothing to do with salvation."

Again, good works are not what is the central concern here, but submission to God and a willing, obedient heart. Verse 22 says, "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." Yes, if one thinks that by hearing only (believing with no intent to submit and obey) is what God means by saving faith, such a person is deluded.

You wrote... "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."

The evidence of your belief doesn't ENSURE but ASSURES one of his salvation. I think you agreed with this when you wrote: "Works are not required for salvation, but they are evidence that what is in our heart is true."

You wrote... "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? ... Again, what can you do to no longer be part of your father's family?"

If I do not submit to my father and his discipline, though we may be related in the flesh, I am not in right relationship with him, which is the sense of what scripture means by being spiritually separated from God. Don't forget that while the prodigal son never stopped being a son, to the father he was dead. When he returned and humbly submitted himself to his father, he was made alive again.

You wrote... "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."

Yes, it does seem as though we are close in some ways, but then you make a distinction which I believe the Bible does not make. Jesus didn't tell us to make believers, but disciples. And given the high price required of a disciple (as you admit), who would want to be one if you could be saved without being one? God's grace is a gift, and the benefits of salvation are gifts, but He only gives these gifts to His sons, and to become a son you must willingly submit yourself under His authority. But He is no taskmaster, but is loving and generous and kind.

Jesus says, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26-27). Did the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life walk away saved? Why didn't Jesus just tell him, "just believe, brother!" In essence, Jesus said that in order to inherit eternal life, one must esteem Christ more than even your necessary food and water.

You asked... "John 3:16, what does this scripture mean to you?"

The meaning of this scripture is explained by its surrounding scriptures. Jesus compares His sacrifice and the required belief that those must have in Him to be saved to the shadow of the serpent raised in Numbers 21. Jesus took upon Himself our sin; we have no other recourse. His doing so was completely at His discretion and is unmerited favor towards all those who were stung by sin (everyone). Our nature is to try to do something to prevent ourselves and our loved ones from dying, or to enjoy our last few hours of life and ignore our peril. Instead we must show faith and come to the cross and trust that God will be our salvation. The people needed to submit to the word from Moses and obey it just as we need to submit to God's work of the cross and obey it. Though the means of salvation was provided for all, those who did not submit to God's word and place their faith in Him were destroyed. Mental assent alone is not enough; they all had to "swallow the pill."

And we read further in verses 19-21 that the one who submits to God comes to the Light and PRACTICES the truth.

You asked... "John 6:40, what does this scripture mean to you?"

Jesus spends a lot of time in John 6 describing what belief is and how it comes about. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him..." -- but we know that John 12:32 says, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." It is only through the narrow path of repentance and submission that one will be drawn by the Father. If you do not respond to the Spirit's convicting, drawing you to death of the self-god, then you cannot have His life. Jesus Himself said, "unless a seed dies, IT REMAINS ALONE" and also "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it." Is Jesus making a distinction between a group of those who only make mental assent and those who submit to Him as His disciples? It certainly doesn't seem so. Jesus goes on to say in Mark 8:38 that if you are ashamed of Him and His words, then He will be ashamed of you. These are sobering words indeed.

In John 6 Jesus also says, "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:54). These are action words and parallel the passage in v40 concerning belief. You might believe that the food sitting in front of you is good for you, but it won't do you any good to preserve it and place it on the shelf and revere it. No, you must submit yourself to God and place you trust in Him by partaking of Him. As the author to the Hebrews says, "So, let us GO OUT to Him outside the camp, BEARING His reproach" (Heb 13:7).

In conclusion, I cannot accept your conclusions that 1) the mental-assent-only kind of belief is all that is required for justification, and 2) that such 'believers' and true disciples are distinct and yet both saved. John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus by turning the hearts of the people back to God in repentance. I don't think I need to know Greek to know that repentance means that I need to turn from all sin and submit myself to God. Repentance means more than mental-assent, but a sorrow for sin and a change of heart, and since my heart rules my body, then what begins in the heart will eventually demonstrate itself outwardly.

It is my prayer that no one would deceive themselves. There is no salvation without the kind of belief that results in submission of the will in repentance. It is not a burden to believe these things; it is the means of God's freedom towards you, so let's not neglect these truths nor distort them.

May God richly bless you.
Ryan

One other thing that I liked that Dr. Bing pointed out was that the gospel is SIMPLE, not EASY.

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