Replanting a Denomination/The Fork in the Road: In Reply to Greg

Greg wrote,

My Friends;

Let me first state, for the record, I have never believed that Jay Guin has ever attempted to misrepresent my convictions and I have every confidence that Jay wants to honestly examine the issues before us.

I deeply regret that various personal matters caused me to fail in maintaining the dialog with Jay in our earlier exchanges.

Jay does, however, infer many things from my writings which are not quite what I intended to communicate. As to the matters at hand, permit me to speak to my convictions:

First, I believe we are saved by the grace of God. This grace is conditional, the conditions arising from the nature of the atonement. These conditions are repentance and faith expressed in the Good Confession and in Baptism into Christ. In no way does one earn salvation in the water of baptism, one receives salvation. Baptism is an act of Grace.

Second, I believe that God the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in each person who is baptized into Christ.

Third, while I believe the days of signs and wonders ended with the last one on whom an apostle imparted miraculous powers (late first or early second century), I believe restricting the work of the Holy Spirit to His work through the Bible contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture.

I hope my views on these matters are clear.

-Greg Tidwell

Readers,

Do you see why I say that Greg is my favorite conservative preacher?

Greg,

Thanks so much for your post.

It’s astonishing, isn’t it, that although I agree entirely with what you just said — and these are truly foundational beliefs — that we are so apart on other issues?

It concerns me deeply. Somewhere, there’s a fork in the road where we’ve gone in different directions, although from the same starting place. And our difference is surely representative of much of the division within the Churches of Christ.

You won’t be surprised to learn that I have a theory. You wrote,

I believe we are saved by the grace of God. This grace is conditional, the conditions arising from the nature of the atonement. These conditions are repentance and faith expressed in the Good Confession and in Baptism into Christ.

I believe that the conditions remain the same after baptism, that is, that the faith and repentance that qualified us for baptism continue to qualify us to remain citizens of heaven thereafter — unless, of course, we lose our faith or our penitence. Of course, someone of genuine faith and penitence will grow in these virtues (by the power of the Spirit, I believe) — but the principle doesn’t change. It doesn’t become faith + repentance + a cappella music (etc.). It’s faith/repentance at the beginning and it’s faith/repentance until our earthly bodies die.

It appears to me from your writings that you see faith/repentance/baptism as sufficient to enter the kingdom but not sufficient to keep us in the kingdom. Hence, the grace we receive at baptism is a more comprehensive grace than the grace we receive after baptism. In other words (and please correct me if I’m wrong), in your view, if a person of genuine faith in Jesus with genuine penitence were to misunderstand God’s will regarding instrumental worship, he would no longer be in grace (although God would have a measure of patience with a such a person).

Many hold that after baptism, Christians are expected to learn God’s will for worship, church organization, etc., and once they’ve had time to master these doctrines, they stand without excuse if they get them wrong — regardless of their faith in Jesus and penitence.

My view is very close and yet very far from that position. As I read the scriptures, God most certainly intends for us to obey his commands. This is quite clear. But grace means that those who remain penitent and continue in their faith remain continuously forgiven, even if they honestly misunderstand one of God’s other commands. (If they disobey in a rebellious spirit, they aren’t penitent, of course.)

A person of genuine faith and penitence will grow in his understanding of God’s will and so grow in his obedience. Over time, God will shape him to be more and more like Jesus. But that doesn’t mean that he will necessarily come to agree with you or me on how many children an elder must have or whether a church can engage in elder re-affirmation.

We will all agree, however, that we must love God and our neighbors, we’ll both obey those central commands imperfectly, and we’ll both be covered by grace for that disobedience — as well as whatever mistakes we make in selecting elders.

Anyway, that’s how I’ve got it figured.

And so … have I found the right fork?

Advertisements

33 Responses

  1. Jay, you wrote (in reply to Greg), that:

    “We will all agree, however, that we must love God and our neighbors, we’ll both obey those central commands imperfectly, and we’ll both be covered by grace for that disobedience — as well as whatever mistakes we make in selecting elders.

    Anyway, that’s how I’ve got it figured.

    And so … have I found the right fork?”

    *****
    As you mentioned before, one cannot speak for another, but I would like to “weigh in” here if I may?

    And before I do, I would like to go on record in stateing that I do believe that we should all seek to unite as opposed to divide.

    Having said that, I do question whether it is all as simple as you seem to imply. I mean, it is indeed true that a sinner is saved by God’s grace through his (the sinner’s) faith. But, does that actually mean that he (the forgiven sinner), is able to believe and/or practice any myriad of beliefs and/or practices without ever jeapordizing his salvation?

    For example, you added:

    “God most certainly intends for us to obey his commands. This is quite clear. But grace means that those who remain penitent and continue in their faith remain continuously forgiven, even if they honestly misunderstand one of God’s other commands.”

    While I do not believe that a Christian must understand and apply perfectly every teaching of the Bible in order to remain saved…..I do believe that there is a line somewhere that can be crossed.

    In just this post alone, you have mentioned:

    1) The, “…person of genuine faith in Jesus with genuine penitence were to misunderstand God’s will regarding instrumental worship….” (would he remain forgiven?)

    2) The person “….expected to learn God’s will for worship, church organization, etc…” (would he remain forgiven?)

    3) “…whatever mistakes we make in selecting elders…”

    To be fair, you qualified such posiible eerors in suggesting that “(If they disobey in a rebellious spirit, they aren’t penitent, of course.)”

    But, supposing the mistakes (errors, violations of God’s will) are in fact not committed in a “rebellious spirit”….how can you say assuredly that they will always be forgiven? How do you know that?

    Suppose it was sinful (for argument sake and as many honest Bible scholars believe), that it is against the will of God and therefore a sin to have:

    a. Instruments used in the worship of God.
    b. Women serving in unauthorized “roles.”
    c. An unqualified and/or un-allowed structure of church leadership.
    d. The teaching that suggests Jesus only died for a portion of man and that the rest are not supposed to be saved (God never chose them).
    e. Etc., etc., etc.,

    Assuming that the above were in fact sin (just suppose that they were), how could you confidently say that the believing and practicing of such (so long as the sins were committed “honestly”), could never possible jeapordize one’s salvation?

    To take such a position would require one to suggest that every “honest” church would be heavenbound regardless of their beliefs and/or practices (as long as they were not “rebellious”). Besides, is not most sin “rebellion” by nature?

    You make it seem as though a church could infact:

    1) worship in ways (whichever ways there could possibly be) that are contrary to God’s will.
    2) be organized in ways (whatever ways there might be) that are against the teaching of the Bible.
    3) teach things that are false (against what the actual truth of the matter is)….

    that a church could possibly do any and/or all of these things without ever being in grave danger of so sinning as to end up being lost?

    Finally, I DO NOT pretend to have the answers. In fact, I know I do not have them. I simply believe that an honest person CAN mistakingly believe and/or practice things that are against the will of God and therefore sinful. I believe that AT SOME POINT, unless corrected, the person committing such sins can end up being lost.

    The same of course, could be said regarding sins of morality (not loving my neighbor). And as hard as that is by itself (being unselfish and loving)….I just think that we should really do our best to avoid the “stange fires” as a church.

    At least, “that’s how I’ve got it figured.”

  2. Hank,

    You ask a very important question. It is, in fact, exactly where the road forks between many progressives and many conservatives.

    Many conservatives hold, as you do, that “there is a line somewhere that can be crossed.” However, I’ve yet to find a conservative who could articulate where that line is.

    Indeed, over at http://graceconversation.com, I challenged Phil Sanders and Mac Deaver to do just that.

    Earlier on, they stipulated to where they thought the line to be, but when asked specific questions, they repeatedly took inconsistent positions. When the inconsistencies were pointed out, they quit.

    I don’t think it’s possible actually state, much less defend, the conservative viewpoint.

    I have stated and defended my position in detail in several places. I have two ebooks posted here laying out my views —

    The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace: God’s antidotes for division within the Churches of Christ

    Do We Teach Another Gospel?

    I’ve tried to consolidate and the essence of those two books in a series of Sunday school lessons posted at http://oneinjesus.info/index-under-construction/theology-church-of-christ-issues/amazing-grace/

    And at GraceConversation, Todd Deaver and I explained how we believe the Bible supports our views at this series of posts —

    A Progressive Position: Faith and Repentance, by Jay Guin

    What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Introduction, by Jay Guin

    What the Bible actually says about apostasy: 1 John and Walking in the Light, Chapters 1 – 2, by Jay Guin

    What the Bible actually says about apostasy: 1 John and Walking in the Light, Chapters 3 – 5, by Jay Guin

    What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Hebrews, Penitence, and Rebellion, by Jay Guin

    What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Hebrews 11, by Jay Guin

    What the Bible actually says about apostasy: The Spirit’s work in the Christian, by Jay Guin

    What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Romans and the Salvation of the Mature, by Jay Guin

    What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Conclusion, by Jay Guin

    Imperfect Obedience and Disobedience, by Todd Deaver

    Faith, Works, and Obedience, by Todd Deaver

    And so, in conclusion… (with a new footnote), by Jay Guin

    I realize this seems like a lot of material. It is. And — believe it or not — I’ve not nearly used all the material in the scriptures that I believe support my view. These are just the arguments that I prefer to use.

    Let me suggest a shortcut. I’ve yet to have a conservative take me up on this, but I’m thinking you’re an exceptional person.

    Before you read any more of what I’ve written, read 1 John, front to back, two or three times. It’s a short book and it’s specifically written for John to assure his readers that they’re saved.

    (1 John 5:13) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

    Don’t try to solve all the riddles in 1 John. Just read it for what it was written to say: what is the standard by which John tells us to decide whether we’re saved?

    Then read my two posts on 1 John at GraceConversation —

    What the Bible actually says about apostasy: 1 John and Walking in the Light, Chapters 1 – 2, by Jay Guin

    What the Bible actually says about apostasy: 1 John and Walking in the Light, Chapters 3 – 5, by Jay Guin

  3. I would say especially to Hank, and perhaps Greg…. Forget instruments and women and elders. Let us suppose jealousy, envy, causing division, failing to love our brothers, not honoring our wives, provoking our children to anger, cheating a bit on our tax returns, failing to obey traffic laws, etc, etc…. are all sins. Using your logic and seeming biblical understanding I ask “who can stay saved?”

    I have a hunch that every last human on earth breaks the first and many other of the ten commandments routinely. Does that put you in the spot of those you suppose are lost if they use instruments in worship?

    I fear you have missed the whole purpose of Christ’s death on the cross. The purpose was to save wicked sinners. God never expected that those who would be born again would stay sinless untill death or Jesus returns.

    Christians are righteous by God’s decree and based upon the obedience of Jesus. It is an odd bit of theology that holds out the theory sinners are indeed saved by grace but are pretty much on their own afterward and that is exaclty what many “conservatives/traditionalists teach. Because of this unbiblical teaching my wifes mother and step-father, members of chruches of Christ for over 65 years, just before his death had absolutely NO assurance they were saved. The reason? “I don’t know if I have been good enough!”. What a shameful commentary on preachers and elders who mishandle the word of God. It not only disappoints me but makes me angry that that that sweet, godly couple can be multiplied by tens of thousands who have never heard the truth and died thinking their salvation depended on how “good” they were and that there was a good chance they were not good enough to be accepted by God.

    This sad result did not come from God, that leaves only one other choice. It matters that people who teach others know what they are talking about.

    Royce

  4. Royce, I have heard the assured of salvation idea all my life, but cannot find that it is from God.
    Hollywood has made many movies about kids with rich or high social standing parents. Usually upon some punishment for bad behavor, the child says, “Do you know who my father is? Do you know what will happen if you punish me?” The Jews of Jesus time often felt they had an inside spot with God because of their ancestory.
    A true child of Abraham will act like Abraham did including being humble about my feeble faith and actions meriting God’s favor. Yes, I know He provided the way, but I think boasting about accepting salvation is way out of line.
    Sometimes this I’m saved attitude, is part of the artificial separation of faith and works. From Genesis to Revelation, it seems were should put our trust in God, seek to know His will, and do it. Jesus often ended parables with “who did the will of God?” so we should have a concern to try.
    Jay, one of the problems with conservatives showing the “line of sin” is it is probably personal. Jepthtah didn’t know Leviticus, and was not punished by God for killing his daughter, or not knowing Leviticus. But strange fire by two who should have known, was fatal.
    Rather than deciding what sins are fatal, and which can be quickly forgiven, the attitude that I do not deserve God’s grace but will accept it and therefore try to please Him for the rest of my life. That includes learning more and doing my choices better. Though my life, the Spirit in me may get brighter, and my understaning of His will grow, to where a certain error for me isn’t just a casual mistake but turning my back on Him. To another Christian the same thing could be casual. I suspect “the line” is highly personal, based on the Walk I have had, and the revelation I come to know.

  5. Royce wrote:

    “Forget instruments and women and elders. Let us suppose jealousy, envy, causing division, failing to love our brothers, not honoring our wives, provoking our children to anger, cheating a bit on our tax returns, failing to obey traffic laws, etc, etc…. are all sins. Using your logic and seeming biblical understanding I ask “who can stay saved?”

    And I am glad that he did because I have heard it made by others so many times. It goes like this:

    Progressive — “So what if we have women elders, teach the sinners prayer, sprinkle our sinning infants, and have heavy metal worship bands that may or may not be according to Dod’s will”

    Conservative — “But all of that is wrong and therefore sinful”

    Progressive — “Oh yeah, is your church PERFECT? Do you have greedy people? Do you ever run a stop sign?” Etc., etc., etc.,…. “If so, then your church is no better (closer to God’s will) than ours.”

    Royce adds:

    ” It is an odd bit of theology that holds out the theory sinners are indeed saved by grace but are pretty much on their own afterward and that is exaclty what many “conservatives/traditionalists teach.”

    The problem with you position Royce (coorect me if I am wrong), is that because we all are sinners saved by grace…you therefore conclude that we have no right to ever say, “Hey, what you are doing (how you worship, organize the church, etc.) is sinful.”

    Whereas conservatives are inconsistent in drawing their “lines” and in saying so and so is crossing it….

    You OTOH have decided to refuse there even exists such a line. Which allows for churches to believe ANY and EVERY possible error they so chose (and to whatever extent) and yet be forgiven by grace.

    If I am wrong…

    Pray tell where you see ANY line in terms of what a Christian can believe and/or practice and still be saved?

    Do you really believe their even is one?

  6. Why even have a Bible…

  7. Jay wrote:

    “Many conservatives hold, as you do, that “there is a line somewhere that can be crossed.” However, I’ve yet to find a conservative who could articulate where that line is.”

    Neither have I Jay (at least, not with perfect consistencey). My point is that the answer IS NOT to just deny that there even is a line. The answer is not to argue that because it is too hard to “articulate” precisely where the line is…to then simply say there is no line. Otherwise (if there is no line, anywhere), then what would be the point in trying to know and adhere to the revealed will of God in various matters? Seriously? But if their is a line SOMEWHERE…then progressives are surely under the same amount of pressure to articulate where said line is as are conservatives? But for progressives to point out the “failure” and “inability” of conservatives to precisely reveal where “the line” is, without being able to do it themselves, is like the guy throwing rocks from inside his own glass house. I just get frustrated at how the progrssives are in the very same boat, but refuse to accept it. You see, they must either:

    1. Say there is no line anywhere — which would be total chaos.
    2. Say there is a line and then precisely articulate as to where it is with each individual and in regarding every topic.

    OR…

    3. Understand that while there is a line, they do not know exactly where it is for every person in every situation (even their own) — but then they would have no assurance of salvation right?

    Jay added:

    “Indeed, over at http://graceconversation.com, I challenged Phil Sanders and Mac Deaver to do just that.”

    (To clearly and consistently articulate as to where the line is)

    Jay noted:

    “Earlier on, they (the conservatives) stipulated to where they thought the line to be, but when asked specific questions, they repeatedly took inconsistent positions. When the inconsistencies were pointed out, they quit.”

    Which begs the question:

    “Where is the progressive who has done better?”

    Who wants to be the progressive to take and answer the “specific questions”? Because I have not yet found him.

    But please, in the name of fairness, don’t expect others to do what you yourself are unable (perhaps unwilling?) to do yourself.

    And the three generalized principles offered do not begin to address the topic.

    Finally, I am not mad. Only trying to point out the hypocrisy.

    Hank

  8. Too, not only do progressives seemingly refuse to say whether or not a specific sin will (at some point) result in one’s condemnation……but, they also seemingly refuse to say whether or not a specific thing is even a sin to begin with.

  9. Larry Short,

    Try reading 1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” God’s word says you can know and you say you can’t know. Who should I believe? This is only one of dozens of passages that teach the same thing, many of them quotes from Jesus himself.

    Isn’t it curious that a statement as plain as the nose on your face is so confusing and difficult to believe and something that isn’t even addressed in scripture becomes set in stone and a “salvation issue”?

    Hank, I don’t need you to put words in my mouth, I have plenty of my own. It should have been clear that I was not making a judgement about women preachers, heavy metal bands in worship, etc. but rather pointing out that none of us, including you, is without sin. I don’t need to quote 1 John on that do I?

    Hank, there is one fatal flaw to your way of thinking. You have chosen some select sins that if continued in is crossing the “line”. Another fellow, just as sincere as you has a different list, and another has a different list and so on. God doesn’t go by your list or anyone else’s.

    You continue to mention women speaking in the assembly, instruments in worship, sprinkling infants, and Calvinism. My point was that sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these are just as sinful.

    In my judgement it is a far more grievous sin to add to the gospel superficial lists that people must comply with to be saved or stay saved. Paul said of such a one “Let him be accursed”. It is a sin to try to establish your own righteousness at the expense of the righteousness of Jesus.

    “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:2-4)

    Royce

  10. Speaking to me (Hank), Royce wrote:

    “You continue to mention women speaking in the assembly, instruments in worship, sprinkling infants, and Calvinism. My point was that sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these are just as sinful.”

    I agree with you Royce. And I am just as concerned with the sins you have mentioned as I am with the ones that have to do with how we worship, structure of the church, and what we teach and/or practice.

    Perhaps, I have been misunderstood? All I am saying Royce, is that AT SOME POINT…. our sin(s) could end up costing us our salvation. And if I am right, then we need to “give diligence” (try our best) to make sure that we don’t ever cross the line.

    But, to say that there is no line at all (whether in how we worship, how we live, what we teach, etc.), implies that there is no line. The implication Royce, would imply tat we could worship, live, and teach whatever we wanted without ever needing to fear the judgment of God in a way that could cost us our soul. And franky, I just don’t believe that that is what the Bible taches.

    While I am not trying to “put words in your mouth,” I am trying to understand your position.

    And so I will ask again — do you believe that it is possible for a Christian to believe, teach, and/or practice things that are sinful to the extent that it would in fact cost them there soul?

    It seems to me that you are inclined to say “no”?

    If so….then your position implies that it ultimately does not matter (in terms of salvation) what a person believes, teaches, and or practices.

    On the other hand, if you believe (as I do), that AT SOME POINT a believer can be lost because of (too much) sin….then I still would be interested in hearing (reading) your explanation.

    Royce, it is an “either/or” proposition. Which means that logically speaking….it is either one or the other. (the law of excluded middle).

    All that remains is for you to go ahead and “show your cards.”

    Do you actually believe that a Christian can so sin as to EVER be lost?

    Or, do you beieve that a Christian can believe, teach and/or practice an unlimited amount of sin and never risk the damnation of his soul?

    If the former (that a Christian COULD sin to the point of losing his soul), then you’ll have to explain your position.

    If not, then you’ll have to accept the fact that your position implies that the practice of sin has nothing to do with the salvation of a believers soul.

    So, which is it?

    You tell us……

  11. Again and again Jesus promised “eternal” life, that those who believed on him would never perish, that he would raise them up on the last day. Should I believe his words or not?

    The scriptures teach that one who is born again is sealed by the Holy Spirit “until the day of redemption”. The gift of the Holy Spirit is God’s promise, or guarantee that he will complete the transaction at the resurrection. I ask again, can I trust God’s promise?

    Those who put their whole trust in Jesus will be known by their obedience to do all they know to do to please him. True believers are born again and have eternal life. Hell awaits make believers.

    You can read this post for more detail about what I believe. http://gracedigest.com/2008/11/22/how-to-know-you-have-eternal-life-from-1st-john/

  12. Royce, Previously I asked:

    “And so I will ask again — do you believe that it is possible for a Christian to believe, teach, and/or practice things that are sinful to the extent that it would in fact cost them there soul?”

    Question:

    Are you able to answer the above with either a “yes” or a “no”?

    You wrote:

    “I ask again, can I trust God’s promise?”

    Sure, of course you can Royce. But that does not mean that a Christian can believe and/or practice whatever they feel like without ever having to worry about whether or not it is sin.

    You see, God’s promise does not allow for his children do believe and/or practice whatever it is they feel like without ever having to worry about being lost.

    Again:

    “Do you actually believe that a Christian can so sin as to EVER be lost?”

    I say yes — that it is possible.

    What do you say?

    Come on now…….

  13. Royce, thanks, I accept that God’s provided path of salvation will not be null and void. Every verse you quote is absolutely true to the universal church. However to me personally, can I reject what I first accepted? The parable of the sower seems to say so, the seed did grow, then was choked out by weeds. The life of Saul seems to say he was chosen, prophesied, had God’s spirit, disobeyed God, and it all went downhill. In contrast, David had a good man killed to get his wife (2 of 10 commandments broken), repented, suffered consequences of his actions, but kept the faith. Job, did no great sin, suffered loss of family, health, and wealth, but refused to blame God, keeping his faith, then was rewarded in this life. Etc.
    I beleive in the power of the Cross. I know that there is unpardonable sin (Jesus), and sin unto death (1 John) but I am not sure where that line exactly lays. I beleive God’s grace is greater than my worse sin. But I have to keep confessing, repenting, and accepting His grace. (1 John, “if you sin….”) like David, not give up on grace (and myself), like Saul.

  14. About Hank’s line to cross. I beleive this is personal, and therefore is imposssible to state. If in every fiber of my being, I was sure that Friday’s should be a remembrance of Christ’s death, ala Paul, I should keep each Friday special. That does not bind anyone else, but to forget Friday would for me be a sin. My line is not yours.
    To reject God, Jesus, or the Cross would be sin to anyone, however my personal line of sin would include more. For most people all of the 10 commandments would be sin. I say most because a new Gentile convert would not know the 10 commandments on minute one of conversion.
    Lots of people joined in crusades to restore the holy land to Christianity, but I have read the parable of the weeds, and know that we are not to pull the weeds. So for me in what I know now, the crusade is sin. I don’t judge the heart of every crusader, but wished at the chance to teach them.
    I beleive immersion is the teaching of Jesus, and the apostles in Acts. Wether God accepts people who skip it, explain it away (no work allowed theology), I can not say but for me not being immersed is sin. I cannot in good faith be an active part of a congregation that skips teaching or doing immersion. There’s that line.
    I stay away from necessary inference to build lines. I see no command on singing style only to sing. A la Paul, I would give up my freedom, for those that see one style as special. The pattern for Sunday communion seems strong from chruch history, but I the only command I see is Jesus’ to continue communion, not frequency, place, day, number of cups, servers, etc. I will release my freedom for anyone who has strong feelings on the how and when of communion.
    Last thought, is it OK to not grow in knowledge of God’s revelation? If I was brought up in a Christian evironment, should I just forever accept just what I learned? Jesus said “man shall not live by bread alone, but every word from God”. That says to me, feed on his word, read and reread. That leads to me growing, and from time to time rethinking where that line of sin is.
    Royce, thanks for reminding us that morality is more important than how we do the assembly. Your line of sin would include many moral principles. Jesus said that mercy was more important than getting 10% of every herb, so to me your heart is divine aligned. To all I suggest that the elusive line of sin is personal, and therefore cannot be accurately drawn for all. That’s why for every thinking conservative or progressive it is hard to express. Like Hank, I beleive there is a line, and it includes more than just existance of the Godhead and the Cross, but suggest concretely it is personal and maturing as we continue our Walk.

  15. Hank,
    Please give a moment’s consideration to the tone and implications of your comments on this blog, in particular your recent exchange with Royce. Do you think you come across as demanding that your query be answered in the way you want it to be answered. It strikes me that way. And then what, if you don’t like his answer do you get to pronounce judgment or expose him as a heretic among other congregations? I know you don’t intend this to be an inquisition where a heretic is put on the rack or burned at the stake.

    You’ve advocated strongly for congregational autonomy and surely you believe in the right of the individual to read the bible and decide for themselves, under the direction of the HS. Perhaps you want to gently correct a straying brother by sharing your insights with him.

    Your comments seem to suggest something more than simply an honest inquiry. I know our written words don’t always convey the same tone as if we had a face to face conversation with a friend. I’ve been guilty of that many times, and I may be now – if so please try to take my comment more gently than I have written it. I always regret it when I come across as judgmental as I think the CofC has been. I assume you feel the same way.
    Peace,
    Randall

  16. Hank,

    You might know the scriptures better than I do, so will you cite one passage that talks about a person who was saved, then lost, and then saved again?

    Can you cite one passage that teaches that a person who baptizes an infant is lost because of that sin?

    Can you cit one passage that teaches a whole congregation is lost if they have an instrument accompany their singing?

    Can you site one passage that says a person is lost because he believes the passages in the Bible about predestination differently than you do?

    And, if you would be so kind as to explain, or explain away, those passages I referred to earlier? I would appreciate it.

    Finally, can a birth be reversed? Or, do you not believe the new birth, although spiritual, is real?

    If a person can be born again and then lost there are scores of Bible passages that cannot possibly be true.

    I am the first to admit that I might be wrong, I am not infallible. I am honestly on a quest for the truth where ever it takes me. It would be far easier, and I could make a lot more friends if I just lined up like a baby duck and followed church of Christ traditional teaching. My difficulty is that much of it can’t be supported by scripture.

    I don’t consider anyone lost because they don’t see things the way I do. If they are trusting Christ with all their hearts and doing their best to follow his teaching I accept them as brothers. I think you would do well to do the same.

    Royce

  17. Hank,

    I said it another way here. Agree or disagree?

    http://gracedigest.com/2009/02/20/are-you-a-believer-or-make-believer/

    Royce

  18. Hi Royce,

    I went to the link you provided to see what you believe about how to know if you have eternal life:

    http://gracedigest.com/2008/11/22/how-to-know-you-have-eternal-life-from-1st-john/

    However, what you’ve written there appears to be at odds with what you’ve been writing here. And while I do not wish to “pronounce judgment or expose (you) as a heretic among other congregations” (as Randall seems to believe)….it does look as though you are in a dilemna. I say that because at one moment (here), you have asserted that an actual Christian could never ever sin to the point of losing his salvation. But, at another moment (in the article you wrote), you suggest that whoever does not obey God is not saved. In your own words, you wrote:

    “Those who do not obey are not saved.”

    And while I hope I do not come across as condescending or rude…you owe an explanation.

    I mean, you either believe that:

    1) it is impossible for a Christian to “not obey” God.

    Or,

    2) A Christian can end up being lost.

    Is it fair of me to point that out? BTW, the issue here is not (nor has it been) “WHAT IS A SIN.” Rather, the issue is whether or not sin(s) can be commited by Christians to the extent that they will lose their salvation.

    I say yes (that a Christian can so sin as to lose his salvation). You say no. Which means that a Christian can do and believe WHATEVER he feels like and never be lost. But at the same time (maybe at different times?), you argue that “those who do not obey are lost.”

    Obey what? Are you the one here who can tell us what particular things a Christian has to obey to remain saved? And what particular things he does not have to obey to remain saved?

    I am not sure. If you are the who is though…please tell us. I would do well to know what you do.

    Hank

  19. Hank,

    And, I am still waiting for you to answer the questions I have asked you.

    Not one of us ever obeys perfectly. Not you nor anyone else can say how much sin God tolerates. It would be extremely important to know that if you feared your disobedience might cause God to damn you it seems to me.

    I think It can’t be stated any more clearly than John made it in 1st John. All the way through the book he contrasts who does and does not have Christ. Those who do walk in the light. Those who walk in darkness do not have Christ and are lost. This isn’t that complicated. God justifies wicked sinners based upon the obedience of Jesus, not our own self righteousness.

    How about that Bible example of a person being saved, then lost, and then saved? Still waiting…

    Expose me? You are one funny dude. I have been “exposing” myself on by blog for years. And, with very few exceptions I have not been challenged many times on what I believe. As I said earlier, I am subject to mistakes and misstatements, I am not infallible. But, the word of God is without error and I try my dead level best to let it say what it says and then adjust my life to it.

    Isn’t it sort of unChristian to pronounce those who disagree with you about non-essential things damned?

  20. Royce, you asked:

    “Isn’t it sort of unChristian to pronounce those who disagree with you about non-essential things damned?”

    Yeah, that would be unChristian. Who did that?

    And after all we have written, it appears as though we now agree. For, you wrote:

    “Not one of us ever obeys perfectly. Not you nor anyone else can say how much sin God tolerates.”

    EXACTLY!! WE NOW AGREE!!

    That is, if you actually believe what you said there? That nobody can “say how much sin God tolerates.” That has been precisely mo point throughout this who discussion.

    And since “Not you nor anyone else can say how much sin God tolerates” (and since neither could I), we really need to be all the diligent to make our calling and election sure. Basically, we need to stay as far away from the line as we possibly can.

    As far as “that Bible example of a person being saved, then lost, and then saved?”

    I can’t think of one off the top of my head. But, what is the point?

    How about some Bible examples of persons who were saved and then lost? Would you like some of them?

    Or, how about some Bible warnings (to those who are saved) about being careful in not ending up lost? I know of some of them as well. Scores of them, actually.

    But, you already know that because you’ve written that whoever does not obey is not saved. And you were right when you said that.

    (Although only God knows how much sin he will actually tolerate with a given individual before they actually go from being saved to lost).

  21. God doesn’t tolerate ANY sin. This is precisely why Jesus took our sins (all of them) upon him and died for us, in our place. God poured out the full measure of his wrath against sin upon the Lamb of God.

    Jesus lived in perfect obedience (we could not) and without sin (we could not) and by his sacrificial death, burial, and triumphant resurrection God is now able to declare a wicked sinner like Royce or Hank “righteous” based upon the work and worth of Jesus and yet not compromise his holiness or justice.

    You and I are not righteous as Jesus was, we are “counted” righteous, a big difference. If all God had done for me was forgive my “past’ sins and wipe the slate clean I would be in big trouble. Soon I would sin and at that moment I would be a bit less than perfectly righteous (which is God’s standard). Thanks be to God that is not what happened.

    Based upon, and because of Jesus’ doing and dying I am “counted” righteous. So, after I come to faith, make a good confession and am baptized, in a few days I commit some sin. The accuser comes and says “Ah ha! he is less than righteous and by your rules God he is not fit for heaven”. But, like Abraham of old, when I believed God I was “counted” righteous and as David said my sins are not being “counted” against me.

    My righteousness is not an “earned” righteousness, it is rather a “declared” righteousness. A judge can drop the charges in a criminal court and or say “Not guilty” to someone who absolutely committed the crime. Such is the case with us, we are as guilty of offending a Holy God as can be but we have been “declared” righteous by the judge of the universe because of what Christ has accomplished for us by his death on a cross.

    “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified”. (Hebrews 10:14) When Jesus cried out from the cross “It is finished” it really was finished. Salvation was secured for ever for those who would look to him and live.

    God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. He only reconciles sinners to himself by Christ Jesus our Lord. He does not reconcile us by what we do, what we believe about worship, elders, hand clapping, or last things.

    Jesus by himself once for all time, once for all people entered the holy of holies and offered himself and then sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. And, by that one holy offering he has perfected FOREVER those who come to God by Him.

    That is the way I understand God’s scheme of redemption and I will die depending wholly upon Christ and Christ alone. He alone is the resurrection and the life and because I am in him and he in me I can’t die unless he does. I am saved and safe.

    Royce

  22. Royce, at 4:02 you said — “Not you nor anyone else can say how much sin God tolerates.”

    And then at 9:43 you said — “God doesn’t tolerate ANY sin.”

    Which is it?

    You also say that what we do (or don’t do) has no bearing on our salvation. But, then at other times you say if we do not obey God then we are not saved.

    So do we have to obey God or we will be lost (like you said earlier)? Or not?

    Which one do you believe? I truly hope I don’t come off as unloving, but I believe it is fair in a forum like this to ask you to pick a belief.

  23. In the first statement I was speaking of your position with which I disagree. The idea that a little sin is OK but a bit more is not OK and God will only then zap you is absurd in my view. Sin is sin and God hates it.

    If salvation depends on mankind we are all hopelessly lost. We simply don’t measure up.

    And, I absolutely affirm, those who do not obey God are lost. Not saved, then lost. just lost period.

    I’m done with this. I have made my case as clearly as possible. I doubt that others who have read this exchange are as confused about what I have said as you pretend to be.

    My apologies to Jay for the space taken. BTW Hank. Jay and I completely disagree on some Bible doctrine but he has always been completely fair and cordial and has treated me as a brother, and I have done the same to him. You on the other hand have threatened to brand me as a heretic. It would be good if you learn from Jay.

    This is my last comment on this thread.

  24. Royce, You have done very well expressing your thoughts. Don’t let Hank intimidate you. It is better to avoid people like Hank who feed off intimidating people.

    My heart hurts as I think about how arrogant attitudes from those who call themselves Christians so very much misrepresents Jesus to a watching world.

  25. To bair fair, it was not myself who ever threatened to brand anyone here as a “heretic”

    It was Randall, who wrote the following:

    “Hank,
    Please give a moment’s consideration to the tone and implications of your comments on this blog, in particular your recent exchange with Royce. Do you think you come across as demanding that your query be answered in the way you want it to be answered. It strikes me that way. And then what, if you don’t like his answer do you get to pronounce judgment or expose him as a heretic among other congregations? I know you don’t intend this to be an inquisition where a heretic is put on the rack or burned at the stake.”

    Frankly, I find it absurd someone could feel inimidated, embarrased, and/or get their feelings hurt by anything that I have written here.

    I mean, entire books are written and supported by many here which tell others to “face their failure” and to admit where they went wrong (and they should), but they don’t have to get upset and take their ball home. They should honestly consider the charges of their brethren.

    For “ananymous” (strange enough) to write(about anything I’ve said here) — “My heart hurts as I think about how arrogant attitudes from those who call themselves Christians so very much misrepresents Jesus to a watching world.”…is plain silly. And in an my homest opinion excuse.

    I too, disgree with Jay (as everybody here knows), but he and I have been able to continue our discussion because we have both owned whatever it is we have said we believe and do not take it all personal when one of us holds the other’s feet to the fire, so to speak. It’s part of any deabate type discussion.

    Finally Royce, you have said what you said. That’s fine. But, please know (along with the discerning readers here), that what you have said at one point has truly conflicted what you said again later on. It just has. I don’t point that out because I don’t want to be like Jesus. I point that out because I do want to highlight your inconsistencies.

    Others are welcome (yeah, encouraged) to do the same with me. Seriously. That is why I am here. To have my current positions challenged.

    And I appreciate Jay for allowing me the opportunity to do so.

  26. Royce wrote:

    “And, I absolutely affirm, those who do not obey God are lost.”

    If you change you mind about not discussing this further, please calrify the above.

    Becasue, any and all sin IS “not obeying God.” You could flip that and say “any sin is not obeying God.” Because sin and “not obeying God” mean the same thing.

    Your statement alone then (without any clarification) would mean that you absolutely affirm that those who sin are lost….

  27. Hank, I believe Royce would reply with 1 John’s argument that those who are in Christ do not sin.

    As Royce knows, he and I are in disagreement over this. In fact, he knows that I believe his real disagreement is with the writer of Hebrews, but that is for a different discussion.

    Back to the question at hand: where is the line? Jay and Todd pointed out a pretty clear and convincing line, and supported it with pages of Scripture. Their conservative discussion partners have neither refuted Jay and Todd’s line nor drawn a clear and consistent line of their own. Rather they, like you, seem to retreat to the following fallback position:

    “There must be a line, God didn’t tell us where it is, so no one can know where it is (especially not Jay and Todd), so we should make every effort to avoid the invisible line, wherever it may be.”

    Hank, here’s the main difference I see between you and Jay’s positions. Jay is saying the line is convincingly clearly revealed in Scripture (and perhaps even that God would be unjust and capricious not to clearly reveal such an amazingly relevant aspect of spiritual life). You do not believe the line has been clearly stated in Scripture, and you seem to assert that it cannot be known except by God.

    Please let me know if you believe I have accurately summarized your understanding of apostasy.

  28. Hi Nick,

    Actually, I agree with you (and Jay) in saying that “the line is convincingly clearly revealed in Scripture.” But, I do not believe that we can always tell whether or not a person has crossed it. For example, Jay (and/or Todd), described it (the line), with these three guidlines:

    “1) A Christian falls away when he no longer has faith. “Faith” means faith in Jesus.
    2) A Christian falls away when he is no longer penitent. Equivalently, a Christian falls away when he no longer submits to Jesus as Lord. Equivalently, a Christian falls away when he willfully continues to sin.
    3) A Christian falls away when he seeks to be justified other than by faith in Jesus.”

    ***

    Now, I have no problem with using the above three points as our “line.” Fine. The question THEN becomes….when is said line crossed? Which is why I asked Jay about the following. Jay basically said that if a person or church is in “honest error” that they are not to be considered rebellious even thought what they believed, taught, and or practiced was against the will of God. Therefore I wrote:

    “You make it seem as though a church could infact:

    1) worship in ways (whichever ways there could possibly be) that are contrary to God’s will.
    2) be organized in ways (whatever ways there might be) that are against the teaching of the Bible.
    3) teach things that are false (against what the actual truth of the matter is)….

    that a church could possibly do any and/or all of these things without ever being in grave danger of so sinning as to end up being lost?”

    You see, even if we say the line is (blank)….

    Neither one of can take specific examples and say whether it has been crossed. Even regarding the Pope. Would you say he has crossed the line? Is he even getting close?

    Are you able to take such questions and be ale to answer them?

    If not, then you appear to be in the same boat /dilemna as I…

    Thanks though.

  29. Hank wrote,

    Now, I have no problem with using the above three points as our “line.” Fine.

    Hank, you have come to this realization by the power of many prayers. I thank God.

    The question THEN becomes….when is said line crossed? Which is why I asked Jay about the following. Jay basically said that if a person or church is in “honest error” that they are not to be considered rebellious even thought what they believed, taught, and or practiced was against the will of God. Therefore I wrote:

    “You make it seem as though a church could infact:

    1) worship in ways (whichever ways there could possibly be) that are contrary to God’s will.
    2) be organized in ways (whatever ways there might be) that are against the teaching of the Bible.
    3) teach things that are false (against what the actual truth of the matter is)….

    that a church could possibly do any and/or all of these things without ever being in grave danger of so sinning as to end up being lost?”

    Yes, 1, 2, and 3 are all true. Worse yet, teaching to the contrary risks crossing the line by seeking justification by works. Legalism is scary wrong because it risks being guilty of the Galatian heresy. Let me explain somewhat.

    If a church worships in honest error — they have penitent hearts and believe that are worshiping in obedience — they are covered by grace. To say otherwise is to deny that God can forgive sin. I mean, what makes worship sin so evil that it’s beyond God’s power to forgive? Of course, rebellious disobedience is damnable. But why would God forgive unintentional sin in general but not worship? Where is that in the Bible?

    Now, in a sense, we’ve always taught this. We routinely pray four or five times in a worship service that God finds our worship acceptable and forgives us for any errors. Why pray for forgiveness for any error if we don’t believe God grants forgiveness? Why suppose he’ll forgive our mistakes but not the mistakes of the church down the road?

    Just so, nowhere does the Bible define the Kingdom’s borders by church organization. We do that, but the Bible doesn’t. Consider this: what is it the Bible says deacons are supposed to do? We teach we must have deacons, but deacons to do what? And if we aren’t even sure what they are to do, how can we be so confident we are correctly organized? Or did God skip that part?

    And why don’t we have an order of widows, as plainly taught in 1 Tim 5? You see, we’ve hammered these teachings so hard for so long that we’ve stopped reading the text to see what it actually says.

    As to point 3, what church has no disagreement as to doctrine? In what church do all elders and the preacher and all Bible class teachers agree on everything? I’ve never seen one. And that means someone is surely teaching error on something.

    But so long as the churches remains true to the faith and penitence which saved them and so aren’t rebellious and so are trying to read the Bible to get the best answers they can, God accepts their worship and their service. Moreover, over time, God through the Spirit will help them to understand (1 Cor 2) — unless they quench the Spirit.

    And so, yes, we’ll be fellowshipping error. Of course, we already do. But we let the editors tell us what are hot button issues that damn and which are covered by grace. I suggest we leave the editors behind and return to the scriptures. Let Paul and John and Jesus tell us just how broad God’s grace is!

    Indeed, God’s grace is so incredibly broad, that Paul says it requires God’s help to even understand how broad it is!

    (Eph 3:12, 17b-21) In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. … And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

    20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

  30. Thanks Jay.

    Your reasoning there sounds fairly sound 🙂 you’ve made some really good points.

    But what would you then say about the Pope (and them that follow him)? Is it possible that he has violated any of our 3 agreed upon guidelines? Assuming he is in “honest error,” has he crossed over (or even come real close to) that line?

    And what about sin in general? For instance, can a believer (or church) be “lukewarm” and still be pleasing to God? And what exactly constitutes “lukewarmness” to begin with? And what about unrepented sin? Suppose (for argument sake), that it is sinful for a woman to preach to an assembly full of men. Just because the woman might not believe it to be sinful herself would not make it okay with God. Right? And if (for argument sake) it was sin, how can we just say it would be forgiven because the transgression was commited “honestly.” I mean, the list would be unending. Suppose the preacher was a practicing homosexual, as some churches have? Assuming he honeslty believed it was alright with God…it still wouldn’t be, would it? You see, how can we know which “honest” sins will be forgiven and at what point they will not?

    Galatians records that those guilty of envy and/or greed will not inherit the kingdom of God. Does mean ANY greed? Or, when does God consider one to be “greedy”?

    Or, do we know if and/or precisely when God would consider one to a “friend of the world” and an enemy of his?

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the grace of God and require my fair share of it. But the Bible says liars will have their portion in the lake that burns with fire. Do we know what makes one a liar?

    These may seem as mere quibbles, but I think they are fair questions.

  31. Hank, if I might at least offer my response on another post as at least a partial answer…

    http://oneinjesus.info/2010/01/21/the-fork-in-the-road-the-progressive-line-part-4/#comment-21568

    Short answer: we can’t know if we are not INVOLVED and SEE the FRUIT. Jesus said by their FRUIT you will know them.

  32. And the reason HISTORY has chosen against this route (judging FRUIT vs. beliefs) is because it means **I** need to be a different person. It is easy to our flesh to judge based on beliefs. But FRUIT as a standard means my life (and yours) needs to reflect the life of Jesus and bear HIS FRUIT 30, 60 and 100 fold.

    If I don’t look like Jesus and walk like Jesus, I’m NOT His. That is what 1 John says.

  33. I think Jesus makes it clear that God desires someone with an honest spirit who loves him even if he doesn’t get it all right than strict compliance with the rules. Otherwise, he would not have come down so hard on the Pharisees.

    Paul explains in Romans chapter 2 how God will go back on his own rules if someone has the right spirit when coming to him. Paul demonstrates how God made it clear to Abraham that a Jew was only a Jew if he was circumised. Then Paul states that even though God set forth this commandment, he considered those who were Jews in spirit to be the real Jews even though they were never circumised (could you easily replace circumision and Jew here with baptism and Christian?) And Paul says a Jew who was circumised but was not truly a Jew in spirit was really not a Jew at all.

    We know what God says in Hosea about desiring mercy over sacrifice though he had Moses write a whole book about the Jewish laws and the exact requirements for a sacrifice that he desired.

    It seems that there is a way God would prefer to be served but God is much more willing to throw his preference out for someone who is truly trying to serve him in spirit even if they don’t have all of the i’s dotted and t’s crossed correctly.

    At what point do you take an objective look at it all and consider that some things really are disputable matters and not meant to be used to judge someone’s salvation?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: