The Fork in the Road: The Progressive Line, Part 4

Fifth, we are taught,

(1 John 1:7)  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

“Purifies” is in the present tense rather than the aorist tense. In Greek, the aorist would refer to something happening at a point in time. Present tense refers to continuous action. “Purifies” means “continuously purifies.” Thus, many even very conservative preachers argue, correctly, that so long as we “walk in the light,” we remain continuously saved, even though we are imperfect and so obey imperfectly. That’s right.

Some of the very same authors argue that we don’t “walk in the light” if we sing with instrumental music, because instrumental music is a sin. That is obviously self-contradictory.

Rather, John tells us exactly what “walk in the light” means (we’ve already quoted and considered this passage) —

(1 John 2:7-11)  Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

Ponder this one carefully: “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble” and “if we walk in the light, … the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” Whose sins are forgiven continuously? The man who loves his brother. What if he loves his brother and worships God with a piano? “There is nothing in him to make him stumble” and Jesus purifies him from all sin. That’s what it says.

Sixth, if you understand this well, then you should begin to wonder whether God even cares about the instrumental music question. After all, it has nothing to do with what he says is truly important:

(Gal 5:6b) The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

We should at this point begin to question how well we’ve inferred some things. We’ve plainly in correctly inferred where the line is that results in apostasy. Could it be that the same experts have incorrectly inferred God’s desires regarding worship?

(Gal 5:14)  The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

(Mat 7:12 ESV)  “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Could it be that worship is more about loving God and loving our brothers than adherence to a set of inferences from the silences of the scriptures?

Seventh — and seven is a good number to stop at — the one element I would add to all this, to help someone understand God’s will for his people at a deep level, is the story of God’s redemptive work. To hang some meat on the bones of love, we need to know what God is trying to do so we can participate with God in his loving mission.

Understanding God’s purposes allows us to properly infer from God’s word what he really wants from us. I’m covering this in the Surprised by Hope posts on “Mission and the End of Time,” but I covered it in more detail (although from a different perspective) in the Blue Parakeet series.

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133 Responses

  1. What more can be said but amen and amen!

  2. Jay,

    You said:
    “Sixth, if you understand this well, then you should begin to wonder whether God even cares about the instrumental music question. After all, it has nothing to do with what he says is truly important”

    In the OT, God gave scores upon hoards of rules about ceremony and minutae. Does that mean He didn’t realize what was really important? Does that mean He had His priorities out of whack and needed time to learn what really mattered?

    i think i agree with everything else you said in this post (especially 1John 1:7), but i don’t see how it follows from loving one another being most important that how we worship is thus not important at all.

    If John’s comments are so exhaustive, why do we need the rest of the NT? Perhaps its not that John has said absolutely everything there is to say, but that he is writing to a particular audience with particular problems and he writes toward their particular needs.

    –Guy

  3. Guy, (and as I’ve said before, Jay can answer your question above, it’s HIS site) but there are VERY simple answers to your questions. But your questions are AT THE HEART of the difference between Old and New Covenants. So the answers are simple yet profound and vital.

    But before I give my whack at it, I wrote you another message before I saw your response here. So I will paste it and then try to answer your current question later. But by then Jay may have already adequately answered.

    Guy (and whoever else),

    I personally don’t really care if someone believes we have Eternal Security or any variation or nuance of that.

    What matters is HOW they live. If they use Eternal Security as an excuse and a license for sin, the SIN is the issue. I may not be able to prove that OSAS is false, but I can EASILY prove that Father has provided a way for His People to GROW UP INTO THE HEAD, which is Christ… He has provided a WAY for us to beat sin and lead blameless and holy lives.

    Jesus said, “By their FRUIT you will know them.” “Bearing FRUIT, SHOWING yourselves to be my disciples.”

    For TOO, TOO long we have allowed what one BELIEVES to be the standard. FRUIT is the standard according to Jesus.

    My dad, who is a staunch conservative C of C, visited the ekklesia of believers I’m part of. He was so impressed with the quality of lives of the men, women and children. He was amazed that even on days other than Sunday, men were having conversations about spiritual things, rather than movies or sports. He was amazed at the strength, yet submissiveness of the ladies. He couldn’t believe how warm, yet obedient the children were and how there was no apparent groupings of age groups, i.e. that 8-yr-olds had loving relationships with 50-yr-olds that weren’t their grandparents… God’s family living and loving together. BUT here was his response, “This is all so great. I just wish you believed the truth about the Holy Spirit and instrumental worship. Because you should know God is displeased with musical instrument worship and the Holy Spirit only works through the Word.”

    Here he was, seeing TRUTH and FRUIT demonstrated before his eyes, yet he had the audacity and arrogance to say we were walking in error. That was years ago. Today he sits in his house, convinced of his stance on “truth” while his life is racked with sin and guilt.

    I will say this until my dying breath because you and others still seem to not embrace this truth: only TRUE BORN AGAIN believers can express REAL love and REAL FRUIT of the Spirit. But the onus is on US to re-educate ourselves as to what the REAL thing looks like. If you think some atheists seem more loving than many Christians you know, the problem just might be this: maybe those “so-called” Christians aren’t Christians. Because Christians bear CHRIST-FRUIT. Some may be immature. But you still will see SUPER NATURAL FRUIT.

    I was baptized when I was 11. I don’t think I was REALLY born again until I was 18. Going through the motions, attending the “correct” church and believing the right things doesn’t make a person a Christian. Paul says, “WHAT COUNTS is a new creation.” NEW life that is OBVIOUS.

    When I meet someone at work or at school or on the street and they say, “I’m a Christian,” I really don’t care what brand or flavor they are. I don’t care whether they are Catholic or whether they have been immersed “for the forgiveness of sins.” If I have opportunity, I take them at their word and I say, “Let’s walk together. Let’s live out following Jesus together.” Because I don’t care what they believe. I CARE WHO THEY ARE. And who they are will be VERY obvious. If FLESH overflows from their life, then we talk about those flesh issues. If they say, “Hey, who are you Mr. Perfecto to be talking to me about my sin.” Well, at THAT point, I’m pretty sure they are either NOT a christian or they are severely retarded spiritually. So maybe we try some more to walk together. One day, they say, “I’m sorry for being defensive the other day. I really do want follow Jesus but I just can’t seem to beat the sin in my life.” And I say, “Maybe you need to become a Christian.” And they say, “Well, I thought I was a Christian. I said a prayer when I was 9 and the preacher said I was saved.” And so we talk about REALLY loving Jesus and being buried with Him in His death and rising to walk in NEW life, not just forgiven life, but a NEW life, filled with the HOLY Spirit.”

    Do you see how that is totally different than trying to discern who is IN and who is OUT based on beliefs?

    Within God’s Community, that’s why it is critical to get outside the paradigm of Sunday services, devos, outreach programs, etc. We have to REALLY be involved in each others lives to SEE who we all are. If my Christian brother has never been to my work, has only rarely been inside the 4 corners of my house, doesn’t really have a clue how I really spend my alone time with my computer or doesn’t know how I treat my wife and children, then HOW will he know who I really am? Anyone can dress up and smile, carry their Bible and look spiritual. But WHO ARE THEY?????? DAILY, DAILY, DAILY relationship (and not relationship “programs”) is the only way to see inside each other’s hearts, to see the FRUIT of what I say I believe. Real relationship between believers will ALMOST feel like marriage, it is that “IN YOUR FACE.” Love in a marriage is hard. But that kind of love between Believers is what will cause them to shine like stars in the universe, a city set on a hill. Not “feed the poor” programs or “door knocking campaigns” (although we will care for the poor and lost). But learning to love in the daily grind is the miracle that the Church WAS BORN exhibit. THAT IS HER DESTINY, but only if we EMBRACE IT. Ghandi was quite a man and probably reached the max as far as natural men go. But imagine a Community of believers who all had his zeal and sacrifice and dedication and passion and humility. Only God can do that and he means to do it for those who will lay aside their love for the world and instead, deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him, daily (Luke 9:23). The cross we bear is a cross of learning to love each other, DAILY. Did I happen to mention the word, “DAILY”? 😉

  4. Pilgrim,

    perhaps i’m misunderstanding you, but you’re understanding of salvation sounds as performance-based as you make your dad’s out to be; you just care about a different set of performance rules than he does.

    i don’t believe that being a Christian necessarily means that you’re life is automatically amazing. People don’t come up out of the water with all their problems solved. Different people move at different paces to get to where you’re describing.

    i don’t know that i’d agree with your dad about the HS because i’m still not even sure what i believe about the HS. i don’t know i’d necessarily agree with what he thinks about IM either or his assessment of your congregation. But just because a congregation gets some things very right and even impressively right to the outshining of other congregations, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still things to work on or that there might still be problems in other areas.

    It sounds as if you’re saying as long as people’s ethical behaviors fall within a certain parameter, then how worship goes doesn’t matter. That’s the precise point i’m contending with Jay about. i completely agree with Jay that conservatives typically act as though matters of ethics and character only require your best try but matters of liturgy require flawlessness, and that represents quite a double-standard and an imbalance of priorities. Nevertheless, the insinuation i think i’m hearing is that only character counts and who gives a flip about the actual tenets of our faith. But the content of our creed effects the way we view our mission. Jay (following N.T. Wright) is making that very point with his Surprised by Hope series right now. In my estimation as a flawed human being, it seems conservatives want to drown the baby in the bathwater and progressives want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Neither sounds like the right way to go to me.

    –Guy

  5. Faith vs. works will FOREVER be a tension. BUT, I assure you that PERFORMANCE-based salvation is not anywhere close to what I believe.

    BUT, sometimes a call to RIGHTEOUS living can feel that way when weakness and sin have been accepted as norm. I’m not the one who wrote 1 Cor. 5. READ IT. Paul says we are supposed to HAVE NOTHING to do with greedy or idolater believers. HE (and FATHER) expect righteous living. BUT THE GREAT GREAT GREAT news, according to 2 Peter 2:1, is that He HAS PROVIDED EVERYTHING WE NEED FOR LIFE AND GODLINESS. He has MADE US PARTAKERS of the DIVINE NATURE. You need to get the “HS” issues solved because Christianity EQUALS HOLY SPIRIT LIVING. There is no other Christianity.

    Life is not automatically amazing. But if we have NO VISION for where it is supposed to end up (THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST), will we ever get there? Not a chance. Walking AS JESUS WALKED is where I’m going. Am I there today? No. But I AM going there.

    And again, I’m not arguing from a place of theory. I told you about my past… lustful, prideful, lazy, dark…. I lived those things while TRYING to be a Christian. BUT GOD INTERVENED. And after 20 years, I can safely say that I’m NOT that way any more. But it didn’t take 20 years. From the moment I was born again, there was victory over those things. Still failings over 20 years. Some big ones. Still today from time to time. BUT NOT A SLAVE. Not Romans 7. And it can be that way, it SHOULD be that way for EVERYONE in a church who wears His Name. That is WHAT the New Testament says. THAT IS the Good News of the New Covenant. “From the least to the greatest, THEY SHALL ALL KNOW ME.” And to know Him is to love Him and walk in obedience.

    I still need to answer your other questions above, but I HAD to tell you this first.

  6. If you really believe a pagan can demonstrate the true Fruits of the Spirit while simultaneously NOT exhibiting the works of the flesh, then we may be at an impasse. But what I’m saying is YES, the Spirit ENDORSES a life that is PLEASING to the Father by CAUSING the Fruit of the Spirit to overflow from that life. That fruit says, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” That fruit cannot exist in a life that dishonors God. CANNOT.

    But you are misreading me if you think I’m merely talking about ethical behavior adjustments and strong character qualities. SUPER NATURAL fruit is way beyond that. You may have a hard time imagining what I’m talking about because it is POSSIBLE that you’ve never seen it. But look at the life of Christ. See it there. Not the miracles. The LIFE and LOVE and WISDOM and COURAGE and INTEGRITY and SACRIFICE and ZEAL for the Father’s House. ALL that can be yours, IS YOURS, if you are truly born again.

    The mystery hidden for ages and generations: CHRIST IN YOU!

    Colossians 1:27

    Praise God for His AMAZING PROVISION.

  7. Great article Brother Jay!!! Loving oneanother is so important yet we see the church being torn asunder by a lack of it. Jesus said the “world” would know us by the love we have for oneanother. Do you think the world could find us?? Only if we follow the command given by Christ to his church.

    By the way, I haven’t found the passage that directs me to withdraw fellowship from my Cups/Instrumental Music brethren.

  8. What about people who come to have faith in Jesus who have not been baptized? Perhaps you can tell Cornelius and those with him that they really didn’t receive the Holy Spirit before they were baptized (Acts 10:44-48). I think the COC denomination is going to be shocked that being baptized is not what gets people to heaven.

  9. To say, “being baptized is not what gets people to heaven” is radically different than to say, “baptism is trivial and unnecessary for a believer.”

    At the very least, Anon, any cursory reading of the NT, one could easily conclude that baptism is special to the heart of God and vital if one is to be obedient to God.

    C of C has turned it into a doctrine that is divorced from a real turning to Jesus, but there is no need to overreact and imply that it is insignificant or unnecessary. It is necessary. What God did through Cornelius was exceptional for the transition that they were in. And God is FREE to do those things. But for the rest of us, simple obedience to the command of baptism is required. Why wouldn’t I want to obey such a simple imperative?

    But to tweak a verse from Paul: “Baptism or no baptism, what counts is a new creation.” If you’re not demonstrably a new creation, it doesn’t matter if you’ve gotten wet.

  10. Anon 1/21/10-12:58 (isn’t it courageous to toss insults from behind that shield?),

    Cornelius and those with him received the Holy Spirit the same way that the preachers on Pentecost received the Holy Spirit.

    If we take John at his word, those apostles had already received the indwelling Holy Spirit from Jesus before he ascended. So what they received on Pentecost was different from what they received in Jn 20.

    Since the promise of Acts 2:38, et al, is tied to accepting the gift of baptism, and the Acts 2:3-4/Acts 10:44-46 coming of the Spirit is *not* — I think it is fair to say that Luke and John are talking about at LEAST two different things.

    I’d say even more than two. The following are several excellent articles written by a Stone-Campbell professor who also studied at Pentecostal and Catholic seminaries.

    http://markmoore.org/resources/essays/acts/spiritbaptism.pdf

    http://markmoore.org/resources/essays/acts/otspirit.pdf

    http://markmoore.org/resources/essays/acts/holyspirit.pdf

  11. What Cornelius (and the apostles on the day of Pentecost) received that caused such a public stir was not the same thing that the apostles received in John 20 (and Peter promised in Acts 2:38).

    Here are 3 great essays on the subject written by a Stone-Campbell professor who also studied at Pentecostal and Catholic seminaries.

    Filling, Indwelling, and Baptism of the Holy Spirit

    The Ministry of the Spirit Before the Church

    Who Is the Holy Spirit?

  12. Are you saying nobody before the cross was saved?? Are you saying God is a respector of persons?? Why is it God gave them the Holy Spririt before they were baptized to make the transition they were in?

  13. You say Cornelius was exceptional while Peter said we are all saved the same, Acts 15:11 “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

  14. Guy,

    I don’t believe anyone here is saying that worship doesn’t matter. In fact, I think Jay is trying to say that worship matters MORE than how we’ve disrespected it by obsessing over externals of performance.

    Worship CAN lie about the God we serve, and that kind of worship is anathema.

    Worship CAN lie about who we are, and that kind of worship is anathema.

    Worship CAN lie about the mission we’re called to, and that kind of worship is anathema.

    In the New Covenant, true worship is not defined by adherance to ceremonial regulations or earthly places (Heb 9:1) It is a different kind of covenant, a new (kainos) covenant (Heb 8:13) with new(kainos) worship in Christ and in the Spirit (Jn 4:24).

  15. Actually, Luke says Cornelius was exceptional. A Gentile tzadik? That’s incredibly exceptional.

    But he will be saved just as we are, by grace through faith. He received the indwelling gift just like I did, when he was baptized.

  16. He received the indwelling gift just like I did, when he was baptized. – Zach

    Really, Acts 10:44-48 “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.”

    Sorry your wrong.

    Now if you would please answer these questions.

    Are you saying nobody before the cross was saved?? Are you saying God is a respector of persons?? Why is it God gave them the Holy Spirit before they were baptized to make the transition they were in?

  17. correction, I know a person named Zach who must be on my mind.

    He received the indwelling gift just like I did, when he was baptized. – Nick

  18. 1) No. Their covenants did not include individual water baptism.
    2) No.
    3) I don’t understand this question. Could you rephrase?

    On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:19-22)

    When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4 ESV)

    Zach (or Anon, if you prefer), at which point did the apostles receive the indwelling Holy Spirit?

    Either A) Jesus faked them out in John 20, or B) the indwelling Spirit is a different gift from the Pentecost outpouring.

    I choose B, because the Holy Spirit came upon lots of people in the Hebrew Scriptures, but the Holy Spirit never moved into anyone until John 20.

  19. Amen Nick.

    The other night, I was reading with a young person from the Law about the cleansing of the Lepers (Leviticus 14). They are very close to making Covenant with Jesus and we were just going over one of the “shadows” of conversion in the Old Covenant.

    There is much detail for a leper about a full body washing (baptism), the placing of blood on the right earlobe, thumb and toe (forgiveness) and oil on the right earlobe, thumb and toe (the Anointing of the Holy Spirit). Their heart lit up about God’s wisdom and foreshadowing about His Heart and the REAL thing.

    It struck me again, though, just how detailed and thorough Father is about these “positive law” issues in the Old Covenant, but comparatively silent, for the most part, in the New Covenant. It is not just that now we are justified by faith rather than law. We also LIVE by faith, rather than law. There is a “hearing of the Word of God” but that Word (John 1:1) IS Jesus IN us and THROUGH each other AND in the writings and encouragements from those he lived inside of at the beginning (Peter, Paul, John, Luke). We NEED those writings to sort this stuff out. But what they wrote wasn’t LAW in the Levitical sense, though it was God’s WORDS nonetheless and consequently needs to be Obeyed. But that Word and that obedience is LIVING and ACTIVE (Heb. 4:12), not dead and codified. The CODE brings death, but the Spirit brings LIFE. 2 Cor. 3:6– not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    If there is one thing hundreds of years of RELIGION has taught us (not just C of C, but nearly ALL protestant and catholic strains), it is this Truth: for the letter kills and divides and destroys everything the Jesus MEANT for His People to Experience. FATHER HAS A RESPONSE AND A SOLUTION. His Life IN His People. No leaven. True Love.

    And much of what He showed in the old covenant was a SHADOW in external form that has an INTERNAL equivalent in the new. For example: unleavened bread is meant to represent the church as an unleavened loaf. (1 Cor 5) It is really quite astonishing. The Law didn’t go away. It was fulfilled and found its TRUE expression in the REALITY in Christ.

    So should we use unleavened bread or Wonder bread? FIRST, we should BE an unleavened loaf. THAT is the spiritual reality. THAT IS THE PRIORITY. If we are that, then if we needed to use Wonder bread in a pinch because we’re all in a concentration camp as a result of our ardent faith, then yes, I would use Wonder bread because I know, as with choosing David, that God HIMSELF does not judge by externals but by the heart.

  20. A small point about the aorist tense (and this from my rusty memory of Greek Grammar under the tutilage of Dr. Lyon). Though the aorsist tense is generally transalted as punctilliar, it is a mistake to assume that it refers to something a particular point in time, as in “He took a picture.” It can, and often does, refer to something that happens over a period of time, ie. He built a house.” It does have substantive impact on your discussion, but it is a point in a lecture that has burned in my memory because it does impact some bizarre interpretations of doctine that hangs on a less then stellar understanding of the aorist.

  21. I wonder what God expected people to do in places where grapes don’t grow.

    I guess they were just out of luck, or else believers were expected to establish unbreakable supply lines before preaching to anyone.

  22. My name isn’t Zach, funny how Cocer’s assume so many things.

    Where does the Bible show the disciples being baptized, were they exceptional people as you say, it would be very sgnificant to show their baptisms. You said Cornelius received the Holy Spirit when he was baptized, you either didn’t know that he did or you lied.

    How do you think the people before the cross were saved? If you say we are not saved the same then you are saying God is a respector of persons.

  23. Cornelius received the Holy Spirit when he was baptized, you either didn’t know that he didn’t or you lied.

  24. Hey Mike, in all due respect and from a humble heart of love, can you honor Jesus and drop the title? The last thing the church of Jesus needs is more clergy/laity distinctions. More harm has been done by titles like “Pastor Bob” or “Father Bill” or “Brother Smith” to the flock of Jesus than just about any false doctrine I can think of. Leadership yes. Titles and hierarchy. Anathema. Seriously. Consider it. It harms you to be treated special because of a title and it harms the priesthood of believers to be treated like they are second class. If you are a shepherd, then do the work of a shepherd. But stop hurting God’s people with your title. On the authority of Jesus…

    Matthew 23:6:12
    They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But DO NOT be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. DO NOT call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. DO NOT be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    Maybe you will have a way to squeeze out of this with some greek trickery, but the heart of it is clear in Jesus’ mind. No titles. No hierarchy.

    Peace.

  25. Anon, Nick appears to me to be a serious brother and you appear to be a troublemaker. No one here wants to argue with you so just drop the attitude and take your agenda elsewhere. What IS your agenda? If you had one thing positive to say that you want us all here to understand, what would it be?

  26. Nick, why did you lie saying Cornelius received the Holy Spirit when he was baptized when he received Him before he was baptized?

  27. You disagree with my view so you are calling me a troublemaker. I am asking questions just like everyone else here. Again would you please answer them.

    Where does the Bible show the disciples being baptized, were they exceptional people as you say, it would be very sgnificant to show their baptisms.

    How do you think the people before the cross were saved? If you say we are not saved the same then you are saying God is a respector of persons.

  28. Maybe you should read the articles he pointed you toward first. Are you just trying to defend non-baptism? If so, why?

    Simple:

    1Peter 3:21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you — not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience — through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  29. Also please don’t assume I am not serious, when it comes to Jesus I am very, very serious!

  30. Answer the questions please.

  31. You’re actually not just asking questions, you are pushing an agenda with an attitude that doesn’t smell like the Spirit of Christ to me. I’m pushing an agenda too, but not to prove MY point or to be right. My heart breaks at the weakness and sin and lack of love that exists within the ranks of the C of C. I am trying to help show the fountain I have been allowed to drink from. You are trying to win an argument.

  32. I personally do not think the Apostles were baptized except some of them by John. Paul was. It doesn’t matter to me. Jesus in John 13 said, “You are already clean.”

    What does matter is NEW CREATION.

    So if you want to NOT be baptized, that is your choice. And you can explain to Jesus on Judgment day why you defied such a simple command. But my guess is, today, apart from that simple obedience, you will never know the sweetness of life in the Spirit and sin will be your legacy.

  33. Mark 1:7-8 “And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

    I believe 1 Peter 3:21 is referring to the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Every time the word baptism is used isn’t always referencing water baptism but is speaking about the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Peter didn’t just say baptism but explained, “not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

    I’m not trying to win any argument, I am trying to show the true fountain which we all should drink from, Jesus Himself, who is the only Mediator,1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”

  34. Guy,

    Going way back to your first comment; If God was so concered about wheither or not instruments should accompany singing He would have moved at least one human author of the New Testament to mention it. He didn’t, and I really think music is hardly on his list of priorities when it comes to worship/singing.

    In my view, If there was a command not to use instruments, singing a capella and thinking you are some how more holy than the church down the street would likely invalidate any advantage you might have had by not having an instrument. And, I don’t think many would disagree that the loudest voices about the music question for sure think they are better than those who disagree with them.

    Royce

  35. I encourage all believers to be baptized, why should we not?

  36. I don’t care if he read the articles I posted: I just wish he’d interact with the Scriptures I posted!

    The apostles received the indwelling Holy Spirit directly from Jesus in John 20. Thus what happened on Pentecost was something different. What happened to Cornelius that Peter saw and remarked upon is identical to what happened at Pentecost (which is what so shocked Peter), thus that is not the gift of the indwelling Spirit.

    Cornelius received the indwelling Spirit just as Peter said people would, as a gift following their baptism.

    Thank you, Pilgrim, for seeing where I’m coming from. The tell-tale sign that someone is trying to win an argument is when they ask questions and refuse to answer them.

  37. So Anon, what was your line of reasoning, seriously? Water baptism is unnecessary and Holy Spirit baptism is necessary? Nick (as far as I know) and I are both serious about the role of the Holy Spirit? So why the confrontational tone? What is the rub we are missing?

  38. Howdy Pilgram,

    You said in an earlier comment the following: “I was baptized when I was 11. I don’t think I was REALLY born again until I was 18. Going through the motions, attending the “correct” church and believing the right things doesn’t make a person a Christian” You are correct, and evidently, according to your statement here you can add baptism to the list of what doesn’t work.

    I’m curious, were you baptised after you came to faith?

    Your story is a very, very common one. One of the best men I know, an elder states there was a space of several years between his baptism and when he started to really follow the Lord. Does anyone else think this is odd, given our emphasis on baptism’s role in conversion?

    Royce

  39. Nick it never says in John 20 that they received the Holy Spirit at that moment. The apostles received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Acts 1:7-8 “And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

  40. In my own case, I came to the desperate understanding that without Jesus, I was screwed. Sorry, but it was just that plain and blunt. I knew he could save me, I knew he would save me, and I knew that in order for those things to be true, he had to be who He said he was, Lord and Savior.

    So I confessed and was baptized.

    But I never repented. Oh, I was sorry for the stuff I’d done, but I didn’t hate my sin. I was still the same self-serving git I’d been before. I trusted Jesus to take care of me when I died, but until then, it was up to me to take care of myself. When I finally repented (thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit through many people), when I defected from loyalty to myself and began trusting Jesus to actually show me how to live, my whole world changed.

  41. Anon, the Greek literally says, “He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the holy breath.'” Context demands that they received it then. Ockham’s razor chops up any other theory.

    You are assuming two things that are not necessarily so:

    1) that the Holy Spirit must always and only come in power; and

    2) that all power MUST be visible power.

    I agree that the phrasing used in Acts 1, “come upon,” always means a visibly powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit. But since the Holy Spirit also “came upon” Balaam, as well as both coming upon AND leaving Samson, I’m not convinced that “came upon” signifies that the Spirit took up his dwelling in that person.

  42. Royce and Guy and others, I know growing up, that the example of Aaron’s sons being struck by fire from heaven for using the “strange fire” (Lev 10) gave me a sense that God really cared about obedience in those things. And He does. He really does. But He cares about them in a way differently then men assume. It wasn’t that Nadab and Abihu loved God and they missed a jot and tittle and BOOM, they were zapped and gone.

    No, it is clear from the context, they had no real reverence for God and that PERSPECTIVE is missing from traditional C of C judgment. One definition of legalism is judging merely by externals with no regard for the heart. I’m convinced that God zapped Nadab and the other guy for the irreverence in their heart toward Father. Moses said they were judged by God because…

    Lev 10:3: ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.’”

    THAT principle is still alive and well within the heart of God. We must treat Him as Holy.

    The day I realized that perspective, revelation flooded my soul. I knew that musical instruments and that WHOLE way of thinking no longer was an issue, but more than that, I realized that God had opened up a way for us to draw near to Him, the new and living way (as the Hebrew writer calls it) into the Most Holy Place with Him.

    So it isn’t JUST that the NT writers didn’t talk about whether to use instruments or not use instruments, it’s that the CODE-BASED obedience went away altogether and what we have now, superseding the CODE, was God HIMSELF inside of us, allowing us to come near to Him and for He and His Son to have their temple IN US. The temple IN us is NOT an analogy. It IS THE REALITY. It is more serious and more glorious, not less.

  43. “Cornelius received the indwelling Spirit just as Peter said people would, as a gift following their baptism.” This quote is in one of Nick’s comments.

    Peter disagrees. When Peter made a defense to the Jewish Christian leaders in Acts 11, he defended baptizing gentiles by saying “If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” He didn’t only say it once. In Acts 15 Peter makes his case once more to the faith + works crowd who wanted the new gentile believers to be circumcised the following is Peter’s defense.

    “Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and( he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.”

    This is Peter’s words, not mine. This is consistent with the whole doctrine of salvation, that it is by faith. I am still waiting for someone to explain how Peter meant anything other than what he said.

    Baptism always follows faith, it is always believers baptism, and there is no Bible precident for baptising lost people.

    Royce

  44. Jesus breathed on them and said receive the Holy Spirit, but it does not say they recieved the Spirit immediately at that moment. If you keep reading the disciples at first didn’t even recognize Jesus when they were fishing.

    And if you are assuming I think someone has to speak in tongues to prove they are saved, I do not. I do agree with pilgrim that they should be showing fruits of the Spirit.

  45. Royce, I could fill a page with my story, maybe a small book. Yes, I was baptized a second time, maybe when I was 28. It wasn’t like I didn’t think I was saved. I clearly was. But I still wanted to marry Jesus again and just say, “I mean it this time.” The first one felt like a couple getting married in Las Vegas. Did it count? Technically. Was it from the heart? Doubtfully. I just wanted to look Him square in the eye and say, “I love you.”

    My parents were divorced when I was 8 because my mom had been “previously married, not for fornication.” So after three children, my dad agreed with some elders at Sunset SOP that their marriage was adulterous.. blah, blah. So our family got wrecked and best I can tell, I’m the only survivor. Legalism tore my family apart. It STILL is tearing my dad’s life to shreds and I was on that path. I wrote papers as a teenager against musical instrument use at youth rallies. But I couldn’t master my lust and one day after another massive failure with yet another girlfriend at Harding, I went into my dorm room and begged Jesus to help me escape my slavery to sin. That night, one of my good friends who had already left the C of C, shared with me the truth of Jer. 31:31 and the nature of the new covenant. Shackles fell from my eyes and heart. I walked away from that lust and sin like it was the set of dirty clothes that it was. Hallelujah!

    But I have to say, to be fair to the story, that it wasn’t just that that set me free, but a life in a Community of Believers. I’ve written many times on this site, trying to stress the importance or ORGANIC versus ORGANIZED life among the saints. I am convinced that although some REALLY great people exist with the denominations, including C of C, (people like you Royce and Nick and Jay) that what Jesus is after for His people cannot be defined by times and locations and programs. I haven’t attended a “church service” in years. But for 20 years I’ve been enveloped by a community of believers that are daily devoted to one another in the most basic aspects of life. We live close to one another, we teach our children at home, we wrestle to present one another perfect in Christ. We help each other overcome sin, real time. And it has made ALL the difference for my family. No teenagers messing around, no divorces, no yuck. It’s not utopia. It takes WORK and blood and sweat and tears. But it is CHURCH, it is ekklesia and I so much long for my brothers (you all) to experience it too. But when I say things like, “We have no building, no clergy, no salaries, no scheduled meetings…” the response is ALWAYS, “Are you saying it is WRONG to have buildings and such?” No. I am not saying those things are wrong, legalistically. But I have found that THEY DON’T WORK. They are convenient, but I think even the best congregations out there would say that 10-20% of their people are the core and the other 80% are somewhat lukewarm periphery. Even if the numbers are 80% core and 20% periphery, biblically speaking, Jesus expects 100% who are serious about following him. I have yet to find anyone who can prove that claim wrong. But 100% is NOT possible in attendance based church. It must be daily relationship or there will be gaps and mystery people and leaven will work its way in. So that is my goal on this site… to say, “God expects more and HAS PROVIDED the way to get there.” But it is costly and isn’t compatible with typical American culture and flesh. But satan is playing for keeps…. for our children, for our marriages, for our lives. It is a war and the Solution is NOT casual. But Jesus deserves it. Oh does He…

    Thanks for asking.

  46. I won’t be reading any follow ups until tomorrow morning so no one be offended if I don’t respond tonight. You can always reach my personal email at andyattangentnetdotcomexceptwithdotsandsuch. Would love to dialog privately with you Nick at some point if you want. Truly appreciate your heart.

  47. Royce,

    i never listed IM as one of the issues i’m personally concerned within this discussion. Jay keeps bringing it up though. i see it as rather representative of a general concern i have rather than a particular concern about IM.

    You say, “if God were so concerned..” — i don’t think God is “so” concerned about IM in the sense of direly or tremendously. i’ve already stated i think there is a notion of “rank” within our obligations. There are things God cares about more than others.

    i don’t know about the level of pride had by various individuals who oppose IM “loudly.” i’m not willing to speak to their motives as decisively as you have. Perhaps you’re right. i don’t know.

    The motivation isn’t really the point i’m after anyway. i’m granting much of what Jay is saying regarding the level of importance assigned to loving one another and matters of character. What i don’t see is how from that level of importance we should conclude that things such as the question of IM is therefore altogether unimportant. Even 5% important (if it can be quantified) is still more than 0%.

    Jay pointed out that you can’t love God and want to do the bare minimum. i believe that is spot on. That is why i suspect i am simply misunderstanding Jay. i don’t think that disciples who have written books about the IM question have, in principle, wasted their time or done something wrong. Those who have *mistreated* other disciples in various ways over the matter certainly have done something wrong.

    But i don’t see how merely investigating the question, seeking the best answer based on what we’ve got, seeking to implement it ourselves, and discussing all this with other disciples in hopes they might correct us or do the same–i don’t see why that’s wrong, or unimportant, or a waste of time, or contrary to love, or an imbalance of priorities, or opposed to any principles in the gospel, etc. etc. (That is why this is a general concern for me. The same could be stated about missionary societies or orphan’s homes or whatever issue Jay might categorize as “positive.”) A mentality like, “well, we love each other the right way, so who gives a flip how we decide to conduct music, or do the LS, or teach about eschatology; we’ll just do whatever we fancy”–that does sound equivalent or related to the “bare minimum” mentality to me.

    –Guy

  48. Guy, I’m just wondering if in my posts you have sensed the flippant “do whatever we fancy” mentality? On the contrary I think. I will write you more via email because I feel like I’ve taken up way too much airtime here. But I totally see the attitude that you are talking about, just not in this thread. Almost as an over-reaction, many throw out a standard altogether. But God did not change from strict and serious to loose and fun. He is the same ALWAYS. He was ALWAYS after the heart and always full of grace and mercy. But the law was Him trying to make a point. The law was God trying to get us to say, “Uncle!” It was a tutor (Galatians) to help us see our deep need for HIS LIFE INSIDE US.

  49. Guy,

    I think that perhaps without doing it intentionally you have nailed the problem with many of these discussions.

    You said “A mentality like, “well, we love each other the right way, so who gives a flip how we decide to conduct music, or do the LS, or teach about eschatology; we’ll just do whatever we fancy”–that does sound equivalent or related to the “bare minimum” mentality to me”.

    The emphasis is routinely focused on “how we conduct” or “how we do” or “what we teach”. If we are much more concerned about IM or not than praising and giving glory to God in our singing, If we put more emphasis on who and how the LS is done than on the One who said to do it, and value being right about teaching more than building one another up and encouraging each other. we have missed the mark.

    I’ll let each of you decided if these things are true or false.

    Royce

  50. Guy, one other thing to remember. Some of the questions regarding “positive law” type questions like: should women serve the Lord’s Supper, should there be kitchens in the church building, should worship style be contemporary… many of these problems are a result of “attendance-based” religion. In an Acts 2 and 3 relational church, most of these issues didn’t exist because the context was totally different. And I would say THAT is one more evidence of the bad fruit of sunday/wedenesday services… What most call “going to church” today didn’t exist then. The current model is nowhere in the New Testament. Nowhere. Church services as you see today are not in the New Testament. So some of these issues are like asking, “Do we use the rinse cycle or wash cycle when we are finished doing our algebra?” WHAT???? Wash cycles and algebra have nothing to do with each other. Exactly. There are no biblical answers for unbiblical scenarios and contexts. “Should the song leader use a pitch pipe?” THERE WERE NO SONG LEADERS. 1 Cor. 14 says EVERYONE comes with a song to sing or a word of instruction to share. How can we do that today when the ENTIRE SHOW IS ORCHESTRATED AND PRACTICED. Talk about quenching the Spirit. Oh, here is another great HUMAN invention that quenches the Spirit and breaks the heart of God. Let’s have 3 services where the “worship team” all sing the same “set” of songs and the preacher preaches the same “sermon.” Jesus didn’t die so we could have THAT. I feel the blood boiling in my veins so that means it’s probably time to stop typing. Short answer: most form and “positive” command type questions are easily solved within a biblical context of church life. What is practiced today by most denominations looks surprisingly similar to Jewish sabbath meetings and muslim prayer meetings and bahai meetings and ….. these are man created paradigms with ZERO Biblical basis. So for over a hundred years the C of C has been arguing about whether instruments are or aren’t allowed to be used during worship, and yet the whole “worship service” as we know IS NOWHERE IN THE BIBLE. Does that mean I think everyone is lost who “goes to church” rather than being the church? Not at all. But let’s take stock at what the Bible really says church is.

    But don’t divorce what I’ve written here from everything I’ve written above. It is all part of the same problem and the same solution.

    Can anyone defend biblically the current paradigm of scheduled meetings, programs, assigned small groups based on age or marital status or hobbies or gifts, of pre-planned choreography of 2 songs and a prayer, of hiring and firing of preachers?

    Back to the point of Jay’s original point and my point in previous posts. Why are these things I’m mentioning wrong? Not because I have some legalistic rule that says they are wrong BUT because for hundreds of years they have born BAD BAD FRUIT. These paradigms breed periphery. And NO ONE yet has shown biblically that in the new covenant, Jesus tolerates periphery and lukewarmness. Does He or doesn’t He? If He doesn’t tolerate periphery, then does the current attendance based paradigm help facilitate periphery or does it cure periphery. I submit that it facilitates periphery and cesspools of sin.

    Unless anyone really wants to talk about HOW CRUCIAL these issues are, I can stop talking and leave y’all alone to work out how you want to do things. But always remember that there is a higher way than man-driven religion.

    I can tell you that there are thousands all over the world AT THIS MOMENT that are leaving behind man made religion and are pioneering new ground (actually, taking back old ground) and allowing Jesus to truly reign over His Church again. I hope you will have the courage to join those brave hearts.

  51. Let me first say, that this is my first blog posting ever!! Jay–I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your site, and have been uplifted and fed in a serious way, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that. I am in the process of removing the shackles of legalism, in part due to much of the study I’ve read on this blog (and others). You and I share the same alma mater, Jay, though I think you were there about 25 years before myself. Anyways, this was just a quick intro and a heartfelt “thank you” for what you are doing in the service of calloused hearts.

    To the reason for my post.

    Pilgrim—you’ve made some absolutely dynamite posts today! You are dropping your heart on us, and the spirit is most certainly coming through with what you are saying. These posts today have been really meaningful to me to read. If I may, please continue with your line of posting—I know you requested that some email you offline, but frankly, I’d hate to miss your thoughts. I’ve enjoyed how you’ve described your “church” situation. It reminds me of a book I am just starting, “Radical Restoration” by F. LaGard Smith.

    Anyways gentlemen, from the mouth of a lurker, I want ALL of you to know that your posts are appreciated. Even the dissenting ones. Often times it seems the dissenting posts create some of the best dialog.

    Oh yeah—Jay is a lawyer with a decent-sized firm, yeah? Does anyone ever wonder how in the world he produces all of this on a DAILY basis? Not to mention replying? Seriously, the guy must be a cyborg. I’d love to see a post on your approach to time management.

  52. To echo Royce’s comment above a little bit – Doesn’t it seem like we have all these different boxes that we put God or God’s Word into “rule” “commands” “love” “fellowship” “church” “prayer” “salvation” “obedience” “second coming” “heaven”, etc….? And we make these mental notes about how we “DO” these things – how do we do salvation? How do we do biblical love? How do we do church? I’m exhausted just thinking about that. Being a Christian is about surrender not about achieving.

    Why must we spend such a disproportionate amount of time discussing ‘how to’ when we need to be spending more time discussing how ‘to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’ Eph 3:18-19

    The church doesn’t need more understanding today – it needs more discernment – deeper roots – spiritual eyes! We are not humans with a spirit – we are spirits with human flesh. Our identity is in Christ. We must resist this human urge to give more air time to defining and catagorizing God’s word than we do to experiencing God and what He has for us. We are only creating a religion (even tho we are not intending to do this) – which leads to legalism and spiritual depravity.

    The million dollar questions are more like – do you know Jesus? Have you been to calvary? Have you wept at the Cross and then rejoiced at the empty tomb? Have your sins been forgiven? Do you live to righteousness? Have you forever been changed?

    Let the lost eat the crumbs from that table and watch how the church will grow.

    I am not suggesting that we should not read all of God’s Word or that we ought not understand with our minds how we are to conduct ourselves – what is appropriate and not – I love God’s Word completely. But I pray, for the CofC especially, that we will all learn to drink deeply from the well of salvation (Isaiah 12:3) – and sing the song of the redeemed in 2010 and beyond.

  53. Tammy, I wish I’d said it.

    Christianity is Christ.

  54. Tammy

    Your sweet and deep emotional discernments are the reason I keep asking Where can a woman “pray and propesy with her head covered?

    You are so right..we need to get on our knees and sing the song of the redeemed. Jesus went into Satan’s slave market and purchased our freedom with his blood. I think about this in communion and would like to thank Jesus in a loud voice just as the samaritan leper did whe he was healed, but I’m too choked up but to hardly say thanks Lord.

    Bob

  55. JMF and all,

    Thanks for your kind words. One thing I totally realize is for many, some of the changes they have made from a conservative mindset to a more progressive mindset has cost them much personally and has been radical in its own right. My only plea, to quote from “Meet the Robertsons” is too “keep moving forward.” Those waters of Salvation that Tammy speaks of are DEEEEEEP. A heard a brother say one time, “Why don’t we keep a gun in the baptistery so that as soon as a new believer comes out of the water, ‘BANG’ eternal security.” Some may say, well obviously, we need believers to stay alive so that they can convert other believers. While that is true, Christ’s body is MORE than a reproductive mechanism. The “Great Commission” is NOT the greatest commandment. Loving God with EVERYTHING within us is the greatest commandment and the second is just like it. Love our neighbor as ourselves. Then the reasoning goes, “Well loving my neighbor is sharing the gospel with him.” True, but once HE is saved, how do you love HIM then? Like a marriage, love between believers gets better and better as we help present one another perfect in Christ. Paul says, “I am in birth pains until CHRIST is formed in you.” That should be every believer’s heart and goal. “But” you say, “I thought Christ was already inside a believer.” Indeed He is. Praise God. But there is an outworking, a maturing that every day there is MORE of Christ showing through and LESS of me. But so many have forfeited that. It is as if GROWTH and MATURITY are somehow secondary to reaching the lost or feeding the poor. I want to say it from the top of my lungs for it to be recorded once and for all: saving the lost and feeding the poor are not our highest calling. They are an integral PART of our calling, but they are not the chief part. Maybe she didn’t mean to say this, but I agree with Tammy that the lost can eat the crumbs off our table. And why will that be sufficient? Because the meal at our table will be so rich and bountiful as we FEED on Christ and LIFT HIM UP, that He will DRAW ALL MEN TO HIMSELF. Are there gifts of Evangelist? For sure. Should we be active in sharing our faith? You’d have to tie and gag me to keep from doing it. But that is because He is working TODAY in my life, miracles of change and growth and love that I couldn’t produce on my own. How could I keep myself from testifying to all I’ve seen and heard, what my eyes have seen, what my hands have touched, as I have fellowshipped with THE ETERNAL LIFE? I will overflow if I’m in love with Jesus.

    But our highest calling is being a BRIDE PREPARED for the return of Christ:

    Eph 3:
    Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST (have you REALLY experienced those?), and to make plain to everyone the administration of this MYSTERY, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. HIS INTENT was that NOW, THROUGH the CHURCH, the manifold wisdom of God should be MADE KNOWN to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Ephesians 5:25-31
    Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, HAVING NO SPOT or WRINKLE or ANY SUCH THING; but that she would be HOLY and BLAMELESS. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. THIS MYSTERY IS GREAT; but I am speaking with reference to CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.

    Eph 4:12-16
    To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE, we will in all things GROW UP INTO HIM who is the Head, that is, Christ. FROM HIM the whole body, JOINED and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as EACH PART does its work.

    2Peter 3
    Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live HOLY and GODLY lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to be found SPOTLESS, blameless and at peace with him.

    Revelation 19:7
    Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and HIS BRIDE HAS *MADE HERSELF* READY.

    Revelation 21:2
    I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a BRIDE BEAUTIFULLY DRESSED for her husband.

    Revelation 21:9
    One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the BRIDE, the WIFE of the Lamb.”

    There is a TON in those verses. Let me point out a few things. In both Ephesians 5 and 2 Peter 3, the Holy Spirit chose to use the words, “Having NO SPOT” “SPOTLESS” “BLAMELESS” and other words like “MAKE EVERY EFFORT”….. Is Jesus asking us to do something THAT CAN’T BE DONE or is He asking us something that CAN BE done. Answer: CAN DO! By the indwelling HOLY Spirit, combined with OUR FAITH and OUR WORKING TOGETHER: “the whole body, JOINED and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds ITSELF up in love, as EACH PART does its work.”

    Notice these two verses: “grows and builds ITSELF up in love” and “HIS BRIDE HAS *MADE HERSELF* READY”

    WE, yes WE have a VERY active role to play in preparing the bride. And clearly, CLEARLY the emphasis is on QUALITY (No spots or wrinkles, blameless) not quantity (although He desires ALL to come to repentance and to bring “MANY Sons to Glory [and Glory in that context isn’t heaven “gloryland”–it is here, NOW.)

    And that QUALITY is about: Loving God with EVERYTHING within us and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

    Notice in Eph 5: “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church.”

    See how that corresponds to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Do I want to grow in Christ? Indeed. But if I love my neighbor as myself, I will want my neighbor to GROW just as much as I want to grow. If I had a blind spot of sin, wouldn’t I WANT someone to say, “Maybe you’ve noticed this, maybe you haven’t, but when I hear you talking to your boss on the phone, it sounds to me that your tone and attitude are a bit disrespectful. What do you think?” That is real input I got from one of my brothers in Christ. He wasn’t a leader. He was my recently born again son. He was doing the work of a priest, works that we are ALL called to do, by helping me SEE sin in my life that was keeping me from being BLAMELESS. I’m not bragging but I bet $100,000 that there are NOT 5 teens out there that would have called their own dad on the carpet like that with true spiritual insight. MOST “so-called” believing teens are wasting there lives on Twiiter and Facebook and soaking up the BAD BAD seed that Hollywood and iTunes are pouring out from the pit of Hell. Sure, they’ll go to Haiti and do cleanup for a week and pass out gospel tracks, while “making out” in the church van while no one is looking. That happens ALL THE TIME in our “Churches” and I’m here to say, “GOD HATES THAT!”

    He has given us the tools. We just NEED to pick them up and USE THEM.

    One last comment. Guy yesterday said it seemed like my approach was just as legalistic and performance based as traditional C of C. Here is HOW it is different, radically different.

    I function from these truths: I am forgiven. I am loved. I am perfect (but being made holy – that is in Hebrews 10:14). I am accepted by the Father by the blood of Jesus. There is NOTHING I could do to add to His work or take away from His work. My salvation is a settled issue. Case closed. My name is in the Book of Life.

    BECAUSE ALL THAT IS TRUE, I can burn my candle at both ends, working with all the energy and power that God has put in me because of His Son, and I STRIVE and WORK and POUR OUT MY GUTS to see that CHRIST gets what HE deserves and has paid with His own lifeblood to purchase: His Bride PREPARED for His Return. Earth and time and space were CREATED FOR THIS PURPOSE, so that the Father and the Son could have an Eternal companion, an Object of their GREAT, GREAT Love, a Worthy Counterpart. That is the mystery. We can live for it. We can die for it. But if we claim to be HIS, we CANNOT ignore it any longer. Church isn’t a game or a compartment in life. His Church is WHY we exist, why this planet exists.

    Romans 12:1-2
    Therefore, I URGE you, brothers (and sisters), IN VIEW of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

    For the Lamb and His Bride,
    A fellow pilgrim
    http://www.JesusLifeTogether.com

  56. Pilgrim,

    The bride is spotless and pure because she is clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Those who are his have been “made” righteous.

    In view of this truth it is ours to do works that fit our repentance. In other words, Live like who, and whose you are.

    The fundamental difference in Christianity and every other religion is this. God seeks out wicked sinners and sets his affection on them, draws them to himself, takes their sins away and declares them righteous.

    EVERY other religious system (including some under the banner “Christian”) is based upon this foundation. Man is doing rites and rituals, practicing self denial and sacrifice, and doing acts of kindness with a goal of having his god love him, or love him more, and finally reward him for his behavior.

    Only in Christianity does God take the initiative and effect the change of heart and destiny of sinful men.

    Royce

  57. Baptism always follows faith, it is always believers baptism, and there is no Bible precident for baptising lost people.

    He who believes and is saved shall be baptized? Is that what Scripture says to us?

    And I’m really confused about how you’re interpreting Peter. Are you understanding Peter to say that he and the others didn’t believe in Jesus until Acts 2:1-4?

    I don’t understand where the “when” comes from in Acts 11:17 — the same exact verb (aorist active participle dative plural masculine of pisteo) is translated without the confusing “when” in Mark 16:17 and 2 Thess 1:10. It doesn’t look like Peter was saying, “At the moment Cornelius believed, he received the same gift we received at the moment we believed.”

    And nothing in Acts 15 says that Peter got the message garbled in Acts 2. “All of you repent and each one of you be baptized into the remission of sins, and all of you will receive of the gift which is the Holy Spirit.”

  58. Peter was convinced and believed when he witnessed the resurrected Lord. As you correctly pointed out John 20 is the time Peter received the Holy Spirit.

    How anyone can deny the obvious meaning of the plain statement of Peter in Acts 15 is amazing.

    So then, It is orthodox to baptize lost people?

    Peters convincing testimony is that he received the Holy Spirit when he believed and that hearts are cleansed by faith. If this isn’t true why would God put in Paul’s heart to write Romans 4?

  59. Hearts are cleansed by pisteuo. Peter received the Holy Spirit when he pisteuo-ed.

    Pisteuo must, for Peter, include repentance and baptism. Otherwise why would God have put it in Peter’s heart, on the opening day of Christianity, to say what he said to the Pentecost crowds? Why would he put it in Paul’s heart to write Galatians 3 (those who have been baptized have put on Christ — are there saved people who are not clothed in Christ?) and Romans 6 (are there saved people who have not been buried with Christ?)? Why would God have told Ananias to give the message about the cleansing of baptism to Paul? There’s no way that the context of Acts 9 suggests that Ananias is saying Paul should “Arise and be baptized, washing away [his] sins” in the Holy Spirit.

  60. Royce, I will not argue with you. But in practical terms, today’s church is functionally a whore… a brazen slut. Read Ezekiel 16 and let it break your heart. That chapter FILLS MY HEART WITH GRIEF. That is the condition today of the denominations. With ALL humility and respect: You are not FEELING what Jesus FEELS about the condition of His Bride today. His heart is aching and breaking. Read Revelation 2 and 3. Could those NEW COVENANT churches not have responded the way you just did? “We’re forgiven. We are the bride of Christ. Jesus you CAN’T take our lampstand away.”

    DO NOT WATER DOWN THE TRUTH by hiding behind a STAMP of RIGHTEOUSNESS. Did you not read the whole post? I EMBRACE that we are DECLARED righteous. But that is ONLY the beginning. And modern Christianity HAS FAILED JESUS. WE NEED TO REPENT so that we can GET OUR LAMPSTAND BACK.

    Revelation 3:15-22
    ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

    That message from JESUS HIMSELF was to a New Covenant church. They knew the verses about IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS. What does Jesus say, the alive Jesus say?

    “I know your deeds. That you are neither cold nor hot.”

    God HIMSELF is JUDGING THEM by what they have DONE. Not what they believe… by what they have DONE and NOT DONE. He expects His IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS to actually affect our FUNCTIONAL and PRACTICAL Righteousness.

    And right now, in America and in the world, what we are DOING is a mockery to Jesus and a trampling underfoot of His Blood. GRACE DOESN’T COVER THAT. Our marriages and teens and lives are ROTTING from our love of the world and our tolerance of EVIL in our midst. We should be RIPPING OUR GARMENTS, not defending status quo.

    God does take the initiative. BUT, let’s listen to Paul…
    1Corinthians 15:10 But by the GRACE of God I am what I am, and his GRACE to me was not without EFFECT. No, I WORKED HARDER than all of them—yet not I, but the GRACE of God that was with me.

    Grace is not license. It is PROVISION to GET THE WORK DONE.

    And if the work, His BRIDE PREPARED, is NOT getting done, then we don’t know what grace is and have never experienced it. The REAL Grace will have an EFFECT.

    But the CURRENT EFFECT is that for all practical purposes by any objective measure and statistics (Barna Group, etc), the church is not MEASURABLY different than the pagans in their daily lives. Divorce, porn addiction, hatred, envy, greed, pride, teenage rebellion, adultery, the list goes on and these things ARE PRACTICED in the ranks of “so-called” believers.

    How can we be a city on a Hill, shining like stars in a corrupt and depraved world, if FUNCTIONALLY WE are corrupt and depraved?

    I will say it again. The church today, no matter the brand, is a sin-drenched, evil-loving, selfish, worldly brazen whore, like a donkey in heat, sniffing the wind for a lover. Does that describe each individual. Not at all. I pray that it doesn’t describe any of you. But even if it describes 50%, that is still 50% more than the PURITY Jesus DEMANDS. I’m not afraid to say DEMANDS. He has HIGH EXPECTATIONS for His Bride. AND HE HAS EQUIPPED HER TO MEET THOSE EXPECTATIONS. (2 Pet 1)

    Hebrews 3:12-14
    See to it (MAKE EVERY EFFORT), brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another DAILY, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s DECEITFULNESS. We have come to share in Christ ****IF***** we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

    Every day we have a choice and an opportunity and an imperative to HELP EACH OTHER overcome the DECEITFULNESS of sin that comes from just walking around this planet. THAT, in a NUTSHELL is our mission, should we CHOOSE to accept it. And don’t call yourself a believer if you choose ANYTHING less.

  61. Royce and Nick, it really isn’t as complicated as all that. When a man marries a woman, when are they married? Some may say, “Well, when he asked her to marry him and she said yes.” Others will say, “When the official says, ‘You are now man and wife.'” Truth is, there is no magic moment. Maybe it is when the two have become one flesh. The whole process from engagement to consummation is a WHOLE. And trying to articulate what happens when really isn’t the point. Practically they have no right to consummate until they ARE married. But this discussion feels a bit semantic. Marriage and love is the point.

    I remember hearing what was probably a C of C urban legend, used to guilt people into “responding” right away. The story goes that a woman thought about being baptized during the morning “service”. She delayed. That night, at the evening service, she decided to “go forward” (whatever that means) but on the walk up, she had a heart attack and died.

    Those kinds of stories are foolish. God knows the heart. Everything in me from my walking with Jesus says, “BAPTISM IS VITAL” and that Acts 2:38 is as straight forward as it gets. But the Salvation process is a mystery, not a science of a + b = c. So maybe we can all give some room to the mystery… again, what counts is a NEW CREATION, not identifying at what precise moment the rebirth happened.

  62. I agree, Pilgrim. The discussion started because someone was asserting that what visibly happened to Cornelius was the Spirit taking up residence in him and his household. That is the assertion that I am disputing.

    In fact, when I said that for Peter, pisteuo seems to include repentance and baptism, I think what I meant was that for Peter, the words related to pisteuo point to the WHOLE rather than one step of the whole, as the 5-finger tradition suggests.

  63. Here are the questions again. Please answer them.

    Where does the Bible show the disciples being baptized, were they exceptional people as you say, it would be very significant to show their baptisms.

    How do you think the people before the cross were saved? If you say we are not saved the same then you are saying God is a respecter of persons.

    Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

    Romans 4:2-3 “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

    The many righteous works Abraham did justified him that he was seen to others as a great man of God, though the works he did could not justify him before God. The blood of Christ saved Abraham and others who had faith looking forward to the promise of eternal life through the Messiah who would save mankind.

    Jesus’ blood alone washes away our sins, nothing else, His blood is sufficient.

  64. Anon,

    The disciples were already in covenant with Jesus. Read the Last Supper accounts, especially John 13. Peter is already clean; he only needs his feet washed. The disciples participate in the covenant meal with Jesus, showing that they’re already partakers in the new covenant. After the resurrection, they are given the Holy Spirit. Jesus commands them either a) to make disciples and then baptize them, or b) to make disciples by baptizing them. Peter’s Acts 2 message, Paul’s conversion experience, and Cornelius’ conversion experience all seem to tie baptism directly into conversion.

    Your understanding of justification in Romans brings you into direct conflict with James (as I’m sure you’re aware). It is a problem at the heart of sola fide theology, so I don’t think we’re going to solve it in this one conversation.

    Here are my straightforward responses to your questions — although I confess that I don’t have answers. Thankfully, providing answers isn’t my job.

    1) Although your use of the vague term “disciples” makes this question nearly impossible to answer, I’m going to assume that you mean The Twelve, in which case we have no record of them being baptized. However, since no one wrote down that you woke up this morning, but we have enough evidence to know that you did, I hope that you remember that a lack of records proves nothing except that there is no record.

    2) People before the cross were saved by grace through faith, because they lived in covenant with the One True God.

  65. Abraham knew Jesus.
    John 8:56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing My day; he saw it and was glad.”

    Moses knew Jesus
    John 5:46 “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.”

    David knew Jesus
    “Psalm 110:1 “The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”

    Isaiah knew Jesus
    “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.”

    Many people are under the mistaken impression that a different way of salvation existed in the Hebrew Scriptures.

    This concept is completely erroneous. Long before the law of Moses was given, the Patriarchs were saved by the grace of God through faith that He would save them, just as people continue to be saved.

    In the Hebrew Scriptures believer’s received Christ as their Savior. Means of Christ revealed was through inanimate revelation, that is, through things in nature like the burning bush, the Rock, the Shekinah Glory, or through the typology of the furniture in the Tabernacle. The Mercy Seat, the hilasterion, was the place of propitiation in the Holy of Holies. The offerings were witnessing by ritual. The burnt offerings taught propitiation, with emphasis on the word of Christ, the Lamb of God. The meal and fruit offerings revealed the Person of Christ on the cross. The peace offering taught about the barrier between God and man being removed.

    Performing obedience to the law never eternally saves anyone, first, because man can’t obey the law perfectly, and second, because man’s sacrifices are insufficient to atone human sins. Performing rituals as an effort toward justification, man falls short of grace, we do things as expression of devotion, but they are not efforts of justification before God.

  66. Just for clarification…. It is now more difficult for God to justify a sinner than it was before the cross. Before the cross by a well, in a city street, or nailed to a cross were all good places to encounter Jesus and be saved.

    Now salvation is limited to those who are immersed in water first. So a fellow who hears the good news about Jesus by short wave radio in Siberia, or the prisoner locked away in solitary confinement, or the man in ICU connected to life saving equipment, etc are now excluded from the grace of God.

    You are telling me that the God who spoke things into existence, who raised Jesus from the dead, who “sees faith”, who knows the heart, has boxed himself in so that his omnipotence has been compromised and he can no longer do anything. Why would he make salvation more exclusionary after the death, burial, and resurrection than before?

    Oddly, Many of Campbell’s followers do not believe “Christians only but not the only Christians” is true and instead insist we are “Christians only and the only Christians”.

    This exclusionary view is well received by the Roman Catholic church but not historical Christianity.

    In Acts 2:38 what is “baptized” the key word instead of “repent”?

    I’m honestly trying to understand, I do not desire or need to debate and argue. I just don’t understand the traditional position of coc teaching on the doctrine of salvation. I have yet to meet one person who would admit to preaching baptismal regeneration but continue to preach it anyway.

    Royce

  67. Royce, I have already addressed my thoughts on baptism, but would love to hear any response you may have to my response to you about the bride making herself ready. What you said makes me want to scream, “ARE YOU BLIND?” I’m with you and not against you. But it is hard to get to Florida when you are in California, but even harder, if you think you are in California when you’re really in Ethiopia.

    Translated: we must be HONEST with the current state of Christianity and not whitewash that assessment because it makes us feel uncomfortable or because our grace doctrines are faulty. It is difficult to call the church a whore. Those words are hard to type out and it brings tears to my eyes when I write it and it brings tears to my eyes when I think of the lives I’ve wrecked because of my sin. I HAVE CONTRIBUTED to the whoredom and there are lives I know of that MY sin destroyed. I was looked up to as a leader within my C of C. Father’s trusted my reputation and so trusted me with their daughters. And NOW some of those daughters are no longer Christians BECAUSE of my DARK influence.

    I remember my C of C youth group watching the movie Splash where Daryll Hannah plays a mermaid. She runs out to the water in one scene and she is unclothed. I talked to our youth minister about it. I said it was difficult for me to see that, struggling as I was with lust issues. He justified it and said, “Just pretend it was like a baby’s bottom but bigger.”

    There are a dozen stories 10x worse than these tame examples but I spare you because it is shameful to even speak of the things.

    But why the stories? Because IT IS UNLOVING and DISHONORING to Jesus and to His People to allow such SIN to continue. I’m not pointing fingers. I am the most guilty. But such TOLERANCE for sin MUST END. I’m not talking about weakness that is being worked on and repented of. I’M TALKING ABOUT PRACTICED SIN.

    Pick any denomination: Baptist, Conservative C of C, Progressive or Pentecostal. Assume a 200 member congregation with a 30 person youth group. Let’s say everyone in the youth group claims to be saved.

    I KNOW that you could find at least 3 or 4 sexually active teens, maybe with each other, maybe with “unbelieving” schoolmates. I KNOW that at least 5 or 6 business men are driven by greed or cheat on their wives either through porn or live while on business trips. I KNOW that 2 or 3 marriages will end in divorce within a decade. I know there are women who idolize food or antiques or scrapbooking or their grandchildren more than they love God. These things are PRACTICED without repentance. Possibly totally hidden. I KNOW THAT and I bet you do too. And as long as that is true, Jesus considers that broken and dysfunctional, harlotry that is pitifully heartbreaking. Even Corinth repented, showing themselves to be responsive to the Truth. But today, most excuse it or justify it or hide behind “grace” and “declared righteousness.”

    So, do you see what I mean? Can you affirm or deny the existence of tolerated practiced sin in the ranks of the C of C?

    What am I suggesting, that you should kick everyone out. No. But at least start with admitting and recognizing that PRACTICED SIN is a MUCH MUCH larger issue than finally being able to have the “liberty” to sing with a piano. Let’s not proclaim so dogmatically a “grace” gospel IF that Gospel doesn’t train us to say NO to unGOD-like ness.

  68. JMF, if you would be so kind as to email me… I’d love to send you some printed stuff.

  69. Pilgrim,

    You have me mistaken for someone who believes every member of every local church is saved. When in reality I believe a small minority of professing church member are saved.

    There is sin in very church and in most of them it is tolerated. And, there is sin in your house church too.

    Two truths exist side by side like twins. Sinners are saved by grace through faith. The other twin is that only those who walk in the light, are saved and safe. That coincides with Jesus teaching that the narrow way is populated with “few”.

    Don’t think those who say Lord, Lord and Jesus denies he ever knew them will be limited to TBN word of faith prosperity preachers, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. No, there will be those who depended on faithful church membership, generous giving, acts of kindness, graduating the right schools, the right baptism, confirmation, and many other things. The truth is only those who are depending on Christ are born again.

    So before you come unglued don’t assume you know what I believe, you evidently don’t. I boldly preach grace. But I also boldly preach holiness as well. I’ll state it as plainly as I can. Anyone who lives in a pattern of continual sin is not a Christian and there is no Bible reason for me to believe he ever was.

    Royce

  70. Royce,

    I repeat, this is not a war between you and me. BUT this is the crux of our failure as Christ’s representatives on this planet.

    If within a local church, someone CALLS HIMSELF a brother, Paul clearly states in 1 Cor 5, that if that brother is PRACTICING SIN we are to have nothing to do with that brother. That was God’s heart Old Covenant, that IS God’s heart New Covenant.

    2Corinthians 6:17
    “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”

    Paul says later that because some were not “discerning the body”, that because they continued to share the Lord’s Supper together with those PRACTICING sin, that some were sick and some were dying (1 Cor 11:30). SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES for taking sin lightly.

    So BIBLICALLY speaking, we can’t have a church that is half saved and half lost. The saved ones are required to bring the issue to bear and help the lost ones repent and be saved OR to disfellowship them from their midst. There can be NO MIXTURE.

    Do you agree with Paul and the Holy Spirit on that? That is not an interpretation. Read the full text below… 1 Cor 5.

    -a

    It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

    Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that A LITTLE yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

    I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that YOU MUST NOT associate with ANYONE WHO CALLS HIMSELF A BROTHER but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

    What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? ARE YOU NOT TO JUDGE THOSE INSIDE? God will judge those outside. “EXPEL the wicked man from among you.”

  71. It is AMAZING to me that for years C of C has been arguing about INFERENCES, and ignoring an ENTIRE CHAPTER with DIRECT COMMANDS from the New Testament. For anyone reading, please KNOW that some sort of bazooka approach to blasting sinners is NOT what I’m suggesting. There is WISDOM to be applied in every unique circumstance. But we can’t cut out chapters from our Bibles just because we don’t HOW to implement them. There is a way to walk 1 Cor. 5 out with grace and mercy and latitude and respect. But must STOP ignoring it or we will lose ANOTHER GENERATION of teens and marriages and …. because a LITTLE leaven leavens the whole lump. A little practiced sin HURTS EVERYONE in the church. Cancer cannot co-exist. It must be rooted out.

  72. Does everyone see that 1 Cor 5 is not LEGALISTIC but is actually LOVE.

    So if Royce (or anyone) preaches from the pulpit about Holiness, knowing that half the congregation isn’t saved, but hoping they will hear the sermon and choose to repent…. do you see that without a mechanism in place for CONSEQUENCES NOW that it is utterly HATEFUL to let someone DIE IN THEIR SIN without lifting a finger (beyond sermons) to help them really repent. To tolerate sin is hateful and selfish because we rather not step over the uncomfortable boundary of pointing out sin and helping. We rather just deal with our own problems and let everyone else do the same. We think, “Maybe the preacher will visit them and help them.”

    On the authority of God’s word: THAT IS YOUR JOB PRIEST!

    Our job as Christians, first and foremost, is to help Christians BE Christians. That means humbly mentioning, as things come up, the sin we see (with the help of the Spirit we CAN SEE). We may be wrong, we may have to wrestle through it, but that is our task.

  73. Royce,

    It is now more difficult for God to justify a sinner than it was before the cross. Before the cross by a well, in a city street, or nailed to a cross were all good places to encounter Jesus and be saved.

    That might be the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read from your pen (and you KNOW how ridiculous I think your reading of Hebrews is, so that’s actually saying quite a great deal). God may save whomever He wills, however He wills. The importance of the church, the giving of the Holy Spirit, and the statement that the least in the kingdom would do greater things than Jesus — all these things are about the universal availability of salvation. Before, you had to go to Jesus, or else Jesus had to find you by walking to where you were. Now, it is certainly possible that men and women can be saved without water baptism, and that God can send the Holy Spirit to make his home in the hearts of those who haven’t been immersed into the forgiveness of sins.

    Let’s try to stay on point — we’re talking about God’s actual promises, not inferences from the promises. I think we’d all do better to try and stick a little closer to what God has actually said and promised, rather than leaning more into our inferences. God has promised salvation to the repentant baptized believer. He has promised that the Holy Spirit will come and dwell in those who have repented and been immersed. What he will do with the “pious unimmersed” (to use the CoC parlance) is up to Him, and I trust that he will act with the same amazing grace and mercy that He has shown in my life.

    Baptized is not the key word in Acts 2:38. No one said it was. In my personal story, related above, I showed how I got baptism right and repentance pitifully wrong. But I might flip the question back over the net to you: why is REPENT the key word in Acts 2:38 and not BAPTIZED? Neither one is THE key word, IMO. I don’t see any reason to elevate one above the other — they are interrelated in the back-and-forth movements of God and man in the salvation event. They are aspects of what happens in the patron/client relationship between Jesus (the perfect patron) and the sinner (the typical client) when the gifts of grace (the douron of charis are received. There’s not a moment in a client’s life where living pisteuo doesn’t act in response to the patron’s grace. The first movements to grace truly received are repentant obedience.

  74. Church discipline is right and biblical. And it is those overt sins that we have the ability to judge as wrong. How about Brother I.M. Selfrighteous who attends every service, gives more than a tithe, is on the building committee, is kind to everyone and yet is trusting just that life and not trusting only Jesus. You will not rid the church of every sinner because you are not God.

    Remember the story of the tares and wheat growing in the same field? How about those who have a form of godliness and deny the power that produces godliness? And even in the pulpit on Sunday there are still today some who are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    So we are to be for Jesus, who is for sinners, and like him not be on a mission to condemn those who are already condemned. And we are to preach doctrine, against sin of all kinds, and live lives of holiness in the power of the Holy Spirit.

    God will sort them out in the end. God can tell a sheep from a goat. But finally it will be those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life who will receive their completed salvation. Everyone else will be thrown into the lake of fire. They have rejected Jesus who alone can give eternal life.

    Royce

    Royce

  75. Nick,

    Now we finally agree. I don’t disagree with one word of your last comment. I think that often in forums like these we are looking a pieces and not whole cloth.

    Thanks for the clarification and I’ll admit I am sometimes inept when it comes to transferring what is in my mind to words on a blog comment.

    I’ve heard it said that perception is reality to the one who perceives. I should avoid that trap the best I can.

    Royce

  76. So you don’t agree with Paul in 1 Cor. 5? It’s good to know where you stand.

    BTW, the field in the “wheat and the tares” parable Jesus calls, “The World.” Not the Church, the world is the field.

    And Brother I.M. Selfrighteous doesn’t attend services in the church where I grow (I said “grow” not “go” 😉 ) because we have nothing to attend. And he isn’t the largest tithing member, because we don’t tithe or have salaries or anything that makes money a consideration in such situations.

    Seriously Royce. God isn’t waiting until Judgment day to sort the sheep and goats in His church. He paid too high a price to let leaven infect his Holy Dough. That is the principle that you see THROUGHOUT the OT and the NT.

    You have a choice to make. We all do. Embrace the truth. Go further down the rabbit hole and keep asking the right questions. OR Defend status quo and reap the whirlwind of sin and loss that we have for centuries. You choose… Red Pill or Blue Pill. http://www.needanexit.com/

  77. Pilgrim,

    May I be candid? You are not the first guy I have run into in my 50 years of being a Christian who was just too good a Christian to worship and fellowship with any other Christians but his little “me mine and ours”. group.

    I don’t have a monopoly on truth and neither do you. Adding some humility to the receipt for holiness might make the pie sweeter.

    Royce

  78. Royce (and others) I have offered my heart on this site with only humility and a desire to see Jesus honored. I am not trying to embarrass you or corner you or win an argument. You are resorting now to what rhetoricians call “ad hominem.” Me and the church I’m part of are not the issue. I only talk about my experience and my Family’s shared existence to try to paint a picture of what is possible. If I never post again, these truths are ALL still in the Bible and the honest student will wrestle through them.

    If I was on a lifeboat near the sinking Titanic, it would neither be arrogance, nor pride, nor “I have the ONLY lifeboat” sectarianism to honestly say, “Swim over here, there is safety.” That is all I’m doing. I’ve been at this myself 20 years and have seen every excuse in the book as to why Jesus and Paul and John and James can be ignored because it doesn’t fit with current culture. Jesus’ church defies culture. And it bears FRUIT that brings MUCH GLORY to the Father.

    I don’t have the monopoly on truth, but you cannot walk in the truth if you pick and choose what you will and will not obey in regard to the nature and calling and foundation of Jesus’ church. I have hope for you but I mostly write for others who may be lurking and have experienced the same DESTRUCTION that I have seen within denominational Christendom and LONG for a path of PEACE and of HOPE and of FREEDOM and HEALING.

    No one calls a cancer doctor a legalist for saying a tumor must be removed. Sin is a cancerous disease. Love is God’s chemo. Love can and does overcome sin and darkness. And not just for 50% of the congregation. It cleans thoroughly.

    Anyone else want to chime in? Maybe Jay will do an entire thread on 1 Cor 5 and a Christian’s response to practiced sin and peripheral and lukewarm believers. But I hope he prays and fasts before doing it, because it is a LIFE and DEATH issue.

  79. For the record, as impossible as really applying 1 Cor. 5 sounds in whatever your current church situation is, let me boldly affirm that 1 Cor. 5 was never MEANT to work in attendance-based paradigms. It is only POSSIBLE as we walk together as family, every day. In a world of “services” and “clergy” and “performance” and “classes” and “potlucks” and “youth groups” and “small groups” and “salaries” and the list goes on….. in that world, it is impossible to live out, not only 1 Cor. 5, but also a good part of what it means to be a believer as described in the New Testament. The two worlds are incongruous.

    I’m not AGAINST buildings the way an Ante might be against kitchens or missionary societies. It isn’t some legal thing. It is more like orphanages and healthy homes. In orphanages, the children are fed and clothed and a roof is provided to keep them warm and safe at night. They receive medical care and are even given toys, games and activities to bring some fun into their lives. Every once in a while, some families come in to visit and spend time with the children, to let them know they are loved. As good as ALL of that is, it is still an orphanage.

    God wants His children to grow and thrive in a family, a real FAMILY, not an institutionalized orphanage.

    In an orphanage, how is discipline handled? Well there are rules. And if you break the rules, there are punishments.

    In a family, how is discipline handled? Well the parents love each child as an individual. And they know that each child has his strengths and weakness. But love will be the rule and love will be how any discipline is handled. But it is amazing how much less discipline even needs to happen within a loving family. Within an orphanage, much of the rebellion is purely from the lack of having a loving, healthy environment.

    So too with denominations and the church of the Firstborn. Within a loving real church family, a lot less sin happens in the first place. And when discipline needs to happen, it will always be with love. But practiced rebellion will not be tolerated. It hurts the other children to see one child act that way. And it hurts the rebellious child to not be corrected sooner rather than later.

    In 2 Cor, we see that the man disfellowshipped indeed repented. He was almost overwhelmed with excessive sorrow from the “withdraw” (2 Cor 2:5-11). The tool that Jesus provided worked because the family of believers was a FAMILY and NOT an institution.

    So in whatever paradigm you find yourself in, do the work of a priest and BE your brother’s keeper. Keep the standard high, first in your own life AND as you really walk daily with others. (Heb 3:13) If you do that, you will find that the attendance-based paradigm begins to feel more and more like the orphanage that it is.

  80. “Whose sins are forgiven continuously? The man who loves his brother. What if he loves his brother and worships God with a piano? “There is nothing in him to make him stumble” and Jesus purifies him from all sin. That’s what it says.”

    What if he loves his brother and commits a few murders on the side? There is nothing….. Is that what it says?

  81. Uh, John, someone who loves does not murder.

    (Rom 13:9) The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    I got to go with Paul on this one.

  82. Hi Jay

    I guess the response would be: If one played a piano in worship then he didnt love.

  83. If he commits a few murders on the side – then there IS something in him that causes him to stumble – like his sin nature that he never really died to. He is still a slave to sin. He is one of those who “worship Him with their lips but his heart is far from God”. He doesn’t truly love his brother so this piece of Scripture does not even apply to your example – apples and oranges.

  84. Remember, John’s language is about loving people, just as Paul specifically refers to “Love your neighbor.”

    It’s obvious how murdering someone inherently, necessarily contradicts loving that person. That’s equally true of the other sins Paul mentions in Rom 13. They all inherently contradict “Love your neighbor.”

    Worshiping God with an instrument does not inherently contradict “Love your neighbor.”

  85. Without conceding the above points, I’ll just say the piano in worship contradicts ‘love God first.’

    Jay, your statements in the post sound like once saved, always saved, which I doubt you believe. You could plug in anything and it would not cause the Christian to stumble. There would be no such thing as condemning sin (sin unto death, to use John’s words).

  86. John, it is clear that you are not HEARING (with the ears of your heart) what Jay is saying. And until you Open the ears of your heart, you will be deaf and blind to Spiritual Truth, for Spiritual Truths are SPIRITUALLY discerned. (1 Cor 2) Ph.D’s are not the most qualified to KNOW spiritual truth. But “Little Children” are, those who are soft and broken and contrite before their Maker.

    Jesus said, “You search the scriptures for IN THEM you think you have life, BUT YOU REFUSE TO COME TO *ME* that you may truly have life.

    I believe come Judgment Day that there will be more condemned because of their arrogance towards issues like musical instruments and all of the ASSOCIATED LACK OF VISION for the things that truly DO MATTER, than those who messed up the jots and the tittles.

    Read the whole NT John in a week, as if you’ve never read it before, praying and fasting, and beg God to show you what HIS EMPHASIS is.

    Psalms 51:17
    The SACRIFICES (WORSHIP) of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart,
    O God, you will not despise.

    Isaiah 57:15
    For this is what the high and lofty One says—
    he who lives forever, whose name is holy:

    “I live in a high and holy place,
    but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
    to revive the spirit of the lowly
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

    Isaiah 66:2   
    Has not my hand made all these things,
    and so they came into being?”
    declares the LORD.
    “This is the one I esteem:
    he who is humble and contrite in spirit,
    and trembles at my word.

    One of the things Jay is saying, is that the emphasis of God has always been and always will be humility, love, genuine affection for the family of God.

    And if we are missing that, WE’VE MISSED EVERYTHING.

    And those in your camp would say, “Regardless of that other stuff about fluffy love and all that jazz, if you worship with a piano, you’ve missed everything.”

    BUT here is HOW you know who’s got the right interpretation. Jesus said two things (well he said a lot more than two, here are at least 2 things on this subject):

    Love for each other is HOW the world know we are HIS.

    By their FRUIT will you know them.

    REAL LOVE and REAL FRUIT are the marks of those on whom His Seal of Approval rests.

    If within your congregation John, there is fruit —30, 60, 100 fold, Jesus-fruit, HOLY Spirit fruit, Galatians 5:22 fruit, than you are probably right. But if there is NOT THAT kind of fruit, then something needs to change. I’m not suggesting that you need to bring in a piano. I am strongly inferring (though not Commanding 😉 ) that you really need to tweak your approach to God and Spiritual Truth.

    By the way, speaking of direct commands versus inferences, how is YOUR congregation doing with THESE direct commands? (I don’t have time to look up the references. I concentrate on living truth rather than memorizing little numbers. 😉 I’m being playful, not a smart-aleck)

    I know this one:
    Heb 3:13- Exhort one another DAILY so that no one is hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

    Do not love the world or anything in the world

    Look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

    Here is a good list of largely ignored commands from Rom 12

    Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

    Romans 12:14    Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

    Romans 12:17    Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

    And finally, from the last verse of 1 John.
    Little children… Keep yourself from idols.

    Short answer; Exude Jesus. That makes God smile. And He deserves to have a smile on His Beautiful face, don’t you think?

    And as a side note… except in a hymn (without instruments), when was the last time you looked at Father and told Him how beautiful He is to you? And when was the last time, in contriteness of heart you wept over the sin in your life and the sin around you? When was the last time you prayed with a teen who was struggling with homosexuality or brought in a homeless person to feed them or told your wife how sorry you were for slighting her? These things ARE Christianity.

    Father’s peace to you John.

  87. You can click on my name and read some of my posts to learn more about me, if you like. I think they accurately reflect my preaching, and thus the direction I attempt to focus the congregation as their minister.

    Why can we not just continue as we have worshiped for years and not attempt to introduce the instrument? I don’t believe anyone would say it is wrong to worship without it. Why create division over it?

    Why are we not discussing plans for a drug rehabilitation center, a Christian hospital, relief for our brethren and others in Haiti, how we can be more like Jesus as we interact with others at work, school, and home? This list could be multiplied exponentially and introducing the instrument never come up. Why can’t we direct attention to Jesus by writing, etc. about how we can be more perfectly like Him every conscious minute? I believe that would occupy all of our time.

  88. John, I have no problem that you sing a capella. Isn’t it those who disagree with IM, condemning others who use IM, being divisive ??

  89. John, I will read some from your website to get a better feel for where you are coming from.

    But the piano is not the point. I believe in using instruments in praise of our King, but in 20+ years of being with believers EVERY DAY, I have probably only worshiped using an instrument a dozen or so times.

    But what I have found is that most groups who reject IM, are doing so because they are approaching the NT from a new CODE standpoint, as if the NT is a new Torah. It is not.

    Some who believe in IM also view the NT as a new Torah as well, they just happen to believe it is ALLOWED in the new law versus folks like you that believe it is excluded and therefore rejected in the new law.

    My contention is that there is NO NEW LAW. I’ve posted here about what I believe to be HOW we are to live in the New Covenant but it is summed up in this…

    Galatians 5:18
    But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.

    2Corinthians 3:2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

    2Corinthians 3:6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    Hebrews 8:10
    This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
    after that time, declares the Lord.

    I will put my laws in their minds
    and write them on their hearts.

    I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.

    So, maybe you could take a moment to explain these verses, what they mean to you, how they apply to the written gospels and epistles we have that are SO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than Exodus and Leviticus, and yet most today, treat them the same way…as the letter of the law.

    So sing a cappella all you want. But I have a feeling that IM issue aside, that life in the fullness of the Spirit will be quenched in your life and in your midst if you approach God and the NT from a legal letter and new code standpoint, versus approaching your covenant with God as a Covenant of the heart and of the Spirit.

    I hope that makes sense because it does to me and has made all the difference in my ability to walk in holiness versus legalistic righteousness.

    “The Letter kills but the Spirit gives Life” and LIFE is what we are after.

    -a

  90. Guy,

    Isn’t it obvious that God has changed systems from the Law of Moses? Indeed, I think one of the biggest problems with traditional CoC thinking is the false assumption that God has replaced one legal system with another just like it.

    But as several commenters have noted, in the Law of Moses, God showed that he’s quite capable of writing very detailed rules for what he wants. I mean, in places the level of detail is unbelievable.

    But in the NT, when we go looking for the particulars of the New Law, well, we find nothing of the sort. Rather, we have to find the “law” in silences and inferences and (let’s be honest) in the Patristics.

    That’s right. We are so desperate to find a book of laws that we infer them from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus as though God were not a sufficiently capable writer to make them clear through the actually inspired writings.

    Now, to your last question — John’s comments are not exhaustive, but they must be treated with the respect they deserve as apostolic instruction. The correct response isn’t “But what about …?” The correct response is “How do we change to conform?”

    And even though there is much more than could be said regarding love and faith than what John says, what he says is true.

    The remarkable thing is that Jesus, Paul, John, and James say the same things but from different angles, their differing perspectives allowing us different ways of understanding the mind of God.

    Some go more deeply into different aspects, but they’re all describing the same thing.

    Paul gives far more detail on how to “love one another” in Rom 12 – 15 than John — who is astonishingly brief. But John is much easier for most people to follow than Paul.

    I tend to favor John because he’s so direct it’s hard to deny what the man says.

    I’m still waiting for the conservative reader who will actually engage the text with me. So many prefer to argue what John or Paul surely doesn’t mean without doing the hard work of figuring what they do mean.

    I can argue against anything. I’m a trained professional (lawyer by trade). It’s easy. What’s hard is being a responsible exegete and discerning what John is saying to us. If it doesn’t mean what I say it means, what does it mean?

  91. Nick,

    Regarding your comment on worship: exactly.

  92. Anonymous,

    “Lie” is an unfair characterization. Please find a gentler way to express your disagreement.

  93. Guy,

    My view on instrumental music is twofold. First — and by far most importantly — instrumental music is not a salvation issue. That’s an essential teaching because to make instrumental music a salvation issue risks the Galatian heresy.

    In fact, for the first several months of this blog, I avoided getting into the merits of the question, trying to focus solely on the salvation-issue question — because it’s just so important.

    Second, it’s my belief that God does not consider instrumental music in worship a sin. I started that teaching in response to Clyde Miller’s A Plea to Reconsider, declaring Richland Hills damned over the issue.

    I realized that the reasoning that leads to finding instrumental music sinful leads to many other false conclusions — conclusions which greatly interfere with our participating in the mission of God.

    However, my own church is a cappella. I personally prefer a cappella. My only objection to a cappella music is the fear that if we insist on being exclusively a cappella, we’ll create a tradition that makes a cappella essential. And we’re already tried that. It didn’t go well at all.

    And this leads to my concern with positive commands. The reason we find so many positive commands in scriptures is we start with some seriously false assumptions. And these false assumptions lead to readings that defeat what God is actually saying. Hence, the posts on “Being Like God.” We learn so much more when we read these verses for what they actually say, rather than as encoded, semi-secret commands.

    Ultimately, grace leads us to better hermeneutics, which leads to better understanding of God’s heart and desires for us — which is what any Christian should want.

    PS — I’m learning to appreciate eschatology, you know. I don’t think grace takes us away from eschatology. Rather, eschatology informs grace because it helps us understand God’s purposes. And I want to be just like God and so to share his purposes. Grace taught me that.

  94. JMF,

    Glad to you have you participating in the blog — and delighted that it’s helping you escape legalism.

    And you put your finger on it. I am a cyborg.

    PS — Resistance if futile. You will be assimilated.

  95. Jay,

    You wrote:
    “I’m still waiting for the conservative reader who will actually engage the text with me. So many prefer to argue what John or Paul surely doesn’t mean without doing the hard work of figuring what they do mean.”

    You also wrote:
    “John’s comments are not exhaustive, but they must be treated with the respect they deserve as apostolic instruction. The correct response isn’t “But what about …?”

    Of course we must treat the comments of John with the “respect they deserve as apostolic instruction,” but that doesn’t mean that we should isolate them from the comments of other inspired writers. (As some have done with James and Paul). And so, when studying John (or any other inspired writer), I believe that the correct response is “but let’s make sure we factor in the rest of the Bible.” Otherwise, we will have a bunch of incomplete instructions which would lead to incorrect understandings of God’s truth.

    I mean, just think about how many times you do the very thing to which now you are objecting? Scores of people have here insinuated ideas which were “off the wall,” attacthed an isolated verse of two and then felt as though they proved their point. To which, you yourself have gathered other verses which were pertinent in an attempt to give the whole, entire, and actual intended meaning.

    It would be dishonest of me to make a point, quote a verse, and ask others NOT to ever say, “But, what about…” Rather, I think that many times we should.

    I hope I have not come off inappropriately. I have much respect for you and appreciate the way you handle those with whom you disagree.

    But, do you really have a problem with people asking, “But, what about……?”

  96. Hi Jay. You are my brother.

    Would you care to respond to my last paragraph in my comment of 1-22 @ 10:20?

    Also, 1-23 @ 3:03, why is there an attempt to introduce the instrument in the first place? Since we are already acapella, it would seem that an initial attempt to introduce the instrument, if it met with opposition, would be divisive at best and unloving at worst, if it were pressed. Why would that not be the case?

    Which texts do you wish to actually engage? If we are both simply seeking truth, then we neither have anything to fear. That is the case with me, and I believe it is with you too.

    I must confess that I have looked at your blog a few times, but have not read the great majority of it. You may wish to direct me to some specific posts you have already made.

  97. Royce,

    It’s shame that we so misunderstand our own religion that we make it like all the others and wonder why it isn’t sufficiently distinctive.

  98. Pilgrim wrote, “Grace is not license. It is PROVISION to GET THE WORK DONE.”

    Exactly. Forgiveness is not the goal. It’s the beginning. We begin forgiven, which admits us into the body of Christ, and then we participate in that blessed existence being like Jesus.

    We were saved to do good works.

  99. Any scheme of salvation (reconciling sinners to God) that is not wholly God’s work is by necessity something that sinful man accomplished, at least in part, to convince God to accept him.

    Since salvation is “mostly” a spiritual transaction it is logical that one who is spiritually dead can’t participate. A man with no aptitude or appetite for God, and is in fact God’s enemy, can hardly be expected to help God save him.

    Either God saves sinners, or God and sinners save sinners. If the totality of redemption is not wholly God’s initiative and work, wouldn’t God, to fair, need to share his Glory with man? Even if the equation was God’s part 95% and man’s part 5% man would deserve 5% of the praise and glory for the finished work of salvation.

    Oh, but if boasting is excluded, and it is, why is it? Because we can claim no tiny part in our own justification and sanctification any more than we can claim credit for our resurrection in the end.

    If we let God be God and start to appreciate who he is and what he has done for us, most of what we fight and divide about will become more and more trivial.

    The announcement of the birth of Jesus included the truth that he would save people from their sins. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. I don’t have a part in that eternal plan. My duty as one who has been born from above is to herald the good news to everyone possible that Christ died for our sins, that he was buried, and that he was raised from the dead and whosoever will can come of drink of the water of Life freely.

    Am I devoted to Him? Does my life prove up my confession? How can I not love those he loves? How can I not surrender my will to His? How can I not give Him glory and honor and praise and how can I not hate sin and love righteousness?

    When God set his affection on you and me what he had to work with was a helpless, hopeless, sinful, man who was going he own way on a road that leads to destruction. But God……….

    Royce

  100. They went from saying Cornelius was an exception (not in the Bible) to saying they really didn’t receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit before they were baptized while Peter said they did.

    How about, telling a non truth.

  101. John,

    I’ve now read every post on your site, and find that we are largely in agreement on those things you’ve written. And you’re from Winfield — which is not far at all from Tuscaloosa. So let’s talk.

    There’s an old CoC syllogism, which goes like this:

    * (John 14:15) “If you love me, you will obey what I command. * If you don’t obey what Jesus commands, you don’t love Jesus. (Contrapositive) * A cappella singing is commanded by Jesus (inference from Regulative Principle) * If you don’t sing a cappella, you don’t love Jesus.

    I take your argument to along those lines. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    I have these objections to what appears to be a lock-tight argument.

    First, it’s obviously untrue. If I’ve never even heard of the controversy over instrumental music, how can it be true that I don’t love Jesus because I’m uninstructed on that issue? Isn’t it obviously true that there are many who love Jesus who don’t sing a cappella?

    Second, I don’t believe that a cappella singing was commanded by Jesus. It is, at best, a inference from an inference. There is no such “command,” and I don’t think Jesus meant that we have to get every inference right to be counted as loving him.

    Third, and most importantly, the very first point is misunderstood because it’s taken out of context. It’s shortly followed by –

    (John 15:14) You are my friends if you do what I command. (Obviously parallel to 14:15)

    (John 15:17) This is my command: Love each other.

    Now, let’s see how John interprets these teachings in 1 John —

    (1 John 2:3-4) We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

    These are very similar to John 14:17 and 15:14.

    (1 John 2:7-10) Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.

    Like Jesus, after speaking of “commands” John issues but one “command.” Indeed, he’s obviously referring back to Jesus’ command in John and it’s “old” predecessor command, “Love your neighbor.”

    Later, we see the same phenomenon —

    (1 John 3:21-22) Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.

    John insists that we obey the “commands.” Then he says,

    (1 John 3:23) And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

    Actually this reads like two commands, but John says that to have faith and to love are but one command. (There’s another lesson there, for sure.)

    Later on, we read,

    (1 John 4:21) And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

    Indeed, throughout John and 1 John, we have only two things described as a “command” for his followers: faith in Jesus and love, and these are said to be but one command. (I’ve checked the Greek.)

    However, there is also another command in John:

    (John 10:17-18) The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

    God commanded Jesus to lay down his life for us. This is why John writes,

    (1 John 3:16) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

    Do you see the symmetry? Jesus obeys God’s command by giving his life. We obey by loving our brothers with a love so intense that we will give our lives for them.

    Now, based on this analysis and the specific words of John that all believers who continue in their love for their brothers remain saved, I figure that the “commandments” are but one: faith and love.

    And this fits well with the theology of John, too. (A lesson for another day, perhaps.)

    It is, I think, a mistake to read the 5 acts of worship into “commandments” — both grammatically (a cappella singing is nowhere commanded) and contextually (Jesus was speaking of love, not inferences from apostolic writings not yet written.)

    Indeed, to read Jesus and John otherwise leads to the absurd result that you cannot love Jesus and sing with a guitar, even if you’re entirely unaware of the line of reasoning that leads to the supposed requirement to sing a cappella.

    (1 John 2:10) Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.

    I think he means it.

  102. John,

    You are correct that I don’t teach once saved, always saved, although there are readers here who do. But I don’t see how you could suggest that my reading of 1 John so implies.

    I mean, do you seriously think that everyone loves and no one hates?

    (1 John 2:10-11) Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

    If faith and love are sufficient, then a loss of faith or a loss of love damns. This is not once saved, always saved. Rather, this is salvation depending on being true to things through which you saved in the first place.

    I keep wondering how you reach these conclusions, as it’s obvious from a casual reading of 1 John and from what I’ve written that you must remain in the faith and in love to remain saved.

    I know that in some CoC circles there’s been diligent teaching against the love-unity heresy — as though love and unity might be heresy!! The notion evidently is that it’s just awful to teach that —

    (1 John 4:7-8) Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

    I’m going with John and not with the heresy mongers. And the reason is that I take the scriptures with the utmost seriousness. If the traditions of my youth contradict the scriptures in the least, I’m going with the scriptures without regard to consequences.

    (1 John 3:14) We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.

    John said it. It must be true. We should therefore study to understand in depth, but there’s no way that he’s wrong.

    (1 John 3:23-24) And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

    (1 John 4:12) No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

    And I know that some will protest that requiring a cappella singing to go to heaven doesn’t contradict John, but it does.

  103. John asked,

    Why can we not just continue as we have worshiped for years and not attempt to introduce the instrument? I don’t believe anyone would say it is wrong to worship without it. Why create division over it?

    1. I don’t have any interest in introducing the instrument. My church is a cappella. I think it’s working pretty well.

    But I’m adamantly opposed to the instrument being a salvation or fellowship issue. I think that using the instrument issue to divide the body of Christ partakes of the Galatians heresy. It’s a serious problem.

    Indeed, every division in the Churches of Christ has been over an effort to make something a salvation issue that is not. And we haven’t stopped doing it.

    We have bad hermeneutics built on legalistic assumptions, which not only lead to unnecessary and sinful division, they suck the joy out Christianity for many.

    2. I’m not the one creating division over the instrument! I didn’t write A Plea to Reconsider, damning Richland Hills. I’m not the one declaring the independent Christian Churches apostate.

    If the instrumental churches were to give up the instrument, we’d still have a doctrinal system that would force division over something else — again and again. Until the false doctrine is rooted out, we’ll just keep dividing.

    Moreover, I can fairly ask whether your church has a fellowship hall? Do you use multiple cups? Do you have a located preacher? Do you support orphanages? Do you cooperate to support missionaries? Do you have a steeple?

    Do you have a kitchen? A water fountain? Sunday school classes? Do you preach from notes? Do you use a translation other than the KJV?

    Don’t you know that each one of these issues has been a cause of division? Why not give up your innovations and return to the simple form of Christianity that will allow all to worship and participate together in unity? Why take on practices that you perfectly well know have brought and continue to bring division to God’s people?

    Sorry for going on so long, but it’s a critically important point. Why should I kowtow to those imposing more positive commands than I when you won’t kowtow to those imposing more positive commands than you?

    The answer is because you’re right not to — not because you’re right on all the issues, but because Rom 14 plainly gives you that right — so long as you don’t cause others to sin.

    And here’s the really important point. Unity does not come from everyone yielding to the most legalistic preacher among us. That’s not unity. That’s slavery.

    Unity is a gift of God coming from grace. We don’t achieve unity; we receive and honor unity. He made us one. If we’re not one, it’s because we’re working at odds with God.

    Unity is found in —

    (Eph 4:2-6) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

    How do we “keep the unity”? By bearing with one another in love, being humble, and gentle and patient. That’ll work.

  104. Hank,

    Let me make this clarification.

    I’ve spent the last several hours answering the “But what about” questions. I don’t mind the questions (most of them), but I do mind the attitude that 1 John must be made to fit our traditions rather than the attitude that we must test our traditions against 1 John.

    You see, I still don’t see anyone offering a different exegesis of the text. Questions are good and necessary, but they don’t change what John wrote.

    And I hope I’ve not been too harsh. My attitude goes back, I’m afraid, to GraceConversation, where I couldn’t get Mac and Phil to engage the text either. I don’t think it’s an intentional tactic. Evidently, it’s just a peculiarity of conservative thought-culture that concerns about worship and such have to be addressed before we get to the text.

    Personally, I think we’d do better to start with the text. If I’ve read 1 John incorrectly, what is the correct reading?

  105. John,

    Just read the Fork in the Road posts. There’ve not been that many and they are all recent. The first one is at http://oneinjesus.info/2010/01/16/replanting-a-denominationthe-fork-in-the-road-in-reply-to-greg/.

    There you will find the texts I have in mind.

  106. Anonymous,

    “Lie” implies an intent to deceive. “Telling a non-truth” does not. So, sure.

  107. Jay,

    No, i don’t think God replaced one legal system for another.

    (Though i’m not certain you’ve got the Galatian heresy right. i really have more i want to pursue in this area; i think our view of most of Paul is shaped more by the Reformation than by the first century. i’m really not sure any of Paul’s “faith vs. works” talk has anything directly to do with the paradigmatic-debate we’ve inherited from the Reformation. But that’s another topic altogether.)

    i agree that people look for rules where there’s likely none. But my fear is that you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater–leaving out things that even John doesn’t. That’s why i did engage with the text and list things that John himself mentions. My concern (repeating myself i suppose) is that you’d lump things like Christology, the resurrection, the LS, baptism, etc. into the “positive” category and thus deem it unimportant. Yet John takes time to mention some of those and Paul mentions the rest such that we can’t conclude that those don’t matter. What John means by love doesn’t exclude adhering to, teaching, and expecting the truth regarding those doctrines. i don’t see where anything John says implies that it’s somehow wrong-hearted or contrary to love to insist on orthodox Christology, etc–however “positive” such matters might seem.

    i think we might actually be closer in our thinking regarding IM than you might guess from my posts–although, i do think there are good reasons to oppose it, none of which are about authority/silence/etc. But in this discussion to me, it’s not the point, it’s just a handy example. The point is more like this: If grace doesn’t take us away from eschatology, as you put it, then why does it necessarily take us away from anything that may appear “positive”? What i’m failing to see is why i should think that a “positive” category of observances is somehow at odds with love or grace. i certainly grant that a person could view and treat that category such that it is at odds with love and grace. But i don’t see why i should think it is somehow inherently so. Our brothers may have come up with some poor answers and poor tactics and may have been flat wrong in some instances (perhaps like the book you mention), but i don’t see why merely asking the question, “how can i most please God in my musical worship?,” coming up with an answer, sticking to it, and sticking by it when engaging other disciples unless they really do convince me otherwise–i don’t see why that is at all at odds with love and grace.

    –Guy

  108. When someone asked the Lord, “which is the great commandment in the law?”, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” He then added “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And that on those two commandments hung all the law and the prophets.

    I think it would be correct to say that under the umbrella of “loveing God and your neighbor” are both positive and moral commands.

    In his commentary on Romans, Roy Deaver had this this to say regarding “loveing your brother/neighbor” —

    “When we love others as we ought, we will be sincerely concerned about them. We will be concerned about their material needs; and above all, we will be concerned about their spiritual needs. So far as concernes our brethren, we will be concerned when they are absent from the Bible classes, and/or from the worship. We will be concerned when it is evident that theay are not studying as they ought, and when it is clear that hey are not continuing steadfastly in prayer. We must be concerned when brethren are not concerned with teaching others the way of the Lord. We will be ready and willing to help those need. So far as concerns those who have never come to obey the the gospel of Jesus Christ, our love for them will cause us to recognize and to appreciate the value of their souls. We will seek to create opportunities to teach them the gospel of Christ. We will invite them to study and to visit our services. We will live before them righteously and godly. We will make it clear to them that we are sincerely concerned about them, and are anxious to help. Let us respect God’s law regarding our love for others.”

    I think he had the right idea when he wrote as much. It is easy to say that “love” is the only thing that matters, but we would do well to understand what it really means to “love” and how by doing that alone….we will at the same time be doing everything ese God has commanded (both positive and moral).

  109. Guy,

    Here’s another way of looking at it. God is not arbitrary. He acts with a purpose, and his purposes are loving. Indeed, John says, “God is love.”

    Some of his commands in the Law of Moses seem arbitrary to us, but that’s because we read those unaware of the cultural background he was contending with.

    When we conclude that God issues arbitrary commands today, just to test our ability to do hermeneutics and obey, we misunderstand his character and so misunderstand his word. God commands obedience, but for a purpose, that being, to effect his loving intentions for the world.

    Read Paul carefully, and you’ll see that this is how he reasons. For example, in 1 Cor 14, when questions are posed to him about how to conduct the assembly, he doesn’t say: here are God’s arbitrary commands — deal with them. No, he asks what edifies, encourages, strengthens, and comforts those assembled — reflecting God’s love for his people and desire for their betterment, rather than arbitrary rules designed to test our willingness to obey.

  110. Read Paul carefully, and you’ll see that this is how he reasons. For example, in 1 Cor 14, when questions are posed to him about how to conduct the assembly, he doesn’t say: here are God’s arbitrary commands — deal with them. No, he asks what edifies, encourages, strengthens, and comforts those assembled — reflecting God’s love for his people and desire for their betterment, rather than arbitrary rules designed to test our willingness to obey.

    It consistently blows me away that with all the weight and emphasis our tradition places on 1 Cor 11-14, we so easily miss this point, as well as the major theme that Paul drives home again and again and again: The Cross — In Christ — Jesus Christ and Him Crucified is the pattern for the church. Every problem in Corinth — every single one — Paul answers by pointing to Jesus Christ and Him Crucified (and resurrected, but Corinth mostly needed reminding about the crucified part).

  111. Nick, Guy, JMF, Hank, Bob, Anon, Royce and John, I hope you get a chance to read this… I know it is long… sorry about that. I would be interested to know if you find it helpful at all… It deals with the faith vs. works issue as well as making sense of the Old Covenant and New Covenant and the seeming arbitrariness of the Law.

    http://oneinjesus.info/2010/01/18/the-fork-in-the-road-the-progressive-line-part-2/#comment-21728

  112. Hi Jay

    Thank you for your comments. I have read the article you linked me to and plan to read further.

    I am in favor of a cappella singing as I understand you are. I have not followed these brotherhood issues closely at all, though I have a general awareness of them.

    It would seem that the division was created by those who introduced the instrument rather than by those who called them out on it. Had the first party never inserted the instrument, there would have been nothing for the second party to call them on. We possibly disagree on who is the cause of the division.

    Why would anyone want the instrument in the first place? Worship is not entertainment, as I am confident you would agree. Was it not introduced the first time five or six hundred years after the first century? Seems I read that one time back in the day. Is that correct?

    I believe proper doctrine is essential, following Paul. I’m sure we agree on that too. It would seem that the best allocation of our human and financial resources would be service, teaching how to live the Christian life, and how to become a Christian. Let’s put in a Church of Christ drug rehabilitation center in Tuscaloosa, or some work like that. Let’s use this great gift of intelligence, training, resources, and energy to do something along this line rather than arguing about something that’s probably not going to change. IMHO, that would be a better use of our talents. Perhaps you are already doing these things at University.

  113. John, IMHO, you really owe it to yourself to read through this comment:
    http://oneinjesus.info/2010/01/18/the-fork-in-the-road-the-progressive-line-part-2/#comment-21728

    The issue is not instrument or no instrument. The question is: Is Matthew-Revelation the New Covenant’s version of the Torah or is it SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

    How we approach Matthew-Revelation WILL EFFECT the quality of our lives and obedience. It will effect whether we live in Romans 7 or live in Romans 8.

    Apart from the issues of instruments or no instruments, women deacons or no women deacons, we MUST address the fundamental issue of the BASIS of Truth. Is it written code that we must figure out OR is it LIFE in the Spirit of the Living Word, THE Logos, Jesus?

    Because if our brothers and sisters in Christ in our own congregations are plagued with Romans 7 failure, then building a drug rehab will only allows us to MAYBE help a few drug addicts get off of drugs. But the intent of the Church is much more than that. Our mission is to present to Christ a RADIANT Bride… a community of Believers living in Romans 8 victory and NOT Romans 7 death.

    So please seriously consider spending the 15 minutes reading that post. It will do your Spirit good.

  114. Why would anyone want the instrument in the first place? Worship is not entertainment, as I am confident you would agree. Was it not introduced the first time five or six hundred years after the first century? – John

    Musical instruments come from the Bible.

    And are you assuming singing a cappella isn’t entertainment?? There are many people who very much think of singing a cappella as entertainment. I know people who love to sing a cappella who go to a cappella singing concerts.

    And are you assuming those who sing with instruments aren’t doing so to love and praise the Lord?

    Psalms 57:7-11 “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing to You among the nations. For Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; Let Your glory be above all the earth.”

    Psalm 92:1-4 “It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
    And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night, On an instrument of ten strings, On the lute, And on the harp, With harmonious sound. For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands.”

  115. Hebrews 1:8-9 makes it clear that the passage in Psalm 45:2-9 is a prophetic reference to Jesus. No doubt about it. Here is a segment:

    You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
    therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
    by anointing you with the oil of joy.
    All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
    from palaces adorned with ivory
    the MUSIC OF THE STRINGS MAKES YOU ****FURIOUS AND IS EXCLUDED****** 😉

    Umm, actually it says….

    “the music of the strings makes you ***GLAD***.

    Who does the music make happy? Jesus.

    Does all music make Jesus happy? Absolutely not.

    What about using music to ATTRACT unbelievers so that they will be entertained because the good news and the cross aren’t enough. NOPE. That’s a big mistake.

    What about “Christian” artists like Steven Curtis Chapman or Twila Paris or Switchfoot or Acappella who put there faces all over album art and do concerts and sign autographs and steal all sorts of glory from Jesus by their self promotion? Not good. Really! Even Paul refused adulation and applause. “Believers” signing autographs for other “believers” is appalling. Are we all not brothers?

    But it doesn’t subtract from the Truth that Jesus and the Father love music of all sorts. And they aren’t schizo and decided to hate it during the New and MORE GLORIOUS Covenant.

    We also know that evil demons don’t like music played by a lover of God as with David playing for Saul. But it wasn’t the music alone. David ADORED God and God said that this string playing musician was a man AFTER HIS OWN HEART (God said that).

    But that was the Old Covenant you say. And so it was. BUT did the delight of God’s heart really change? Really?

    But all of this is beside the point if we still approach any issue DURING the New Covenant with a legal Old Covenant mentality.

    Matthew through Revelation is NOT the written New Covenant. No new covenant was EVER written. If it has been, I’d really like to see it…

    I know, in your Bible, there is a sheet of paper after Malachi ends that says, “New Testament.” Actually, the publishers decided to put that in, not the Holy Spirit 😉

    If there is such a verse between Matthew and Revelation, it would look something like this:

    Exodus 18:20
    Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.
    or
    Leviticus 20:22
    “ ‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.”
    or
    Deuteronomy 12:1
    These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess—as long as you live in the land.
    or
    Deuteronomy 31:24-26
    After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from BEGINNING to END, he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD: “Take this BOOK OF THE LAW and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a WITNESS AGAINST you. (as in a court of LAW)

    When there are laws, there is a precise code that you live by and are judged by. Breaking laws incurs punishment, obeying laws earns favor and sometimes certain rewards.

    No such code exists between Matthew and Revelation. I am NOT NOT NOT saying that we can do whatever our little ole flesh just wants to do. But the WAY we live IS NO LONGER BY CODE.

    So get over it. And everyone, PLEASE stop asking, ‘Is this authorized in the New Testament?'” That question makes NO SENSE when you understand that Matthew through Revelation is a history of those who lived in the transition from the legal code of the Old Covenant to the LIFE IN THE SPIRIT of the New Covenant.

    Can we learn from what other SPIRIT-FILLED men and women lived and taught? ABSOLUTELY! A thousand times YES! Will life in the Spirit be CONGRUOUS with what the first century practiced and taught? Unless we have a different Holy Spirit than they did, the answer is YES, it WILL be congruous. But we CAN’T imitate simply what they wrote and taught. WE NEED TO LIVE THE LIFE THEY LIVED IN THE SPIRIT.

    I’m BEGGING someone to step up and show me IN Matthew through Revelation that those books ARE the new code. Jay? Guy? Hank?

    I’m not saying we should disregard the teachings of Matt-Rev. BUT THESE SCRIPTURES THEMSELVES SAY THAT THERE IS NO NEW WRITTEN CODE. (Hebrews 8:9, 10)

    And no code means no legalistic, lawyer-like approaches to God where we do word studies and argue for generations over “interpretations” and then splinter into a hundred subsets of belief. “Interpretations” of what? The new law? Out of the the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

  116. Are you judging their hearts can you see their hearts?? Do you know any of those people personally?? How about the good news and the praise they send forth out to people about Jesus giving Him glory!! When we applause we are giving applause to the Lord for what He has done!! Oh that’s right the COC denomination knows everyone else’s heart.

  117. Anon, CLEARLY, I do not know all the hearts of all those people. Granted. I only mentioned ones that I thought some might recognize. But no blanket judgments, I promise… I used the word “like” showing comparison.

    But, can you grant me that at least SOME are stealing Glory from Jesus? Can you admit that SOME have ego issues?

    The environment of putting people of pedestals, whether a singer or author or speaker is dangerous for the the ones on the pedestal and unhealthy for the ones giving the adulation. Flesh hasn’t changed much since Jesus day….

    Matthew 23:5-12
    “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’ “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever EXALTS HIMSELF will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

    Having a lifesize poster cutout of a Christian artist to pimp his latest CD isn’t entirely what I would call humble.

    True men and women of God do their best to be as invisible as possible. John the immerser said, “He must increase, I must decrease.” THAT should be the heart of every servant of Jesus. But decreasing doesn’t blend well with trying to maximize book and CD sales.

    But I’d really rather not have a discussion about this when the weight of my post was on something MUCH weightier…

    And I’m not C of C if that isn’t immediately obvious so I guess you misjudged on that one yourself. 😉 Peace bro. And can I get Peter’s autograph? Maybe Paul’s too. See how silly that sounds. 😉

  118. Many glory COC denomination book authors, COC denomination blogs, the leaders of the Restoration Movement and so on……

  119. Indeed they do. Sickening isn’t it. That STEALS glory that only belongs to God.

    Isaiah 42:8
    “I am the LORD; that is my name!
    I will not give my glory to another
    or my praise to idols (American Idols or otherwise).

    Isaiah 48:11
    For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
    How can I let myself be defamed?
    I will not yield my glory to another.

    1Corinthians 3:1
    Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not MERE men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? ONLY SERVANTS, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So NEITHER he who plants nor he who waters IS ANYTHING, but only God, who makes things grow.

  120. I agree if that is the intent of the person. I have friends who are close friends of some Christian contemporary artists, and my friends are humbled by knowing how humble they are.

  121. John,

    We do Celebrate Recovery at my church, and some of the small groups work with drug rehab centers in town.

    The point of the instrumental music discussion is to end division and honor God’s command that we be united. And we won’t get there unless we stop making instrumental music and such like salvation issues.

    Actually, the first worship service with an instrument was shortly after Pentecost, when the congregation first met in the temple courts — which was filled with instrumental music.

  122. Is there a church of Christ rehab center where the clients board there? I don’t know of one. I have very limited knowledge, but don’t they generally use religion as the motivation? I thought it would be a good idea if we had one. How does your program at University work?

    BTW, I causally know Blake and Justin. I met Blake through my oldest son, Eric. I was interim preacher at Millport on a couple of different occasions. Justin’s family attended there the second time. They may not remember who I am.

    Would the temple courts argument be an argument from silence? Is it a jump to say the Christian worship in Acts participated with the Jews instead of having their own service? Other than this possible case, wasn’t it a few hundred years before IM was introduced?

    John 13.34-35 is one of my favorite passages, just ask them at White’s Chapel. Unity is certainly the Lord’s plan for us. My main point in commenting is to encourage the allocation of our resources toward doing some of the serving things like Jesus did. I would love to see some serious exegetical articles that help me have a closer relationship with Jesus and be more like Him. You probably already have some on here if you want to suggest a link or two.

  123. John,

    There’s no boarding facility in Tuscaloosa among the CoC. Some of the larger cities — Dallas, Nashville — likely have such facilities among the Churches, I think.

    Celebrate Recovery is faith-based and helps recovering addicts through a 12-step program to escape their addictions by developing a healthy relationship with Jesus.

    The temple courts argument is from the express statements in the Bible that the temple had instrumental worship — and choirs.

    Were the congregants singing with the temple singers? I don’t know. But they were necessarily present in a center of worship where instrumental worship of God was taking place — and there’s plenty of evidence that the Jerusalem Christians continued in the temple worship. Acts 21, for example.

    Let me suggest two series of articles. First, there’s the Ministry Ideas series, describing some things going on at the University Church. http://oneinjesus.info/index-under-construction/leadership/ministry-ideas/

    Second, the missional Christianity material: http://oneinjesus.info/index-under-construction/theology-general/missional-christianity/

    The next time you’re in Tuscaloosa, look me up. I’ll grab Justin and Blake and we can get some ribs at Dreamland.

  124. Other than this possible case, wasn’t it a few hundred years before IM was introduced? – John

    Please show where the Bible says Christians didn’t use instrumental music that it was forbidden.

  125. By the way, the first Christian believers lived before Jesus walked on the earth.

  126. John says:
    “I would love to see some serious exegetical articles that help me have a closer relationship with Jesus and be more like Him.”

    John, in my post above about the written code, believe it or not, that is PRECISELY about having a closer walk with Jesus.

    Colossians 1:27 talks about CHRIST being IN YOU. There is no closer walk than that.

    http://letters.jesuslifetogether.com/Christ-In-YOU

  127. I knew instrumental music was all over the temple worship. I’ve told them that where I preach. But I still don’t think it has any bearing on our worship. There was the blood of animals all over the temple worship too. I see what you’re saying, but I personally think it’s a step to say the worship of the Acts church involved instruments because they were on the same campus where instruments were used. I’m not sure it could be proved either way, so neither “side” could use it.

    Thank you for the lunch invite. Amazingly, I have never eaten at Dreamland. Perhaps I could bring Eric with me and you two lawyers could split some hairs. Just kidding.

  128. John,

    Any thoughts about this?

    Hebrews 1:8-9 makes it clear that the passage in Psalm 45:2-9 is a prophetic reference to Jesus. No doubt about it. Here is a segment:
    You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
    therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
    by anointing you with the oil of joy.
    All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
    from palaces adorned with ivory
    the MUSIC OF THE STRINGS MAKES YOU ****FURIOUS AND IS EXCLUDED****** 😉
    Umm, actually it says….
    “the music of the strings makes you ***GLAD***.
    Who does the music make happy? Jesus.
    Does all music make Jesus happy? Absolutely not.
    What about using music to ATTRACT unbelievers so that they will be entertained because the good news and the cross aren’t enough. NOPE. That’s a big mistake.
    What about “Christian” artists like Steven Curtis Chapman or Twila Paris or Switchfoot or Acappella who put there faces all over album art and do concerts and sign autographs and steal all sorts of glory from Jesus by their self promotion? Not good. Really! Even Paul refused adulation and applause. “Believers” signing autographs for other “believers” is appalling. Are we all not brothers?
    But it doesn’t subtract from the Truth that Jesus and the Father love music of all sorts. And they aren’t schizo and decided to hate it during the New and MORE GLORIOUS Covenant.

  129. John, Please show where the Bible says Christians didn’t use instrumental music that it was forbidden.

    Again, the first Christians believers lived before Christ walked on the earth. So when did God tell His people they can no longer use instrumental music.

  130. John,

    Blake says hello.

  131. Jay,
    I plan to be in T-town Thursday. The spouse of one of our members is having a heart cath at DCH.

  132. I’ll likely have to be in Montgomery. I’ll let you know if my plans change.

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