New Posts by J. James Albert at “California Letter”

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Question 5: Is the doctrine of salvation by works as taught by the majority of the Churches of Christ in accordance with Biblical teaching?

Question 12: What is “Fellowship”?

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49 Responses

  1. If the churches of Christ taught justification by works then they would deny the necessity of belief in Jesus just like me. Why does the church of Christ say that the man who never did anything wrong but tell one little white lie will go to hell if they believe in justification by works? I believe in justification by works and that’s why I say this guy will go to heaven even though he doesn’t believe in Jesus, because look how good he is.

  2. Which makes me wonder… We all know that the Bible teaches that a crown of life will be given to all them that “remain faithful unto death.” But what does being “faithful” mean? Are there varying levels of “faithfulness”? Or, is it a matter of black and white — either you are faithful or you are not? I mean, is it possible to be more faithful at one point in our lives than we were (or will be) at other times? Were the men and women within the faith hall of fame (Heb 11) any more faithful than any other saved person at any other time? In other words, is it possible to be “more faithful” to God this year than we were last? Conversely, is it possible to be “less faithful”? If so, how much faith must one have in order to please God?

    And what about sin? Are there any sins that are any more dangerous to the salvation of our souls than other sins? And, are there varying degrees (or levels) of any particular sin(s)? Take the sin of greed for example. The apostle Paul clearly stated that the “greedy” WILL NOT inheirt the kingdom of God. Well, what does that mean eaxctly? Did he (does God) actually mean that ANY amount (or degree) of greed will keep us from heaven? Surely, he merely meant that a person will be lost ONLY if/and when a person is “really greedy” right? But, do we really know for sure what God meant? Do we really know who, what, where, and when God considers one to be “greedy.” We know that Jesus had no house, savings, nor many possesions and was not greedy. But, most of us have all of that. What would it take for us to be considered greedy by God? Can a person be “more greedy” at one point in his life than he was (or will be) at others? Or, is it black and white issue — either one is greedy and will be lost, or he is not greedy at all and will remain saved? Are there levels of greed? Do we need to make sure we are never “too greedy”? Or, no?

    Don’t get me wrong, I truly wish every person would be saved and that they could know that they were in fact saved at all times (who wouldn’t), but is that really the case?

    Does “being faithful” mean that we must be 100% free from any “greed” (whatever God considers “greedy”)? Or….will he accept and give the crown of life to even those that are only 85% free from greed. How bout 60%? And what about jealousy, dishonesty, and/or fear?

    True, Jesus died to forgive the sins of greed, jealousy, lies, and fear. But, does that really mean that his redeemed can actually be greedy, fearful, and jeaouls liars and still be given eternal life? Must we never tell a lie to remain saved? Or, merely not lie too much? But, who knows what God would consider “too much”?

    Does having these questions mean that I am trying to be saved by works?

    And if so…….would you consider me lost?

  3. Hank do you believe Jesus died to pay the penalty of your sins for you? And what does that mean to you?

  4. Of course. In fact, Jesus died to pay the penalty for the sins of the entire world, right?

    However…only the “faithful” will be saved (which is why I am soliciting the thoughts of others regarding what that means exatly).

  5. What does that mean to you, do you think He died for some sins or all of your sins?

  6. Hank, sorry so long, but I wrote this just for you…

    Hank, the only way I know how to answer your question is through an analogy.

    Paul compares our relationship with Jesus as being like marriage. He is our bridegrrom. We are the bride. When we become Christians, we make a permanent covenant with Him. Some would like to take this to mean, “Once saved, always saved.” I believe it is possible to break that covenant, but it isn’t as easy to break it as I was led to believe growing up C of C. I really thought that if I had just had a lustful thought and then got hit by a train before asking Jesus to forgive all my sins, one more time, that I would be lost. It is SO IMPORTANT to know that what we have with Christ is a LOVE RELATIONSHIP that isn’t based on conduct or performance. It is based on love. And a love relationship, whether between a man and a woman, or between a father and a child, isn’t subject to the daily mistakes and sins that come up. If a man has a lustful thought about another woman, is that immediately grounds for divorce? The answer is no, IF INDEED the man truly loves his wife. He should definitely feel sorry for his actions, and possibly needs to apologize to his wife. But the single transgression isn’t an issue. Even a weakness itself isn’t an issue. He may find himself battling those kinds of thoughts a lot. But going back to a previous post, this is where walking in the light is crucial. Part of the definition of walking in the light is: in my heart, I love my wife and I want to devoted to her and pure in my thoughts. So I apologize, maybe to some of my trustworthy brothers so that I don’t give my wife a complex, and I tell them the truth of what I’m dealing with. It is not my goal to impress them with my purity. It actually is a DEMONSTRATION of faith to confess my sins, not matter how humbling it may be. But the confession and the repentance itself, though EVIDENCE of being sorry, aren’t WORKS that show I’m sorry. Repentance and love are in the heart and God looks at the heart. He is seeing that my heart’s disposition is TOWARD HIM and not away from Him. That is why your question about greed: 60% greedy, 80% greedy makes no sense in the context of a relationship. I might struggle with greed a lot, but if my heart is soft and my heart is WANTING to love God, then He sees that and our relationship STANDS FIRM. There are no levels of SAVEDness. We are either IN CHRIST or we are not. And for those whose hearts love the Father, they are as saved as Jesus for they are IN JESUS.

    And as we grow and mature, those sin issues will be overcome. That is a promise. Here is what Jesus said, “If you love, you’ll obey my commands.” Obedience FLOWS from a heart of Love. And we love BECAUSE HE first loved us. So we are responding to His Love and His acceptance. We aren’t trying to earn His love. We HAVE His love and so WE WANT to do what he says. BUT if we have no regard for what he says, then it is doubtful that we love Him. But even in FOLLOWING HIS COMMANDS, our faith and our confidence are IN WHAT HE HAS DONE. Our faith is in His Works, not our own. But if we love Him, there will be evidence.

    Again, it is so clear in a relationship. I love my wife. Even on a bad hair day for both of us, we know our love for each other isn’t about feelings or appearances or health or wealth. We’ve made a committment that surpasses changing emotions. But if I never do anything LOVING for my wife, than do I really love her? LOVE has evidences. The evidences aren’t the love. I could buy flowers, gifts, work hard at always doing the dishes, etc. but if I have no devotion to her FROM the heart, those works are worthless. They are in fact a stench to her. She would rather that I NOT do those kind things if they aren’t from a heart of love. That is precisely the place many legalists find themselves. Subconsciously working to please God because they know that it is right but not at all from a place of LOVE in their heart. And the overflow and fruit of their life shows that lack of love. They’ve got good works a plenty, but the substance of LOVE is missing.

    On the other hand, some who CLAIM to no be longer be legalists have forgotten this truth, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” They claim that grace covers. They will tell you how much they love Jesus and that we should all just love each other, but it too is lacking substance because real love WILL HAVE demonstrable acts of love and obedience and growth.

    So a heart that is PROMPTED BY LOVE, DEMONSTRATING a LIFE OF OBEDIENCE, founded on FAITH in what Jesus has already accomplished. We are qualified to be married to Him by what HE HAS DONE, ONCE FOR ALL.

    So what about those other verses that talk about faithfulness and being judged by our deeds. It is getting late and I can’t quote all the verses, but take these as seeds and see if they are true. That KIND of judgement isn’t about SALVATION, but it is about REWARD and the OUTWORKINGS of FAITH.

    1 Cor. 3:12-15
    If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his WORK will be shown for what it is, because the Day (That is Judgment Day) will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the QUALITY of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be SAVED, but only as one ESCAPING through the flames.

    Salvation itself is a settled issue if we love Jesus and have put Him on. And according to 2 Pet 1, He HAS GIVEN US EVERYTHING pertaining to Life and Godliness. His Spirit IN US is all the raw materials we need. It is as if He is saving, “You are now mine. I’ve carved you in the palm of My Hand. Your name is written in My book of life. So rest on that. Sabbath on that fact. But I have put my Spirit in you. I have given you PROVISION (the real definition of Grace) to live a life of Holiness and LOVE for others. What will you do with it? Here is a hundred million dollars (Rich Grace). Do something useful with it. And biblically speaking (the parable of the talents) HE EXPECTS RESULTS and WE WILL BE JUDGED BY OUR WORKS. Not SAVED by our works… that is a done deal, that issue doesn’t even come up again unless we really decide we just don’t want to honor our covenant anymore and divorce Him. But why, in the face of such love an generosity, would we want to do that? So BECAUSE we love Him and because He has poured such abundant provision into our laps by His own working and choosing, we like Paul, work harder than all the rest to show that His grace and provision towards me was not in vain.

    So yes, He will ask us one day to give an account for the deeds done in the body. He will test with fire the work of our lives and some will be found more faithful than others. But it won’t be because of smarts or personality or speaking ability. It will be based on how FAITH ful we were, how much we trusted Him and how much we ALLOWED His Spirit to do HIS MIGHTY WORKS through us. It is HIM, through and through. But some, the soft and contrite, will alow Him to work through them better than the independent and self-reliant. And each will be rewarded accordingly.

    Paul will receive a better reward than the theif on the cross. It is not that He earned it. But he did allow Jesus to work through him powerfully in a way that the thief never did. But the thief, living forever in the Presence of Jesus, won’t be complaining.

    But here is the deal. Those who only want to do just enough to get by, like Calvin in the cartoon Jay showed the other day, they really may not make it at all if that is their attitude. Jesus ALWAYS sees the HEART, and only the heart. So if I don’t really want to love and please Jesus and all I really want is to not go to hell, well Jesus doesn’t want to spend Eternity with those who don’t REALLY want to be with Him. It isn’t about the deeds or the baptism or the instrument. It is FOREVERMORE about the heart. And those whose hearts love Him, will pour out their lives for Him, regardless of the reward.

    There is so much more that could be said, but faith versus works is just not a dilemma if we love Him and we know He loves us. This isn’t a game. It is a marriage. The marriage of the Lamb. Either you realize you have been forgiven much and therefore you love MUCH or you are so full of yourself and your own deeds that there is no room in your heart for loving Him. He wants to spend Eternity with the first group, those who LOVE MUCH. And for those who say they love much: SHOW IT, by deeds done in humility and motivated by gratitude. Live holy and blameless lives in a dark and depraved world and don’t let anyone wear the name of Jesus who won’t do the same.

    Revelation 3:19-22
    Those whom I LOVE I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who OVERCOMES, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I 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.”

    Revelation 22:10-17
    Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”

    “Behold, I am coming soon! My REWARD is with me, and I will give to everyone ACCORDING TO WHAT HE HAS DONE. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

    “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

    “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

    The Spirit and the BRIDE say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

  7. I am always, well, I don’t know what word to use, but when I read something like “topic fill-in-the-blank as taught by most Churches of Christ” or “topic fill-in-the-blank as believed by most Churches of Christ” I stop reading and go to something else.

    How does anyone know what “most Churches of Christ” teach or believe of think or do?

    The statements seem to me to be sweeping generalities to make a large group of people appear stupid so that the speaker can appear smart.

  8. Pilgrim,

    Thanks for your thoughts. However, I don’t see how what you have written clears up any of the questions I’ve asked. In fact, it appears as though you are just as unsure about them?

  9. Hank, I am really confused as to what you think I am unsure about.

    Let me summarize.

    Forgiveness and redemption and eternal salvation, for those who are born again, is a settled issue. Accept it for the gift that it is a NEVER worry again about your salvation. I am saved and have picked out the color for my room (“In my Father’s House are many rooms”) 😉 Seriously, I don’t worry about being lost because I know that I love Jesus with all of my heart. But for the Calvinist out there saying “Amen” I still maintain that even at this point I CAN reject God and lose my Salvation. But not for performance failures but for a change in my loving disposition and faith in Jesus.

    So from THAT place of strength and confidence, I use the MIGHTY PROVISION that He has given, the HOLY SPIRIT inside, to BECOME a Holy Person, full of love for those around me and full of good deeds. And for these I will be JUDGED and for these I will receive a REWARD. But I do not live for the reward. I live for Jesus and I lay my life down for my friends (“No greater love is there than this”)

    So Jesus gives me two AWESOME GIFTS. Forgiveness by His blood, and because I am forgiven and CLEAN, He can FILL ME WITH ****HIS**** Spirit. That is GIFT #2. That is the $100 million. What could be a better gift that JESUS HIMSELF living inside. And with that gift that we receive in baptism, we offer back to Jesus a life of Holiness and Love and Faithfulness.

    Some will use that gift better than others BASED ON THEIR FAITH, a choice they have (Calvinists don’t like that choice word). But because it is LOVE we are talking about, choice MUST be involved. And our CHOICE is to continue, throughout our lives, as various crossroads present themselves, we choose to BELIEVE God and our actual lives become more and more like Jesus.

    So yes, there are DEGREES of faithfulness with the GIFTS HE’S GIVEN. That is WHAT the parable of the Talents is about. But it isn’t about salvation except for the one talent man who HID His investment. Jesus called HIM, WICKED and SLOTHFUL. He viewed God as a harsh task master. We can’t be lazy. And we CANNOT VIEW GOD THAT WAY. We must be energetic to BECOME ALL that He means for us to BECOME.

    I could give many more analogies and examples but I must work. PLEASE DON’T GIVE UP on this Hank. I have been praying for you because I really think Father has more for you than what you’ve experienced

    So what specific question have I still not answered?

  10. Hank says.
    “True, Jesus died to forgive the sins of greed, jealousy, lies, and fear. But, does that really mean that his redeemed can actually be greedy, fearful, and jealous, liars and still be given eternal life? Must we never tell a lie to remain saved? Or, merely not lie too much? But, who knows what God would consider “too much”?”

    RESPONSE:

    Jesus says, “Be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven IS PERFECT.” That is the standard. Always has been. Always will be. The letter of 1 John confirms that this is the standard.

    1John 2:1-6
    My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. THIS IS HOW WE ***KNOW**** we are IN HIM: Whoever claims to live in him MUST WALK as Jesus did.

    The standard is VERY VERY High.

    The minimalist, i.e. the one who wants to know HOW LITTLE he has to obey to be saved IS NOT SAVED. That is the wrong approach. That is like Tiger asking, “Do I HAVE to be totally faithful for Elin to stay married to me.” That kind of heart would make Elin THROW UP and THROW HIM OUT… and that is how that mentality makes our Father and Loving Savior feel. He wants people who have a MAXIMALIST heart. That is what it means to LOVE GOD WITH ALL OUR HEART, SOUL, MIND and STRENGTH.

    But Father knows we will blow it from time to time. That is why there is forgiveness. But each transgression itself doesn’t END the relationship. When a child disobeys a parent, are they kicked out of the house? NO, NO, NO. Disciplined yes. Rejected. NO. But if an older child CONTINUES to rebel against the authority of the parents, YES, he will need to leave the house. he cannot continue to receive the BENEFITS of being in the household if he refuses to accept the authority in the house.

    So if I am greedy in a moment, have I lost my salvation? Not by a long shot. That is a legalist’s fear, but a son (our heart cries, Abba Father) doesn’t fear that way. A son knows the Father is loving and forgives and accepts. The legalist thinks the Father is a hard task master and is always afraid of losing Father’s favor.

    On the other hand, a “son” who says, “My father is loving and kind, so I’m just going to be greedy, because I know he’ll forgive me. He forgives me every time, so why change?” THAT is blasphemy. That is one who holds no regard for the blood of Christ and crucifies Jesus again.

    Hebrews 10:29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has TREATED as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has INSULTED the Spirit of grace?

    That verse isn’t about someone who loves God and wants to offer Him their best. That verse is about someone who views grace as a license and an excuse to stay the same, to never change, to not accept PERFECTION as the standard.

    Perfection is the standard, and going back to our Tiger story… in Salvation, God GIVES US His HOLY Spirit or to say it another way, the Spirit of Holiness.

    What would it mean for Tiger to be given a Spirit of Fidelity and Faithfulness. It would mean that there is another ENTITY inside of Him that functions far ABOVE rules, rules like, “Thou shall NOT commit adultery.” Paul says those rules just make us want to do it. That is why the New Covenant is not a new set of rules. Instead, Tiger could receive a NEW Spirit, this OTHER ENTITY that motivates and influences him to love ONLY his wife, not out of obligation or law, but because this new spirit in him WANTS to please only her and no one else.

    But inside of us, if we are born again, we not only have the Spirit of Fidelity, but also the Spirit of Courage, of Wisdom, of Generosity, of Love, of Faith, of Truthfulness, of Single Hearted Devotedness, of Hospitality, of Forgiveness…. The HOLY Spirit is all these things and more. He is the Spirit of Christ Himself.

    So if Jesus Himself is living inside, what else do we need? He doesn’t just HELP us KEEP the rules. HE IS THE RULE, inside us, living in PERFECTION.

    Can we ignore the Spirit? Can we grieve Him? Indeed we can, but we will FEEL His sadness, His Jealousy will burn in our hearts and discipline us to help us get back on His path and help us to stay in step WITH HIM.

    And all of THAT is the GOOD NEWS.

  11. Hi Pilgrim,

    You ask — “So what specific question have I still not answered?”

    My question has to do with reconciling the fact that we can know we are saved with the fact that people who are “greedy” cannot inherit the kingdom. (Along with liars, the sexually immoral, those who envy, etc.). I guess my question is — is it possible for a Child of God to be guilty of these things?

    And, are there varying degrees (or levels) of any of these particular sin(s)? Take the sin of greed for example. The apostle Paul clearly stated that the “greedy” WILL NOT inheirt the kingdom of God. Well, what does that mean eaxctly? Did he (does God) actually mean that ANY amount (or degree) of greed will keep us from heaven? Surely, he merely meant that a person will be lost ONLY if/and when a person is “really greedy” right? But, do we really know for sure what God meant? Do we really know who, what, where, and when God considers one to be “greedy.” We know that Jesus had no house, savings, nor many possesions and was not greedy. But, most of us have all of that. What would it take for us to be considered greedy by God? Can a person be “more greedy” at one point in his life than he was (or will be) at others? Or, is it black and white issue — either one is greedy and will be lost, or he is not greedy at all and will remain saved? Are there levels of greed? Do we need to make sure we are never “too greedy”? Or, no?

    Thanks.

  12. Knowing that we are all greedy (compared to Jesus), and knowing that the greedy WILL NOT inherit the kingdom… should we be concerned about that?

    Can you tell me precisely at what point God considers one to be guilty of Greed? If not (and if the greedy can’t go to heaven), how can you be so sure you are?

    I only mention this here to illustrate why I believe it is healthy for God’s children to be concerned about sins like greed, doing their best to make sure they are not ever “too greedy.” And, it frusterates me when other believers accuse the concerned of being legalists who try to be saved by works rather than by Jesus.

    Those who make such accusations (IMHO), need to honestly deal with what Paul wrote about the sins that will keep people from inheriting the kingdom. They need to be able to say who and when a person is guilty of such. They shouldn’t ignore it.

  13. Hank did you read pilgrims comment, if so what do you think about what he said? And you said you believe Jesus died to pay the penalty of your sins for you, you haven’t said what that means to you, do you think He died for some of your sins or all of your sins?

  14. Hank says,
    They need to be able to say who and when a person is guilty of such. They shouldn’t ignore it.

    Response:
    THEY SHOULD NOT IGNORE IT AT ALL. AMEN. But there is a way to pay attention to sin that is from FEAR, and there is a way to pay attention to sin based on LOVE and SECURITY.

    The church I am part of does not tolerate sin. ZERO tolerance. That is the Biblical standard.

    But when I say that, I am referring to PRACTICED SIN. I sin everyday. But I do not tolerate it. If I gratify my flesh by looking at a female or by eating more than the Spirit wants me to eat at lunch, I apologize to Jesus and many times I will talk with another brother or two and say, “You know what, that waitress was really causing my mind difficulties. I’m really sorry. I want to be a pure vessel that Jesus can bless others through.” According to John, I am continually cleaned and washed. Even before I apologized, I was clean because I am IN COVENANT with Jesus. I’m in His Tribe and there is NO CONDEMNATION. But BECAUSE I love Him and BECAUSE I’m forgiven, I give Him my BEST and apologize just like any person would do in friendship with another person. If I hurt my friend, I apologize because I know that I hurt them. I’m not apologizing so they don’t reject me, that’s not my motivation. We’re BOSOM BUDDIES and always will be. But it is still appropriate for friends to apologize to each other for “sins” they commit that could, IF “PRACTICED” long term, hurt the friendship.

    It is simply a relationship. Our heart is to do our best and God has given us HIS SPIRIT so that we CAN do our best. I’m ONLY HUMAN is not a valid excuse for someone with JESUS inside.

    If I’m 100% greedy when I’m first saved, I should be BY HIS PROVISION and GRACE, 0% Greedy by the time I’m a 5 or 6 yr-old-believer. Will I still show greedy tendencies from time to time? Maybe, probably. But don’t tolerate it and NEVER make EXCUSES. Jesus hates it when we make excuses or when we USE HIS BLOOD as an excuse for continued sin. THAT IS THE WORST. We really have NO EXCUSES to not be 100% different people than when we first believed. He has given us HIMSELF as the provision towards change. That is why EVERYONE who claims to be a believer is EXPECTED to WALK LIKE JESUS. If there are believers around me (including myself) that aren’t like Jesus, I find out why. They may be weak. They may be rebellious. Weakness can be tolerated because Jesus WILL TRANSFORM weakness to Strength. But rebellion and excuses… no forgiveness remains. There is no other Christianity than this.

  15. Some Christians are appalled to say they are a sinner. I believe people are hindered away from Jesus when Christians try to look like they have it all together pretending they don’t do a thing wrong. All Christians struggle with sin if we’re honest. A Christian can feel defeated and can become fearful that God no longer loves them, and that is a lie the devil likes to tell us. But the reality is that our future hope is secure, God is still at work in our lives. God is with us and helps us each individually wherever we are.

  16. Hi,

    Do we really know who, what, where, and when God considers one to be “greedy.” We know that Jesus had no house, savings, nor many possesions and was not greedy. But, most of us have all of that. What would it take for us to be considered greedy by God?

  17. It is not an external standard. It is an internal one, governed by the Spirit, but can be described as an unhealthy desire for MORE that is self-serving and self-centered. Again, in my experience, I believe that all of my money is His and to be used for His purposes. Literally half the furniture and stuff in my house was purchased by my brothers and sisters in Christ. We take care of each other’s needs in real and practical ways. My 11-yr-old has two iPods, both purchased for her by people 4 times her age. She uses them to listen to her audio Bible constantly and to learn Chinese so that she can reach the Chinese for Jesus some day. From a very young age, all around her, she has seen generosity and now she too is a very giving person.

    Greed on the other hand eats people alive and can be seen as they drive themselves to earn more and more, only to spend it on their own material cravings.

    Seriously Hank, there are no rules, only love and life in the Spirit. I have gotten the feeling that you are still unsure of the Spirit’s role, but short answer is: Without the Spirit, there is NO CHRISTIANITY. The Spirit will check you (an internal grieving) if a purchase is not authorized by Father. And if you are dull and miss His leading, there will be other fruit and evidence showing you that you are missing Father’s heart. And other brothers and sisters help in that capacity too.

  18. Hank, do you think have you been greedy, if so I would suggest that you talk to God about it and ask for forgiveness. If you don’t believe God forgives people I suggest you go to a Bible teaching church, there are Bible teaching churches that give Biblical counseling.

  19. So, is that a “yes,” or a “no”?

  20. Anonymous, I’d suggest you quit being anonymous. And furthermore that you read Romans 2:6-11.

  21. Dwayne,

    Without a doubt, the majority of Churches of Christ have taught a works salvation beginning with the separation of the Churches from the rest of the Restoration Movement — except perhaps for the last few years.

    It’s at least possible that works theology has finally moved into the minority at this point. But if it has, it’s happened only recently – and it hasn’t happened here in Alabama. There’s not a single city or county in this state where the grace-based numbers are greater than the works-based numbers.

  22. Tell me rey are you ever, greedy, unloving, unmerciful, proud, gossiping, untrustworthy, covetous, envious, quarrelsome, and the list keeps going.

    You skipped right over where Paul said, Romans 2:1 “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.”

    And if you keep reading Paul said, Romans 3:10 “There is none righteous no, not one.”

    rey are you righteous before God or do you need someone who is righteous to stand in your place?

  23. Anon, rey is right. A genuine real righteousness is expected in the life of a believer… that is what the Holy Spirit is IN YOU for… to walk you INTO a life of love and righteousness.

    And for the record, pilgrim = AndyR. I’m not anonymously afraid. I just prefer to be a fellow pilgrim.

    And to answer your question anon:
    I need Jesus to BE my Righteousness, my covering, my confidence to come BOLDLY into the MOST HOLY PLACE.

    BUT, because of that, I can say, that I do live in righteousness and love and purity of heart and mind. When I see a scantily clad female, I don’t lust because Jesus has changed me on the inside. Expect righteousness to be real in your mortal body.

  24. When did I say we shouldn’t be doing what is right?

    Some Christians are appalled to say they are a sinner. I believe people are hindered away from Jesus when Christians try to look like they have it all together pretending they don’t do a thing wrong. All Christians struggle with sin if we’re honest. A Christian can feel defeated and can become fearful that God no longer loves them, and that is a lie the devil likes to tell us. But the reality is that our future hope is secure, God is still at work in our lives. God is with us and helps us each individually wherever we are.

  25. Hank:

    There is no GREED LIMIT like a there is a SPEED LIMIT.

    A speed limit says that this zone is 55. Liberals go 70 and depend on grace to forgive. Conservatives go 52 just in case their speedometer is wrong and they loath the liberals and themselves when they accidentally go 56.

    The New Covenant has no such laws. Paul says,
    1Corinthians 10:23
    “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.

    There again, the royal law.

    And what I mentioned above: what speed should I go? I will obey the Spirit.

    I know the Spirit’s general principle is to obey the laws of the land. I know 55 is safe to my fellow drivers. But there may be a time where I need to drive 70 for the sake of love or for the sake of something I know the Spirit wants me to do.

    Either way, there is no “greed limit” that you can use to condemn or justify yourself (or condemn others). You simply need to stay connected to the LIVING JESUS and find your confidence in Him, not in how well you do or do not keep the commands.

  26. The Pharisees excelled at condemning others, to the Pharisees self-righteous and judgmentalism went hand-in-hand. The more they judged other people’s sin the better they felt about themselves. The Pharisees loved the law far more than the gospel. The Pharisees memorized Scripture well but could not comprehend what they read. Many people are exactly like that, they can memorize Scripture well but they cannot comprehend what they read in their black light. These people quibble every letter of the law while virtually ignoring the heart of Jesus’ mission. A relationship with God is stifled when people reduce it to a bunch of do’s and don’ts. Christianity is not institutionalized religion, it is not going to church every Sunday, it is not putting ourselves above others, it is not seeking what we can find wrong with everyone else. People who have a holier-than-thou attitude and despise others they don’t consider as good as they are, they have very little if no room to be loving, forgiving and understanding to others, instead they’re always criticizing, judging and condemning others, although they would never dream of divulging their secrets kept sins.

  27. So who on this page, are you referring to? And speaking of “never divulging”… what was your name again, Anon?

  28. What is wrong with using Anonymous when on the internet?

  29. I hate to hear that about Alabama. I have grown up in Texas and lived in various cities. Every congregation I have been a part of (a church of Christ) for the past 35 years has been grace oriented. The last works oriented congregation I was part of started making the leap to grace in the 70s. Lindsey Garmon led the leap. My impression has been that most congregations that held on to works salvation have withered or died. But I may have the wrong impression. I have always been a part of a congregation that had 500 or more members. They tend to be more dedictated to searching the scriptures that in defending historical patterns.

  30. Stan,

    I can’t address other areas of the country, but around here, the churches of 500+ members would be largely progressive, making them quite different from the small churches as a whole.

    There are plenty of smaller progressive churches, but they are very much in the minority.

  31. “Without a doubt, the majority of Churches of Christ have taught a works salvation” (Jay) along with Paul in Romans 2:6-11. Face it, our version of Paul’s epistles is inconsistent. Paul is presented as having his cake and eat it too. Each side can appeal to Paul for their case, which betrays obvious later editing. An inasmuch as the case for faith-onlyism is based on out of context and twisted OT argumentation (Romans 3,4,5,9,10) such as ripping “there is none righteous no not one” out of the context of Psalm 14 where its about atheists (“the fool has said in his heart there is not god”) it is OBVIOUS that the faith-onlyist argumentation (the OT twisting) comes from a later hand, not from the authentic Paul.

    Nobody in the churches of Christ explains it that way of course, because you guys are stuck in the middle ages before textual criticism came about, living in fantasy land saying that the Bible is perfectly inerrant. Yet we know that the proto-orthodox made interpolations in the textual transmission. And here these twisted OT-based arguments in favor of faith-onlyism are interpolations from the proto-orthodox faith-onlyists of the 2nd century who twisted the OT as their main form of entertainment.

  32. You still need to keep reading further Romans 3:19-20 “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

    Are you saying you are never disobedient?

    Romans 10:21 “All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

    Praise God He is there to stretch His hand out to us when we mess up.

  33. Your argument from Romans 3:19-20 cannot overturn Romans 2:6-11. Because Romans 2:6-11 is not about perfect obedience in the sense of having never sinned. It is about TRAJECTORY and purpose.

    Romans 2:6-7 God “will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, [he will give] eternal life:”

    It doesn’t say they have to have never sinned. It says they have to constantly continue in well doing, seeking glory and honour from God. This, as I said, is TRAJECTORY. This is why people say that what God wants is for us to try our best. That’s what Paul is saying right here!

    Now, as to “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” I would make Paul’s argument better. No man will be justified by the deeds of the Law because Jesus nailed the Law to the cross. The reason we aren’t justified by the Law is because the Law is dead. Jesus slew it and it was buried with him, but unlike Jesus, it didn’t rise from the dead.

    What we will be justified by is a combination of Jesus’ death on the cross, living in accordance to Jesus’ moral teachings (what he calls “these sayings of mine” Matt 7:24), and faith in Jesus.

    Romans 2:8 “But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, [he will give] indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish,”

    But what if you have faith alone and are yet contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness? Then, obviously, you get indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish! Duh.

  34. Are you ever, greedy, selfish, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful, proud, gossiping, untrustworthy, covetous, envious, quarrelsome,do you never complain, do you always love people as you should, do you always help those in need as you should…and the list keeps going.

  35. “Are you ever, greedy, selfish, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful, proud, gossiping, untrustworthy, covetous, envious, quarrelsome,do you never complain?”

    Romans 2:6-7 God “will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, [he will give] eternal life:”

    What do you not understand? It doesn’t say you have to be perfect, but that you have to seek glory and honour and immortality by patient continuance in well doing.

    Where Paul says you must have “patient continuance in well doing,” you are arguing “just give up on well doing and think faith alone will save you.”

    Where Paul says you must “seek for glory and honour and immortality,” you say all seeking is anathema to God because if you seek then you might boast (oh God forbid!) saying “Aha! I sought! I knocked and it was opened! I asked and it was given! Look how great I am! I sought and I found!” “No,” you say, “you must not seek! Just give up and be saved by a lazy faith onlyism.”

    Yet, Jesus says, “seek, and ye shall find;” (Matt 7:7) and in Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”

    But you say, “Nay! Do not hunger and thirst after righteousness! GIve up! You can’t be righteous!”

    Romans 2:6-7 God “will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, [he will give] eternal life:”

    You can’t get around this one. That you would even try shows that you aren’t by patient continuance in well doing seeking for glory and honour and immortality. You better start!

  36. “Either way, there is no “greed limit” that you can use to condemn or justify yourself (or condemn others). You simply need to stay connected to the LIVING JESUS and find your confidence in Him, not in how well you do or do not keep the commands.” — Pilgrim

    Think about it Pilgrim….

    While YOU argue that there is no “limit,” God tells us that those who are guilty of the sin (greed, for example), will not inherit eternal life.

    What and/or who gives you the right to say there is no “limit”? God said that the “greedy” (as well as other sins), will not inherit eternal life. Should not that cause us to wonder what, who, and at what point God considers one to be guilty of such? You have said “there are no rules,” but why do you say that?

    Do you know exactly when and where God considers one to be guilty of the sins which he says will keep one from heaven?

    What you say sounds good… But from where do you get your information?

    Just using greed as one example — Do you really actually know what our God in heaven considers to be “greed”?

    With all due respect Pilgrim, you write a lot of words but don’t give hardly any verses supporting what you claim to be the truth. Therefore, how can we know whether what you write is true?

    Again, you wrote:

    “You simply need to stay connected to the LIVING JESUS and find your confidence in Him, not in how well you do or do not keep the commands.”

    What do you mean in writing that it is not about “how wel you do or do not keep the commands”?

    Especially, when God said that whoever does not keep his commands is a liar with no truth in him?

    There just has to be a line somewhere. I say, we must really struggle and hope that we are not crossing it.

    It seems as though you choose to ignore it? Otherwise, why would you write things like “ther are no rles” and that its not about “ow well you do or do not keep the commands.”

    What do you mean by those statements?

  37. Colossians 214 “Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

    God’s law was always good, it was people’s sin that is bad and needed to be nailed to the cross, and Jesus did just that taking away our sins as He bore our sin nailed to the cross.

    Hebrews 8:7-8 “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”

    The new covenant renders the first covenant obsolete. A covenant is an agreement or promise; commandments are laws.

    The Mosaic covenant is never declared in Scripture to be everlasting. The other covenants that God made with Israel, the Abrahamic, Davidic, and Land covenants are all declared to be everlasting (Genesis 17:7; 2 Samuel 23:5; and Psalm 105:8-11).

    Seek for glory and honour and immortality, to receive eternal life, who do we seek to have this, Jesus Christ, through Jesus we are glorified, given honor, and immortality and given eternal life.

    When did I say we should be lazy?

    Please answer the question.

    Are you ever, greedy, selfish, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful, proud, gossiping, untrustworthy, covetous, envious, quarrelsome,do you never complain, do you always love people as you should, do you always help those in need as you should…and the list keeps going.

  38. “God’s law was always good” — Not in Numbers 31:17-18. But I really see it as a corruption not as really from God. “Kill everyone, men, boys, non-virgin women: but the young virgin girls. keep them for yourselves.” (And later in the chapter, distribute the “booty” in both senses of the word to the whole nation, even the priests.) I mean, come on!

    Colossians 214 is not the only verse on the subject of the Law being annulled. See Ephesians 2:15 “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;” (law contained in ordinances makes clear reference to the ceremonial law of the OT and its ordinances of ceremonial worship) Ephesians 2:16 “And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity [i.e. the ordinances previously mentioned] thereby:”

    2 Corinthians 3:13 “And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:”

    So, yes, it is still true that the real reason the Law does not justify us is not that “through the law is the knowledge of sin.” Through the apple is the knowledge of sin. When Adam ate the fruit, that gave us the knowledge of good and evil. The Law merely frustrated that by putting ceremonial rules on the same plane as morality. The law does not give us the knowledge of sin but makes us sinners by making us think that committing adultery is equivalent to eating shellfish. Thus, the Law takes away the knowledge of sin.

    As to your litany of questions, I have not said I am perfect. I know I’m not. And nothing in the Scriptures says you have to be perfect. Rather, it says this: Romans 2:6-7 God “will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, [he will give] eternal life:”

  39. The enmity of their natural mind was against and contrary to God’s law! Christ, through His blood, abolished this enmity against God’s law!
    Again it is restated in Eph. 2:16 …
    “And that He might reconcilethem both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity”

    Paul was making the point that the hope and spiritual future of the Christian Gentiles is through participating in the promises made to that “commonwealth” of Abraham’s “seed” not in rejecting the Jews. And neither should the Jews reject the Gentiles. The barriers between Jews and Gentiles needed to be broken down.

    I don’t have time to comment further on this now but there are some deep understandings that need to be known.

  40. Hank, I have only a few moments here, but before your questions just dangle for too long, let me assure you of this:

    I am SERIOUS as all get out about: obedience, following commands, obeying spiritual authority, the truth that we will be judged by WHAT WE DO. (everyone, please read my other comments on this page to understand my full context of faith and Christ’s atonement and provision).

    This is what I’m saying Hank. If God writes a code, and calls it The New Testament, and in that code it says: You must give 10% of your wealth or else you are greedy. I believe that would answer your question.

    But here are the problems with a written code:

    Questions come up, questions of interpretation and application: is that before or after taxes? who should I give it to? does that include my wife and I jointly? does my stock account need to be included? should we consider inflation.

    Then there are these problems: if you give 10%, then you FEEL like you’ve DONE your duty and you FEEL justified by what YOU have done. That is what I mean by finding satisfaction in keeping commands. Legal codes by definition allow the individual to feel justified and if they are only able to give 8%, to feel condemned. It also leads to judgement: I see my brother gave 9% and I judge him for it. Or I feel jealous because he gave 12% and I resent him. That is much of the bad fruit of written code.

    I’m out of time. But let me say this… the living Spirit gives commands: to one He may say, “Sell all you have.” To another he may prompt to buy a car for a family less in need. But if the code said 10%, then someone living BY THE CODE would DISOBEY the living Lord by ignoring the REAL TIME commands. Sometimes those real time commands come through SPIRIT FILLED leaders and we must obey.

    The point is that our obedience and commands today are LIVING and ACTIVE and not dead and written. We understand intuitively that when Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell ALL, we understand that that command, given in what most CALL the new testament, we understand that it was specific. ALL NEW COVENANT COMMANDS ARE CUSTOM AND SPECIFIC to you by the Holy Spirit. That is what it means when He says He will write His laws on our hearts.

    So obedience to commands is vital, it is just to a living Lord and and not a dead WRITTEN code.

    But for the record, we don’t find our security in our keeping of those commands. Our security is in what Christ has done. But because He has given the enormous gift of HIMSELF IN US, a real obedience and holiness is expected from us, not earning approval, but building His Kingdom and creating a city set on a Hill to the praise of His Name.

  41. rey,

    So just what modern textual criticism teaches that Romans has been edited in this way? Is there any manuscript evidence? Any evidence in history? On whose expertise are you relying?

    I mean, you can find an article or a book that takes any position imaginable, I suppose, but you argue that only those stuck in the middle ages would disagree. So what evidence is there for the 2nd century editing of Romans?

    I think your view is very much a minority viewpoint among scholars, even post Middle Ages.

  42. There was the wall of separation to the outer court of the Gentiles, the area of the temple complex where Gentiles were allowed, in the middle were the inner portions of the temple. The law and ordinances were pass down throughout the generations which showed Israel as a distinct and different people in the earth. In keeping with the vision of their prophets, the builders of the ancient temple in Jerusalem designed it to be a house of prayer for all peoples. There was an inner area where only Jews were admitted. Here stood the Holy of Holies, which only the high priest was permitted to enter on the Day of Atonement. There was also a section that was the court of the Gentiles. Throughout the ancient world, many Gentiles worshiped with Jews without ever converting. The Jews welcomed them and their presence in the temple reflecting the age-old hope that one day all nations and peoples, including strangers and sojourners, would join in praise of the One who created them all.

    The spiritual disadvantage of the Gentiles was unmistakable, Ephesians 2:12, “that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”, Romans 11:30-31 “For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy.”

    Paul was very familiar with this, Acts 21:28 “Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”

    God never hated Gentiles, He hated their disbelief Him, He hated their idols. God hates sin not the sinner, Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrated His own love toward in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

    Between Jews and Gentiles there was a “middle wall of separation” in their minds that needed to be broken down. Paul uses the wall of separation to illustrate the barrier in the minds between Gentiles and Jews, he used it as a symbol of the enmity that any Gentile or Jew had for each other.

  43. Typing (sp)

    God never hated Gentiles, He hated their disbelief Him, He hated their idols. God hates sin not the sinner, Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

  44. (sp) He hated their disbelief in Him,

  45. I am pondering whether there are people that God hates, evil men who commit monstrous things with repentance or remorse who shall go to their appointed doom. As I understand the scriptures, it seems that some people will be judged and condemned to hell, whether that be everlasting conscious torment or a period of torment followed by annihilation. Either way, it is not what is reserved for those that love God and upon whom He has set His love.

    In no way do I intend for this thought to diminish God’s love for those that are His or demean the character of God in any way whatsoever.

  46. Pilgrim has pretty much nailed it. Rule keeping creates a heart that feels justified by rule keeping — self-justification. Loving God with all your heart, mind, and strength drives you further and deeper into obedience than rules ever could — and yet leaves you grateful for God’s grace. AND it changes what you see as the obedience God requires.

  47. Are you saying God doesn’t forgive people who commit monstrous sins. Jesus said if you hate someone in your heart it is murder. How many people have you murdered in your life?

  48. Please allow me a small but significant correction to my comment in upper case letters as follows: I am pondering whether there are people that God hates, evil men who commit monstrous things WITHOUT repentance or remorse who shall go to their appointed doom.

    Anonymous: I am NOT suggesting that God will not forgive the repentant person, no matter how monstrous their acts. His love for his children is limitless. But there are those of whom Jesus said “you are of your father the devil.” These are not God’s children as we may be.

    I am suggesting God hates wickedness and he will execute his wrath upon them. I am suggesting He does not love them. In fact he hates them though he tolerates their wickedness now, and perhaps He will always hate them. I believe the scriptures say that vengeance is His and he will repay them. As Peter says of those who disbelieve: “they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.”

    Although I do not know them personally, I do believe there are people that commit the most unspeakable acts and are not remorseful. A study of world history, even recent world history, provides so many examples of the types of individuals that I have in mind. I hope this helps you understand the type of creature I have in mind.

    God’s mercy and grace is far beyond our ability to comprehend, but His wrath upon wickedness is also one of His attributes. As disciples of Christ is there room for us to praise His wrath upon evil?

    Please understand I am not suggesting this should be the primary focus of our relationship with Him. My focus, like yours, is on his mercy and forgiveness towards such a sinner as I. However, His wrath upon wickedness is a good thing. He made hell for a purpose and those that reject His love and grace may well be “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.” There may be those of whom it can be said that God hates them and their sin.

  49. God hates sin and the wrath of God abides upon those who reject Christ, John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” God does not want any soul to perish. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” God loves all mankind including those who are unsaved, John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”, God loved us first, 1 John 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us.”

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