The Fork in the Road: Moral vs. Positive Law: Those led by the Spirit aren’t under law

Argument 2.

In Galatians, Paul continues to explain why obedience to the positive command of circumcision is pointless.

(Gal 5:18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Now, we try take this statement, turn it on its head, and declare that “led by the Spirit” means “obey all the laws.” Obviously, that’s not Paul’s point.

(Gal 5:22-25)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Plainly, Paul is saying that the old concept of obedience to a book of rules is replaced by submission to the work of the Spirit in our hearts. These are “fruit of the Spirit,” not fruit of my hard work or my obedience to God’s laws.

Ironically, we miss this because we haven’t read the Law of Moses, which predicts exactly this.

We begin in Deuteronomy —

(Deu 10:16-17) Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

God, through Moses commanded the Israelites to “circumcise” their hearts. Mere outward obedience would not be enough. The Israelites must obey the Law from their hearts. (Despite how many preachers announce that under the Mosaic dispensation obedience was external only.)

In chapter 28, God pronounces curses on Israel should they fail to obey the Law. In chapter 30, however, he says that even after the curses come true, God will gather a remnant through whom he’ll establish a radically different, new covenant —

(Deu 30:6) The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

In the new covenant, God himself will change the hearts of his people! Rather than the burden being entirely on the people, God will take on the task of changing hearts. You see, God’s written word — the Law — would prove not to be enough to change hearts as God wants them changed. Thus, something will happen beyond reading and applying God’s written word.

Many years later, Jeremiah wrote at the time of the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar — a time when the curses of the Law came true. He prophesied —

(Jer 31:31-34) “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them, ” declares the LORD.

33 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Jeremiah prophesies a covenant “not like the covenant I made with their forefathers.” This covenant will be that God himself will write his laws in the minds of his people and on their hearts. And this will allow for the provision of utter grace: “I … will remember their sins no more.”

These promises were fulfilled with the coming of Jesus and the giving of the Spirit.

(Rom 2:29) No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.

Paul tells us that God honored his promise in Deuteronomy 30:6 through the indwelling Spirit. One work of this Spirit is “circumcision of the heart.” The change isn’t that God now cares about the heart whereas he didn’t before. Clearly, that is not the point. Rather, the point is that God will take responsibility for changing our hearts! No longer will be only his people changing their own hearts in response to God’s word. Rather, God will change their hearts by means beyond reading the word. That’s what it says.

Indeed, Jeremiah 31:31-34 is quoted in full by the writer of Hebrews in chapter 8, and this becomes the centerpiece of his exposition into chapter 10. He explains,

(Heb 10:13-16) Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

How are we “being made holy”? Plainly, by God’s own work in our hearts and minds. We are being changed by God!

But as is explained in the next few verses in Hebrews 10 and in Philippians 2:12-13, we can lose our salvation and so we must work with God to bring it all to fruition. But it’s not really working with God so much as God working in us while we yield to his will.

(Phil 2:12-13) Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

We can ignore neither verse 12 nor verse 13. Verse 12 commands us to work. Why? Because “God works” in us to “will” (desire) and act as God wishes. God himself changes our hearts and minds so that our desires conform to his desires and, as a result, our actions conform to his will!

Do we work with God for this to happen? Yes, of course. But we work because we know God works in us. We can’t do it ourselves. Only God can — and he will.

And so we return to where we left Galatians —

(Gal 5:22-25)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

The fruit of the Spirit is God’s work in our hearts and minds. He does it. We submit and yield. We cooperate. But it’s God’s work. Indeed, Paul declares that because we “belong to Christ Jesus” we have already “crucified” the sinful nature. He is, of course, speaking of our baptism, the moment when we joined with Jesus’ death and resurrection — and the moment when we received the Spirit.

He concludes by pointing out that because the Spirit in us saves us, we must cooperate with and submit to the Spirit, rather than grieving and quenching the Spirit.

Now, the contrast Paul makes in Galatians is between obedience to a positive law — circumcision — and submission to the Spirit. And the examples of the Spirit’s products within us are loving things as well as things that come from a right relationship with God and with others. Indeed, the Spirit particularly equips us to get along.

And that tells us something about how very wicked our divisions and bickering appear to God. And it tells us that attempting to find positive law in the new covenant is a search for the wrong thing.

(Gal 6:15)  Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.

Here’s the test. If that passage makes perfect sense to you, you’ve got it. If it’s a puzzlement, you are reading with false assumptions.

You see, the “new creation” is a pet phrase of Paul, and it refers to the miracle of creation that God works when we’re saved through his Spirit.

(2 Cor 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.

(2 Cor 3:18)  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Paul is speaking of the transformation that the Spirit brings. And the Spirit transforms us into Christ-like people, people of deeper and deeper faith who love with the compassion of Jesus. This how God writes his laws on our hearts and our minds.

At this point I have to offer something of a testimony. I’ve been teaching grace along these lines for a long time — at least 20 years. And when I began, I was afraid my church would take the lessons and turn them into license. I was not alone.

But as we taught grace more and more, the church was more and more transformed by the Spirit. “Ministry Ideas” is a series of posts on just some of things happening at my church — by the power of the Spirit.

We elders could never have commanded the members to work this hard or this effectively or this passionately. Indeed, they couldn’t be this effective if they didn’t want to make these sacrifices and expend so much effort in the Kingdom. This kind of commitment cannot be out of obedience. It requires a new creation. You see, the members of my church who do these remarkable things are moved and empowered by God’s Spirit. They don’t have to be commanded. Indeed, commands would be woefully insufficient. I’ve seen it tried. It doesn’t work.

And because God himself is writing his laws on their hearts and minds, they are changed — and they are changing others. And positive law has nothing to do with it.

Indeed, even the command to love is beside the point — because love has become their re-created nature. They don’t love because they were commanded to love. They love because love gives them joy — and only God’s Spirit can produce that kind of obedience.

Think about it. If you love others because God threatened to damn you if you don’t, well, you don’t really love others. You love yourself and act like you love others to protect yourself from damnation. That’s not love. It’s self-interest and fear. True love can’t be commanded.


64 Responses

  1. I want to sit here and cry because I WAS part of a congregation that at least tried to teach grace . . . and it ended up being as bad as a congregation I left that was very legalistic and controlling.

    I came out of an old Crossroads Movement church and I went to another church that had been part of that movement but was trying to break away from it.

    That church, in the name of “this is the way the 1st century church met” eventually split into independent house churches. I went with the house churches–I now realize–because the two ministers at our congregation were going that way, and I had learned that you need to submit to your leaders if you wanted to be considered “spiritual”.

    I lasted there for five years and grew increasingly frustrated and confused. These people were supposed to be teaching grace and freedom in Christ, but they’d ripped out the scaffolding and left nothing in its place.

    I finally told my husband, it’s time to get out of here. So we moved and went back into a more traditional organization.

    But because of those years in the house churches, I tend to be very suspicious when I hear talk of being motivated by grace, because my experience in a church that was supposedly being motivated by grace wasn’t all that positive!

  2. Tina,

    Thanks for posting here — and I’m sorry you had such bad experiences. I’d like to learn more of your story.

    When you say, “they’d ripped out the scaffolding and left nothing in its place,” what do you mean? What did you find lacking in your house church experience?

  3. Tina, your story is unfortunately all too common. If I may, let me offer some thoughts.
    Sometimes, “attempts” at “hose churches” are just that, “experiments” that are not authored by God. Churches are not Subway restaurants. I can’t just decide to open one because I want to and have the funds. A local church is a supernatural entity that requires gifting (Eph 4). If the men and women “starting” either a “house church” or an “institutional church” are not gifted from Heaven, then the fruit will not be Spirit fruit. Some good may be done. And as you discovered, in some cases, it can be downright destructive. I realize this may be a different way to view “church establishment” than you are used to, but Biblically speaking, I think you’ll find it true. Your own testimony shows what a swath of destruction men can leave trying to do God a favor.

    House church attempts can feel more hurtful because they are more personal than attendance-based paradigms. But trust me when I say that even though your experience was painful, don’t toss out the baby… Church, real church, was always meant to be VERY PERSONAL.

    So I’m begging you to not let the scars keep you from engaging at a very real and personal level with your fellow believers. Open up your heart and lovingly dig into theirs. It is a vulnerable and trusting place to be but that is WHERE the Holy Spirit can do His best work.

  4. Jay wrote:

    The Israelites must obey the Law from their hearts. (Despite how many preachers announce that under the Mosaic dispensation obedience was external only.)

    I remember once, many years ago, sitting in a “gospel meeting” when the preacher made a comment like that. I must have looked dismayed, because he asked me afterward what he had said that caused my reaction. I asked him if he had considered the first of the 10 commandments – or the tenth. “Have no other gods before me” and “Do not covet.” If those do not find their locus in the heart, where is it?


  5. It was the Pharisees who, like legalists today, made obedience mere externals. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus corrected this false view of the Old Testament Covenant.

  6. Jay, are we to believe that the Old Testament description of God was just an exaggeration of the facts, that he was not a demanding God, he was not a god of wrath, that he was not a jealous god, that he was not a vengeful god, he was totally not self centered, and it goes on. That all those things were just wrong and God was totally misrepresented in the writings/scriptures of the old testament. Instead he was all loving, never held a grudge, never demanded man obey his commands, just ask and you will be forgiven by the grace of god. Just ask Job, although I never thought the book of Job was about a man, but about mankind’s relation with God . Job pleaded for a “Daysman” a mediator to negotiate between him and God for fear if he tried to plead his case before god it would only make things worse.
    Job:9:30: If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;
    31: Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
    32: For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment.
    33: Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.
    34: Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me:
    35: Then would I speak, and not fear him; but it is not so with me.
    This was a person who was in favor with god.

    When and where does scripture say, OK I give, all you have to do is recognize me as God, you need to do nothing.
    No work at all, sit back and enjoy your victory.

  7. Jay,

    I believe your understanding of the mission and work of the Holy Spirit today is incorrect. I will try to follow along with what you are saying, but I immediatedly have questions regarding the situation of God’s people throughout the OT. For example, you write:

    “In the new covenant, God himself will change the hearts of his people! Rather than the burden being entirely on the people, God will take on the task of changing hearts. You see, God’s written word — the Law — would prove not to be enough to change hearts as God wants them changed. Thus, something will happen beyond reading and applying God’s written word.”

    But did not the faithful children of God throughout the OT have hearts that were just as pure as any of us do today? And if they did, do you really believe that the burden of having such was entirely upon themselves whereas today – the burden is on God? Why were they able to have pure hearts capable of loving God and their neighbors without the power of the Spirit (as you suggest) but that we are not so capable? You wrote:

    “Rather, the point is that God will take responsibility for changing our hearts! No longer will be only his people changing their own hearts in response to God’s word.”

    I don’t wan’t to put words in your mouth Jay, but you seem to imply that the children of God throughout the OT were able to change their own hearts in response to God’s word. Is that what you believe? If so, why then can’t we? If not, then how were they able to love as God commanded them? How could they be so faithful and obedient all on their own? Finaly, you wrote:

    “God himself changes our hearts and minds so that our desires conform to his desires and, as a result, our actions conform to his will!”

    Again, don’t you believe that God expected his children throughout the OT to change their hearts so that their desires would conform to his desires, and as a result, their actions would conform to his will? If so, how do you believe they were able to do that?

    I believe, that children of God throughout the OT were just as able to love, obey, and produce fruit as we are today. The Psa. 1 man for example. Even Jesus explained that the followers of God before Pentecost were “in him” (and that he was “in them” as well). He also clearly taught that they were able to produce the fruit of God as long as they remained in him (John 15:1 ff).

    I do not believe (as you have written), that the responsibility of God’s children to love and produce fruit has ever shifted from man to God. I believe the responsibility has always been upon the child of God — although God has always assisted. If not, why were there so many faithful disciples in the OT without any “personal indwelling” of the Spirit and why are their so many unfaithful disciples in the NT who are so “personally indwelt”?



  8. Hank, I think the onus is on you to tell us what you think is so glorious about the New Covenant as Paul and everyone else says that it is. What is different now? How do you interpret the prophecy of the New Covenant from Jer. 31 that is quoted in Hebrews as fulfilled? That would help a lot.

  9. Pilgrim,

    Respecfully, I am not the one who wrote and posted the article. Neither do I claim to have it all figured out. However, the questions I have asked in response to the above article written by Jay are fair. He made the satements….I merely seek clarification.

  10. Jerry,

    I agree that Jesus was corrected a false interpretation of the Law that some had.

    The problem wasn’t unique to Jesus’ time. The Prophets before often warned against the same thing. And we have our own share of white-washed tombs today.

    Of course, today it’s even more important that we honor God with our hearts, not because it’s commanded, but because God lives in our hearts. If we refuse heart-honor, then we are resisting the power of the Spirit — a deadly choice indeed.

  11. Laymond,

    You seem to have me mistaken for someone else. I don’t teach and have never taught that works don’t matter. Do you think that love does not require work? (I hope you’re not married, if so.)

    Love requires much more work than law. I’ve repeatedly posted,

    (1 John 3:16-18) 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. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

    And I’ve posted several thousand words on the necessity of participating in God’s redemptive mission.

    So, yes, God is quite demanding. It’s just that he demands things that really matter — things that are vastly harder than 5 acts of worship.

  12. I don’t think it could be any clearer. Paul says the mystery which was hidden for generations but is NOW revealed: Christ IN YOU, the hope of glory. Col. 1:27

    The Son of God did not live IN a person prior to Pentecost.

    It is that simple.

    IF you are born again, DIVINITY HIMSELF lives in you (2 Pet 1) and yes we have to cooperate. We must have faith…. Christ dwells in our hearts THROUGH FAITH. And FAITH is work but NOT WORKS. And HE TRANSFORMS US (Transforms is PASSIVE in greek) Rom 12:1-2, 2 Cor 3:18…

    Believe the Good News Hank. It IS GLORIOUS. And people WILL SEE JESUS IN HIS PEOPLE.

  13. Pilgrim,

    You wrote:

    “The Son of God did not live IN a person prior to Pentecost.”

    But, you are mistaken in believing that. For the Son of God did live in a person prior to Penetcost. He said so himself. Take John 15 for example. There, Jesus said (more than once) that he was in fact IN his disciples (see verses 4 and 7 for examples of such).

    I believe the Good News.

    Considering John 15 however, will you believe Jesus? That he was actually IN his disciples before Pentecost?

    Which begs this question to all who believe that Jesus is in us today “through the personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit,”….. How was he in his disciples before Pentecost?

    That is the tough question for so many. How was Jesus IN his disciples and how were they able to produce fruit BEFORE the day of Penetecost?

  14. Jay said, Laymond, You seem to have me mistaken for someone else.and I say I apologize, maybe I have mistakenly assumed that you and Royce Ogle were of the same thought, since he seems to think you are someone who deserves worship, as indicated on his blog. And I know how set he is in his belief of salvation in faith and grace alone.
    once again I am sorry I accused you.
    But my mama always told me you will be judged by the company you keep 🙂

    Rv:20:13: And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

  15. Hank, in all sincerity, I have no interest in arm wrestling you over the nature of the New Covenant.

    John 14:16-21
    And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives WITH you and WILL BE IN you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 ON THAT DAY you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I AM IN YOU. 21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

    John 16
    But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

    Pentecost was the turning point. Pentecost wasn’t just some jewish holiday. It was something REAL fulfilled in Acts 2. 3,000 died at the giving of the law. (Ex. 32:28) And 3,000 were saved at the giving of the Spirit. That was no accident.

    Acts 2:16 ff
    THIS is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

    “ ‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.

    Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.

  16. So to be clear… Jesus HIMSELF makes the distinction… He is WITH you, He shall be IN you. WITH then IN… those are Jesus’s words

    I still really don’t know what you believe or what your point is… but if YOUR LIFE is brimming with the fruit of the Spirit and the acts of the flesh are crucified, then stay the course and share the wealth.

    But if you are arguing from a place of theory, then try to believe what I am saying because I am not arguing from a place of theory. In my life and in those around me I SEE the fruit of the Spirit ABOUNDING and the acts of the flesh being pounded into the dust. I’m not boasting. From someone who walked EVERYDAY in the flesh, I know the difference.

    I just came back from lunch at McDonalds with 25 brothers. Just at our table, one of the young guys was weeping over his sin and repenting and will probably become a new Born again believer in the next few days. Just a normal everyday lunch at McDonalds in my world. Stuff like that happens ALL THE TIME when a people are governed by the Spirit and not tradition and rules. Jesus punching satan in the teeth. I love it. This young man isn’t being walked through 5 steps. He is meeting Jesus for real.

  17. Pilgrim,

    Those are all wonderful passages.

    Of cousre, not a one of them contradict the fact that Jesus claimed to be IN his disciples BEFORE the day of Pentecost (Jn. 15) and that they were able to produce fruit before that day as well.

    I hope I did not upset you. I am not trying to “armwrestle” anybody. It’s just that you had said Jesus was not in his disciples before Pentecost…but, Jesus said that he was. I felt obligated to point that out.

    The question remains:

    HOW was Jesus IN his disciples and how were they able to produce fruit BEFORE the day of Penetecost?

  18. John 15:4 (before Pentecost), Jesus said, “Remain IN me and I will remain IN you.”

    He told his disciples that if they remained in him (and he in them), that they would produce much fruit and that God would help them to produce even more. But, if they did not, they would be put in the fire and burned.

    What do you believe Jesus meant when he said that he would REMAIN IN them? That he wasn’t acually IN them?

  19. I WILL remain in you… these are parting instructions Hank. The whole context makes it clear that He is preparing them for the days ahead.

    Seriously, I don’t have any interest in wrangling with you. A servant of Christ doesn’t argue. If your life is brimming with fruit, tell us how you’ve done it.

    Is it brimming with the fruit of the Spirit? Jesus said by their fruit you will know them. I’ve humbly tried to tell you about the fruit I see around me. What about you?

  20. I’m only asking Hank, what is your real question? Don’t beat around the bush… just say, “This is what I think about the Spirit and the New Covenant.”

  21. I’m not upset AT ALL. You’re one of my favorite people on here. But you are still a mystery to me.

  22. John 14:18
    I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. ON THAT DAY you will REALIZE that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

    THAT DAY is Pentecost.

  23. Jay, let me see if I can explain what I mean by “ripping out the scaffolding”.

    I don’t know how familiar you or your blog readers are with the old Crossroads/Boston movement. I was baptized back in 1981, in a Crossroads-type ministry. While it was good that they emphasized studying the Bible, praying daily, being part of the fellowship, having Christian relationships and sharing your faith, it was *not* good that these things became law which had to be obeyed. You *had* to study your Bible and pray every day, you *had* to be at every meeting of the body, you *had* to have Christian relationships (and be “totally open” with them, which included sharing everything–and I mean, everything–about your life), and you *had* to share your faith daily (usually, that meant inviting someone to church or Bible study, and many times the person you invited was a total stranger. If you walked up to a total stranger and , out of the blue, invited them to a church event, you were praised for being “bold”.)

    When I left that church and went to the one that was described as preaching grace and trying to get away from the old Crossroads thinking, it was good for a while. But the attitude when we broke up into house churches was more along the lines of, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. That’s legalism and we’re getting away from legalism. You don’t have to meet with people if you don’t want to, you don’t have to serve people, you don’t have to answer to anyone for what you are or are not doing as a Christian.

    I think most of us were glad to not have to constantly answer to someone for how we were leading a Christian life. OTOH, in the group I was in, it seemed that the people who were leading the group were more interested in having us agree with them rather than encouraging us to think for ourselves. We went all the way from extreme legalism to extreme freedom–you could do what you wanted when you wanted to–and I don’t think that was good in the long run. We didn’t have the maturity we needed to really have a relationship with God on our own. We were so dependent on our leaders that I don’t think we did learn to think for ourselves.

    If I ever got involved in a house church ever again, it would be only after some good, solid investigation. Right now, I’m not up to doing something like that. I’ve been involved in a more “traditional” church for a good number of years now, but between my house church experience, experience in the Crossroads movement, and some experiences in a Baptist church (where I grew up), I’m having a difficult time putting all of that behind me and determining for myself what the Bible really does say. I feel as if I’ve been lied to by so many people (including ones in leadership) that I have a very hard time figuring out the truth. I can determine blatant lies, but when man puts his own “spin” on Christianity (and uses the Bible to do so), that’s when it gets very difficult.

  24. BTW, Jay, my current church is the North Atlanta Church of Christ in Dunwoody, GA.

  25. Thanks Pilgrim,

    You wrote:

    “I WILL remain in you… these are parting instructions Hank. The whole context makes it clear that He is preparing them for the days ahead.”

    Fair enough. However, his entire point is that he wants them to continue in (abide in, remain in, etc.), his word (which made them clean v. 3). He said that if they did remain in his word, that he would REMAIN in them.

    Further, he said that nobody could produce fruit unless they remained in him (the true vine). Which is why I also ask whether anybody here believes that children of God could produce fruit before Pentecost? If they did (and they really did), the only way that was possible was if Jesus was in them.

    Pilgrim, Jesus did not say that he would be in them at some later date any more than he said they would be clean at some later date. Or that they would produce fruit at some later date. Clearly, he was speaking in present terms throughout John 15. He repeatedly said “I am” and “you are.” Consider verses 9 & 10 where he said, “Now remain n my love. If you obey my commandments, you WILL REMAIN in my love…” Was he saying that he would love them later on? Or, that he loved them then and would continue to keep on loving them? Of course, he was presently loving them. Just as they were presently clean, presently IN him, and presently producing fruit. And Jesus was presently IN them.

    I trust that virtually EVERY respected Bible scholar would affirm that Jesus had in mind the idea that he was presently IN his disciples when he himself said as much in John 15. You have simply misinterpreted that passage of scripure. Check and see.

    Again, I do not seek to “wrangle” or whatever, only to bring up a Biblical truth that is grossly overlooked by so many today. Which is the fact that Jesus was IN his disciples BEFORE Pentecost and that they were producing fruit before that day as well. It’s true.

    The question is HOW?

  26. My question to your how question is WHY? Why does it matter to you? We are not being quizzed on how to fill in the blanks to theological questions. We are asked to bear fruit today. If you are bearing fruit TODAY and you believe that the disciples had the prophesied gift in them in John 15, then great, you’re probably right.

    I’m not bailing out of the discussion, I just don’t understand why you want to contend that they had it when the entire New Covenant writings make it ENORMOUSLY CLEAR that something RADICALLY, FUNDAMENTALLY and COSMICALLY changed on Pentecost. God Himself said, “Not like the old covenant….” So something changed that was BIG BIG BIG.

    If I had to answer your question and go with your line of reasoning I would say the HOW was because Jesus made it so in the same way that he forgave the paralytic. HE IS LORD OF THE SABBATH. If he wants to forgive and indwell, He can.

    But my point still remains. Jesus was THE REAL sacrificial lamb on Passover. No accident. The Covenant of the Spirit was “the FIRSTFRUITS” of the Pentecost celebration and 3,000 were saved. Again, no accident. The Feast of Harvest and InGathering is Coming… the REAL thing fulfilled.

    To minimize Pentecost an ANY way is to DEFY the God who established it. He foreordained that feast as a PROPHECY of Acts 2. That is the TRUTH.

  27. Tina, I will be praying for you. One thing that can NEVER be taken away from you is your own choice to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. Be devoted to the real Jesus and not a set of teachings. Keep your heart soft before Him always. When your conscience is pricked that maybe you are giving something of your heart away to this world, turn your eyes to Him and tell Him how much you love Him. Draw NEAR to God and He will draw near to you. That is a promise. The pure in heart will see God. Keep your heart clean before Him and try to help others do the same. If you do that (Romans 12:1,2) then His will becomes clearer.

  28. Pilgrim,

    I agree with you concerning the absolute significance of Pentecost, which many have called “the hub of the Bible.” Please know that I am not seeking to minimize Pentecost nor to defy the God who established it.

    And frankly, I don’t know how my insistence in pointing out and believing in the words of Jesus in John 15 would lead you to thinks as much? You see, just because I believe that Jesus was IN his disciples and that they were producing fruit before Pentecost (as the Bible clearly teaches), does not neccessitate that Pentecost be diminished.

    And yes, a lot did change on and after that day. But, what did not change was the manner (or means) in which the Lord would indwell his disciples. Nor, the manner (or means) by which they would produce fruit. Nor, the manner (or means) by which they would love God and their neighbors.

    The reason why I bring this up is because in the above article by Jay, he basically said that the indwelling of the Holy Sprit is what enables a disciple to love, produce fruit, and obey God. Which he believes did not occur until the day of Pentecost. If that is true… then how did believers love, produce fruit, and obey God before the day of Pentecost?

    Now, either he is mistaken in suggesting that people could not truly love, produce fruit, and have pure hearts throughout the OT….. Or, he is mistaken in the means by which believers faithfully serve God with pure hearts.

    In other words, the motivation (and how God encourages us) to love him, is the same today as it ever was. Otherwise, one has to address how in the world the faithful throughout the OT were able to be so faithful. Does that make sense?

  29. Tina,

    Pilgrim is right. And I wll be praying for you as well. Please do the same for us. God is so good.

  30. Now you are speaking plainly…. thank you.

    So that is why I do ask, “What do you think changed on Pentecost?”

  31. Something to chew on and digest… and this is GOOD STUFF MAYNARD (from the old Malt-o-meal commercial)

    Matthew 11:11
    I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there HAS NOT RISEN ANYONE greater than John the Baptist [not Abraham or Moses or David or Elijah]; yet he who is LEAST in the kingdom of heaven is GREATER than he.

    Jesus said it, not me… 😉

    Christ in you, the HOPE OF GLORY (and Glory isn’t heaven, read 1 Cor 3)

  32. That’s 2 Cor. 3…

  33. Hank asked about Jesus statements that he “is in” the apostles in John 15, even though Pentecost had not yet happened.

    (John 7:39) By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

    John plainly indicates that the Spirit would come upon the glorification of Jesus.

    (John 13:31) When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.”

    Interestingly, Jesus declares that he was glorified BEFORE the crucifixion. That’s what he says. But then he says,

    (John 13:32) “If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.”

    It seems Jesus may be speaking of what is about to happen as having already happened — so certain is the result. Technically, he was speaking proleptically. (

    If Jesus said “Now is the Son of Man glorified” proleptically, then he was likely also speaking of being “in” the apostles proleptically.

    After all, the coming the Spirit is a theme that runs throughout John. As it seems clear that Spirit came only post-Resurrection, I would take Jesus being “in” the apostles on earth as being a proleptic reference to the Spirit’s coming.

    That is, I think, the most likely interpretation.

    Leon Morris suggests another in the New Int’l Commentary on John, saying that grammatically “I abide” in 15:4 could be “I will abide” or “I must abide.” The result is much the same.

  34. Laymond,

    I’m proud to keep company with Royce.

    Please refrain from Ad hominem arguments.

  35. Tina,

    That’s one very fine church. I’ll be there in a few weeks when they host ElderLink (I’ll be part of a panel discussion.) I hope to see you there.

  36. Tina,

    Thanks for that. My own congregation flirted with Crossroads theology for a while many years ago. I have some firsthand knowledge. Several readers here are part of former ICOC congregations and some are former ICOC leaders.

    It sounds to me that the house church leadership overreacted to the legalism they were fleeing. It’s a natural, human response. I hope it was a time of healing for them. (Alexander Campbell referred to some who were so anxious to flee Babylon that they overshot Jerusalem and landed in Rome.)

    When I escaped legalism, I had my own struggles with looking down on those still trapped. My teaching was filled with how horrible others were. I could be quite obnoxious.

    Again — and this is no excuse — when you finally see how badly you were taught and the misery you were made to suffer for no good reason — it takes some time to heal and not be driven by resentment. This is especially true in a community where you are among the first to escape, as you have no role models who’ve already been down that road.

    I observe, however, that after a time of healing and some struggle, former legalists usually find a healthier relationship with God and with their brothers and sisters still trapped in legalism. (Some take a very long time to heal, however. The wounds can be very deep.)

    The best solution to those who “spin” Christianity is to expose yourself to several perspectives. I hope OneInJesus can offer one perspective for you. The links I have posted to other Church of Christ and evangelical websites are some places that offer differing perspectives.

    May God bless you as you seek his truth.

  37. Jay,

    While it is true that Jesus stated that the Spirit would not be given until a later time (after Jesus would be glorified), he did not suggest in any way that he (Jesus) would not be in his disciples until then. Rather, he clearly stated that he was in them as he spoke with them face to face.

    Think about this:

    Jesus taught his disciples that they could not produce fruit unless they were IN each other (v. 5). Now, either Jesus was in them or….they could not produce fruit.

    Will you go so far as to suggest that the children of God could not produce fruit until Pentecost?

    As far as Leon Morris suggesting that grammatically “I abide” in 15:4 could be “I will abide” or “I must abide.” …

    None of those translations mean that he was not presently abiding in them then. Besides, if he (the Lord) was talking about some future time, what about them being clean ALREADY? What about them producing fruit?

    If you interpret the passage to mean that Jesus was talking about some future point in time (rather than the present situation) I honestly believe you would be alone in so thinking.

    I believe FF Bruce (in his commentary of this passage) was correct in writing, “There is no practical difference between Jesus’ personal indwelling in his disciples and his words remaining in them….He himself is the living embodiment of all his teaching.”

    But, I can’t read any commentator to suggest that Jesus was not IN his disciples at the time he actually told them that he was. Can you?

  38. Hank, Tina and all,

    Only Christians can love with God’s love and this miraculous love is only possible THROUGH the Indwelling Holy Spirit.

    Any other kind of “love” or “fruit” that pagans express isn’t even near the same quality as divine love and divine fruit.

    How do I know that? Because Jesus it. He said fruit and love were the tests of those who were His.

    John 13:34-35
    A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. BY THIS all men will KNOW that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

    Matthew 7:16-20
    By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise EVERY good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree CANNOT bear bad fruit, and a bad tree CANNOT bear good fruit. EVERY tree that DOES NOT bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, BY THEIR FRUIT you will recognize them.

    Tina mentions in her post how in the future she is going to be more careful. She says,

    “If I ever got involved in a house church ever again, it would be only after some good, solid investigation.”

    What should she investigate? What they believe or what their fruit is? Assuming they believe basic Christian truths, the only thing that really matters is fruit and demonstrable love. And she won’t be able to see that at meetings. She won’t be able to see that by looking at a list of benevolence programs or even if she participates in those programs. There are a lot of charity organizations that aren’t based on Jesus.

    She will only be able to see fruit as she interacts with the people in day to day ways, as she smells, touches and tastes good fruit. How do husbands treat their wives? How respectful are the children to their parents? Does an adoration of Jesus pervade the lives and conversations or is it things of the world? Do the leaders exhibit the humility of Jesus? Does wisdom flow from those leaders easily? Is there no periphery (i.e. no lukewarm believers)? Is there a spirit of Unity and Generosity between believers? Is there a care and compassion for the lost and needy? Is there peace, joy, kindness, patience, gentleness, self-control? Are the men demeaning to each other or do they honor one another above themselves? Is Hollywood or Sports or Hobbies or the Word and Work of God more prevalent in their lives? Are they a people of prayer (“My House will be a House of Prayer”), constantly praying together without the uncomfortable transition between “spiritual time” and “regular time.” Would you describe their lives as IN the world but not OF the world? These are real things and ABSOLUTELY SHOULD EXIST within anything that call itself a church. Anything less may involve sincere people, but is not a church.

    A good tree CANNOT bear bad fruit. A bad tree CANNOT bear good fruit. Both situations are pervasive.

    One HUGE difference Hank (and everyone) between Old Covenant and New Covenant is a phrase GOD uses to describe the New Covenant. “They shall all know me, from the LEAST to the GREATEST.”

    Did they know God in the Old Covenant? Some knew Him. Abraham surely did. Most knew about God. But God says they will ALL KNOW HIM, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST. That phrase, least to the greatest, is His way of saying EVERYONE. Not just a few special people, but a NATION of People.

    1Peter 2, various verse
    Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be A HOLY PRIESTHOOD, offering SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, A HOLY NATION, a PEOPLE BELONGING TO GOD, that you may declare the praises of him who called you OUT OF DARKNESS into his wonderful LIGHT. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to ABSTAIN from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

    So ONE big difference is that the New Covenant is PROVISION for ALL OF US to walk in Righteousness and Holiness, ALL being the operative word. It is neither legalistic nor harsh nor works mentality to say Father requires EVERYONE in a church who claims to be a believer TO KNOW HIM and BEAR GOOD FRUIT. If He has provided a way (and He has), if the resources are available (and they are), then if someone is practicing sin or is lukewarm or isn’t living in love and has no desire to change, then they ARE REBELLIOUS and not just weak. So the phrase “least to the greatest” is itself a test of those truly walking in the New Covenant. And we can only really know who is or isn’t bearing fruit within our own ranks based on the same criteria I suggested Tina use above…. who are these people in the daily grind of life? Does your church pass the test? If not, you’ve got work to do.

    Because a true church is an environment of love and not of judgment, then that mutual assessment is one of “hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things.” We are pulling for each other to make it, to give Jesus our best, not our least.

  39. Hank asks,
    “Will you go so far as to suggest that the children of God could not produce fruit until Pentecost?”

    I will. Wholeheartedly. Without a doubt. The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and the corresponding crucifixion of the acts of the flesh are NOT POSSIBLE without the Holy Spirit given as the seal of Sonship on Pentecost.

    Not doubt in my mind.

    I tried to follow Jesus without the Spirit and failed miserably. And even if you can keep the rules externally, without the Spirit, you CANNOT keep the standard God requires of your heart… the WILL and the DOING, the WHY as well as the WHAT.

  40. Hank,

    I’m confident that Bruce’s view of the Spirit is much closer to mine than to yours. I don’t have his commentary on John, but Leon Morris’s commentary is among the most major of the major commentaries.

    More to the point: you seem to want to argue that Jesus is in the apostles through his word. I don’t think that was his primary reference in that particular passage, but the scriptures certainly do speak of the word of God doing many of the same things done by the Spirit of God. That does not make them the same thing. Indeed, the scriptures can speak of the “word” dwelling in God’s people. Col 3:16.

    It’s just that this doesn’t contradict the doctrine — plainly and repeatedly taught — that the Spirit personally indwells the Christian. Nothing says it must be one or the other. (That would be a false dichotomy.)

    In fact, the Spirit and the word work together in many ways.

    (John 6:63) The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.

    But being closely tied and doing some (not all) of the same things does not at all contradict the personal indwelling. F. F. Bruce agrees. I’m confident his commentary on John teaches the personal indwelling.

  41. Jay said “Laymond, You seem to have me mistaken for someone else. I don’t teach and have never taught that works don’t matter.”

    Jay said; “The fruit of the Spirit is God’s work in our hearts and minds. He does it. We submit and yield. We cooperate. But it’s God’s work. Indeed,”

    You didn’t say work didn’t matter, but the work of God was all that mattered, as you might recall you said “He does it , we submit and yield” It sounded to me like you said “man’s work don’t matter”

    Jay said “Please refrain from Ad hominem arguments. I don’t know what I said that was either insulting, or undermining your original argument. Ad hominem is over used if you ask me.

    Jay said “I’m proud to keep company with Royce. ” so what was it I said that was insulting, or undermining.

  42. Hi Jay,

    I too am confident that FF Bruce’s view of the Spirit’s indwelling is closer to yours than mine. But, I still like what he said regarding the indwelling of Jesus as taught in Jn. 15. And I do believe that he indwells me now the same way that he indwelt his disciples back then. I do not understand why we have to deny that he was IN them then and/or change the way he is in us now.

    But my main question Jay, has to do with the faithful throughout the OT. In your article, you basically said that the indwelling of the Holy Sprit is what enables a disciple to love, produce fruit, and obey God. Which you believe did not occur until the day of Pentecost. If that is true… then how did believers love, produce fruit, and obey God before the day of Pentecost?

    Now, (as it seems to me) either you are mistaken in suggesting that people could not truly love, produce fruit, and have pure hearts throughout the OT….. Or, you are mistaken in the means by which believers faithfully serve God with pure hearts.

    Can you at least see why I might say that? I would really like your thoughts to help me understand what you wrote in the article.

    Pilgrim is the one who took me down the bunny trail bro.

    (It’s cool though Pilgrim)

  43. Jay, as always, can speak for himself, but you Hank have not explained what Jesus meant about the least in the Kingdom being GREATER than the GREATEST MAN BORN OF WOMAN.

    Abraham and David and all those guys were fantastic. They loved God. They bore good fruit.

    But they didn’t bear Spirit’s fruit or express Spirit’s love in any fullness like we have available to us by the New Covenant indwelling.

    And they didn’t experience it AS A PEOPLE which is a big difference.

    Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 are BOTH GOD TALKING. Your beef really is with God Hank.

    Ez. 36
    I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a NEW spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

    This was apparently different. Believe it. I know you can.

  44. I left the Crossroads-related church at the very end of 1986 and moved to my second church in 1987. They split in 1989, and my husband and I bailed out of the house church movement in 1994. It’s embarrassing to me to write those dates because I feel as if I should be “over it” by now.

    But dealing with toxic religion and spiritual abuse is a bit like being raped. I never have been raped, but it’s my understanding that you’re violated right down to your very core. I think it’s the same with toxic religion. Your mind is played with in the name of God and it’s hard to believe that no one will ever do it to you again–especially when it’s happened to you twice.

    If you come to Elderlink and see a red-haired woman chasing a vapor trail down the upstairs hallway, stop me and say hi. The vapor trail is my soon-to-be 11-year-old son. 🙂

  45. To say it another way Hank: what they experienced under the Old Order was QUALITATIVELY LESS by a magnitude of 100x.

    Did they travel? Yes they travelled and managed to get to a few places. But what they drove was a scooter with enough room for a single rider or two.

    What we’ve got is the Space Shuttle with room for everyone who truly believes and is born again. ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM 😉 The ride is awesome.

    One is traveling. The other is TRAVELING WITH GLORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2 Cor 3:10,11 For what was glorious (Old Covenant) has no glory now IN COMPARISON with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory (some glory), how much GREATER is the glory of that which LASTS!

    I think one reason you have a hard time believing it is because you’ve met believers who said they were Spirit-filled and they seemed just like you. But I’m here to tell you, I’ve seen the real thing…God-filled people, and I feel honored to call them brothers and sisters. You do all realize I’m not a pastor or anything right. I’m just a normal guy within my family of believers. Everything I’m writing, any of my brothers and sisters could write. It is their DNA. I just happen to be former C of C and I long share the wealth I’ve been graciously given. Call me arrogant or overconfident but like the blind man who can see, I HAVE to shout at the top of my lungs…. I CAN SEE and Jesus did it to me.

  46. “Your beef really is with God Hank.” — Pilgrim

    What beef?

    “Abraham and David and all those guys were fantastic. They loved God. They bore good fruit.

    But they didn’t bear Spirit’s fruit or express Spirit’s love in any fullness like we have available to us by the New Covenant indwelling.” — Pilgrim

    Are you sure? Then who’s love and fruit did they express? Their own?

    As far as the kingdom…are you saying that David and Abraham and “those guys” were not in God’s kingdom? That’s why I don’t get your question. I Thought that they were in God’s kingdom and that God’s kingdom never ended? Do you believe the kingdom of God ever ended? When the kingdom is delivered to God, do you not believe that Abraham and David will be in it?

  47. Your beef… I mean you resistance… it is so clear and you seem to be fighting it.

    Whatever they had, it was qualitatively LESS by Lightyears…

    Jesus prayed, “You Kingdom come…” Daniel’s dream was a COMING Kingdom that would never end.

    I don’t know what to say anymore Hank. I’m spent.

    Galatians 5. If your fruit is that, then you are set.

  48. Abraham and David and all those guys were fantastic. They loved God. They bore good fruit. But they didn’t bear Spirit’s fruit or express Spirit’s love in any fullness like we have available to us by the New Covenant indwelling. – pilgrim

    I disagree.

    Psalm 18:28
    “For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.”

    Psalm 27:1-3
    “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

    Psalm 31:24
    “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD.”

    Psalm 40:1-2
    “I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.”

    Psalm 62:6
    “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.”

    Psalm 94:19
    “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.”

    Psalm 121:2
    “My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”

    Psalm 145:14
    “The LORD upholds all who fall, And raises up all who are bowed down.”

  49. Hank wrote,

    In your article, you basically said that the indwelling of the Holy Sprit is what enables a disciple to love, produce fruit, and obey God. Which you believe did not occur until the day of Pentecost.

    First, as I think I said earlier today, there were lots of people in OT times who possessed the Spirit.

    Second, of course people could love, produce fruit, and — to a degree — obey God before Pentecost, even without the Spirit. But few managed it, indeed, so few that God wound up being rejected by the vast majority of his chosen people, so that only a remnant remained faithful after Jesus.

    Of course, none other than Jesus managed to do it perfectly, but it would be ridiculous to suppose that they had no success at all. It was just — on the whole — woefully inadequate.

    As a result, God changed the covenant as described in the main post, and in so doing, changed the world.

    It’s the Spirit’s power that caused Christianity to transform this world, despite our many difficulties to live as Christ calls us to live. As bad as things can be, I hate to think what the world would be like had the Spirit not come on Pentecost.

    Third, while I think it’s good and right to ask questions, to be fair minded and open to God’s word, you have to ask questions that go both ways. Your current position isn’t true until every single possible objection is resolved. Rather, in measuring what I suggest, you have to consider the weaknesses of your own position.

    And at this point, the apparent weakness I suggest you wrestle with is your inability to explain the verses cited in the main post. If they don’t mean what I think they mean, what do they mean? If you don’t have an answer, you need to be open to reconsidering your views.

    My own views changed because I couldn’t make the CoC worldview fit the text of the NT. That was enough to persuade me I was wrong — long before I knew what was right. I started by recognizing the weaknesses of what I’d grown up with.

    And realizing that my understanding didn’t fit the text led me into deeper study. I still don’t have all the answers — but my view of the scriptures leads me to new and fresh insights literally every day.

  50. Boy, either you guys aren’t reading what I’m saying or I’m not saying it clear enough. This is my last try.

    Let’s imagine.

    You and Jesus are having a conversation. You ask Jesus, “Hey Jesus, who is the greatest person ever born? Moses? Abraham? David?

    Jesus says, “John the immerser.”

    “Really?” you ask.

    “Yes. He’s the man!”

    At this point, you have the option of disagreeing with the King of the Universe. You decide against it.

    Smart move.

    Then Jesus adds, “But the weakest, most immature person in My Kingdom is GREATER than John.”


    “Yes,” Jesus replies.

    “Greater than David who killed Goliath?

    “Yes,” Jesus replies.

    “Greater than Moses, who led Israel through the Red Sea?”

    “Yes,” Jesus replies.

    “Greater than Elijah, the one who called down fire on the water drenched sacrifice and prayed for it to rain and it did?”

    “Yes,” Jesus replies. “The least in My Kingdom is greater than ALL of those men of faith.”

    So you who say that what Abraham had and what WE have are the same, please explain yourselves…

    If the least in Jesus’ Kingdom are GREATER than the GREATEST of those born of women, how do you explain the difference?

    The difference is found in these two phrases:

    born of women


    born of God and/or born of the Spirit

    John 1:12,13
    Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent (of women), nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but BORN OF GOD.

    John 3:5
    Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the KINGDOM OF GOD unless he is BORN of water and THE SPIRIT.

    1John 3:9
    No one who is BORN OF GOD will continue to sin, BECAUSE GOD’S SEED REMAINS IN HIM; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been BORN OF GOD.

    1John 4:7
    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. EVERYONE WHO LOVES HAS BEEN BORN OF GOD AND KNOWS GOD.

    Guys, you are not arguing with me… this is what the Bible says…

    Everyone who loves has been born of God.

    Was Abraham born of God? No. He and John the baptist were born of women.

    Basic logic says, therefore he does not love, as least love as defined by John.

    Was anyone in the Old Covenant BORN OF GOD? Answer. No.

    BORN of God and BORN of the Spirit are NEW COVENANT phenomena. I beg you to prove otherwise.

    Only those BORN of GOD can love and ONLY those BORN OF GOD can overcome sin. A bad tree CANNOT BEAR GOOD FRUIT.

    Inversely, if you find a group of people REALLY WALKING in Love and Holiness, you KNOW you have found those BORN OF GOD.

    Please, someone, anyone… explain where my reasoning breaks down.

    This is what the Bible says… I’m not interpreting. Read it one more time.

    1John 3:9
    No one who is BORN OF GOD will continue to sin, BECAUSE GOD’S SEED REMAINS IN HIM; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been BORN OF GOD.

    1John 4:7
    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. EVERYONE WHO LOVES HAS BEEN BORN OF GOD AND KNOWS GOD.

  51. You say people shouldn’t say Abraham, Moses, and David were greater than us, I agree, and I say you shouldn’t say you are greater than them.

    Romans 3:9 “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.”

  52. I am not saying it. Jesus said it and I believe it. Because I am Born of God, I am greater than Abraham and Moses and David.

    But Paul, in that passage, is clearly talking about man in his natural “born of women” condition, under the law, and not his “born of God” condition…

    Please, this isn’t a game… don’t twist the scriptures to say what you want them to say. You are simply wrong about Old Covenant life. It was less, MUCH less than the BORN OF GOD life we have in the New Covenant. The Price Jesus paid was so very high SO THAT the New Covenant could BE WORTH the price. Please believe that.

  53. I am very serious when it comes to the Lord and His word.

    The Power and Essence of Almighty God, has always existed.

    Judges 13:24-25 “ The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, And the Spirit of the LORD began to move upon him at Mahaneh Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.”

    Judges 15:14 “When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands.”

    1 Chronicles 12:18 “Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, chief of the captains, and he said: “We are yours, O David; We are on your side, O son of Jesse! Peace, peace to you, And peace to your helpers! For your God helps you.” So David received them, and made them captains of the troop.”

    2 Chronicles 20:14 “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly.”

    Nehemiah 9:20 “You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, And did not withhold Your manna from their mouth, And gave them water for their thirst.”

    Psalm 3:3 “But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.”

    Psalm 16:8 “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”

    Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

    Psalm 71:16 “I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.”

    Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

    Psalm 138:7 “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me.”

    Psalm 139:7-10 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.”

    Nahum 1:7 “The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.”

    Romans 4:2-8 “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.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the LORD shall not impute sin.”

    Romans 4:13-14 “For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect.”

  54. You say,

    “The Power and Essence of Almighty God, has always existed.”

    I totally agree.

    BUT No one has been Born of God until the new covenant. NO ONE. And the least in the Kingdom is greater than the greatest in the Old covenant.

    And that is AWESOME.

    So let’s drop this back and forth and BEAR THE FRUIT OF THE NEW COVENANT.

    Good night.

  55. God gave the new covenant promise to Abraham who lived by that promise, so did Moses, and so did David. God’s Spirit helped all of them and God promised to all that trusted in Him that He would never leave them.

  56. And we, in Christ’s Kingdom, are greater than they. Do you agree with Jesus on this point or not?

  57. The Lord will give to each of us a reward in heaven for the good we have done.

    Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

  58. Pilgrim,

    While I am not sure what you meant when you wrote — “I think one reason you have a hard time believing it is because you’ve met believers who said they were Spirit-filled and they seemed just like you.”…it sure sounds as a put down. Did you really mean to go there?

    While I will refrain from “returning the favor,” I will say that you have many loose ends to tie up. First, you either didn’t know, didn’t remember, or didn’t believe that Jesus claimed to be IN his disciples before Pentecost. In fact, you had stated the direct opposite. You said that he was not. But, Jesus said that he was. And yet when I simply point that out (although persistently), you say you don’t want to “armwrestle” nor “wrangle” over theology.

    Then…you have somehow been led to believe that just because Daniel spoke about a coming kingdom, that he was not in the kingdom of God himself?! Pilgrim, the kingdom of God never ended. Technichally, the Bible talks about the one kingdom of God being given to Christ at his ascension (Dan. 7). It does not teach that God’s kingdom ceased to exist at times and that he would keep making new ones.

    I mean, your crazy interpretation has you believing you are not only greater than me….but, as you claim, “greater than Abraham and Moses and David.”

    I guess you also feel greater than every last member of the faith hall of fame in Heb. 11 as well.

    And yet you can say you don’t mean to sound arrogant?

    Are you for real?

  59. Pilgrim,

    you wrote:

    “BUT No one has been Born of God until the new covenant. NO ONE”

    Which is another untrue statement. If you like, I will show you where the Bible teaches as much after I get back from assembling with the saints.

  60. And Hank, no need to explain “born of God.” When it calls Jesus the Firstborn here…
    Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be CONFORMED TO THE LIKENESS OF HIS SON, that he might be the firstborn AMONG MANY BROTHERS.

    He is articulating that Jesus is the FIRST of a NEW RACE, a BORN AGAIN RACE. The Bible SAYS Jesus was the FIRST. First means FIRST, and the rest of us FOLLOWED, the FIRST among MANY BROTHERS… that is US and NO ONE BEFORE could be called BORN of God in the same SENSE as this NEW RACE.

    In fact, of the Ancients (Abraham, Moses, David, etc) the Hebrew writer says this…
    Hebrews 11:13-16
    ALL THESE PEOPLE were still living by faith when they died. They DID NOT RECEIVE THE THINGS PROMISED; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one (the Church). Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a CITY for them.

    Hebrews 12:22-23
    But you (yes you, born again believer) HAVE COME (present tense) to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, TO THE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN (there is that phrase again), whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect. (that is US, IF we are born again)

    If you are born again, than you are greater than Abe and Dave too. I’m not making arrogant claims for myself. This is the inheritance IN CHRIST for ALL who believe.

    And I was not putting anyone down. Far from it. My heart breaks at the state of what calls itself Church. I have travelled quite a bit and seen a lot of congregations in a lot of denominations. And my experience is that IN ALMOST EVERY place I have gone or seen or interacted with, there is ENORMOUS acceptance of lukewarmness and rebellion among the those who call themselves believers. 1Cor 5 and Rev 2,3 makes it clear that THAT is unacceptable. God has given US ALL a space shuttle to fly in and MOST keep it parked in the hangar. Barna and Gallup all say the same thing… that most Christians today are not substantially different in their daily lives than their pagan counterparts in terms of divorce rates, addiction to porn, driven by materialism and leisure, etc…

    As far as Kingdoms:
    Daniel 2:44
    “In the time of those kings (the Roman Empire), the God of heaven WILL SET UP a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.

    How great are his signs,
    how mighty his wonders!

    His kingdom is an ETERNAL KINGDOM;
    his dominion endures from generation to generation.

    So we see in the same context two apparently contradictory phrases…

    Christ’s Kingdom IS AN ETERNAL KINGDOM. You will never hear me say anything less than that. But prophecy and Jesus’ words HIMSELF said that that ETERNAL KINGDOM was SET UP.

    Luke 16:16 “The Law and the Prophets (Moses, David, Elijah) were proclaimed UNTIL John (these WERE ALL BORN OF WOMEN). SINCE THAT TIME, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.

    Whatever you believe about the ETERNAL KINGDOM, Jesus said that UNTIL AFTER JOHN it was not preached. What was proclaimed was the LAW and the Prophets. ONLY AFTER JOHN was the GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom preached. Jesus SET IT UP during His Life and it CAME WITH POWER at Pentecost.

    Luke 17:20-21
    Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is WITHIN YOU.”

    Mark 9:1
    And he said to them, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God COME with power.”

    It is NO ACCIDENT that in Acts 2:38, when the Kingdom came with POWER, Peter proclaims, “And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    Jesus HIMSELF is the KING of the KINGDOM and therefore EXPRESSED KINGDOM POWER and HOLINESS.

    But he said in John 16:7
    But I tell you the truth: It is for YOUR GOOD that I am going away. UNLESS I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

    Jesus is saying that it is BETTER that he leaves. What in the world is BETTER than the Son of God walking around on planet earth??? Seriously, THINK HARD ABOUT THAT. Why didn’t Jesus just stay around for another 40 years and evangelize and heal and proclaim the good news.

    The answer is the CRUX of our conversation….

    Because CHRIST IN HIS CHURCH is BETTER than Christ as an INDIVIDUAL.

    THAT IS WHAT *******JESUS SAID************

    We AS SAINTS TOGETHER, are not only light years GREATER than Abraham and David… According to Jesus HIMSELF, WE, TOGETHER, are BETTER than Jesus HIMSELF on this planet.

    Eph 4:15,16
    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.

    Col 1:27
    Christ IN YOU, the hope of Glory.

    John 17:20-26
    “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for THOSE WHO WILL BELIEVE in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the GLORY that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one (HIS GLORY UNITES US): I in them and you in me. May they be brought to COMPLETE UNITY to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

    “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my GLORY, the GLORY you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

    “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I HAVE MADE you known to them, and WILL CONTINUE to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

    2 Cor 3:4-18
    Such CONFIDENCE as this is ours through Christ before God. NOT THAT WE ARE COMPETENT IN OURSELVES TO CLAIM ANYTHING FOR OURSELVES, but our competence comes FROM GOD. 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.

    Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory (again, it came with SOME GLORY), so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, WILL NOT THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT BE *****EVEN MORE GLORIOUS****? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, HOW MUCH MORE ***GLORIOUS**** is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious HAS NO GLORY now IN COMPARISON with the *******SURPASSING GLORY*******. And if what was fading away came with glory, HOW MUCH GREATER IS THE GLORY OF THAT WHICH LASTS (ETERNAL, but STARTED in CHRIST)!

    Therefore, since we have such a hope, WE ARE VERY BOLD (not arrogant, but BOLD). We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because ONLY IN CHRIST is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all REFLECT the LORD’S GLORY, are being TRANSFORMED into HIS LIKENESS with EVER-INCREASING GLORY, which COMES FROM THE LORD, WHO IS THE SPIRIT.

    The contrast between what WAS in the Old and what IS in the new is ***ENORMOUS****

    Jesus, ALIVE, IN HIS CHURCH, TODAY. That is why HE SAID, HE SAID, HE SAID it would be BETTER BETTER BETTER if He left earth and sent the Spirit. He sent it at Pentecost and the Floodgates of the Resources of Heaven opened. Hallelujah!!!!

    Believe it or don’t, but that is ALL I know how to say. I really want you to know the JOY of THIS Good News. If you have specific GENUINE questions, my name is Andy and my email address is on my business website, under the pilgrim link. Peace and xoxox love to you all

  61. 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
    John 12:41 “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.”

    In the Hebrew Scriptures believers received Christ as their Savior. Means of Christ revealed was through through revelation of the Spirit and inanimate revelation, 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.

    They were saved by the grace of God through faith that He would save them, just as people continue to be saved.

  62. If you are experiencing within your local expression of believers, your church, the supernatural fruit of Christ in YOU, then what you are saying may be true.

    My only desire in writing any of this stuff down IS NOT to win a theological discussion.

    My only aim is to see the Church REALLY BE JESUS ON EARTH. My experience says that an expression LIKE THAT is rare.

    FRUIT, FRUIT, FRUIT…. Either our churches are expressing and growing in that expression of the FULL STATURE of Jesus or we are stagnant and dying.

    Peace to you anon and hank.

  63. You are teaching what is called replacement theology and is wrong.

    What is written in the NT is tied to the Hebrew Scriptures. The first Christians were people we read about in the Hebrew Scriptures, Israel is still His chosen people, Romans 11:1-2 “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.” We are grated in, Romans 11:17-18 “And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

    There are some who want to omit the Hebrew Scriptures from our Christian roots, big mistake! People need to know the importance of the Hebrew Scriptures – Jesus didn’t do away with the Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus was a Jew, Jesus celebrated Jewish feasts, Jesus’ disciples were Jewish, and Jesus taught in Jewish synagogues and temples teaching Jewish people. God did not do away with the Hebrew Scriptures. His promise was given to Abraham – a Jewish man and his seed. We are wild branches who are grafted in the olive tree, hence we need to know the nature of this olive tree and to partake of that same nourishing sap that comes from its roots.

  64. I LOVE the Hebrew Scriptures. I spend almost more time in them than in Matthew through Revelation. I honor the Sabbath, the real fulfillment of it that is… faith in Jesus.

    FRUIT, FRUIT, FRUIT…. Either our churches are expressing and growing in that expression of the FULL STATURE of Jesus or we are stagnant and dying.

    How about you? Do you walk as Jesus walked? That is all that matters.

    1John 2:6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

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