N. T. Wright’s After You Believe: Fruits of the Spirit, For Discussion

Regarding the fruits of the Spirit, Wright says,

[Paul] is not saying, “Once the Spirit has taken up residence in a person or community, these are the things that will happen automatically,” as though thereby to reinforce the romantic or existentialist approach to behavior against some kind of legalism. Nor is he saying, “Now that you’ve got the Spirit, isn’t it great that you can can rid of that silly old Law [of Moses] with all its moral restrictions?” Rather, he is saying, “This, after all, is the behavior which the Spirit produces; can’t you see that you don’t need to impose the Mosaic Law on converts in order to generate people like that?”

(p. 195). Paul’s argument is that that the real purpose of the Law was to produce people of character, and since the Spirit forms the desired character without any need for the Law, the Law is no longer in effect for such people. It’s not repealed so much as fulfilled.

Does that mean that the required behavior is exactly the same as the Law of Moses demanded? How can we distinguish those values that the Spirit instills from those commands that expired with the crucifixion?

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18 Responses

  1. It means the motivation for behavior is different. The only test is a test of the heart. And sometimes, it can be difficult even to know your own heart.

    That is the danger of judging the heart of others.

    It’s hard enough to judge our own hearts, how can we possibly judge the heart of others — an obvious explanation of why we are admonished to leave the judging to God, who knows and judges in righteousness.

  2. I know of no moral requirement in the Old Law that is different in the New Testament – except to be deepened. Even in the Old Testament, God was interested in the heart of His people. When we say that the Old Covenant dealt only with external acts and not with the heart, we miss the mark. After all, the first and second commandments were to love God and man. The first and last of the ten commandments also dealt with matters of the heart: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” demands that Yahweh be first in our hearts. “Thou shalt not covet” speaks to the desires of our hearts, not to any overt action.

    Jerry Starling

    Committedtotruth.wordpress.com/

  3. my initial reaction is that the expected and desired “behavior” is pretty much the same from OT to NT. the result is the same, but the impetus, the power to bring that change in the lives of believers, is different. but i’m not stuck to this idea — i’m actually really interested in testing it a bit. i’m quite unsure…

  4. You don’t hit baseballs off a tee so that you learn to hit balls off a tee.

    You don’t drive blocking dummies so that you get really good at driving blocking dummies.

    You don’t lift weights so that you get better at holding onto a bar and push it and pull it around.

    How many coaches have wished they could just get inside the bodies of their players and demonstrate exactly what they’re asking for?

    Likewise, the Spirit in us allows us to be mobile Temples, a multitude of Tabernacles wandering the wilderness of Creation offering to lost people the opportunity to draw near to God. We no longer need the practice tees and the blocking dummies because we have the Spirit.

  5. It seems strange that translators want to credit God’s Spirit with many things the apostles thought should find their source in the created human spirit. Simple truths might illumine understanding. The Spirit of God is given as God’s GIFT to those who are reborn of water and the spirit. Life is God’s gift to every human. He does not give life through His Spirit. He gifts every human with a human spiritual nature which exists in every human. Many are very good people who are not godly. Many good people show fruit which some imagine is from God’s Spirit, which the “good” person may not have, but which eminates from the spiritual nature which is innate in every human. We also inherit, from Adam, a fleshly nature which competes in us with the spiritual nature. Paul, in Galatians 5, contrasts the results of letting the spiritual nature overcome the fleshly lusts, or vice versa. It would be good if we would read and believe and act upon Peter’s urging that WE add to our faith. It’s a mistake to suppose God imposes those virtues upon us by His Spirit! He makes us FREE. If we sin, it’s by choice. God doesn’t make us sin. He doesn’t MAKE us be good. He makes us free to choose.

  6. God doesn’t “impose.” 1 Cor 13 is pretty clear that imposing is unloving.

    But how many people make good choices and fail to live them out?

    That’s why we need the Spirit who is working in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

  7. It isn’t just the translators who credit God giving life through His Spirit; it’s the writers of the New Testament.

    Once a believer chooses to have life and have it more abundantly through Christ, he/she is given the Spirit as a down payment on eternal life.

    The good that we do, we do in partnership with God, to His glory. There is nothing enabling us to do that good that He has not given us, including our faith.

    You’re right in saying He made us free to choose – we can choose to have faith in Him and an abundant, capable, endless life that praises Him … or we can choose to have faith in ourselves and have a limited, powerless, merely mortal life that glorifies self.

  8. Having grown up without much of a strong concept of what was actually in The Law, though around some Jewish people who followed it (more Jews than protestants around me……) I really cannot, now, see the Law as having the same purpose as the Spirit in terms of character-formation or revolutionary social justice.

    While it does seem to me that a strict observance of the Law would make for a cohesive and functional society, as well as produce basically good people — (I honestly think that a loving, earnest and dedicated strict following of the laws in the Koran would accomplish much of the same for individuals today, in part owing to its borrowing of the OT principles and edicts….) it is truly not comparable to following the teachings of Jesus (and Paul). The difference is the emphasis upon inclusion and morality in the NT, as opposed to exclusion and ritual in the OT.

    I believe that God called a people to be set apart, and so He had to give them Laws (burdens!) which tested their faith and made them distinct from other people. but not necessarily better than the surrounding people, many of whom had very similar or identical practices to those commanded in the Mosaic Law. It was a means to create a distinct and dedicated Nation of Priests and Prophets, to then share God’s Light with the world. but they didn’t do it. It could be legitimately argued, I think, that they never even tried. but as an American, I don’t know what happens to a culture that has been conquered repeatedly for five hundred years. (As a second-generation 100% Irish-American, I have some idea of what happens to a culture that has been conquered once, for seven hundred years. the longest of any one people by another people in world history……)

    I could never have been converted to Judaism from atheism. indeed, no Jews were trying to convert me. As an atheist, the Old Testament, with the exception of certain supernatural moral leaps by the prophets and Solomon and David, was not convincing to me as being purely from God.

    but one reading of the Synoptic Gospels made a second reading immediate and imperative, because I KNEW that this was from God, I knew that this wisdom was not borrowed or philosophized or invented. and reading the New Testament also led me to understand all of God’s actions in the OT, and the wisdom of it in terms of dealing with a specific people, right where they were, as they were continually oppressed by their neighbors and foreigners. The Old Testament is explained to me by Jesus, and certain parts — like dietary restrictions — are dismissed by Him…..and that makes it all make some sense, and not just be a middle eastern cult that I have no connection to.

    (they didn’t write anything down, but who knows how crazy the Druidic Laws of my ancestors were. they threw off that system in one generation and wholeheartedly. thank you Evangelist Padraig)

    The Spirit must give us its Fruits, which are all Moral (and not involving babbling unintelligibly!)

    The Law gives seperation and social cohesion. but I don’t think that’s Good Enough for God, because it’s not even good enough for me!

  9. When we say that the Old Covenant dealt only with external acts and not with the heart, we miss the mark.

    Actually that’s even Gnostic. Christ does not belittle the Law as being merely external, but is very strict in stating that nothing will be simply abolished by the New Covenant.

    In fact, the way He teaches the Law, shows the Heart and Spirit of it. While it is clear, even from the OT, that the form of the Law was temporary.

    (Jer 31:33)”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.

    He will put His law into our hearts. This not a new or different law, but His law. The medium on which it is written is different. The law is no longer outside of us on stone tablets, but inside of us becoming part of our nature: Law is our heartbeat, so to say.

    (Ez 11:18-20)”They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

    Again, the law will not change. It is the people’s hearts that need to be changed. We are the problem, not God’s Law.

    As we know, the Gnostic idea is, that the Law is from an inferior (angry) God and thus inferior to the Spirit and the Father-God of the New Covenant. The Gnostics say, that spiritually we are OK, it is the material world that is sinful. We have to get rid of this by true knowledge of our spiritual identity. Gnostics say, the OT is from an inferior God. Christians, who treat the Law as something inferior to the NT actually repeat this old heresy. (Not that I read such teaching in this Blog, but it is quite common Christians today)

    Again: We are the problem, we need to be changed. That’s why we get a new heart, but the Law in its essence (!) does not change.

    (Rom 8:1-4) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

    So by living according to the Spirit we will fulfill the “righteous requirements of the Law”. So what does Paul say? The same as Jeremiah and Ezekiel! We needed to be changed in order to be able to meet God’s requirements.

    And now, be very careful: Who will not be accepted by the Lord at the end?

    (Mt 7:21-23) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (actually: you who practice lawlessness!)

    It is very important to note, that we will be judged according to the Law. Faith enables us by Grace and the Spirit to live according to the Law; but Faith and Grace are no substitute for obeying the Law, no easy way around the commandments, no backdoor for sinners.

    To be sure, the Law has taken on a new form in the new covenant. Types and shadows are replaced by the reality of Christ; the death-penalties of the OT are changed into excommunication from the church with the chance to repent. Just 4 things are taken over literally: No fornication, no meat sacrificed to idols, no strangled meat and no blood. (And you should hear Christians arguing for their “freedom” to eat black-pudding … 😦 )

    But to say, the OT is all about externals, rules and regulations and the NT is all about love, freedom and the Spirit, is a Gnostic teaching.

    The main difference between the two covenants is not only the motivation but also the power of His Spirit working in us and producing the fruit of the Kingdom; but this fruit does not grow or ripen without us living by the Spirit and obeying God’s Word the best we understand and can.

    Alexander

  10. (more to follow, I’m at work…)

    I sincerely hope, Alexander, that I’m not going to be judged on my fondness for Bacon, Egg & Cheese sandwiches, my refusal to allow the hair on the corners of my head to grow unchecked, or driving my car to church on Friday nights. The Holy Spirit has not given me any ability to adhere to that part of the Law.

    I will get back to my heresy trial for Marcionism very soon. ;>}

    Doesn’t Romans 2 say that every person on earth already has The Law written on their hearts, not when if and when they accept Christ, but from before they were born?

    I love Black Pudding.

  11. Doesn’t Romans 2 say that every person on earth already has The Law written on their hearts, not when if and when they accept Christ, but from before they were born?

    Please, read the context, brother. First it is a hypothetical conditional statement. Second in this context he supposes that men on their own, when they do what is right, will be saved. But in the flow of his thoughts (the following chapters) he shows plainly, that actually there is no one who meets the standard of the law without the power of His spirit.

    And, no, I won’t judge you …

    Alexander

  12. Romans 2 (NIV)
    “5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.

    12All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

    The Jews and the Law
    17Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”[b]
    25Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the[c] written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker
    28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, 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.”

    I must admit, I know what the words hypothetical, conditional and statement mean, but I was not familiar with the term hypothetical conditional statement. (I can write ten pages without a grammatical error, but I must also admit that I failed English 102:Intro to Grammar in college. my mom would say that it is because I didn’t go to catholic high school.)

    http://linguapress.com/grammar/conditionals.htm

    There are three types of conditional statement in English:

    The open conditional statement.
    The hypothetical conditional statement.
    The unfulfilled hypothetical statement.

    Part 4:
    Omission of “if”.
    The conditional clause can either go before the main clause, or after it.

    Type 2. The open hypothetical conditional statement:
    This refers to a possible future situation which depends on on another possible future situation. The verb of the main clause uses the present conditional tense (would + infinitive, or could +infinitive);
    The verb of the conditional clause normally uses the present subjunctive or preterite (these two tenses are identical except with to be). Occasionally, the conditional aspect of the statement can be emphasised by using the form were + to + infinitive.
    1A If you ate too much, you’d (you would) get fat.
    1B You’d get fat if you ate too much.
    2A If everyone worked faster, we would / could finish in time.
    2B We wouldn’t finish in time unless everyone worked faster.
    2C If everyone were to work faster, we would/could finish in time.
    3 If I went to London, I would / could visit the British Museum.
    4. If you visited Scotland, you could visit Edinburgh Castle.
    5 Unless the directors could increase sales, we’d have to close this shop.

    Not also this common expression (which uses the open hypothetical form, though it is clearly quite impossible!)
    6. If I were you, I’d ……….
    As in: If I were you, I’d go a bit slower / If I were you, I’d put that gun down !!

    14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

    this does not seem to me to have any of the qualties of hypothesis or any condition placed upon it. It seems to me to be a Statement of Fact, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is happening “now,” not in the future, it states “the way things are” (and by implication the way things have been….and now continue to be.)

    It is not “if they show that they have the Law written on their hearts….” — it is stating that this is the case. The Jews are burdened by being judged by the Written Code, the gentiles are not — but all will be judged on how well they conformed to the morality that God has placed in their hearts. This makes perfect sense, if you think about it, and makes God not a tribal deity of Hebrews, but rather a fair and just Judger of the universe and everything and everyone in it.

    It is from God, because God is so much bigger than dietary laws and instructions for animal sacrifice. God wants us to be Good…not perform ritualistic sacrifices correctly or shun cotton/poly blends. (which are an abomination of the Law before the Lord.)

    I do not believe in the gnosticism of Marcion….but I understand where he was coming from in seeing the OT God as profoundly different from the God as revealed through and in Jesus. This is obvious to anyone who reads the bible for the first time, which is why I would, literally — never advise a smart potential convert from atheism to start at page 1, and read the entire bible. they would make it to about page 50 and declare God to be vicious, emotionally unstable, bigoted and hyperviolent. they would not make it to the Truth and Word of God, who was incarnated in Yeshu bar Yosef of the Galilee.

    I cast my lot with Jesus, not with ancient Judaism. the Law has no bearing on me today. Paul told me to stay away from it, my instinct tells me that it was for a specific people at a specific time (in context!) and parts of it are morally disgusting. Shall we stone that man with the cotton/poly blend on together or seperately? or enslave him if he is not from a neighboring country? or take the virgin back home with us after we kill the rest of her family in front of her?

    GOD’S LAW ON MY HEART TELLS ME THAT THESE THINGS ARE WRONG…………………………………………….. I’D RATHER FOLLOW JESUS.

  13. scripture proofs?

  14. 14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)

    I come from my German Bible, so now I have to go into more detail:
    a) in German “when” and “if” are “wann” and “wenn” – In German this is clearly a conditional statement (“wenn”)
    b) In English I would expect an “if”, but strange enough the NIV has a “when” … I still read it as conditional, but maybe I misread it because I think in German (you may imagine a heavy German accent, when you read my posts … that makes them sound a little funnier ;-).)

    So I checked the Greek. Strong’ definition of “when” reads like this:

    hotan hot’-an from 3753 and 302; whenever (implying hypothesis or more or less uncertainty); also causatively (conjunctionally) inasmuch as:–as long (soon) as, that, + till, when(-soever), while.

    So I think it is clear that Paul’s statement is
    a) conditionial, because that the law is written on their hearts, Paul acknowledges only by their actions
    b) Hypothical, because it is actually nowhere the case
    In Rom 3:23 he says that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.

    Romans 2 is hypothetical in that he says: If someone would consistently live by God’s will, doing good, he will be saved. Did you notice that he nowhere mentions faith in this chapter? Here is is dealing with God’s judgment according to our works. Will there be anyone who will be saved on the basis of his works apart from faith? I don’t think so, that’s why after chapter 2 chapters 3-8 follow.

    The Law is being written on our hearts however in the New Covenant by the New Birth. That’s another reason why I take Paul’s statement as hypothetical.

    There is a different level, however: He could also mean that a basic knowledge of good and evil is part of everybody’s conscience. If he is referring to this and calling this “the law, written on their hearts”, then that’s true for all people. But it is not the same as has been promised for the New Covenant.

    But be it as it may: We are bound to obey the Law in the light and meaning of the New Covenant (Mt 5:18-20). So this gives basically all OT comamdments weight, but on a spiritual level.

    The laws that condemned mixing two different kinds of thread have a spiritual meaning as well. It is about purity and holyness, about keeping things separate that don’t belong together, e.g. the philosophies of the world must not be mixed into our theology. And to be stoned equals excommunication in the NT-church. But I would also say, that these interpretations are debatable …

    What is not debatable, however, are these 4 necessary things, that were made binding by the apostles and elders in Acts 15. (There goes your black-pudding – there is a German equivalent, too: Blutwurst/bloodsausage). This statement was an answer to the pharisaic-Christian demand, that all Christians must be circumcised and obey the Law of Moses fully. No, the council said, that’s not necessary, but these things (no fornication, meat strangled or sacrificed to idols, blood) are binding.

    As for the rest of the Law, we have to follow Christ’s example how He interpreted the letter of the law in order to show its Spirit. And this makes for some very exciting Bible-studies …

    Beannacht leat, mo bhrathair!

    Alexander

  15. Alexander,

    I think you have Romans right, but I disagree regarding the result. The “Law” that is binding on Christians is not the Noahide laws re eating blood and such but the moral law based on “Love your neighbor,” as Paul teaches in Rom 13.

    The apostolic decree re eating meat sacrificed to idols, for example, dealt with cultural considerations, as Paul plainly allows us to eat such meat if we have a strong enough faith.

    (1 Cor 8:9 ESV) But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

    As Paul only conditionally prohibits the eating of such meat, and the apostles and elders in Jerusalem appear to have absolutely prohibited such eating, we must conclude that the prohibition was a cultural matter designed to facilitate the unification of the Jewish and Gentile converts.

    (Acts 15:19 NIV) “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

    James doesn’t say he’s issuing a command from the mouth of God. He says that “we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles.” This is a judgment call.

    The immediately preceding text is a quotation of a prophecy of the Gentiles entering the kingdom, and v. 21 speaks to the sensibilities of Jews. And why would the sensibilities of the Jews matter and why would the desire of God to join Jews and Gentiles into a common community matter if James is announcing the eternal commands of God?

    Instead, we have James acting as a missiologist, urging Gentiles not to exercise their freedom in a way that prevents the unity of the Jewish and Gentile members — very much like Paul, except that Paul allows meat sacrificed to idols to be eaten when it doesn’t create a problem for those with a weaker conscience — because the issue is really all about the scruples of members with a weaker conscience.

    Moreover, if we consider this the sum and substance of the commands binding on Gentiles, where is “love your neighbor”?

    Of course, at least one command stated by James — no fornication — is not culturally conditioned. Rather, he is addressing an area where Gentiles would much more struggle to obey than Jews, as the Gentile converts would be leaving a world in which fornication with temple prostitutes was completely acceptable.

    Therefore, we can’t tell from this passage alone which commands are culturally conditioned and which apply until Jesus returns. Rather, we have to discern the difference based on the principles we learn from Jesus and Paul regarding what is eternal and what is not.

  16. Moreover, if we consider this the sum and substance of the commands binding on Gentiles, where is “love your neighbor”?
    I don’t see Acts 15 as a sum and substance of the Law, but as an answer to whether it is necessary to follow the Law literally. After all, that was the concept of the pharisaic Christians who brought up the issue.

    (Act 15:1) And certain men came down from Judaea and taught the brethren, saying, Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

    (Act 15:5) But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees who believed, saying, It is needful to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses.

    Please note, how the question/demand is put: “It is needful” (= necessary). And then go to the conclusion, and see which words the Apostles and Elders used:

    (Act 15:28-29) For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that ye abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which if ye keep yourselves, it shall be well with you. Fare ye well.

    So the debate started with what some Christians who saw the Law and circumcision as a must and it ended with a unanimous (!) statement on what is really necessary. It was not about a summary or the substance of the Law, but about things that are to be kept literally.

    I went back and forth this debate several times. Neither Paul nor Peter nor James spoke about culture or the weaknesses of some Jewish brethren or “for the sake of fellowship” or anything alike. The question was: “What is binding” and the answer is: “This is binding”. And it was understood this way until the end of Acts.

    So if Paul wrote to the Corinthians about fornication and meat sacrificed to idols, he addressed two issues that were at stake there. But Corinthians was written before the book af acts and before the conversation between Paul and James in Acts 21.

    What Paul says, and that is true: If we don’t know that a piece of meat has been sacrificed to an idol, then we are free to eat from it, because the meat is not poisoned because of that; and demons can only affect us if we willfully sin. So eating meat sacrificed to idols is sin, when we know about it; but it isn’t when we don’t know about it.

    And now to our Lord Jesus: At the end of the first century He addressed two churches that held to a Gnostic teaching (Nicolaitans) who said, it was perfectly all right to eat meat sacrificed to demons. And listen, how He rebukes them:

    (Rev 2:14-16) But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there some that hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also some that hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans in like manner. Repent therefore; or else I come to thee quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth.

    (Rev 2:20) But I have this against thee, that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess; and she teacheth and seduceth my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols.

    That’s 2 out of the 4 necessary things. I have not found any passage that said, we can still eat blood and strangled meat. And the Early church didn’t either, that’s why they held to all four necessary things unanimously – you won’t find any one among them who said that these commands were only meant to be a temporary agreement.

    Clement of Alexandria wrote: “When faint with hunger, the Scythian asks his horse for sustenance; and the horse offers his veins, and supplies his master with all he possesses – his blood. To the nomad, the horse is at once conveyance and sustenance … Perish, then, the savage beast whose food is blood! For it is unlawful for men, whose body is nothing but flesh elaborated of blood, to touch blood. for human blood has become a partaker of the Word.”
    and:
    “The apostle says, “All other things buy out of the meat market, asking no questions”, with the exceptions of the things mentioned in the catholic epistle of all apostles “with the consent of the holy spirit.””
    (Both quotes from the Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs)

    the things mentioned in the catholic epistle of all apostles “with the consent of the holy spirit.” – I mean, how much more autority does a Christian need in order to obey?

    I fear that contemprary Christianity has bought into a number of Gnostic teachings without being aware of it, thus destroying the genuine apostolic faith. True Restoration has to overcome this mind set.

    Alexander

  17. Thank you so much for your response, Alexander, it is very strange to me that you can be so proficient in English….I have been around Northern Europe, and younger people do speak English well, but not at this level. I think you may be a spy for Canada.

    Blessed be with you, my brother! It is so sad that Irish-Americans cannot even pronounce our ancestral language, (even people in Ireland learn in it school)

    back to this fascinating business…..

    It seems to me that you are saying, here:

    “Romans 2 is hypothetical in that he says: If someone would consistently live by God’s will, doing good, he will be saved. Did you notice that he nowhere mentions faith in this chapter? Here is is dealing with God’s judgment according to our works. Will there be anyone who will be saved on the basis of his works apart from faith? I don’t think so, that’s why after chapter 2 chapters 3-8 follow.”

    is that if someone were to live consistently doing God’s Will, he will be saved (but he won’t, unless he has faith christianity, which at that time meant being lucky enough to be a Palestinian Jew…… .0000001% of the world population?……..and then leave the religion of your family….to follow the Messiah……who’s “dead”)

    6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” (but he won’t, because he actually means whether or not you have faith in jesus, NOT what you’ve done)

    7″To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.”
    (just kidding! you still go to Hell because you don’t have faith in Jesus.)

    10″but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.” (No, didn’t mean that one either…only messianic Jews who specifically follow Jesus of nazareth, or gentiles who leave their religion to join the new messianic jewish movement about jesus. It turns out, God shows extreme favoritism, only to them. sorry China, South America, Scandinavia, everywhere else in the world…..)

    I am sorry for the sarcasm, but it seems ridiculous that Paul would lay out this whole statement of how God judges humans, which makes God a fair and just judger of the world, but none of it applies, ever. It is all untrue, and he explains that later?

  18. Dear Rob

    You are basically asking the question: “What about those who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus?” Am I right? I’d ask back whether this is the issue Paul is dealing with here.

    Maybe he is in part. Because in chapter one he says, that God can be recognized by His works, and basically all He seeks at first is thankfulness.

    Now in chapter two he is speaking about the judment he introduced in chapter one and says it will be according to the works. The Jews will be judged according to the written Law of Moses, the Gentiles according to their conscience (this is a law written in our hearts, the knowledge of Good and Evil, but not was is meant with the New covenant). So, whoever lives a life striving to do good, will be saved according to his works.

    Chapters 3-8 show plainly, that if then only very, very few will live that way. Approximately these 0.0000001% of the world population you mentioned. That’s you and me and maybe my mother in Law. 😉

    So the answer is Jesus Christ whom we are called to proclaim to the nations. Believing Him means becoming obedient to Him in the power of His Spirit.

    I understand that this is a little different than what Protestantism tried to explain as the Gospel, and thus it is hard to see for many contemporary Christians, that we – indeed – have to follow God’s law in the light and meaning of the New covenant. That does not nullify grace or faith, but gives both a deeper meaning. Grace is not only forgiveness of sins, but transformation and empowerment as well.

    By the way: My first Christian phrase in (Scots) Gaelic I learned on the Isle of Lewis:

    Tha dochas agam tre ghrás – I have hope through grace

    And without it, I’d faint …
    Alexander

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