[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Is a "Believer" Saved?

by Rose~

John 4
7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." …
13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." … 25The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." 26Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he." …

Jesus tells this woman what sin she has committed. He says he can give her living water if she asks. Does he tell her she must turn over a new leaf in order to receive the living water? No. He doesn’t even tell her that she must put the man out of her house that is not her husband. He simply tells her that she can ask and she will get this “water” that will quench her thirst – she will never have to seek for this water again. He then explains that the water is eternal life.

28Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29"Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?"

John doesn’t say that she was converted. He doesn’t say that she went about preaching that Christ was offering eternal life. She told the townsfolk of her amazing encounter, including Christ’s miraculous knowledge of her living situation, and then, she asked a question: “Could this be the Christ?”

30They came out of the town and made their way toward him. … 39Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41And because of his words many more became believers. 42They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world."

This is quite amazing. The woman told the people about a conversation with a very unusual and giftedly insightful man, asked them a question, and then the conversion of many people happened. Verse 42 says that they heard him for themselves and they knew that He is the savior of the world. Verse 41 says they “became believers.” Are these people saved? Does the phrase “became believers” connote salvation? Are these "believers" recipients of eternal life? Are they set to escape condemnation? I have always assumed so. However, they didn’t have time to prove repentance. John doesn’t say they did anything, except hear ... and “become believers.” Are these people any better off than the demons of James 2:19?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Psalm 8:4-6

by Matthew

Psalm 8
4 what is man, that thou art mindful of him?
and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
and hast crowned him with glory and honor.

6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands;
thou hast put all things under his feet:

This passage can be applied in several ways.

Firstly, this passage is applied to Christ; for it is quoted in reference to Christ in Hebrews 2:6-8. The eternal Son of God became flesh, taking to Himself, a human body, becoming lower even than the angels. This was so that He might taste death for every man, securing salvation for those who believe.

Adam failed to exercise the domminion that God had given him by disobeying God. However, Christ is the New Adam (some insist on Last Adam) who has pefectly obeyed God's law and by His death and resurrection procured freedom for God's people from the curse of sin.

Hebrews 2:8 tells us that not all things are yet put into subjection to Christ. His enemies are not yet made His footstool. However, wne Christ returns to earth, this New Adam or Last Adam shall be given domminion over the earth. He shall rule them first for a thousand years and then forever after presenting the Kingdom to His Father (1 Cor 15:27-28). The Kingdom of the Son of Man shall be forever:

Revelation 11
15 ¶ 'And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying,
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.'

I believe the same passage has reference to the Church. For we see in Hebrews 2:

10 ¶ 'For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.'

It was God's purpose in Christ to create a new heavenly humanity, who would share in the domminion of the New Adam. It says in Daniel 7:

18 'But the saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.'

The glorified saints in Christ are to share in Christ's domminion. This is of course conditional for the individual Christian. The New Testament is clear that the privilege of sharing Christ's rule may be lost, unlike eternal life (Gal 5:21, 1 Cor 6:9).

I believe that the passage can also be applied to Israel. For God was mindful of a man called Abraham, a sinful man who worshipped idols. He called this man and promised to bless his descendants and to make them a great nation. What a thing! That God should call an insignificant man and promise him such a blessing. Though Abraham's descendants continually fell into apostasy and rebellion, God remembered His covenant with Abraham. Though Israel today is in apostasy, God shall deliver them and fulfill His promises to them at the coming of Christ's Kingdom. God is mindful of these people, though they be lower than angels.

The passage can also be applied to humanity in general. For God is mindful of sinful man. He has appoined a way by which they may be saved and by the power of the Holy Ghost, that way is being proclaimed to all:

John 3
16 ¶ 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.'

What is more, God has plans for the nations. God gave Adam domminion over the earth and told him to be fruitful and multiply. This was God's dealings with earthly humanity. What God gave to Adam was good, it was not a mere transition to the heavenly blessings revealed in Christ. The creation that God gave Adam has been wrecked by sin, however, it is God's purpose to restore the world, partially in the Millennium and also in the Eternal State, the New Heavens and Earth. The time shall come when the Millennial nations who have been faithful will recieve the full blessings that were given to Adam. Death will end along with suffering and the nations will be able to be fruitful and multiply in peace for ever more.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Context of Dead Faith: Be Swift to Hear

Part four in a seven part series on Zane Hodge's Outline of James

by HK Flynn

The key verse of James tells us to be, "swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath" but it also doubles as a sort of 1st century table of contents in James.

This post is about Jame's unpacking of what it means to be swift to hear. Generally, James is describing the first type of behavior (the careful hearing of God's Word) that responds well to trials, and leads to a perfect, or fully sufficient maturity.

Hodges argues that the swift to hear section includes (1) the observing of one’s face in a mirror passage, (2) the admonition not to prefer the rich to the poor in fellowship, and (3) the extended admonition on faith and works, which includes the dead faith passage.

The start points and the end points of this entire swift to hear section are very obvious, and I think it’s important for you to see Hodges isn’t just making up the outline to support his theology. The starting point (1:21) comes after the key verse (1:19, 20).

James has insisted at the end of that key verse that the wrath of man does not achieve the righteousness of God, and this is not just a passing comment. James is saying that the wrath of man cannot achieve what he is calling the congregations to achieve, the righteousness of God. This is what he’s earlier called being perfect and complete lacking nothing.

The end point of this swift to hear section(2:26) is the final summary of his faith/works teaching.

This is followed by an obvious change of subject. James clearly switches gears in order to address his “slow to speak” admonition. He begins:

“My brethren, let not many of your become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter punishment.”

This is pretty compelling evidence that Hodges is on track with his outline. In other words, Hodges notices what should have been obvious to everyone, a similarity between the “slow to speak” of v. 19 and the admonition not to quickly become teachers in 3:1. I hope the idea of a loose string-of-pearl organization of James, so popular for almost a century, is beginning to seem more far fetched.

2 Corinthians 3:18 sheds a lot of illumination on the observing one's face in a mirror passage. James is saying, don’t think that simply exposure to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word will produce in you the “righteousness of God” (1:20), i.e. the perfect state of Christian maturity. (I would add post-Pentecost maturity, based on our speculation about the dating.) Exposure to God's word will not produce that. You must meekly receive the implanted (or the planted-in-you) Word and become a doer of the Word. In other words, let the implanted word grow and thrive, nourishing that perfect gift from above.

James tells his listeners not to be like a man observing his “natural face” in a mirror. Hodges suggests that "natural face" is not as preferable a translation as observing the “face of his birth” in a mirror.


Because the context supports “face of his birth”. This is because James has just mentioned birth in the conclusion of the prologue. James speaks of being “brought.. forth” in the NKJV, other translations say “begat”. James says in 1:18, “[o]f His own will He brought us forth… [as a] kind of first fruits of His creatures”. Hodges is basically saying that an idea in 1:18 affects the context of 1:23 (five whole verses away), where James writes “he is like a man observing the face of his birth in a mirror.” In fact, James has also referred to the concept of birth in between those two verses(!), with his implanted-word remark in v.21! So the concept of birth is not foreign to James’ thinking here. What does it mean to say that we shouldn't be like a man looking at the face of his birth and then going away forgetfully?

James is saying gaze into the Word, which is like a mirror.

(It's good to remember that James woould have meant the OT, just like Paul meant the OT in 2 Corinthians 3:18, though Paul is thinking of the Law of Moses, James was zeroing in on the proverbial tradition.)

But don’t just gaze. When you gaze into the Word and see what you now are in Christ, (for James, proverbial wisdom was the mind of Christ, the implanted word) and then walk away from the mirror, live out that proverbial wisdom. (The implanted mind of Christ) Don’t go back to a human-centered mind set. Instead of supposedly teaching not to forget to change what you saw in the mirror (!), he is insisting his listeners remember the scriptural image—the implanted word—and aggressively apply it to their lives.

The sharp admonition not to prefer the rich to the poor in fellowship is not his first or last address of this issue of inter-class relations. In the introduction, James broached this by calling for a major attitude check on the part of the rich. While he is not advocating a return to having all things in common, he is not shying from saying the relations still need to be driven by the implanted word, the perfect gift from above, not our ambitions and worldly perspectives. Exposure to preaching and teaching will not save you from failure and the ultimate death to which sin leads, but becoming a doer of the Word will deliver you.

Concerning the lengthy faith/works passage, with its dead faith comments, I simply want to insist on what the subject matter is. Since this is a survey of Hodges’ outline, I’ve put some evidence of the two major distortions of James on my own blog instead of here.

(I.e., the famous demons passage, and the justification by faith passage.)

But concerning subject matter, James is telling people who have the implanted word to live it. Walking the walk is mandatory if you want to be like the amazing post-Pentecost Stephen. In fact, walking the walk is mandatory if you want to avoid being the post-Pentecost Ananias and Sapphiras! (I would argue that my speculation about the early dating is not necessary for this, all the alumni of the early Jerusalem church would carry those lessons with them throughout their lives.) Doing the work in the midst of trials is the only route to mature Christianity. Exposure to preaching and teaching won’t save your soul, doing the Word will. Hearing the word taught can be a game if it is not applied to one’s actions and treatment of the brethren, especially the poor.

That’s teh subject matter James is talking about. That’s what his hammer is. And since James has that hammer, every issue that comes up is a nail to be hammered. He is using the problem of rich poor relations to hammer away at the lesson he wants fully applied. Live the Christian life by aggressively applying the Word of God to one’s life with compassion and humility and successful wonder-working completeness will follow that application.

Let me state it clearly. James is not teaching a test to vindicate one’s eternal salvation. He is teaching something far and away more straightforward and easy to grasp. He is saying invigorate your Christian life by acting on your beliefs, so that the hungry brother is saved from death and so that you are saved from a vicious trend toward death. Faith alone does nothing. It is fully ineffective (dead) at the deliverance you need, salvation from the trend toward death and salvation unto full-fledged spiritual-living.

Near the end of Acts 9, Dr Luke regards the church as healthy. I would say that regardless of when James can be dated, that the church’s health in Acts 9 was due to exactly what James teaches: the aggressive application of the Word of God to individual lives, so as to fully unpack the miracle of new birth and fully experience the miracle of normal Christian maturity.

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
--Acts 9:31

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why did he die?

by Rose~

A certain Jehovah Witness is chopping vegetables in his kitchen. During an awkward manuever, he manages to accidentally cut a major vein. The bleeding commences. His wife gets him to the car and they rush off to the hospital with the two children in the back seat. In the emergency room, while one doctor has attended to the wound and stopped the bleeding, another wheels in the blood. The man has lost a lot of blood. In the midst of the well-orchestrated effort to save the man’s life, the man manages to say, “I am a Jehovah’s Witness. I will not accept that blood. Please don’t give me any blood. I would rather die.” After some time, the man is dead, for without replacement of the lost blood, his life could not be sustained.

The two teenage children have seen the entire string of events. In their distress, they ask their mother, “Why did he die?” She sadly tells them that Dad cut himself in the kitchen and he bled to death. It is a sorrowful situation, but it could not be helped. One of the children then says, “No! He died because he wouldn’t take that blood.” … and angrily flees the hospital.

Why did the man die? We know that officially, he died from bleeding to death, but under the circumstances that he found himself in, his death was not certain until he refused that blood transfusion. It could validly be said that he died because he refused the blood transfusion, although the cause of death would be listed as “bled to death.”

Why do sinners die? (IOW, why do unsaved people go to hell?) Is it because of sin, their sin nature and all their misdeeds … or is it because they refuse the life-giving work of Christ, by not believing and receiving Him who is offered as a remedy for their sin?

Scripture references are encouraged in your answer. Please explain how you come to your conclusion with those scriptures.

Monday, March 13, 2006

CH Mackintosh on 'The Father's Discipline'

by CH Mackintosh

The term 'House of God' in 1 Peter 4:17 refers to the Church in its place of responsibility in this world. God judges His house now. He will judge the world by and by. Holiness becomes the house of God, and He must judge everything contrary thereto. A father rules and orders his house because it is his house and because he will have everything in his house agreeable to his tastes and suited to his dignity. Thus our God deals with us. It is not a question of the salvation of our soul or of the eternal security of the believer; all that is settled. But God disciplines His children and judges His house. It is aprecious privilege to stand connected to God in this world, but it is a most solemn responsibility also.

1 John 5:16-17 refers to the case of a brother suffering under the chastening hand of God in government. Compare James 5:15. It might be for sin that was not unto the death of the body. In such case one may be led to pray for the sufferer and receive an answer from God in his restoration to health. But the sin may be of such nature that one could not possibly take it up in intercession at all, in which case the discipline must take its course and run on to the death of the body. Compare also 1 Corinthians 11:30.

We have repeatedly referred to 1 Corinthians 11:29-32. It teaches that God will assuredly chasten those who unworthily partake of the Lord's Supper. The passage applies to Christians now as well as in the early days of the Church. We are called to judge ourselves as we approach the Table of the Lord, else God will have to judge us in the way of prsent discipline, which may take the form of bodily sickness or even death itself. But, blessed be His name, He does this now so we may not be judged with the world by and by. It is truly blessed to hear the words, 'No condemnation' amid the judicial dealings of 1 Corinthians 11, just as distinctly as amid the evangelic teachings of Romans 8.

You have solid reason, dear friend, to doubt the soundnesss of the teaching to which you refer, on 1 Corinthians 11:30: 'For this cause many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep.' These persons had failed to judge themselves, failed to discern the Lord's body in the broken bread. They had eaten in an unworthy manner, though they were true Christians. Hence God, in His goverment of His house, had to chasten them by bodily sickness even unto death, so that they might not be condemned with the world. How could any intelligent person teach that 'the discipline here is not connected to those weak and sickly ones?' We say it was ver closely connected with them! No doubt others were called to learn and take warning from the discipline exercised upon those erring members, but surely no father would think of chastening a good child for the sin of a bad one.

It would be avery grave mistake indeed to say 'that all the trials and sufferings of Christians are punishments for some particular sin.' Very often those things are sent as a preventive and to draw the heart nearer to Christ. Who would presume to say that the sickness of Epaphroditus in Philippians 2 was a punishment for some particular sin? The apostle expressly tells us that 'for the work of Christ, he was nigh unto death.' Were Timothy's frequent infirmities sent as a punishment for some particular sin?

We do not like the term 'punishment' as applied to the dealings of our loving Father. There is nothing penal, in the strict sense of the word, even in His wise and faithful correction. Christ our blessed Substitute exhausted on our behalf all that was penal. God chastens His children to make them partakers of His holiness, as we learn in Hebrews 12. Moreover, the Father judges His house as we read in 1 Peter 4:17. So in 1 Corinthians 11 we are told that many of the Corinthians were visited with bodily sickness and death because of their disorderly conduct at the Lord's table. But this we are told was so they might 'not be condemned with the world.'

In James 5, we read, 'Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.' The 'if' shows that the sickness might not have been sent on account of any particular sin.

In 1 John 5 we read, 'If any man see his brother sin a sin that is not unto death, he shall ask and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death, I do not say he shall pray for it.' For example Ananias and Sapphira and the Corinthians! There may, in any given ease, be certain flagrant features attatching to some sin committed, causing those who look at things in the light of God's presence to feel instinctively that they could not possibly pray for restoration. We have to do with the goverment of God which is a very serious matter indeed. And it is one of the enactments of that government that 'whatsoever a man' (no matter who) 'soweth, that shall he reap.' But it is the Christian's happy privilege to view the actings of divine government through the atmosphere of divine grace.

Your case is painfully interesting. We are persuaded that if there be simple faith in waiting upon God, he will heal and restore. He is the healer and answerer of prayer. We recommend you to retire from all creature confidences and cast yourself simply upon the living God. You have been looking to human cisterns. We also judge you have been overanxious to get well. Seek grace to lie passive in your Father's hands and know no will but His. When once your heart can say, 'Thy will be done,' the great moral end of discipline is reached. We pray that you may reap a harvest of blessing from all the painful exercise through which you are now passing. May God comfort you, dear friend.

Hebrews 12:7 teaches us to leave ourselves wholly in God's hands, whatever be the character or measure of the chastening. It helps to this end to bear in mind that God is dealing with us as sons. There is nothing penal in chastening. All is in perfect love, unerring wisdom and infallible faithfulness, and the purpose of God in it all is to make us partakers of His holiness. Hence, it would be a serious mistake for us to seek in any wise to take ourselves out of our Father's hand. We should rather desire that the chastening might produce the proper result and that God might be fully glorified thereby. Restless efforts to get out of trial prove we are not walking with God and that we do not see His hand or His end in the matter. Moreover, we shall find that all such efforts only increase our trouble while they rob us of the sweet consciousness that all we are passing through comes direct from the hand of our loving Father.

(CH Mackintosh, The Father's Discipline in Short Papers on Scriptural Subjects, Ontario, Canada, Believer's Bookshelf, 1995 p.409-411)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

by Rose~

Dispensationalism is in the subtitle of this blog. This is a system of Bible interpretation that is held by every person who contributes here. Personally, I believe this system of Bible study to be the essence of taking the Scripture in context. It is very important to know what you are looking at when reading the Bible and not to just go by vague impressions.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 15)

This means to cut the text straight. We must make every attempt to discover the meaning of Scripture by discerning who it was written to, how and if it applies to the church, etc…

For example, I can’t look at Joshua 6 and … feeling that my city is being run by evil men … decide that it is God’s message to me to:

March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in…

This is not a message to me or anyone in the Church age. The Lord does not have us marching around cities to bring down evil. In this age, we are to preach the Gospel and the Holy Spirit saves individuals. This is a very simple example of what dispensationalism means to me.

Another helpful way of stating this principle is:
All Scripture is for us, but not all Scripture is to us.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness… (2 Tim. 3:16)

… but, every message … to various people and groups … in different ages and circumstances … are not to me and you today in the church. I think that is a pretty simple idea.

Have you ever read a teaching in Scripture that that seemed to really contradict the clear teaching to the Christian in the New Testament Epistes? This could be because it was written to someone, or some group of people, in a different dispensation.

Most Classical Dispensationalists would recognize seven dispensations:

(1) the dispensation of innocence (Genesis 1:1 – 3:7), prior to Adam's fall
(2) of conscience, (Genesis 3:8 – 8:22), Adam to Noah
(3) of government, (Genesis 9:1 – 11:32), Noah to Abraham
(4) of patriarchal rule, (Genesis 12:1 – Exodus 19:25), Abraham to Moses
(5) of the Mosaic Law, (Exodus 20:1 – Acts 2:4), Moses to Christ
(6) of grace, (Acts 2:4 – Revelation 20:3), the current church age
(7) of a literal earthly 1,000 year Millennial Kingdom that has yet to come but soon will, (Revelation 20:4 – 20:6).

The Scriptures divide time (by which is meant the entire period from the creation of Adam to the "new heaven and a new earth" of Rev. 21: 1) into seven unequal periods, usually called dispensations (Eph. 3:2), although these periods are also called ages (Eph. 2:7) and days, as in "day of the Lord."

This method for Bible study was developed to aid in the understanding of the change in God's method of dealing with mankind, or a portion of mankind, in respect of the two questions: of sin, and of man's responsibility.

Each of the dispensations may be regarded as a new test of the natural man, and each ends in judgment, marking his utter failure in every dispensation. Five of these dispensations, or periods of time, have been fulfilled; we are living in the sixth, probably toward its close, and have before us the seventh, and last: the millennium. (C.I Scofield)

I have found this to be very clarifying in my Bible study and have been surprised by the amount of scorn it gets from some Biblical Christians. I think it has possibly been misunderstood in many circles. I have read where people think that Dispensationalists are touting several ways to heaven, (based on the dispensation the person is in) not just through Christ alone. This is not my understanding at all. I see the OT saints as looking toward the cross and the lamb slain in faith ... and we, in the NT are looking back on His sacrifice in faith. I have more to learn on this subject, however and I am looking forward to some articles by some of the other contributors here to help clarify better. (nudge)

I really believe that lumping the whole Bible together and not making distinctions between the different audiences ... and ages ... is detrimental to the church.

It may safely be said that the Judaizing of the church has done more to hinder her progress, pervert her mission, and destroy her spiritually than all other causes combined. Instead of pursuing her appointed path of separation from the world and following the Lord in her heavenly calling, she has used Jewish Scriptures to justify herself in lowering her purpose to the civilization of the world, the acquisition of wealth, the use of an imposing ritual, the erection of magnificent churches, the invocation of God's blessing upon the conflicts of armies, and the division of an equal brotherhood into "clergy" and "laity." (C.I. Scofield)

Here is a great short booklet if you’re interested in learning some more about Dispensationalism. This was the first Christian book I ever read besides the Bible. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Not Arguing from Silence, Johnny Cash

by H.K. Flynn

The Hodges/Wilkin Free Grace position is that John left repentance out of the offer of eternal life.

But, hey, the devout and intelligent Christians who disagree with our premises have also rejected this one! They say it is an argument from silence.

Some introduction
There are two ways to teach people how to do something. You can teach what to do and you can teach what not to do. John does the former. He teaches his main audience, both unbelieving Jews and unbelieving Gentiles, those miracles and words of Christ they need to understand in order to believe in Christ and receive eternal life.

He also shows that receiving eternal life has a purpose, and that is to know the Father richly through an abiding that only comes through obedience.

But he never routes that obedience back through the offer of eternal life. He insists that eternal life comes from believing that Jesus is the One Who raises on the last day all that the Father has given Him.

Another clarification is that the good news is not summed up by its doorway. The Gospel may be understood as everything good for us coming out of the atonement and the resurrection, but the entry door is not 'everything'. The doorway is simply receiving the gift of eternal life. The rooms it leads to are both difficult and rewarding and are accessed by faith and works. The righteous shall live by faith.

If you can see there is a difference between receiving the gift of eternal life and following the Lord in a discipleship relationship there is zero tension between the other NT writers and John. There is no synoptic problem, or better, there is no synoptic tension with John.

All men are obliged to repent. God's wrath is being revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. All men are called to change course and obey Christ. He is the judge, obey Him.

So with this said I turn again, and whether to Zane Hodges' understanding of John’s silence on repentance is an argument from silence.

Goofy But Important Johnny Cash Hypothetical
Let's say Johnny Cash had once published an article called, 'My Five Favorite Christian Songs'. Now let's say that the songs were all Gospel Songs and Traditional Hymns.

Let's say that someone we'll call Christian #1 reads it and says that this article shows that Cash thought Alternative Christian Rock was of the devil.

Then Christian #2 says the article shows Alt Christian songs weren't among Johnny Cash's top favorites of Christian songs.

Can’t you see how Christian #1 is arguing from silence but Christian #2 isn't??

The difference is that Christian #2 noticed and respected the parameters set down by Cash himself, while Christian #1 made up his own parameters!

In his Gospel, John tells us his parameters more clearly than probably any other NT writer.

He was a disciple of John the Baptist who kept mum on repentance, not to branch out from the other disciples' teaching, but to teach the agreed upon apostolic teaching just as all the Apostles were doing.

Repentance is a NT message that is diluted by making it into a silent partner to belief. The Grace position allows repentance to have the impact it was meant to have.

Where John discusses discipleship it is in perfect rapport with Luke and the other NT writers.

John’s Gospel is comprehensively authoritative on how to receive eternal life because John explicitly claims to be writing for that purpose and no other NT writer makes a similar claim to that topic.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30, 31)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Counselling Nightmare Due to the P of TULIP

by Antonio da Rosa

So I don't understand: if someone says that he is believing in Christ alone for eternal life, and not on anything else, and you have no cause to doubt him, but his works do not meet up to your "fruit inspection", how do you counsel him?

Believe harder?
Work harder?

What a counselling nightmare it becomes when we judge other people's salvation based upon our perception of fruit bearing in their life!

If you tell him to believe harder, and yet he is saved because he believed already, you will cause serious doubt to fall upon him! "Didn't I already believe? That wasn't enough?"

If you tell him to work harder, he will come to the conclusion that it is up to him to work harder to get final salvation, when he already was told that it was by grace through faith apart from works (Eph 2:8, 9). So therefore you tell him he needs to work for his salvation (works-salvation).

If they profess to trust in Christ alone for eternal life apart from any other thing, and we have no reason to doubt what they say is true, the thing they need is discipleship! Not for one to tell them that they aren't saved because they aren't working hard enough!

They need to be told that they are in a new relationship with God, that of God being their father, and they being His son or daughter. They are now in His family. And now that they are in His family they have responsibilities, like all of our sons and daughters do. If they choose not to follow the responsibilities, we tell them, that like any good father, God will chasten them, correct them, and incur God's temporal child-discipline. They will not go to hell or be thrown out of the family, but God will deal with them as a father does his erring son. If they continue, let them know that God's hand will be mighty upon them, and they may incur premature physical death and a very poor assesment at the judgement seat of Christ (the bema) and will incur great loss of rewards, glories, honors, and position in Christ's kingdom.

Telling such a person that they have yet to believe, or that they need to believe harder is to confuse and mystify the exercise of simple faith. A person knows whether they believe something or not!

Telling them they have to work harder is to point them into the direction of works-salvation, that heaven would be ultimately conditioned on their faithful obedience.

Antonio da Rosa
Lakeside, CA

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Question for Calvinists: Was Balaam Regenerate?

This is a sincere question for Calvinists. I would really like to know their answer. Was Balaam regenerate?

The reason I ask is that Calvinists frequently quote 1 Corinthians 2:14

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

They use this verse to argue that a man cannot receive spiritual truth until he is regenerate.

It seems clear that Balaam did in fact receive things of the Spirit of God and was able to know them. He understands that he cannot curse Israel outside of God's will and receives several prophesies.

So would Calvinists understand Balaam to be a regenerate man? I would really like to know.


Friday, March 03, 2006

The Key of James

by HK Flynn

The key of James is found in the first chapter verses 19 & 20:

Know this, my beloved brothers:

let every person be quick to hear,

slow to speak,

slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.

Some things to consider:

(1) Isn't this passsage just excellent advice on how to live when experiencing trials?

It is that but it also plays a role in the Epistle as a whole. Evidence for this role is not so much within the statement as in the passages that follow.

(2) What is James getting at?

Recall that the Prologue has closed with a vivid insistence that the new birth is a perfect gift from above. It is a perfect miracle given to us. These three admonitions simply flesh out James’ advice for fully unpacking that wonderful gift, and thereby producing 'the righteousness of God' of verse 20.

(3) Is this another Zane Hodges idea??

Yes:) He makes the claim that these two verses act as a sort of table of contents (my words) to the entire body of the epistle. And shazam, the body that follows does in fact very strictly fall into the three stated ‘topics’ of verse 19. Hodges writes, “The outline which we give for James falls naturally into three divisions related to each of the admonitions and in the precise sequence in which the admonitions occur in v 19.” (Hodges, The Epistle of James, Proven Character Through Testing, p. 37)

(4) Why would James be so Type A about it?

Hodges goes on, “In the Roman age the main body of a speech or discourse was called the kephalaia (headings) by the Greek rhetoricians (Kennedy, A New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism, p.48) Thus what James actually presents in v 19 is an outline of the kephalaia, or topics, he will now discuss.” (p. 37)

(5) How solid is this idea of this passage essentially organizing the rest of the epistle?

“There is little doubt that vv 19-20 not only conclude the prologue but actually anticipate the contents of the main unit of the epistle.” (p.37)

(6) How much is this key verse idea dependent on the whole post-Pentecost background idea of James?

It's unrelated.

(7) Is your interpretation of Dead Faith dependant on this being a special key verse?

Yes, it is partly dependent. If it doesn’t hold up, the Purist interpretation, and for that matter the regular Christian interpretation, which isn’t very different in my mind, would essentially have a somewhat weaker argument against them. It even gives support the salvation from death argument. The kephalaia (or topics) argument shows that James is giving urgent advice to regenerate people so they will successfully unpack their gift of new birth and live like it.

(8) If this is the key verse, than what is the Epistle all about?

“Briefly, the subject of the Epistle of James is testing, and its theme is the proper behavior under testing. Such behavior consists of eagerness to listen, reluctance to talk, and restraint in the expression of anger.” (p. 37) (emphasis added by hk :~)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Anthropocentric and Theocentric

by Rose~

I keep hearing these words bandied about the blogosphere: anthropocentric and theocentric.

Anthropocentric = man-centered
Theocentric = God-centered

Some say that if we discuss man’s responsibility to receive Christ and the work that He alone accomplished on Calvary, then the gospel we teach is anthropocentric. They say that the insistence that people can respond to this gospel ... having been drawn by the Holy Spirit, before regeneration ... is an anthropocentric idea and not true Grace.

I saw an interesting discussion on Steve Camp’s blog. He has been posting a lot of articles lately about Calvinism, TULIP, Arminianism and the “Doctrines of Grace.” I really have an opinion about what is going on over there with these posts and comments etc … but I think it better to keep this opinion to myself.

There is a noteworthy observation that I wish to make. This has to do with this whole use of the words anthropocentric and theocentric and the charge against Non-Calvinists.

Blogger A said this in the February 24 post on that blog:
“Calvinism = the gospel.”
What can I say to that? I just think that is a very bad statement to make. It elevates a theological system above its proper realm. I think Spurgeon originally said this. Too bad.

I was so pleased when Blogger B came in and quoted a four point Calvinist (also would be called an Arminian by some in the blogosphere) Dr. Daniel Akin:

"Calvinism is not the Gospel. The Gospel is the Gospel. The Gospel is the death, the burial, the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the perfect atonement for the forgiveness of sins. You might argue that the basic system of Calvinism is consistent with the Gospel, but Calvinism is not the Gospel."

The next day, as this discussion continued on a new post, Blogger B repeated the statement of Dr. Akin in his own words, thus:

The Gospel is the death, the burial, the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a perfect atonement for the forgiveness of sins.

Now, while I could write lengths of disagreement on some of the things I have read from Blogger B, I just have to say “amen” to the statement above. That is the gospel. Let me repeat it:

The Gospel is the death, the burial, the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a perfect atonement for the forgiveness of sins.

Only because of this truth of the gospel can one of Adam's lost race have the life of God within him and live forever with the Father.

Next enters Blogger C, who has been seen using this word theocentric a lot around Blogdom. He makes this statement to Blogger B:

You have omitted "for whom." I suggest to you that the object of the work of Christ is equally essential as the work and the worker. Christ did not do some abstract work: Christ did something in particular for "us" (cf. 1Cor 15:3).

Blogger C says it
here. (click) (It is the 14th comment)

Now, while I don't disagree with the statement itself, he is using it to buttress the focus on the idea of the "unconditionally elect."

Who is teaching the anthropocentric message here? Since Calvinism is all about the “elect” and turns men’s thoughts to who those elect are ... and when and why did God chose them, etc… could it not be said that this is the anthropocentric, unhealthy endeavor for those who should keep our eyes on Jesus and the work that He has done?