[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)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Pulpit Magazine Discussion

by hk flynn

Over at Pulpit magazine, they are featuring the Lordship Salvation debate, complete with its own banner that's getting pasted around the reformed blogger world. (So far they've posted: True Faith and True Grace, Wrongly Dividing the Word, A 15-Year Retrospective on the Lordship Controversy, A Quote from Zane Hodges, An Introduction to Lordship Salvation. ) Free Gracers were asked a well-articulated question on a topic I've been meaning to blog on:

I would love to hear from some who hold to Free Grace on this question:
What is it about the notion “true belief results in action” (i.e. faith results in works) that is so detestable? Why is it that this is a logical fallacy to you?


Imagine yourself driving down the highway, and on the radio you hear an announcement that there has been a huge accident about a mile ahead of you. At this point you have two options. You can either genuinely believe the report of the accident and take preventative action to avoid plowing into a pile of cars, or you can refuse to believe, or only partially believe, the radio announcement.

Genuine belief in anything will naturally result in action. If you believe that the stock market is going to crash tomorrow, you will be taking your money out today. If you truly believe that your sin is detestable to a holy God, and that God has sovereignty given you a new heart and a new life that caused you to believe on Christ for salvation from hell, this has natural ramifications for the believer. Who among us, after being saved, has felt no compulsion to clean up some area of our lives in reverence of Christ?

What do we say of a Republican or Democrat who votes against their party? We call that person a scoundrel, one who does not truly believe in the principles of their party and they should just do everyone a favor and admit that they are on the opposite side. It matters little if we can talk the talk, but if we do not walk the walk, all of our talk is an empty lie. We are either for Christ or against Him, and those who love Him keep His commandments. The love for, and faith in Christ that is put into us by God Himself causes believers to keep His commandments.

So, back to my original question: What is it about the notion “true belief results in action” (i.e. faith results in works) that is so detestable? Why is it that this is a logical fallacy to you?

Since you technically asked 2 question let me answer them separately.

What is it about the notion “true belief results in action” (i.e. faith results in works) that is so detestable? ...

My two cents are that this idea sometimes seems to almost personify a person’s faith and therefore seems to me to steal a bit of the credit from Christ in us. When a person believes in Christ for his eternal life, He is born again. He receives eternal life. We know from the ending verses of 1 John that eternal life is Christ himself. So we know that at the point of regeneration Christ himself takes up forever residence in him. The real him is now the regenerate self, Christ in him. Because we can do all things through Christ we know that it is He and His resurrection power that works the works God has selected for us to walk in. So…

When someone talks about how faith by definition produces works and true faith results in good works, I admit to a degree my skin crawls. It seems like they are taking something they sincerely believe to be a gift from God and personifying it and claiming for it almost super powers that go far beyond the Scriptural information. We know from Scripture that sometimes God’s gifts become a distraction for the receiver of the gift, maybe that goes too far.
I agree that faith is a victory over the world, but that is because we are confident in Christ’s power to give us victory over sin in our lives and that He will give us boldness and make manifest the pure love that knits us together with our Christian chums.

But when seen as something that if authentic will years and years later result in good works… I see that as a conceptual competitor with Christ in us. Obviously, the “gift of faith” isn’t a member of the Trinity, so what makes it so powerful as to result in so much?

...Why is it that this is a logical fallacy to you?

If you are talking about faith-in-time, an incredibly strong inner conviction in the present, than I do believe that type of “present” or ongoing belief tends to be acted on. (However, their may be competing beliefs, fears, deceptions and affections that stall, slow down or reverse the action.) But this in-time faith is what Hebrews is talking about. Faith located in the present that looks forward to the future in Christ and His rewards inspired to action Abraham, Moses, certainly the martyrs and all the rest. They were looking for a city built by God. And Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. Even your illustration was about a prospect in the future(meeting up with the traffic in a certain area).

Thanks for a specific question that wasn’t demeaning.

God bless.

Jodie

26 Comments:

  • Excellent response, Jodie.

    When Lordship people talk about regeneration resulting in a changed life, they are on the right lines, though their view of sanctification and the old nature is inadequate.
    But when they talk about faith resulting in works, that shows real and serious doctrinal confusion.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, September 29, 2006 7:33:00 AM  

  • Agreed, and the confusion has the specific result of giving less credit to Christ within us. I think it also stalls discernment because they are assuming the wrong "cause" is responsible for the "results" they are aware of.

    God bless.

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Friday, September 29, 2006 7:56:00 AM  

  • Nice reply Jodie. I guess what I find so illogical about the lordship proponents use of the expression “faith results in works” is that they are attempting to distinguish between two separate concepts (saving faith and works) while their definition of saving faith does not allow them to do so. From their perspective, saving faith does not even exist apart from works (based on how they interpret “faith without works is dead”), so for them to say that works result from saving faith is absurd. Results do not come from something that doesn’t even exist without those results.

    By Blogger Solifidian, at Friday, September 29, 2006 9:07:00 AM  

  • Now I know where you and Antonio have been spending your time! I had never even seen that blog until yesterday. (I am so naive sometimes.)

    I really like the question that you quote here. It is not so condescending as some of the things I have seen thrown your way (you Free-gracers).

    I do appreciate that.

    I like your response. I had never thought of it the way you put it:
    the “gift of faith” isn’t a member of the Trinity, so what makes it so powerful as to result in so much

    Thanks for bringing this and the preceding post about the Pulpit magazine blog over here for sheltered people like me.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, September 29, 2006 10:18:00 AM  

  • Solifidian,

    This had bothered me too:
    Results do not come from something that doesn’t even exist without those results.

    You can't call something a "result" if it comes from something that doesn’t even exist without it.

    That just doesn't make sense.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, September 29, 2006 10:21:00 AM  

  • Jodie, and others. Thank you for letting my look in on this. I've been having a few aha's along the way. I like your concern for all the credit to be given to Christ. I think there are insiduous ways in which those on my side of the fence can have a creeping legalism.

    Let me ask this question. Couldn't the view that works, which result from a regenerated life (which I view is done by God), be an indication of the optimism of God's power in the believer's life. We are regenerated, God is at work, granting us the will and the strength to press on. Granted, works will not be evenly present in all believers, possibly invisible to other human eyes, perhaps even difficult to discern to the believer her or himself, but it is there because of God's power in changing the person's life.

    I'm also curious, Matthew, in faith resulting in works is serious doctrinal confusion. I can see works coming from a regenerated life, regenerated by God. But I am curious about your specific concerns. I might ask a few follow up questions to understand, but it is not to challange you. I find your insights helpful.

    By Blogger Earl, at Friday, September 29, 2006 10:26:00 AM  

  • Earl, do all the works that a believer performs result from a regenerated life distinct from saving faith?

    Or is saving faith of such a nature that it leads instrumentally to the performance of works?

    Lordship salvationists often argue that works result from a regenerated life, but at times they seem to argue that saving faith in itself entails a commitment to perform works and the actual commission of them.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, September 29, 2006 10:48:00 AM  

  • Matthew, my personal thought, works is caused by regeneration. I see the following:

    God calls --> regeneration

    Out of regneration comes:

    regeneration +-> faith --> justification
    |
    +-> sanctification
    |
    +-> works

    I don't know if the diagram comes out okay. If this diagram does not work, I'll delete the comment and try again.

    By Blogger Earl, at Friday, September 29, 2006 11:04:00 AM  

  • The diagram sort of worked. :-)

    regeneration results in faith, which results in justification.

    Regeneration also results in sanctification and good works.

    In this senario, works is not the result of faith, but of regeneration. Works also is not a cause of faith nor justification.

    Comments? I know regeneration prior to faith is a bone of contention to many.

    By Blogger Earl, at Friday, September 29, 2006 11:08:00 AM  

  • Solifidian,

    Thanks for so clearly articulating that problem :) Exactly!

    Have you ever read the articles in JOTGES about Evagelical groupings with Mormons and Catholics written by Phil Congden?

    I like what Rose quoted:
    Results do not come from something that doesn’t even exist without those results.

    As well as her rephrase:
    You can't call something a "result" if it comes from something that doesn’t even exist without it.

    Lord bless.


    Hi Rose :)

    I think I'm still more the sheltered one, but I know you have your hands full with muffin in the ov'

    :D

    I also liked the question. Actually the tone of the questions over there is very gracious. It's more John MacArthur's rhetoric that is hot. Again I respect things about him, but his rhetoric is emphatic to say the least!

    Thanks for checking this out and adding your observations :)

    God bless.

    Hi Earl,

    So glad your commenting over here. Plese feel free to state any views you have that challenge our thinking. You're very welcomne here.

    Thank you for the incredible clarity of what your saying and the spirit with which you offer it! I've probably gotten into a know it all frame of mind, so I appreciate your example ;)

    I think what your diagram etc is representing is far better theology than what is often offered from your team ;) Your understanding doesn't break down and undo justification!

    Basically, this is Gordon Clark's point that the word faith can be kept simple and it is the power of God that changes a person's life. I think he completely believed in perseverence in holiness, but again without redefining the word faith, which so impacts logic and doctrine.

    God bless.

    js

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Friday, September 29, 2006 12:42:00 PM  

  • In case you may have missed it, Dr. Wilkin recently posted a comment in the first Pulpit Magazine feature, An Introduction to Lordship Salvation, as well as in Phil Johnson's Personal Testimony blog entry.

    By Blogger Solifidian, at Friday, September 29, 2006 1:26:00 PM  

  • Jodie, you're blowing the sterio type I have of you all. You got to stay in the pigeon hole I keep trying to stuff you in. :o) Hey, I'm the know it all around here. You all are being too reasonable. :o)

    You know, the tortured Ordo Salutis my side often comes up with we try to chisel in stone. Sinclair Ferguson points out there are lots of problems with various salvation orderings. I think your concerns point that out.

    One of my concerns with my understanding the FG side has been so many things seem to be missing in a believer's life. But if you find this chart acceptable, it shows my understanding of FG has been wrong in various ways -- which is nothing new, I keep getting surprised. :o)

    Now I need to reflect a bit. I have a few more clarification questions I'll be asking later. Thanks Jodie, Matthew, and everyone else.

    By Blogger Earl, at Friday, September 29, 2006 1:38:00 PM  

  • Earl, so would you deny that saving faith is the same as faithfulness?

    Some Lordship Salvationists seem to want to beef up the quality of faith so as to almost (if not) make it into the same thing as faithfulness.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, September 29, 2006 2:44:00 PM  

  • Matthew, yes. Faith is different from faithfulness. I do think faith is more than intellectual assent, with trust more in line with what I talked about in Antonio's blog. But I deny faith is the same as faithfulness.

    By Blogger Earl, at Friday, September 29, 2006 3:16:00 PM  

  • Hey Earl, I thought Matt was doing a good job on my blog so I just have sat back and read your dialogue.

    Can I ask you a question?

    What is "belief" in your estimation. Is "belief" the same as "assent" to you?

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, September 29, 2006 5:40:00 PM  

  • Jodie,

    You are so level-headed and discuss things very well. You are a model child on the playground. I enjoy watching you operate.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, September 29, 2006 5:41:00 PM  

  • Solifidian,

    was it you who informed Bob of both threads?

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, September 29, 2006 5:42:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio

    Matthew always does an excellent job, as you do too. No need to jump in like that.

    I think belief that is saving faith implies assent along with a cognitive affection for Christ.

    By Blogger Earl, at Friday, September 29, 2006 8:37:00 PM  

  • Earl, I am puzzled as to why you bring affection into it.

    If I say I believe in sea serpents, it is obvious that I am affirming the proposition that sea serpents exist.

    Why shift away from this propositional model of belief in the area of saving faith.

    I appreciate that sometimes people speaking English will use the word believe in a somewhat less directly propositional sense. For instance, they may say "I believe in George W Bush," meaning that he is the right man to govern the USA. However, this is still essentially the affirmation of a number o factual propositions and does not necessarilly entail any affectional element in the belief. More importantly, I do not know if such a form of expression is found in Greek or not (being the ignorant church historian that I am).

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, September 30, 2006 9:26:00 AM  

  • Jodie,

    I am glad you and Antonio are engagding the debate. This is where I wish the Lorships would be more open to as you said>(However, their may be competing beliefs, fears, deceptions and affections that stall, slow down or reverse the action.) <

    You shared some good thoughts. The reason I believe the Lorship camp has a steak in it that I agree with is because of like the intellectual assent of Caiaphas who not only believed like the demons did, but actually understood dispensational thought as well as preached the gospel. he saw what his other Pharisee friends did not, yet there was an unwillingness to repent. He was unbroken in that mental assent and fully engadged in Hating the Son of the Living God. He had no change of heart about the intelligent knowledge he had. It is possible I believe for men to be in this state. This is in the gospel of John. I know you will disagree with me on this point, but this is where I see the Lorships drawing out a most solid truth and showing us that true faith will bring about a change of heart that will positively result in living for God. Where I think they have a blind spot is in seeing all the traps as you point out. I respect your insights into the Word of God. They are indeed helpful to me. I don't like to use words like commit as Caiaphas was indeed committed, but I think the call to repentance must go out as the sould breaks in it and in need has only one option. Look to Christ alone and trust in His grace alone. I am more and more convinced that both free gracers and Lorships should consider stopping using their own terminology and simply trust God with the command to call men to repentance and to Believe in Christ and His grace alone.

    In the love of our Lord and His grace,

    Brian

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Saturday, September 30, 2006 2:04:00 PM  

  • Matthew,

    As puzzled as I sense you are with me, so I am puzzled why you would leave off affection as part of belief. Just reading John, I see affection in those that believe. In interacting with you all, I see a deep affection and passion for Christ. It's one of the reasons I enjoy interacting with you all. So I read your words, but implicitly see your affection.

    Here is where I differ from you all -- just to make my thoughts clear, but not presenting a case for it. I simply cannot divorce affection from belief, nor can I divorce repentance as a companion of faith. I also cannot read James the way you all do. I do not understand the concept of temporal judgement as you all define it.

    By Blogger Earl, at Saturday, September 30, 2006 8:19:00 PM  

  • Earl
    So when Jesus said that He that believeth in Him has everlasting life, there was a hiddent condition that only belief that included affection was valid?

    I am trying to understand your hermeneutical method.

    It seems that if one reads affection into statements about belief, one can make the Scriptures mean all kinds of things.

    Earl, could you please explain how you justify your reaching this hermeneutical conclusion.

    I apologise if I am seeming a bit harsh here. I am just a bit baffled by this seemingly abitrary insistence that affection is a part of belief.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, October 01, 2006 4:56:00 AM  

  • Earl, you mention our positions on repentance and James chapter 2. Those of us on this blog have spent an awful lot of time defending those positions, writing many posts on those subjects.

    If you want to ask a question about those positions, this is fine.

    However, you have not spent any time giving us your reasons for holding that saving faith includes affection.

    So you must surely understand my frustration at this seemingly abitrary conclusion.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, October 01, 2006 5:00:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    Sorry I am giving you all frustration.

    About the Gospel of John. John wrote the gospel being aware of the other gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John does not dispute those other gospels, but adds his perspective. John's Gospel was joined early in church history with the other Gospels and circulated with those Gospels.

    In reading Scripture, I follow the old rule of "the analogy of faith" -- where Scripture interprets Scripture. "Belief," which is derived from the same Greek word "Faith," as far as my reading indicates, is simply more than intellectual assent. There is a affection attached to it.

    As I interact with you all, your faith is more than intellectual assent. Jodie speaks of displeasure when credit is taken away from Christ. You are frustrated with my lack of understanding. These are words that show an affective attachment, more than just an intellectual assent.

    About James, I don't have all the time in the world to comment as you all write. I have limitations as you do.

    By Blogger Earl, at Sunday, October 01, 2006 5:25:00 AM  

  • Earl, I appreciate the demands upon your time, but it seems reasonable to hope that you might attempt to explain and defend the position you present.

    You refer to the affection of myself and Jodie towards Christ.

    I certainly do hope that I do hold affection toward Christ. However, this is a result of my regeneration and the new nature I have received.

    You mentioned earlier your understanding that works result from regeneration, rather than being a direct result of faith.

    Leaving aside the issue of the order of faith and regeneration, would it not be reasonable and consistent with your position to maintain that affection is a result of regeneration, rather than a result of faith?

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, October 01, 2006 2:40:00 PM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    If affection must not be a part of the substance of faith, then yes,it is a result of regeneration.

    I am out of time. I have been neglecting my duties elsewhere and must curtail commenting in other blogs.

    It's been a pleasure interacting with you all. I have found the discussion with you edifying and very helpful.

    By Blogger Earl, at Sunday, October 01, 2006 10:56:00 PM  

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