[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, March 23, 2007

Do you agree with this Quotation? XIV

by Matthew

Is this sound theology? Or is this a false gospel of works?

James attacks several problems that had arisen in the congregations. One that caused much trouble was the misunderstanding and misconstruing by some persons of the doctrine of the free gift of righteousness through faith. (Rom. 5:15-17) These individuals mistakenly claimed that a Christian, having faith, did not need works- that faith had nothing to do with works. They overlooked the fact that true faith would show itself in some form of action. They were thereby denying that Christ "gave himself for us that he might deliver us from every sort of lawlessness and cleanse for himself a people peculiarly his own, zealous for fine works." (Titus 2:14) James was contending with the idea held by some Christians that a purely intellectual faith was sufficent for the Christian. This would ignore any need for faith to affect the heart, and would deny that faith had power to move a person to make changes in his personality and his life and to do things for others in positive expression of that faith. They were, if they maintained this idea, becoming like those of whom Paul speaks as having "a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power."- 2 Tim. 3:5.

It should not be understood that James argued against the doctrine of righteousness "apart from works of law," which teaching the apostle Paul clearly defines in Romans chapters three and four. (Rom. 3:28) James' comments and counsel on Christian conduct always rest on the basis of "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jas. 2:1) James was not in any way saying that works of themselves can bring salvation. We cannot properly devise a formula or build a structure through which we can work out our salvation. The faith must be there first. As James clearly emphasized, good works will come spontaneously from the heart, with the right motive of helping people in love and compassion.

(Commentary on the Letter of James, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, p.6-7)

31 Comments:

  • Matthew,

    Elemental!! That is an accursed message -- contrary to the Gospel of Grace, salvation in Jesus Christ alone..

    The message aside tells that story, aside from the tag line and credits.. Watchtower Society?????... Nuff said!!

    In Christ eternally,

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at Friday, March 23, 2007 2:27:00 PM  

  • Expreacherman, I am glad you think so. Thanks for visiting.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, March 23, 2007 2:41:00 PM  

  • I think the author errs when he says this:

    "They overlooked the fact that true faith would show itself in some form of action".(I here many other Christians make this same JW statement)

    Any show of faith would be impossible for us to be sure of.

    It would surely flow from a faithful heart, but God is the only one who can know another man's heart.

    We wouldn't know a faithful act if we saw one. How's that?

    We know from scripture that faithful heart will bear faithful fruit but it's something we'll have to take God's word on because we can't judge that for ourselves. But, wow, can we have a blast speculatinggggggg.

    By Blogger Todd, at Friday, March 23, 2007 3:47:00 PM  

  • Matthew, Even without the knowledge of the truth it is obvious this quote is rife with contradictions and baseless supposition. “Red is not green therefore red is blue”. This is truly sad.

    By Blogger Kc, at Friday, March 23, 2007 3:49:00 PM  

  • Todd and Kc, thanks for your thoughts.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, March 23, 2007 3:55:00 PM  

  • Amazing. Without the "Watchtower" label on it, most "evangelical" commentaries would say basically the same thing & think this was fine exegesis. I am remnided of a tiny church in a town next to ours that is named "Faith That Works Christian Church" & has a picture of a person laboring under the weight of a cross slowly trodding along.
    So, I absolutely do NOT agree with the quotation. Where does James anywhere even HINT that "good works will come spontaneously from the heart, with the right motive of helping people in love and compassion"? Just the opposite, he exhorts us to put our initial faith that saved us eternally (1:18) to work, so the daily corrupting influence of sin could be avoided.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Saturday, March 24, 2007 8:47:00 PM  

  • Absolutely right, David.

    My own church would probably agree with this quotation, though I am glad they have not given themselves such a stupid name as 'Faith that Works Christian church.'

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, March 25, 2007 1:22:00 AM  

  • David is right... great insight.

    Many "main line" churches will agree with that statement (minus the Watchtower label). Some might -- even with the label -- out of ignorance.

    I have a post which illustrates that fact...and I named and quoted from the statements of faith of just a few organizations.
    http://expreacherman.wordpress.com/2007/03/14/who-makes-these-errors/

    In Christ eternally,

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at Sunday, March 25, 2007 10:16:00 AM  

  • What does James mean when he says, "I will show you my faith by what I do"? If faith without works is "useless" then it is a faith separated from salvation, is it not?. In other words, a "dead faith" indicates that justification has not taken place; at least that's what James seems to be saying.

    By Blogger jared, at Tuesday, March 27, 2007 6:51:00 AM  

  • Jared, I think Antonio can give you a more articulate answer than I can, but I shall do my best.

    We would argue that James is not dealing with the issue of justification. When he speaks of justification in that chapter, I believe he uses a different Greek word to that used by Paul on that subject. The theme of James is the Christian life in its practical aspect, not soteriology.

    A dead faith is useless of Christian living; it is useless in terms of overcoming the world.

    With regard to your quotation, I believe that is not actually James' words, but that of a hypothetical opponent.

    If I may ask you, do you agree with part or all of the quotation that I posted?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, March 27, 2007 12:32:00 PM  

  • dyspraxic fundamentalist,

    The quote "I will show you my faith by what I do" is by James in response to a hypothetical opponent. They are his words, not the words of his potential opponent.

    The word for "justified" in verse 24 (dikaioutai from dikaioo, Strong's number 1344) is the same word Paul uses in Galatians 2:16 (and throughout his other epistles). It's also the same word Jesus uses in Luke 18:14. So, I'm pretty sure we're talking about the issue of justification as it relates to salvation. In what other context would the concept of "faith" belong anyway? A dead faith isn't good for anything, this includes justification which, I think, also includes salvation.

    As for what I agree with in the quote? (1) James was responding to problems that had arisen within local congregations. (2) Faith has everything to do with works (Paul says anything that does not come from faith is sin, Rom. 14:23). (3) James is not teaching a works based salvation. I think that's pretty much the gist of this particular WatchTower quote. I don't think there are too many denominations or systematic theologies that disagree with that gist, at least within the evangelical community. Do you disagree with those three points?

    By Blogger jared, at Tuesday, March 27, 2007 2:06:00 PM  

  • Hey Jared,

    I saw your comment in the John 12 post. Yes, not all saved people progress in discipleship. That's why there are rewards in the Kingdom of heaven.

    As to the definition of faith - weak faith, growing faith, little faith, and great faith deal with the number of propositions believed, not with "degrees" of confidence in one proposition.
    You either believe something or you don't - there's no degrees. Little faith is convinced that Jesus freely gives eternal life, but it doesn't move beyond that. Great faith moves beyond believing in Jesus for eternal life.

    The weak faith of Romans 14 has to do with questionable matters. The weak brother believes (is convinced) that he has eternal life through Christ, but when it comes to questionable matters, he is offended by the stronger brother's actions because he does not believe those activities are acceptable. He is convinced that Jesus gave him eternal life, but he is not convinced that he can partake of the same activity as the stronger brother.

    A person with great faith not only believes that Jesus freely gave him life, but believes in Jesus for greater things. A person with little faith only believes in Jesus for eternal life.

    Now to James 2. You're right that James is using the same word for justification. No problem there. But the word "only" (monon) in James 2:24 is an adverb and cannot come after a noun like "faith." Adverbs modify verbs, not nouns. The word "only" should come before faith. The correct translation is "You see then that a man is justified by works and not only by faith." James is saying there are two kinds justification, one before God, and one before men. The full thought of that verse is "You see then that a man is justifed by works, and is not only [justified] by faith."

    Justification before God is free and obtained only once by Grace through faith in Jesus. Justification before men, where you prove to men that you are close to Christ and a friend of God (nothing to do with proving salvation), has to be repeated over and over. Abraham offering Isaac was only one instance of being justified before men. It brought his faith into perfection, but a person needs to do the right thing more than once if they are going to be justifed before men on other occasions.

    The salvation of James 2:14 is a salvation from God's merciless judgment on a redeemed person (2:12-13). See James 2:1-13. The Christians in the Church were not showing mercy toward poor members of the congregation, as they stuck them in the back and gave the good seats to the wealthy. They were showing partiality. James is showing them how merciless their behavior was toward the poor.

    Under the law of liberty, which only applies to the Redeemed, Christians who show no mercy will not be shown mercy at the Judgment Seat either (2:12-13). In order to save themselves from God's merciless judgment (and the subsequent loss of rewards), they would need to show mercy toward a poor believer (James 2:15-17). Faith without works is dead. The passage applies to the redeemed. While faith in Christ for eternal life brings eternal life, if the faith stays without works, it is "dead" and useless to the Christian life and for receiving mercy from God under the law of liberty.

    By Anonymous danny, at Tuesday, March 27, 2007 4:27:00 PM  

  • (2) Faith has everything to do with works (Paul says anything that does not come from faith is sin, Rom. 14:23).

    No, I do not see that this is correct and I do not see that your reference supports that conclusion.

    That a man may have dead faith (faith without works) proves that there is no intrinsic connection between faith and works, as the hypothetical objector argues.

    18 ¶ Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.

    19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

    Obviously, there are no quotation marks in the Greek, so we have to guess where the quotation of the hypothetical opponent ends. However, I think the 'but' is the logical place for James response to begin.

    See Jodie's debate with Frank Turk on this subject:

    Religion of Demons

    (3) James is not teaching a works based salvation.

    I do not completely agree. Certainly, James is not teaching that we are justified by works. However, he is teaching that salvation from the trials and temptations of the world requires works.

    If you consider yourself to be in agreement with this quotation, you would interested to know that it reflects Watchtower teaching on faith and works in general.

    Given your agreement with it, you would presumably have to deny that the J.W.s teach a works-based salvation. Certainly, they would not understand justification in the same way and they do not hold to eternal security, but otherwise the Reformed position on faith and works is identical to that of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, March 28, 2007 12:49:00 AM  

  • danny & dyspraxic fundamentalist,

    1. There is only one kind of faith in God's eyes: faith unto salvation. The distinction between weak faith and strong faith is not one of position before God, rather it is a degree of conscience as it relates to sin in this life.

    2. There is only one kind of salvation in God's eyes: salvation from the second death. No where are we promised any sort of temporal salvation; such a salvation would be virtually meaningless because physical death is inevitable (except for those believers alive at the second coming). We are as lambs for the slaughter and as living sacrifices.

    3. The Greek word monon (Strong's 3440, from 3441) is used many times in Scripture exactly the way danny seems to think it can't be used:

    Matt. 5:47 - "And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?"

    Matt. 21:19 - And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, "No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you." And at once the fig tree withered.

    John 11:52 - and not for the nation only, but that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

    John 13:9 - Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head."

    Acts 11:19 - So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews [only].

    Rom. 3:29 - Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also.

    Rom. 8:23 - And not only [creation], but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

    I could go on as the NT contains plenty more examples of this phenomenon, including the one in James 2:24.

    4. In light of the fact that there's only one type of salvation, it follows that there is also only one type of justification in God's eyes: justification by faith. We do not to works to be seen by men, nor to be justified in their sight. We do good works because Christ did them and we are Christians and because as Christians good works are prepared for us (all) to do.

    5. Your concept of rewards/punishments is a little off. All Christians are children of God united to Christ and, thus, are heirs with Christ. Because we are united to Christ, we have His death, His resurrection and His righteousness. Why else would Paul say that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus? As Christians we will be rewarded for what we have done. What have we done that is not perfected through the work of Christ? If we are truely to be rewarded based on what we do, surely none of us shall receive any sort of reward. If God were to take measure of our sinful works in comparison with our righteous works, what do you suppose the ratio would be? It would be astronomically in favor of our sinful works and our judgment would be certain. Christ is the only one who could stand such a weighing, and it is through Him that Christians stand as well.

    Your argument about James 2:18-19 being the words of a hypothetical opponent doesn't make any sense. The opponent acknowledges that faith and works must go together ("I will show you my faith by my works") and then, in verse 20, James calls the opponent foolish for not knowing that faith and works must go together? I think I'll stick with 18a being the opponent's words and 18b (following) as James' response. Since there is only one type of justification (in God's sight), you still have the problem of "faith alone."

    As I mentioned in my last comment, I agree with those three points I pulled out. It doesn't particularly interest me (or surprise me) that the WatchTower understands the relationship between faith and works in a similar manner as Reformed theology. It might have something to do with the fact that James isn't terribly difficult to interpret and that JW's have a Protestant history.

    I also believe in the canon of Scripture even though it was put together and "authorized" by the Roman Catholic Church. I also quite enjoy the way the Presbyterian church service is performed, even though it's loosely based on RC tradition (this is true of most worship services, actually). I agree with the Nicene Creed and Apostle's Creed, both of which the RCC teach. Of course, it isn't the case that I agree with some of the WatchTower here because it's from the WatchTower; that fact is quite incidental and I could certainly claim that the WatchTower has actually taken the Reformed view, rather than vice versa.

    If their view of salvation is laid bare in this quotation and this quotation does not teach a works-based salvation, then I guess I don't really have a problem saying that JW's don't teach a works-based salvation. Now if, in fact, there are other places which display JW soteriology in more depth and these other places teach that JW soteriology is works-based, then this quotation is not representative of their view of salvation. Regardless, it is representative, to a degree (e.g. the 3 points I took out of it), of Reformed soteriology which clearly is not works-based.

    By Blogger jared, at Wednesday, March 28, 2007 7:48:00 AM  

  • Jared, your insistence that the Bible only speaks of one kind of salvation is highly doubtful.

    I would refer you to a couple of posts by Antonio:

    James 2:14 What kind of Salvation was James Discussing?

    James 2:14 Background

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, March 28, 2007 2:51:00 PM  

  • Jared,

    If there is only one type of salvation, please explain 1 Timothy 2:15:

    "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."

    1 Timothy 4:14-16:

    "14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."

    You have to explain the passage about saving a BROTHER's soul from death. James 5:19-20:

    "19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul[a] from death and cover a multitude of sins."

    You're correct that there is one type of justification before God, by faith alone (Romans 4:1-5).

    However, there is a justification by works, and thus, it is NOT before God, lest anyone should boast. (Romans 4:1-5).

    In light of that, it is pretty obvious that the justification by works in James 2 is not by faith, and thus has nothing to do with eternal salvation. James is very clear that there is a justification by works. And notice that Abraham was justified by works 23 years after he was justified by faith. If you say this justification by works is before God, then you're violating Romans 4:2.

    Many of your fellow Calvinists acknowledge that there are two justifications in James 2. They acknowledge that the justification by works is before men. As Calvinists, of course, they say anyone who is justified by faith will inevitably be justified by works before men. Of course, James 2:12-13 gets left out of the equation.

    By Anonymous danny, at Wednesday, March 28, 2007 5:48:00 PM  

  • dyspraxic fundamentalist,

    I don't mind that you are highly doubtful of my insistence; Antonio's posts aren't terribly convincing. :-)

    danny,

    (1) 1 Tim. 2:15 - Notice that I didn't say the word salvation (sodzo) couldn't be used in any other manner, I said there is only one type of salvation in God's eyes, and that is salvation from the second death. As Jesus says, what use is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul? I understand that the word "soul" in that verse is translated "life" in the previous verse, but I think Jesus is speaking clearly about spiritual salvation and not fleshly salvation, especially given the context.

    (2) 1 Tim. 4:14-16 - There's no reason to think that "salvation" in this verse isn't refering to the salvation brought by faith. It makes sense that Paul would be telling Timothy to persevere in correct doctrine as incorrect doctrine can't produce saving faith. Corrupting the gospel is worse, in a way, than outright rejection of it.

    (3) James 5:19-20 The context for the latter verses of chapter 5 are those who are physically sick. Physical sickness can be the result of sin in ones life (verse 15), so it makes sense that James would admonish his audiance to keep in the truth. It also makes sense, in this context, for James to say that a sinner turned from the error of his ways will have his life protected (saved). I've already admitted that "soul" can be translated as "life" and it can certainly be used to refer to physical life as context seems to require in this instance.

    (4) Justification before man profits nothing. James would have been familiar with Paul's theology and would have understood that righteousness comes through Christ and is always about salvation. Why would James mention the righteousness of Abraham and point out that Abraham was called the friend of God if he is speaking about being justified in the sight of men? God doesn't see us and say, "Man, look at all those people in whose eyes Jared is justified. He gets to be called my friend!" No, Abrahame believes God and as a result of that belief (a) Abraham is willing to sacrifice his promised son and (b) God counts his belief as righteousness. James is saying that, like Abraham and Rahab, we are justified in God's eyes by a faith that is not dead, i.e. a faith that acts (or works).

    (5) I don't know why these fellow Calvinists would ignore James 2:12-13. They are right to say that all those justified before God will also be justified before men. Why? Because God is the one who justifies on both accounts. If I have any justification before men, it is only because I have justification before God. And because I have justification before God, I will have justification before men. Unless my faith is dead, in which case I am not justified on either account.

    By Blogger jared, at Wednesday, March 28, 2007 7:43:00 PM  

  • Hi Jared,

    I apologize for not reading your comment on "sozo" carefully. I'm glad you agree sozo can be used in other ways.

    You may be unaware that all of us in FG see "saving the life" as also dealing with saving yourself for the abundant life in the Kingdom, not just physical life. There are two senses of eternal life - the free gift and the superlative experience of that life in the Kingdom.

    You brought up Matthew 16:24-28:

    The person who gains the world and thus loses his soul is one who failed to take up his cross and follow Jesus (v.24). I don't see that as having anything to do with salvation by grace through faith. And clearly this is a reward concept, as Jesus goes on to say that he will repay each one according to his works (v. 27). The person who has freely drank the water of life may lose out on the abundant life by failing to take up his cross.

    Let's head over to 1 Timothy 6:12,17-19.

    In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul tells Timothy to "lay hold" on eternal life now by fighting the good fight of faith. "Laying hold" of eternal life has nothing to do with making sure you have life. By laying hold of eternal in the present, he will receive the abundant life in the future.

    In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Paul commands the rich believers to do good works and distribute, so that they may store up for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, and "lay hold" on eternal life in the future. This laying hold of eternal life is by good works and involves storing up a good foundation for yourself in the Kingdom. Nothing about salvation by grace through faith there. Timothy was to lay hold of eternal life in the present, and the rich were to lay hold of eternal life in the future by doing good works now. Both Timothy and the rich would store up a good foundation for themselves in the Kingdom, which would allow them to glorify God greatly.

    In 1 Timothy 1:2, Paul clearly considers Timothy to be a believer, his own son in the faith, and therefore, his exhortation for Timothy to save himself obviously has to do with saving himself and his congregation from false teachings by giving attendance to reading, exhortation, and to sound doctrine.

    I'm glad you agree that James 5:20 deals with physical life. And saving the physical life by avoiding sin and taking up your cross also results in the saving yourself unto the abundant life in the Kingdom. So saving the physical life can result in the abundant life! That's why it's so important.

    11 This is a faithful saying:

    For if we died with Him,
    We shall also live with Him.
    12 If we endure,
    We shall also reign with Him.
    If we deny Him,
    He also will deny us.
    13 If we are faithless,
    He remains faithful;
    He cannot deny Himself.

    I'm sure you've seen me talk about this before, so I apologize if I sound like a skipping-record :)

    Paul is assuming the first conditional statement in the ABBA chiasmus is true for his audience. But the three remaining lines are true conditional statements, based on the premise that the first statment is indeed true - that his audience has died with Christ (believed in Him for eternal life). The people denying Jesus have died with Him, and will thus live with Him. They are denied the privilege of reigning, since the middle two statements are connected (B1 and B2).

    The last statement about being faithless is connected to the first statement (A1 and A2). The believer who becomes faithless will still live with Jesus, because He has died with Jesus, and Jesus cannot deny Himself. To deny someone who has died with Him entrance into the Kingdom would be like denying Himself. Since rewards are based on what we do, He can deny us for denying Him. But because entrance into the Kingdom is conditioned on believing in Him for eternal life (dying with Him), He cannot deny the faithless believer entrance into the Kingdom.

    By Anonymous danny, at Wednesday, March 28, 2007 10:12:00 PM  

  • danny,

    You're interpretation of 2 Timothy 2:11-13 is a little off, I think. There is a contrast in verse 12 between enduring (remaining, suffering, not fleeing, etc.) and disowning (denying, rejecting, refusing) Jesus. What do you suppose would have happened to Peter if he had not wept because of his denials and had he not been restored by Jesus Himself? Jesus says that those who deny Him He will, then, deny them to the Father. When we stand before the judgment throne how shall we stand if Jesus is denying us to the Father? There is no covering from sin, no imputed righteousness, no sonship that we can appeal to. In other words, if Jesus disowns us, He denies that we have died with Him.

    There is a huge difference between disowning and being unfaithful (or "faithless"). Disowning implies a breaking of the relationship, a separation of the two parties. Unfaithfulness implies that one of members has been betrayed to some extent, but the relationship remains intact. This seems clear because Jesus does not deny those who are unfaithful (and it's a good thing too because all of us are unfaithful) because He remains in/with us, but He does deny those who disown Him because He (by implication, at least) no longer remains in/with them.

    By Blogger jared, at Thursday, March 29, 2007 2:03:00 PM  

  • Jared your trampling on a lot of scriptures to come to that conclusion!
    For one thing your saying that John 3:16 is a lie. That one who has believed can perish.
    John 5:24 One who has believed will come into a judgement.

    John 4:14 that one who has drank can thirst again.
    Scripture clearly says different:
    John 6:34-40 never hunger-never thirst-lose nothing-raise him up.
    John 11:26 condition (believe)consequence (never die).
    1 Cor 3:11-15 all burned but will be saved as by fire.
    Eph 4:30 sealed for the day of redemption.
    Heb 13:5 I will never leave you or forsake you.
    And how about chastisement where does that fit into your belief system?
    blessings alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Friday, March 30, 2007 11:07:00 AM  

  • alvin,

    You might want to actually know my "belief system" before you go making accusations about Scripture trampling.

    1. Never have I ever said, nor implied, that John 3:16 is a lie.

    2. Never have I ever said, nor implied, that a believer will come under condemnation. However, if I'm not mistaken, I think most every branch of Christianity believes even Christians will be judged and rewarded accordingly.

    4. Never have I ever said, nor implied, that one who has had their thirst quenched by Christ will thirst again.

    5. Never have I ever said, nor implied, that believers aren't sealed for the day of redemption.

    6. Never have I ever said, nor implied, that Jesus will forsake those who are His.

    7. What do you mean by "chastisement"?

    By Blogger jared, at Friday, March 30, 2007 12:07:00 PM  

  • Jared you implyed it with what you said:
    but He does deny those who disown Him because He (by implication, at least) no longer remains in/with them.
    That's pretty clear to me!
    Anyone who has believed Jesus for eternal life is in heaven right now, they died together with Him, they were buried together with Him, and they have risen together with Him (Eph 2:5-6). They are One spirit with Him (1 Cor 6:17).
    Your not seeing a believers postion in Christ, but your simply looking at their experince here and now. And what I mean by chastisement. When a person becomes a child of God they are forever a child of God, and God will child train them. You could disown your parents all you want but your still their child no matter what anyone says, nothing can change that. You didn't have a choice when you were born into their family. When we are born into the family of God we chose when we had ears to hear. Once we are born into the family of God we are forever in that family, and God will child train us. And if that doesn't work He might take us home (1 John 5:16).
    blessings alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Friday, March 30, 2007 2:53:00 PM  

  • alvin,

    If an individual becomes a child of God and then procedes to reject God's authority, denying Jesus and His work on the cross, refusing to live as a child of God then there is only one conclusion: they are not true children. What I've implied in my comments is exactly what Jesus states explicitly on more than one occasion, namely that there are those who call Him Lord whom He will deny to the Father. The metaphor Jesus uses in John 15 couldn't be any more transparent: branches are cut off from the vine. The author of Hebrews expounds upon this concept by noting that once cut off (or "fallen away") it is no longer possible for them to be put back on (or renewed again). Such as these are not legitimate children, are not believers and are not heirs with Christ. They are goats and wolves in sheep's clothing.

    I understand well enough what a believer's position in Christ entails and what it does not entail. What it entails is repentance, fruit (physical and spiritual), humility, love and a life which strives to be like Christ's. What it does not entail is stubborness, wickedness, refusal to repent, lack of fruit (physical and spiritual), etc. Such things are "proof" (to use Jesus' term) that they are branches fit only for cutting off and that they are not disciples. It shows these "believers" for what they truely are: antichrists (to use John's term) who cannot bear the light for they are in darkness. Now, if you're wanting to say and believe that those branches which the Vinedresser cuts off are still going to receive eternal life even though they are separated from the Vine, well that's something you'll have to take up with God.

    As for chastisement, I think I can more or less agree with you. Once one is a child of God they will be raised as such. The Father is faithful to His children and, this is the important part, His children will always respond to Him. Can you guess what it means if they don't respond? I'll give you a couple of hints: 1 John 1:6; 2:4, 19; 3:10, 4:6-8; 5:10-11. Can you also guess what happens if they don't ever really come around?

    By Blogger jared, at Friday, March 30, 2007 5:03:00 PM  

  • Hi Jared,

    When you have time, read this paper on John 15:1-6 and Viticulture. Various views are examined and reasoning for the fellowship view is given.

    http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2005i/derickson.html

    By Anonymous danny, at Friday, March 30, 2007 5:48:00 PM  

  • Jared correct me if I'm wrong but I take it you believe that a believer and a disciple are the same thing?
    Also you believe that someone cannot take the gift of eternal life freely? But they must have performance?
    If this is true do you see a difference in these offers?
    Luke 14:27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and COUNT THE COST, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, WHOEVER OF YOU DOES NOT FORSAKE ALL THAT HE HAS CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.
    Jared, Jesus is pretty clear discipleship is costly, and were to count the cost before embarking upon it! But eternal life is free, and you can take it freely
    John 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
    Rev 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life FREELY.

    By Anonymous alvin, at Friday, March 30, 2007 5:52:00 PM  

  • Jared how can something be free and yet at the same time cost everything?

    By Anonymous alvin, at Friday, March 30, 2007 9:19:00 PM  

  • danny,

    The argument for "lift" over "remove" is less than convincing. So is the argument of "communion" versus "union" in reference to abiding in Christ. It especially undercuts the fellowship interpretation to say that Jesus is not speaking about an organic relationship (i.e. union and communion) when He's using vine/branch as the metaphor. Branches that are cut off are no longer cared for, they are no longer capable of abiding in/on the vine. Jesus goes on to tell His "branches" that they were chosen by Him to produce fruit. It stands to reason that those that don't produce fruit were not chosen to produce fruit and, thus, were delt with accordingly. The conclusion of the viticulture lesson is at odds with what the text actually contains. There is a sharp contrast between abiding and not abiding in verse two which lends more credence to "remove" rather than "lift" and this is reflected in every single major English translation (NIV, ESV, NASB, KJV/NKJV). Jesus has just told them that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. What else should abiding in Him mean?

    alvin,

    1. One can be a believer and not a disciple; they are false believers. One can be a disciple and not a believer; they are false disciples.

    2. Receiving the gift results in performance. One has not received the gift if there are no results.

    3. It costs nothing to say you will follow. It costs nothing to say you believe. It costs everything to show that you follow. It costs everything to show that you believe. If you say you believe and follow but you don't show it, then you are a liar and the truth is not in you. Liars don't get eternal life, liars get denied by Jesus. If Jesus denies you, on what do you base eternal life in heaven? If you are cut off from Jesus, how shall you receive life? If you are not united to Him in His death, resurrection and ascension, then on what grounds shall you be given eternal life? This is not difficult.

    By Blogger jared, at Saturday, March 31, 2007 6:53:00 AM  

  • Jared you believe in a works-salvation not really any different from this Watchtower article.
    It's amazing to me that you can read the scriptures on discipleship that cost everything, and the gift of eternal life that you can take freely. You put them both together making a clear contradiction of a gift, and then you put a nice bow on the package and say, this is not difficult! I think a little child could tell the difference! This takes a special kind of blindness.
    There is a thread that goes through all false religions, it's called works-salvation,,,alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Saturday, March 31, 2007 3:51:00 PM  

  • Jared I'm being an example of how not to be. My wife read my reply and told me I was being to harsh, so I apologize. She has always been the better half. My heart is for every one to believe the "Good News",,alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Saturday, March 31, 2007 4:34:00 PM  

  • Jared you said:
    One can be a believer and not a disciple; they are false believers.
    Receiving the gift results in performance. One has not received the gift if there are no results.


    I say:by what your saying,your system of theology would look like this:

    Major Premise:
    Belief+perfomance=true believer.

    Minor Premise:
    If your a true believer you will perform until the end.

    Conclusion:
    You cannot know for sure if you’re a true believer until the end.

    But the Bible says we can know we have eternal life (1John 5:13)
    Jared the only way a person could know they have eternal life is that it is based solely on Jesus promise not on our performance.
    Blessings alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Saturday, March 31, 2007 6:04:00 PM  

  • alvin,

    This discussion has come to its finish, I believe. I know God saves me not because of anything that I do and I have no doubts that I am saved. My confidence does not come by anything I do except for knowing and believing that God keeps those who are His and that Jesus is faithful to complete the work He began in me. Salvation is His work from beginning to end and to it I contribute nothing but my sin. I understand perfectly well that Christianity is unique in that man does not earn his salvation; it is the only religion in which God comes to save man rather than man coming to God to save himself.


    You are certainly free to believe whatever you wish about my system of theology; I no longer care to persuade you otherwise.

    By Blogger jared, at Sunday, April 01, 2007 8:35:00 PM  

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