[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, May 11, 2007

Do you agree with this Quotation? XV

by Matthew

Tis a point I long to know,
(Oft it casues me anxious thought),
Do I love the Lord, or no?
Am I his, or am I not?

John Newton

Is this attitude to be commended? Or had the author of the famous hymn fallen from grace?

Likewise it is recorded of William Wilberforce:

During an interval of consciousness on Sunday night 28th July 1833, he said, "I am in a very distressed state." "Yes; but you have your feet on the rock," someone replied. "I do not venture, " he cautitously added, "To speak so positively, but I hope I have," He died the next morning.


Is that humility or a tragic lack of faith?

81 Comments:

  • Utterly tragic.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, May 11, 2007 9:26:00 AM  

  • When the blood was on the doorpost, were those inside any less safe? The angel of death passed over any household that had the blood, no matter if those inside had questioning thoughts.

    By Blogger ROD, at Friday, May 11, 2007 10:37:00 AM  

  • Rose~, yes it is tragic.

    Rod, yes, a regenerate person may have doubts at times in their life.

    However, the essence of saving faith is trust; trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. If a person has never been certain of posessing eternal life, then she has never had real saving faith.

    I think we can safely hope that Newton and Wilberforce had truly had confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ at some point in their lives.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 11, 2007 11:03:00 AM  

  • The blood on the doorpost didn't loose its effectiveness as it dried but remained sufficient because God's word is sure.

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Friday, May 11, 2007 11:20:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    thank you for these quotes.

    What they say to me is that certainty evades those who base hope upon their perceived degree of sanctification.

    If their hope has never fully rested on Christ (and if it did, by the way, they were certain of their possession of irrevocable eternal life) but has to some degree or another put stock in one's experiential holiness, they lacked saving faith.

    Saving faith, according to John Calvin, and I believe is totally biblical is:

    "In short, no man is truly a believer, unless he be firmly persuaded, that God is a propitious and benevolent Father to him... unless he depend on the promises of the Divine benevolence to him, and feel an undoubted expectation of salvation" (Institutes III.II.16)

    "Now we shall have a complete definition of faith, if we say, that it is a steady and certain knowledge of the Divine benevolence toward us" (Institutes III.II.7)

    R.T. Kendall discusses in his book, Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649, how many of the puritan divines has bouts of severe depression and doubt on their death beds, wondering if their faith was spurious, their works were true, and that Christ had actually died for them.

    Sad...

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, May 11, 2007 1:28:00 PM  

  • Jodie, yes. And leaving aside typology, important as it is, it was deliverance from physical death.

    Antonio, I agree with you.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 11, 2007 2:43:00 PM  

  • The one thing that has caught my attention in the Newton quote is that he seemed to equate belonging to the Lord & loving the Lord as being the same thing. Many do this, but it is not our love for the Lord that saves us as I know you know, but faith in His grace to us. I suppose bro. Antonio was speaking to this in his excellent response. God Bless you all real good.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Friday, May 11, 2007 3:45:00 PM  

  • David, thanks. Yes, that is a dangerous error.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, May 12, 2007 1:59:00 AM  

  • Having warned against false professions, Spurgeon in a sermon on 1 John 5:1 made mention of this hymn:

    "On the other hand, we have known others who have received the doctrine of justification by faith as a part of their creed, and yet have not accepted it as a practical fact that the believer is saved. They so much feel that they must be renewed in the spirit of their minds, that they are always looking within themselves for evidences, and are the subjects of perpetual doubts. Their natural and frequent song is—

    "Tis a point I long to know,
    Oft it causes anxious thought;
    Do I love the Lord, or no?
    Am I his, or am I not?"

    These are a class of people to be much more pitied than condemned. Though I would be the very last to spread unbelief, I would be the very first to inculcate holy anxiety. It is one thing for a person to be careful to know that he is really in Christ, and quite another thing for him to doubt the promises of Christ, supposing that they are really made to him. There is a tendency in some hearts to look too much within, and spend more time studying their outward evidences and their inward feelings, than in learning the fullness, freeness, and all sufficiency of the grace of God in Christ Jesus." (Sermon # 979)

    I think Newton was addressing matters as they sometimes are, as opposed to what they ought to be. Don't forget, he also wrote "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me."

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Saturday, May 12, 2007 5:33:00 AM  

  • Goodnight, thanks for your comment. One would hope that John Newton had assurance (and therefore saving faith) when he wrote Amazing Grace.

    But certainly when he wrote that little poem about anxiety, he was not resting on Christ for eternal life.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, May 12, 2007 5:57:00 AM  

  • To "love the Lord" is secondary to His love for us.
    1 John 4:10
    "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

    When we trust Jesus alone to save us, we shall NEVER perish.. My post on the word "never" spoken by Jesus Himself in John 10:28 is an eye opener for those who doubt.

    http://expreacherman.wordpress.com/2007/03/28/they-shall-never/

    Understanding God's true love to those who trust Christ alone for their eternity should never cause doubt.

    In Christ eternally,

    ExP(Jack)

    By Anonymous ExPreacherMan, at Saturday, May 12, 2007 7:50:00 AM  

  • ExP, quite so.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, May 12, 2007 10:41:00 AM  

  • "If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha" (1 Corinthians16:22) Literally: Devoted to destruction when the Lord comes.

    Yet Horatio Bonar also wrote the truth when he said:

    My love is oft times low,
    My joy still ebbs and flows,
    But peace with God remains the same
    No change Jehovah knows

    I change, He changes not
    The Christ can never die
    His truth, not mine, the resting place
    His love, not mine, the tie.

    Newton's hymn appears in the Olney Hymnbook under the Bible verses from John 21:15-17 where Christ asked Peter three times "Lovest thou me?" Maybe Peter's hesitancy on the matter reflected more on his rememberance of his idle boast earlier?

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Saturday, May 12, 2007 10:44:00 AM  

  • And so with your 'literal translation' you destroy the Gospel of grace.

    It is not enough to have faith. We are left with faith + love.

    Maybe you should have a re-think on what Anathema Maranatha means?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, May 12, 2007 2:31:00 PM  

  • Matthew: I only quoted 1 Corinthians 16:22. I never applied it, much less used it to (quote you) destroy the gospel of grace.

    His truth, not mine, the resting place
    His love, not mine, the tie.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Saturday, May 12, 2007 2:49:00 PM  

  • Is a person's salvation, once appropriated, based upon the subjective ebb and flow of "experience" and "feeling" or the objective more sure and faithful Word of God to keep those who are His.

    Are some of you folks honestly entertaining the idea that having doubts of salvation, subjective, is equal to the positional salvation guaranteed by the Holy Spirit's seal (II Cor. 5:5). I hope this isn't what some here are articulating, since this would be committing the same fallacy as those you're condemning to hell.

    The Calvinist lacking assurance because of an errant view of sanctification, and the Free-Grace advocate because of an errant understanding of justification. God's promise vs. my apprehension and experience of that promise don't always line up--but rest assured the former ultimately insures the salvation of even a "doubting Christian".

    It's a good thing Jesus didn't take the view of some here, otherwise we wouldn't have, at least, a couple books of the Bible that we have included in the canon today (I and II Peter).

    If Newton and Wilberforce were initially trusted in Christ alone for salvation, and then became confused "post-conversion" on sanctification issues, then I look forward to seeing them in glory. I find the views of some here circular: viz. in one instance you'll argue to the death to make sure that we all understand that it's possible for JW's to be saved, while at the same time you won't give the same benefit of the doubt to Calvinists (who fall within the pale of evangelical orthodoxy). Interesting, and inconsistent.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Sunday, May 13, 2007 3:23:00 PM  

  • Amen bro. Bobby! The point that I was trying to make is that if these 2 men never believed in Christ alone, but were trusting their own love for Christ as the hope of salvation, then there is a problem, but I totally agree with you that a doubting believer is not equal to an unbeliever, at least in position. You are absolutelyu correct: a person that has come to believe in Christ alone for their salvation is saved, no matter the level of confusion that may ensue afterwards. I certainly have had my share of confusion in days gone by & only by God's grace can I hope to escape it in the future. But my place in Heaven is secured by Christ's blood & promise! Thank you for your post. May the Lord bless you as you serve Him today.

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Sunday, May 13, 2007 6:43:00 PM  

  • Hi David,

    The implication that a person will go to hell if the don't "fully understand" the concept of "assurance" relative to the appropriation of salvation, IMO, goes beyond what scripture says--I'm glad you and I agree . . . I wasn't really referring to you in my comment ;).

    I Jn 5:11ff is provides the basis of our assurance, belief in Christ, but the occasion of the epistle argues that the Christians John was addressing were not "sure" of their salvation, thus his need to reassure them, that belief alone is our assurance of the "kind" of life we have received. If these folks would have died in this state "unsure", they were still ultimately saved--indeed loss of reward would have been their fate, but not loss of salvation just because they didn't fully understand the nature of their "saving faith". I'm glad we agree.

    IN Christ

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Sunday, May 13, 2007 7:41:00 PM  

  • Here's a thought. Making allowances for the ofttimes inability, particularly of new converts, to articulate doctrine and experience, yet if a man trusts in his faith to save him, does he have eternal life? I don't think so. There is no merit in faith. There is no merit in repentance and so they cannot be trusted in to save or contribute to salvation. They are the God given means that brings a man into salvation by grace alone, without the deeds of the law.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Sunday, May 13, 2007 10:56:00 PM  

  • Goodnight, I do not understand how a person could trust in 'his faith.'

    Trusting in Christ is believing that Christ has given one eternal life. One knows whether one has this belief or not.

    If I trust the Royal Mail to deliver the letters today, I do not trust my own faith in Royal Mail to get my letters delivered, do I? That would be absurd.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, May 14, 2007 12:35:00 AM  

  • Matthew: I agree with you 100%. No one trusts his faith to save him - it is but the means that brings salvation to us. Likewise, no one trusts his repentance either, to save him. Neither faith or repentance have any intrinsic merit and so cannot be considered works. Do you think it constitiutes a "works salvation" to insist that repentance accompanies faith when witnessing to sinners?

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Monday, May 14, 2007 6:35:00 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Monday, May 14, 2007 6:36:00 AM  

  • Bobby,

    this is ground that we have gone over alot.

    Your assessment betrays a foundational misunderstanding of Free Grace theology.

    We believe that those who possess eternal life can experience doubts to their salvation, and actually do at times. Yet as one's faith strengthens, the episodes of doubt ebb away.

    What we teach is at the moment of saving faith one is certain that they possess eternal life.

    How can someone say that they believe that Christ guarantees their eternal well-being and at the very same moment retain even a shred of doubt that they have eternal life?

    No one can simultaneously be convinced that something is true and at the same moment doubt that same something.

    such a thing is manifestly impossible.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Monday, May 14, 2007 11:10:00 AM  

  • Goodnight, can a person repent without changing her behaviour?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, May 14, 2007 11:28:00 AM  

  • Repentance is a change of mind, including the realisation or "knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20) It is also a change of emotion including regret for sin amd not merely its consequences. It is also a change of will and includes a repudiation of sin. It affects the heart and not merely the intellect. Repentance will lead to a change of behaviour, not of which is meritorious or forms the basis of our salvation. In the final analysis, we are saved entirely on the basis of what Christ accomplished for His people upon the Cross. 100%.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Monday, May 14, 2007 11:46:00 AM  

  • So a person in India, if he is to repent must be willing to forsake Hindu idolatry.

    That may mean being willing to risk being rejected by his family and everyone in his village and possibly be beaten up or murdered.

    Do you not think that being willing to follow such a course could consitute meritorious works?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, May 14, 2007 11:56:00 AM  

  • Antonio,

    thanks for the reply.

    You said:

    We believe that those who possess eternal life can experience doubts to their salvation, and actually do at times. Yet as one's faith strengthens, the episodes of doubt ebb away.

    What we teach is at the moment of saving faith one is certain that they possess eternal life.

    How can someone say that they believe that Christ guarantees their eternal well-being and at the very same moment retain even a shred of doubt that they have eternal life?


    This is circular.

    First you say it's possible for a believer to have doubts (ebb and flow) about their salvation.

    Second you say it's not possible for a believer to have doubts about their salvation.

    This violates the law of non-contradiction.

    This: We believe that those who possess eternal life can experience doubts to their salvation, and actually do at times. . . .

    Contradicts this: How can someone say that they believe that Christ guarantees their eternal well-being and at the very same moment retain even a shred of doubt that they have eternal life?

    Which one is it?

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Monday, May 14, 2007 1:42:00 PM  

  • Hi Bobby,

    You missed Antonio's point. Antonio said that one is sure about possessing eternal life AT THE MOMENT OF FAITH.

    "What we teach is at the moment of saving faith one is certain that they possess eternal life."

    A person posessing eternal life can doubt their salvation after they are saved, but not at the moment of salvation. That's Antonio's point. And I agree with him.

    Since the Protestant world is dominated by Arminianism and Calvinism, some people who were previously convinced that Jesus freely gave them eternal life end up doubting their salvation. This is why the Free Grace movement is important. Looking to works to verify the reality of your faith is backwards. You know that already. One must know that they are freely justified by Grace in order to be able to press on in the faith.

    By Anonymous danny, at Monday, May 14, 2007 2:37:00 PM  

  • Matthew writes: *Do you not think that being willing to follow such a course could consitute meritorious works?*

    No. "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." (Luke 17:10) This doesn't stop me, of course, admiring such a one, but as to it constituting merit before God, the answer just be: Definitely not. I assume that you don't believe it has any merit before God either?

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Monday, May 14, 2007 2:38:00 PM  

  • Danny,

    so how is this different than the Calvinist, or Newton, or Wilberforce's reflections, order of salvation aside? Calvinist's point to a moment of salvation, when they were "saved", and post-conversion they may doubt their salvation--maybe more so, given their view on perseverance.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Monday, May 14, 2007 2:48:00 PM  

  • Hi Bobby,

    How is it different, you ask? It's like this. When someone tells us that they are unsure about their salvation, many of us in FG DO NOT assume that they got it right in the past, unless they make it clear that they used to believe that they had irrevocable eternal life through Jesus apart from works. However, reality shows that people are often unclear on what they believed, so when they cannot recall or articulate the content of their belief, we assume that they are unbelievers and point them to Christ and His offer of irrevocable eternal life. And yes, most of us in FG point to the Cross and Resurrection to show the suffiency of Christ and how He is able to freely provide eternal life.

    Now, in cases of people who clearly point out that they used to believe the Free Grace message, but are now unsure about their salvation, we don't let them off the hook just because they got it right in the past. We try to reason with them and point them to Christ and His promise for two reasons.

    1. We want them to be confident in Christ and regain their assurance of salvation.

    2. We don't want them spreading the poisonous message of proving-salvation-by-conduct any further.

    I'm convinced that MacArthur is sincere when he says he used to believe the Free Grace message. Because of that, I believe he has eternal life. But his current Lordship teaching is preventing others from receiving eternal life, so we don't let him off the hook. We are concerned about him and are especially concerned for those who follow his teachings who have never believed that they have irrevocable eternal life through Christ alone.

    By Anonymous danny, at Monday, May 14, 2007 4:07:00 PM  

  • Okay. So there is nothing meritorious in being willing to give up everything.

    But do you think it will make sense for this man to regard eternal life as a free gift if it means losing his family, his livelihood and possibly his life?

    It seems very much like he must do works to be saved.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, May 15, 2007 1:03:00 AM  

  • Matthew: Surely if he *merely* believes on the Lord Jesus Christ in a way acceptable to the FG lobby, he may still be run out of his family and/or killed. Do you think a Muslim (say) in Pakistan can go into his family and say that He beleives that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he alone is the way to Heaven, without the need to pray 5 times a day etc.,?

    *If* forsaking the errors of his false religion in repentance seems like works because of the cost, then forsaking those same errors in faith must seem like works also because the cost is the same.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Tuesday, May 15, 2007 1:39:00 AM  

  • Danny,

    Thank you for your response.

    Are you seriously asserting that people who get "saved" under John MacArthur's preaching aren't truly saved?

    That's what keeps me from identifying myself as an FG'r, this sectarian attitude. Don't Calvinists believe that the only way anyone can be saved is if they trust in Christ alone? If they do, then, that's it they are saved. It's the emphasis on works in "sanctification" that messes things up for Calvinists, in my view. And what is messed up for them is not whether or not they are eternally saved, but rather their daily spirituality and experience and intimacy of the Savior.

    Won't it be great when we all get to heaven, and you FG'rs look down at those LS'rs, and realize that you all were arguing over secondary points, and not primary as the discussion is currently framed. Sectarianism is a sin, and it's a sin that the Lord hates (see Prov. 6). I think we all need to be a bit more cautious when we damn people to hell. In fact I think that's God's role.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Tuesday, May 15, 2007 1:57:00 AM  

  • Goodnight, yes, he may well be persecuted if he is found out to have believed.

    But in many parts of the world there are people who keep their faith secret and this may enable them to escape persecution at least for a time.

    Logically, you would have to say that many of these people are not really believers.

    I believe that a person is saved if she simply believes; you believe that it is also necessary to be willing to forsake sin, be willing to face persecution, to love Christ and to continue in the faith whatever the cost. Is that not correct?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, May 15, 2007 5:37:00 AM  

  • Matthew: While for the purposes of examination we may separate between repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, yet the two of these are joined together like Siamese twins so that were one is, the other is found also. A bit, I suppose, like the Trinity where these three (or in this case, these two) are one.

    Not every example of faith is perfect and neither is every example of repentance, but both alike are acceptable with God. The strength does not lie in the faith, but the One in whom the faith is placed and likewise the One towards whom the repentance is directed i.e. God Himself. Furthermore, it is not always expedient (as in the examples you raise) to be the last word in boldness about our faith. The Lord gave directions about fleeing from persecution. He Himself declined to answer questions at His trial and was still considered to have borne a good confession before Pilate. When Peter fell grievously and denied Christ three times, he was not considered (unlike Judas) an apostate but was restored again. Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple for the fear of the Jews (John 19:38) so the idea is not contradictory or impossible to reconcile. Sometimes people are found in situations beyond their own control. For example, a minor may profess to be a Christian but be disallowed by unbelieving parents to effectively practice his faith. We might think of the Christian slaves in the NT era (and beyond).

    Without making faith difficult, yet to say "simply believes" leaves a whole lot of questions unanswered. "Simply believes" what? A mere abstract theological truth may be acknowledged as true and yet remain just that. Excuse the almost trivial example, but I may believe that if I invest my hard earned money in a franchise in (say) McDonalds will make me a millionaire inside the next few years. But if I do not sign the appropriate dotted line and part with the cash, I am merely dreaming of a rich man's lifestyle. Faith will always give rise to repentance, because repentance is the logical response to faith.

    Are you willing (under God) to forsake sin? Are you willing (under God) to face persecution if and when it knocks your door? Are you willing (under God) to continue in the faith whatever the cost? If there is not, at least, the willingness, then we may doubt the reality of the faith that should give rise to a positive response. Even if there is an positive reply, nowhere does the Bible imply that it is salvation by works. Repentance flows from the truth that salvation is of the Lord 100%.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Tuesday, May 15, 2007 7:12:00 AM  

  • Good,

    1.Repentance is turning from sin.

    2. not doing good works is a sin.

    3. turning from all sin would include the sins of neglecting good works

    4.so true repentance would include doing good works

    5. so if true repentance is needed along with faith for justification then we have to have both faith and good works.

    This is why including repentance with faith makes it works righteousness, at least in part.

    By Anonymous MT, at Tuesday, May 15, 2007 6:43:00 PM  

  • Hi Bobby,

    The only way a person under MacArthur's teaching could be saved is if they open-mindedly examine Gospel passages in the New Testament and come to the conclusion that Jesus gives them eternal life freely. Now, if a person under his teaching reads isolated sentences in the Gospel According to Jesus where MacArthur says that justification is by faith apart from works, they can be saved. However, MacArthur tends to repeat that justification is by faith alone after making statements that faith includes a willingness to obey and must be evidenced by works. So when most people read his comments that works can't save, they may start focusing on their willingness to obey. Since faith for MacArthur includes a willingness to obey, people's eyes are effectively taken off of Jesus and His Cross.

    Now,if a person ignores MacArthur's definition of faith and reads several of the sound statements he makes in a vacuum, they may be saved. But I'm guessing that doesn't happen very often. But the good news is that all of these people have access to the Bible, so if they open-mindedly read through passages like John 3:16 and Romans 3:23-4:5, they may come to faith. But their assurance may fluctuate as soon as they continue under MacArthur.

    Now Bobby, don't get me wrong. I believe that many Calvinists are saved, and I am fully aware that not all Calvinists fall under the Lordship category. Some Calvinists take such a mild view of works-proving-faith that I wouldn't have a problem dining with them. But, as you know, many Calvinists take a strong view of works-proving-faith and faith including a willingness to turn from sins. When the strong Calvinists make Gospel presentations, it's more about being willing to turn from sins than it is about looking to Christ to live. Again, I believe many Calvinists have eternal life, but I believe there are also many who may not have eternal life. I'll break this into three parts.

    1. Calvinists who believe that faith alone in Christ alone means faith alone in Christ alone are fine in my book.

    2. Calvinists who used to believe that faith alone in Christ alone meant just that, but are now convinced that faith includes a willingness to obey, are, as you pointed out, eternally saved but seriously messed up in the fellowship area. We need to reason with them in hopes that they come to the conclusion that works can offer no assurance whatsoever. They need to regain their assurance so they can continue in fellowship.

    3. Calvinists who have always believed that faith includes a willingness to obey/submit need to reprogram their thinking, and come to faith in Christ.

    Conclusion: Dealing with Calvinists in categories 2 and 3 is not arguing over secondary points in my opinion. We don't want category 2 Calvinists, who possess eternal life, to be tied down in the bondage of legalism. We want them to regain the precious assurance they once had so they can spread the life-giving message further. Dealing with category 3 Calvinists is even more crucial. Those in Category 3 need to realize that faith does not include a willingness to obey.

    By Anonymous danny, at Tuesday, May 15, 2007 6:52:00 PM  

  • One thing I do struggle with in FG is the idea that some hold to that to have faith one must be totally convinced. I just don't know about that one. I cannot remember a time I have not had to fight against doubt about Jesus, the accuracy of Scripture, etc. Now I do trust Christ alone for my justification, and not any works at all, and I believe the Scriptures, and eternal security, or I wouldn't even waste my time with talking about this. But I cannot honestly say I am absoulutly convinced of these or anything else for that matter! Can anyone give me any hope here? If I must get rid of all doubts in my mind before I can be assured of salvation, I may never know, and that would leave me with the same problems as the calvinist and arminian, becuase I just do not know how to get rid of all doubts. Assurance is the most important thing I want, FG has helped by getting my focas on Christ and off my self, but this one area still trips me up.

    By Anonymous mt, at Tuesday, May 15, 2007 6:56:00 PM  

  • Hey Mike,

    I looked at the inititals MT and figured it's you! We haven't spoken in a long time. How are you doing?

    On one hand you're saying you believe in Jesus alone for your justification, and you believe that eternal security is true. Then you turn around and say you're not sure if you really believe these things or "anything else for that matter."

    Do you believe you exist? Do you believe your name is Mike Thompson? Do you believe that you live in the U.S.? If you doubt these things, I don't know what to tell you! :)

    I want to help you. So please respond to the three questions above. Do you doubt the three things above?

    By Anonymous danny, at Tuesday, May 15, 2007 7:23:00 PM  

  • Yep, Hi Danny. Yes of course I believe thes things, My point is there are degrees of belief. I believe my car will start tomorrow, do I know it will? Nope.
    I believe very strongly that my name is MT and I exist, can I prove it for sure? No, but I really don't worry about it.
    I believe Scripture, I believe in Christ and that he gave me eternal life. But I sometimes think, what if I am believing the wrong things, what if the Bible is not true? what if Jesus never said these things? I would so much love those thoughts to go away, I have no reason to want to doubt the Lord and His word I have looked at all the evedences for Jesus, the Scriptures and the resurection, etc, and concluded that it was very likely to be true, enough so that I am putting all my eggs in the faith in Christ basket, so to speak, and trusting Him alone for eternal life. So I believe enough so that I abandoned any other hope for my salvation, but some seem to say here ,if I understood them correctly, that if one is not absolutly certain, or cannot remember a time when they were, then they are still an unbeliever!

    By Anonymous MT, at Tuesday, May 15, 2007 9:06:00 PM  

  • MT: I'm not a big fan of debating two people at one and the same time as it invariably leads to being swamped and so an early and incomplete withdrawal. However' lets apply your line of argument about repentance to the idea of faith. Before I do this, please note that I am not rubbishing faith in any way, or denying that faith is the channel which brings salvation to the soul. I am merely applying your own argument to your own position.

    1) Faith leads to salvation is being saved from our sins (Matthew 1:21)

    2) Not being saved from our sins by faith is a sin in itself (John 16:8-9)

    3) Being saved from all sin includes the sins of neglecting good works (1 John 1:7)

    4) So true faith invariably leads to good works (Ephesians 2:8-10)

    5) If true faith is needed for justification, then we are justified by good works because the faith that saves works by love (Galatians 5:6) and produces good works (# 4)

    Of course, I can hear the howls of protest. I hope you can hear mine. The argument above only stands if faith or faith and repentance are the *cause* or *basis* of good works i.e. there is merit in them. No one claims that there is merit in their faith or repentance. Repentance flows from faith and is the *evidence* of it. Excuse me for quoting Calvin, but his maxim is true: "Faith alone justifies, but the faith that justifies is not alone." This is exactly the Bible position.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Wednesday, May 16, 2007 1:23:00 AM  

  • Goodnight, what would you say to Erasmus, who argued that the debate about justification by faith does not matter that much because 'everyone' agrees that a justified person will do good works?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, May 16, 2007 5:20:00 AM  

  • Good,

    I would agree that good works should be the natural result of being born again, but I don't believe that we should look at our works to see if we are. If we did that how would we ever really know if we are saved? What if I did only one good work, would that be enough, two? ten? a thousand? and likewise, how many bad works would prove I was still lost? see the problem?
    Even though we are as believers commanded to do good works, they are not automatic, otherwise why would we continually need to be exorted to continue doing them and warned of the consequences of not doing them in the scriptures?

    I have done lots of good works since coming to faith, but none of them got me justified, keep me justified, or prove I am justified.
    I have also sinned many times, and none of those have kept me from being justified, taken away my justification, or proved I was never justified!

    By Anonymous MT, at Wednesday, May 16, 2007 5:35:00 AM  

  • DF: I would tell Erasmus that it *does* matter. and that a big deal. Those who seek to be justified by their works (whether in whole or in part) will *never* be saved, because they must keep the law 100%, 100% of the time, (or otherwise be cursed) to offend in 1 point is to offend in all, and nowhere does the Bible relate that we can obliterate past sins by present or future deeds. Therefore, he should seek justification by faith alone in line with Romans 5:1/Romans 3:28 etc.,

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Wednesday, May 16, 2007 7:14:00 AM  

  • MT: When I read 1 John, I see several marks of the new birth set forth. Some of these are creedal e.g. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Some of them are behavioural e.g. I love the brethren. Obviously these marks are put there for a purpose, not least to warn those who only think they are regenerate. Would you encourage one who denies the Deity of Christ e.g. a JW to believe that he is born again? (Even if he claims to be one of the 144,000) I think not. Or what of one who is not overcoming the world and especially has no desire even to do so? What if he argues that such a thing is rigid Puritanism and that it interferes with his (supposed) liberty in Christ? What are the marks of the New Birth in your view? What if those marks are missing?

    Yet, 1 John is *only part* of the Scriptures. I know it would be well fatal (and in this we agree) that if we make the *evidence* the *basis* then we are on a hiding for nothing, because (as you rightly say) how much is enough? I can surely see the problem, but thankfully it is not my problem.

    You are right to say that good works do not automatically follow if you mean in the sense that we can just sit back and let them happen. The new born babe naturally desires the milk (1 Peter 2:2) yet it must suckle at the breast or the bottle and refusal to do so will be fatal. Good works follow on from faith and are performed, often with great difficulty. Hence the various ways which the Bible encourages us to obey God in this way.

    I agree 100% with your last two paragraphs re: your good works and your bad works. I base my justification entirely 100% on what Christ has done for me at the Cross. I am justified entirely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24) And not of my works, either before or after my coming to Christ.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Wednesday, May 16, 2007 7:36:00 AM  

  • Danny,

    thanks, good clarification. I agree if someone is trusting their works for salvation, they need to come to Christ for the first time still.

    MT,

    you either believe or you don't. The fact that you struggle with doubt sometimes is presupposed by the fact that you believe otherwise you wouldn't have anything to doubt. Does that help :). I struggled with this for some time, but it finally occurred to me, this has nothing to do with me, it's the LORD, either He is faithful or not. He is faithful, thus we can take Him at His Word. As far as the other things your doubting I would say that is the Lord's prompting to cause you to study some of those things out further. Actually I would suggest that you do a study on "worldviews", as you look at this "abductively" or "comparitively" you'll realize that Christian Theism has the greatest explanatory power of any world view out there. It is from this frame of reference that questions about the Bible, and who Christ is, will be assuaged. Let me suggest a good book in this regard: The Universe Next Door by James W. Sire. Once I started realizing, hey Christianity is the most reasonable belief system and has the greatest explanatory power, relative to life's basic questions (how did we get here, what's purpose, where are we going, etc.)--all of my other questions about the realiability of the Bible, etc. toke on new perspective.

    In Christ

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Wednesday, May 16, 2007 11:13:00 AM  

  • Goodnight says:
    Those who seek to be justified by their works (whether in whole or in part) will *never* be saved

    With that statement, I think he basically is saying the same thing as the FG.

    Am I wrong?

    By Blogger Rose~, at Wednesday, May 16, 2007 12:23:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Wednesday, May 16, 2007 1:39:00 PM  

  • Hi Rose,

    My use of the *italic* frightens me, now that you highlight it. Perhaps we should make allowances for those who fail to articulate their faith properly, being (say) young in the faith etc., but I hope that it is taken for granted. I am thinking more of hardcore meritmongers.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Wednesday, May 16, 2007 1:40:00 PM  

  • I wonder about Christians in third world countries, what if they aren't privy, which in general they're not, to white/anglo/Western theology, such as Calvinism--I wonder if they are able to have a healthy spiritual Christian life, since all they have is the Bible, if that.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Wednesday, May 16, 2007 1:54:00 PM  

  • Rose, yses, the statement is correct, but the Devil is in the details.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, May 17, 2007 1:02:00 AM  

  • Goodnight, what if a person is seeking to be justified by her faith?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, May 17, 2007 1:03:00 AM  

  • Matthew: * The Devil is in the details* Is that a confession? :-)

    Again, making allowances for a misstating of their true position etc., a person who is seeking to be justified by their faith (as opposed to the One in whom that faith is to be directed) has made a Christ out of their faith. They have turned the *channel* into the *basis* and (at best) become their own partial Saviour, which of course, cannot be. On the other hand, if they are seeking to be justified by faith in the sense set forth in Romans 5:1 where faith is the *channel* that brings justification to us, then well and good.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Thursday, May 17, 2007 4:13:00 AM  

  • So if a person thinks that she is saved by Christ, a salvation which she receives through the instrument of faith and works, is she saved?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, May 17, 2007 6:00:00 AM  

  • Matthew: There is no salvation through faith and works. "Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:9) "Not by works f righteousness which we have done..." (Titus 3:5) Basic stuff.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Thursday, May 17, 2007 9:17:00 AM  

  • Goodnight, I am trying to understand your position.

    You hold that faith is the non-meritorious means by which a person comes to be justified.

    Why can works not also be a non-meritorious means of receiving justification?

    After all, do you not hold that faith is a gift of God and so not meritorious? If a Christian does works, are they not also a gift of God and therefore not a subject for boasting?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, May 17, 2007 9:28:00 AM  

  • Matthew writes: *Why can works not also be a non-meritorious means of receiving justification?*

    I can only go as far as the Bible allows me to go and it declares clearly that salvation is not of works, lest any man should boast. I really am the wrong one to be asking this question to.

    *After all, do you not hold that faith is a gift of God and so not meritorious? If a Christian does works, are they not also a gift of God and therefore not a subject for boasting?*

    Short answer: Yes. I assume that you agree with this answer, indeed these answers.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Thursday, May 17, 2007 10:58:00 AM  

  • Repentance is a gift. That is why it is not the same as works. Repentance does not come from me mustering up the will to repent. True, there is regret which the world has, which is not the same as true heart repentance. (2 Cor 7:10) True heart repentance is brought about when the Lord changes (regenerates) the heart of the unsaved. True repentance is a part of the salvation "package" if you will. The unsaved person's heart is spiritually dead and they are hardened by sin. The only way for them to repent is for the Lord to grant them repentance unto life. 2 Tim 2:25

    I know someone who says that they believe in Jesus Christ and are Christian. But they have never repented of their sin. In fact, they have a difficult time understanding the concept of sin, in other than very general terms. This person is obese and regularly commits the sin of gluttony. Yet, they say they have never felt guilty for overeating. So they have thus never repented, and cannot, because they don't see their sin as God does. They are hardened in their unbelief and sin, even though some 30 years ago they walked the aisle. If God were to grant them repentance and faith, then they would believe and repent of the sin of gluttony and all the other sins which them have committed. The person under true conviction from the Lord is brought very low; they are humbled and made to understand to some degree their sin and their state before the Lord. Thus they reach out to Jesus Christ, the only answer, the only Mediator between God and man.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, May 17, 2007 2:15:00 PM  

  • Goodnight, if a girl asked you "Must I stop sleeping with my boyfriend if I want to go to heaven?", what would you say?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 18, 2007 12:06:00 AM  

  • Matthew wrote: *Goodnight, if a girl asked you "Must I stop sleeping with my boyfriend if I want to go to heaven?", what would you say?*

    I would warn her(nicely)that no fornicators inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) but emphasis that such can be forgiven (v11)when and if she repents and believes the gospel (Mark 1:15) Compliance with the gospel command would then necessitate her to bring forth works meet for her repentance (Acts 26:20)which in her case must certainly would involve her ceasing from her fornication. Such a ceasing, while obviously commendable and the right thing to do, certainly would not carry any meritorious value before God and would not in the least contribute to her salvation, being purchased entirely 100% by the grace of God.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Friday, May 18, 2007 3:13:00 AM  

  • Goodnight, so although the work of turning from fornication is not meritorious, it is a condition for salvation in your view?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 18, 2007 6:43:00 AM  

  • Matthew: No one can have their sin *and* God's salvation which is defined in Matthew 1:21 as being "salvation *from* sin" and not "in* sin. To employ the animal metaphors of 2 Peter, it is the swine and the dog (both unclean animals in the Bible)that want the mire and the vomit...not the sheep. Without repentance, there is no salvation, hence it was to be preached and the remission of sins in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47) Which, consequently, Paul did, as he said in the verse already referred to above when he "shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance." (Acts 26:20) This is solid Apostolic ground.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Friday, May 18, 2007 8:39:00 AM  

  • So to be saved, one must have faith and turn away from sin, you say?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 18, 2007 11:42:00 AM  

  • Matthew asks: *So to be saved, one must have faith and turn away from sin, you say?*

    The word "saved" must be clearly defined before I answer your question. It is divided in Scripture into three parts, three (again like the Trinity) yet one i.e. all related. Salvation consists of *justification* where the soul is counted righteous before God by faith alone, without the deeds of the law. This for the Christian is a past thing and is 100% perfect and cannot be improved upon or taken away. It also consists of *sanctification* which is an ongoing work and consists in obeying God and forsaking evil as defined and commanded in the Bible. Lastly, there is *glorification* which is yet future for the Christian still alive on this earth.

    Someone then who professes to be saved will have faith in Jesus Christ as their only Saviour; they will be endeavouring by grace to overcome sin by turning away from it and anticipating their glory to come.
    Repentance towards God is not mere reformation of character, nor is (as I continually stress) meritorious, but it flows from the faith that justifies the soul before God. Seeking to turn away from sin before being justified is mere reformation and doomed to failure. The sinner should seek the Lord in repentance and in faith and therefore be enabled to forsake the sin that is so harmful to the soul.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Friday, May 18, 2007 12:01:00 PM  

  • So could you in honesty answer the young lady with her question with the answer of 'no, that is not necessary'?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, May 18, 2007 12:10:00 PM  

  • Matthew: No, I couldn't. I would (as said) urge her to faith in Christ and repentance towards God (as opposed to mere reformation) reminding/warning her that no fornicator will inherit the Kingdom of God, because nothing that defileth shall enter therein and to remain on in unrepented of sin, further agitated by a refusal to repent, brings the wrath of a sin hating God upon the head of the impenitent. Nicely and as kindly as I could, of course.

    Am I right to assume that you would do likewise?

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Friday, May 18, 2007 2:11:00 PM  

  • If a young lady is truly saved, she will turn from her sin. She doesn't necessarily turn from it the exact moment of salvation, but she will, sooner rather than later. The believer is indwelt by the HOLY Spirit at salvation. Agreed? Will the Holy Spirit of God resign Himself to immorality in the person in whom He indwells? No! The Holy Spirit in the saved person brings them to the point of conviction and repentance (turning from the sin). This is true conviction. Conviction that leads to no heart or life change is not true conviction, or true salvation. A Christian is a new creation in Christ. A believer who says, "may I continue to sin that grace may abound?" will hear the Apostle Paul say, "May it never be!" See Romans 6:14-15

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, May 18, 2007 6:06:00 PM  

  • Anon, are you truly saved? have you turned from your sin? What ? you still sin? uh oh! oh mabye you only meant THAT sin? ok then we are getting into mortal and venial sins... hello Rome!

    By Anonymous MT, at Friday, May 18, 2007 8:26:00 PM  

  • Anonymous, so would you tell her yes or no?

    Goodnight, I would tell her that the only thing she needs to do to receive eternal life is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I would probably warn her that her actions had consequences and that such behaviour was not consistent with God's holiness. But I would not want to give the impression that a change of lifestyle was in any way a condition of justification.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, May 19, 2007 1:53:00 AM  

  • Matthew: Would you tell her that as a unrepentant fornicator, she could still inherit the Kingdom of God?

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Saturday, May 19, 2007 2:46:00 AM  

  • Sorry for the second posting:

    *But I would not want to give the impression that a change of lifestyle was in any way a condition of justification.*

    If someone is not willing to forgo their sin as a *consequence* of their justification (in the repentance sense of the word)then are they even candidates for justification in the first place? After all, you would not place within the orbit of justification, someone who didn't want to accept the truth that Jesus Christ was the only way to Heaven.

    Lets up the stakes here. If Adoph Hitler wanted to become a Christian in 1933 but was still deeply committed to the idea of wiping out the entire Jewish race as an economic and ethical favour to the orld, would you still coo: "Say, after me..." (or which ever way you lead the stubbornly unrepentant to Christ?)

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Saturday, May 19, 2007 3:20:00 AM  

  • Inheriting the kingdom has nothing to do with receiving eternal life.

    Inheriting the kingdom is receiving a position of privilege and co-rulership with Christ.

    A fornicator will be denied the privilege of co-rulership in the kingdom.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, May 20, 2007 1:33:00 AM  

  • Matthew: I cannot accept your denial that inheriting the Kingdom means anything less than eternal life. The folk in Matthew 25 who did not inherit the Kingdom went away into everlasting punishment, while the righteous (who inherited the Kingdom) went into *life eternal.* The terms are basically synonymous. You must introduce a third class of people to make your thesis stick.

    It seems strange that you would assure this fornicating girl who you fervently assure needs no repentance at all to be reconciled with God, and who possibly would not give it anyway, that she has eternal life. I assume that you would bring her into the fellowship of the church and parade her as a Christian?

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Sunday, May 20, 2007 4:50:00 AM  

  • If the Ephesian Chrsitians already have eternal life, why should Paul need to warn them about non-inheritance if the two concepts are the same?

    The sheep in Matthew 25 inherit the kindsm as a result of their service. They also receive eternal life, which is not the same.

    If the girl continued to practice fornication then at some point the church would have to reject her.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, May 20, 2007 2:11:00 PM  

  • I would tell not tell her anything after the teachings of men. I would read her the scriptures mentioned here about the change in a Christian's heart at salvation, about the new life in Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I would show her the Lord's standards for us regarding our bodies (1 Corinthians chapter 6). And then I would ASK HER what she thought she ought to do based on Scripture.

    It seems to me that this dialogue (argument?) has a personal element to it. It is almost as if someone out there has a pet sin that they do not want to repent of and so they keep pushing forth an idea about a fictitious person in order to somehow justify their own sin. Sort of like the man who said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, May 20, 2007 5:41:00 PM  

  • Anon, that is an ad hominem argument. Using those is against the rules of this blog.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, May 21, 2007 12:18:00 AM  

  • Matthew:

    We might ask why did John warn his readers that hatred is akin to murder and no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him? (1 John 3:15) Both are a serious warning against sin. Without driving us to a introspective nightmare, yet the Bible does encourage us to examine ourselves to see whether we be of the faith. A man who continues to live in sin, showing no repentance, is not giving the evidence of being a Christian and he would be as well seeking to find out whether he really is in Christ or merely living a lie.

    I was quoting more from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 since the sin of fornication is specifically mentioned there. Those who fail to inherit the Kingdom are distinctly said to be unrighteous.

    In *rejecting* (your words) this fornicating "Christian" - I assume that you are talking about excommunication. But she has eternal life still has she not? I assume that you would have worded it accordingly when you first led her to the Lord and did she profess it to be received into the church in the first place? Is your church now holier than God? Are we saved by grace through faith, but kept by an active repentance that (according to you) smacks of legalism?

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Monday, May 21, 2007 2:02:00 AM  

  • df, it's only an ad hominem argument if it's actually against someone personally, which it is not.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, May 21, 2007 5:27:00 PM  

  • Good works are considered meritorious,even though they are all done by the grace of God. That is why there is rewards for faithful Godly living . whether you want to call them that or not doesn't change anything. If works get us to heaven, or keep us there then you are agreeing with Romanism.

    By Anonymous mt, at Tuesday, May 22, 2007 6:24:00 AM  

  • Anon, that is a common misconception of free grace believers, that they just want to live immoral lives. I do struggle with plenty of sin, but if I could have just one wish granted by God, it would be to be sinlessness. So there goes your theory!

    By Anonymous mt, at Tuesday, May 22, 2007 6:32:00 AM  

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