Sunday, June 29, 2008

If a JW comes knockin'

(JWs are "Jehovah's Witnesses")

...and you're the kind of person who wants to engage in some dialogue about the utmost importance of knowing who Jesus is, here's a good set-up:

YOU SAY: I hear you sharing a message about the end of the world or about how important morality or the Word of God is. But I already believe in those things, too.

THEY SAY: Then perhaps we could ask you to consider if you believe that God has an organization here on earth which is doing the work of building the Kingdom?

YOU SAY: Yes, I worship Jesus and anyone else who does so in Spirit and truth belongs to the church.

THEY SAY: Well -- the guidelines for what we believe should come from the bible. Many kinds of churches follow man's traditions. An example of this would be the Trinity... do you believe in this teaching?

YOU SAY: According to some groups, the teaching of the Trinity is controversial. It's relatively a side issue, considering what differences we might have in our beliefs about who Jesus is. Would you mind reading a passage in 1 Corinthians that talks about Jesus, with me?

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
1 cor 15:12-19

YOU SAY: Do you see that without the correct idea of resurrection, we are all left in our sins... according to that teaching, that witness. So what we think about Jesus can mess up the formula of redemption.

THEY SAY: [A long diatribe on their beliefs that Jesus was not God, however "a god". They take you to scriptures like Proverbs 8. They take you to Colossians 1 and try and prove that he was only helping Jehovah in making creation. When they are done....]

YOU SAY: I believe that, just like the Father, Jesus is fully YHWH God. Did you know that the deity of Jesus Christ is written right into the Ten Commandments?

THEY SAY: That's interesting, I've never heard that before.

YOU SAY: Yes, it is, and while we flip there, this is just the icing on the cake to show you how I see that Jesus is written all over the bible as being YHWH God, as well as being described so, explicitly, in my bible's translation. Let me ask you: Does Jesus get Jehovah's glory? Additionally, is Jesus, if served (latreuo) and worshiped (proskyneo), therefore an idol?

Can I revere Jesus as a divine Lord? Can I call Him not only a god, but my god?

If inappropriately given too much proskyneo, does He become...

--an idol?
--an image?
--a false god?

--Ex 23:24 “Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices.”

--Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods (466) before me.”

gods (#466) - elohiym - the most common Hebrew word translated “God “ in the OT. When in plural form, can be translated as divine rulers or judges, angels, gods, or men who represent God.

before me - panah - to turn, presence, in front of, front.

--Ex 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, YHWH your God, am a jealous God.”

idol - pasal - to carve, cut; idol, whether carved, cut, cast, or made of wood.

bow down - hawah - to prostrate oneself, bow down, crouch; to do obiesance, worship. Denotes act of respect before one’s superior in position, and essentially signifies submission. This term is especially used in the sense of worshiping a diety. It signifies to honor God w/ prayers even without prostrating the body. Those who use this mode of salutation, however, fell upon their knees and touched the ground with their foreheads. The equivaent Greek word proskyneo, to worship.

worship - Abad - to serve, minister, worship; to do work, do. Denotes service or work which may be directed toward things, or flax or toward people. In a specialized sense, Abad means to serve YHWH as a Levite. The Septuagint uses Latreuo, to serve, for the exclusive service provided by the priests.

--Col 1:15 “He is the image of the invisible God...”

image - eikon - to be like, resemble, representation, likeness, figure, copy, reflection, appearance, manifestation, embodiment. It implies what is derived from an archtype, which is cast as a direct expression of something. Used of idols (rom 1:23) art (mt 22:20) OT law (heb 10:1) Christ (2 cor 4:4,6). In the book of Revelation, eikon of the beast symbolizes the idolatrous devotion shown by his followers.

--Ex 20:23 “Do not make any gods (466) to be alongside me.”

alongside - et - with, to, upon, beside, among, against.

--John 1:18 “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.”

--Ex 23:13 “Do not invoke the names of other gods (466); do not let them be heard on your lips.”

invoke - zakar - to remember, recollect, reflect upon, to mention, declare, proclaim, to commemorate.

--Col 1:28 “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” (Col 4:3 says that ‘we’ “proclaim the mystery of Christ.”)

It's just a starting point. I have a lot more stuff I've found which uses the Old Testament passages to illuminate who Jesus is. The goal with the JWs is to use the bible to show them who Jesus is, with respect of course.

Then you have to go back to that famous, great question that Josh McDowell asks in his books: If Jesus is not God, then the only alternative is that He must be a lunatic.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Letter of the Law

On the topic of what we must know and trust in, in order to be saved:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone."
Matt 23:23

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
Luke 11:9-13

And Jesus said, "Exclamation point for this one!"

Literally, I could not have said it better myself. Well, maybe it'd be even more awesome if I added one more:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
Rom 8:26-27

Concordance: "Gospel"

I'll be referring to this comprehensive list, I imagine, as I make future posts on the content of the gospel.

You might enjoy taking a look, as I am, on how the bible uses the word in scripture. Dr. Radmacher once said in class that the best way to do a word study was to take every instance of that word and read the context to see how it is used. I thought that was great because it's the method I've been using.

There are two variations of the word in Greek. The Strong's concordance's number/labels for "gospel:"

2097. euaggelizo. yoo-ang-ghel-id-zo; from 2095 and 32; to announce good news ("evangelize") espec. the gospel--declare, bring (declare, show) glad (good) tidings, preach (the gospel).

2098. euaggelion. yoo-ang-ghel-ee-on; from the same as 2097; a good message, i.e. the gospel:--gospel.

Now, the fun part: what kind of patterns can you see?

2098 Matt.4:23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

2098 Matt.9:35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.

2097 Matt 11:5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

2098 Matt.24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

2098 Matt.26:13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

2098 Mark.1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

2098 Mark.1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,

2098 Mark.1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

2098 Mark.8:35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.

2098 Mark.10:29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,

2098 Mark.13:10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations.

2098 Mark.14:9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

2098 Mark.16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

2097 Luke.4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives....

2097 Luke.7:22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.

2097 Luke.9:6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

2097 Luke.20:1 One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up

2097 Acts.8:25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

2097 Acts.14:7 and there they continued to preach the gospel.

2097 Acts.14:21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,

2098 Acts.15:7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

2097 Acts.16:10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

2098 Acts.20:24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

2098 Rom.1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,

2098 Rom.1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you

2097 Rom.1:15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

2098 Rom.1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

2098 Rom.2:16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

2097 Rom 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

2098 Rom.10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”

2098 Rom.11:28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.

2098 Rom.15:16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

2098 Rom.15:19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;

2097 Rom.15:20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation,

2098 Rom.16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages

2097 1Cor.1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

2098 1Cor.4:15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

2098 1Cor.9:12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.

2098 2098 1Cor.9:14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

2097 2097 1Cor.9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

2097 2098 2098 1Cor.9:18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

2098 1Cor.9:23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

2098 1Cor.15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,

2098 2Cor.2:12 When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord,

2098 2Cor.4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing.

2098 2Cor.4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

2098 2Cor.8:18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel.

2098 2Cor.9:13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others,

2098 2Cor.10:14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you. We were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ.

2097 2Cor.10:16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence.

2098 2Cor.11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.

2098 2Cor.11:7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge?

2098 Gal.1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel

2098 Gal.1:7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

2097 Gal.1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

2097 Gal.1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

2098 Gal.1:11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.

2098 Gal.2:2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.

2098 Gal.2:5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

2098 2098 Gal.2:7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised

2098 Gal.2:14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

4283 Gal.3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

2097 Gal.4:13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first,

2098 Eph.1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

2098 Eph.3:6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

2098 Eph.3:6 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power.

2098 Eph.6:15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

2098 Eph.6:19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,

2098 Phil.1:5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

2098 Phil.1:7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

2098 Phil.1:12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,

2098 Phil.1:17 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.

2098 2098 Phil.1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

2098 Phil.2:22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.

2098 Phil.4:3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

2098 Phil.4:15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.

2098 Col.1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,

2098 Col.1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

2098 1Thess.1:5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

2098 1Thess.2:2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.

2098 1Thess.2:4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

2098 1Thess.2:8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

2098 1Thess.2:9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

2098 1Thess.3:2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,

2098 2Thess.1:8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

2098 2Thess.2:14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2098 1Tim.1:11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

2098 2Tim.1:8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,

2098 2Tim.1:10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

2098 2Tim.2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,

2098 Phlm.1:13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel....

2097 1Pet.1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

2097 1Pet.1:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

2097 1Pet.4:6 For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

2098 1Pet.4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

2098 Rev.14:6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Paul & Prayer

This evening I got down on my hands and knees and scoured the floor. Earlier in the day, my one-year-old son took advantage of his mother's twenty minutes in the shower, to attack the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance sitting on the ottoman. He tore out tiny strips from the entries "gospel" and "peter" and slimed them up, discarding them around the room.

What a lesson that was. For a few minutes I fulfilled a childhood dream of being an archaeologist. I needed that page's entry on the gospel because I'm studying it. I couldn't help but be amused at the symbolism. I spent those minutes wondering about the reconstruction of the gospel page in the story of my life.

I heard a sermon last Sunday on the radio. Let me share what I received.

There are three passages on prayer in chapter eleven of Luke. The first is the Lord's model prayer, the second is the friend who knocks in the middle of the night and because of his persistence, the owner gives him all he needs. The third is Jesus teaching us that if we who are evil know how to give good things to our children, how much more will our Heavenly Father give us the Holy Spirit?

All of these passages on prayer, are so positive. They inspire to ask God and to hope in Him. But sometimes I keep on praying and nothing happens. For some people this goes on for years. How come these prayers aren't being answered?

The pastor on the radio illustrated with Paul's experience:

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
(2 cor 12)

Here, God doesn't answer his prayer, just like some of mine. The pastor explained that when we ask the Father for good things, He knows how to give what is good -- the Holy Spirit. Sometimes what we ask for is met in having more of the Holy Spirit.

The study notes for the passage on Paul's thorn say:

Thorn means "splinter," "stake," or "something pointed." Flesh can refer to the body or the sinful nature. Three basic suggested interpretations of the thorn are as follows: (1) If flesh is a reference to the body, it is a physical ailment like an earache, headache, eye trouble, epilepsy, or recurrent fever. (2) If flesh is a reference to the fallen nature, then the thorn could be a temptation. (3) If the expression is figurative, it could refer to persecution or opposition. Most commentators interpret it as a physical ailment. Many suggest that it was eye trouble, on the basis of Gal. 4:15. Messenger of Satan God permitted Satan to afflict Paul as He did Job (see Job 1; 2). Buffet means "to strike with the fist" (see Matt. 26:27). Paul's thorn was a painful, humiliating experience given to prevent pride.

I always liked to think that it was (2) -- a struggle with the fallen nature. What else could not have been so obvious to be recorded in scripture and yet be so humiliating? And for Paul, I imagine he was sure happy to hope that his days of being the chief of sinners by persecuting God's church, were a thing of the past. He, who would declare the gospel to Gentiles, and yet still a miserable sinner? What kind of suffering is more devastating to those who love God, than the suffering of battling with sin?

I can imagine why Paul prayed for the thorn to be removed.... So that Paul might do more for God, to focus better on the truth instead of suffering with distraction, and so forth.

Paul got what he wanted. Just not by having it removed -- ironically -- by having it remain. Paul in fact did learn how to do more for God, and to focus more on the truth... he discovered how much God really is beautiful to know and devoted to blessing us, especially when we don't deserve it. God's good news is His grace.

I, too, am seeing now what God was doing for me.

The "gospel" page is back in proper array, now. The scotch tape looks good. It almost could pass as if nothing ever happened. But I know the time it took away from other activities to rearrange it. Once I got started it wasn't difficult. The pieces fell right into place, without a one missing.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"The False Gospel Passages" 1 cor. 15

Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

1 Corinthians 14:34-15:20

The importance of the resurrection is clear, in explaining the truth, in the context of what saves us. The reason why it is important is because without it, there could have been no risen Christ to worship. More importantly, it would have made them liars when they preached.

What made them liars?

1) The alternate teaching, if correct, that in fact the dead do not rise; us or Christ.

2) To have been wrong at any one point in truth, would have made their message empty. It also would have made faith futile.

Next I experiment with a hypothetical....

Say an alternately important teaching was left out; that Jesus is the Messiah. If Jesus is preached as if he were not the Messiah but something other, could Paul have just as easily said to these teachers "But if Jesus were not the Messiah, he could not have been the prophecied One who died for all iniquity. And if He could not have died for your sins, you are still in your sins!"

The faith became futile when some exchanged the truth for a contradiction of it, and they preach the contradiction. These people are called "False witnesses" in verse fifteen, not "Un-witnesses," because they speak false things about Christ. They were never described here as being silent on the truth for a time or a purpose.

This is how this "gospel" is described:

A-received and in which they now stand
B-the means by which you are saved, on a condition:
C-that you hold fast to the teaching given
D-unless in the case that you never held fast to it

This book was written to believers so how could point D even have been mentioned, if we're talking about justification? The kind of "saved" discussed in B is a post-justification kind of salvation, the kind that comes from works, effort, holding fast, can be lost, etc. Therefore the teachings in C, those things passed from Jesus Christ to Paul, and Paul to his disciples in the Corinth church, are post-justification teachings.

Consider the context. See what the text says before this topic begins: chapter fourteen talks about the gift of tongues and prophecy in the church. As he concludes those regulations he reminds the Corinthians that the gift of prophecy does not originate with the people of Corinth themselves, but comes from God who wants us to remember His commands that regulate what is considered the truth. Then Paul immediately explains the truths in which we stand. It is a flow of reasoning he uses to compare the two issues: both require regulation to keep them able to perform their function. What is futile and empty in faith and preaching also can be true about tongues that are not spoken for the right reasons and in a right way during assemblies.

Chapter fifteen's gospel, or good news, is a good news of further teachings for the body of those who already believe.

The common evangelical idea of the "saving content of the gospel" would begin to be described by them especially from this chapter! "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures," his burial, and his resurrection. But why do they stop there, when Paul didn't? Without skipping a beat he says that Christ was seen by Cephas, and then by the twelve. Okay. Then he adds the apostles and then himself, not even pausing before taking a side-track of the issue of his unworthiness.

Is all of that "the saving content of the gospel?"

It doesn't seem to me it has any natural breaking point.

What kind of failure made the whole faith futile?

Was it silence, or leaving them without definition? No; it was not that these teachers were silent, for a time, about an aspect of the truth.

These chapters are teachings on how to regulate teachings and worship. "The gospel" meaning that which saves people to eternal life, is not mentioned at all in this chapter. Take a look once again; for no where is there any mention of faith in this list of teachings. "Holding fast to the word" isn't referring to faith, because holding fast to believing is the same as trying to judge whether a little bit of faith or a lot of faith is capable of making a man justified. As if we must muster around.

But we know that "the law is not of faith" (gal 3:12) and "now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe." rom 3:21-22

It is my conclusion for now that this passage cannot be applied to the "crossless, deityless" free grace gospel proponents. For nothing they preach is false, though their preaching may be stark in its silence on scripture.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Reading it foremost

I just wanna keep reading scripture with my own mind first. I can participate with confidence (and hopefully not arrogance!) in religious discussions both with believers and unbelievers because I have faith that I have read it and understood it (which doesn't happen just once, but over a lifetime). If I had read commentaries first, I think for me it would have squashed that whole creative element where I get to experience that God has spoken in what He has provided, and especially the blessing that comes when I compare my notes with the theologians and discover the fulfillment of Paul's desire, for the body to have unity.

Who wants to be known as a plagiarist, anyway; who wants their idea of scripture to be recalled through other men's explanations?

I guess this is one of the reasons why I love discussion forums. It's having some someones to read things a little contrary than you'd like them to, a little differently than you'd otherwise be able to, all so that I might pray and discover the challenge God has designed in the full and proper meaning of a passage.

I realize that I unintentionally insult the intelligence of those who read -- you already knew the good in reading scripture first and opinions of scripture second. I'm starting a new study though.

A lot of heat has been given out lately over the passages of scripture which teach a separation or dis-union with those who teach false doctrines. Before I could ever apply them to another group, I better know for myself what they say. I want my mind to be open to the divides the Word would make, not the scare-driven uneducated boundary lines I have already been trying to hold up and hold at bay.

For that reason I purposely have not inquired further into one group's heavy reliance and reasonings for living in a way commanded by these passages. I'll make conclusions on their stuff when I am done with the Word. Though, I would greatly desire anyone's comments, large or small, on ways they would want to correct or widen my understanding.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Who was Jesus when I was saved?

I've had an epiphany how to describe what Jesus seemed to me, when I was saved.

(I remember it like it was yesterday... after all, in the thirteen years I've been a believer only in the last six (the minority) have I worshiped in delight that Jesus is YHWH.)

He was a prophet:


1. A person who speaks by divine inspiration or as the interpreter through whom the will of a god is expressed.
2. A person gifted with profound moral insight and exceptional powers of expression.
3. A predictor; a soothsayer.
4. The chief spokesperson of a movement or cause.

I was convinced that He knew God and had spoken on His behalf. There was an authority there that was obvious. And that is what I submitted to, in my prayer of salvation.

"Son of the living God," "Messiah," "Lamb of God," and even the resurrection... these were ideas that didn't have any place in my exposure or understanding.

Maybe there was an extra fuss over Him I understood. As if He were the super-version of the predecessors? If you had asked me what I thought, I would have said, "He was special." And I was convinced into revering that quality despite being very uncomfortable confessing it.

I think it would have been impossible for me to understand, watching that movie (the content of NT gospels), that Jesus could have been fully God. I mean, that He was something more than just another man, was clear; but, He was no question, a man. He suffered the same limitations as we do. The only times He seemed to be able to overcome human limitation was to give punch to his teachings about the Father, or on occasion how he was tied to the Father.

Even today, it still is a mindbender to contemplate Emmanuel; God, with us.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why I Fit in Free Grace

1 -- The doctrine of Law vs. Grace. What happened when I was in the class "Romans and Galatians" taught by Dr. Dale Taliaferro at the Grace Seminary of the Northwest, I will never forget. They read these books like I have been reading them. Amazing. I don't know if they've taken the application of these teachings into all the issues I have, but, hey.

2 -- Jesus said "It is finished." The average christian struggles to understand that to preach "we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone" means a variety of important freedoms, once being justified by that grace. When I have tried to explain this, it becomes difficult to be understood at all.

3 -- The doctrines of Calvinism leading me to a path of believing God all but authors sin. I did a good job reading the bible on my own, but somewhere I read TULIP and it became part of me. The outcome was that it stole my passion for the gospel and prayer and godliness. I thought I was keeping the well pure, but it makes sense that a little yeast gets in. How much more am I suffering because I haven't opened up to listening to others?

4 -- My testimony. Where else can you find a group who understands the importance of a Spiritual, inward salvation, and who also understands that scripture has all authority and is meant to have the final say in all matters? Amazing.

5 -- Their humility. There is something amazing experiencing that the one who ought to be seated at the table is instead a servant. As a woman, it is very difficult even for me to believe that what I think, matters. How refreshing it is to be treated with respect.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

"There's a baby boy wrapped around my neck" and other similar confessions

There is a certain amount of honor and praise due for a father of three crazy kids... this father's name is Ben.

The youngest likes to roll, roll roll on the floor, closer and closer, then, one foot up, one leg up, a torso, another scootch, and voila, there is a baby boy wrapped around your head, from the neck up.

The middle wants to be a mommy right now so that she can tell everybody what to do. "Elizabeth, go sit down at the table and finish your dinner," her daddy says. She replies back, saying, "No. If you don't let me go play, I'm going to go pee pee in my underwear... [dramatic pause]."

The eldest says, "My stomach hurts, it's probably because I'm hungry. Can I have a popsicle?" And her daddy says, "I'm going to make you sit down at the table and finish off another plate of salad." She pauses, in deep thought, and then says, "I was wrong, it wasn't hungry, I just probably need to go outside and play some more."

Here is to one of the best fathers I have known...

Oh, and P.S., to my dad, you're pretty awesome stuff.

Faith, Belief, Knowledge

On Lou Martuneac's blogsite there is a comment made by 'Elijah" under the post dated June 10, 2008.

Just a quick reminder, friends, the Gospel is NOT the "death, burial and resurrection." As a Roman Catholic for the first 18 years of my life, I believed that Christ died, was burried, and rose again. But I believed my sins were erased in the confessional with the priest. I did not know that Christ died FOR MY SINS. Please, let us stop saying the "death, burial and resurrection." If we fall in to that trap, we will be defending an indefensible position with the crossless people.

It got me to thinking.

I understand that Free Grace Theology teaches that belief and faith and trust are one and the same. I think this is a top-notch teaching. However, I want to discuss belief in another aspect, in a non-topical sense of the word.

I had a great conversation today with an "uncultured" believer. Go with me here, on this....

This person pointed out to me the difference between faith, belief (what some might call doctrine), and knowledge.

FAITH - Confidence in trustworthiness of a person, thing or idea

BELIEF - Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something

KNOWLEDGE - What is factual

If I understand Elijah's comments correctly it sounds as if he was caught in that common scenario where there were several beliefs taught to him but not enough to cause faith (and eternal life).

I am convinced that we all have changed our "beliefs" through time. What I believed ten years ago about man, God, and issues concerning God's will is different than what I believe today. I am sure that given another ten years, what I believe will most likely be noticeably different even concerning important issues.

I've heard Dr. Radmacher share on more than one occasion how a student once said, "Well but Dr. R. -- that's not what you taught us ten years ago," to which he replied, "If I'm not changing what I believe, then just shoot me!" or something very close along these lines. I too think that being able to challenge what I believe is an important quality to improving what I have done with my faith both for myself and others.

Some people use the word "knowledge" in the place where the word "belief" ought best be used. For what is "known" is universal and applies to all as obvious, and does not contain contradiction or abstraction or nuance. When used in the context of religion it also implies a level of investment or egotism that is not easily overcome. Dialogue is not invited.

Faith is connectedness based on a level of experience, sensation, spirituality, emotion or realness of something. It is the element that causes reliance. I have reliance on Jesus Christ the person, as many readers of this blog do, and while my beliefs can be challenged, my reliance on Jesus Christ cannot be so easily converted.

Our goal in sharing the free grace gospel, or the crossless gospel, is not to diminish belief. The Lordship camp unapprovingly calls FG (Free Grace) "easy believism." The mainstream FGr's call that which is more liberal "a crossless, deity-less gospel."

We want to share enough belief to cause faith but not so much that suggests a legalism that will never be satiated.

The goal of FG is to elevate faith to its proper position. Beliefs are not irrelevant, but faith is essential. Belief is not enough alone. Belief is oftentimes the route to find faith. How much belief is required to produce faith will depend on the person receiving the message. In the case of Cornelius in Acts 10, the opposite is true; faith was the route to find belief.

It is so easy to talk back and forth and argue and debate belief. Faith is harder to create than beliefs are. One cannot teach faith as one might teach a belief.

Belief is subjective, prone to error and controversy, but faith is assurance.

The problem in all of historical Christianity is found in belief. Are the beliefs being set forth ones that create new faith, and ones that annex nonsubmissive faith?

Friday, June 13, 2008

The "Wordless" Bracelet Gospel

Child Evangelism Fellowship uses the "Wordless Book" and bracelet in their evangelism.

I wear the bracelet on occasions when I am praying and anticipating God to use me to share the gospel. These last two weeks I had the opportunity to hand out a 1 Cor 15-centered, free grace tract (by Dr. Sumner Wemp), to a man who was in a hurry and I am building a new connection with a woman my age who has become backslidden from a legalistic pentecostal church. God is very amazing, and I am blessed.

Last night I went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for my son's pink eye infection. There was no one except the cashier and the pharmacist there. The cashier asked me what my bracelet represented. I was caught off guard.

"Oh; it's an evangelism bracelet. There are five colors on it which represent the five scriptures that lead people to put their faith in Christ."

"Oh," she said, a little weirded out.

Then there was a short pause and I knew I better speak up or lose an opportunity. I looked behind me to make sure there wasn't anyone in line to annoy with an intense discussion -- nope, no one. I turned back and was about to ask what I oftentimes do next "Do you have a faith life?"

Unfortunately, she was just finishing ripping off my receipt, being a lot faster than I thought she'd be. I missed an opportunity. I pray I can go back to her and see her again and get into that discussion.

That was a pretty lame answer, wasn't it? How can I make this easier, next time?

Should I waste no time at all and tell her five scriptures' worth of information? Or, should I ask her interest and permission first?

Is depicting five requirements of agreement, a healthy way to suggest how one goes about obtaining eternal life? Could it be done with four or three?

What if I started off with the "most important information" first, and then got into more detail as time allowed (and by grace all of those points would be discussed in a steady flow)? What would be the first thing that came out of your mouth, if you had no idea the background of the person you were sharing with, and you didn't know how long you would have to speak?

I haven't ever made a dedication to use a "crossless" version of the gospel in evangelism. It's too gosh-darn scary. Not only because I love the Word of God but also because I've always been an island of disagreeing opinion.

Who wants to follow the crazy lady in your head even if you're the owner of said head?

Here are the five points of this gospel (some of you may dislike the vernacular I use to recall the verses):

GOLD - God lives in heaven and He wants you to live there too when you die.
BLACK - There are wrong things each one of us has done, and there is a punishment; suffering and separation from God.
RED - The perfect man who was also God - Jesus - died and took away all our sins, yours, mine, everyone's.
WHITE - You and I get the credit of His effort when we believe in what he did.
GREEN - In the same way you trusted in Jesus just now, we have the ability to trust in Him to take care of us in life and to take us to be with Him in the end.

You Will Know Them...

Have you ever met someone who stands opposed to the things you care deeply about, and what's more, while in their presence there is so much acceptance to experience that you find your mind going blank when you try and remember your disagreement?

What true disciples of Jesus Christ!

I have had the great honor of getting to know such men in the last few months.

As I write I am thinking of more individuals I have only met just this week. What a blessing this is for me.

I've made mistakes in thinking too small about things.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Testify Again

There is another story from my past which I have not yet shared because it is slightly embarrassing, and because the post titled "My Testimony" is just a little bit too long for more.

Again, it testifies that God's grace is free to all who put their trust in Jesus.

When I was eighteen, a year after my experience of having received an immovable joy from praying to God through Jesus, I still knew hardly nothing. It is difficult to explain knowledge, sometimes, isn't it? For instance, I had watched the four-hour long story of Jesus' life and teachings two times, so I had heard the "truth," but as for my own ability to decide what I believed, I had no reason at that point to make up my mind.

Perhaps some of the things I observed about Jesus in the movie were there to encourage me in a greater faith for Him, when I became hard-pressed.

At this time in my life I was friends with a boy at lunchtime for a couple weeks. There was this other girl who also liked him. She was a trouble-maker, meaning she had a juvenile case worker who was allowing her to go to school and live back at home after a rough history of getting into fights. When she started coming around she told me to back off from him, and I said forget it, and I made fun of her. Then she realized that we both rode the same bus route home. On the bus she started telling people that at the end of the week, on Friday, she was going to beat me up when I got off the bus.

Great story, isn't it??

Well, I had been in a fight once before and I wasn't the kind to back down, but, my stomach just churned and churned for five days in anticipation. On day one, I decided to pray. I asked this God whom I was just beginning to know, "Can you make it so that, no matter what, she just won't have the opportunity to do it?"

I prayed that prayer. I sat for a day. On day two I wanted more assurance that God had heard me. (Don't we all do this?) So I prayed again, "God, I am trusting you to take care of me and stop her from doing this. I think this wold be pretty miraculous if you end up protecting me, and if you do it, well, that's pretty awesome."

I sat for a day. She still flaunted how she was going to beat me up on Friday. All the kids were listening to her. I was worried about it, the prayer, whether or not God was going to do this for my sake or if I was being too foolish in what I requested. So I prayed again, "Do I need to do something in order for you to do this for me? God, what would I have to do in order for you to think well enough of my request to do it?" That thought sat with me for awhile. I probably thought about all of the stories where Jesus healed people in the movie because they believed. I decided that this was an issue of whether or not I could trust Him. I almost abandoned the request because it was getting frustrating. Then I realized that if I were really trusting Him to take care of it, I ought to be able at least to give Him the credit.

So, I prayed, "God, if you do this for me, I will tell others that it is Jesus who is protecting me."

There -- that would really be a test to see if I was relying on God to protect me.

The day came. The bus ride was horrible. She had all the kids in a frenzy. She stood over me, yelling how she was going to beat me up. For the first few times I didn't say anything. The bus driver heard about it, and hadn't said anything yet but kept his eye toward the back of the bus. The kids asked her again and again, "Are you really going to beat her up?" And she said heck yeah. Meanwhile I remembered my prayer -- I was so stressed out I almost forgot about it, but, I realized that I needed to be public about Jesus. How embarrassing, I felt for a few minutes. But, in the last couple minutes of the ride home, I finally spoke up.

She said again, "I'm going to beat you up!"

And I said in a small, squeaky voice, "No; you're not."

"What??" she said. "Did you just say I'm not?"

"Yes... you're not going to do it," I said quietly but calmly.

"Oh really? Why's that??"

"Because," I said, pausing, "Jesus is going to protect me."

The kids around me got real quiet. Then one of them asked me, "What did you say?"

I sighed. I was embarrassed, but I thought it was just another test of faith. I resigned to raise my voice significantly louder and said, "Because Jesus is going to protect me."

Now the whole bus was silent. Everyone was perfectly still, including the girl, till I reached my stop. I got up to get off and stood there, and listened.... One of the kids asked her, "So -- are you going to do it?"

And as I was walking to the front I heard her say "Uhh, I can't. No, I can't, because I'll get in trouble with my case worker."



Coincidence?? No way, not if God answers prayer. Now, He didn't have to save me. I still didn't believe in sin or that I was a sinner for another two or three years. I didn't believe that He is God as I do today. And I don't think it's biblical to go around claiming God will protect me from whatever I desire. But, I had faith in Him just as the kind of Abraham's, and because He is all-knowing, and He knew where I was in my relationship to Him, He blessed me with deliverance.

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Snow Princess

On Sunday Liz performed at the Smith Auditorium on the Willamette University campus in Salem.

The little 4-year-olds were brought out on stage by their teacher. The three farthest away failed to notice that their teacher was reminding them the steps, and just stood there looking out into the audience for half the performance. Lizzy was one of them.

It was a garbled arrangement of confused but happy white little baby ballerinas.

Side note: Ben informed me that one of the movies wasn't working in this post, which is now fixed....

Sunday, June 08, 2008

How liberal am I?

Good question. I might be taking back some of my most liberal positions regarding the JWs and LDS at, which were written a year or two ago. I know what they are and they are there on public display. I won't bother now with those.

Lou Martuneac left two comments on my post in May quoting Antonio da Rosa's parable, which depicts what has been called "the crossless gospel" or "redefined free grace theology."

There is a controversy brewing over the content of the gospel message, within the Free Grace movement.

I have been trying to decide for myself in years passed, what I ought to believe. I feel relieved that I found Free Grace. Unfortunately I don't fit quite right in with them either. I'm going to exercise the freedom to keep improving my understanding, and admitting when I've made a mistake.

So that you understand the controversy, let me give a couple quotes for reference:

Here is what the free grace fringe say themselves.... Da Rosa's comments (courtesy of being forewarned second-hand) are:

At the moment that a JW or a Mormon is convinced that Jesus Christ has given to them unrevokable [sic] eternal life when they believed on Him for it, I would consider such a one saved, REGARDLESS of their varied misconcetions [sic] and beliefs about Jesus.

And here is what the free grace mainstream say of the fringe.... This quote (below) is from Martuneac's post which assessed the crossless gospel (here).

Even conscious rejection of the Lord’s deity, in a personal evangelism setting, is viewed as something to be put on the back burner and left there. The GES believes issues like that are to be dealt with in a discipleship setting.

Both capture the concerns I myself take by being liberal.

I want to moderate it and blur this disagreement, using the truth found in God's Word. I don't think it's wise to take sides! Because all of them are used by God to cause the people to believe. If we think it has to be one or the other, we pit our minds and understandings against a portion of scripture. And that is never good!

To say that "the full gospel," meaning a three-fold understanding of Jesus' payment for our sins, deity and resurrection, are not part of the gospel that brings eternal life, as Da Rosa says and I have also said, may be going too far.

What did Paul preach, what did Paul teach? He preached a simple gospel of "Christ crucified" to Greeks and Jews, and reminded believers of the gospel already taught to them in 1 Cor. 15. But, Paul also taught that the righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Can we say that Paul had more than one way to express the gospel message? I think it needs to be explored.

What about Jesus' gospel? As for Jesus' statements of those who believe have eternal life, they cannot be wrong. Certainly Jesus would not have spoke such a sentence if the sentence stood incomplete.

Is there a scriptural reason why the gospel message can be, or maybe even should be, slightly variant? Has anyone pointed out yet that every time Jesus declared the gospel in scripture, it was always a little bit different in content? He even went so far to describe it in Mark (16:16) saying, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." Somehow evangelicals have enough wisdom to realize that He's added baptism in here as an extra non-salvific component. Did we forget to apply the same wisdom to the rest? It was only fear of being wrong, fear of being found lacking, that caused some Christians to think that baptism was necessary. We had to stand out from them by pointing to the freedom we have by faith. Let's take that freedom the rest of the way for the same reason -- to keep evangelicals from living in fear, which is living according to laws or lists or rules. We are born of God, Spiritually!

The written code kills, but the Spirit gives life. Our praise is not from checking off a list but from God who sends the Spirit because of the condition of a believing heart toward Christ.

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.

No one knows the thoughts of a man except that man himself.

A man is a Jew if he is one inwardly, and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. In the inward places a man is born again and even we cannot see it happen but we often find subsequent evidence of it having taken place.

Having believed, you were marked in Him with the Holy Spirit, a deposit guaranteeing the redemption of those who are God's possession. This is much more about the Holy Spirit than it is about eternal life. Or it is to my understanding, thinking of how God applies the covenant of His Son described in Ezekiel 36:25-29.

Consider this passage in which Jesus describes salvation in a very minimalist way:

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scriptures has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, 'Truly this is the Prophet. Others said, "This is the Christ."
john 7:37-41

Salvation is a mysterious thing, is it not? That's because it is Spiritual, not something we can precisely measure with rules. We have some really basic rules as being conscious outsiders to this process. One ought to be able to tell a tree by its fruit. We ought to, and many times we can, but, God ultimately knows.

Free grace or no, anyone who goes around telling others "you personally are saved because of this scripture," speaks too quickly. We are saved because God "puts his Spirit within us." (ezekiel 36:27)

I think all of these versions, from a minimist's "he who believes has eternal life," to the mainstream's use of 1 cor. 15, are the gospel. Which one we use depends on our audience. Oftentimes we cannot know for sure what their spiritual need is, but God does.

To some, believing in more than just "Jesus gives eternal life," is legalism. Consider the pagan who has never even heard of an Abrahamic faith. They have so much to hear, nothing is inherent.

To others, not understanding the transaction of my sin for His righteousness, leaves the whole need for deliverance by a Savior, unmet. I and my kind like Da Rosa, must take note.

I do not think we need to be afraid to use by inspiration a "crossless gospel," though, because Jesus did. Only the Spiritual man can agree and understand Spiritual things, like what sin is. No one can say "Jesus is Lord," except by the Spirit, and as you can see above in John 7, once they heard Jesus proclaim an invitation to receive the Spirit, then subsequently ensued the discussion of his identity.

Do we not know what it means to be led by the Spirit into all truth? How far can we trust this? All the way to John 6:47?

{1} Antonio da Rosa, Free Grace Theology, Believe Christ’s Promise and You are Saved No Matter What Misconception You Hold, (May 2006).

Friday, June 06, 2008

Four-Point Declaration of Freedom

The four points below have been my most treasured companion these last five years. I don't know if this is any good. Seems to me it withstands everything. They are to summarize Paul's teaching on grace versus law, so that our consciences should no longer be troubled by those who say we cannot have been justified by faith in Jesus:

1 ] Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

2 ] ...rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

3 ] Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law.

4 ] Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

(Some of those who have known me the longest are sighing that I bring this up again.)

That's it! Do you see what it is saying?

Point 1 -- Any/all goodness left unmet, qualifies as sin
Point 2 -- Awareness of lacking goodness = law
Point 3 -- Awareness of lacking goodness = law
Point 4 -- Belief in Christ is the end of any/all goodness left unmet by us

The most powerful scripture in those four points, of course, is the last.

I want to say that points 2 & 3 are the same thing but I mention them twice because it is so important for people to try and imagine everything they will ever learn from scripture about God's holy and perfect requirements. It includes good works. But I think it also involves knowledge, especially if you would agree with me, that knowledge of who Jesus Christ is, has a justifying work in our lives.

I AM FREE from fault, because of Christ! Praise God!!!! No other way to heaven can compare. As I heard someone say recently, "The only rule is the one to end all rules."

Let it simmer, let it roast, and then leave a comment.

{1} 1-James 4:17; 2-Romans 3:20b; 3-Romans 7:7; 4-Romans 10:4

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The costs of one of the male kind

Discovering crayon on the back window and the front door = ten minutes of scrubbing

Finding your keys at the bottom of the toybox = fifteen minutes of searching

Locating the new loaf of bread next to the couch in a corner on the floor = 30 minute trip to the store

Having a son who loves to walk = PRICELESS

Monday, June 02, 2008

"At the Cross"

I know a place
a wonderful place
where accused and condemned
find mercy and grace

Where the wrongs we have done
and the wrongs done to us
were nailed there with him
there at the cross

At the cross
You died for our sin
At the cross
You gave us life again

-Terry & Randy Butler

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