Saturday, July 02, 2011

How Much We Need Need (-final-)

'Need' is a Significant Component to the Gospel Message
[Previous Post: How Much We Need Need (part 6)]

The Essence of the Content in Saving Faith

Why did the woman at the well believe Jesus was the Christ? John 4:28-29,
The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
She believed that Jesus was the Christ because He told her all things that she ever did, because she first saw the demonstration of His gift. In His gospel, Jesus had provided the "Way" for her to see the "essence" of the message - the Holy Spirit, which was a gift being freely offered to her.

Notice that she see Him demonstrate power in predicting her husbands, first, and then she believes in Jesus as the Christ. Which part of her testimony was the selling point to the townsmen? The noteworthy part, John 4:39,
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”
God-with-us is something to be excited about.  All of the signs in John work in a similar fashion. When the Holy Spirit demonstrates Himself, people believe in Jesus. This is simple, child-like faith.

The scriptural content of the message for the unsaved becomes saving when it highlights one central truth: Man needs God. 1 Cor. 2:1-5,
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
How was it accounted to Abraham our father as righteousness? Romans 4:17, 20-22
...Him whom [Abraham] believed — God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.... He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 
God is able to perform.  "Do you believe this" (John 11:27-29)?   Abraham's content to be believed was the power of God.  He was fully convinced. Is it because he was open-minded to the facts and was passively persuaded? Is it because he blindly hoped it to be true? No; Abraham had seen for himself what God could do through him by conquering Canaanite kings so triumphantly. At the time of war in chapter 14 of Genesis, Abraham had become the administrative head of blessing in the land that God had promised in chapter 12, and Melchizedek, the priest of God, had come out to testify of God's presence with Abraham. Then after this, in chapter 15 he hears God's promise and is justified by believing it.  Likewise in the Gospel of John, after hearing the most famous verse (John 3:16) we hear that those who already "do the truth" believe upon the Son receiving forgiveness "because" their deeds have been done in God (John 3:21). Those who seek God's essence (the gift of the Holy Spirit) have already recognized God's power in their pre-faith journey (Romans 1:20).

Defending the Babes, the Carnal

Free grace people admire Abraham who was "fully persuaded."  Where does assurance of salvation really come from? Does it come from a promise alone gospel, a crystal clear, concise location in scripture to be used like a fool-proof formula? In limitation, a verse brings assurance of salvation. How about a systematic proof that Jesus is the Christ and was raised from the dead from the Old Testament all through the gospel accounts, like Paul preached in Acts 13 to Galatia? In limitation, a biblical synthesis gospel brings assurance of salvation. As much as Free Grace people are protecting saints and those coming to faith from a lifetime of doubt over their own justification with God, it is quite commendable.

Assurance of salvation comes from intimacy with the Holy Spirit, not just from a promise verse (John 11:25-27) or a persuasive case of things of first importance according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Consider Job. He was called blameless by God Himself in the beginning. Job spent the majority of the book arguing with his counselors that indeed he once had been blameless, even though now he was spiritually miserable. God was patient with Job's arguing over what happened in the past - and Job, in his grief, doubted it was worthwhile to be "blameless" as he once was. Only when Job realigned himself into fellowship with God once more was Job assured, and onlookers persuaded. The only way to prove our salvation is to identify who we are in light of who God is, every day.

I wonder if our thoughts on the gospel resembles Job's argument with his first three counselors.

JOB: "No, really; I was blameless."
ELIPHAZ: "Job, there's no way you and God were fine with one another; I mean look at you."
JOB: "But I was! I just can't show you. What's wrong with this picture? I am beginning to doubt there was profit in knowing God."
ELIPHAZ:  "I say you never did.  Here, let me tell you a more theologically correct understanding of God's acceptance."

Might it be God's manner to withhold assurance in someone's soul in particular times and seasons? After a saint's justification he will subsequently be tested and may disregard spiritual things. Free Grace people say either a concise verse or a biblical synthesis is the only "correct" means by which a person can re-establish assurance of salvation. By thinking this way, I wonder if we are no longer in step with God's discipline upon His child. A FG person hears this and mis-diagnoses it; that if they did not receive the exact content of the message that saved them, they must not have been saved in the first place. This is no more a solution than the Calvinists who wrestle with the plight of carnal Christianity, calling for upfront obedience in the proclamation of God's gift of salvation, distorting and distracting again from the true area of concern, which is? Non-persevering sanctification.

"Do not quench the Spirit," it says in 1 Thess. 5:19. This means to suppress or extinguish the presence of God in our hearts. Is it possible that a saint once would hear the Spirit cry from within him, "Abba, Father," at one point in his life as he sought reigning as a son with Christ, but would lose this comforting testimony that he is a child of God through carnality? Galatians 4:6-7,
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
Are these carnal guys the guys we've been defending with FG soteriology? When did this happen that the inward testimony of the Spirit within our hearts wasn't convincing enough that we had to go find a formula removed of His powerful, chastening Presence, to gain assurance? Though it might become quenched, Romans 8:15 tells us that when we were justified each of us received this inward testimony loud and clear,
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
Searching the Scriptures

How did Paul defend justification with God for the carnal Christian? He reminded them quickly of how they had known the power of God as opposed to the persuasion of men in a divisive manner, all the way through 1 Corinthians chapters one through four. Jesus had the same battle of "persuasive words vs. the power and demonstration of the Spirit of God," with the Pharisees. They knew so much about God that they were lawyers. John 5:39-40,
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
Searching the scriptures is spiritually fruitless till a person is willing to come to Jesus and receive life ("In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" John 1:4). This is what the revelation (the "Word") is teaching us to appropriate. It is amazing the Pharisees really thought they could make a case of knowing how to work God when they worked over passages. Jesus dealt with them in a disapproving manner. It only condemned themselves before God and men. This kind of free grace discussion is, as it was with Job as well, a carbon copy of that argument the Pharisees had with Jesus in the letter of the law over what needed to be believed regarding the work and person, at that time, of YHWH.

There are already many people who are looking for more from Free Grace. They want to be offered a life-giving gospel to every kind of man who suffers in darkness, not only the variety of darkness of needing a correct chapter-verse address to assuage doubt over a former event of justification with God.

The biblical synthesis gospel (beginning with 1 Cor 15:1-4 and utilizing several other passages) can be an obstacle to assurance, but it was never meant to work that way. This content of saving faith is a gospel where assurance will never be achieved as it requires the unsaved to produce concrete knowledge of abstracts with its long list of "needs to be believed." As with the Pharisees, the use of the Word somehow is twisted; scriptures of any kind of content should not not rob assurance. If used properly scripture always enhances assurance of salvation. 1 Thess. 1:5,
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
The Word should harmoniously build on our sense that we can become/have in fact been saved by the amazing grace and truth of our Lord. If scripture does not bring a believer into harmony with God, it is because an evangelist and his listener is imbalanced, having some excellence in doctrine but an immaturity in the experiential knowledge of the breadth and depth of the love of God. It would have been better if they had heard the Samaritan woman's content of saving faith in place of a scripture-intense one; "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did!"

"He Never Fails to Give Life"

"Suffice it to say, however, that Jesus never fails anyone who trusts Him for eternal salvation" [1].

The brilliance of the "Desert Island Scenario"[1] is that after the Holy Spirit demonstrates the power of God, the unsaved person will be fully convinced that God is trustworthy in His testimony no matter how short the scripture is concerning the gift of the Holy Spirit.

However, there are two mis-uses that arise with thinking like this. The first mis-use is why should anyone trust Him for everlasting salvation if they aren't inclined to desire it or understand it or even have eyes to see, unlike Abraham coming fresh off the battlefield? No one doubts the veracity of Jesus to give life. We doubt the people who have confused looks on their faces as they nod their head in politeness. No one is going to believe it unless they have been told they ought to seek it and probably already know it.

The second mis-use is that false religious people will agree with you. "Yes, I understand that Jesus gives eternal life to those who believe," or they say, "Yes, I believe that Jesus died for my sins on the cross and was resurrected," but who knows what they truly filter that to mean. For the false religions, they have not understood what it means to place their faith in an orthodox demonstration of the Spirit and of power (1 Cor 2:4). There is no protection against polytheism and other versions of "I believe" that are something less than the attention-grabbing thrust of a robust conservative evangelical gospel. Teaching the biblical doctrine of the antichrists and testing the spirits is helpful to distinguish things for the evangelist, but not for those being evangelized (see part III of "The Spirit of Antichrist: Decoupling Jesus from the Christ" by Zane C. Hodges).

Every content of saving faith seizes its relevance by making a case for our son-ship opportunity and the need for the Holy Spirit to achieve it.  Without it, the biblical synthesis evangelists will never know for sure if a lost person has personally grasped the significance in a fifteen-minute download of biblical data.  Even a promise-only presentation cannot explain the relevance of eternal life without also preaching son-ship [2].

People are not coming to Christ to increase license to sin! And they never will! I have been caught in this confusion regarding the gospel; perhaps you too? Can you imagine a humble, lost sinner who dislikes his own sin being told that Christ's salvation is a ticket to moral freedom (i.e. unconditional forgiveness)? This is the weak point in both a promise-only or a synthesis gospel. No wonder we are afraid to tell those who are much worse - those who pursue a life of debauchery - the gospel. They laugh at it and say, "that sounds good to me! You're telling me I can do whatever I want?!? Seriously, go away, why should Christ even die for sins then." They must believe God is good and that He would not tempt anyone. This is a gospel of light, not darkness. Son-ship makes "the promise of eternal life" and "Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures" two gospels of light! Presenting "the gift of God" as the Holy Spirit is what is missing.

What an interesting assumption that lost people care more about eternal life than their present one. Unless I am suddenly trapped under a car or hanging off a cliff, the afterlife is not what I think about all day long, as an unbeliever or even as a believer for several years starting off in the faith. I'm thinking about my next appointment, next vacation, next meal. It is usually those who have known Christ and the doctrine of eternal rewards that become interested in the afterlife - when they have a "beatitude promise" that it will be good and satisfying in spite of the lack of realized redemption in this one.

Eternal life is not just about salvation after we're dead! The unsaved desire the Holy Spirit for all sorts of things. The Holy Spirit is needed for obedience. He is needed for freedom from condemnation. He is needed for sonship and inheritance with God. He is needed for comfort and counsel. He is needed for the satisfaction of the daily spiritual needs of the soul. He is needed for intimacy with God. This is the reason why "eternal life" is described as qualitative such as John 17:3 or as for the rich young ruler why it was a possession to be gained through obedience.

Gospel essentials attain their usefulness when a person comes to Jesus ("the scriptures testify of Me" John 5:39) for the Holy Spirit. And what are they believing in when they hear the words of whichever Free Grace gospel is used? Take a look once more: what is the "bullseye" COSF according to this passage? 1 Cor 2:4-5,
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Indeed I believe it is saying it is critical we NOT be persuasive when sharing the gospel so that people will notice the Holy Spirit in the message, the presence and power of God, the essence they have been longing to believe was true, and receive Him Himself.  The Word of God is a Spiritual avenue (the "Way") to see straight through to the Spirit of God who has always been not far from each one of us (Acts 17:27).

This is what the woman at the well placed her faith in. She already knew where the well was, and where to draw water - not an issue. She wanted her own fountain of water so that she would not thirst nor keep traveling to draw it out. She heard of this source of power all for herself, all for the taking - exactly what Abraham heard in Genesis 12. They are not believing upon only the words of a promise... but the Presence within them.

The Duluthian Biblical synthesis proponents point out Paul's preaching in Acts 13 to the Galatians in their series of articles on the content of the gospel. In Acts 17, Paul preached to the Thessalonians "as was his custom" after so many evangelistic efforts recorded in Acts (Acts 17:3).   Paul had a custom for the gospel presentation -- in the synagogues. He tailored the good news of Jesus to the tradition of those who already had the scriptures: "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” But that's not all his gospel shared.  According to this one "custom" of Paul, both the Galatian and the Thessalonian churches knew the power of God when they heard the message as recorded for us in 1 Thess. 1:5,
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
The Book of Galatians confirms that same gospel demonstration of the Holy Spirit, they having "received" the Spirit and having "begun" in the Spirit, with miracles (Gal. 3:2-3, 5). It is the essence of God both Jews and Gentiles lived without, being held captive to the futility and bondage to the elements of this world, all alike under sin. When they see the demonstration of the Spirit with power, they will "know" God [is] -with-us. They will believe Jesus is the Son of God because His testimony is accompanied by the spiritual essence of God affecting their soul and their life.  How can we lack assurance of salvation if God Himself, shows up?  Isn't it a "no-brainer" - and human persuasion is not needed here?

Have people shared their testimony with you, saying, "The reason why I follow the Bible is because everything it says came true for me personally." This is an Abrahamic sort of justification, more dynamic than the common description of a "passive persuasion." This is the kind of believer who knows God has come near and has all sorts of assurance as a byproduct. This is what Jacob's well really meant to a Samaritan woman, who knew the impossibility of Jacob finding Rachel or Abraham's servant finding Rebekah, or a strange Man who knew her intimate life, apart from the miraculous power of God for the purpose of glory, honor and immortality (Rom 2:7). And the power of God was the Samaritan woman's gospel to the city "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did" - and certainly this COSF was enough for the city.  She was fully convinced in the power of God, and the gospel went forth for His glory.

Biblical Synthesis Mis-Uses

Perhaps there are answers that I have not read, but I do not know of an explanation from a synthesis gospel proponent why the content of Paul's message changes in Acts 17 and in Acts 14:14-17 with a primarily Gentile audience. Paul went to the Jews, foremostly, until Acts 17/18. Of course he would engender faith in Jesus according to the Old Testament when he was in the synagogues, where a majority of Jews and a minority of God-fearing Gentiles were steeped in the tradition of the scriptures. This is the gospel presented to the Galatian church, but it is by no means the only way of demonstrating the presence of the Holy Spirit in a way that helps the lost believe upon Jesus.  Presentation of scripture either waxes or wanes depending on the falling of the Spirit on the unsaved.  Acts 10:34-35,
Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him." While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
Exactly how does an evangelist get the notion that until his formed checklist of the gospel is completely spelled out and quizzed upon his listeners, he can keep at bay the Holy Spirit falling on those whom God is justifying? We should not call as common that which has been made clean. When the Holy Spirit falls, we take our most ultimate cues from that - or else ("...who was I that I could withstand God?" Peter asked concerning Cornelius in Acts 11:17). Pharisees were more concerned about code than hearts being right before God. As a result they were failures at ecclesiology. They had no idea how their religiosity caused them to separate themselves from believers who they had become one with in the people of God. Their theologies choked the life out of "love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith," which is the end-goal of the commandments.

The promise-only gospel not only identified theological legalism outside its borders, it instituted such. This theological legalism postulates that one truth in scripture is saving and others are not. It fairly has noticed that people become justified by faith in Jesus before understanding many basics of theology, however this awareness has become a misplaced mission to pare down truth into a single passage, one precise formula for salvation. Those who select 1 Cor. 15 as "the gospel" have followed in that thinking and are just as rigid, but it makes even less sense.  The synthesis camp offers truth.  The promise-only camp offers life.  Unless God shows up while preaching either gospel, preaching the Holy Spirit as the heart of these gospels, it's only a fight over decaying leftovers.

Promise-Only Mis-Uses

Perhaps there is a reason I do not yet understand, but I do not know why three times at the last GES conference I listened to presenters say that the offer of "eternal life" is nowhere to be found in the Book of Acts. They are trying to fathom the reason why. It does not yet make sense to me, because the promise-only content of saving faith is right there in Acts chapter one, but with an alternate term, the "Holy Spirit." Acts 1:4-8,
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Why is this passage only referring to unique phenomena in the origination of the Church? Abraham was promised "In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen 12:3), and he was promised to inherit the land, as sons of God, which is exactly the difference from Judaism the Galatian church was failing to appropriate. Galatians 3:5-9,
Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? — just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
Nothing too "Pentecostal" about that; it's sturdy old-fashioned blessing from God. We can believe in this one and the same promise for ourselves and the world. Miracles are our future. If God is restoring everything in the world and everything concerning our lives, we have endless fodder for expecting a miracle according to the hope set forth in the gospel - even if it is deferred hope for the age of resurrection. One day, God will wipe every tear from our eye; why can't we encourage the unsaved to believe "God is able" in any aspect of their life, whatever they are focused on today?  Abraham received a mix of fulfilled and deferred promises and such faith blesses God. Do we believe anymore in the power of God?

Give Them Spiritual Life

As you preach the gospel, your underlying orientation as evangelist is to have them receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Trust the Spirit to point Himself out for the sake of making the lost person jealous and thirsty when you preach scripture. What is the demonstration of the Holy Spirit? Each one of us were given spiritual gifts according to the measure of Christ. These gifts are involuntary super-blessings in "the gift" of eternal life.

Let me share a story. There was this person I wanted to share the gospel with, so before I began I said to her genuinely, "I am completely certain [and I was] that God wants to do something for you, to show you that He is real and that He loves you. Do you believe in God?" Then I proceeded to review the gospel essentials and said, "But maybe no one has ever asked you if you personally believe the promise of God, that Jesus died for your sins and was raised with power and wants to give you a gift of Spiritual life." Then I reviewed with her current need she had just confided. Her spouse had not been living at home for several months because of legal trouble. She wanted it to stop, and we prayed for God to help. The next day, the charges against him were dropped! He was able to return to his family.

The Abide-With-God Gospel

"Assurance is the essence of saving faith." Do you ever wonder why when people first get saved they are excited about God even though they know nothing... and then a few months afterward they hear something challenging and begin to think they had not really been saved at all, and begin a quest to obtain it from formulas? Because they had believed, and then lost, the avenue (the Way) to obtain assurance.  Help them retrace their steps desiring that son-ship like Job's final counselor.

When a promise-only person preaches the promise of eternal life by faith, they are really telling the unsaved "abide with God through faith." When a biblical-synthesis gospel person preaches Jesus died for sins and was raised again, portraying Christ crucified on the cross, they portray a God who has done everything necessary so that we may approach God; they also are telling the unsaved "abide with God through faith." When someone is first saved, they are ALWAYS in a state of abiding with Jesus by faith - not just justified. Obviously, there is no fellowship barrier between God and man when the Holy Spirit regenerates and comes in to dwell with a cleansed sinner; therefore they are also abiding!

We fight over the scraps of assurance through scriptural formulas; meanwhile the abiding believer is feasting on it.

God is so gracious to us in Jesus Christ! If we have the privilege of evangelizing pre-sons of God, acknowledge them as such! With the proper disposition of an unsaved man, the "desert island scenario" would be sufficient.  Luke 11:11-13
"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!”
When lacking a proper disposition in the unsaved, or with the religious, preach the full testimony of Jesus Christ's person and work, that they might understand their need for God, the opportunity for son-ship, and seek His gift.


You heard of the Life of Jesus.
You heard of the Truth of Jesus.
Their essence is in the Way of Jesus!





[1]  Zane C. Hodges, How to Lead People to Christ, Part 1: Our Invitation to Respond. JOTGES, 2001.

[2]  Zane C. Hodges, How to Lead People to Christ, Part 2: Our Invitation to Respond. JOTGES, 2001.  (Excerpted from section "VI: Inviting People to Believe"):
"Hopefully, Ralph says that he does. If he says he doesn’t, I will ask him, "What seems to still puzzle you, Ralph?"


At this point, experience suggests that I will often get a question like this: "Do you mean that if I believe in Jesus for eternal life, that I can go out and do anything I want and still go to heaven?"


I am always pleased to hear this question, because it signals to me that the person is getting the idea that this is a gift and that it is not withdrawn if we behave badly.


My usual way of responding to the question is that being born again is like being born into a family. After that, we are always members of that family, even if we are scoundrels. But if we have good parents, they are not going to let us run wild. They will discipline and correct us and do their best to get us on the right path. Then I point out that, after we get eternal life, God is our heavenly Father and He is the best Parent we could imagine. He will not let us run wild. He will spank us, if need be, and may even take our physical lives away. But Jesus will never cast us out of God’s family."


How Much We Need Need (part 5)
How Much We Need Need (part 4)
How Much We Need Need (part 3)
How Much We Need Need (part 2)
How Much We Need Need (part 1)
How Much We Need Need (introduction)


107 comments:

agent4him said...

Yep. Served up a humdinger, Dubya. The narrative is the message.

We fight over the scraps of assurance through scriptural formulas; meanwhile the abiding believer is feasting on it.

Preach it. Live it. Reproduce it.

agent4him said...

...or maybe in this order:

Live it. Preach it. Reproduce it.

Antonio said...

Michele,

After reading this post, I must admit the dense nature of my understanding. The verbose and variegated style of this message had me wrestling with finding the main points upon which I could understand this as a whole.

I truly would wish to dissect each section of this post and comment, for there was both ectasy of thought yet some imprecision of scriptural reasoning and articulation.

Your thoughts are much to high for a simple mind like my own. If only you could distill the magnitude of these cogitations into bite-sized chunks, in order to bring it down to earth. Reading this post had me feeling like I was floating on a cloud, respirating on pharmaceutical ether.

I am sure that others gained much wisdom and encouragement from this type of dialogue. But, I, and maybe only I, prefer a more concise, and much more consensed version, that makes your points clear as day, simply illustrated and argued, and thus able to be interacted with.

As a final thought, I am amazed at the way you think. It may do with yor ability to reason out of both sides of your brain at the same time, but one thing is certain --- your mind produces a fascinating frameword through which is expressed your scriptural understanding. Truly breathtaking, even poetical.

Yet often too abstract for this simpleton.

Your free grace brother,

Antonio da Rosa

Sanctification said...

Hey Pops,

I like that any way it comes. "Live it. Preach it. Reproduce it."

Sanctification said...

Hey Antonio,

I think your writing is elegant and I enjoy it more than my own. I will try, but I have to confess it has taken six months of my life to even get this far. :) Do you want to ask or point out something in particular? How about the conversation last we talked about the GES conference comment that the message of 'the gift of eternal life' is nowhere to be found in the Book of Acts. You mentioned that the sermons took days and common practice is that not all of it is recorded especially in a book written perhaps primarily for historical reasons.

I wasn't completely satisfied with that but I suppose it may be true.

I can probably talk a little bit about each one of the assertions in this post. Not all research is included here.

Hopefully you find them thought-provoking, and more often than not worth the price to wrestle with, even life-giving (supplying you fresh ways of expressing the truth of the gospel).

It obviously lacks seminary training, which is disadvantage, partly. The part of advantage comes by being fully captivated to write like scripture writes and to interpret like scripture interprets... which doesn't always follow the rule of clarity or other typical interpretation rules, for example Matt 2:15 and Hos. 11:1. Noticing scripture's manner is going to get me more than half-way there, I trust...

Thanks for reading. Look forward to hearing anything you got.

Michele

FedExMOP said...

Michelle,

Great post, very well articulated.
As I was reading through your points, I kept going back to Tim's series on "rays of light". If I understand you correctly, you are saying a lot of the same things(ie. that the "content" of faith should not be the object of faith, but rather should point us into relationship with the object of faith God/Jesus).
I really believe that both "COSF" and "Promise Only" often miss this in trying to isolate the exact formula or process for gaining eternal life. Thank you for your work, I really enjoy reading your blog.

FedEx,
President,
Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry

Antonio said...

Michele,

If you haven't read Zane Hodges' book, "Harmony with God" I suggest you do. I just finished my third reading of it (it was published in 2001), and here are some quotes that I am certain that you will find fascinating.

"What emerges from our study is the realization that the Gospel of John is a presentation of the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. John deliberately avoids the many possible complications [my note: such as repentance, baptism, forgiveness of sins, justification, etc.] that can sometimes cloud the simplicity of God's offer of life. He is wisely content to focus on the core issue, which is: How can a person know that he possesses eternal life and that he will never perish under God's judgement? As we have seen, the failure to possess eternal life is the basis upon which men and women will be condemned to eternal hell (Rev 20:15). This means that eternal life is the critical consideration. How then can one possess it? The answer is the simple one given in the words of Jesus, who said, 'Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life' (Jn 6:47). This is a theme John articulates over and over again, using mainly the words of our Lord Himself to do so"

I will continue on the next comment

Antonio said...

continuing quoting Zane Hodges

"Precisely because of his focus on the core issue of the gospel, John has nothing to say either about repentance or about the subject of an individual's experience of forgiveness. It should be evident that, even in John's day, which was by no means free from false doctrine (see 1 Jn 2:18-23; 4:1-6), this apostle felt it prudent to leave these auxiliary subjects alone in order to make his message unmistakeably clear. And it is when we turn to the book of Acts that we learn how freighted with complications both of these subjects are."

After explaining the differences in the ways that Palestinian Jews, non-Palesitinian Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles, and disciples of John the Baptist received the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (placing them into the body of Christ), Zane says:

"Obviously, the apostle Johyn doesn't want to go into any of these issues. To do so would have either greatly lengthened his book or made it very confusing. The wisdom of the Spirit who inspired John is evident in his choice of subject matter."

Talking about the reason justification is not explicitely stated in the gospel of John, Zane writes:

"...more to the point is the observation that, as a piece of literature, John was writing a Gospel. Thus his literary intention is to allow the Lord Jesus Christ, whose career is the basis of this book, to speak the message in His own words. Therein lay the authority on which John is relying as he presents the basic Christian message. It was Jesus Himself, John is telling us, who offered eternal life on the basis of faith alone in Himself alone!

Will continue in next comment

Antonio said...

Zane explained that the Epistles and Acts show a progress of revelation concerning things distinctly Christian, and meant for Christian audiences (in distinction to the gospel of John, written for unbelievers). He writes:

"Although Jesus articulated the doctrine of justification in seed form, He chose to reveal this truth most fully to the apostles, and above all to Paul, after His own ascension to God's right hand. By and large, justification by faith is one of those rich themes of which Jesus spoke when He said, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (Jn 16:12-13a). If, therefore, John was concentrating on the words of Jesus to communicate the gospel of salvation by faith, then his omission of a reference to justification is not only understandable but prudent. Part of his skill in penning this indispensible Gospel is his ability to 'stay on message.' As a result it is impossible to read his book without hearing again and again its simple, yet amazing offer of eternal life by faith in Christ. John allows this message to stand out without complication."

Antonio said...

Acts was written to a Christian audience and has many complexities of doctrine stemming from its inherently transitional nature from a small Jewish sect movement to a worldwide phenomena, including gradual new revelation, and unique situations that such a time engendered. From the start of Acts, we see the Kingdom of God offered to the Jews, to the realization that there is this new organism, the mystery of God, called the church, bringing both Jew and Gentile "near" to God through faith in Jesus.

Luke's literary purposes did not include evangelism! He chronicled the movement of the church from its beginnings with Peter through its culmination with Paul, with sub purposes of the awesome truth that gentiles and jews can "live" in relation to God apart from the Mosaic law, to experience harmony and fellowship with God, being absolutely clean, apart from ceremonial and social ordinances.

Luke takes for granted that his audience knows the simple truth that John painstakingly endeavored (and suceeded) to show, that simply by faith in Jesus one had eternal life.

There are two elements to the gift that resides at the core message of Christ: eternal life and guarantee of no future judgement of God with respect to one's eternal destiny, that one receives by trusting Jesus for. This is the simple and core message of the gospel: Jesus guarantees eternal life and escape of eternal death by believing in Him.

Is there any single passage that delineates this in Acts? The answer is no.

But can one, through deduction come to the saving message through consideration of several passages in Acts? the answer is yes.

Here is one more suggestion to get you better informed, for I sense that you are arguing against aspects of the "promise-only" view apart from a sufficient understanding of it. So I suggested the must read of Harmony with God. The next must read is "Did Paul Preach Eternal Life? Should We?" by Zane. In it, he proves that whenever Paul uses the Greek term soteria (salvation) or sozo (save) in the context of ETERNAL salvation, it is ALWAYS, and EXCLUSIVELY the sense of eternal life, and never to that of justification, forgiveness of sins, etc.

It can be shown, conclusively, in both his epistles and his teachings in the book of Acts, that for Paul, eternal salvation was eternal life. Therfore, when we are to examine the evidence in Acts which shows for Paul that "saved" meant having eternal life, we can thus read Acts 16:31 in its proper context and through consideration of those few passages, synthesize the saving message. But again, the propogation of it was not Luke's concern. But it WAS the concern of the Apostle John, and in this duty he was successful, making the salvation that Jesus offered simply articulated, mostly by Jesus Himself!

I hope any of my comments here have been instructive.

Antonio

Sanctification said...

Hi FedEx,

Thanks for reading! I think you also help me think it through by mentioning Tim's concept on rays of light once again. You said, I really believe that both "COSF" and "Promise Only" often miss this in trying to isolate the exact formula or process for gaining eternal life. Thank you for your work, I really enjoy reading your blog.

You are really right. There is a way to look to the scriptures which strays from looking to the Son for life.

I notice you have a blog! I'll add you to my roll. Someday when I get to Colorado I would be honored to meet you and the other Men of Praise, I have heard of your passion for Jesus.

Michele

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

Definitely I'm going to sit on your snippets from Harmony with God by Hodges, which I also pulled off the shelf to see if I might read it by your suggestion.

I agree justification and forgiveness from sin is not discussed at all in the Gospel of John, and I'm fine with that for the same reasons you are. But are you trying to tell me that this Gospel was not trying to associate Jesus' ministry from the gift of the Holy Spirit? That I would not agree. Zane quotes the one part of the upper room discourse which talks of the future experience of the Holy Spirit's ministry, but what about all the present-tense promises regarding the Holy Spirit in the upper room discourse? And what about the rest of the Gospel?

What about the first introduction of Jesus in chapter one by John the Baptist who declares "Behold the Lamb of God" saying this one will "baptize with the Holy Spirit"?

What about chapter three which says that unless you are born of Spirit you will not see the kingdom of God - before describing the promise of John 3:16?

What about chapter six where Jesus cuts to the chase of his entire effort in revelation, saying, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life."

What about chapter seven when Jesus gets uber emotional "on the last day," crying out, "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."

On this I am not convinced, do you have a thought for this? Thanks for the comments, I will read up on repentance.

Michele

Antonio said...

Hi Michele,

Thanks for the observations.

You wrote this in your OP:
----------
She believed that Jesus was the Christ because He told her all things that she ever did, because she first saw the demonstration of His gift. In His gospel, Jesus had provided the "Way" for her to see the "essence" of the message - the Holy Spirit, which was a gift being freely offered to her.
----------

I am afraid that I don't agree with you that the gift in the context of John 4 to the woman of Sychar is the Holy Spirit. The gift of God is eternal life (Jn 4:13, 36; cf Ro 6:23).

It is my opinion that you are confusing the agent of the gift with the gift itself. The Holy Spirit, in the context of the gospel of John, is NOT the gift, but is the One creating eternal life (the gift) within the believer. The Holy Spirit is the one who regenerates, makes alive, begets (in the sense of making one born again) the new life, eternal life, in the believer in Christ. The gift is NOT the Spirit, Michele! It is eternal life!

You write:
----------
What about the first introduction of Jesus in chapter one by John the Baptist who declares "Behold the Lamb of God" saying this one will "baptize with the Holy Spirit"?
----------
Seven times this ministry of Jesus is mentioned in the New Testament. Five times it is mentioned prophetically as a future ministry (Mt 3:11; Mk 1:8; Lk 3:16; Jn 1:33; and Acts 1:5. One is historical (Acts 11:16-18), and the last is doctrinal (1 Cor 12:13).

Of consequence is Acts 1:4-5, which states, "...He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, 'which,' He said, 'you have heard from Me, for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'"

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is the Promise of the Father, and the ministry of the Son, did not come until the day of Pentecost.

The gift of God, eternal life, has always been available by faith in Christ. Jesus was dispensing it throughout His ministry as documented in the Gospel of John, but it is impressive to note that Jesus was not baptizing with the Holy Spirit at all in the course of any of the narrative in John.

Consequently, the gift being offered by Jesus in the gospel of John is Eternal Life, which is produced by the Holy Spirit, and not the Holy Spirit itself.

to be cont.

Antonio said...

you write:
----------
What about chapter three which says that unless you are born of Spirit you will not see the kingdom of God - before describing the promise of John 3:16?
----------
The emphasis is on being BORN, i.e. receiveing eternal life, here, Michele. The Spirit is not the gift, but the agent of the new birth creating etenal life.

I believe that you are missing the point entirely. Eternal life, the new birth, regeneration, being made alive is the emphasis, is the gift of God, is what is being offered, in the Gospel of John. The Spirit plays His role in being the Agency of the gift, the Begetter, but not the gift itself.

You write:
----------
What about chapter six where Jesus cuts to the chase of his entire effort in revelation, saying, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life."
----------
What about it? The gift isn't the Spirit here. It is "life". Christ's WORDS are life giving through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit begets life through the word of God (Js 1:18). The emphasis continues to certainly be on LIFE.

You finish:
----------
What about chapter seven when Jesus gets uber emotional "on the last day," crying out, "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."
----------
Certainly THIS is finally talking about the gift of the Spirit, an auxilliary blessing that was YET TO COME. "the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."

The other verses you gave were not examples of the gift of the Spirit. This one, in fact, is a reference to the Spirit as a gift. There is also a small reference to Justification in the gospel of John. But indeed, when Christ was on the earth, there was no gift consisting of the Spirit. The whole of the Gospel of John concerns the gift which Jesus imparts THROUGH the Spirit, which is Eternal Life.

You seem to have turned the whole gospel of John upside down, supposing the emphasis to be the Spirit when indeed it the life which He produces. Eternal life by faith in Christ is Jesus' message, emphatic message in John's gospel.

Jesus' emphasis is on eternal life received by simple faith in Him alone. The only scriptures you gave me speaking of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the gift of the Holy Spirit were reserved for a future time not within the scope of John's Gospel.

Remember, John was on message, on point. The critical issue between God and Man is that of life. We need to get the emphasis correct.

Antonio

Antonio said...

you write:
---------

"Assurance is the essence of saving faith." Do you ever wonder why when people first get saved they are excited about God even though they know nothing... and then a few months afterward they hear something challenging and begin to think they had not really been saved at all, and begin a quest to obtain it from formulas? Because they had believed, and then lost, the avenue (the Way) to obtain assurance. Help them retrace their steps desiring that son-ship like Job's final counselor
----------
I just don't get this, Michele. The new believer is excited about God even though they know nothing?

Am I hearing you right? The new believer knows that he has eternal life, will not come into judgment concerning his eternal destiny, knowing he has passed from death unto life.

Certainly knowing that one is eternally secure is knowing something and this something has always been a firm foundation for being "excited about God!"

If then in a few months they hear something challenging like some Reformed doctrine, Lordship Salvation teaching, or perseverance theology they lose their assurance, can you blame them? These things question what they thought they knew about themselves, namely, that they were eternally secure by faith in Jesus.

Hopefully the "formula" that they are seeking to employ for assurance isn't the Reformed one, because that takes a lifetime of perseverance to gain it.

And where does your "formulaic" expression come from? What are some of these formulas employed, and by who?

Hopefully you aren't basing assurance on an abiding life. Certainly you may be feasting on assurance one day, but the roller coaster of circumstance may throw a wrench in that cog the next, and your assurance becomes based upon the subjective realities of existence and how the mind processes the details of it.

What is needed is the bedrock revelation of Jesus Christ Himself, which doesn't change like the direction of the wind. So whether one is feasting in the glory of the fellowship of the Spirit, or riding the lows of trial, rejection, misery, and may I even say, sinful behavior, one may be apprised of the grace of Christ, through looking into the mirror of His gratuitous promise, which view not only reflects perfect assurance, but gives incentive and encouragement to face any challenge, seeking the manifestation and disclosure of the Father and the Son through the Spirit.

It almost seems to me that you are advocating assurance upon a formula of your very own, Michele. If you are advising one to "get crackin'" with God in intimacy, you relegate the birthright of every saint to the fickle opinions of subjectivity.

Antonio

Sanctification said...

Okay, here's what I got.

Only one time is "the gift" described anywhere in the NT as "eternal life" - Romans 6:23.

Elsewhere in that same book (Romans), it equivalences the "gift" as the "gift" described as:

"the free gift... resulted in justification" Rom 5:16

"the gift of righteousness" Rom 5:17

"the free gift... resulted in justification of life" Rom 5:18

debatably called either the gift of "salvation" or of "the grace of God" in Ephesians 2:8

There are more places that call the gift "the Holy Spirit" rather than the one time it is called "eternal life" in Romans. Here are those places where the gift is called the Holy Spirit:

"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!” Lk 11:13

"Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38

"And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also." Acts 10:45

"And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!" Acts 8:18-20

Most importantly the gift offered to the woman was called living water, which John 7 defines as the Holy Spirit. That would be the closest contextual place to define what the living water is.

Also, God defines what the living water is in the Old Testament. It is Himself/His Spirit.

"They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters..." Jer 2:13

"Those who depart from Me Shall be written in the earth, Because they have forsaken the LORD, The fountain of living waters." Jer 17:13

"Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’”
Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation." Is. 12:2-3

"For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring;" Is. 44:3

Antonio can you find any other place in the Bible where the gift is called eternal life, besides Romans 6:23?

Thanks for the exploration.

Antonio said...

If you are advising one to "get crackin'" with God in intimacy, you relegate the birthright of every saint to the fickle opinions of subjectivity.
----------
Let me rephrase this:

If you are advising one to base their assurance on the subjective nature of their intimacy with Christ (which will be but a perception of it) you relegate the birthright and privilege of every saint to the fickle opinions of eubjectivity.

There, I like that better.

My thoughts. I hope that my tone in these comments in this thread have been acceptable and not offensive. How do I disagree with parts of your post and not sound like I am attacking you?

I am impressed with your passion for what you believe, for your encouragement to seek the quality of the life given to us when we believe in Jesus. I am compelled by your drive to understand, and systematize. And I am humbled by your humility before the Word of God.

I appreciate your zeal. I am no Aquila nor Priscilla, but you are an Apollos, "eloquent... and mighty in the Scriptures" you are "instructed in the way of the Lord and ... fervent in Spirit".

Antonio

Antonio said...

Michele,

The whole of the gospel of John is a testimony to the fact that the gift of God is eternal life.

Concerning your approach to the woman at the well, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny, Michele. The woman was told that if she knew the gift of God, and who He was, she would have already asked and he would have already given the water. He was saying that she could have this gift right now. Unfortunately for your position, at the time that Jesus stated this promise of eternal life "the Spirit was not yet given"! It becomes crystal clear, Michele, that Jesus couldn't have been speaking of the Holy Spirit as the gift here, because He assured her that she could have the gift at that present moment. John is crystal clear that the Holy Spirit was not yet given.

you write:
----------
Most importantly the gift offered to the woman was called living water, which John 7 defines as the Holy Spirit. That would be the closest contextual place to define what the living water is.
----------
Michele, listen. The closest context is the context of John 4 itself. Jesus is using a figurative expression denoting how one comes to have eternal life. Drinking the water is figurative of the appropriation of Jesus' message (believing in Him) that results in eternal life. Jesus is offering the woman of Sychar the perpetual fountain within of eternal life (4:14). Jesus was teaching His disciples how to "gather fruit for eternal life" (4:36), of which this woman was an example.

You are creating a huge disconnect and divergence in the whole thrust of the Gospel of John. Drinking and eating are figurative ways of expressing the condition of believing in Jesus to receive eternal life in the gospel of John: "I am the bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never hunger and he who believes in Me will never thirst" (Jn 6:35). "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

Drinking of the water in John 4 is the figurative expression for believing in Jesus. And what are we told to believe in Jesus for throughout the entire gospel of John? Eternal life! Never even once is one entreated, in the entire Bible, to believe in Jesus for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Positively, men are asked to place their faith in Jesus for the result of possessing eternal life.

"the free gift came to all men resulting in justification of life" (Ro 5:18)

Something and its resultant effect are not the same thing. The free gift here is "life" which justification is the result of, thus the "justification of life"

you write:
----------
debatably called either the gift of "salvation" or of "the grace of God" in Ephesians 2:8
----------
Actually neither. The gift of God in Eph 2:8 is eternal life. Contextually, go back to verse 4, "But God... made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)". Paul here equates the salvation he is talking about with eternal life, being made alive.

Will continue more next comment.

Antonio

Antonio said...

You write:
----------
"Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38
----------
Peter was giving this command to people who already had eternal life through faith in Christ.

In Acts 2:36, Peter emphatically declares that "God has made this Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ". In the following verse, the recipients of this message were cut to the heart, being convicted and convinced of the testimony they were hearing from Peter, specifically that 1)Jesus was the Christ, and 2) that they were culpable for His murder. In response to their conviction, they asked, "What shall we do [now that we believe that Jesus is the Christ and we murdered Him"?

According to John 20:31 and 1 John 5:1 the person who believes that Jesus is the Christ has eternal life, is born of God. The audience, prior to Peter's exhortation (that by the way conditioned the gift of the Holy Spirit on repentance and being forgiven of sins through baptism in Jesus' name) were already born again, they believed that Jesus was the Christ and therefore had eternal life.

The priority in the Word of God is Jesus Christ, who is Eternal Life and the appropriation of Him through believing in Him. The gift of the Spirit is auxialliary and subsidiary to eternal life.

"And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!" Acts 8:18-20

The gift of the Holy Spirit is subordinated to the gift of eternal life. Phillip "preached Christ" to the Samaritans, to which "the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip" (Acts 8:5-6). They believed that Jesus was the Christ, therefore they were born of God. They believed in Jesus, and therefore had eternal life. The Gift of the Holy Spirit was subsidiary, and not even granted until the Apostles laid their hands on them, these people who were already born again!

Acts 13:46: "Then Paul and Barnabus grew bold and said, 'It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.'"

Unsaved people are presented in Acts with the prospect of Life by faith in Christ as a priority. The gift of the Spirit is a corrollary at best (with the Gentiles) and a subsidiary gift (in respect to the Samaritans, the Palestinian Jews, and the disciples of John the Baptist). It is not the point of emphasis in the preaching to the unsaved! Eternal life is!

Acts 13:47: "For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth." What is this salvation to which Paul was speaking? Like I had said before, any time Paul speaks about "eternal salvation" it is always with reference to eternal life. It should be no different here, and indeed it is not.

For in the next verse, Acts 13:48, we read the summary of Paul's evangelism here with the words, "Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been disposed toward eternal life believed."

Antonio said...

Luke 11:13 is a subordinate ministry of God to the disciples, of whom this text is addressed (Lk 11:1, 2, 5). They had learned the truth of eternal life up two years before this. They had received eternal life much prior to this teaching of Christ.

And to sum it up, Jesus is YHWH incarnate, He is the living waters, He is eternal life, and He is appropriated by believing in Him. Eternal life, Jesus Himself, His life, begotten by the Spirit, is the everywhere evident priority in evangelism in the Bible.

"whosoever believes in Him... has eternal life"

This is the priority, and the Church would do well to come to grips with that.

Your friend,

Antonio

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

You are my friend and I don't feel attacked at all. Will you extend me the grace to re-read your comments? I am practicing to listen more than talk. Do you really think I am eloquent?? Sheesh, I can't tell you how often I hear I am not clear. You bring me encouragement!!

Sanctification said...

Antonio,

I don't want you to feel attacked either. I think if we might count each other as what I heard called once, "the loyal opposition," we will be better off: "The end of a thing is better than its beginning..." Ecc. 7:8

And you can preach circles around me any day, and I know it :)

Antonio said...

Hi Michele,

You are a wonderful hostess. I don't know what came over me. I haven't been posting in the blogosphere for ages, and today, I feel as though something came over me and I had to blog. I left messages all over the place today.

Yes, you are not only eloquent, you are fluent in the Bible and the memorably so in the O.T. The associations you make so effortlessly are a testament to just how comfortable you are in the Word. It truly is amazing.

I don't feel attacked by you. It is iron sharpening iron, as worn out as that phrase is!

Listen,

I don't want to seem like I am disparaging to the Holy Spirit as the gift of God with the words such as auxilliary, corrollary, subsidiary, and subordinate.

Jesus Christ has voluntarily subordinated Himself to the Father, but they are one, equal in the Godhead.

The Gift of the Spirit has its benefits, majesties, and blessings. My point in the language that I have employed is that even though the gift of the Holy Spirit is very important, and could not be overestimated in regards to its benefit, it does, nevertheless, come as a adjunct blessing of eternal life, eternal life being the priority of message in Christ's (and the Apostle Paul's) preaching.

Since men are condemned to hell based upon their names being absent from the book of life, sin having been taken out of the way, as Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world, eternal life, having God's life, is the priority. God's life brings with it all the other blessings. God's life, eternal life, is what assures one of not perishing, not coming into judgment with regards to one's eternal destiny of life with God or Hell.

Eternal life, God's life, is what prepares us and allows us to live with God. Those who have the life of God live with God, forever.

Thanks for the welcome and the kindness extended.

I am sure you will have a whallop for me tomorrow (or tonight!)

goodnight,

Antonio

Sanctification said...

Let me get to this thought of yours,

If you are advising one to "get crackin'" with God in intimacy, you relegate the birthright of every saint to the fickle opinions of subjectivity.
----------
Let me rephrase this:

If you are advising one to base their assurance on the subjective nature of their intimacy with Christ (which will be but a perception of it) you relegate the birthright and privilege of every saint to the fickle opinions of eubjectivity.

There, I like that better.


Assurance does come from the objective promise of Christ, and I support that. But I don't think it means everything in how God truly feels about us. The scriptures teach that friendship with the world is enmity with God. There appropriately should be, for a carnal Christian, an unease - or a comparative "dryness" having the assurance of His promise but without the filling of the Spirit - in comparison to the fully watered assurance of the Spirit-led believer. Are you able to support this?

Antonio said...

Michele,

There are many different types of assurance, but no matter where the regenerate Christian may be in his walk with Christ, he has the right and privilege to certain and absolute assurance of eternal security. The one walking with Christ, abiding with Christ is quite confidently assured of a number of other spiritual realities -- the minitries of the Spirit, the promises of the Word, the indwelling life of Christ, and the glory of the Father, to only name a few ;)

I really like how you are interested in the many 'layers' -- the heaping portion of blessing -- that comes to us as the salvation package; in exploring and taking advantage of the position and relationship granted to us, and in the exhortation to others to life the rich, full life afforded to us by grace through faith.

But I encourage you to think of this so great a salvation, hrmmm... like Russian nesting dolls, where the largest, outer one is everlasting life, and hidden inside are the rich themes of justification, forgiveness of sin (rightly understood! come to my blog and read on it!), the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the multitude of other blessings and gifts.

Eternal life is the priority.

Get Zane's booklet (it is very cheap), Did Paul Preach Eternal Life? Should We?

It is a must read!

Antonio

Antonio said...

Michele,

was the first paragraph of my last comment what you were thinking about? Did it answer your question? Was I even in the ballpark?

I wanted to include that but got swept away in my enthusiasm.

:)

Antonio

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

Before rereading again your comments I need to clear a few things up that you are right about.

1 - the gift of God is called eternal life in more than just Romans 6:23 - I spoke as if it is one occurrence and actually it is two of course; John 4:14

"but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

2 - I agree with you that the "gift" was unprecedented as a New Covenant offer.

And here is where I have wrestled to understand, studying Galatians for a year and we're only on chapter 5 still, trying to understand the relationship the Jews had with our God in the O.C. In one sense they are to be pitied, because there was an improvement that came to them with the indwelling comprehension of God through the mind of Christ. On the other hand, why does God hold Israel responsible for knowing God and manifesting God's holiness to the world when it was so much more difficult?

"But Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed." gal 3:22-23

Did you know the word "faith" is never used except one time in all the OT, I believe in Joel? Yet in Hebrews 11 the honor roll of saints lists all of their accomplishments done "by faith." "Faith," I believe, is a word used to describe the debut of the New Covenant capability, the connected-ness with God that comes "natural" and "effortlessly" in Christ though that does not mean faith was completely absent in the OT.

What kind of access did Jews have to living water? I think it was freely available. Otherwise God could not have criticized his people for not partaking it. And we have OT saints like Simeon and Anna and Zechariah. Even Apollos, in Acts 18:25 preached the LORD accurately though had not yet received Christ.

And Abraham - he persevered to the end. He is the model by which we understand our salvation in Christ! He was able to appropriate the power and mindset of the Spirit into his life. He already had eternal life, "in a sense," when Christ came on the scene before His atoning death and resurrection:

"I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" Matt 22:32

My question is, how do you distinguish what the Jews had before Christ, and what they had by believing upon the Christ?

Sanctification said...

Here is a section of prophecy in Isaiah that I am attempting to meditate on to get a feel for the difference, the improvement of their connectedness with God, between the Old and New Covenants. Is 60:16-Is 61, all.

You shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior
And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
“Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
Instead of iron I will bring silver,
Instead of wood, bronze,
And instead of stones, iron.
I will also make your officers peace,
And your magistrates righteousness.
Violence shall no longer be heard in your land,
Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders;
But you shall call your walls Salvation,
And your gates Praise.
“The sun shall no longer be your light by day,
Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you;
But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light,
And your God your glory.
Your sun shall no longer go down,
Nor shall your moon withdraw itself;
For the LORD will be your everlasting light,
And the days of your mourning shall be ended.
Also your people shall all be righteous;
They shall inherit the land forever,
The branch of My planting,
The work of My hands,
That I may be glorified.
A little one shall become a thousand,
And a small one a strong nation.
I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time.”
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”
And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.
Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks,
And the sons of the foreigner
Shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.
But you shall be named the priests of the LORD,
They shall call you the servants of our God.
You shall eat the riches of the Gentiles,
And in their glory you shall boast.
Instead of your shame you shall have double honor,
And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion.
Therefore in their land they shall possess double;
Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
“For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery for burnt offering;
I will direct their work in truth,
And will make with them an everlasting covenant.
Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles,
And their offspring among the people.
All who see them shall acknowledge them,
That they are the posterity whom the LORD has blessed.”
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

Sanctification said...

So my point with all of that describing the difference, is, I think that living water was always freely available, but the gift is God's faithfulness to cause the living water to permanently indwell us and be the cause of our eternal resurrection, the only thing enduring through the day of the wrath of God.

"As new wine is found in the cluster,
And one says, 'Do not destroy it,
For a blessing is in it,'
So I will do for my servant's sake,
That I may not destroy them all." is. 65:8

"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," says the LORD. is. 65:25

"“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?
For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,”
Says the LORD.
“But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word." Is 66:1-2

"And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning..." Is 4:3-4

These things speak to truths I don't know yet how to categorize. Sorry if it's vague.

Sanctification said...

Okay... I think I'm wrong about "faith" being only once in the OT.

FYI.

Antonio said...

Michele,

Eternal life has always been available since the beginning, and has always been a work of the Spirit by faith in Christ.

The Church is now the entity that is "near" God, rather than Israel, and God deals with this entity under the new principles of Grace rather than through the Law. The biggest difference is the ministry and gifts of the Spirit.


Individual believers have been baptized into the Body of Christ, are indwelt by the Spirit, and have been gifted by the Spirit, with all the potentials that such realities present.

The New Covenant has yet to be instituted, although it has been ratified and the church recieves blessings stemming from that ratification. The New Covenant is made only with the nation of Israel and has yet to be fulfilled, see Jer 31.

Antonio

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

Something that is becoming solidified in my thinking since we are discussing the gift being the Spirit versus the gift being eternal life, is this:

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are Spirit and they are life. jn 6:63

God's Word (Jesus)
& the Spirit

These are the places where life is found. Let me ask if you saw what I see from the OT:

God = salvation
draw water [from] the well of salvation (Is 12:2-3)

the LORD = fountain of living water (Jer 17:13, 2:13)

pouring water on the thirsty = pour His Spirit and His blessing (Is. 44:3)

Where the Holy Spirit is, there is life, righteousness, eternal life, power, blessing, justification. Same with the "gift" in the NT. I'm going to re-read your comment on Eph. 2:8.

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

You said, And to sum it up, Jesus is YHWH incarnate, He is the living waters, He is eternal life, and He is appropriated by believing in Him. Eternal life, Jesus Himself, His life, begotten by the Spirit, is the everywhere evident priority in evangelism in the Bible.

"whosoever believes in Him... has eternal life"


The gift was institutionally established at Pentecost but that does not mean that eternal life, the Holy Spirit, or even God Himself, has not been given to any person who believed in the Seed.

I don't understand logic that allows one to separate the substance of eternal life apart from every other component in the saving process. And yes, I do understand that the process of "saving" in the New Covenant is more transforming than the Old Covenant, but in the Old they were supposed to be counting it a temporary foreshadowing dependent upon its fulfillment in the Seed.

I don't understand logic that separates the issue of life from everything else as if it matters more than other things we find written there. If life was all that was needed Romans could have ended with chapter four; but it kept going. If life was all that mattered in John it could have ended at 3:16 but it kept going. Not even for the sake of sanctification - but yes, these doctrines are derived from within the packaged gift because God's perspective and purpose is a whole lot grander than just snatching people out of hell. Which gets us back to the believers who are in every other measurement, His felt enemy because of carnality.

In Isaiah 40-46 "water" is used as something God gives to those who seek after God, six times. In those same chapters, 40-46, God discourses against the futility of seeking false gods, 9 times. God says the purpose for sending His Servant and for that matter everything else that He provides is so that the people will know that He is the only Savior, and the only true God. He will be glorified and worshiped above all false and lifeless idols.

Michele

Sanctification said...

What's more, looking at the context of Isaiah 55 which begins with the familiar invitation of Jesus to buy water without price like John 4 and the end of Revelation, here's what I notice.

Water immediately follows the prophecy of the suffering servant, chapters 52-53, with a section on assurance that God returns to give mercy to His people. Then the living waters. And then - evangelism - even evangelism of the Gentile people.

Living water is not just for our inward assurance, but, it is partly for assurance.

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

My friend Gary once asked me what I think of John 6 where Jesus calls himself the bread from heaven, another equivalent of eternal life. You have also brought it up above.

Jesus calls himself the bread of heaven as the real thing of the type people received from Moses in the OT. The people were already believers, when the bread came down for them to eat. And so are these guys in John 6. In fact, Jesus answers with this theology to satisfy the question asked: "What must we do that we may do the works of God?" They had seen the miracle of multiplying the bread and they wanted a miracle of bread again. He tells them that God will give bread if they seek God in the correct manner.

This gets some of them to wonder how to get God to equip them to miraculously provide bread independent of God. They are believers that Jesus is the prophet who is to come into the world - correctly identified - but not interested in persevering in receiving daily bread out of their daily need for God. They want to bypass God and get a "bread from heaven - making -oven" so that they won't need to take God in ever again.

Which is kinda close to what feels wrong about making assurance of justification, everything eternal life is supposed to be "for."

Diane said...

Hi Michele and my other friends here,

I spent some time today reading through this and wanted to say that there is a good discussion going on here. I'm so glad to see Antonio's comments. I've missed him.

Antonio, you were very helpful to me here in laying things out so clearly. Just like before.

The following comes from a friend I met at the GES conference this year, and I put it on my own blog because I liked what she said so well. I wanted to share it here because of the subject matter that is being discussed.
-------------------------------


God has a FREE GIFT for us... (Rom 5:15, 6:23, Eph 2:8).
Jesus said you need to know "the GIFT of God and WHO it is who gives it"... (John 4:10).

The *GIFT* of God is LIFE...a new BIRTH...being BORN of God... (John 1:12-13).
The one who gives it is Jesus.

Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The LIFE... (John 14:6).
He *IS* eternal Life... (1 John 5:30).

Jesus said that you cannot ENTER the Kingdom unless you are born of God... (John 3:3, 3:6-7). Therefore, you cannot ENTER the Kingdom unless you receive the gift.
You receive the gift and are born of God by simply believing Jesus for His promise... "Anyone who believes in Me, will not perish but HAVE eternal Life"... (John 3:15, 16, 36; 5:24; 6:40; 11:25-26).

SEE THE CONNECTION?

(Continued below...)

Diane said...

(Continued from above...)

Jesus IS eternal LIFE and YOU can have eternal Life.

When you believe Him for His PROMISE, you have received God's gift. You have now been born of God... (John 1:12-13). God has put His seed in you... (1 Peter 1:23, 1 John 3:9).
You HAVE Jesus~!!! You HAVE eternal Life.

It is a free gift. YOU BELIEVE, and He keeps His promise by giving you LIFE. Isn't that AWESOME~!!!

If you have believed Him for His promise, you are now His child. Welcome to the family of God. Because this is a birth, it is irrevocable. Your name has been recorded in God's Birth Book... "The Book of Life"... (Rev 20:15). You will go into His eternal Kingdom.

Now what?

Just as you would plan for the best retirement in this temporal Kingdom, you must plan for the maximum experience possible in the eternal Kingdom, and that's going to be a lot longer than this mortal experience~!!!

How do you maximize your eternal experience? It starts the moment you are born again. It's called "being a disciple." It's being a student of Jesus. It's a journey throughout your life of learning and obeying all that God teaches you in His Word (the Bible). It's a journey all God's born again children should be on. It'll be worth it in the Kingdom.
------------------------------

Thank you Michele for giving me the opportunity to join in this discussion.
You are a dear friend.

All because of His wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)

Sanctification said...

Hi Diane,

It's been a while, too long :) Let's see. Again I think we've been saying the same thing, almost, for a long time. Let me see if I can do a one-liner for the sake of clarity, which Antonio desires of late.

The content in John 3:16 says that all I need to do is believe in Jesus. That's it. That's what the people were doing in each of the eight signs of the Gospel of John. This gospel is not without an anchor of objective content - this gospel is 3:16 too.

Is that concise?

You have told me that the eight signs where people "believe" "in Him" like you say you support in the two comments above, are insufficient because they "build" so that they would believe the promise of John 20:31 - and only this proposition is saving.

Right?

I say that the "eternal life" to which John is "building" you to receive and believe in John 20:31 is the kind of comprehensive, ongoingly-needing "life" Jesus expresses as the most "abiding" - John 17:3

"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

...A description of intimacy, "know."

I hope this will give more language to some past attempts to communicate?

Thanks, Michele

Sanctification said...

Antonio,

I can agree my hermeneutics are crappy, so if someone wants to go there, go for it. I don't however appreciate that because I attempt to associate the familiar Spirit of God we all know and have received, with, the message of eternal life, in the posts I've written concerning the gospel, therefore, you suggest that the spirit of my posts is unfamiliar or leads others astray to false spirits via false gospels.

You know when people want to make fun of me, that's fine (though I'm still human). But I get persistent when what they really are targeting is God, in me. You all know full well what the Spirit is that I am bringing into my posts, minus my Spiritual immaturity and hermeneutical immaturity. It is the same Spirit we all follow, and we all through it accept one another and have for years recognized this plainly in one another's souls. Now: that you don't think it is right to equate the receiving of the Spirit as the receiving of eternal life, we can discuss. But please, don't knock the Spirit and call Him, through me, pneumatic ether. If I was speaking to a Buddhist about their experience of the Tao I might half-wise "compliment" its aesthetic quality, but our LORD deserves reverence even if I am completely misinformed about the truth - and I am here to enter into that discussion to the best of my ability.

Unless you would tell me that your impression is that I do not know the Holy Spirit, and have largely failed in an attempt to bring Him into this theology? You know, if you wanna say that, and the problem is me - not Him - I really will listen to you and repent. Because I know that He deserves to be truly known by me and oftentimes I don't know Him as well as I think.

Thanks for letting me get persistent...

Diane said...

Hi Michele,

I sure do agree with you that we are to abide in Christ and have intimacy with Him. What could be more wonderful than that~!!! He IS Eternal Life (as you say). But my difference with you (and please correct me if I'm misunderstanding you) is that I don't believe that John 3:16 or any other verse having to do with "born again" truth REQUIRES that a person do more than believe in Him for their eternal well being. Simply said in a child like way.... believe in Jesus as the only way to go to heaven and not hell. When one does that he is BORN into the family of God as a brand new baby. I agree that John has wonderful discipleship truth for the one who comes to believe in Him alone for eternal life. But that discipleship truth is for God's children, and you're not God's child until you first believe in Him to eternally save you FROM eternal damnation... separation from Him forever in hell. The word "hell" is kind-of a child like way of saying it. Every single born again person was eternally saved the same way with NO exceptions~!!! They simply believed in Jesus ALONE to eternally save them.
Now people have different experiences of getting to that place, and people get there with different amounts of knowledge about God. But we all believe in Him alone to save us, or we've never been saved.

I do want to clarify one thing. I don't think that every believer has thought it through the way we are doing on the blogs. Some people will say you must believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and rose from the grave, and then you are saved. And I DID believe that. I DID believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and rose from the grave. BUT I wasn't saved until I believed in Jesus alone to save me. That's where John 3:16 came in. For the first time in my life I understood WHY He died. It was to give me everlasting life.... life with Him forever (not going to hell) just by believing in Him for what He promised. I never thought about the word "promise" at the time, but I was believing in Him for what He said in that verse. It was His promise to save me just by believing in Him. All of my "Christian" friends who think it's a requirement to believe in the WORK of Christ still got saved the same way as I did. They believed in Jesus Christ alone TO SAVE THEM ETERNALLY. Instant birth~!!!

Sometimes words get us all confused, but those beautiful words of John 3:16 are the most awesome words anyone will ever hear..... or another verse with the same message~!!!

Nice to talk with you on your blog. I always enjoy seeing you at the GES Conference. You are the girl with the smile, and always reaching out in friendship. Love you dear friend.

Diane
:-)

Antonio said...

Hi Dianne!

Michele,

I am thinking through what you said, and will re-read this tomorrow. I will comment then.

In the meantime, I hope that you don't think that I am being unfair or discourteous to you, or am dishonoring God in you!

I am probably just reading you wrong, that is why I will re-read tomorrow and comment.


G'nite!

Sanctification said...

Hi Diane,

Hmm, okay; maybe we are saying the same thing, then? I always love hearing your testimony, that much is unchanged.

... So, if I believe in Jesus, meaning I trust in Him, but, I'm not trusting in Him (alone) "for" eternal life but "for," say, fellowship with my Creator, what would you say regarding this? Hebrews 7:25

"Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."

Thanks. You know you're pretty smiley too :)

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

This conversation seems to be one that is gaining at least a little ground - and it's all because you and Diane are faithful and good at listening.

Michele

Diane said...

Hi again Michele,

You said.....
"So, if I believe in Jesus, meaning I trust in Him, but, I'm NOT trusting in Him (alone) "FOR" eternal life but "FOR," say, fellowship with my Creator, what would you say regarding this? Hebrews 7:25"

There's no verse in the Bible that would contradict John 3:16 as to the requirement to have eternal life. That verse has other implications to it, I believe. Have you checked it out in the Grace Commentary? I just looked it up and read it quickly. I hope you'll check it out.

There's nothing wrong with trusting or believing other truths about Jesus. But those other truths have nothing to do with bringing you into the family of God by new birth. There's only one requirement to be born again, and that's to believe in Jesus Christ for everlasting life. You may call it something else like justification, or salvation, but it's believing (trusting) in Jesus to eternally save you from condemnation and giving you life with Him forever. It's completely trusting In Jesus alone for your eternal well being. Fellowship with God is wonderful, but it can only come as a result of being born into His family by placing your faith in Jesus alone to eternally save you. That's what I'm convinced the Bible says. There's not one single verse that would contradict that wonderful, glorious truth.

Thanks Michele for giving me another opportunity to just share God's good news with whoever visits your blog. It's a privilege and a joy for me, and it's all because of God's wonderful grace.

Love you..... keep smiling~!!!
Diane
:-)

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

Thanks for bearing with me in last evening's comment, if you're still chewing and wondering. I'm getting my focus back on the most valuable contribution here, which is the process. I still believe it is fruitful for everyone engaged - and the process is excellent the way you and Diane and Gary approach it - it's a blessing. I believe my comment encroached too much upon your freedom to bring your rebukes to bear, and I do want their full weight. I'd like to go on "reasoning together" as Rose might have said were she here.

Thanks for your patience.

Sanctification said...

Hi Diane,

I will take your recommendation to keep smiling! :)

Okay, so you say that if someone believes in Jesus, they are eternally saved. That sounds like agreement. Would you/are you trying to clarify that they have to be wondering or seeking eternal life, when they "believe in Him?" What if they "believe in Him" for fellowship with God; would eternal life be a byproduct?

Do you believe that when we "believe in Him" we enter into a state of abiding in Him?

I'm using the word "believe" like we're supposed to; what it means in the Greek, not as often in English.

I do think we are getting some language on this baby.

Thanks for leaving your comments and holding discussion :)

Antonio said...

Michele,

You ask:
----------
What if they "believe in Him" for fellowship with God; would eternal life be a byproduct?
----------
Why, may I ask you, do you ask this hypothetical? Do you find a scripture that tends to give a wording like this? What is wrong with the notion of eternal life? This is the priority on the lips of the Lord Jesus in His terms of evangelism. It is the priority of the Apostle John, who penned the book written for evangelistic purposes. It is the priority of the Apostle Paul, who everywhere equated salvation with eternal life.

Paul went as far to say:

This is a careful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. (1 Tim 1:15-16)

These words are instructive from the late Zane Hodges (whom I seem to like to quote alot these days!)
----------
Today many evangelicals listen to the Siren song of what is now called postmodernism. The song sung by postmodern voices is a call to diversity and variety, whether social, sexual, philosophical or religious. no single statement of truth is be be preferred to some other statement, and the concept of absolute truth is severely disparaged. Tragically, some who progess to hold the biblical doctrine of God's saving grace have argued that this doctrine can be couched in a variety of ways. No single articulation of the gospel should be given primacy over any other. A diversity of messages to the lost is not to be deplored, but rather can be wamly approved. But this point of view is an invitation to doctrinal shipwreck. To listen to its alluring music is to go off course and head for the rocks of theological confusion and error.... [I] affirm that the biblical gospel of God's saving grace is not a postmodern religious smorgasbord. Instead it is a divine revelation by which all other so-called "gospels" must be held to account.
----------
This is from the booklet, "Did Paul Preach Eternal Life? Should We?" Available from the GES. Have you got this small booklet yet? It is a must read, Michele.

I could not answer your question with certainty, Michele, unless you told me what this "beleiver" meant by "fellowship with God". If you want to elaborate on that more, and be clear, I could answer.

Antonio

Antonio said...

Michele,

Not to stray from the enormous weight and content of my last comment, I need you to briefly address where you believe that you have been being "rebuked"?

rebuke: verb
to express sharp, stern disapproval of; reprove; reprimand.

Antonio

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

Take out rebukes; how about "appeals"?

:)

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

Yes, you are being helpful here asking Why, may I ask you, do you ask this hypothetical? Do you find a scripture that tends to give a wording like this? What is wrong with the notion of eternal life? This is the priority on the lips of the Lord Jesus in His terms of evangelism. It is the priority of the Apostle John, who penned the book written for evangelistic purposes. It is the priority of the Apostle Paul, who everywhere equated salvation with eternal life.

I believe that "eternal life" is not only/just deciding who goes to heaven from those who go to hell. I think that "eternal life" is the whole package. So let me put this in my kind of speech, for clarity:

When I, as an unsaved person, hear the testimony about Jesus and through Him seek intimacy "eternal life" with God, the matter of my need to go to heaven and be saved from hell is determined as a byproduct - I do go to heaven as well as get the whole package of salvation.

I assume that's going to make your neurons fire :)
Michele

Sanctification said...

I believe it is "eternal life" that needs definition from the Gospel of John, which was written not necessarily "for evangelism," but indeed it was written "for eternal life."

If a person even in one instant in their entire life, approaches God to abide by faith with Him, he receives the gift of eternal life, even if he never again abides with God after that till he dies (if such a thing would/could be done). He will go to heaven, but he will not have attained to the full measure of eternal life. The upper room discourse and all the events leading up to it are meant to prepare us to fully receive eternal life through fully abiding by faith in Jesus Christ - and therefore be equipped to "feed His sheep" in the following chapters after John 20:31, in a word, making disciples of others.

Sanctification said...

Diane,

I read the commentary on John 3:16, I felt I could agree with it as short as it was, our conversation is getting a little deeper I think.

Antonio said...

Michele,

A person who "approaches God to abide by faith in Him" does not have eternal life. Put together the syllogism producing an argument against this assertion. Reason with me on how that can be the case.

When Christ is trusted for anything other than eternal life, or eternal salvation, or justification, that person does not recieve eternal life.

That is like saying that someone believing in Christ for a donkey or a Cadillac receives eternal life.

Christ enjoins humanity to believe in Him for the purpose of possessing eternal life. Revelation matters. Jesus' message precisely details for us the purpose for which sinners are to believe in Him for: eternal life.

In no sense does someone have eternal life because they sincerely express faith in God or Jesus for something other than eternal salvation, eternal life, or eternal justification.

To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe the statement of Jesus in John 11:25-27:

"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?' She said to Him, 'Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ'"

In the context of the Gospel of John, three expressions denote saving faith so they all must all logcally be affirmed as being in technical equality:

believ[e, es, ing, ed] into Him [or Jesus]
believ[e, es, ing, ed] into His name
believe that Jesus is the Christ

These are all seen as equal because they represent the condition by which one possesses eternal life.

Jesus asked Martha, "Do you believe this?" in other words, what Jesus just claimed about Himself, that He is the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him". For John the Apostle, and Martha, to believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that He guarantees eternal life to the believer. This is the content of saving faith. This is what it means to believe that Jesus is the Christ.

The person who "approaches God to abide by faith in Him" does not necessarily believe the content referred to Martha by Jesus, indicating what it means to believe in Him as the Christ. Only inasmuch as someone believes that Jesus is the Christ in the terms presented by the Apostle John does someone possess eternal life.

Evanglism and coming to faith in Christ resulting in eternal life is not some spiritual, post-modern smorgasbord that we can pick and choose from in order to relay the life-giving message to Christ to the lost.

The faith in Christ that saves has a specific content that is not negotiable. People don't get saved trusting in Jesus for a donkey or a Cadillac. They don't get saved when they trust in God to have participation with Him. They get saved when they believe in Jesus as the Christ, with the specific import or trusting in Him for the gift of everlasting life.

It is not profitable to argue dogmatics and doctrines based upon one's own experience and perception of their supposed moment of conversion, nor does assurance rest in this area either. Many people have supposed themselves saved when indeed they were not saved, as they were not believing that Jesus is the Christ. Assurance, too, does not depend on looking to the past, but on the present look to Christ in faith according to His promise.

Antonio

Antonio said...

Michele,

You are making theological pronouncement after pronouncement without a shred of hermeneutical precision. Please pick up a book on hermeneutics, or read articles online, or take a class. You must realize that you are teaching things when you present your thoughts on the Bible the way you do. Please meditate on James 3:1.

You wrote this:
----------

The upper room discourse and all the events leading up to it are meant to prepare us to fully receive eternal life through fully abiding by faith in Jesus Christ - and therefore be equipped to "feed His sheep" in the following chapters after John 20:31, in a word, making disciples of others.
----------
The purpose is not to "receive" eternal life, but to plumb the depths in experience of it to one that HAS ALREADY received it. Rule one in hermeneutics is to take care to understand who the audience receiving a sermon, or teaching are! In this case it is the eleven regenerate disciples.

First things have to come first!

Recieve eternal life, then live it. There are two separate conditions for that!

The reception of eternal life is based on simple faith in Jesus, the living of it is based on first having it then ones faithfulness in Jesus.

Antonio

Diane said...

Hi Michele,

You said......

"When I, as an unsaved person, hear the testimony about Jesus and through Him seek intimacy 'eternal life' with God, the matter of my need to go to heaven and be saved from hell is determined as a BYPRODUCT - I do go to heaven as well as get the whole package of salvation."

Michele, you aren't saved eternally by believing in Jesus for intimacy. Intimacy takes WORK. We have to work hard to be a disciple, and being a disciple is walking by faith, but that walk is hard, but worth it.
--Prayer is hard.
--Obeying God in everything He says is hard.
--Trusting Him in everything in life is hard.
--Going to the mission field to serve Him, leaving family, and culture, and friends is VERY HARD, etc., etc.
Even though all of that is hard, it brings much peace and joy to the born again child of God who seeks God in obedience.

I don't understand what you mean by saying you SEEK intimacy "eternal life" with God, then heaven is a "BYPRODUCT."
Heaven is NEVER a byproduct of seeking intimacy with God unless you mean by that... that by seeking Him you come to believe in Him FOR eternal life. You come to realize what He is offering you as a free gift that can never be lost. Intimacy comes and goes. Eternal Life is eternal. Intimacy takes work. Receiving eternal life is free. Yes, Eternal Life can be experienced in a fuller way as we grow in Christ, but to ENTER into Eternal Life is to believe in Him for it as a free gift. When you continue to abide in Him through obedience to His Word, INTIMACY IS THE RESULT~!!! Intimacy is not a guarantee to believers. It takes work. To have intimacy with God requires a life of discipleship. Intimacy is conditioned on our obedience. IT'S COSTLY. Receiving eternal life is free.

If I've misunderstood you, please correct me. Thank you again for your kindness.

Rejoicing in His great gift,
Diane
:-)

Diane said...

Hi again Michele,

You said....

"If a person even in one instant in their entire life, approaches God to ABIDE BY FAITH WITH HIM, he receives the gift of eternal life, even if he never again abides with God after that till he dies (if such a thing would/could be done). He will go to heaven, but he will not have attained to the full measure of eternal life."

The question that this brought to my mind was this. Is the person who comes to God at a moment of time to ABIDE WITH HIM, ***trusting in Jesus alone as his only way to God FOR ALL ETERNITY?***
Does this person UNDERSTAND that Jesus HAS saved him for all eternity because of his faith in Jesus alone?

Perhaps the person genuinely wants fellowship with God, and that's great. But the person can only have that fellowship with God by coming to Him through Jesus... UNDERSTANDING THAT HE IS THE ONLY WAY TO THE PRESENCE OF GOD THE FATHER, and safe in His care forever.

If a person doesn't understand that, then he's not yet believed in Jesus for His free gift of eternal life. He may be on his way to understanding, but not yet there.

Have I just repeated what I've already said?
:-)
Thank you for inviting me to the discussion.

Your friend,
Diane
:-)

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

It is a God-thing that I'm going to be gone far away from a computer for a few days, and I will contact you when I return. I respect you and I'm listening. We have both taken turns at saying in so many words "this is serious," and I'm thankful that we weren't speaking to the same territory... and I believe you speak from your convictions, and know you speak for my benefit and the benefit of others. This break is a time for me to think about your comments.

God bless you brother.
Michele

Antonio said...

Michele,

You will be greatly missed.

Antonio

Sanctification said...

Hi Diane,

Thanks for being patient while I was away. I need to catch up with you first. First let me say how happy I am that you have come to talk about some of these things.

You said, The question that this brought to my mind was this. Is the person who comes to God at a moment of time to ABIDE WITH HIM, ***trusting in Jesus alone as his only way to God FOR ALL ETERNITY?***
Does this person UNDERSTAND that Jesus HAS saved him for all eternity because of his faith in Jesus alone?


I don't think most people wrestle foremostly on heaven vs. hell. Perhaps if they grew up in an impoverished sect of Christianity which had to capitalize on fear of hell to keep things alive, and is finally released by considering the promise of our LORD. But for the unchurched, their interest in God is more full-bodied than this. This question of heaven and hell isn't as central to "eternal life" than I believe you think it is.

"Eternal life" is bigger than heaven and hell. I say this on the fact that the Gospel of John which was written for "eternal life" from about chapter 14 till the end, is focused on having a full-bodied investment in God and His sheep. Have you noticed this and incorporated that into your definition of "eternal life"?

You said that "intimacy is hard."

Ohh; I don't think intimacy is hard.

Romans 6-8 teaches that we are either "in the Spirit" or in the flesh, depending on what we choose at any moment. If we are in the Spirit we are by definition in a place of intimacy, with God. Now if you're talking about a lifestyle seasoned by diligent choices to be intimate with God, sure, there's a good deal of wisdom that can only be developed over time. But I'm not referring to the life of wisdom that is produced by intimacy.

Intimacy is by faith. It's too simple.

The Galatians had, for whatever reason snookered themselves into largely ignoring intimacy with God. Paul reminds them that the flesh is much more burdensome, than intimacy by faith. In fact, they had "known God" in a sense by starting off in the Spirit, and then "stopped knowing God" in the other sense because they were in the flesh.

"But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now, after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?" Gal. 4:8-9

There's nothing easier in this world than entering into the presence of God. Nothing compares to the ease and the grace of this access we have.

Which reminds me. When Abraham was justified it was a throwback to the blessedness David speaks of where his sins are not imputed to him, and that is why immediately after describing how he believed and was credited, chapter 5 of Romans begins to unpack what blessings result from believing:

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand. ... Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (5:1-2,5)

I don't see any evidence that scripture separates the moment it is granted to us to go to heaven, from the entire salvation package - including immediate intimacy with God (1 Pet. 3:18-19, Heb 7:19).

And if you think there is some sort of legitimate space for such a distinction, I wonder if I should ask, did Christ die in vain (Gal. 2:21)?

Thanks for the conversation, again, you are always welcome as you know to comment as you are led.

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

You are kind and patient and I'm thankful that both you and Diane persist to listen when I do not have the capacity either of you do, to write about the truth. I don't write alone, but the privilege I enjoy has been given by invitation of fellow brothers of ours, and my friend and brother Gary, has rightly sought to talk to them in their responsibility for me in Christ. He would not have failed to extend the same invitation to me, in fact he has been my number one encourager for a good period of time even before I knew Jim or Tim very well. I believe his heart still invites me to participate; it's just that I say things he believes are concerning - and it's the substance - not the process, he is speaking about on Tim's blog (see "Crock-Pot Theology" at Full Contact Christianity, where Tim discusses what he believes I have produced in the absence of formal education). Gary has addressed all this admirably in my eyes.

As for the hermeneutics, you are right and I am sorry. I'm not trying to neglect it, I am doing something about it. As for the "feed my sheep" comment, yes I know that He gave this command to His close, regenerate disciples... did you think I bypassed that as a command to the unsaved? Then I fail to communicate clearly.

I would like to continue. May I? What else ought I be doing?

Diane said...

Hi Michele,

It was nice to see your name appear in my e-mail this afternoon. I'm glad to clarify some things that I said to you in an earlier comment.

You said.......
"Eternal life* is bigger than heaven and hell."

AMEN~!!! I agree 100% with that. Eternal LIFE is the very life of God in us. I want to experience all that He has for me, which will go on for ever and ever. So much joy to be experienced in Christ~!!! I know I'm not saying anything new here that you haven't already heard, but for some reason we're not connecting with our thoughts, OR we're just in disagreement on the requirement to RECEIVE Eternal Life.

Before a person can EXPERIENCE the blessings of Eternal Life, he must first receive Eternal Life as a gift.
To RECEIVE Eternal Life as a gift, one must believe in Him (Jesus) ALONE for what He promises to give as a FREE GIFT.
The gift that He is offering freely apart from works is everlasting life.... life with God forever. We must believe that Jesus is the only way to God. We must believe that there is NO OTHER WAY~!!! When we believe THAT, then we instantly pass from death to life. We are born into the family of God, and that can NEVER be undone. Now begins our journey of faith.

A person doesn't have to understand all the wonderful truths that are available in Jesus Christ the moment he first believes in Him to eternally save him. I know NOW that Jesus IS Eternal LIFE. He Himself lives in me. But how much of that truth I understood when I first believed is fuzzy to me now. But one thing that is not fuzzy is that I understood His promise found in John 3:16...... "that whoever believes in Him (Jesus) shall not perish but HAVE everlasting life." That is His promise. That is His free gift to everyone who simply believes in Him alone apart from works.

I do believe that everyone has sweet FELLOWSHIP with God when they first believe. All past and present sins are forgiven (sweet harmony with God... fellowship). (I know that there are exceptions like in Acts, but that's for another discussion.)
Our journey with the Lord has just begun, and intimacy is dependent upon us abiding in Christ, confessing our sins, etc. I don't believe that being a disciple is without cost. It DOES take work, but it's work that I love. Sometimes I just don't believe God like I should. I find myself doubting that He's working everything out for my good until I focus back on His promises in His Word. Then I experience sweet peace and intimacy that comes only from Him. But it's not automatic. It takes work to be a disciple, but once we are abiding intimacy comes.

(to be continued below.....)

Diane said...

(continued from above.....)


EXPERIENCING the blessings of Christ in me is something that happens throughout my Christian life. That is sanctification truth.
Justification happens in an INSTANT..... the moment we believe in Jesus Christ alone for our ETERNAL well being.
Sanctification is a PROCESS, and it only comes AFTER we are already justified by faith in Jesus Christ alone FOR eternal life.
NOTICE..... God defines the gift by saying...... "SHALL NOT PERISH but HAVE everlasting life." He's not talking about sanctification truth here and now. He's talking about our eternal well being.

You said.....

"There's nothing easier in this world than entering into the presence of God. Nothing compares to the ease and the grace of this access we have."

Michele, I do believe that there is intimacy with God when a person is first saved. Oh the joy of knowing you're going to heaven when you die and not hell. It's wonderful when a new believer starts abiding in Christ immediately after conversion. But it's NOT guaranteed. It does take work to abide, but I agree with you that the abiding experience is the greatest joy in life. I just spent a few hours in my "special spot" studying God's Word and communing with Him today. I was lost in another sphere, unaware of what was going on around me. That was the blessing of abiding. But I had to take that time to study His Word. If I hadn't done that, I would have missed out on that great joy. It is not automatic.

You said.....
"I don't see any evidence that scripture separates the moment it is granted to us to go to heaven, from the entire salvation package - including immediate intimacy with God."

John 3:16 makes it very clear what the gift is that He is offering.

I DO believe we have immediate intimacy with God at that moment. But no baby has a grasp of the whole picture when he is first born. He starts learning His A, B, Cs and goes on to much bigger and better things to come. Each born again believer is on a journey with God, and the first step comes AFTER He is born.

I really don't think it matters that a person knows when he was saved. Probably most believers will find out they were saved much later or perhaps earlier than they thought. God saw our faith, and He knows. For me that's all that's important. Lots of Christians have lived their lives believing in Jesus PLUS their contribution. They would testify that they were saved as a child, and yet perhaps it wasn't until much later that they came to understand (believe) that Jesus Christ ALONE (apart from any works) saves.
In my case, God was working on me throughout my childhood and early teens to bring me to the place where I believed in Him ALONE as my only way to heaven. I thank Him for working in me all through the years I didn't yet know Him personally. He was there for me, and He was drawing me to Himself through all the teaching that I got in Sunday School and from my parents. He is to be PRAISED.

I wish you God's best and count it a privilege to be your friend.

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

goe said...

Hi Michele,

No matter our disagreements, I still think you're a really cool person, you know that? Kind of like Nikita. :) Diane is right, it's a privilege and blessing to know you. Every blessing to you in Christ dear friend.

Gary

goe said...

and i gone read my book bout hermitnewtics...

Sanctification said...

Hi Diane,

I think we might be saying the same thing, using different words, so let me use your words.

I don't think fellowship with God is hard. Intimacy (by your use of this word) comes through practicing fellowship (being in the presence of God) over time. Is this better You said,

I do believe that everyone has sweet FELLOWSHIP with God when they first believe. All past and present sins are forgiven (sweet harmony with God... fellowship). (I know that there are exceptions like in Acts, but that's for another discussion.)
Our journey with the Lord has just begun, and intimacy is dependent upon us abiding in Christ, confessing our sins, etc. I don't believe that being a disciple is without cost. It DOES take work, but it's work that I love. Sometimes I just don't believe God like I should. I find myself doubting that He's working everything out for my good until I focus back on His promises in His Word. Then I experience sweet peace and intimacy that comes only from Him. But it's not automatic. It takes work to be a disciple, but once we are abiding intimacy comes.


What you are describing is what Dr. Taliaferro described in his class on Romans; being in the Spirit or in the flesh is an on/off switch. You agree that when someone first believes he is in a position of fellowship with God. So, if he falls out of fellowship with God, how is his delivery back into fellowship accomplished?

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Refrain:
Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
-Robert Lowry

It is the same exact "Way" or means for our sanctification as it is for our justification. That is just one reason why the term "eternal life" is not just for the unsaved, but for the saved, and why the Gospel of John was written not only for the purpose of saving unbelievers but also for bringing people into ever deepening "oneness" with God. The Gospel of John was largely written to save people from confusion and wandering and perishing because they would not appropriate life from Jesus in this life, moment by moment.

You suggest that eternal life is one step and fellowship is the second step. I am suggesting that it's not a two-step; it's a one step. When the unsaved receive the gift it also brings them into fellowship with God. If they should afterward "step out of line" and step out of fellowship with God, they close in that being "one step" away and go back to being "no steps" away by turning back to God through the Spirit once more.

Sanctification, maturity, discipleship, counting the cost - yes I agree these are all things God develops in us over time spent in the Spirit as "heart work" first which turns into "life works" somewhere sometime as a byproduct.

But Free Grace has this weird notion that justification has all of the faith and sanctification has all of the works. That's pretty odd don't you think? I'll just draw a very bright line between a gospel that believes we abide when saved, from a gospel that twistingly defines abiding as works-salvation "our works become measurably better" - because as I quote Dr. T above, I would never dream of agreeing with a Calvinist gospel in that way, and I'm not talking about works at all - just this core orientation and home-base of being in (yielding to, receiving) the Spirit.

Make more sense? Let me know. :)

Sanctification said...

Hi Diane :)

Got some stuff for you to chew on. Let me know what you get when you get it, and again I really appreciate your time.

If I am wrong, then here are the passages I would ask you to consider:

Why is it that the context for Jesus to be lifted up "as Moses lifted up a serpent in the wilderness" - an offer of "salvation" to those who were already believers, whose transgression was in becoming dissatisfied with God's provision of life "our soul loathes this worthless bread" (Num 21:5)?

Why is it that Jesus heals the lame man in the first half of chapter 5, when he did not exercise any faith or receive any content, except that he should notice he had received the miracle he had sought for 38 years?

Why is it that in the second half of chapter 5, Jesus defends his healing of the lame man on the Sabbath as "giving life to them" as He wills (vs 21)?

Why in John 6:54, 57 Jesus teaches that whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life, and that same one is abiding in Him and He in that one? Why does Moses not "give" them the bread from heaven after being saved through the Red Sea, but the Father "gives" true bread from heaven (to sustain God's children)?

Why in John 6:63 does Jesus say "the words I speak to you are Spirit and are life," when John 1 tells us that His own did not receive Him (the Word), but "as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God." To receive the Word is to receive Him, which is also to receive the Spirit and to receive life. In John 12:48 they have no room to receive Jesus's Word and are judged but in John 15:3 they are already clean because of the Word which they had received?

Why in 10:11 is Jesus giving "His life for the sheep" - those who already belong to Him? This isn't Jesus giving his life for "eternal life" as you would call it -a single moment of justification; it is for every life-transaction in Christ afterward.

Why is He speaking to the Jews surrounding Him in 10:24 who want to know plainly that He is the Christ, saying "you do not believe because you are not of my sheep" meaning they have not received eternal life (justification in Christ by faith alone, by your definition)? But those who are already His sheep He knows and they know Him and He "gives them eternal life", present tense?

Why is it that Martha already has faith in the COSF before Jesus asks her to consider how it might apply immediately to their circumstances as He had to spell it out to Mary, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God" 11:40? Does this not suggest a need for rethinking what "eternal life" is for - not for the final resurrection, alone, but also to affect our life right now? Can you prove in any other way than by repeating your presumption that "the Gospel of John was written for the purpose of evangelism" that both Mary and Martha were not already believers before John 11 - because I don't think anyone can prove they were unsaved in 11.

Sanctification said...

Hi Gary,

You're always cooler than me and more like Christ than me, in fact Diane kinda looms great on those two categories too, doesn't she. I'm lucky to test the scriptures on two wonderful people such as yourselves ;)

Diane said...

Hi Michele,

This is just a "quickie" comment because I'm heading out the door for lunch. My husband's calling, and he's hungry. Ha~!!!
:-)

I'll read more carefully what you wrote later, but I wanted to just make this quick comment.

No matter what else a person believes when he gets saved, he's saved BECAUSE he has believed in Jesus alone to save him from going to hell. He's believing in Him for heaven (eternity with God). What ever other truths he may believe, he knows and believes THAT truth or he hasn't yet been born again.

Looking forward to reading your comments slowly later.

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

Diane said...

Hi again Michele,

I did take time to read carefully over your comments. I really don't think I can answer your questions to your satisfaction because we are in 2 different spheres of thinking. My words just don't compute with your understanding, and visa versa.

It's clear to me that everyone ***RECEIVES*** the very life of God by believing in Him alone to ETERNALLY SAVE THEM from condemnation (hell). At that moment they KNOW that their ETERNITY has been SETTLED~!!! They will NOT go to hell.... be separated from God forever. At that moment they KNOW that they will BE WITH GOD FOREVER because their faith is in Jesus Christ alone to save them. Michele, no one is saved if they haven't yet understood that Jesus HAS saved them eternally through faith in Him alone. THAT'S THE GIFT~!!! That's the saving message that we bring to unsaved people. If they don't understand THAT message, how can they receive Him? They can't. There is only one truth that can be believed in order to pass from death to life.

Are you uncomfortable sharing THAT message that I just wrote here? If so, then your message to receive eternal life and my message to receive eternal life are different. That's the message that I proclaim and will forever proclaim because it's the message Jesus proclaimed. It's the only message that saves when believed.

After a person believes, then I want to disciple him. I want him to grow in his faith and understanding of all the blessings that Jesus has for him as His very own child. Sanctification is a PROCESS. It's being a disciple. It comes only AFTER you are born into the family of God. Yes, the moment you are born you have sweet fellowship with God, but it's not possible to have that UNTIL you are born. But it happens immediately at birth.

The Gospel of John has wonderful discipleship material for the new born babe in Christ who needs to grow. Praise God. But the book's purpose is clearly stated in John 20.

I love ya, Michele. You are a very sweet lady. You always have a smile and are friendly, and I wish you God's very best as you continue in your journey of studying God's Word.

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

Sanctification said...

Diane, are you sure you mean to say this,

Michele, no one is saved if they haven't yet understood that Jesus HAS saved them eternally through faith in Him alone. THAT'S THE GIFT~!!!

Do you know how you come across? This is your thoughts about others, based on what they say they understand, on whether or not they are saved. Even if you withhold saying such a thing to the person for the purposes of giving grace, you nevertheless use this as criteria to assess someone's salvation.

Diane said...

Michele, I do stand by my statement because I believe it to be biblical. "No one is saved if they haven't YET understood that Jesus HAS saved them eternally through faith in Him alone."*
How can a person be saved if he doesn't even know Jesus saved Him by faith alone in Him? That's the living water that springs up into everlasting life when believed.

Michele, I'm not judging other people's salvation because I can't see their heart. God is the judge of whether or not a person is born again. I can only hear their words. When I hear someone testify that his faith is in Jesus Christ alone for everlasting life, I just simply take him at his word. I accept him/her as a brother or sister in Christ. If the person isn't telling me the truth, only God knows. But the person who has been born again is the person who has believed in Jesus Christ alone to eternally save him. Gpd knows if they've done that. If that has NEVER happened, then the person has not yet been saved.

There are lots of born again believers who LATER get confused for different reasons, but the only ones who are saved are the ones who have believed in Him alone to eternally save them.

I don't mean to sound arrogant, a know-it-all, smart, prideful, rude, etc. But because I love people I can't proclaim any other message than the one Jesus proclaimed..... the one that saves.

My heart's desire is that people come to believe in Jesus Christ alone for their eternal salvation. I just simply desire for people to be saved.

John 3:16.... For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him SHALL NOT PERISH but HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE~!!!

In Jesus' love,
Diane

Sanctification said...

It takes a lot of conviction to answer back, so let me thank you for your integrity.

That's good Diane, it's always unknown for us what happens in a person's heart.  Contrary to the angle of my question I do not discourage the use of scriptures to guide a person to believing in Jesus.  

There are lots of born again believers who LATER get confused for different reasons, but the only ones who are saved are the ones who have believed in Him alone to eternally save them.

That's true! I'll reference this below.

I don't think I can picture Diane being any kinder than I already know you - sweet through and through. And it's partially because I know you do not mean harm that I've waited a long time to get around to questioning this.

Are you uncomfortable sharing THAT message that I just wrote here?

Depends on how it's used.  You think you are advocating a beautiful thing, the freeness of God's grace, but you have unwittingly become a tool of judgment against others.  If I had met you in the... first eight years of my life as a Christian, and I told you that I had never once considered the promise of Jesus, you would have used the scriptures to suggest that absolutely no one (including me) is saved without this pre-understanding.  I was saved and I was sure, but you would have undermined my assurance of salvation.  

But that is a hypothetical.  My assurance is much stronger lately than when I began.  This in fact has been my experience:  When I shared my testimony online a few years ago, you wanted to know why I had not testified I believed in Jesus for eternal life, and whether I had, and why I described it in any other way while sharing how God saved me.  It was a kind way of telling me, "You’re wrong" or "You’re experience-based."  Which is fine - I do want to have that conversation.  I asked you to exegete John.  I am able to discuss the scriptures about this, and I was not three years ago.

Rather than helping you extend God’s grace freely to the lost, the criteria you’re applying create opposition, even hostility, where there doesn’t need to be any.  Seems you have become aware of this in small ways like I have from the experiences of life; you have learned for yourself to keep at the forefront of your thoughts how saved people can become confused later (quoted above).  This truth brings some grace back to your way of interacting with people who consider themselves believers.  Ultimately we both should want to extend biblical grace to all who truly want it. Let us go all the way. When we see that our manner and our message do not align, we can be sure there is a truth in God's Word that we are missing. Something is out of balance, and if we can fix it, a gracious manner and a gracious message will work in harmony.  The resulting approach will still honor the truth; indeed it will fulfill it in an unimaginably perfect way.  And that is why I wrote about the importance of assessing the falling of the Spirit as our biggest clue of the "gospel received" in this blog series.

Just think about my perspective, and see if you get anything useful from it? I have gratitude for you letting me be vulnerable.

Antonio said...

Michele,

Do we now understand truth as filtered through our own experience? Has your experience become the rule and authority of truth?

Many people believe many things about Jesus. It is the sober fact that most of these people are on the broad road that leads to destruction. Why? Either they reject the saving message or do not understand it.

How is it that you understood yourself to be saved apart from faith in Jesus for eternal salvation (or eternal security, or irrevocable justification, or eternal life, etc.)? Please tell me how you came to this understanding that you were "saved" apart from specific and purposeful faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life, or please link to an article that explains it.

Truth and theology are not likened to ordering at a Burger King. You can't have it your way. God is the one who wills and initiates salvation and this through His terms. And these terms are not negotiable, neither are they unclear, but are perspicuous.

You would have us believe that anyone who exercised any faith in Christ is born again. You never answered to my points about the person believing in Jesus for a donkey or a Cadillac. Certainly, it seems to me, that the logical conclusion of your theology would have anyone who believed in Christ for anything to possess eternal life, whether it be a donkey, a Cadillac, or a friendship.

It may sound noble in today's post-modern climate to propose there are many paths that lead to eternal life, or that the truth of the message of life has many expressions and explanations. You may even claim (or think) Diane or I to be bigots. But I suggest that to do so would be to call Christ, Himself, a bigot.

The message of life comes through and with the authority of the Father. Jesus' words are spirit and life. And these words are not esoteric and existential, but authoratative, concrete, and certain. Words are the vehicles of the saving message, and Christ gave essential information on how one possesses eternal life with words. Words diovorced from their meaning and context may be filled up with anyone's imagination, but we ought not to imagine that God is obliged to save apart from fulfilling His terms.

So you thought you were saved when you thought such and such about the Bible or about God. Not knowing what you supposedly knew, I cannot comment on that. But say your experiences do not line up with the truth of the gospel, so what? The importance of the matter is now in the present (not in the past!), and what you know now, that through simple, purposeful faith in Jesus Christ you have everlasting life.

God often brings people through many things as He draws them to Himself. I hope this does not turn out to be an issue of pride with you, or embarrassment, or anger. We do not judge according to experience, but must judge with righteous judgment by the Word of God.

Antonio

Sanctification said...

Hi Antonio,

I was waiting for your invitation to keep discussing it, though with a woman I don't have conflict with authority to speak, except by age of course. Just want you to know that I do in fact appreciate you. I also keep Diane as a person of wisdom, and not with any difficulty. :)

For those reading here, be sure to read along at Tim's blog, his latest post at this time where there is some discussion on the exegesis of GofJ between Antonio and Tim:

Mystical Union: Knocking the Bottom out of the Swimming Crib

Might we hold off on the verdict on me as "experience-based" till after we've looked at the scriptures? Tim is going to get into some of them there, perhaps Diane would like to join me here. It's up to you.

I will continue with you as well if you like.

Sanctification said...

For those reading along, Antonio has also commented on another post at Tim's, estimating my style of interpreting the scriptures along with Gary (I do not speak without a sign of authority, and it is to the authorities they have rightly gone).

Crock-Pot Theology

goe said...

Michele,

Antonio has asked you an exceedingly important and penetrating question. If you could and/or would answer it, you will have succeeded in highly distinguishing yourself as a 3-D Gospel "authority" in a way that, thus far, neither Tim nor Jim has been willing and/or able to even come close to doing. Can you answer it? Will you? It would be a shame for you to miss this opportunity. Furthermore, you will have made a great contribution to facilitating and advancing this entire discussion beyond the vain and exasperating "chasing of shadows", which has so deplorably characterized it for months now. No rainbows or moonstones, please; remember, I am a blind man or a child who desperately needs a 3-D GURU to rationally articulate an answer for me in a way that is accessible to the uninitiated. Feed me with the food Tim and Jim claim to have so gloriously laid out on the table! The question is this:

Antonio: 'How is it that you understood yourself to be saved apart from faith in Jesus for eternal salvation (or eternal security, or irrevocable justification, or eternal life, etc.)? Please tell me how you came to this understanding that you were "saved" apart from specific and purposeful faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life, or please link to an article that explains it."

Every blessing in Christ,
Gary

Sanctification said...

Hi Gary,

I just want to let you know I don't buy this high pressure stuff, I've known you far too long and far too wonderfully to believe it. The same goes with Antonio. Your need is legitimate, to test for what is true like I have through my series, and that's good in my eyes. Remember how I felt when Diane told me her version of the gospel? It took me three years to prepare a response from the scriptures. I would give you both at least that long, waiting patiently till you have understood this doctrine and have found the scripture's reply. In the meantime, nothing's changed; we're still ok.

How do you feel? Talk to me. Do you feel maybe like I felt when Diane and Alvin began commenting on my testimony of salvation? I wouldn't want that if I had a choice. Let me ease suspicion that there isn't a clear & concise proposition in scripture for this.

John 17:3.

goe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
goe said...

"High pressure stuff'? I'm not really supposed to take that seriously am I? I think you need to speak with your friend Tim about the "high pressure stuff" Michele. Perhaps you can dissuade him of his self-perceived lordliness...you know, help him get a grip on some semblance of reality.

And why would you ever imagine I'm feeling like you felt when Diane and Alvin commented on your testimony? It's you, Michele, that can't give a biblical answer to the question Antonio asked, not me. But that's what you get for listening to Tim and Jim--and sadly that's all you'll ever get. But if by chance they ever persuade me otherwise, I'll be sure to let you know.

Every blessing in Christ,
Gary

goe said...

Michele,

Just thought you might be interested in my latest comment on "Crock-Pot Theology". It's not at all fun saying certain things, but some people don't leave many options.

----------------------

Jim,

Another thing you and Tim need to own up to and acknowledge is that you are assaulting Zane’s conviction that the Name and Person of the historical “JESUS” is the necessary object of saving faith, that it was the distinctive feature of NT evangelization, and that nothing else has even a shred of Biblical evidence.

So, you and Tim would appear to have only two options: either step up to the plate and get busy proving Zane wrong, or else get busy repenting of your insolent rebellion against God and subversion of the gospel.

Sorry, but it IS an undeniable and lamentable fact that you and Tim started all this with your own call for repentance is it not? In fact, as best I can determine, it all started with your disciple Tim over on Michele’s blog over a year ago. Funny how things have now come full circle.

goe said...

Michele,


I want to add one further note so you will be sure to understand my perspective and where I'm coming from in all this:



I've always considered you primarily a victim in all this, and I believe that the Lord sees it in that vein as well. That's why, from the beginning of my involvement in the "Crock-Pot Theology" thread, I've tried, for the most part, to keep my comments directed squarely at Tim and Jim, not you. As those who hold responsible positions of leadership in their local church, and furthermore make their livelihood from the preaching/teaching of God's word, their culpability in this matter is all the greater magnified-- if indeed this novel and bizarre formulation of the gospel they promote and have convinced you of proves to be un-biblical. Accordingly, please note to whom the comment above, which I also posted on Tim's blog, is addressed.




As for Tim's utterly disingenuous reprimand of me for supposedly ignoring your "answer" to Antonio's question, I can say in all due sincerity that it never even occurred to me for a second that you were offering a bare biblical reference ("Jn 17:3"), merely tacked on as an appendage to your comment, as a legitimate explanation/answer made in good-faith. However, since I have indeed become quite accustomed to such similar and persistent evasive tactics on Tims' blog, I now admit I should have clearly recognized it for what it is: just a further reflection of Jim and Tim's own "image"and methods --that which they have created in you. In view of the utterly vacuous theological shipwreck in which they have now embrangled themselves and you, they appear to have few other options. This is what is truly reprehensible. Tim's devious and unfounded castigation of me for "dismissing you totally without ever dealing with the answer" is merely one further example. So now I'm straightforwardly "dealing" with it if it indeed so gives Tim joy for me to do so.



Finally, for whatever it's worth, this again would be my final word to you in these matters, as to us all: 



"Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in us* what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.



And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words...grace be with you all. Amen."


Heb. 13:20-22,25



Please note the change from "you" to "us"(v 21) in accordance with the NU and Majority Text--which better expresses my feelings anyway, since, like the writer of Hebrews, it's not my intent to exclude myself from this exhortation.



Every blessing to you in Christ,


Gary



goe said...

By the way, Michele. I also tried to post my previous comment here (July 29, 2011 8:30 A.M.) at Tim's blog on "Crock-Pot Theology" this morning before I posted here. Since you had mentioned me in a comment to Antonio, and Tim had again grossly misrepresented what occurred between you and me subsequent to my last comment there, I was hoping he would give me the opportunity to respond to both you and him. He has since posted several comments from others after I submitted mine about 6 hrs ago, but apparently hasn't been able to bring himself to post mine yet. Anyway, you have it before you and that's the main thing. Hopefully, he'll have the integrity to post it. After all, as he chidingly reminded me one time, he does call it "FULL CONTACT Christianity" for a reason, right? He just doesn't take too kindly to the "CONTACT" part of it, unless, of course, he's the one dishing out chop blocks to those who refuse to bow the knee to his lordship. Perhaps you can embolden him to put his pads on?

Gary

goe said...

I do, of course, still consider you a dear friend, and respect you for displaying the integrity to allow me to post here. In fact, my friendship with you is essentially what this is all about for me, Michele. Maybe you will understand that one day.

Gary

goe said...

I should say "largely" what this all about...but of course, there's obviously more to it than just you.

Sanctification said...

I do understand, Gary, completely. And now I know what to say in response to you. Ten million thank yous for reestablishing with me.

You flew so hard and fast at Tim and Jim. They, or this issue in general, makes you un-trust. That hurts me. I am here, but I wanna talk about that part. Long before Jim showed up the first time in February 2009 at Rose's blog, I wrote post after post after post about the importance of receiving one another and freedom to examine the claims of others without suspicion. It's your suspicion that makes talking with you so very difficult, when you're feeling it. I'm afraid to talk to you because I think that I've transformed into a bad guy somehow, against my heart for sure. Remember our former mutual opponent, when you and I were here? His suspicion of others made it impossible to go anywhere and he ultimately needed to "separate" himself. I'd prefer endurance more than a demonstration of power. Will you consider this?

As for me being a victim, I'm still open to learning, in fact whatever Antonio posts on his blog, if it increases my understanding, I intend to comment about it.

I'm Bucktooth. What more do I need to say, right? ;)

Antonio said...

Hi Michele,

I submitted another part of my comments to Tim here:

Putting the Focus on 3D Theology: Part 1

I would like very much for you to come and be a part of my thread here, that is, unless you can't get the permission of those who have authority over you.

The first part of the comment is also on Unashamed of Grace, where I made some comments about my impressions of your 3 man band. I would really like your comments there as well.

Part 1: Tim's comments and My Impressions

I really hope that you can get their permission because I really want to interact with you on these things.

Antonio

Antonio said...

Both links work, but I named the first one wrong, it should be "Part 2"

my bad!

Antonio

Sanctification said...

Antonio,

It's apparent to me more than ever I don't understand women and authority, yet. It's got me into trouble over and over again. So that's my issue I've got to work on.

I know men don't feel comfortable as women saying they're sorry, so maybe that's beyond your norm. I'd like you to say something again because you're sarcastic. I'm glad you came back, and I'm glad that I'm invited, because I want to be.

Sanctification said...

Antonio,

I do not speak clear from time to time, so I'm asking if you are interested in apologizing. I know I'm not perfect myself. You're linking here, to post something at UofG, about me, as I replied here?

All that old stuff you said about me, you appear to have had no change of mind, no effect from my response. DId you read it?

goe said...

Reading these last few comments has me more concerned for you than ever Michele. And I know Antonio is genuinely concerned as well. What more can I say? Sorry I was unable to help you.

goe said...

Whenever you start mimicking your lords and comparing me to "him who should not be named", I can assure you I don't need to be told it's time to separate.

Every blessing to you in Christ.

Sanctification said...

Gary,

I'm sorry; the very last thing I ever said to the one who should not be named was, "I am not your enemy." I don't believe it. I do not morph into an enemy or a case study because of my theological persuasion. I was on the offense because he used to say everywhere he got a chance that certain beliefs caused their devotees to lose their ethical and moral compass - and so I pointed out that he was examining works to judge the salvation of others. It's a bunch of garbage.

Tim and Jim are not your enemy either. I'm not buying it. The only enemies I have are ones who think they can transform dear ones like you into something they obviously aren't. I don't care what theological persuasion one holds while acting that way.

Charity said...

Michelle:

I have been a lurker for a long time both on your blog and on Tim's. I have listened to the discussions with some frustration for awhile, but I finally feel compelled to comment. I chose your blog because, like you, I am not a theologian. I am simply a believer who wants to share Jesus with a world that needs Him desperately. Besides us girls need to stick together:)

I live my life loving on drug addicts, prostitutes, homosexuals and criminals. This is the sphere of influence God has chosen for me and I am growing to love it. All of these wonderful people have been rejected by traditional churches as too messy, dirty, poor, or broken to really matter in God's kingdom. They know that they can not adhere to the rules that would make them look, act and smell like "real Christians". Most of them have figured out that God must reject them, too. We in Free Grace have the only message that can possibly bring life to these beautiful people, but now they are rejected by Free Grace as well. May it never be!!!!

What would cause me to make such an accusation? Diane wrote: "Michele, no one is saved if they haven't yet understood that Jesus HAS saved them eternally through faith in Him alone. THAT'S THE GIFT~!!! That's the saving message that we bring to unsaved people. If they don't understand THAT message, how can they receive Him? They can't. There is only one truth that can be believed in order to pass from death to life." And again "There's only one requirement to be born again, and that's to believe in Jesus Christ for everlasting life."

For most of the people I minister to "eternal life" is not even on the radar, but I watch everyday as their lives are transformed by the message of a God who loves them just as they are and wants to have a personal relationship with them. He loved them so much that He sent His Son to pay the ransom for their sin and mess to restore this relationship. THIS is what we are created for, to commune with God and reflect His glory to the world we live in. How shocked and thrilled they are that all they need is to believe and they can have this "God with them". They can have peace and love in circumstances most of us can not begin to imagine. Now they are dismissed again for not believing the "right" thing. If Free Grace rejects them, there really is no other place to go.

Yes, I speak to them of eternal life (mostly as a reminder that the trials of this life really are temporary), but ultimately, what really heals their lives is relationship.

continued next comment:

Charity said...

I have followed the discussion so I know that this argument will be dismissed as a sanctification issue rather than an issue of initial salvation. Knowing this then, I will say up front why this is incorrect. Look at the Genesis account (I know I shall be poopooed for bringing the Old Testament into an "evangelistic" discussion). God did not mourn the loss of Adam and Eve's eternal life. He mourned the loss of relationship and sent them away so they would not live forever in their broken state. He did not promise a healing remedy to restore their eternal destiny, but to restore fellowship with Him.

Jesus demonstrates this same priority in His interactions with broken people. John 4:14 He offers living water. He offers Himself!! Then the discussion leads to eternal life. Again in 3:18 He tells Nicodemus that he who does not "believe in the name" of the "only begotten Son of God" is judged already. Without accepting the offer of Jesus Himself the only other choice is judgement. John the Baptist started it in John 1:29. Did he say Behold the Lamb who brings eternal life? No! He offered restoration! "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world". John 3:16 begins with God's great love for the world (that's people) and then His gift. The gift is not eternal life the gift is Jesus!!! Jesus was interested in meeting people where they were and offering them the chance to believe and be restored to the status of God's children.

My heart is broken! We who adhere to Free Grace have the words of life to the world! Yet we marginalize our message by putting "eternal life" in an ivory tower, surround it with barbed wire and landmines, and stake our claim on it as "the only way". This thinking and argument are no different than the list of "proofs of saving faith" lordshipers put out there. It continues to place judgement on someone else's faith even if that is not the intended purpose and continues to demonstrate that Christians can only fight about doctrine instead of impacting the world.

On that note, I say to you, Michelle, I have so appreciated the way you have stood your ground on these issues. You are in my prayers as you continue to grow in knowledge and take on the challenges presented to you. Keep the faith, sister!

agent4him said...

Charity,

I don't have any idea who you are, but your words come from Spirit and truth. Praise God for your ministry and sensitivity. I'm just beginning a walk on the wild side with bikers, homeless, and others such as you are describing, and that's where the Lord is doing some of his greatest work. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your heart and words of encouragement!

Sanctification said...

Hi Charity,

Amen, to all your comments! What part of the country are you from (just wondering if you are the Charity I know)? I loved this comment,

All of these wonderful people have been rejected by traditional churches as too messy, dirty, poor, or broken to really matter in God's kingdom. They know that they can not adhere to the rules that would make them look, act and smell like "real Christians". Most of them have figured out that God must reject them, too. We in Free Grace have the only message that can possibly bring life to these beautiful people, but now they are rejected by Free Grace as well. May it never be!!!!

Even though they are offering what they call a "simple gospel" because it is shorter in content, it is so rigid my kind friend Diane (who has now bowed out of conversation, so I am going to reproduce her comment from Unashamed of Grace) said yesterday:

The purpose for which they were made is to have a living relationship with God, but they can't have it UNTIL they know Him as their SAVIOR from ETERNAL condemnation. They must FIRST be born again to have that relationship with Him. They need His LIFE. They are NOT saved by believing in Him for just ANYTHING that they need RIGHT NOW. They are NOT saved by believing that He loves them and they love Him back. There are so many church going people who "love God" in their own way, but they're NOT SAVED. They're going to spend an eternity apart from Him because they're not His children. They need to be born again, and there's only one way to be born again.... to believe in Jesus for everlasting life. That's it~!!!

Wow. Every time I read that I really want to ask her, does she believe as she says above? I don't know, maybe someone else could read her comments, differently? Perhaps she will come back and clarify, I hope.

As a result of doing this series I was inspired to pray, "Lord, where is Your bride?" and He gave me a ministry to an unbelieving Jewish person, which is such an honor! Also because of it I wrote a proposal called The Disciple Making Workhorse which I've given to my leadership, and we'll see what happens. These things are always better done than said, as I am sure you have discovered. We're pointing them to get life from Jesus! Pretty easy. Praise God for your work.

Thanks for the encouragement. Please find me on facebook or email; definitely need a feminine cohort 'round these parts ;)

Michele

Charity said...

Thanks for the kind words from both you and agent4him. Charity is a name I was given not my real one. I use it online and in circles where I am known. I live in Colorado. I am not a facebooker yet, I am too busy with kids and a small business, but I would love to continue chatting with you. Is there a contact you page somewhere on your blog?

Tim Nichols said...

Charity,

A lot of folks are reluctant to comment over at my place for one reason or another, but I want you to know you're welcome anytime. In any case, thank you for delurking here; your comment was a great encouragement to me. What you say rings true for me as well in my own work with the rougher youth 'round here. Introducing them to the God John's gospel actually portrays is tough, but rewarding work. Getting them to care about what happens when they die is mostly just impossible, initially. When they love Jesus and want to be just like Him, then they want to go see Him when they die.

(Btw, I'm also in CO -- love to meet you some time.)

Sanctification said...

Hi Charity,

Yes Jim (agent4him) and Tim both live in your state. They are encouraged by your visit yesterday here, and when you get a chance you might take up Tim's invitation and see some of his recent posts at Full Contact Christianity.

My profile is pretty hard to find, sancsblog@gmail.com

You have kids, that's great. Look forward to hearing from you.

David Bell said...

Michele and all:

I just this evening read the comments starting July 30 but I was thinking along these very same lines earlier today as I heard a family tell of the work they're doing is a Muslim country. It's not the promise of unending life in heaven and deliverance from hell that draws the average Muslim; it's seeing the love of Jesus displayed in the lives of His followers.

I'm afraid we rate crucial truths according to the lenses we wear. For those of us who have a Christian background and who have struggled with assurance of salvation (which, it seems, applies to many FGer's), the greatest discovery and source of joy is knowing our eternal destiny, at least initially. For others, I think, it's discovering a personal relationship with this Isa, who, it turns out, is actually the God of the Universe who LOVES me.

That humbly brings to mind that I used to be fairly negative about the Jesus Film, partly because I didn't like the Campus Crusade gospel and partly because they chose Luke instead of John on which to base the film. OK, I guess I still don't think that's the best way to do it, but I began hearing one amazing story after another of how God was miraculously using the film to bring Muslim people to Christ. It's made me check to see if my lenses need to be adjusted. I don't know what goes through these people's minds regarding the assurance of their eternal destiny as part of their response to the story they've just seen on the movie screen, but the thing that seems to be clear is that their response pretty well matches up to the climactic words (in my opinion) of John's Gospel: "My Lord and my God!"

I'm still working through all this stuff and am not sure exactly where I'll land. I think everyone in these discussions believes that eternal life is received though believing in Jesus; the disagreement is over defining eternal life and faith in Him. Regarding the latter, I'm thinking that Gordon Clark's words were truer than he meant when, addressing the idea of a minimum, he said it was "the wrong question with a perverted outlook."

Sanctification said...

Hi David,

So good to hear from you. It is amazing to learn a thing or two about how the Spirit truly falls on those being saved. Gives me shivers. I believe your comment speaks many things right up Tim's alley, so I invited him to visit and comment. You said, ...is actually the God of the Universe who LOVES me.

Receiving God is the same as receiving His love. I heard Antonio say in the last week, (paraphrased) "what other kinds of knowledge are there, except of propositional??"

Ephesians 3:14-19,

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

God says, "God is love." His will is for a 3-D (width length, height) reception of God, the Person!

Great addition.

Hope you are well. Perhaps I'll run into you at my church again soon... what a delight. In fact were you here recently?

David Bell said...

Hey Michele, no, I haven't been back to your church. I/we get to the Willamette Valley two or three times a year but last year was the first time in many years (ha, decades?) that I'd been in your church, and what a nice surprise to see you! Say hi to cousin Debbie--I haven't seen her since then, either.

Sanctification said...

David,

Your comment really stuck with me since you made it.

I'm afraid we rate crucial truths according to the lenses we wear. For those of us who have a Christian background and who have struggled with assurance of salvation (which, it seems, applies to many FGer's), the greatest discovery and source of joy is knowing our eternal destiny, at least initially.

It's likely I have no ability to relate because I didn't grow up in the church. That would mean that a simple and clear gospel of assurance is as crucial as many people know it to be.

Thanks for that important point.

Charity said...

David:

I have been appreciating your comments since you made them as well, but for a different reason. The question I have been pondering recently is where is the point in which theology and humanity meet. You illustrated this perfectly!

You wrote: "That humbly brings to mind that I used to be fairly negative about the Jesus Film, partly because I didn't like the Campus Crusade gospel and partly because they chose Luke instead of John on which to base the film. OK, I guess I still don't think that's the best way to do it, but I began hearing one amazing story after another of how God was miraculously using the film to bring Muslim people to Christ. It's made me check to see if my lenses need to be adjusted."

Bravo to you for being able to genuinely say "I may not agree with this completely, but God is here." I also appreciate that this causes you to seek to "adjust your lenses" rather than to defend why you're right and make a fight out of it

I guess I am of the opinion that our lenses needs constant adjusting to remind us that Jesus came to save sinners and not to bestow upon us perfect theology. This is a growth process as we learn more about who He is and how He is working. We all need reminded to let God out of our box. Thank you for the reminder!

Michele:

I sent you an e-mail today. I hope is makes it to you.

David Bell said...

Charity, thank you for your kind words. Your summary statement "I may not agree with this completely, but God is here" makes a great title for the last three years of my life.

Michele, I don't think I quite understand your last comment.

Sanctification said...

Hi David,

My response was to this comment,

I'm afraid we rate crucial truths according to the lenses we wear. For those of us who have a Christian background and who have struggled with assurance of salvation (which, it seems, applies to many FGer's), the greatest discovery and source of joy is knowing our eternal destiny, at least initially. For others, I think, it's discovering a personal relationship with this Isa, who, it turns out, is actually the God of the Universe who LOVES me.

The need for life that I brought as I approached Jesus for salvation is probably different. I say this because I didn't grow up in the church. For those who have grown up in the church the area of their need could be more specific.

Let me know if I make sense; I appreciated how you highlight variable circumstances that cause us to need life in Jesus.

David Bell said...

Yeah, Michele, that makes sense. It's interesting how God works differently in different people's lives.

I gave my testimony a few years ago and it was centered around my quest for eternal life--specifically, life without end in the presence of God--after which an older Christian came up to me and nicely said something like, "I find it interesting how God saves people with different stories," which I took to mean , "Bub, don't think that's the only way God brings people to faith." I smiled and dismissed him in my mind, just like I dismissed other testimonies that I couldn't relate to or didn't fit my grid. But I'm working on it, and still processing...

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