Archive for July 2009

Reminder of Standing Policy on Comments

July 19, 2009

Dear readers,

Please take a fresh look at the post New Policy on Comments from several weeks ago.

I must commend the readers for the tone of the comments. Since that post, the tone of the conversation has dramatically improved, and it’s greatly appreciated.

However, many comments remain off subject. It’s partly my fault, because I’ve not enforced the rule as strictly as I should have.

It’s important that the discussions remain on point regarding the New Testament’s doctrine of apostasy. One reason is that our four conversationalists are busy. If you expect any of us to read anyone’s comments, we shouldn’t have to sort through the off-subject comments to get to the on-subject comments. And if the site is filled with enough off-subject material, I’m afraid that the on-subject material that is in the comments will not be read and appreciated for the value they bring to the dialogue.

This is not the place to discuss Calvinism, for or against. This is not the place to re-argue the Nicene Creed. Those who persist in post off subject will be subjected to moderation, which means their posts will go into electronic limbo until I have time to read them and approve them — which may take a day or two, depending on my schedule.

The policy is not due to any disrespect for those positions or those who hold them. In fact, those who wish to argue for and against Calvinism or the Nicene Creed are welcome to do so over at the Searching for a Third Way posts at OneInJesus. But not here.


And so, in conclusion… (with a new footnote)

July 17, 2009

by Jay Guin

Todd and I have said what we planned to say, but this is a difficult stopping point, because there are so many more Biblical teachings that we’d love to share with Phil, Mac, and the readers. We’ve not covered falling away as described in Galatians 5. We’ve not touched on Romans 8 or 14. Neither have we covered Peter’s teaching in 2 Peter 1 on how to make one’s calling and election sure. And the Bible’s teachings on church discipline need to be dealt with. We’ve only covered the very basics.

We know we’ve not answered many of even the most obvious questions, but we’ve said enough for now. It’s time to hear from Mac and Phil —it’s particularly time to see if they can state a position and then answer our questions from before consistently with that position.

We don’t think it’s possible. Let me explain. (more…)

Faith, Works, and Obedience

July 17, 2009

by Todd Deaver

  • How can salvation be by faith and not works, and yet works be the necessary consequence of salvation?

It’s clear from many of Dad’s remarks that Jay and I have failed to communicate to him our understanding about the relationship among faith, works, and obedience. So here we want to try to clarify our view, and in doing so we’ll be addressing some of Dad’s points in his response to our answers to his True/False questions.

We believe that faith is the means by which salvation is received. Saving faith is always a submissive/obedient faith, which is to say it is a penitent faith. In other words, it is the acceptance of Jesus as both Savior and Lord (Rom. 10:9). Consequently, saving faith will always manifest itself in good works (Jas. 2:14-26; Heb. 11).

Faith, penitence, and baptism are excluded from the category of works (Titus 3:5; 2 Tim. 1:9; Rom. 4:1-5; Eph. 2:8-10; etc.). Therefore, we are not saved initially by our own works, but by faith. However, man’s faith-response to the gospel is obedience to the gospel (2 Thes. 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:17), so – and this is very important – not all obedience is in the category of works. Works are those acts of obedience other than believing, repenting, and being baptized. (more…)

Imperfect Obedience and Disobedience

July 17, 2009

by Todd Deaver

One of Dad’s True/False questions to us was, “Obedience to Christ is essential to salvation.” We answered,

True, if obedience is properly understood. Perfect obedience is not essential to salvation.

Dad objects to this answer in his response:

Regarding obedience to Christ being essential to salvation, Todd and Jay say that such is true but that “perfect obedience” is not essential. Of course, they need to wrestle with what they are claiming. I would at this juncture raise the question: Exactly how is imperfect obedience distinguishable from disobedience. If a man imperfectly repents, does he repent or not? Can a man maintain faithfulness to God while imperfectly walking in the light? If he is in the light, he is in the light. I do not quibble over human weakness. We all have already admitted such.

Do we really disagree?

This reply is confusing. On the one hand, Dad seems to insinuate that there is no difference between imperfect obedience and disobedience – which is why he says, a few sentences later, that we are on the verge of “explicitly denying the essentiality of obedience altogether.” He believes that our answer creates huge problems for us.

And yet, in the same paragraph, he admits that perfect obedience is not essential to salvation! “I do not quibble over human weakness,” he says. “We all have already admitted such.” In other words, Dad knows that because of human weakness we all sin (per 1 John 1:8) and thus do not perfectly obey. So, what is the objection? Dad himself teaches that perfect obedience is not essential to salvation, but he castigates us for saying that God will save those who imperfectly obey. Where is the consistency here? (more…)

What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Conclusion

July 15, 2009

by Jay Guin

Now let’s compare what these passages teach to the stated position of the conservative advocates.

* Notice how all three books speak expansively of salvation being a continuous state of being — not an occasional, off and on sort of thing. Those who walk in the light have their sins continuously purified. Those who are being made holy by God, through the Spirit, are made perfect forever, once for all. Those who’ve been saved are now much more saved — and should be accepted by others on the same terms on which the others were accepted when they were saved.

* We fall away when we rebel, have a hard heart, lose faith, or deliberately continue to sin. Because faith includes so believing God’s promises that we act in reliance on those promises, these are all much the same thing. (more…)

What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Romans and the Salvation of the Mature

July 15, 2009

by Jay Guin

The conservative Churches of Christ often start with the assumption that the rules dramatically change after salvation. They assume the standard gets tougher, that God holds us to an ever-higher standard. And in the sense that God wants us to grow and mature, that’s true. But does the salvation bar rise ever higher? Is God less gracious to the saved than to the convert? Let’s see what Paul says to that very question —

Romans 5:8-10

(Rom. 5:8-10a) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. … 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son … .

In these verses, Paul is talking about our justification — our pardon. He points out the amazing fact that God forgave us while we were still sinners and God’s enemies. We forget that we were not yet God’s children and not yet part of his church when he first forgave us. Rather, he forgave us so that we could become his children and a part of his Kingdom.

Paul then teaches a most extraordinary lesson —

(Rom 5:9-10) Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

We are now much more saved than when we were first baptized! It’s so important, Paul says it twice! (more…)

What the Bible actually says about apostasy: The Spirit’s work in the Christian

July 15, 2009

by Jay Guin

The indwelling of the Spirit has been controversial in the Restoration Movement going back to Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone, who disagreed on the subject. And we believe the scriptures make much better sense when the work of God through the Spirit is fully credited.

We are fortunate that Greg, Phil, and Mac all believe in the personal indwelling of the Spirit — so we don’t need to argue over the “word only” position. Rather, we just need to point out how the Spirit’s work fits in to the apostasy question.

We begin in Deuteronomy —

(Deu 10:16-17) Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

God, through Moses commanded the Israelites to “circumcise” their hearts. Mere outward obedience would not be enough. The Israelites must obey the Law from their hearts. (more…)

What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Hebrews 11

July 15, 2009

by Jay Guin

Now that we have a foundation in the thought of Hebrews, we can consider the Roll Call of the Faithful in Hebrews 11.

(Heb 11:1-2) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

The point of this definition of faith is that faith — to be truly faith — must lead to certainty in God’s promises.

(Heb 11:17-19) By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 19 Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

The point isn’t that Abraham obeyed each and every one of God’s commands. He didn’t. The point is that Abraham’s faith was so strong that he believed God would keep his word even if it required a miracle. Abraham was “certain of what [he did] not see.” His faith was true faith. (more…)

What the Bible actually says about apostasy: Hebrews, Penitence, and Rebellion

July 15, 2009

by Jay Guin

We’ve made some pretty audacious claims about the meaning of 1 John. A good way to test them is to see whether an independent source supports the same conclusions, and so we’ll briefly review the theology of Hebrews. Does that author agree with our conclusions regarding 1 John?

The saved and the lost

Just as John does in 1 John, the Hebrews writer places those who’ve been saved in two camps — those still saved and the fallen away. (more…)

What the Bible actually says about apostasy: 1 John and Walking in the Light, Chapters 3 – 5

July 15, 2009

by Jay Guin

Love and righteousness

Beginning with chapter 3, John makes the same points again, but often with greater explanation or emphasis.

(1 John 3:10-11) This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right [does righteousness/justice] is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. 11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

“Do what is right” is really “do righteousness.” Thus, John here connects loving one another with doing righteousness. They aren’t really two different commands or two different tests. Rather, ”do righteousness” explains the content of Christian love.

(1 John 3:16-18) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

John reinforces the point: love leads to righteousness because love requires action to help those in need. (more…)