Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 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. (John 4:13-14)

Monday, March 31, 2008

So you're born again... but will you walk with Jesus in white? Part 4

Part 1 -- Part 2 -- Part 3

The Tragedy of Complacency and Laxity in Doctrine and Practice
I want to start off this post with the ending statement from the last post in this series. It is an important thought that is germane to the study of rewards and accountability.

Jody Dillow has stated: In the Traditionalist “view, all who are Christians will be rewarded, and some more than others. Thus, they have created a version of Christianity where complete commitment is optional and not necessary. All that can be lost is a higher degree of blessedness, but all will be blessed. Could it be that this happy ending has lulled many into thinking they can continue their lukewarmness with no eternal consequences to pay?” (The Reign of the Servant Kings, pg 23).

I am aware of the traditional understandings of the kingdom ages to come that have all true Christians reigning with Jesus Christ and no real accountability for unfaithfulness. In my many conversations with pastor and laymen alike there is the universal belief that heaven will be basically the same for everyone. What a tragedy of incomparable proportions!

For Jesus, their was no glory, authority, and rule without enduring the suffering of the cross. Such is the same for those who desire to be His companions in the Kingdom of God. Jesus was capacitated and prepared for His glory. Are you following His lead?

The writer of the book of Hebrews was addressing Christian Jews who were tempted to return to the old ways of Judaism. But doing so would be tantamount to apostasy: leaving Christ, and failing to persevere until the end. To this group of people the writer issues this stern warning:

Hebrews 3:12-15
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers [companions / Greek = metachoi] of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said:

"Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

These were true Christians the writer was talking to. They had been “enlightened” and “tasted the heavenly gift” and were “partakers of the Holy Spirit,” having “tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Heb 6:4-5). Because of their Christian testimony they had “endured a great struggle with sufferings,” being “made… spectacle[s]” while “joyfully accept[ing] the plundering of [their] goods” (Heb 10:32-34). But now they were in jeopardy of forfeiting their co-heirship with Christ! In this often neglected (even more so, highly misinterpreted) warning, we find that only those who persevere until the end are the companions with Jesus in the coming age.

Addressing "brethren," the writer to the Hebrews warns against hardening one's heart through sin and separating oneself from fellowship with God. To do so is to forfeit intimate companionship with Christ.

What we have learned thus far in this series of articles is that it takes hard work, consecration, discipline, and endurance in order to walk with Jesus in white. Walking with Jesus, as we have already noted, is the superlative experience of intimate fellowship with Him. And being arrayed in white is sharing in His glory, the exclusive glory He merited through His righteousness, faithfulness, and suffering.

Do not harden your hearts!

This consideration of practical theology is for every Christian. There is the unparalleled opportunity, set before each child of God, to share in Christ’s glory and rule over the universe in the coming ages, and the sober possibility of failure, resulting in undesirable punitive consequences. Christians are robbed of God’s greatest motivations unto consecration when they are told the anti-Scriptural pronouncement that all Christians will reign with Christ.

Hear His voice!

As you will note from the first article, the topic at hand is walking with Jesus in white. Our first consideration was the parable of the Wedding Feast (Mt 22:1-14) where we met the poor soul who lacked a "wedding garment" and was excluded from participating in the festivities for the son and his companions. The conclusion made in Part 1 stated that the "wedding garment" is not the imputed righteousness of Christ, but the righteous acts and deeds of each individual participant in the banquet.

Over the course of the next two articles we presented evidence, from the book of Revelation (and others), supporting the idea that the garment is indeed representative of the experiential righteousness of the one wearing it. We also noted the possibility of failing to do that which is required in order to be honored in wearing such a garment.

This article is the last of the series, and in it, we will be adducing more evidence for our conclusions.

The Proclamation of a Heavenly Voice Concerning Overcoming Saints (Rev 12:11)
Satan has busied himself employing his evil devices in order to destroy the saints. At the future time that Satan will be cast out forever from his access to heaven, an angelic voice will announce the victory of those saints who have defeated him and his ploys in this manner:

Rev 12:11
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

The triumph of these overcoming saints is here revealed. They achieved their victory over Satan by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and by the fact that they did not love their lives unto death.

Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death is what makes every spiritual victory possible. We read that through Christ’s cross work He “disarmed principalities and powers… ma[king] a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col 2:15). It is only through appropriating the power of Christ that we can overcome Satan. He has won the victory, we are to operate within the sphere of it.

In living in light of Christ’s triumph over Satan, we can “hold” our “confidence steadfast” (Heb 3:14) in the “word of [our] testimony” (Rev 12:11). This word of the saints’ testimony “opposes the deceiving work of Satan in that the preaching of the gospel is the power of God unto salvation” (Walvoord, op. cit., p 193). The gospel tells us how we are to be sanctified, mortify sin, and overcome temptation. It is good news for the believer! (see my article Preaching the Gospel to the Saved for more information on this concept). It is through open confession and identification with the name of Jesus that both temporal and eventual eschatological salvation (in other words, salvation, or triumph and victory, at the Judgment Seat of Christ) is experienced. There is no glory and honor on the Day of Jesus Christ for secret saints.

Lastly, the saints overcame Satan by not loving their lives until the end. It takes dedication to faithfulness in order to win the glories of the age to come. The words of John Walvoord are here instructive. “Though they do not foolishly seek a martyr’s death, they do not regard their own lives (literally ‘souls’; Gr., psyche) as precious. They follow the instruction given to the church of Smyrna (2:10) of being faithful unto death as well as the example of the Saviour who laid down His life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15; c.f. Matt. 16:25)” (Walvoord, op. cit., p 193).

Remember the admonition and encouragement to the church of Smyrna:

Rev 2:10
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Satan can level against us every machination at his disposal, but he can never achieve victory against the faithful saint. Here it is manifestly shown that the significant reward of the “crown of life” is contingent upon endurance until the end in faithfulness. Christians cannot achieve overcomer status unless they rise to the challenge to become co-heirs with the King and to enter abundantly into His joy and glory.

Reader, have you received the free gift of God, everlasting life, by simply believing in Jesus for it?
Do you publicly identify yourself with Jesus Christ and seek to bring Him glory through your testimony?
Do you consider your identity in Christ to be more precious then your very life?

If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, you are on your way to receiving the crown of life, and being worthy honor and glory at the manifestation of the Son of God. You are on your way to walking with Jesus in white!


Jesus Christ’s Beatitude and Warning (Rev 16:15)
We observed in our first article that the king in the parable of the wedding feast observed that the sub-coming (or non-overcoming) saint was not properly attired for the festive celebration he was giving in honor of his son. This man was not prepared for the joys that the king intended for his son and son’s companions. The man without the wedding gown was found in shame, evidenced by the fact that he was “speechless”. Yet just as much as this man was held in contempt for failure in his responsibilities, so those worthy of sharing in the regalement of the son were greatly rewarded by the surpassing delights afforded by the king.

Note the words of Jesus saying the same thing:

"Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."

In this verse we have one of seven Beatitudes given in the text of the Apocalypse. In a study of each of these we find that the pronouncement of blessing is always contingent upon works. This beatitude is no different. The benediction is conditioned upon 1) watching and 2) keeping one’s garments. This hearkens us back to the message to the Church of Sardis: “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy…” (Rev 3:4). Blessed, happy, and joyful is the man who watches for Jesus Christ and keeps his garments undefiled!

The first condition of this blessing is to watch for the advent of Jesus. This is a command with attached blessing expounded upon in great detail elsewhere in Scripture (Mt 24:42; 25:13; Mk 13:33-37; Lk 12:37-40; 21:34-36). The reader would do well to look up those references!

We find this from the pen of the Apostle Paul shortly before his death:

2 Tim 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Do you recognize the weight of this import? Those who love Christ’s appearing (and thus will watch for Him) are to receive the crown of righteousness from the Lord when He comes in His glory! We must be watchful, prepared for His coming, and living in light of that day. Oh what honor we shall receive from Him in front of the Father and the holy angels!

Christian stay true! Christian watch! Christian prepare for that day!

When one is born again, he is “cleansed from his old sins” (2 Pet 1:9), and has a new beginning; he has been made white as snow. At that point one should strive to remain unspotted before the world (Jas 1:27) and thus keep his garment. Yet there is the sad possibility that one may be characterized by barrenness and unfruitfulness (2 Pet 1:8), and unrighteousness (1 Cor 6:8) and thus experience loss and shame at the judgment seat of Christ.

Note how thorough of an investigation will take place before Christ! Note the possibility of two different outcomes, as one is recompensed for what he has done in the body, whether it be good or bad!

Luke 8:16-18
No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.

There are those who seem unspotted and undefiled but in all reality it is by pretense alone. Everything secret and hidden will be revealed, made known, and come to light! And in the case of the pretender, “even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

The one who does not “keep his garment” will appear before Christ “naked” and in “shame”! The same writer of the Apocalypse wrote this moving appeal: “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 Jn 2:28). We must remain committed to Christ, persisting in steadfastness until the end; watchful for His appearing and keeping our garments undefiled.

Walvoord notes, “The symbolism of preservation of the garments is… the righteousness of the saints… as expressed in their life and testimony (c.f. 19:8)” (op. cit., p 238). There is a distinct possibility that saints may be found spiritually naked (not having a garment consisting of good works, thus being unprepared for the glories of the ages to come). We therefore must be watchful and proactive in righteousness, both in deed and in truth!

Watch and keep your garments so that you may walk with Jesus in white!


The Garment of the Wife of Christ (Rev 19:7-8)
One of the images that Jesus chose to use in describing the loss of the significant and peculiar joy provided by God the Father for His Son and companions is that of a man being discovered shamefully unprepared for an exclusive wedding banquet (the Parable of the Wedding Feast). In this parable a man was found, by the observation of the king, unready for this regal and festive event. His lack of preparation is described in “not hav[ing] on a wedding garment” (Mt 22:11). In part one of this article we noted that the wedding gown signified “the preparation [of oneself] for conditional, superlative eternal glories, consisting of a faithful and consecrated life, steadfast until the end”. This garment represents a life of sanctification and fidelity that manifests itself in righteous deeds. Jesus Christ, as our example, won His peculiar messianic glory to be displayed unto the age of the ages, by such a life. Unto God’s “firstborn”(see Heb 1:6), Jesus the Christ, He says:

Heb 1:8-9
"Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
"

Because Jesus has loved righteousness and hated lawlessness, God has anointed Him with an exceedingly great joy that His companions (Gk: metachoi) will share in. Jesus prepared Himself and was capacitated for His glory. We too must follow in Jesus’ example!

In Part 1 of this series, we asked these questions concerning our exposition of the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Mt 22:1-14): Is there any corroborating evidence to this interpretation of the wedding garment? Can it be maintained that the wedding garment in this parable corresponds to the preparations that one takes in this life for the contingent glories of the next? Furthermore, let us ask: will unfaithful Christians, who have not loved righteousness and hated lawlessness, share in Christ’s glory, being co-heirs with Him? In Parts 2, 3 and now 4, the final article in this series, we have been attempting to lend support to the interpretation of this parable which was given in Part 1. This last reference we will examine truly lends the greatest support for this interpretation and furthermore gives us another inducement to holiness:

Rev 19:6-8
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

The term “wife” here is a collective identification for those saints who have made themselves ready by their righteous acts. This "wife" of Christ is portrayed for us as being given the right to wear “fine linen, clean and bright” because of the merit of those who make up this particular group (Christ’s companions). This is clearly shown in the fact that the linen itself “is the righteous acts of the saints”. This body of saints, Christ’s intimate band of co-heirs (symbolized by the word “wife"), made themselves ready through loving righteousness and hating lawlessness; through their purposeful, determinate, and intentional practical acts of righteousness.

What is significant here is that the picture is of a wedding celebration, where overcoming saints, who are characterized by experiential righteousness, are joined to Christ in a very intimate way. This body of saints made themselves ready, in other words, prepared themselves for the privilege that is here described! Because of this assembly's preparation, they wore fine linen, which is told to us is their righteous acts!

The parallels of this passage to the Parable of the Wedding Feast are striking! Those participants in the wedding feast needed to come in proper attire. The man observed without a wedding garment was excluded from the joy within. He did not come prepared! He lacked making himself ready! Those so described as the “wife” in this scene (Rev 19:7-9) called “the marriage of the Lamb” made themselves ready, in other words, prepared themselves for the superlative experience of this great intimacy with Christ symbolized by marriage.

Both discuss a wedding feast, a garment, being prepared (or lack thereof) for the festive occasion, and opportunity for intimate, and grand fellowship with Christ. They are strikingly parallel. The passage found here in Rev 19:7-8 adduces very strong support for the interpretation that the wedding garment in Matt 22:1-14 is indeed the preparation of the life for the glories to come consisting in experiential righteousness.

Conclusion of the matter
Most people in Christendom today regard the wedding garment of the man in the parable of the Wedding Feast (Mt 22:1-14) as the righteousness of Christ. But the greatest weight of evidence supports the truth that what he really lacked was practical righteousness, “righteous deeds”.

Reader, it is my desire that you take the time to seriously consider this biblical and logical position as expounded in many places all over the New Testament. This life is a testing ground which will determine our roles in the coming ages. It is a time for preparation and capacitating for the glories, honors, and authority of the Kingdom of God. The view expressed in these articles best accounts for all the biblical data. Test it. As you read the Bible, try to understand the many conditional structures that you once considered as discussing the Perseverance of the Saints as conditions for the abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pt 1:11). You may very well find "exegetical gold"!

“Take heed how you hear!” Jesus says, because, “whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him"! (Lk 8:18).

Will you walk with Jesus in white? Such will not be the outcome for every child of God.

100 Comments:

Blogger Diane said...

Yea!!! I've been waiting for part 4 to be posted. Can't wait to read it.

Diane
:-)

March 31, 2008 6:50 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you Antonio for this wonderful article.... Part 4... "So you're born again... but will you walk with Jesus in white?"

I've read it, and I'm excited all over again!!! I intend to read it again and reread it. You are very gifted in knowing how to bring all the pieces together in a systamatic way that makes it easy to follow.

Now I can pass part 4 on along with the other 3 parts to my family and friends.

I (like Alvin) liked your observation of the "speechless" Christian in his sinless state in contrast to the "religious" unbeliever who speaks and trys to justify his actions.

I hope everyone who reads this blog will take the time to read ALL 4 ARTICLES! It's so worth it!!!

God's so good to me. He just keeps filling me up with His Word that is so satisfying!

TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY... GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE!!!

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

March 31, 2008 9:26 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

P.S. Now it's time to read the article that you referred to in part 4....
"Preaching the Gospel to the Saved?"
I can't wait!!!
:-)

March 31, 2008 9:37 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

This is a great post.

March 31, 2008 11:30 PM  
Blogger Peggie said...

Thank you for this study about Rewards.
It is so sad that this isn't preached
from the pulpits on Sundays. What a blessing it would be to the listeners!
My husband and I appreciate ya.

April 01, 2008 12:49 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

I agree!!! It's plain to see unless you've been blinded by some system that does not allow a free will to choose. Great insight Antonio and it harmonizes with scripture when taken in context!

alvin

April 01, 2008 4:03 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Diane, I appreciate your enthusiasm! I am happy to have encouraged you in a small way.

Matt, thanks for the thumbs-up. I have re-read it a few times and want to tweak it a little in order to make it a bit more clear.

Peggy, as the first article explained, the doctrine of rewards and accountability is the most neglected of all scriptural teachings. You must be an ambassador for this truth.

Alvin, thanks for your participation in this blog.

You guys have a nice day!

Antonio

April 01, 2008 4:31 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Dear readers of Free Grace Theology Blog, please note that I have made revisions and additions to this article, as I found it at places ambiguous and ill-worded. Please take the time to re-read at your leisure. Your questions and comments are greatly appreciated.

Your fg host,

Antonio

April 01, 2008 5:54 PM  
Blogger JoW said...

Antonio,
Thank you for the time and effort put forth in writing this article - all four parts. I agree this is teaching that is desperately need in the church today. One of things we need to be faithful in is rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth”. ESV Sound exegesis is crucial. You do this.[sound=free from ... damage, defect, disease, etc.; in good condition; healthy; robust: a sound heart; a sound mind,having no defect as to truth, justice, wisdom, or reason: sound advice.]
Neglecting the doctrine of rewards and accountability leads to all kinds of misinterpretations, as you state.

Luke 8:18, which you quote at the end, is the key. If we believe truth that God through the Holy Spirit reveals to us, we will receive more truth.

May we all strive to be more pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ every day. And He is pleased when we believe what He says and express our faith and love to Him by obedience.
Sincerely,
Jo Ann

April 02, 2008 3:15 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Thanks Jo Ann for your encouragement.

Readers of Free Grace theology. I have a few more series lined up for posts. First, I would like to take some of the objections to this position on rewards given by some from the Reformed Traditionalism and Traditionalistic FG and give answers.

Then I would like to go through the whole New Testament and pick all the important conditional structures and comment on them. It is the conditional statements in the NT that give theologians the most trouble.

I also have a few series from months ago that I would like to finish.

So keep up-to-date with the goings on here.

Thank you for your readership. I hope you are as edified in your participation in this blog as I am in studying to construct the posts.

Your fg host,

Antonio

April 02, 2008 7:56 PM  
Blogger JoW said...

Antonio,
Boy, answering the objections and commenting on the conditional constructions.You have your work cut out for you. Bob Wilkin's article, 'Condition and Consequence;A Key to Correct Interpretation' would be a good article to read in this connection.
Good Night,
Jo Ann

April 02, 2008 10:01 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Jo Ann

That is an exellent article by Bob Wilkin's. And I believe is the key to correct Bible interpretation and yet so simple!

And that's where so many jump the track they are not consistant but end up going down the road of their man made system which contradicts being able to take the living water freely.

The starting place is realizing no scripture contradicts other scripture. So you start with the clear scripture like John 6:47 and go from there concerning the free gift of eternal life.
This is exactly what Zane Hodges has done! He is consistant in his interpretation of Scripture. It takes great courage to stand up against tradition. And I believe this is just what men like Zane and Bob and Antonio are doing which realy ends up stepping on the toes of all those inconsistant ones!
When you tell someone "you can take the living water freely" and then go on to tell them they MUST repent, confess, realize they are a sinner first! This is clearly a contradiction. When the only condition for Jesus gift of eternal life is to believe!!!

They seem to be blind to this fact and I believe it's because of the other scripture you pointed out earlier Jo Ann.

Luke 8:18, which you quote at the end, is the key. If we believe truth that God through the Holy Spirit reveals to us, we will receive more truth.

I believe here lies the problem the majority have rejected the truth of the free offer of eternal life, thus creating their own man made system!

If you are one who has done this it is not to late to go back to those child like Scriptures and drink the living water freely which springs up into eternal life!
(John 3:16; 4:10,14; 5:24; 6:47; Rev 22:17)

alvin

here is that article that Jo Ann posted earlier which I believe would of great value to read!

Bob Wilkin's article, 'Condition and Consequence;A Key to Correct Interpretation'

April 03, 2008 3:00 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin and JoAnn...

AMEN!

What you're saying is the KEY!

The Lord is encouraging me through you and Antonio!
It is exciting for me to read this and SEE that God is at work in our lives.... through you!!! His Word does not return void. TRUTH WILL STAND!!!

And Alvin, I'll pray that God will use your words of exhortation to reach those dear people who haven't yet freely drank of the living water which springs up into eternal life.

Our God is ALIVE and WORKING and showing His love all the time.
Praise alone goes to Him!!!

All because of His wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)

April 03, 2008 8:23 AM  
Blogger JoW said...

Alvin,
Right on. Bob's article can be found at:
http://www.faithalone.org/news/y2007/wilkin2.htm

April 03, 2008 8:24 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
Wow, there is a lot to think about in that post!

Quoting you: Satan can level against us every machination at his disposal, but he can never achieve victory against the faithful saint.

We know that he can be victorious in discouraging us if we are not faithful. Every Christian who has ever allowed him/herself to wallow in unrighteousness knows this. Satan wins when we do this. He might not win ultimately - the war - but we allow him to win the battles.

I think these three questions you asked are great:

* Reader, have you received the free gift of God, everlasting life, by simply believing in Jesus for it?

* Do you publicly identify yourself with Jesus Christ and seek to bring Him glory through your testimony?

* Do you consider your identity in Christ to be more precious then your very life?


I like how you progressed from asking about something free to asking about something very costly. I think POS people would see those three questions as all relating to the subject at hand in the first question, blurring the line between salvation and discipleship... so dreadfully.

I also thought it was interesting, when you quoted 2 Tim 4:7-8, I was thinking about 1 Jn 2:28, then a few paragraohs down, you quoted 1 Jn 2:28 yourself. It makes sense. A Christain who is living for temporal pleasures and self will not be looking forward to the appearance of Christ - probably for several reasons, not the least of which is shame.

My sticking point with this post is inherent in this point:
The term “wife” here is a collective identification for those saints who have made themselves ready by their righteous acts.

Are you saying that the body of Christ does not equal the Bride of Christ? If so, how does that square with Ephesians 5?

April 03, 2008 11:21 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi all!

Rose writes: I think POS people would see those three questions as all relating to the subject at hand in the first question, blurring the line between salvation and discipleship... so dreadfully

Rose, I think that you misunderstand the position of those of us who beleive in the perseverance of the Saints. We do not believe that people are saved because they persevere. That not only blurs the line, but removes it altogether. We believe rather that people persevere because they are saved.

The Lord Jesus gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (Galatians 1:4) Anything less than this is a less-than-the-salvation which Christ purchased for us with His own blood. I accept (as you do in your posting) that there are many battles lost, but there is a war on and the saved sinner, by free grace alone, will win it!

Regards,

April 03, 2008 11:54 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Just so that I can get the email alert. The first post did not afford me this opportunity. But I persevered :0)

April 03, 2008 11:55 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Hey Goodnight!
Is this the very first time that you have ever commented on the Free Grace Theology Blog? If I am not mistaken, I think it is. It isn't my blog or I would say "welcome" to you. But it is fun for you to pop in.

You said:
We believe rather that people persevere because they are saved.

in objection to my statement:
I think POS people would see those three questions as all relating to the subject at hand in the first question, blurring the line between salvation and discipleship...

But in your objection, you make my case. Let's just look at the second question:

Do you publicly identify yourself with Jesus Christ and seek to bring Him glory through your testimony?

By saying people persevere because they are saved, you directly link whether or not someone publicly identifies and works for Christ right back to the first question. In your theology, if the answer is NO to the second question, then the answer is necessarily NO to the first question, right? That is what I meant in my comment. If one answers NO to the second or third questions, then they cannot claim YES on the first.

If that is not your particular view, then you certainly are different than most of the POS proponenets I have interacted with.

Regards.

April 03, 2008 1:33 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Rose, I think I’ve commented here before. Can’t remember, but I’m pretty sure that I have.

I think it is best worded that a true saint (to keep with the POS identification) will at the very least be willing to publicly identify himself with Christ etc., (2nd question) and desire that if it came to the crunch, that they would be willing to be martyred for Christ (3rd question) It would be positively dangerous, in the light of Peter’s boast, for any of us to categorically state that we would die rather than compromise the faith.

There are different levels of grace at work in the Christian. Currently I am able to say that I do publicly identify myself with Christ and (as it stands) I would like to think that if push came to shove, that I would be willing to be martyred, but (again) I cannot categorically affirm that I would. I would be confident that grace would be given to me in that hour as it has been given to thousands of martyrs. This last one is difficult enough to answer, as I do not want to promote my very weak self on one hand nor diminish the very real and powerful help of god on the other.

I think, though, that someone who professes faith in Christ but has no desire to publicly identify themselves with Christ etc., or who would blatantly say: “Well, my religion is important to me but not that important” would really need to sit down and re-examine their heart as to whether or not they are in Christ. Again,. I say this, not because public identity or martyrdom etc., is the cause of salvation or even a contributing factor, but because it is a fruit or evidence of the reception of the free gift of God etc.,

Regards,

April 03, 2008 2:24 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hey Rose,

Thanks for taking the time to finish up the articles. Your observations and comments are very encouraging to me.

In the consideration of Rev 19:7-8 with reference to Eph 5: My understanding of Ephesians 5 doesn't pose any problem with the language of Rev 19. Maybe you could look at Eph 5 a little more closely and then construct some questions to bring up.

Maybe if you wanted, take a good look at Eph 5:27 closely and then read this article:

Will All True Christians be Presented Blameless at the Judgment Seat of Christ?

Maybe after you do a little more thinking on Eph 5 you could formulate some specific questions. I am happy to answer them, but I want to zero in on what is hanging you up.

Thanks again for your friendship and patronage here at Free Grace Theology Blog.

Your forever brother,

Antonio

April 03, 2008 4:17 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Goodnight!

Welcome. I just wanted to point out one thing in regard to what you said.

Your words....
"I think, though, that someone who professes faith in Christ but has no desire to publicly identify themselves with Christ etc., or who would blatantly say: 'Well, my religion is important to me but not that important' would really need to sit down and RE-EXAMINE THEIR HEART AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE IN CHRIST."
***END OF QUOTE***

That person who has to re-examine his heart to see if he is REALLY saved is a person who will never have 100% assurance of his salvation. He will never know for sure if he has enough evidence to PROVE that he is saved. Notice where the person is looking to find that assurance..... himself.
He's not looking to Christ. He's looking to himself. He's not looking to the promise of Jesus in His Word. The ONLY way we can have assurance of our salvation is to believe the testimony of God in His Word. God said if we believe in Him, we will not perish but have everlasting life. That's His promise. We can KNOW that we are forever saved if we believe His promise. That's believing in Him! There is NO other place we can go to find assurance. Looking to ourselves for assurance will ALWAYS produce either doubt or pride, and probably both.

Someone who believes in Jesus for eternal life MAY be a person who is NOT living for Him. He will suffer the temporal consequences in this life and loss at the Judgement Seat of Christ, but will always be saved.

I hope you get a chance to read Antonio's great paper that he posted above...
"Will All True Christians be Presented Blameless at the Judgment Seat of Christ?"
I hope you will be a Berean and examine the evidence. It's the scriptures that you'll be checking out. See if what Antonio says in that paper is true!!!
I read it through today, and I plan to pass it around to my friends and family.

I appreciate your comments. Glad you've joined in. Hope you continue to to visit Antonio's blog.

All because of His wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)

April 04, 2008 10:39 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Diane,

Thank you for your response to my posting. I am not so much known on Antonio’s blog here, although I am better known on his group blog UoG and on Rose’s blog.

Your objection to what I wrote is flawed in two places:

1) You have taken what I wrote on a very small matter i.e. someone professing to be a Christian but who had reduced the confession of Christ to being something of little importance, to being the whole sum and substances of my views on assurance. For some reason, the immediate sentence that followed i.e. Again, I say this, not because public identity or martyrdom etc., is the cause of salvation or even a contributing factor, but because it is a fruit or evidence of the reception of the free gift of God etc., has not been allowed to colour my comments as it should.

2) You seem to run with the idea that while we cannot know how much evidence lying within is enough, yet it is not a thing to be eternally concerned (in a salvic sense) about if there is no evidence within. The “how much is enough?” argument is not a bad one, but it is easily answered. It is evident from the Scripture that God does not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax – that even a little faith is as acceptable as the great faith etc., Even the greatest Christian is still an unprofitable servant, so none can think too highly of himself and base his assurance on himself. We are accepted with God entirely on the basis of the Perfection of the Person and Work of His Son. He has accomplished for us a salvation, however, that may be evidenced in our lives…and if there is no evidence, then we there is a real danger that we are fooling ourselves. IOW – John 6:47 brings a discernible salvation.

Thanks for engaging me here. If I have misunderstood you or if I have failed to put across my position clearly, then I apologise.

Regards,

April 05, 2008 1:27 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

Antonio,

There isn't a doubt in my mind that you will be of those who overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of your testimony, and that you do not love your life unto death.

Also, our Glorious Savior loved righteousness and hated lawlessness.

Question -

Does it not all boil down to religeous affections? After all, was it not Christ's nature to love righteousness and hate lawlessness? Is it not man's new nature, through the "birth from above", that spurs him on to be intimate with Christ? What is it that separates you, as I described you in my opening paragraph, from that person who is merely content to name Christ and yet go on through life without striving for intimacy with Him?

April 05, 2008 8:24 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Goodnight...

Thank you for your gracious response to my comments... about your comments!
:-)

I do believe that there is evidence (fruit) of a person's BELIEF. It is what they "SAY" with their mouth. If they testify that they are going to heaven because their faith is in Jesus Christ alone, then they have given evidence of being eternally saved.

Also, there will be evidence of their sanctification as they grow in Christ. That evidence testifies to where they are in their Christian walk with the Lord.

But we must be careful about mixing justification evidence with sanctification evidence.

The only way we can know we're saved is by believing God's Word such as in John 3:16.

If we do NOT go on to maturity there will be no evidence of growth in the Christian life. AND we may become confused as to whether or not we're really saved BECAUSE we've stopped believing the testimony of God in His Word.

This was just a "quick" answer to your question because I have to run. I have an appointment, but I'll be back.

I hope I don't become too redundant with all of my friends here at Antonio's blog. I thank you for the opportunity to chat with friends about the Lord and His wonderful salvation freely given.

TO HIM ALONE I GIVE THANKS!

All because of Jesus,
Diane
:-)

April 05, 2008 8:58 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Diane,

You write: If we do NOT go on to maturity there will be no evidence of growth in the Christian life. AND we may become confused as to whether or not we're really saved BECAUSE we've stopped believing the testimony of God in His Word.

This must lead me to ask you then as to how much growth you need before you can stop being confused as to whether or not you are saved?

I agree with you about not confusing justification and sanctification. However, let us not divorce them either. They are all part of the one salvation which Christ purchased with His own blood. He shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21)

Regards,

April 05, 2008 10:11 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Antonio,
How about this one question first? ... just to make sure I haven't a misunderstanding.

you said:
The term “wife” here is a collective identification for those saints who have made themselves ready by their righteous acts.

Are you saying that the body of Christ does not equal the Bride of Christ?

April 05, 2008 10:52 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

I must work today and tomorrow. I hope to be able to participate more freely some time next week.

Regards

April 05, 2008 11:14 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Thank you 'Goodnight' for your question.

You said...
"how much growth do you need before you can stop being confused as to whether or not you are saved?"

None!

The ***moment*** you believe in Jesus Christ alone for everlasting life as promised in His Word (John 3:16), you KNOW you are saved. You have assurance!!!

If you HAVE believed in Him for everlasting life, but *later* started doubting because of bad teaching, OR sinful lifestyle, or circumstances that have come into your life that have made you doubt, you need to go back to His promise in His Word to get your assurance back. Just take Him at His Word. Those who believe in Him HAVE everlasting life.

The believer who is obedient to God's Word is the believer who is growing in His faith. HE will have evidences of God's working in His life. That's evidence of being sanctified. But we can NEVER find our assurance there because our feelings are not reliable. We either believe His promise in His Word for everlasting life, or we doubt. Believing God's promise in His Word is the only place we can go to get our assurance back.

I love this truth so much. I wish I could help others to see it. It's AWESOME! It's WONDERFUL! It's liberating! No words can describe the freedom and joy that comes when you understand this distinction.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!!!" Acts 16:31.
:-)

To JoAnn.... Thank you for your question to Antonio. It's a great question and I'm looking forward to hearing from him on that, too.

To my friends here at Antonio's PLACE...... May your joy in the Lord be full~!!!

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

April 05, 2008 2:40 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

CORRECTION...

On my last e-mail I meant to address Rose... towards the bottom of my comment. I mistakenly addressed it to JoAnn. SORRY!
But I'm thankful for both of you!

Diane
:-)

April 05, 2008 5:15 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Bro. Antonio,

To my shame I must say that I just now have read this entire post. I have one word in response to it: BRAVO!! One thing in particular that you said really hit home for me, & the Lord really convicted me through it: You said, " in the case of the pretender, “even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” Brother, pray for me. I know & love Christ yet that describes me all too plainly. Thank you for the labor of love that you obviously put in this study. May the Lord bless you.

April 05, 2008 6:59 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Diane,

The reason I asked the question "how much growth do you need before you can stop being confused as to whether or not you are saved?" is because you linked confusion and lack of assurance to no evidence of growth, when you wrote: ”If we do NOT go on to maturity there will be no evidence of growth in the Christian life. AND we may become confused as to whether or not we're really saved BECAUSE we've stopped believing the testimony of God in His Word.”

It is very easy for anybody to look back to a decision they supposedly made and rest on that, even though there is no desire or attempt (as much as we responsible to do so) live a holy life. I cannot accept that someone who says that they have believed in Jesus for everlasting life has really done so if there is no fruit whatsoever.

Just one drink saves lives (justification)
Just one drink changes lives (sanctification)

My hope for eternity is built entirely, 100%, solely on the work of the Cross. I repeat again, I am not saved, because I persevere. I persevere, because I am saved. If someone is not saved from their sins then I dare say, that they are not saved at all. No one is claiming that the holiness of the Christian is complete in this life. But it is there begun and will be 100% until the Christian infallibly reaches glory – and all due to the grace of God alone without the deeds of the law, both before and after his conversion.

Regards,

April 06, 2008 12:55 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Oops...

Should read re: sanctification:

"...will NOT be 100% until the Christian infallibly reaches glory..."

April 06, 2008 12:57 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

Colin says,"Just one drink saves lives (justification)
Just one drink changes lives (sanctification)"

AMEN!!!

April 06, 2008 7:11 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

You cannot divide up the benefits of the New Covenant. That same covenant that was brought about by Christ's shed blood, that same covenant by which we receive the ministry of righteousness is also that by which God the Holy Spirit writes on the tables of men's hearts, making us epistles of Christ for the world to read.

April 06, 2008 7:20 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

Off to my normal Sunday Morning activities then off to work. Have a good Lord's day, all. Hope to see you tomorrow.

Mark

April 06, 2008 7:23 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Happy Lord's Day, All!

I had a busy werekend with it being my 10th wedding anniversary. I will resume commenting tomorrow. I also have a post on Rev 20:6 coming out soon, possibly tomorrow.

I will respond to you all tomorrow!

Your fg host,

Antonio

April 06, 2008 11:07 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

HAPPY 10TH ANNIVERSARY ANTONIO!!!

Would love to hear more about your wife, children, and family if you so choose to share any of that with us sometime!

God's very best to you and your family,

Diane (for lots of your other fans, I'm sure!)
:-)

April 06, 2008 1:03 PM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Colin, I do think that sanctification is a once and for all event, but we need to enter into that reality by moment by moment faith.

April 06, 2008 1:11 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Matthew,

You write: I do think that sanctification is a once and for all event, but we need to enter into that reality by moment by moment faith.

Are you perfectly sanctified i.e. absolutely holy in every thought, word and deed?

I think, I know your answer, :0) but I'll wait on it so that you can open it up a wee bit for us.

Regards,

April 06, 2008 1:20 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

To my friends, "goodnight" and Mark...

Friends, I'm not looking back to a decision I "supposedly" made for my assurance of salvation. I am looking AGAIN to the promise in God's Word. It doesn't matter WHEN I was saved, but who my faith is in NOW. If I ever lost the assurance of my salvation, the ONLY place I could get it back is looking to His promise in His Word.
For me that would be John 3:16.

Do you agree or disagree with me on this? Thank you.

Diane
:-)

April 06, 2008 1:31 PM  
Blogger JoW said...

Antonio,
It seems to me that the Bride in Revelation speaks of the Church as a corporate body and it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen”, ie, something given to her. In the wedding feast in Matthew, it was an individual who was without a wedding garment and he was to supply his own by righteous deeds. I certainly agree with you that rewards are conditional and some Christians will lose them, but it does not seem to me that Rev. 19 is talking about this teaching. Will the wedding of the Lamb not take place after the judgment seat of Christ has been completed​? The whole church will be there to celebrate with Him because she is the bride not a guest.
In Ephesians 5:27 Christ sanctifies and cleanses the church that He “might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish”, once again a corporate concept - vs. 30 “we are members of His body”..
Congratulations on your 10th. My husband and I celebrated our 45th last week end!
Jo Ann

April 06, 2008 5:52 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Congratulations bro. Antonio on 10 wonderful years! My precious wife & I will celabrate 21 beautiful years together next month if the good Lord's willing & the saints don't rise! If we do, then we'll celebrate it up there!!!!!!!!! God Bless.

April 06, 2008 7:21 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

JoAnn... CONGRATULATIONS!
1963.... RIGHT?
That's the year we were married, too!!! It'll be 45 years for us in August. We have a lot more in common than we realized! NEAT!

Diane
:-)

April 06, 2008 9:09 PM  
Blogger Bobby Grow said...

Thanks for the time you spent on this Antonio.

Let me just say, and you know this, I disagree with the basic framework you are working with. Since the spirituality you're arguing for yields the exact same results as the one you so vociferously argue against. All you've done is switch the referent from justification to glorification vs. the Calvinist TULIP. You still offer a theological situation with "perseverance"--the goal though isn't to prove justification . . . but to "improve glorification"---FOR ME! The center of your paradigm, in the end, is ME, not HIM, CHRIST. The goal is for ME to reign in the millennium, and excel beyond those less faithful "left behind" in the heavenlies.

To me, a healthy system of theology needs to be Christ-centred---and I don't think Reward Theology achieves that as its touchstone.

Here is an critique I did on this very issue, quite some time ago . . . I know Antonio has already read it, hopefully you don't mind me linking it here:

Critique of Reward Theology

April 06, 2008 11:52 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Diane,

I basically agree with you. John 3:16 is the be all and end of all of our justification. I trust that you would agree with me though that the eternal life spoken of in John 3:16 (and elsewhere) is a lot more than an endless period of time – it is also a quality of life. If this quality of life (i.e. holiness etc.,) is missing altogether, then we must either doubt the claim of the Giver or the claim of the “receiver” - and in this case, the claim of the Giver is above suspicion.

The difference between the Reformed position and the FG position is that holiness is not an add on to salvation. Reformed Christians believe that it is part of it. Again, His name shall be called Jesus because He shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21)

Regards,

April 07, 2008 1:36 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

Diane,

Good to meet you!

John 17:3 provides us with the very definition of eternal life - knowing God and His Son, and it is an ever growing knowledge at that.. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. Once a person comes to the Father through the Son they have been so reconciled and the journey of an ever growing knowledge of God has begun. That ever growing knowledge will yield obvious results in the life - a growing desire to live a life that pleases the Father.

April 07, 2008 5:00 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Dear Friends.. (Goodnight and Mark),

All I'm saying is that assurance of our salvation can only come by believing God's written promise in His Word. You are going beyond that. You are saying that it's God's Word PLUS the evidence of a changed life.

Every born again believer has been changed. He is a new creation. He now has the Holy Spirit living in Him. He now has a new nature. I agree.
But you're refusing to deal with those scriptures that give warning to BELIEVERS not to live in the flesh.

It's so important that believers understand where their assurance comes from. If they don't get that straight they will struggle throughout life not knowing for sure if they're really saved.

For EVERY believer.... there was that time when they had that assurance. It was the moment they passed from death to life when they first believed Jesus' promise in His Word. It wasn't by looking at evidence.
Once they take their eyes off of God's promise, their ups and downs begin.

FOR ASSURANCE....
I say God's Word ONLY.
You say God's Word AND evidences that prove we are His.

I'm not doubting your love for the Lord at all. I'm glad we're in the same family... the family of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. You are my brothers.
I rejoice in that!

Your sister in Christ,
Diane
:-)

April 07, 2008 10:07 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

Diane,

I agree that our primary assurance comes from God's word. MacArthur would say that too.

but...

Life is ALWAYS apparent. Here in the north eastern USA the trees are just beginning to bud, coming out of winter dormancy. During the winter you can not tell the difference between an actual dead tree or the dormant one beside it; though one is actually still alive. In the spring the inevitable happens - because it is alive the one will bud and grow leaves while the other manifests the fact that it is dead.

So it is with the Christian. Over time more and more fruit of the Spirit will be made manifest. God's chastening has a role in this too as He peels back those things in our lives that don't belong.

April 07, 2008 10:19 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Diane,

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comments here.

I certainly have no desire (nor reason) to ignore “those scriptures that give warning to BELIEVERS not to live in the flesh.” I accept that they are there and necessary for our growth in grace.

I fundamentally agree with you that assurance will flow from a constant returning to the promise of God. Certainly, when I was first saved, I had immediate assurance that my sins were forgiven because I took God at his Word. I suppose it would have been pretty useless to have looked for much fruit at that time when I was but a new born soul in Jesus Christ. However, time moved on and with it my responsibilities as a Christian increased. We can only stay as new born babes on the milk for so long and when I came to examine myself and my faith, I was expected to look for much more. I must keep repeating here on these posts, that I do not make any evidences that I am his any part to play in my justification before God. That is always on the basis of grace, purchased by His blood and received by my faith. But it is natural (and above all else Biblical) to look for evidences that I really believe the promises of God. What is the evidence that the soul is in Christ? Are five of them not given in 1 John alone? I don’t think that w can conclude that a man who will honestly say that he has no love for the brethren nor any of the other evidences has really been born of God.

What is the evidence from 2 Corinthians 5:17 that any man is in Christ? Is it a changed life i.e. a new creation? If there is no evidence, (I mean in the polemic sense here in this discussion) then I suggest that there is no reality. I can’t stand looking at a little mound of freshly dug soil and say that someone planted some apple seeds in there many years previously. Where is the sapling? Where is the young tree? The reality is that there are no seeds there. The evidence that it is/was there is the tree that grows out of it If (again in the polemic sense) there is evidence, then we are entitled to look for it and use it to judge the reality of the seed that was sown.

I enjoy discussing these things with you.

Regards,

April 07, 2008 10:32 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Goodnight and Mark,

I appreciate your very gracious manner in which you show disagreement with me and others on this blog. Thanks for that.
:-)

Let me just say that our disagreement goes back to how we understand books of the Bible. You look at the book of 1 John as proof of salvation. I'm convinced that it's talking to believers. We are to examine ourselves to see if we are abiding in the truth... not to see if we are really saved. That would be like a child saying to his parents.... "I wonder if I'm really your child. I love to disobey you and be naughty. Maybe I'm not really your child."

I'm assuming you've both read Zane Hodges' commentary on 1,2,3 John and James? If that hasn't convinced you, then I know that I have no chance of changing your mind.

I'd like to give you a short testimony of something that God did in my life...
Many years ago I went to a church where my pastor taught that 1 John was about fellowship. That sounded good to me. Then a very gifted Bible teacher on the radio taught that it was evidences of our salvation. I respected both of these men at the time. Which was right? I would look at it one way and say... "Yes, that's right." Then I would look at it from the other perspective and say... "Yes, that sounds right." I went back and forth. I just didn't know for sure? After much of this I turned to the Lord and said something like... "Lord, I give up. I don't understand this book. I've tried to understand it, but I just don't know. So Lord I'm not going to read it anymore for now because it doesn't do me any good. I don't know what it means by what it says. I'm so confused."
I prayed that respectfully to the Lord. I was just being honest with Him. I was NOT accusing Him of anything.

Then about 10 years later after I had been introduced to GES and Zane Hodges, I found myself reading 1 John and understanding it (having confidence) for the first time. It dawned on me that God answered my prayer. He gave me understanding. I didn't even realize that was happening until 10 years later. God is so faithful.

Oooops.... time to go pick up a couple grandkids from school. But I'll be back. Thanks for the opportunity to chat with you both.

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

April 07, 2008 12:41 PM  
Blogger donsands said...

Good discussion.

"I have been crucified with Christ: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;" Gal. 2:20

"You did not choose Me, but I chose you and ordained you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain". John 15:16

Some will bear fruit 30 fold, some 60, some 100, some maybe more, and some less.
No fruit, then the tree is dead, and shall be cursed.
A good tree brings forth good fruit, and a bad tree bad fruit, of just leaves maybe.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. All the bad fruit tress will be cut down.
"THEREFORE, by their fruits you will know them." Matt 7:20

We can do nothing without Christ, the Vine. But when grafted into the Vine of all vines, fruit will be there. Not because of me, nor even my faith, but because God promised.

I receive zero glory. Absolutely zero times zero credit for even the smallest portion of fruit in my heart, mind, and life.
Jesus Christ shall receive all the glory for the fruit He promised to produce in me, and all his people.

For it is by grace alone that I am His workmanship.

April 07, 2008 6:27 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

yes but you forgot about your sinful flesh, so your not able to always do what you would like to! And when you were a new believer that was much more evident!

April 07, 2008 6:40 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Diane

I just been sitting back and watching you wield that BIG sword, and you haven’t even chopped anyone’s head off yet or even nicked an ear! I think I’m more like Peter, I would have at least chopped off one ear by now. I like Calvinist ears! I’ve been known to spray bullets, I usually get everyone including myself at least once. I can see I can learn much from you, you are one of a kind and gentle of spirit. I believe the Lord is very much pleased with you.
You wield the two edged sword with grace and truth!!!

your brother
alvin

April 07, 2008 6:40 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Oh Alvin... You made me laugh, and I needed that.

Thank you good friend!!!

Grandma Di-Di (As my grandchildren call me)
:-)

April 07, 2008 7:24 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

To know the Lord!
The word Know is a polymorphous word which can have different meanings, the meaning is determined by context. Know your wife, I thought you knew her.
Regeneration a New Covenant blessing, to know the Lord.
In the Old Testament the contrast is given: 1 Samuel 2:12 Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord.
1 Samuel 3:7 ( Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.)

John 14:5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “If you had know Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip?

1 John 2:4 He who says, ”I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Do you always keep Jesus commandments? When you do not it’s as if you do not know Him. You are not abiding when we walk in the flesh.

John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know You.the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

I believe in the preceding verse that the reception of eternal life is given and that is simply by believing Jesus promise to give it.
17:2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.

I believe that to know in the sense of 17:3 is at a deeper level, just as Thomas new Jesus for eternal life but did not yet know Him, because if he had Jesus would not have told Thomas “If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also

alvin

April 07, 2008 7:55 PM  
Blogger donsands said...

"yes but you forgot about your sinful flesh" -alvin

Is that for me?

I'm not sure.

"The seal that the Spirit stamps on Christ's people is sanctification. As many as are actually 'led by the Spirit of God, they' and they only, 'are the sons of God' (Rom. 8:14).
... of course, it is hard to know what people really are and many, who make a fair show outwardly in religion, may turn out at last to be rotten-hearted hypocrites. But where there is not, at least, some appearance of sanctification, we may be quite certain there is no election. ... The very idea of a man being 'sanctified', while no holiness can be seen in his life, is flat nonsense and a misuse of words. ... A 'saint', in whom nothing can be seen but worldliness or sin, is a kind of monster not recognized in the Bible!" -JC Ryle

April 07, 2008 8:00 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

One other thought...

Friends, think about this...
There are good, religious people who look like Christians, who love God "in their own way," believe they're going to heaven when they die, go to church faithfully (perhaps even at a good Bible believing church), read their Bibles, serve as a deacon/elder/SS teacher, etc., etc., and are caring, loving parents. I could make a much bigger list than this. Those people believe a lot of good, right things about God... even that He died on the cross and rose from the grave. They believe He's the Son of God, etc., etc.
YET..... all that "evidence" that they look to as proof of their salvation is deceiving BECAUSE their faith is in their works. Jesus is not enough. To look to evidence FOR ASSURANCE OF SALVATION is disastrous!!!!!

Where do these people need to go to find out for sure if they're saved? Not to the evidence they see in their lives!!!!! But.... to a place like John 3:16.
Whenever a person looks at his life for that evidence, he is looking in a place that is not reliable. Looking there will lead him straight to hell. That is so sad. Lot of deceived people going to hell.

Now, for a saved person. That person believed God's promise to give him everlasting life by believing in Jesus alone. At that moment he was born again. He became God's child. Now there is much treasure to be found as he digs into God's Word and eats from His table. But if he chooses to live disobediently, he will suffer the consequences of a disobedient child, and loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ. But he will be saved. Can he KNOW he's saved? YES... by believing God's promise in His Word. Will he be an outcast in heaven? NO! He has no sin nature in heaven. He'll realize at that point what he lost, but God will wipe all tears away and he will be forever gloriously happy. When does that happen? I'm not sure. I don't have all the answers. I'm still a learner. Hopefully I'll always be a learner. I think we'll be continually learning throughout eternity. I think God is SO BIG that we'll never get to the place where we've learned it all. But one thing I know because it's taught in the Bible.... The unfaithful Christian's *position* in the Kingdom will not be the same as the one who was faithful. But there will be no jealousy or bitterness. No sin nature! God is fare. It'll all be right.

Sorry that I got wordy here. Just typing away as I'm thinking.
:-)

I hope you truly will all be Bereans and ask God to give you an honest and open heart to hear Him. Search and find exegetical gold (as Antonio so well put it). And I HOPE you're truly read carefully the 4 articles that Antonio posted here....
"So You're Born Again, But Will You Walk With Jesus In White?"

God's best to you all my friends,

Diane
:-)

April 07, 2008 8:28 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

Amen Diane!!!

And I'm happy that I could make you laugh earlier!!!

Praise God! And the truth will set you free!!!

I remember when I was very legalistic in my thinking, and I think it's something we all must continully gard against. But I was asking the Lord "I know that eternal life is a gift, but the Bible makes it sound like it costs everything. I went on to tell the Lord if He didn't show me I would never know." He brought ME to a book in a second hand store called "Absolutely Free" by Zane Hodges. At first I didn't buy it because it had John Calvin's name way to many times in it. But by the time I traveled 90 miles back home, I knew I needed to go back and buy that book for five dollars. That book answered my question that I had asked God. I saw from that book that the free gift and discipleship had been mixed making it like a contract in order to get to heaven. And for the first time I saw just how "FREE" the living water that springs up into eternal life was!!! I could have shouted for joy, and I probably did!!! I no longer had to work my way to heaven in order to know I would get there, but was just as the Bible said:
Rev 22:17
The Spirit and the bride say "Come!"
And let him who hears say, "Come!"
And let him who thirst come.
Whoever desires, let him take the water of life FREELY.

alvin

April 07, 2008 9:43 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Alvin... How exciting to read your testimony!!!

Isn't "Absolutely Free" by Zane Hodges an absolutely WONDERFUL BOOK!!!
How I thank God for bringing that book to me also, and for the many other books by Zane Hodges that have helped me understand the distinction between the free gift of eternal life and the costliness of discipleship.
"Absolutely Free" was the first book I ever read by Zane Hodges. I buy everything he writes because they're so biblical. That's what makes them so good.

Thanks for sharing your testimony. I love to hear testimonies!!!

May God continue to use you greatly for His glory!!!

Diane
:-)

April 07, 2008 10:14 PM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Good morning Diane,

There are many things in the Bible which stand alone. Justification by faith alone without the deeds of the law – the Bible alone without tradition etc. There are other things where both things are true i.e. God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility – Jesus Christ both God and man etc.,

The Bible also teaches that we are to look both to Christ and within our own hearts for evidence that we are saved. One is objective (Christ’s work – the sole basis of our justification) while the other is subjective – how is this great objective truth affecting me? Is my life changed because I believe the truth of the gospel? The scenario which you raise of some pretty good living people (by the standards of men) being misguided about their salvation because they are looking to Christ alone for their salvation is apt. But it has its twin on the other side. People who say that they are looking to Christ alone for salvation and yielding no outward evidence that this is so.

As I indicated earlier, Christ’s salvation comes as a complete package. In this word “saved” we have a present here and now and perfect justification, an ongoing sanctification (a work in progress) and finally, a future and perfect glorification. While we may take these three matters apart for the sake of examination, yet they are all part of the one package which the Bible calls “salvation.”

As is often the case, it may be, Diane, that you are better than your doctrinal views. (This sounds awfully bad, but it’s not meant to be. It may well prove that the same could be said of me.) A Christian who is seeking to live unto the Lord is doing the right thing, even if they are not coming at it from the soundest of platforms.

I have enjoyed these discussions with you.

Regards,

April 08, 2008 1:33 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

The law of God—-His Will-—becomes part of the regenerate persons innermost being. Paul gives testimony to the truth of this in his own personal experience. As described in Romans 7:19-25, Paul tells us of his struggle with the presence of sin in his physical body. In the process of telling us he writes:

For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into the captivity to the law of sin which is in my members [vv.22-23].
A half verse later he writes:
So then with my mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin [vs. 24b].

It is completely clear in these verses that the apostle Paul is under the terms of the New Covenant. Just as Jeremiah’s prophecy, God had written His law on Paul’s mind and heart. With his mind he served that law and in his heart he delighted in it. Only a recalcitrant physical body prevented him from doing it consistently.
In fact, this happy inner servitude to God’s law is precisely what the apostle John speaks of in 1 John 3:9 saying:

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His [that is God’s] seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

This much dis-cussed text simply means that the regenerate person, as such cannot sin.
Since God’s law is written in his heart, his regenerate self never produces sin. Sin as Paul teaches us in Romans 7, is the work of the sinful flesh as it operates in and through our yet-to-be transformed physical bodies.
It is the inner man that is transformed at new birth, NOT THE OUTWARD MAN. That outward change can happen gradually as we walk with God, and the process will be completed when we meet the Lord in the air, and receive our glorified bodies. By Zane Hodges


I think we all go through this battle that Paul talks about in Romans 7 until we see that it’s only by the Spirit that we can have victory in the Christian life. Were told to reckon ourselves as dead, to put on the new man. But it is not something automatic as some would have us believe, but we are exhorted to do so.
The true story of Luis, by Zane Hodges is a great example of one who took of the living water freely but yet did not grow in his Christian life. He ended up running with the wrong crowd and ended up in a correction facility. He was the only Chicano who would not go to the Catholic services but instead attended Zanes Protestant service. He later was released but struggled for years before finally he started to grow in his Christian life, and now is a minister at Zane's Church. But he new from the moment he believed Jesus promise of life that he had that life!

alvin

April 08, 2008 3:36 AM  
Blogger donsands said...

"This much dis-cussed text simply means that the regenerate person, as such cannot sin."

That's great news. I can go out and commit adultery and murder, and yet I didn't sin. Incredible.

"If Paul says he was the chief of sinners, and He says, "I am the chief sinner", near the end of his life, then that makes me the same, and worse.

Yet I am forgiven, and clothed in Christ's righteousness, and this great salvation is 100% Christ and His work on the Cross, which is the only thing I shall boast in.

"I am a great sinner, and yet I have a great Savior!"

All glory to His holy and marvelous name!

April 08, 2008 4:47 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

John 17:3 IS THE definition of eternal life.

Romans 7 has been debated for years as to whether or not Paul there is describing the typical Christian experience. Dr. Robert Reymond, in his New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith makes a good case that there Paul is describing his days of being convicted of sin just BEFORE he came to saving faith; else, since chapter 7 is sandwhiched in between chapter 6's dead to sin, alive to God teaching, and chapter 8's walking in the Spirit Paul is being double minded.

The many instances where "Know" appears in 1 John give us an indication that those who truely know Him will love the brethren, have victory over sin and will proceed forward into correct doctrine. The doctrinal statement for 1 John being verse 5:13, not 1:3.

Faith in Christ is the entry into a living relationship with the Triune God. Whithin that relationship, or, as a result of that relationship, one has his/her eyes opened, is turned from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins... They are delivered from the power of darkness and are conveyed into the Son's kingdom. They are now a holy nation and a royal priesthood to show forth His praises.

ALL of the above truths WILL manifest themselves in the Christian experience, inevitably. Practical sanctification is a co-labor with God - our part is to walk in obedience to His word, iow, walk according to His Spirit.

Blessings,

April 08, 2008 4:49 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 08, 2008 5:14 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

More specifically, Romans 7:7-24 is the description of Paul when under conviction, just prior to his encounter with Christ.

April 08, 2008 5:15 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

Alvin,

I love you, brother!

Busy day ahead. Time will be limited. Hope to be able to respond more tomorrow.

April 08, 2008 5:19 AM  
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Colin, no I am not.

But positionally I am sanctified in Christ. The basis of my progress in the Christian life is on the basis of my standing in Him.

April 08, 2008 8:10 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Matthew writes: Positionally I am sanctified in Christ. The basis of my progress in the Christian life is on the basis of my standing in Him.

I agree.

April 08, 2008 8:18 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Also with the story of Luis who was raised Catholic. A friend of his talked him into going with him to his little Protestant church, where the Sunday school teacher raised up a silver dollar in his hand and told the class anyone could have it. One of the other boys took the silver dollar. Luis didn't really think that the Sunday school teacher would give away that much money. Later Luis stayed after class to talk to the teacher about the free gift of eternal life that Jesus gives freely. Luis went away that evening knowing that he would spend eternity with Jesus in heaven. It wasn't until years later that Luis would start walking with Jesus in discipleship but all along he knew the gift of eternal life was his!

Well got to go to the range today and qualify, maybe I can keep it in the bullseye like that Sunday school teacher did!
alvin

April 08, 2008 10:54 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Hi Ya'll,

very busy two days. Yesterday I worked for 8 hours at my job then came home and spent another 7 straight hours putting in a new outdoor awning for my back porch. I got up at 3 am and didn't get to bed until 10 pm! Today I worked, then had to shop, then had time to unload the groceries, by then I had an appt with the Chiropractor, then immediately had to go pick up the kids, drop off their carpool friend, come home, make them a snack, get them started on homework, then take my daughter to her softball game, where I just got back, made them dinner, brushed the dogs. Now I got to get them in the bath, have them finish their homework, and spend some time with them before they go to bed. Then my wife has the evening off so we will probably chill and catch up.

But

tomorrow I have the day off. Will do my best to respond as I can. I appreciate you all and your patronage here at Free Grace Theology Blog.

I have a couple of articles in the works.

One on the relationship of the church to Christ and the other on the beatitude in Rev 20.

Have a nice evening and I'll see ya'll tomorrow.

your fg brother,

Antonio

April 08, 2008 7:43 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Antonio... I am impressed!!!
You are a GREAT dad!!!
Take all the time you need with them. We'll gladly wait.

Enjoy hearing about that side of your life!!!

Diane
:-)

April 08, 2008 8:28 PM  
Blogger alvin said...

You Calvinist are starting to soften me up, I’m beginning to see the error’s of my ways! Diane has played a part in opening my eyes to my harsh comments especially to Goodnightsafehome and all other Calvinist that I have insinuated they were not saved. I honestly do not believe that the Calvinist belief can save because it adds works as evidence that the faith is true. I believe that one can take the free gift, and make bad choices and walk in the flesh just as the story of Luis showed. I don’t believe that God forces His love on anyone, and is willing to allow His children to act like children sometimes until they see the error of their way. Sometimes for many—many years!!! But like Luis he new that eternal life was a gift he had freely taken. And not believing that his life had anything to do with the freeness of the gift. And I believe that Luis was clearly told this in the beginning, that’s why he wasn’t looking at his works to prove he had eternal life. But had simply believed Jesus promise and had taken the living water freely. This is what I honestly believe, but that does not give me the right to insinuate someone is not saved!!!

When I read what Goodnightsafe home had said to Diane:

I basically agree with you. John 3:16 is the be all and end of all of our justification.

And then read how Diane had responded:

I'm not doubting your love for the Lord at all. I'm glad we're in the same family... the family of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. You are my brothers.
I rejoice in that!

Your sister in Christ,
Diane


I realized I needed to rethink some of my earlier comments to Goodnughtsafehome and other Calvinist, and must apologize for my words. I hope you will except my apology, and forgive me for being so harsh. I need to start listening more to my wife she has told me the same also.

And then Mark said:

Alvin,

I love you, brother!

I love you to Mark!! I just wouldn’t want you to hug me I think you might hurt me, you’re a big man!!!

My brothers name is Mark also and is a Calvinist pastor and is very sincere in his beliefs. I love my brother but I’m sure I’ve also been harsh with him, and also need to make things right with him.

Thank you my Good Friend Diane, and all my other friends in the Lord!!!
alvin

April 09, 2008 1:49 AM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

Alvin,

If I understand correctly you are a police officer working in a jail. I'm sure your heart is on fire to lead many a troubled person to Christ in that situation. Your zeal to do so is very evident, and I admire you for that zeal. May the Lord bless you!

Mark

April 09, 2008 4:28 AM  
Blogger donsands said...

"I don’t believe that God forces His love on anyone, and is willing to allow His children to act like children sometimes until they see the error of their way."

We have a loving Father, and His love for us, those who are His elect children, is far greater than the love we have for our own children.

And we surely discipline our children, and our Ftaher in heaven does the same, but with perfect omniscience.
But He doesn't discipline, correct, nor chastize everyone.

"FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS, AND SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES. (Prov. 3:12)
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons; for what son is he whom the Father does not chasten?
BUT, if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons.
....Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby." Hebrews 12:6-11

Lord bless. Keep up the good work for the Lord.

April 09, 2008 5:58 AM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Diane,
I also appreciate your comments here. I have been reading all of the email notifications of them and the others. I meant to thank you for your kind words to me on this blog several weeks ago. I never got a chance to respond to you and thank you. :~)

Alvin,
I felt really good in the Lord as I read your comment this morning. It was a blessing. :~)

Antonio,
Your life sounds as hectic as ours. Aint it grand? I will still look forward to our clarification on the question about the body equaling the Bride that I asked earlier. Thanks, brother. :~)

April 09, 2008 7:02 AM  
Blogger JoW said...

Antonio,
'Ditto' to Diane's comment. Glad you and your wife had an evening to relax. It's important.

Alvin,
You said, 'Diane helped me'. I agree; Diane is one of the most Christlike persons I have ever known and I have been so blessed by her posts since I started reading this blog. She is an example to us all. If we all showed that kind of love, the blog sphere would be a vastly different place than it is right now, especially in regard to the 'crossless' issue.
Jo Ann

April 09, 2008 7:14 AM  
Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Alvin,

They say confession is good for the soul. I never took offence at anything you wrote, so my forgiveness doesn't have to be forced out of me with a crowbar

:o)

The danger of damning all who disagree with us is that sooner or later we end up convinced that we alone will be Heaven.

Looking for works as the evidence of justification is not seeking justification by those same works. If this was the case, then your position could be defended.

The best way to learn about the Doctrines of Grace is to get a copy of the Westminster Confession of Faith (available online) and start at the beginning. Read the great non controversial chapters on the person of God and tghe inspiration of the Scripture etc., read it with caution (as you must any human document) and try not to read the worst into those parts where you are going to disagree. The WCF says that no violence is offered to the will of the creature, so God violently forcing His love on people as if He were a tyrant is just not accurately stating the matter clearly. No one is served - including yourself - by such a thing. You may or may not agree with what you read, but I believe that your responses to the disagreeable parts will be taken more seriously if your arguments are based on what is actually there and is actually believed.

See you around.

Regards,

April 09, 2008 8:43 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Dear Friends,

I am dealing with PRIDE right now after your VERY KIND REMARKS about me. Oh dear... I'm going to have to say something ugly!!!
:-) Just kidding! :-)

I do appreciate your kind words. I'm just so thankful for you because you teach me good things from God's Word, and sometimes it's just a clearer way of seeing something.
For example... I will always be grateful for Alvin's illustration of the "bulls eye" point. That has stuck with me. Plus much, much more!!!

Both Rose and JoAnn... you have taught me things. I always check it out in the Bible, and there it is!
I also think you have excellent questions for Antonio, and I wait his response...... BUT only after he spends lots of time with his wife and kids!
:-)

Alvin, you made me laugh AGAIN when you said to Mark....
"I love you too Mark:: I just wouldn't want you to hug me I think you might hurt me, you're a big man!!!"
That cracks me up!!! :-)

Mark and Goodnight and "other friends"... I appreciate your kind demeanor also. I disagree usually with you, but it's nice to be able to chat and disagree in love. Thank you for that.

All of you have been so nice to each other, and I've truly enjoyed chatting with you all. This is the part of blogging that I enjoy. It's very edifying and it's nice to meet new friends.

Because of Jesus... your friend,
Diane
:-)
P.S. I do have some comments regarding Calvinism.... which I'll post separately. Just a warning as to how ugly I might become!!!
:-)

April 09, 2008 9:07 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Mark wrote:
----------
Antonio,

There isn't a doubt in my mind that you will be of those who overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of your testimony, and that you do not love your life unto death.
----------
Mark, I appreciate your confidence in my practical sanctification and pursuit of holiness. But in all reality, you have more than I do.

There is the sad possibility that I may be 'adokimos' (or disapproved, or disqualified) at the end of my life. I am admonished and encouraged by the bible to live in light of the victory of Christ, appropriate the grace whereby He has given me everything that pertains unto life and godliness, and persevere until the end.

Paul, if anyone, could have boasted in the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. But he was well aware of the fact that such is not guaranteed. So he was diligent to run, fight, and be disciplined, lest he should be 'adokimos' (1 Cor 9:24-27).

You ask:
----------
Is it not man's new nature, through the "birth from above", that spurs him on to be intimate with Christ? What is it that separates you, as I described you in my opening paragraph, from that person who is merely content to name Christ and yet go on through life without striving for intimacy with Him?
---------
Man's nature is complex. Yes, my immaterial nature has been re-created. But my flesh is dead because of sin. Now the bible if rife with promises to the believer whereby he can acheive victory over the sinful inclinations. But these promises are conditional! Unless I fulfill the requirements for victory, I will not triumph over the sin nature.

And this is where the doctrine of rewards comes in. What are my motivations for godliness, to be like Paul and run, fight, and be disciplined in my body?

Answer: the prize of the the upward call in Christ, the reward of co-heirship and co-glory with Christ in the kingdom of God, the special, unique, and superlative intimacy with Christ as His companion in the ruling aristocracy of the coming ages.

Thanks for your participation in this thread.

Antonio

April 09, 2008 10:48 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Rose,

you write:
----------
Antonio,
How about this one question first? ... just to make sure I haven't a misunderstanding.

you said:
The term “wife” here is a collective identification for those saints who have made themselves ready by their righteous acts.

Are you saying that the body of Christ does not equal the Bride of Christ?
----------
I am going to write my next post on this very subject.

But let me tell you something. The word "bride" is never used of the body of Christ. As a matter of fact, the only explicit place where the term "bride" is used with the reference to Christ, in other words, being the bride of Christ, is in Rev 21:2, 9, where the bride of the Lamb is the city of the New Jerusalem coming out of heaven.

In hermeneutics we must be careful to apply the rule of affirmation. Unless something is specifically affirmed to be equal with something, we do not have the liberty to identify or equate two or more things. Paul, in Eph 5, is using word pictures for the mystery that he was revealing, the mystery of all Christians being one, whether Jew or Gentile, in Christ, as they are all part of one body. The body of Christ is the Church. John is, too, using word pictures in Rev 19. But he is discussing something far different than Paul was. The contexts are talking about two vastly different considerations.

We must be careful in the things in which we equate and identify with each other. Each time imagery and word pictures are used, they must be interpreted in the context in which they are found. Furthermore, greater observation and look to the flow of what is happening in passages will guard us from making illegitimate identifications.

We will look at these things and other things in greater detail in the next post.

Your fg brother,

Antonio

April 09, 2008 11:04 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

David Wyatt,

Thanks for your encouragement and comments.

Forget what is behind, and keep Jesus, who is high and lifted up, seated at the right hand of God, squarely in your focus! Consider Him who endured such sufferings! Look to Him! He is your goal! Keep Jesus as your example, and, like Paul, look to the glory and honor to be won: sharing and participating in Christ's band of overcoming companions in the ages to come.

Your fg brother,

Antonio

April 09, 2008 11:08 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Jo Ann,

You have good questions. I am constructing a post on this right now.

But as a short answer:

The reason saints were "granted" to be dressed in fine linen is given to us: their righteous deeds.

Because something is granted to someone does not mean it is by grace alone. Trophies are granted to individuals on the basis of merit. Honors are heaped and granted upon men and women because of their achievements.

Being honored in fine linen by Christ and being numbered within the intimate ranks of those who are so honored is conditioned upon loving righteousness and hating lawlessness.

Those saints who have not prepared themselves for the honors and glories to be awarded by Christ will be excluded from those honors, such as the one described for us in Rev 19:7-8.

I am more than happy to entertain and answer any follow up questions that you may have here.

Your fg friend,

Antonio

April 09, 2008 11:15 AM  
Blogger Antonio said...

To all:

I am not done commenting. I must go pick up the kids from school (it is a half day) and I am having a hankering for some chili shrimp at the local baja mexican seafood hole-in-the-wall.

See ya guys in the coming hours!

Antonio

April 09, 2008 11:20 AM  
Blogger alvin said...

Hi Mark

Thank you for your kind words! I can’t really say what I do but the majority of the men that work where I do have recently returned from the Iraq war. Most of them are allot younger then my own daughter. And I do try to make sure everyone hears the gospel, in fact my Lt. Purposely puts them with me knowing that I will share Christ with them.

God Bless you my friend!!!

Hi Donsands

I believe allot of the time God chastens us by letting us learn from our own mistakes. We all have had different experiences, some of us raised in good homes with good moral standards, others have not had that blessing, and tend to struggle more at the Christian life. The Calvinist who believe in regeneration preceding faith ( poof ) and you have everything!!! My brother has told me in the past that some of his best sermons are about me!!Ha! Ha! He would say “I would tell him he better not do that, but he would always do it anyway!) The difference between my brother and myself was like night and day, I was night!!! I always had to learn the hard way, and then it usually took more then once.

Blessings my friend alvin

Hi Rose

You said: Alvin,
I felt really good in the Lord as I read your comment this morning. It was a blessing. :~)


I’m glad Rose! You’re a sweety!!! And have a very big heart, and way more patience then anyone I know. I know you’re a blessing to many, and I appreciate you much. Sorry if I haven’t always shown it.

Your brother in the Lord alvin


Jo Ann

I agree whole heartily with your comment, I don’t see a whole lot of people who have that balance between grace and truth like Diane, I’m trying to move more to the grace side because I clearly have seen I’m out of balance.

Blessings alvin

Goodnightsafehome

I agree with your comments, thank you for helping me to grow I have much to learn.

Your brother alvin


Hi Diane

Thank you for your wonderful example of love!!!

You said:
Alvin, you made me laugh AGAIN when you said to Mark....
"I love you too Mark:: I just wouldn't want you to hug me I think you might hurt me, you're a big man!!!"
That cracks me up!!! :-)

Diane I love making you laugh! But when I look at Marks picture I see “the lock of death” if he got a hold of you in a headlock it would be over!!!Ha!Ha! But I can tell he has a big heart to!!! If I ever needed backup in a dark alley I would feel allot more at ease with him behind me.

Blessings my good friend Diane
Alvin

Hi David

Your a very good example of accepting everyone as a brother,and sister and are always kind in your comments.

thank you for your great example of Christian love!!!

blessings alvin

Antonio

I’m looking forward to learning much more from you, and am thankful for all the love and time you give to us!

Blessings
alvin

April 09, 2008 12:43 PM  
Blogger donsands said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 09, 2008 3:01 PM  
Blogger donsands said...

"I believe allot of the time God chastens us by letting us learn from our own mistakes."

Hard to see this from the text. And from the Scriptures as a whole.

But you can believe that if that's what you want. I suggest the Scriptures, especially these verses in Hebrews need to be read, studied and then pondered with the Holy Spirit's help, and other's who have been gifted with teaching the Word.
Then we can know how the Father chastises His children, even scourges them if needs be.


And the main point is that if someone calls himself a Christian, and is living without correction, and is not being disciplined, then he's an illegitimate child, not God's child at all.

But there's much more here to study.

Blessings to you alvin.

April 09, 2008 3:04 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I'm enjoying reading everybody's post.
:-)

Antonio, I really liked your short answer to JoAnn and Rose. Now all I need is time to examine what you said. And it sounds like there's much help on the way.
:-)

Alvin... You did it again... made me laugh when you said....
"when I look at Marks picture I see 'the lock of death'” if he got a hold of you in a headlock it would be over!!! Ha!Ha!"
Don't know what we'd do if you weren't part of this mix!!!
:-)

I would love to respond to each one of you, but I'm sure you're all like me.... waiting for Antonio's new article. He'll give us lots to think about!!!

I did want to comment on a couple issues though BEFORE Antonio adds his new post.

Donsands... regarding "being a son"...
Would you have time to read this paper by Ken Yates and tell me what you think? It's not really that long.

http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2006ii/02%20yates%20-%20Sons%20of%20God.pdf

I hope you'll be careful to check everything out in the scriptures to what he says in that paper.
If you choose to do that, I would love to know what you think. I know your bias, so I hope you'll be especially open before the Lord to make it clear what He (God) means in these passages. Thanks so much.
After reading that paper it may help you understand why I say what I do here regarding Heb. 12:6-11.

"If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons; for what son is he whom the Father does not chasten?
BUT, if you be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons.
....Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised thereby." Hebrews 12:6-11

God does chasten His children. Notice what the verse says...
"...afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness UNTO THEM WHO ARE EXERCISED THEREBY."
Not all God's children accept His chastening for good. But the ones who do are "sons" in the truest sense of the word... meaning they receive the privileges of a son.
All believers are God's children. All believers receive the privilege of being called a son when they are born again. But not all believers get to enter into those privileges as a son. Some first-born sons loose their inheritance. But they're still children and part of the family.
After reading Ken Yates paper, it will help explain more clearly what I'm saying here.

This was typed quickly because I'm getting ready to go out the door to church.

Thank you all for the enjoyable dialogue we've been having. I consider you all my new friends, and I hope someday we will meet here on earth, but if not... in GLORY!!!

In Jesus' love,
Diane
:-)

April 09, 2008 4:08 PM  
Blogger donsands said...

Yep, I'm bias, that's for sure.

I disagree with his teaching. And you can call me, and everyone who disagrees bias. I could call you bias. We surely are to a point.

Here's what i see.

"You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, IF the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."

This is not a child of God? But it is a "son" of God?

I think Paul is simply saying there are those who are not under condemnation, and there are those who are, those who do not BELONG to Christ, and those who do.

(And son includes daughter as well in my thinking. Unless daughters is a child only. But I digress. Sorry.)

So I see it as, You either BELONG to Christ, or you don't. A Christian, or an unbeliever.

I don't agree that Paul is simply talking about believers in chapter 8. Why does that have to be? That's a bad way to start.

"The mind of sinful man is death, ... the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God."

This is an unbeliever. To say this is some one is God's "child", but not a "son, is forcing the clear flow of Paul's words, in my way of thinking.

So, my bias view is that there are two people, not three.

I have some good teachings from James Boice, if you would like to read them, though you have to be open to God, and watch your bias.
Let me know Diane.

ps I argued this same thing with Woodrow Kroul. he believes as you do on this.

i do agree with Yates however on his thoughts of Paul in Romans seven as being a believer, and not an unbeliever.

May the Lord bless.

April 09, 2008 5:05 PM  
Blogger Antonio said...

Bobby, thanks for dropping by. Were you able to read all 4 parts of this series?

You wrote:
----------
Since the spirituality you're arguing for yields the exact same results as the one you so vociferously argue against. All you've done is switch the referent from justification to glorification vs. the Calvinist TULIP.
----------
Though you may find some similarities, my position is diametrically opposed to Lordship Calvinism, and in the end there is no real correspondence.

One who believes unto eternal life knows certainly that they have eternal life that can never be taken away. Assurance comes through looking to Christ in His promise in faith. One is safe and secure because of Jesus.

So at the very heart of the Free Grace message is assurance. This is at odds with Perseverance theology. They cannot be compared!

So at the very start of the journey for a Christian, he is aware of the fact that he can never perish. This is the foundation for Free Grace theology. The saint is not left wondering if he is truly a saint or a spurious saint. He knows that he is in the kingdom.

Though there are no conditions for entrance into the kingdom and eternal life beside recieving them by faith, there are many conditional aspects to kingdom experience. These are clearly articulated throughout the New Testament.

We know what the Calvinists do with them, but what do you do? I suppose all that would be left for you is their perseverance position.

you continue:
----------
You still offer a theological situation with "perseverance"--the goal though isn't to prove justification . . . but to "improve glorification"---FOR ME!
----------
God knows how to command our affections. He has commanded that we store up treasure in the heavenlies, for where are treasure is there will our heart be. Jesus won His glory through suffering and perseverance. He is our example in the Christian life.

You continue:
----------
The center of your paradigm, in the end, is ME, not HIM, CHRIST. The goal is for ME to reign in the millennium, and excel beyond those less faithful "left behind" in the heavenlies.
----------
I heartily disagree. The rewards to be meted out all have to do with opportunity for service to Christ and intimacy with Him in the Kingdom of God. The goal is to be a companion of Jesus Christ, to share in His joy. And this is done by bringing Him glory now through loving Him, which will manifest itself in loving righteousness and hating lawlessness, and in guarding and keeping His commandments.

When someone pursues the goal of companionship with Jesus in the ages to come by offering himself to God in obedience, he is bringing God glory. Anytime one obeys God's commands with the motive that God attaches to that command, God is glorified.

It is sin not to pursue rewards. Jesus' joy is made complete by sharing His joy with the overcomers. God is pleased to provide Jesus and His companions the superlative experiences of honor and glory in the kingdom of God. Such magnifies God!

In the end, all that we do is to please the Lord by obeying His commands to persevere, lay up treasure, and develop intimacy with Him.

Jesus won His glory and joy! He has called us to share in it! I do what I do so that I can have greater and superior opportunities to participate and share with my Savior!

Your assessment of Free Grace theology couldn't be more wrong.

You finish:
----------
To me, a healthy system of theology needs to be Christ-centred---and I don't think Reward Theology achieves that as its touchstone.
----------
To me, a healthy system of theology needs to be bible-centered---and I don't think that any theology but Free Grace theology achieves that as its touchstone.

The conditional statements of Scripture cannot be explained away through theological sophistry. Free Grace theology alone deals faithfully with the texts and preserves their integrity.

In the end, Jesus is glorified in His companions sharing His joy. They have identified themselves with Jesus and such cost them immeasurably: their lives. One only wins the wealth of the ages to come (special intimacy and greater opportunity for service to Christ) by selflessly giving oneself to Christ. God is glorified in such!

Antonio

April 09, 2008 7:32 PM  
Blogger mark pierson said...

Antonio writes, "Paul, if anyone, could have boasted in the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. But he was well aware of the fact that such is not guaranteed. So he was diligent to run, fight, and be disciplined, lest he should be 'adokimos' (1 Cor 9:24-27)."

Many are aware of my well documented bout with porn in 1978 and how I spent 6 weeks in a hospital bed - 5 of those in traction - due to God's chastening as a result of that bout. I would be the least likely to preach anything other than run, fight, and be disciplined. No reformed preacher/teacher that I know would be lax in this area either.

Our differences here is that I do not equate the 'adokimos' here with one who is not an overcomer. 'adokimos' would mean being put on a shelf, and an overcomer is a believer, yea, ALL believers. 1 John 5:1-5. Any and all who believes that Jesus is the Son of God is an overcomer. I've seen your explaination how that I can't use that verse to define overcomers in Revelation. However, many a scholar outside the GES do, and have for many a year. Overcomer=regenerate/saved person.

Mark

April 10, 2008 4:30 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

dansands... Thank you for giving me your answer. I think we're at an impasse, but I've enjoyed talking with you.

I KNOW without a doubt what the Bible says we must do to have everlasting life. It's believe in Jesus Christ. He is the only way. I don't have to persevere in good works or look at my fruit to know that I'm His child. If I ever turn away from the Lord I will still be His child. I don't have any intentions of that happening, but if it did it wouldn't change the fact that I am His child. I will be with Him forever. Yes, I would be disciplined by Him down here, but whatever choices I make, they are mine.... good or bad. My prayer is that when I see my Savior and stand in the presence of my Heavenly Father, He will be able to say about me....
"Well done good and faithful servant!" "Enter into the joy of your salvation."

I wish you only God's best in your life.

All because of His wonderful grace,
Diane
:-)

April 10, 2008 7:22 AM  
Blogger donsands said...

"My prayer is that when I see my Savior and stand in the presence of my Heavenly Father, He will be able to say about me....
"Well done good and faithful servant!" "Enter into the joy of your salvation." -Diane

Me too.
And it shall be 100% pure grace, God's favor upon us, who are welcomed in to His presence: So that He receives all the glory, which we will be glad to give our Lord Jesus Christ, and His Father, and our's.

"And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He that calls you, who also will do it." 1 Thes. 5:23-24

April 10, 2008 11:04 AM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Such great & encouraging words, bro. Antonio. All becuase of the wonderful grace of Jesus I can do so! Thanks for the gracious reminder, brother!

Bro. Alvin,

You are very kind & I appreciate the uplift! God Bless.

If I missed anyone, it was due purely to my old age!!

April 10, 2008 4:56 PM  
Blogger Only Look said...

If I were a blogger then I would wish that the whole world was full of David Wyatts.

Grace upon grace,

Brian

April 10, 2008 5:00 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Oh, my, bro. Brian! I appreciate your kind words, but truly, if you knew me like I know me, you'd cringe in horror! Praise the Lord & His wondrous grace!! God Bless.

April 11, 2008 8:59 PM  
Blogger Only Look said...

Hey brother. Theres a lot of folk around here I would cringe at including myself, but I appreciate the fact that you really believe it when you say it. I think you practice what everybody yearns for out here and is not able to accomplish. Gracious and loving blogging. You must be staying in intimate contact with our saviour moment by moment abiding in Him. It is the only way to accomplish this feat that most of us seem to blow all to often out here:-)

God bless you brother and grace upon grace,

Brian

April 18, 2008 5:24 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Thanks again bro. Brian. I only wish I was abiding in Christ as much as I wanted to. I want to "walk with Jesus in white." But I am certainly a far cry from where I should be. Only His grace can accomplish it, as I know you & bro. Antonio & all here know as well. I appreciate prayers to that end.

April 19, 2008 11:44 AM  
Blogger Only Look said...

Amen David and I have cringed a few times at some areas where I may disagree in some areas that I will not let you know I disagree with you in, but I am greatly blessed by how the Lord is smiling on you boo.

It is good that you address the bottom line though. We are just clay pots and we need to wean ourselves of thinking that this person over here is going to be our answer or this person over there. The nation of Israel had that problem with other nations and they so rarely looked to Christ.

Just remember though, that if I had a father who fell from the ministry who at one time I felt was the greatest giant in the faith but had to come to terms with his failure as my own dad and yet still rejoice in that he is my dad and that God still works in his life then it is a little thing if I cringe at you or myself.

May the Lord be praised always.

I always like to remember the 3 D's that an old Navy Chief once told me:

If you look at other believers you will be D issapointed.

If you look at yourself you will be D iscouraged.

If you look at Jesus you will be D elighted.

Grace upon grace,

Brian

April 19, 2008 6:46 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Amen bro. Brian on that 3-D truth! God Bless.

April 30, 2008 7:17 PM  
Blogger Marty Cauley said...

Hey Antonio,
I finally got around to reading your series on walking with Jesus in White. Splendid.

From your article, it would appear that we are both Bridal Misthologists. I am delighted to note your concurrence. You can see my definition at: http://misthology.org/pdf/articles/Definition_of_Misthology.pdf

It may be that you have had an opportunity to read my chapter defending Bridal Misthology and would like to add a part 5 to this series dealing with your solution to the Eph 5 problem from the indicative versus imperative perspective. I'll leave that to you. Parts 1-4 are sufficient to demonstrate your concurrence with the basic premise in any any event.

If you are so inclined, I would be interested in seeing your series made into a PDF article that I could cite. If you like, I would post it for you on my web site.

In any event, I would like to reference your article in my chapter 5.

PS. After we talked the first of last month about how Eph 5 relates to the Bride, I finally adopted your perspective concerning the another matter: that recognition of deity is not a soteriological necessity. I was finally led to that conclusion will following the implications of another matter to its logical conclusion. But I’ve explained why in a lengthy footnote in Outer Darkness and will not degrees further here.

Look forward to the article.
Thanks
Marty

May 03, 2008 12:57 PM  

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