March 3, 2015
We are to interpret God’s Word using God’s Word, doing this under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are not to create man-made doctrines based on a few select verses. And we are not to over-emphasize favorite verses to the exclusion of other verses so as to perpetuate those doctrines.
Why, then, is Eph. 2:8,9 so often quoted while verse 10 –which clearly is part of the explanation– is left out? The three verses say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
These three verses say a lot, but my intent in this post is to remind us to be wary about those who rest their doctrine on verses eight and nine while not including the tenth! Teaching that does such a thing is minimizing (either intentionally or unintentionally) the requirement of obedience to Christ. Yet our Lord and the whole of God’s Word states that doing good, doing the will of God, and faithfully obeying Christ’s / God’s commands is a must for salvation.
Whenever Eph. 2:8,9 is used to discuss the issue of faith and works, verse 10 absolutely needs to be included, for it goes on to say that not only were we created to do good works, we are also to walk in those good works which God planned for us to walk in.
Therefore, for it to be taught that doing good works is unnecessary for salvation is to teach falsehood. What is the opposite of doing the good works which God preordered for each of us to do? It is to be rebellious. And being rebellious is to sin, and sin not renounced and rejected is to forfeit salvation.
Walking in the works which God prepared beforehand for us to walk in is to walk in obedience to the Lord. It is to live in consistent obedience to Christ. It is to be faithful to Christ. This is what faith really is, what it means, what it consists of. This is why works cannot be at all separated from faith. True faith is obedience (works) and obedience is faith. Thus faith is a mind and heart issue, as well as an action/behavior issue. There cannot be a separation of faith’s ingredients or it is hypocrisy / deceit, which, of course then, is unfaithfulness / disobedience / rebellion / sin.
There are so many verses that speak about the absolute necessity of being obedient to the Lord in all we do –which consists of action. There are so many verses that speak about the necessity of walking in the will of the Lord –which means behavior/conduct (as well as that mind/heart position of submission). Here are just a few:
1 Peter 1:15 says, “…so be holy in all you do.” That is a command to obey and it is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Rom. 8:13 says that if we live according to the sinful nature we will die. This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching.” (John 14:23) This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says, “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:29) This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the Kingdom. (Mt. 7:21) Let’s remember that the words “do” and “does” are about actions/behavior/conduct.
Jesus says, “If you want to enter Life, obey the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
Eph. 5:6 says that “God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
1 John 2:29 says, “…you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of Him.” This is about actions/behavior/conduct.
And I could go on with verse after verse.
What then, are the works that do not benefit a person in acquiring salvation? The entire context of Eph. 2:8-10 reveals it. They are the works done according to our own will and in the power of our own flesh. In other words, works that will not help us to be saved are those works done in the flesh and according to the good things we (or other people) think should be done. But, to do works (actions) and walk in conduct (behavior) that is ordered by our Master (through His Word and His Spirit) is an absolute must.
Every teacher should make this distinction when explaining what faith consists of. It could be a matter of Heaven or Hell for our hearers. (1 Tim. 4:16)
February 24, 2015
Last evening at 8:40 p.m., 2/23/15, my Grandpa Wolff transitioned from this earth to be in Heaven with the Lord who he loved dearly. Here is what I wrote to someone last Thursday:
~~My mom flew to MN yesterday morning, deciding to do so just the afternoon before, to be with my grandpa on his deathbed. About 40 relatives were in and out of the room when my mom was there yesterday afternoon and she said more kept coming. Grandpa (who will be 104 on March 28) sat up a bit and talked a bit. They sang hymns and he actually sang a song too. What a blessing to be going in such a loved, cared-for way with family all around! Earlier in the week when a Christian custodian at the hospital asked Grandpa if he was afraid, Grandpa said, “No! I’m going to Heaven!” The guy then prayed for him, and that was an answer to my mom’s prayer that someone would. (Thankfully, Grandpa says he is not in any pain.)~~
Relatives took turns staying overnight at the hospital with Grandpa, and last night it was Val who was with him at the end. She had been reminding him of fun trips he had taken and he was smiling. When the aides came in to turn him over, she went out briefly, and that is when Grandpa breathed his last. I believe he did so with the happy memories flooding his body with peace.
Grandpa’s large extended family have all loved him, and I’m sure, like me, are so very grateful that he was a part of our lives.
P.S. Below are some photos of Grandpa over the last 15 years.
Grandpa and me, 2002
February 23, 2015
My brother emailed me some more photos of their trip to see the Agta this month. Below are some of them. (Please also view yesterday’s post to watch the 3 minute report video and to hear Steve’s “Casiguran” song.)
4. The two men (Jonathan and Tim) who accompanied my brother and nephew this month
6. New houses, a church, and a school have been made in one Agta village from money being donated from various people wanting to help the Agta. The Agtas’ needs have received more attention since APECO’s efforts to take their land have become known internationally. (The Rom. 8:28 promise at work, I’d say.) May the Lord bless all who are helping them! If you would like to be one of those helpers, there is an opportunity to become a sponsor for the many six-graders wanting to go on to high school (there is no middle school), which costs, including room and board, approximately $340 a year. Here is the link you can click on to donate and receive a tax deduction: http://partnersacrosscultures.org/donate Please specify that you are donating to “the Casiguran Agta” in the blank space that says, “Person or trip”. If you are wanting to sponsor a student, their names will be available after you fill out the application. Thank you so much for prayerfully considering this.
7. Kael and an Agta boy who is also named Kael.
13. Steve with an Agta couple
14. Nateng, the Agta “chief” (though he’s not called that) and his wife (Tetet) who became blind after a doctor removed a tumor from her brain. Tetet was the one who, bravely, a year or so before that. scolded the guerrillas (who were holding my parents hostage for a day on my parents’ porch in Pasarubuy) so that they became ashamed, left my parents alone, and sheepishly left the village that night.
The Lord has done great things for the Agta because they have, as a group, called out to Him to deliver them from poverty and oppression. Many others, too, have prayed fervently for them and helped in other ways. We ask that prayer for the Agta continue concerning their well-being, their full deliverance from APECO’s attempt to steal their land, and that each individual Agta will have a right relationship with the Lord. And pray that each student will receive a sponsor. (See photo 6 caption above.) Thank you so much!!!!!
February 22, 2015
My brother and his oldest son (Kael) arrived back from the Philippines last Monday. They went there on a mission trip to visit the Agta, accompanied by two men from their church. (The Agta are the people group into whose language our parents translated the New Testament, and who they aided medically, rescued some from slavery, defended their land rights, and of course, were privileged to be friends with.) Here is my brother’s 3 minute report about it:
We are all grateful to the Lord that He has worked in the hearts of the Agta and that many of them are now born-anew believers, for it certainly was not always the case. This next link is my brother singing, in 1994, a song he wrote in 1984. The song was an expression of Steve’s grieving heart, and because we all felt the same way, none of our family could listen to it without shedding tears. Here is the link and the lyrics.
music and lyrics by Steve Headland
Don’t you know I’ve been thinking
Got you always on my mind
And I know that you are hurting
I can feel it all the time
Life for you has been a struggle
And I want to do my part
Out of sight not out of mind
I know the pain inside your heart
And I still cry for Casiguran
For they may never know Your name
Mom and Dad they went to tell them
But the Agta stay the same
And I still cry for you
‘Cuz there’s nothing I can do
My eyes are filled with tears but I still pray
And in my mind I can see that you’re still crying
Across all those miles I feel your pain
And you know I’ve been thinking
That I wish you only knew
Every day is getting closer
I still pray ‘cuz what more can I do
Megsanget ek dahil dikam
Da ewan moy siya tokoy
Abakit ewan kam meniwala
Sikam ta eya ta Pasarubuy
The song in Steve’s band’s album.
Me and my brother, at Muntay, Koso, Casiguran, 1967
Our family in Manila when Jenny was born. (1970)
Agta girl teaching Steve the guitar. He later played lead guitar in a Christian band in L.A., CA.
Bartoso and Steve at Pasarubuy
Me, Jenny, and Steve with Agta kids
Me and Steve, first time in the U.S., visiting our grandparents
My mom, me, and one of my pet monkeys. (The Agta hunted monkey to eat, so there were often orphaned babies.)
Our family all slept under the mosquito net on the bamboo floor.
Eliden, the first believer (and one of my dad’s translation helpers), and me
Our family with a G.I. visitor at our Muntay house, 1971
Our Muntay house the year before (1970), quite devastated by Typhoon Pitang; but my family survived. (I was away at boarding school at Nasuli.)
Me outside our house at Pasarubuy, home for summer from college in MN, U.S.A.
P.S. Please see tomorrow’s post for more photos of the Agta taken this month, and concerning sponsoring an Agta student. Thank you!!!
February 18, 2015
We should always be deeply grateful to the Lord that “if anybody does sin, we have One [an advocate / a spokesman / an intercessor] who speaks to the Father in our defense” (1 John 2:1), and that if we confess with true repentance, He will forgive us (1:9) as well as “purify us from all unrighteousness.” (same verse) However, to break God’s Law (and remember, to break it at just one point is to break all of it –Ja. 2:10) and disobey Christ’s words is no light thing in the first place. It is rebellion, even treason against the Commander. Truly, a continuation in sin is to make oneself a complete disgrace to the Master’s house. (Isa. 22:12-19 // Rom. 2:23,24)
Do you believe that when you went through the baptism into Christ, you died to the old self and were raised as a new creation, declared freed from sin and dead to sin, and that you are no longer, in any way, obligated to obey it? Please meditate carefully on Rom. 6:1-14 & 8:12-14 and 2 Cor. 5:15,17 before you respond. Do you believe that those who still live under the control of the sinful nature are still living in (spiritual) death? This is certainly what Rom. 6:15-23 and 8:13 teach.
What would you say, David, is the meaning of Rom. 6:15-23? Please comment on what God’s Word is saying when verse 18 says, “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” And what is verse 22 teaching us when it says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.”–? For your own soul’s sake, please dig into these verses for insight into the Truth, and ask the Counselor to teach you, He who is available to “guide you into all Truth” (John 16:13) –if you will truly listen to Him teach you the Word of God and if you will stop listening to the teachings of the false teachers. (14:26 // 1 John 2:26,27)
Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) Jesus is not asking a question. He is giving a statement of reality, of fact. Again He says, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching.” (v. 23) Again He says, “If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love.” (15:10) Jesus is not speaking of halfway obedience, but about 100% obedience. (Luke 14:33) Therefore, as our Commander says, “If you want to enter Life, obey the commandments” (Mt. 19:17) and “do the will of My Father.” (7:21)
1 John 2:6 says, “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” How did Jesus walk? Perfectly. He said, “I do exactly what My Father has commanded Me.” (John 14:31) Do you take the (whole) Word of God seriously? If you did, you would realize that we are being commanded by our Commander to obey –to obey 24/7, and that it is imperative that we train to make sure we do so. –Just as a surgeon or a soldier or an Olympic athlete makes sure that they are always training and aiming for perfection.
Have you overcome the world, David? The world, meaning, sin, self, the devil, the craving for anything not of God? If not, you are simply not born of God. “For everyone born of God has overcome the world.” (1 John 5:4) We are victorious over it all by our faith. (same verse) “And everything that does not come from faith [faith in all of God’s Word] is sin.” (Rom. 14:23)
Maybe you do not have true faith –in Christ and His words / God’s Word. Make no mistake about it: True faith does produce obedience (Rom. 1:5), obedience does produce righteousness (6:16), and righteousness (holiness) is what produces eternal life. (v. 23 // Eph. 5:6 // 2 Thes. 1:8,9 // Heb. 5:9 & 12:14) Thus the Truth teaches that righteousness comes by walking in faith (belief and trust and obedience) in God’s Word (Heb. 10:38,39), and that this means putting the Word into practice (Luke 6:46-49) through the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:9) Do not be deceived: The claim, without deeds that prove a person belongs to God, will reap for a person a place of eternal torment with the hypocrites. (Mt. 24:45-51 // Mark 7:6-8 // Titus 1:16 // Ja. 2:24)
David, two years ago, when you first contacted me at my comment page, you said then that you had been a Christian for 30 years. I’d encourage you to test yourself against Heb. 5:11-14, particularly verse 13 which says, “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.”
What is hindering your pledge to “lay aside all sinful desires and live rather for the will of God”–? (See 1 Peter 4:1,2) You are having trouble knowing the Truth because you are having trouble knowing the Lord. Sin separates us from the Lord. (Isa. 59:2 // 1 John 1:6 & 2:3,4) In fact, “No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.” (1 John 3:6b) You keep trying to avoid the fact that the whole counsel of God’s Word is pointing us to the Good News that we have been freed from sin by being born anew. You have not proved yourself to have true faith, for you do not believe that verses such as 1 John 3:9 are true: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin.”
I have postponed some of my other responsibilities today to take the time needed to respond to your comment. Therefore, I ask that you will carefully and prayerfully read all the Scripture verses I have mentioned and ask the Lord to give you insight. Also please re-read what I wrote to you two years ago: https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/the-saving-doctrine-of-non-freedom/
Later, in December of 2013, you again came to my comment page to resist the Truth, and now 14 months later, it seems you may still be stuck at the same spot. Have you progressed in holiness at all? If not, why not? If so, has it been commendable, as evaluated by Christ, the Commander? If we do not repent of sin (renounce it, turn from it, and forsake it –genuinely and completely–), then it is not atoned for. (Isa. 22:12-14 & 55:7 // Heb. 10:26-31 // Ja. 4:4-10) You are in great error to believe otherwise. (Ja. 1:22)
There will be many who will say to Christ on that Day, “But, but, Lord! I DID believe in You…!” Yet they will be turned away. (Mt. ch. 25 // Luke 13:23-28) Why, David? Study to understand why many who consider themselves “believers in Jesus” will be turned away.
February 17, 2015
Earlier this month someone asked me, via email, if I believe that deliberate sin is different than unintentional sin. Here is the response I gave:
About deliberate sin versus unintentional: I certainly believe it is different in God’s eyes. Read Num. 15:30,31 and notice that to sin defiantly (and doesn’t deliberate sin equate with rebellion?) is to blaspheme God, despise His Word, and break His commands (like in committing a crime against the Law of Holiness). The penalty is to be cut off from fellowship, die, and to remain under the charge of being guilty (as in not pardoned). Pardon (and cleansing) come only to those who renounce and forsake their sins. (Isa. 55:7 // 1 John 1:5-9) This doctrine is also supported by Heb. 10:26-31, as I often quote.
Furthermore, to know the good we ought to do and not do it is to sin. (Ja. 4:17) Those who DO do what is right prove they are born again/anew/of God. (1 John 2:29) Conversely, “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” (3:10) We all know right versus wrong because God has put a conscience (which instinctively knows His moral laws) into everyone. (Rom. 2:15,16) The Royal Law of Love (Ja. 2:8) which is the Law of the universe, made by Him who is Love (1 John 4:16), is to love God and one’s neighbor as one’s self. (Mt. 22:37-40 // Gal. 5:14) That is to do right. (Ja. 2:8 again) For “love is the fulfillment of the Law.” (Rom. 13:10) –To love through the control of the Spirit. (Rom. 8:9)
Even when sinning people think they are not deliberately sinning, they usually are. They cannot blame addictions, saying, “I can’t help it”, or blame the devil, or whoever. They must blame themselves. They are the ones who should have taken the steps to get out of the places and situations that tempted them to sin. They are the ones who are required to seek God, His Word, and His Spirit, and so that they can get the power to not sin and the increased knowledge of how to remain strong. However, many tend toward the opposite –suppressing the Truth by their wickedness (Rom. 1:18) until they become increasingly hardened in their ignorance and thus unable to be sensitive to God’s convicting Holy Spirit. (Eph. 4:17-19) Their punishment is more delusion and then condemnation. (2 Thes. 2:10-12)
Love & prayers,
February 10, 2015
Yesterday my mom and I went witnessing at the big train stop downtown. She handed out the many Valentine treat bags she had made with such things inside like beautiful Scripture bookmarks. As usual, I wore two signs and passed out my new one-paragraph message about the importance of obedience to Christ.
At one point, a young man that I’d given a tract to approached me and I found out that he was down there witnessing as well. As we talked and encouraged one another, I was very glad to realize, once again, that God does keep raising up His servants in every generation. This guy told me that he is twenty-five years old. Yet the amount of Scripture verses he knew, and his maturity in the Truth, and his deep concern and heart’s desire to see the unsaved come to Christ, was unique. It greatly gladdened me to have confirmation from the Lord that He is always raising up obedient children that do go forth spreading His Truth.
Besides him, I want to mention someone else who I saw a few weeks ago down there who I’d not seen in a couple of years, yet who I’d witnessed to quite a bit in the 90s when he was a pimp. He said he’d been in prison the last two years for having an illegal pistol on him, but that he had taken the time to do some reading of God’s Word while incarcerated. He said that he is trying to obey God’s commands to some extent, but finds it nearly impossible. “How do you do it and how do you stay consistent?” was the gist of what he asked me.
I told him what I am continually trying to tell everyone: That we must step into and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. But, I say, this does not happen without our extreme effort coming from our firm determination to do what it takes to abide there!
The steps we must take are such as these:
1. Decide that following Jesus and God’s Word is top priority and make it that, meaning that upon waking in the morning we take every thought captive to be obedient to Him. (2 Cor. 10:5) We also tell the Lord that our will is submitted to His (and we mean it).
2. We put “on the full armor of God” (Eph. 6:11) by going through each piece mentioned in verses 14-17.
3. We praise and exalt the Lord, also by using Scripture we’ve memorized and songs made up as led by the Spirit.
4. We pray in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18 // Jude 1:20) and ask God to reveal any sin in our life. If there is any, we renounce it and take immediate measures to forsake it.
5. We make conscious choices all day long to keep walking according to the Word of God which we have been hiding in our heart through reading and memorizing it daily.
6. We stay alert for Satan’s deceptions and we listen intently all day long to the Holy Spirit who guides us according to the precepts found in God’s Word.
This is the gist of what I told my friend and it is, most assuredly, the way to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Eph. 6:10), through which we walk consistently in the Truth as holy vessels, spiritually productive, and free from the corruption of the world (2 Peter 1:3-11), thereby pleasing to our Master.