Diana, We Do Differ
August 12, 2015
I have hesitated in responding to you for several reasons, one reason being that my blog does not exist for purposes of prolonged debate, but exists for the purpose of explaining what the Word of God teaches. This is done through my extensive use of Scripture, and I reject the use of all man-made doctrines –doctrines men have invented by changing the meanings of certain verses in spite of the Word of God repeatedly teaching to the contrary. I also have hesitated because, even though I disagree with you in several areas, I am inclined to believe that you are one of God’s specially chosen instruments to spread His Truth. However, that being said, let’s remember that any of us whom God has chosen, especially whom He has chosen to teach others, can, if we do not heed His corrections –which often come through His followers (Acts 18:24-26 // Rom. 15:14) or even through the most unlikely of sources (Num.22:21-38)– will be to our peril, as well as to the peril of those who listen to our errors. (Luke 10:10-16 // 1 Tim. 4:16)
You said that you believe I am splitting hairs with you and asked me what I am taking issue with you about. I don’t know why you would say this when you, actually, are the one who came over to my blog’s comment page on 6/27/15 to tell me, regarding my 6/22/15 post, that we should be sure to clarify that there are different types of works. I also wonder why you would do this when I had already clarified this point, such as when I wrote, “Jesus… reveals that works done outside of the will of the Father will result in eternal condemnation. Consequently, it is not hard, if we interpret Scripture with Scripture, (as we are supposed to always do), to recognize that human-inspired works and God-inspired works are not the same thing. The former is worthless to walk in, while the latter we are required to walk in… Even a child can understand that when God offered us, through Christ, the undeserved gift of salvation, our part is to believe, bow our knee to the King, repent of our sins, and turn away from disobedience to obedience.” I feel it was you who took issue with me, while I, then, simply responded.
Regarding my 7/7/15 post, you said, “I think it should be entitled Justified by Faith with the Evidence of that Faith being Works.” However, unless suggestions are solicited, I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell someone what they should have titled their own blog articles. I was and am aware that my title “Justified By Works” is anathema to “Faith Alone” teachers, but what I am trying to point out is precisely why I titled it that. We are justified by works –the works that are in line with God’s will and in accordance with obedience to Christ. I have consistently taught that if a person does not walk in obedience to the Spirit and the Word (and obedience cannot be separated from works / deeds / actions / conduct / thoughts / attitude / behavior), then that person is not saved.
As I explained before, even the first minute of (true) conversion does consist of works. The work includes looking, in humility and contrition, to Christ’s atonement, believing in it, confessing that Jesus is Lord and Messiah, repenting of one’s sins, calling out for salvation, and determinedly setting one’s mind to trust and keep trusting. All that is certainly work for those fleeing the dark sinful realm, though to be sure, the Lord has provided His Spirit by whom we are enabled to do this work. Even so, this required work is only the beginning, for work (the work of continued trust and obedience expressed through actions / words / teachings / attitude / etc.) is required from then on as well. This is the obedience (work / labor / fruit) that true faith requires the production of (Rom. 1:5 // 1 Thes. 1:3) for acquiring salvation. (Luke 13:5-9)
I will say it again and again –in every which way I can say it: It is, specifically, the obedient-to-the-Spirit-and-Word works –done through the power and leadership of the Spirit (who teaches us using God’s Word)– which saves us. (Rom. 8:9,13,14) The faith is like the body, the works are like the spirit. Without the works, the faith is dead. This is exactly what James 2:26 is teaching us.
Owning a car can be another analogy. A person might say, “I own a car.” However, if there is no engine in the car, or if there is an engine, but the car has no oil, or no wheels, or no gas, or maybe the guy lost the key, then there is no way to use that car to arrive at any desired destination. Yes, the guy does technically possess a car and he can sit in it and envision himself traveling to his destination. But the car is worthless until it has all that is necessary for making that car run. In addition to this, the owner of the car must, himself, turn the key, put his foot to the pedal, and drive. It is certainly a rest compared to having to jog the distance on his own. Similarly, the Truth is a rest we must, “with the help of the Holy Spirit” (2 Tim. 1:14), strive (with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength –Luke 10:25-28) to enter (Heb. 4:11) and work within (Phil. 2:12,13) as we strain toward the goal of perfection (3:12,13) so as to win the prize. (v. 14) Yes, perfection –meaning, imitating God (Eph. 5:1) and Christ (1 John 2:6)– is expected of us (Mt. 5:48) and is, therefore, what we are to strenuously struggle to achieve (Col. 1:28,29) by using Christ’s energy that He powerfully provides in us. (v. 29 // Eph. 3:20)
Furthermore, the driver of a car must obey all the rules of the road or he will endanger himself and others. The Holy Spirit gives the power by which we are to do the works Christ commands (2 Peter 1:3,4), but we are not in a trance, nor are we puppets. Choosing to submit our will, moment by moment, to the Spirit’s will, is how we accomplish God’s commands and abide in Christ who is Eternal Life Himself. (John 15:1-10 // Rom. 8:9,13,14 // 1 John 2:3-6 & 3:24 & 5:20) God’s grace is available for every human, but each person must access it, and live in it, according to the requirements. (John 10:1 & 15:10 // 2 Tim. 2:4,5 // 1 John 2:2-6) In other words, Jesus paid everyone’s sin-debt in full, but each individual must enter and abide as instructed. (Same verses)
You go on to say at my comment page, “There are no works we can do to achieve salvation without having faith in Christ, but our deeds certainly do reflect whether we have true faith.” This statement of yours is correct, and since you know that I agree with it, I feel that you are wording it that way so as to camouflage our point of disagreement. You know that I do not teach that we can achieve salvation through works apart from faith in Christ nor apart from the power of His Spirit.
What I do teach is that works are always an ingredient of true faith, that true faith means “faith in Christ”, that this true faith means “trust and obey, not just believe”, and that aside from having this kind of faith (this true faith), there is no salvation. This is why it would be accurate, albeit cumbersome, to say, “We are justified by the works we do which happen as a result of our obedience to Christ which we do because we trust in Jesus and His words, and that all this we are enabled to do because of God’s mercy, Christ’s atonement, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.” I do not believe you teach this, for even though you write about faithfulness to Christ, you also often write as those do who adhere to the “Faith Alone” falsehood. I have read a number of your articles, as well as many of your comments at the sites of other bloggers, and much of what you have written shows that this is indeed the case. (If you have changed your doctrine on this issue, or on any other issue, then you should proclaim that clearly.) Here are some examples:
On 9/28/13, you made a comment at the blog “Spirit of Error”, mentioning “grace alone, scripture alone, faith alone, Christ alone” and how Francis Chan, in participating with Mike Bickle, seems to be aligning himself with those who opposed Martin Luther and the Reformation, and who have (supposedly) “opposed grace.” You continue with, “How do we please God? Is it by entering into His rest and trusting in his blood ALONE –or is it by blending grace with works –corrupting the grace message and not keeping it pure and simple.” (See http://www.spiritoferror.org/2013/09/passionately-wrong/4211)
That comment of yours makes it pretty clear that you do not believe that our works make or negate our salvation. It also reveals that you believe this: That they are corruptors of the Gospel who are trying to point out that Jesus and the apostles taught the requirement of obedience. But who is corrupting the Gospel? For Jesus said, “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” (John 5:29) Jesus taught that those who keep sinning –which He pointed out consists also of those who are disobedient or negligent in doing good works– will be thrown into Hell (Mt. 5:27-30 & 13:41,42 & 24:45-51 & ch. 25), including those who have once been pardoned. (18:32-34)
Throughout the New Testament (such as in Luke 9:23,24 and Acts 26:20 and Gal. 5:19-21 and Heb. 10:26-31 and Ja. 2:14-26 and 1 John 3:4-10 and Rev. 3:1-6), we are warned that we must renounce and reject all sin and take up the work (the acts) of obedience to Christ. Indeed, only by choosing to turn away from wickedness and by doing what it takes to cleanse ourselves of improper things (–which the Spirit absolutely will convict and enable us to do –Rom. 8:13 // 2 Peter 1:3,4), are we made holy. (2 Tim. 2:19-21; see also Rom. 6:15-23 and Heb. 12:14 and 1 Peter 1:13-17) Therefore, anyone who thinks he can claim to belong to Christ without doing this, has deceived himself (Gal. 6:7,8 // Ja.1:22), is doing the devil’s will (2 Tim. 2:26 // 1 John 3:8) instead of God’s will, and is headed for Hell. (Mt. 7:15-27 // Titus 1:16 & 2:11,12 & 3:11 // Jude 1:17-19)
Also, it appears that you esteem Martin Luther and his teachings. That seems odd when certainly you know that although some good came as a result of his boldness, much evil has also come as a result of many vile things he taught. (Here are three sites– http://www.thepathoftruth.com/false-teachers/martin-luther.htm, http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/luther/general.htm, http://www.davidlgray.info/blog/2013/09/500-years-of-protestantism-the-33-most-ridiculous-things-martin-luther-ever-wrote/, and though I am not necessarily endorsing these sites, nor am I certain that every one of the quotes are authentically Luther’s, it is undeniable that Luther not only said and wrote many wicked things, but also taught an extreme form of the “Faith Alone” falsehood.)
At that same “Spirit of Error” post (see its link above), a guy named Rich Kelley commented on 10/18/13 saying that we should not, as some do, use the Scripture to justify doing works, even “spiritual” ones, but that we should concentrate only on a relationship with Christ. The same day you said, “Amen, Rich! I agree with you!” Yet both of you are off base, for a relationship with Christ comes about precisely by doing works of obedience to Him. (John 14:15,23 & 15:10,14 // 1 John 2:3,4 & 3:24 // etc.) As Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23) 1 John 3:24 teaches the same: “Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them.” Should we adhere to the teaching found in God’s Word or should we adhere to the teachings of those who twist it and thereby deny it?
Again commenting at “Spirit of Error”, this time at another post, you responded on 10/9/13 to Lisa’s 10/8/13 comment by saying, “Lisa, I completely agree with what you say! To do it OURSELVES is not grace and rest, it’s works and self-effort.” (See http://www.spiritoferror.org/2013/10/prophet-rick-joyner-predicts-a-military-takeover/4241) Your words are misleading, for we ourselves are the ones who make the continuing choice/s to submit to the Spirit who then helps those who are submissive. (John 14:15-26 // Acts 5:32 // Rom. 8:9,12-14 // Gal. 5:16,24,25) You tried to reinforce your doctrine by mentioning how Abraham and Sarah, by their failure to wait on the Lord, produced Ishmael. However, pointing to this couple’s distrust in the Lord’s words to them (which led to their act of disobedience) does not support the doctrine of “Grace Alone, Faith Alone”. Of course their human-inspired solution was dead works. But that does not negate the fact that we are to obey, with good works, whatever the Lord commands –whether that be “Go to the land I will show you,” or “Sacrifice your only son,” or “Wait for My timing.”
At your own blog on 11/2/13, while speaking against Mike Bickle again, you asked why he would hold up Teresa of Avila to be modeled after, and then said, “She even opposed the Reformation and its message of ‘scripture alone’ and ‘grace alone.'” You are speaking the language of the “Faith Alone” teachers.
Several weeks before (on 9/22/13) you also wrote at your blog: “My concern is that the attempt to bring Catholic mysticism into the church has led the church away from grace and into religious works. It’s as though the Reformation led by Martin Luther never happened, and we are embracing the teachings of those who countered the Reformation –Ignatius of Loyola and Teresa of Avila –instead. We are forgetting faith alone, grace alone, scripture alone, and Christ alone.” (See http://narrowwayapologetics.com/2013/09/22/bild-international-and-the-antioch-school-moving-the-church-away-from-pure-grace/)
This 9/22/13 quote of yours confirms that you are an adherent to the “Faith Alone” doctrine. However, their phrase you use is not seen in Scripture, but is a man-made quote that is completely flawed. For what about Christ’s blood? That is necessary too. (Rom. 5:9 // Heb. 9:22) What about repentance? That too is a must. (Luke 3:7-9 & 13:3 // Acts 26:20) –So is walking away from the power of sin and self (Rom. ch. 6), from the power of the world (Gal. 6:14 // 2 Peter 1:4 & 2:20), and from the power of Satan. (Acts 26:18 // Col. 1:13,14) What about the necessity of being born of the Spirit? (John 3:3-8) What about that it is required to intimately know Christ is order to inherit eternal life? (John 17:3 // 2 Thes. 1:8,9) –And that this comes about only by walking in obedience to Him? (John 15:10,14 // Rom. 8:9 // Gal. 5:16-26 // 1 John 2:3-6) Truly the phrase is worthless, not of Christ, and is terminology used to speak peace to those who want to sin safely –even though God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that there is no peace with God for anyone who takes paths of sin and false doctrine. (Isa. 59:7,8 // Jer. 8:6-12 // Rom. 3:17,18 & 8:5-8 // Gal. 1:6-9)
Here is another example of your promotion of the “Faith Alone” false teachers: On 8/21/13, you tweeted a quote by Paul Ellis: “Faith is not a work, it’s a response and, one way or the other, everybody responds.” This is convoluted talk, for even a tiny response requires a tiny bit of work. Moreover, who is “everybody”? Is this a proclamation promoting universalism? You gave his link, so when I clicked there and went on to his page about himself at http://escapetoreality.org/about/, his statements there too certainly correspond to the “Faith Alone” teaching. How can their falsehoods not be seen when the Word of God repeatedly tells us to keep ourselves pure, to flee sin, to pursue righteousness, to fight unbelief, to take hold of eternal life, to keep Christ’s commands blamelessly, to be self-controlled (Mt. 5:48 // 1 Tim. 5:22 & 6:11-14 // 1 Peter 1:13 & 5:8), and to “make every effort” (Luke 13:24 // Heb. 12:14 // 2 Peter 3:14) to do what is necessary to keep from falling to destruction? (Heb. 10:35-39 // 2 Peter 1:10 & 3:17) Can we obey these commands by doing nothing? What nonsensical, untrue statements they mouth.
Regarding universalism: I’m aware that you do not believe in it, yet some of what you write does seem to sound like you do. Even those who responded to your 8/28/14 comment at the blog of Daz, the atheist (see https://theedixieflatline.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/the-decline-of-the-godly-smite/), seemed to take your words as such when you explained, using John 5:22 and 1 John 2:2, that the Good News proclaims that God’s wrath against sin has been satisfied through Christ’s atonement and that God has thus ceased to judge anyone. I exhort you to be more careful with your statements.
Your “Like” of Simon Yap’s 4/5/13 article about God’s grace is telling. He wrote there (using Eugene Peterson’s sloppy paraphrased “Message” while calling him “brilliant”) about how Mike Bickle doesn’t understand Jude 1:1-4. That same month, on 4/24/13, you wrote an article of your own against Bickle’s criticism of the hyper-grace teachers.
In Simon Yap’s 5/6/13 article about the book of James, he said, “When James says faith without works is dead, he is actually referring to the original faith of the Hebrews, the Jews. The Law of Moses. That faith is not faith in Christ but FAITH IN THE LAW OF MOSES!” (See here: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/does-the-phrase-even-the-devil-believes-in-god-mean-works-is-necessary/) Throughout this article, as well as throughout the other ones I’ve read by Yap, there is much false doctrine. Such a teacher has nothing to teach true Christ-followers.
I would also caution you about your debates at several blogs of atheists, for they too have nothing to teach us. If we want to understand more about science, there are plenty of people with honesty and normal reasoning skills that we can learn from. Atheists lack good logic or sense due to their self-hardened hearts and minds. (Rom. 1:18-23 // Eph. 4:18) They cannot see that, in spite of believing themselves to be “The Brights”, their insistence that they “know” there is no God is not only the height of arrogance, but also a belief that cannot be proven, and is thus a faith in itself. They cannot see how the fine-tuned orderly universe, how the incredible complexity of DNA (and its limitations which disallow for one species to evolve into another species), how the fossil record’s blatant failure to support their theory, and how the human eye (which can only function and survive when all its parts are working from the onset) proves their theory contradictory and laughable.
Scripture calls atheists “fools” (Ps. 14:1 & 53:1), their wisdom “foolishness” (1 Cor. 3:19), and their reasoning “futile” (v. 20), while also reminding us that in the wisdom of God, the world, through its wisdom, cannot know Him (1:21), cannot comprehend spiritual truths (2:14), and will, as ordained by God Himself, consider the Truth foolish. (1:18 & the whole context of 1:17-2:16) Thus we are told, “Do not speak to a fool, for he will scorn the wisdom of your words.” (Pr. 23:9)
Moreover, our Message does not penetrate minds and hearts through persuasive words of worldly wisdom, but only through the power and words of God. (1 Cor. 2:4-6 & 4:20 // Col. 2:2-4 // 1 Thes. 1:5 // 1 Peter 4:11) Therefore, to dialogue with atheists about God, unless they are, by using standard respect and genuineness, asking us to answer their legitimate inquiries, becomes a provision for them to mock God and ridicule His saints. To willingly allow this or submit ourselves to learn from them, especially within the context of a public conversation about God’s existence, could hardly be pleasing to the Lord. (1 Cor. 2:13-15) We are commanded to warn warped, divisive people no more than twice and then to get away from them. (Rom. 16:17,18 // Titus 3:9-11)
While we see the atheists’ folly in claiming they supposedly know, for a certainty, that there is no God, I exhort you again to see how you cannot legitimately assert that the 9/11 terror attacks were not a judgement from God. We cannot know whether they were or were not, but to so dogmatically insist that they were not, doing so by teaching that God, since the atonement of Christ, no longer discharges judgements on earth, is a doctrine that you, or someone you’ve listened to, has simply made up. For Scripture instead teaches that God has, throughout time, exercised judgements on the earth (Ps. 105:7 // Isa. 26:9 // Jer. 9:24 // Ja. 4:4-6 // 1 Peter 4:17 & 5:5), and some of those judgements that have been recorded, happened after Christ’s death and resurrection. To ignore this is to exalt men’s reasonings over Scripture’s teachings. To call “blasphemous” those who hold to sound doctrine, as it is clearly revealed in the Word, is folly. As 2 Tim. 3:16 informs us, “ALL Scripture” is useful for understanding correct doctrine. This includes the Old Testament. Yet even in regards to the New, I cannot see how your dismissal of God’s earthly judgements spoken about in such verses as Luke 12:51 & 21:20-24, Acts 5:1-11 & 12:21-23 & 13:10,11, Rom. ch. 1 & 13:4, and Heb. 12:6 is not a classic denial of God’s Word and Doctrine.
I’ve tried to respond to you that you and I do differ on several theological points, and I consider the “Faith Alone” one to be the most critical. On 7/8/15 at my comment page, you stated that you removed from your book manuscript your sentence, “Notice that faith is not a work.” You explained that you did so because you had reflected on my editing correction and therefore “tried to word it in a better way.” Yet you also then said, “I didn’t keep the comment about works in there because it wasn’t necessary to the point I was making in that section.” It seems, then, that you are saying that you did not actually reword it for the more important reason: That such a statement is a falsehood.
Being that I feel you have been, for the most part, resistant to my explanations and exhortations to you, and being that I have numerous posts you can read that reveal how our doctrines conflict (see https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/sermons/trusting-christ-obedience/ for example), I ask that you not respond for a least two months, if ever. Please study, check, and recheck what I am saying and if you choose to not retract your doctrine and accusations concerning God’s earthly judgements, and especially your “Faith Alone” promotions, then consider us to be in critical disagreement, and allow us to part ways. May we both always remember, though, that the way we combat errors and counterfeits is to know the Truth, to walk in the Truth, to obey it, to preach it, to compare what others say with what the Word of God says, and to always go with the latter. May we do so with the utmost diligence, for “we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (Ja. 3:1)