Thursday, January 8, 2009

On Works and Salvation

For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
-Matthew 16:27 (New International Version)

My favorite pastor at the church Vicki and I attend sat on the platform asking something like, ‘So you are saved. Because you are saved, you are going to Heaven; really?’

I thoroughly enjoyed that service and wish to hear more sermons like that one. My reason, I guess, is I want to see the Church empowered. How can the Church be empowered when so many “born again” believers hold to flimsy beliefs, which, quite frankly are antithetical to the creed.

“According to the Barna Research Group, only 9% of born-again believers hold a biblical worldview. In essence, the church as a whole does not believe what it says it believes”. (West End Assembly of God Sunday Morning Bulletin (1/4/09)

Another statistic given several months ago by the American Family Association stated, "Only six percent of all people who call themselves Christians truly understand the core message of the Bible".


“Much more than, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life”.
Romans 5:9-10

Hmm,
“We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled; we shall be saved by His life”?

NOTE: I've had similar discussions, prior to this. Each time, I get a flurry of mixed comments. I even lost a reader who referred to me as heretical. My views have not changed. Feel free to comment as you will. There will be no argument from me.

God has a purpose for having created us. It was not that we would fail to be what His intentions were for us and out of that He would be glorified by His grace and mercy. His purpose is much more than that. God desires a perfecting that reflects His image and signs the signature of the Family of God. John 14:18-23

Do we not see the importance of conforming to the image of Christ? Salvation is a means to a relationship with God. I know the word “saved” is used in different contexts throughout scripture. Romans 5:9-10 illustrates that point. In actuality, Romans 5:9-10 does more than illustrate how the word ‘saved’ is used in different context. In Romans 5:9-10, we see that we are ‘saved’ by His life. We can understand this to refer to the work Christ did in His life to fulfill the law. And, we can also accept this as a directive to live by the Spirit of Christ, keeping His commands and living as Jesus lived in relation to God and man.

Essentially, we are saved from the condemnation of the law by accepting Christ as our atoning sacrifice. And, we are saved from the Day of Judgment Jesus speaks of in Matthew 25:31-46. Click here to read . And note: it is by faith in Christ (all of these being judged call Him Lord. However, Matthew 7:21 clarifies that not all who say Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who do the will of the Father.) ….it is by faith in Christ that the law has no power over the person who accepts Jesus as the Christ for that person’s atonement; that persons relationship with God is dependent, first on the atonement offered by Christ. But, how does one have the relationship? How does one represent the family of God? It is by being Holy as God is Holy. This means, living according to the desire of God. Not man’s standard, but God’s. This is what it means to be ‘sanctified’; set apart (from the ways of the world). So, as in Matthew 25:31-46, we are going to first be required to accept Jesus as an offering for our sin. Then, we must live a life of Love, the “royal law” as James puts it, and as Jesus commands it.

We will see a judgment. Those on the left will be those who did no works; had no love. Those on the right will be those who accepted Christ’s atoning work and had works which separated them from the ways of the world. Sanctification is being set apart from the ways of the world. It is to live as God is – Holy. Not a posture, but a life style that is approachable. And, where there is room for God’s grace if we fail. What is important is that we are in Christ and that we strive to live as God is; Holy.

My wife, Vicki often asks a rhetorical question concerning a person’s aim at getting to Heaven. She asks,“Why would a person want to be in Heaven if it is not his natural environment?”

Have you ever been somewhere that was just not you? You were out of your ‘element’ and could not wait for it to end. If a person is truly not sanctified, this is the experience a person would have. Granted, it is a much better place to be than the alternative. A person who is not sanctified would feel safe, but would feel as if he were a stranger among many of whom all know one another.

In Chapter Four of my Love One Another blog I wrote:

“Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:17 KJV)

A common response to James is:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9 NIV)

However, now that we have a right relationship with God in the way that Adam and Eve had before they discovered disobedience, what will be the preserving element?

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

Paul tells us that by our acceptance of Christ we are changed; it is intended by God that we do good works.
Paul writes that the fruit of the spirit, our ‘good works’ is:

“Love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
(Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

Did you catch the significance of the last part of verse 23?

“Against such things there is no law.”

Paul says something very similar to the Romans:

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8 NIV)


We need to be justified (made righteous) as well as sanctified (holy). Sanctification requires the works of love for the human family, which is in step with the Spirit of Christ to bring to completion His purpose for us. What is His purpose for us? Please view my opinion, explaining God’s intent for the Human Family. In short, I will reveal, it is that we be His family. For more on this click on this link. And please read chapter one, 'God Created Man'


More scripture supporting ‘works’ (after accepting the atoning work of Christ).

1. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. -2 Corinthians 5:10 (New International Version)

2. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. – Revelation 2:23 (New King James Version)


3. And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; - I Peter 1:17 (New King James Version)

34 comments:

Vicki said...

Dearest,
We both know of a young man who, in all earnestness, accepted the atonement of Jesus' blood to cover his sins. The minister turned to him and said, "Now you are saved. You are going to heaven no matter what happens after this." With this instruction, the young man continued his lifestyle of sin and for many years had a troubled life due to the consequences. Fortunately, at this time he is seeking holiness and deeply desires to act like Jesus.
The church needs to teach people seeking Christ that it does matter what they say and do. There are consequences.
This life is a practice for our eternal destiny. Like a doctor practices medicine, we practice the relationship with God. It is real, but limited, not face to face. If we don't practice now, how will we be able to perform when in God's holy presence!

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Hey Jim,

I hate to sound like stick-in-the-mud here, but we've had this talk before so this is nothing new. I do appreciate your call for us to live authentic lives as Christians, but I'm afraid I have to strongly disagree with your proclamation that we must add something to the Gospel in order for our relationship with God to be real.

"God has a purpose for having created us. It was not that we would fail to be what His intentions were for us and out of that He would be glorified by His grace and mercy. His purpose is much more than that."

That we would be what God intended us to be is exactly His purpose for us. There is nothing that is “much more than that”. God’s accomplishing His intention for us by His Spirit through Christ is the purpose of God for us. God dwelling with His people (in His people through the presence of the Spirit) is exaclty the purpose that God had intended for us which is accomplished now in Christ by the presence of the Spirit.

"…that persons relationship with God is dependent, first on the atonement offered by Christ.

Here is where you begin to misunderstand the power of the Gospel. You say "first" with the notion that our relationship to God is not fully accomplished by the atonement of Christ. But the Gospel is that our relationship with God is dependant only on the atonement of Christ. It’s the power of the Gospel in that atonement that transforms our lives—not our own power. No Jim, if one has truly trusted in Christ for his salvation, the atonement of Christ has fully and finally covered his sins and that person now has the Spirit of Christ making him a Child of God. (Romans 8).

"So, as in Matthew 25:31-46, we are going to first be required to accept Jesus as an offering for our sin. Then, we must live a life of Love, the “royal law” as James puts it, and as Jesus commands it."

And here is where you begin adding to the Gospel which Paul warns us against. When you add anything to the atoning work of Christ as our basis for relationship with God, then you are preaching another Gospel. Sorry Jim, but in this instance I have to agree with Jeff. I'm not sure if you actually mean what we are hearing, but your language suggests that only as we "work" are we assured of our standing as Children of God. This is absolutely "anti-christ". Romans 8 (again...because it covers all this territory) tells us explicitly that if a person has the Spirit of Christ indwelling him, then that person is now and forever a Child of God. And we all know that the Spirit comes to reside in a person at the time of the New Birth (being Born Again).

"We need to be justified (made righteous) as well as sanctified (holy). Sanctification requires the works of love for the human family…"

Sorry Jim, but I'll accept Scripture again here. Again, Romans 8 spells out for us that it is the Holy Spirit Himself who accomplishes our sanctification—not us. If anything about our relationship with God is determined by us, then we would not have a relationship with God. The Gospel from beginning to end (salvation-sanctification) is a work of God in us. And it's precisely because of this (because of the presence and work of the Spirit, as is shown in Romans 8 and elsewhere) that our lives in this world will gradually and progressively manifest the life of Christ in us; the transformation that has come to us in Christ.

Again, I really do appreciate your heart and your ministry in calling us to live what we believe. But when you start adding "works" to the Gospel I will always be in disagreement with you.

I love you as a Brother because I believe that you trust in Christ for your salvation. But your words here, in my opinion, are words that Paul warns us about as anti-gospel. Please don't take what I've written as a personal attack. I'm strongly disagreeing with your statements about the Gospel, not with your heart in calling us to authentic Christian living.

Your Brother (still, I hope!)

Jason (GGM)

Jody said...

Thanking God that He loved me while I was His enemy(eph 2:4,5)I love the beginning of this verse,"But God..." and if when I get to heaven and my savior is not there, I don't want to be there either, I long to see Jesus.

jeleasure said...

Hi Vicki, Jason and Jody.
There are the verses of the Bible which demand works to be accounted for in the Day of Judgement. I struggled in unintelligent conversation so many times when I was approached with the notion we must do works to be acceptable to God on the day we are judged. I'm not ignoring scripture.
Jason, when you say, "I'll have to go with scripture on this one", what have I pointed to throughout this post? There are five verses which all say that works are necessary. Four of the verses I quoted say our works will be taken to account on the Day of Judgement.
Sorry. But, there are those people who take salvation for granted and have no works that even indicate God's presence in their lives. I know many people who claim to be Christians. Just fifteen minutes with them may point out that there is much that contradicts a testimony for Christ.
Not only are our works done for one another. But our works are done to testify of Christ to the unsaved. Thanks for your comments. We are still brethren. However, I want to take the Bible seriously and testify to the importance of our works. If they were not important, Christ would not have ordered Love for one another, Paul would not have sighted the "Fruits of the Spirit" and James would not have said, "Faith with out works is dead".

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Jim,

I appreciate what you say here:

"However, I want to take the Bible seriously and testify to the importance of our works"

...and I am not minimizing the importance of our "works". I'm just stressing that contra what you say in your piece, "works" are not necessary for our salvation. In fact, the Gospel stresses that our "works" will never get us to (or keep us in) relationship with God. The only work that brings us (and keeps us) in right relationship with God is the work of Christ. This is the Gospel and I must always insist on this.

"If they were not important, Christ would not have ordered Love for one another, Paul would not have sighted the "Fruits of the Spirit" and James would not have said, "Faith with out works is dead".

Again, good works are important. We were created unto "good works" and our Christians lives are expected to manifest the fruit of the Spirit. But here's the rub: true Christian lives do and will manifest the fruit of the Spirit because true Christians have the Spirit indwelling them. Our "works", whatever they may be, are not a contributing factor at all to our being Christians, but they do play in a part in our growth as Christians; and not because they are necessary for our salvation, but because they are indicators of our love for our Lord and the work of the Spirit in our lives.

"Faith without works is dead" because a genuine faith will manifest itself in the world--it has to because the Spirit is not dormant in the life of a Believer. But "works" do not contribute to our salvation--the Gospel is clear on this.

Thanks for the gracious reply, Jim. I always try to be in my responses as well, though in this case, as you can tell, I'm set against your claim that works are necessary to our union with God.

Your Brother,

Jason

nutuba said...

Hi Jim,

I see your post has generated some heart felt discussion. :-) In some sense I think that "both sides" (though I'm reluctant to use the word "sides" because we're all on the same side) are coming to the same point at different angles.

Regardless, I think we all agree on these things:

1. The atonement for our sins is entirely and only through Christ. Nothing we can do will get us there. We all fall short and need God's grace.

2. We all know it's possible for Christians to not have a very Christ-like demeanor. We are called to be Christ-like in our actions.

The differences beyond that, then, are how do we get to that point ... do our actions bring us closer to God, or does getting closer to God mean that our resulting actions are more Christ-like.

I'm not going to dive into that question because I think of it a little differently (maybe) ...

Through Bible study and prayer, we should listen to God, drawing near to him and being obedient to his call.

If I set my own agenda of doing this and that and something else, and expect it to draw me closer to God, well, it may or it might not.

If I commune with God, though, and follow where He leads me, that will end up in doing good works too, not as part of salvation and not with the purpose of bringing me closer to him, but just because He wants me to be obedient to his will.

(Make sense? I'm writing this in a hurry ... there's been so little time to write these past few weeks ...).

Anyway, I appreciate reading all the discussion. Blessings to all.
Joel

preacherman said...

Let me start off by saying great post and discussion as always. I love reading your blog. It is one of my favs.

I believe that we are saved by grace through faith. The love that Christ has for us should motivate us as believers to do good works in which God has prepared in advance for us to do. I love James 2. Abraham was a man of faith, called God's friend. I want to be called God's friend don't you? Of course what made Abraham God's friend? Faith demonstrated through works. Abraham obeyed God. Abrham knew God could raise his son from the dead. What faith! Jesus in John 13 tells us that if you love me you will obey my commands. In the O.T. you have 10 commandments. In the N.T. you have 2 commandments. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind. The second is love your neighbor as yourself. These commandments are our way of demonstrating our love and faith in God. So are we saved by faith or works? Neither. We are saved by Grace! Grace. The biggest gift that God has given to us. Are we going to recieve it? How do we recieve the biggest gift ever, the grace of God. Active faith in God demonstrated throgh love. Just my thoughts on the subject. Wonderful post yet again. Keep up the great work. You, your family and ministry are always in my prayers. Keep making a kingdom difference!

Great Googly Moogly! said...

I really appreciate everyone's gracious spirit here. I know that when there are disagreements in discussions that take place in a forum like this (writing as opposed to speaking face to face), misunderstanding with regard to either what we are saying or the tone of our "voices" can easily occur. I'm definitely not wanting to sound mean or anything, and I appreciate you all (especially you, Jim) for recognizing this.

Having said that, the language that we use to communicate what we mean is important. And I'm "hearing" Jim say that the atonement of Christ is not sufficient for our salvation. If I'm mistaken, I'm sorry; but I've read and re-read his post and other posts (and personal e-mails) and I keep understanding the same thing: Jim believes that something in addition to the atoning work of Christ is necessary for our salvation.

I happen to agree with the comments of Joel and Preacherman, but those are not the same things that Jim seems to be saying. Either we are saved solely by grace through faith, or we are saved by grace through faith plus...whatever. I contend for the former and by Jim's posts, he seems to favor the latter. I cannot agree with Jim because I believe his stance is anti-Gospel.

If I'm misunderstanding you Jim, I'm sorry. But if I'm not, then I think you are in serious error.

Again, to everyone--thanks for reading me in a gracious light. I don't want to sound condemnatory, but I do want to make sure that we are understanding one another correctly.

In Christ,

Jason

jeleasure said...

Thanks to all for this discussion. I feel Preacherman has understood me best. Please read this entire comment in order to understand that I have not stated our atonement is by works.

Jason wrote:

Jim seems to be saying. Either we are saved solely by grace through faith, or we are saved by grace through faith plus...whatever.

Being saved and atoned for is the same thing. We are not saved or atoned for in our works. Being saved allows us the opportunity to have a relationship with God. It is described as "righteousness". The word "righteous" is what we say in english for the Koinean Greek word, "dikiosune".

Dikiosune means, "Investiture with the attribute of 'righteousness'; a provision or mean for justification" - The Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament by William D. Mounce.

So, what is it we invest ourselves in? We invest ourselves in the atoning work of Christ whom, as Preacherman pointed out, asked us to do two things. Love the Lord, and love others. Jesus said,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All of the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)

Jesus quoted from Leviticus 19:18 in verse 39 above, as He does in John 13:34 and John 15:12. He emphasizes it because He wants us to understand that the social ordinances of the law are encompassed in love. If we keep the commandment to love one another we fulfill the social aspects of the law.

Love is a social obligation among the family of God. Jesus can only fulfill this requirement of “love one another” on His own behalf because it is directed to the individual. His atoning work does not cover us here. We are responsible for seeing that this “new command” or new law is fulfilled in our lives.

Paul says in Romans and Galatians that the law is complete if you fulfill the law to love. James, in James 2:8 calls it a “royal law” quoting Leviticus 19:18.

Alan Knox said...

Jim,

Great post! I think Paul said it best:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of 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 Christ prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Or, as James said very simply: Faith without works is dead.

Yes, our salvation is completely a work of God and by his grace. But, those who have been graced by God with salvation will work. And, God uses those works to teach us about himself, about us, and about the world. In other words, he uses our works to mature us.

Here's the interesting thing... even our works are done by God grace!

-Alan

jeleasure said...

Thanks Alan,
I believe our works are for our maturing; learning of God, man and ourselves.

Also, yes, I beleive our ability to do works is of an aid by the Holy Spirit. However, I see the lack of consistancy among many Christians. They do those 'good works' which they tollerate doing, or may benefit from.


The necessity to do 'works' is to be sanctified. To live by God's standard. We will fail in our efforts be holy. However, God's grace gives a willing heart the opportunity for another try. I believe there needs to be a consistant effort to abide in Christ. And, that, as long as we desire to do what Jesus has commanded us to do; Love God and love one another produces holiness. Paul says in Romans 6:19-21, 'righteousness produces holiness and the result is eternal life'.

Having had this discussion many times, I have been able to see how I may refine this message.

Here is what I think is choking off an understanding of the message of 'righteousness unto holiness'. It is not by God that the message is being choked off. It is of our own doing. We confuse ourselves with our understanding of how Jesus has fulfilled the Law. God commands us in Leviticus 19:18 to love God and love our neighbors. These two commands are "Law". For anyone to think that Jesus will fulfill the command to love God and our neighbors on our behalf robs God of being edified. If it were the case for God to have made Jesus to fulfill the "Royal" law of love on our behalf, there would be no human family. We would be a bunch of uncivilized barbarrians of whom God would not find any pleasure in.

makemeaspark said...

Jim, did you know that Martin Luther seriously wanted to leave the letter of James out of the Bible? But he just couldn't do it. Thank God!

There are a lot of things that back up what you say. You do have a nice depth to your theology here. How about just 1 Corinthians 13 for starters: 1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothin."~What gain is Paul talking about?

Then speaking of growth in God, Paul says that beholding the face of God: "18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."~2 Corinthians 3

~2 Corinthians 7:1"1Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."

~James 4: "7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."

Need more? I am just getting started.

Now this will probably smoke some socks, but if you don't work out your salvation in fear and trembling on this earth, you could still be destined for heaven but will get there "such as by fire" (Purgatory anyone?)

"12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."

Sparks

Tamela's Place said...

Hello Jim,

I like what preacherman had to say and i also like what makeme had to say and all the scriptures he gave.

Here is another scripture. Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven. Good works brings glory to our Father in Heaven because it is the Holy Spirit within us that causes us to do good works. We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works.

Good works does not get one saved and i believe that everyone agrees with that, but i truly believe that our good works is evidence that we are saved. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

When i realized that i was given salvation by grace and that it was nothing of myself but just to have faith in that Jesus did indeed love me and died for me, i could not help but desire to glorify Him with my life and desire others to glorify Him as well, and good works does just that.

great post Jim :)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Hello Everyone,

Personally, I appreciate what everyone is saying and for the most part I agree. But that's the issue: no one else is saying the same thing that Jim is saying.

Jim is saying that there is something else that is necessary, something that we must do, in addition to the atoning work of Christ for our salvation. He calls it the "Royal Law". He says that if we do not obey the "Royal Law" then we have no relationship with God. This is patentently anti-Gospel. This way of thinking is not the Gospel of Christ.

What I'm saying (and what it seems like everyone else is saying) is that because of the atoning work of Christ and the resulting indwelling of the Spirit, we now are capable of loving others as we're called to do; and not only are we simplyn capable of it, we, because of the work of the Spirit in tranforming us from the "old man" into the "new man" (the work of conforming us into the image of Christ), because of that work we actually do obey the "Royal Law". We don't do it perfectly and fully yet, of course, but we are Children of God based solely on the work of Christ and by the work of the Spirit in us we do manifest the life of Christ in our lives. Jim has said that we must fulfill the "Royal Law" in order for us to have a relationship with God; I'm saying (and the rest of the responses seem to be in agreement) that because we have a relationship with God through the atoning work of Christ we will and we do obey the "Royal Law". And the only reason we do is because of the work of Spirit in transforming us into the image of our Lord.

This may only seem like a subtle difference; but it is the difference between Christ's Gospel and man's gospel. Roman's 8, in agreement with the rest of the Scripture, states emphatically that it is the presence of the Spirit in a person that determines his/her "sonship"--nothing else! Once a person is (truly) "born again", that person is then and forever secure in his/her adoption as a "son" of God and an "heir with Christ". That person is assured of his/her inheritance as a Child of God because the Spirit will complete His work in that Child of God.

I'm sorry to be beating this drum into the ground, but if we allow someone to "add" to the Gospel we're as guilty as that person of "trampling under (our) feet the Son of God"; we are as guilty of "regarding as unclean (Christ's) blood of the covenant by which we were sanctified", and we will have "insulted the Spirit of grace".

This is an important issue. I don't mean to sound harsh, but we must stand for the truth and we must seek to correct a Brother or Sister who is in error. I would hope that you would agree with that.

In Christ (solely by the blood of Christ),

Jason

Vicki said...

I really appreciate this discussion. All of your thoughts and words are valuable to yourselves and then to each one of us as we work to describe our walk through our doctrinal words.
Theologically what we all must agree upon is that Jesus is the Christ, the Perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, our atonement,and the only means to our eternal destiny in heaven.
This is my thought: The path called Holiness means that we strive to act like Jesus, loving the unloveable, doing tasks that no one else wants to do, to be humble of spirit, willing to die to self.
We all fail in this effort and need the Holy Spirit to direct us and to forgive us when we fail.
We must make continual choices. The Sovereign Lord permits us to think and to decide. Do you think? Do you make decisions? This perhaps is the real question. I think I am making decisions, and I feel that I am responsible for my actions.
Can I do good by myself? The True Word states that all my goodness alone is as filthy rags. BUt because I am redeemed, I trust in the Holy Spirit to better my behaviours, actions, desires, thoughts.
There is one area in which Jesus says that we must be perfect, that is in loving others, whether they deserve it or not.
Now if you say that your efforts are not your own, then you are not making any decisions. How can you love without some choice?
God's sovereignty means that He is completely and truly incharge. He can do that and permit people to think, make choices, and to act, either for or against Him. I believe that because He permits choices, He is even more powerful.
Someday we will be judged. Upon what if we aren't ultimately making some decisions? This is what Jim is talking about. If we are saved and then do nothing, we are like the seed that is planted on a thin layer of soil, growing quickly and dying.
Please do not comment on this unless you read it all. Be a thinker - then truly listen to the Holy Spirit. This pleases God.

jeleasure said...

Make Me a Spark,
Thanks for your comments. The passages you refer to are important to the idea that we must love.
You stated the beautiful poetry of I Corinthians 13. After, you ask, 'What gain is Paul refering to?'

Paul is refering to having a relationship with God and living in God's Heavenly Kingdom. And why? Because we have brotherly love.

My wife points out that we do possess the ability to do good works with out the Holy Spirit. But, without the Holy Spirit, they are as filthy rags. So, God, does not force us to be of good works. We are, because we have a choice to do those good works. We do those good works because we love God and want to obey God's commands and the teachings of His Son.

Thanks Sparks.
Jim

jeleasure said...

Hi Tamela,

Good works does not get us saved. We all agree with that. Thank you for pointing that out because, at least one person has missed the fact that I have not claimed that we are saved by 'good works'.

Then, T, you go on to mention a few verses that discuss our good works being seen by men. This verse implies that we have a choice to do 'good works' as the verse exhorts us to 'good works'. I don't believe you are saying that we do not have a choice.

What I said in my earlier comments here, is that the Law, as in Leviticus 19:18 commands us to Love God and Love our fellow man. What I have been saying and continue to say for those who do not open their ears, is that Jesus commanded us to Love One Another. He did not say, "I have loved one another for you".

I know you have not said Jesus has loved on our behalf, either. I just want to take the opportunity to clarify to you since I have someone calling me a blasphemer.

So, what I am saying is, Jesus did not put the commands of Leviticus 19:18 to rest. It is part of the law, we must fulfill ourselves.

Thanks for the comments and encouragement to think through the misunderstanding some have of me.

jeleasure said...

Hi Jason,

"Personally, I appreciate what everyone is saying and for the most part I agree. But that's the issue: no one else is saying the same thing that Jim is saying.
"


Jason, you make this difficult for me, because, I want you to understand what it is I am saying that the scripture says. But, you are attacking me and calling me a blasphemer, as well as attempting to discourage the readers of my blog from thinking that I have anything of value to say.

You have said that I am in error and you must bring me back. You have said that I am creating a Gospel of my own.

So, once more. Here is what I am saying.

Yes. There is something we must do. Not for salvation. The problem here, is that the word salvation is used in different contexts. It is used for being saved from the condemnation that comes from the Law. The Law was meant to bring man close to God but in actuality demonstrated that man was not capable and thus would live under its condemning power. This is why Jesus went to the pit of Hades to preach the Good News to those who passed before He came and to offer them a way to have a relationship with God. In this case, they were 'saved' and went to Heaven if they accepted Jesus as their savior.

But we who are still alive and have heard of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believed on Him to save us from our sins (those things we do that keep us from a relationship with God) now have the relationship (freely) made available by God's grace and the atoneing work of the Messiah; Jesus the Christ. But, part of the obedience we must have in order to keep Jesus' commands is to Love One Another and Love The Lord. I don't think Jesus was suggesting this. I don't believe He was saying that He has fulfilled these commands for us, or He would not have given them as commands.
Then, how do you explain Matthew 25:31-46?
I don't call it the "Royal Law" of love. James, the brother of Jesus did. I refer to it as such because it best describes the fulfillment of having been obedient to Christ in this command. It is "Royal" as in a Royal family.

jeleasure said...

Thanks to my wife.
For our discussions and your encouragement to continue to reach for the deeper things of God's word.
I also appreciate your desire to not be flat in your understanding of God's words. That you have studied and want to know that we are free to make choices.
Thanks for your support on my blog. One person has stated that you are in antithetical agreement with me. But, I know from the conversations we have and the comments you've made on this blog and that you do not abandon me in this difficult message.
The Church at large has built this idea that Christ meant nothing by the command to love one another. That, as he does go onto heaven after being resurrected there is not a need to have love. This is in fact what people are saying if they say that we are going to Heaven regardless of whether we love or not. If a person says we are going to Heaven because the Holy Spirit makes me love others, this also is wrong.

As you have stated, we are called to love the unloveable. We are not forced. The path called holiness is different from the path of righteousness. We are made righteous from an account of God's righteousness given through our faith in Christ. We become as one walking on the way of holiness as we live according to the standard of God. This is what leads to eternal life. It is as Paul, the same person Jason is quoting in the same letter, says. Righteousness leads to Holiness and the end is eternal life - Romans 6:19-22.

Does not the writer of Hebrews say, "without holiness, noone will see God"? Hebrews 12:14.

Jody said...

I VERY reluctantly join in this conversation. As I sifted through all of this Matthew 22:36-39 came to mind. The great and foremost commandment in the law, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind." And the second, is "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." This is enough to keep us busy for eternity. Chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

For what it's worth, I've never claimed that we do not have a responsibility before the Lord to live out the Christian life as He's called us to. I've never said that it is not us making decisions. I've never said that our efforts are not our own. I've never said that a "saved" person will do nothing. I've never said that it is Jesus who does the loving for us and not ourselves doing the loving. I've never called anyone here a "blasphemer". I've never attacked anyone personally in a blog post, only the statements that people make. I've never discouraged readers from listening to anyone here. I've never said that Jim has nothing of value to say so don't listen to him. I've never said that Jesus has fulfilled our obligation to love for us, as if we are not now obligated to love. I've never said that we do not have an obligation to love. I've never said that the Holy Spirit makes us love others. I've never suggested that we have no obligation to live holy lives, etc., etc., etc.

If I'm guilty of misrepresenting you, then you are equally as guilty of misrepresenting me. I've actually quoted you numerous times to make sure that I wouldn't misrepresent you. You have not quoted me nor have you interacted with my comments.

This is what I'm saying. Please acknowledge that you agree with it or you disagree with it and then I will know what you mean.

1) I say that we do not need to (using your phrase) fulfill the "Royal Law" in order to be saved, but that our fulfilling of the "Royal Law" is the result of our being saved. Do you agree or not? No elaboration is necessary at this point unless you disagree.

2) I say that our salvation is solely the work of God in Christ. There is nothing that we do that contributes to our salvation or keeps us in our salvation. Do you agree or not? No elaboration is necessary at this point unless you disagree.

Vicki,

I am in general agreement with what you wrote, but you made the statement, "There is one area in which Jesus says that we must be perfect, that is in loving others, whether they deserve it or not."

I agree (I've always agreed) that we're called to "love one another"; but what do you mean by "we must be perfect"? You're not suggesting that at the times that we find ourselves as "unloving" that we are at that time separated from God, are you? I agree that we're called to love one another, but until we're perfected in the consummation we often fail in our endeavor to do this. When you say the Jesus says that we "must be perfect" in this, what do you believe are the consequences when we aren't?

I'm engaging in a dialogue and I've been trying to do it graciously and impersonally. Obviously I used your name, Jim. But I tried to make sure that my remarks were directed at your statements and not you personally. I apologize if you felt that I was attacking you personally. I also apologize if I've misunderstood you. But all you had to do was to interact with my comments (as I've done with yours) and show me where I was not reading you correctly. If you answer the above two questions, then I'll know where you stand on the issue of our redemption and then we can understand each other when we discuss the role and means of our sanctification.

I appreciate you and Vicki and those who read and comment here. I consider you a friend though I've never personally met you. But I will always defend the Gospel as I understand it as I know that you will too. The issue is whether or not we understand each other. So far (it seems)...not so good.

In Christ,

Jason

jeleasure said...

Hi Jason,
When I refer to Salvation, I mean, we are saved from condemnation. However, I view salvation as an opportunity for us to have a relationship with God.
We have our relationship with God in the way Jesus declared it will be recognized. He said, "Love one another. As I have loved you, so, must you love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another".

Jesus also tells us (in Matthew 25:34-46)that we will be judged according to what we've done to "the least of these brothers of mine". Regarding those who call Jesus Lord but have no works Jesus says;
Mat. 25:46; "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

To me, it is very clearly stated by Jesus that, as you said, "We have an obligation". What does the obligation mean to you? If we have an obligation, this would mean there is a consequence for not following through with Jesus' commands. And, Jesus tells us what that consequence is.
I hope this clarifies my view on this.
Thanks Jason.
I am not certain you and I will ever agree. But, I will still continue to call you a brother in Christ.
Jim

Vicki said...

43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[b] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew:43-48

These are the words of Jesus as recorded in the Beatitudes, part of the Sermon on the Mount.

The word "perfect" is the Greek word "telos". This word means, whole, complete, perfect.

Jesus said to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. This is a command, not a suggestion. Our Father in Heaven is so perfect that He is the definition of perfection.

As followers of Jesus, we'd better take these words seriously, repent with failure, and strive for perfection. This is the only area that Jesus says we must be perfect. If we are perfect, or striving strongly towards perfection, all of the other areas on this earth will fall into line.

Recently I have had a situation that someone lied to me and has caused me much anguish. My response to the disappointment and hurt is to pray for his true salvation through Jesus. He's Jewish. You pray for him too, and this will be my revenge. I truly care about him and his family.

Please read your Bible everyday. Don't take words out of context. As thinkers, we should understand the environment and true meaning of the words written. We are in an age of knowledge. Thus more is expected of us.

Thank you, Jim, for striving towards love. You are becoming stronger everyday. I love you very much and I'm proud of you.

Great Googly Moogly! said...

This is my final comment on the matter.

I was hoping, Jim, that you would have answered my two questions directly. As it stands now, I'm comfortable with everything that I've written here. You seem to believe that we contribute to our salvation...that the atoning work of Christ is not sufficient. You seem to be teaching a synergistic salvation while I advocate a monergistic salvation.

I've been saying all along that because of the presence and work of the Spirit in the life of a Christian, his/her life will progressively be conformed to the image of Christ. Christians will "love" because the work of the Spirit is effectual. Because of the presence of the Spirit, we who belong to Christ do not have a dead faith.

And yes it is actually the individual Christian who is doing the loving, but it is only because of the work of the Spirit in us that we love. He doesn't love for us but He is the One who is conforming us into the image of Christ. We don't conform ourselves into His image; that is the work of the Spirit.

I've been as clear as I know how to be. Contrary to what someone has suggested, I've read and interacted with the posts as carefully as possible. And as I've stated above, I'm comfortable with everything that I've written and I've not been given any reason (yet) to doubt the conclusions that I've reached.

Vicki said,

"Please read your Bible everyday. Don't take words out of context. As thinkers, we should understand the environment and true meaning of the words written. We are in an age of knowledge. Thus more is expected of us."

I'm suprised that you would think that you are the only one in this debate who is doing so. I'm very familiar with this passage and I don't lack the training, education or qualification to interpret this passage. But the context for this passage isn't limited to the immediate verses or even the Sermon on the Mount.

The Sermon on the Mount is in the context of Matthew's gospel and what he is wanting his readers to understand about Jesus and the Kingdom. The book of Matthew is set in the larger context of the entire New Testament. The New Testament is set in the context of the entire Bible. When we come to any passage in the Scripture we must work our way out from the immediate context to its broadest context--the entire scope of salvation history.

Edmund Clowney gives us a good hermeneutical rule: we must consider all three contextual horizons that the immediate context falls within. These three are:

1) The Textual Horizon: this is where we would be diagraming the text, figuring out the grammer, doing our word studies, analysing the genre, etc.

2) The Epochal Horizon: This is where we ask, "Where are we at in the Biblical story?" Where are we in redemptive history? What has been revealed so far? In this way, we can understand and think as the people in the immediate context did. We must (as they were) be aware of what has come before and what is expected to come later.

3)The Canonical Horizon: This is the most important because it helps us to understand the previous study data in terms of the overall purpose of God. The Bible is an organic unity that is the record of God's promise and fulfillment--all centering on and culminating in the Person and Work of Christ. If our data does not line up with the overall purpose of God and the promise(s) that He's made, then we must re-check our interpretation.

I say all of this to say that I don't think you're being fair to the overall context of the Scripture. The call to us to be "perfect" is a "creational calling" that has to do with being true to our created function and purpose; which is to be conformed to our created nature as image-bearers. And this "perfection" was lost in The Fall and it is the work of the Spirit in our salvation to restore it. This is the meaning of Paul when he says that the Spirit is conforming us (back) into the image of Christ. Our "perfection" has much more to do with us than simply our "lives of love". The perfection that is spoken of in the Scripture is a perfection of our whole being. This is a progressive work of the Spirit which will be completed at Christ's return.

Obviously we are called to "live" out our salvation...we're to live as Children of God. And where and when we don't, we come to our Father thanking Him that our redemption does not count on what we do but on what He has done in Christ and then we put our faliures behind us and continue to run the race set before us.

I agree with you: "As thinkers, we should understand the environment and true meaning of the words written. We are in an age of knowledge. Thus more is expected of us."

...and I'm confident that I've done so.

As I said, this is it for me. Respond or not...you have the last word.

Your Brother in Christ,

Jason

Nitewrit said...

It is with some fear and trepidation that I step into this discussion. Rather than comment on anyone else’s view, I am going to simply state my own belief on the matter.
As a person born of the flesh, I entered the world with a sinful nature. My selfish mind and depraved heart placed a thick veil between God and me. Despite that, God loved me and drew me to His provision for my salvation. That provision was Christ’s bearing the punishment for my sins in his death. My salvation did not just rest on that sacrifice or Jesus’ death. It also rested on His life, for if Jesus had not risen from the grave to life there would have been no salvation and we would all have no hope.
Outside of this, there was no way of my reconciliation with God. I could not do any thing to earn this salvation. The Law not only defined sin, it condemned me, because I couldn’t keep all the Law. My only chance was to believe and accept the gift God had given us in His Son.
This required faith, repentance and belief. When I had admitted to being a sinner and confessed, asked forgiveness and asked for God’s mercy I was saved to salvation. My inner death was reborn by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and I was changed, a new man. Perhaps…
We must consider the matter of sincerity. Consider the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8) and we also consider the statement in James about “faith without deeds”.
Believing in the Gospel is not enough. Even the demons believe and know whom Jesus is, but you can’t say demons are saved. Deeds are not enough because even the pagans do good deeds and remember those who asked, “did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?”
Do we have a conundrum here? What is it if belief isn’t enough and you can’t earn salvation? I think it is the humbling acceptance not only of God’s Grace, but also of God’s Will. Accepting Christ is not just an intellectual exercise like believing the earth orbits the sun; it is submitting our self to Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Then we will have the Spirit and we will have the desire for God’s purpose. And what is one of God’s purposes? That we reflect Him to the world and we do that by our deeds, but not just with our deeds, but with our apartness. Remember, again, even pagan do good deeds.
But we can’t be judgmental of those who say they are Born Again, but perhaps don’t seem to do much. Remember in the Parable of the Sower the seed, which fell among thorns, which choked it. In Jesus’ explanation he did not say these people were necessarily unsaved. He said they were “unfruitful and they do not mature”. I believe such people will go to Heaven, but will be among those who’s deeds are just stubble to be burned up. But I don’t believe deeds are necessary for salvation either, for if so the thief on the cross whom Jesus promised Salvation would have been lost.

It was shortly after this Parable of the Sower He told the Parable of the Weeds, in which, He warned not to pull up the weeds because you might accidently pull up some wheat. God would do the pulling. And then we come to the Sheep and Goats. I believe the Goats were those who claimed to be Christian, but for their own will, not for God’s. There were examples of such people in Scripture, such as BarJesus in Acts. We need to be careful we act to maturate our weaker brothers and not judge them. We need to encourage and explain to those new to Christ that God would have us be perfect and have us strive to be like Jesus, to show God in our lives and this is part of the sanctification through the help of the Holy Spirit. We must also realize we will never reach perfection in this world. We will sometimes fail, sometimes slip to temptation, sometimes displease Our Lord and sometimes act in our own will. We have gained the Holy Spirit, but we have not yet lost our sin nature. It will remain a continuing war within our flesh. Thus we need to uphold each other, love each other and pray for each other.
It is sad to us seeing statistics that say so few understand basic Christianity or so few do much to show they have been saved, but that is understandable isn’t it. We are told few find the narrow gate.
I pray no one is offended by what I have written. This is what I believe and I pray always for more wisdom and guidance in the Word.

jeleasure said...

Hi Larry,
I am not offended that you, or anyone else has a belief that is different than mine.
The safe thing for us is to not only say we believe in Christ, but to be obedient to Him. If He says, "Love is the fulfillment of the Law", then, so it is. Love then becomes our obligation.
What I have said in my comments is 'the Law includes a set of personal obligations that can not be fulfilled by Jesus, on our behalf'. These, are the commands to love God and love one another.
Jesus reiterated the Law of Leviticus 19:18 (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)
"Love the Lord your God...and love your neighbor as yourself", calling it a new command. That has created some curiosity. Why would Jesus quote the Law and say He is giving us a new command?
This is what I wrote on the matter in my Love One Another Blog; Chapter four, 'Righteousness Unto Holiness"...

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All of the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)

Jesus quoted from Leviticus 19:18 in verse 39 above, as He does in John 13:34 and John 15:12. He emphasizes it because He wants us to understand that the social ordinances of the law are encompassed in love. If we keep the commandment to love one another we fulfill the social aspects of the law.

Love is a social obligation among the family of God. Jesus can only fulfill this requirement of “love one another” on His own behalf because it is directed to the individual. His atoning work does not cover us here. We are responsible for seeing that this “new command” or new law is fulfilled in our lives. Jesus does not tell us specifically because He was forbidden to speak to the Jews in plain logic. (We will find out why in the next chapter.) Paul says in Romans and Galatians that the law is complete if you fulfill the law to love. James, in James 2:8 calls it a “royal law” quoting Leviticus 19:18
.

I have also discussed Matthew 7:21-23 (Not everyone who says Lord, Lord), Philippians 1:15-18 (people preaching Christ out of selfish ambition)[You are correct about this, in my opinion, Larry] and the theif on the cross (His sanctification) in Chapter seven, Perspective from my Love One Another Blog. The thief did have works.
I have to get ready to go to work, Larry. If I am not out late this evening, I will visit your blog.
Thanks for the well thought out comments.
Jim

jeleasure said...

Jody,
I'm sorry, I accidently overlooked your comment. Thanks for the remarks.
Jim

Randi Jo :) said...

came here from Minnow's blog.

I get what you're trying to say here. but I actually totally disagree with the tone of WE need to DO ______. I'll explain why.

I think that there are lives in the Body that are pleasing to Him and lives that are not. But we ALL (in the Body) have His love and approval as His chilren. In fact I am doing a series on my blog right now 'what pleases God'.

but this series all started with me finally coming to the revelation in my walk that I had already had His approval and love and there was NOTHING that could take that away. There as NOTHING I could do to earn it.... I am His child and nothing could separate that. but after He laid that on my heart so thick He next said, "but don't give up your desire to please me"

He made me stretch to the next level.... and He showed me time and time again that it's NOT anything *I* can do. or "strive for" on my own...... pleasing Him........ it's just allowing HIM to change me, use me.

The HOly Spirit is what changes us and allows outpouring of love. It's nothing we can DO on our own.

I disagree with your post's tone that it's something we need to learn to do or strive for. I think that's wrong. The only thing we need to do is be devoted to Him and allow Him to work in us. The love flows out as a natural symptom of having the Holy Spirit in us.

When we begin to TRY to STRIVE and DO on our own ---- we become self-focused.... and therefore NOT pleasing God.

The more WE try --- the more there is of us - and the less there is of God.

I don't think that the world or even peope in The Body need preaching as to DO better. LOVE better.

All they need is to allow Him to do that through Him. What the Body needs is to have faith in Him and His goodness so that they will approach Him!!! and allow Him to change them.

As I wrote about in my part 2 of the what pleases GOd series which will post this afternoon.

It all starts with the Word. it all starts with spending time with Him.

Now why do some christians never "grow" and become more devoted to Him and spending time with Him and in His Word? I don't know!! BUT THAT is what needs preaching ---- that people need to spend time with Him and in His Word!

The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

I don't get why some are more devoted to others.... I can't explain that....

but I do know that when I was trying to please God by loving. or others work.. I found that there was too much of ME. The only life that is pleasing to Him is one that loves Him and allows HIM to do the work.

best wishes!!!!!!! Thanks for making me think!!!!! :)

and of course I'm such a beginner so this is just wehre *I* am on all this...

Randi Jo :) said...

p.s. another problem laid on my heart with the tone/words here is that God knows our intentions and reasons for doing things.

I believe that when we are a doing things out of love for Him. Out of thankfulness for all He's done for us.... then He is pleased. We are rewarded with His presence.

but when we do them to gain favor.... to try to gain approval which we already have. When we try to do things so that we will be on the right/left in heaven... He sees that. He sees our focus is on us. He sees that there is a lot of us in our heart... and no room for Him.

A life that loves Him and goes to Him out of thankfulness naturally will become a changed life and will be sanctified through the works of the Holy Spirit. THe HOly Spirit is one who does the works.

The more we strive - the more there is of us - the more there is of us - the less there is of God.

so again - to go back to my original comment here.

There's nothing we can fix, do, change on our own other than being with Him and spending time in His Word. A life that does these things will automatically go down the path of Love, sanctification and godliness that He desires.

What a great deal huh? We love Him. We stay close to Him. We study His Word and spend time with Him. We get to know the HOly Spirit and how to listen to Him. We then let Him flow through us and He does the work. We make sure to give Him the credit when any fruits show.

blessings!!!!! :)

jeleasure said...

Hi Randi Jo,
thanks for the remarks. I agree there is nothing we can do to win God's approval.

"For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son"

God already approves of us. He loved us while we were still His enemies. So, you see, I'm not pointing us in a direction of doing works that we heighten our awareness of self and how we measure up.

Here is what I am getting at; God created us to be His family. Christ reiderated the command to love God and others (from Leviticus 19:18) in John 13:34-35 as a new law. I know almost every translation in the world says command, but fact is, it can not be a new command because it was already stated as such in Leviticus 19:18.

In John 13:35, Jesus says, "by this, all men will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another".

Paul says in Romans 13:8
"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law".

Randi Jo, I've been around and around over this issue of how works fits into our relationship with Christ. I resisted it and became confused when some ministers attempted to explain it to me. I finally got it. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:34-46, and in John 13:35 that our relationship with Him is dependant on our love for one another.

In your life, continue to perfect your understanding of works and salvation. As I said, I denied works, but works is in the Bible. And, the Bible tells us that Jesus found love for others to be vital.

Love for One Another is the signature of God's family. If God's family had a family crest or insignia, it would be "love". Continue working it out.

My desire is to tell people, as James told us, "faith without works is dead". I have the temptation to demand that Love for others (beneath the cover of faith) is the only way "works" makes any sense. Will you continue to work on this concept? I do, everyday.

I once was adimate about faith alone saving us. And, that is correct. Faith alone saves us from being judged and condemned under the Law. Faith and works saves us from a final judgement.

I am tempted to tell you it does not matter to me that you don't believe works are a necessity. I am not going to, though. I will not, because the Love of God desires that his children have the love for His family. I want for you with what God wants with you.

You are saved. I see that. Is that where it stops? Am I to believe that God is going to minimize His command to Love God and one another (Lev. 19:18 and John 13:34-35)by just offering His Son, that we get to go to Heaven? That is not why God gave His Son. He gave His Son that we would have access to a relationship with the Holy God who is unapproachable aside from atonement.

I'm sorry if you do not believe this. If you wish to continue to dialogue with me on this issue, I am willing, to a point. That point would be where it becomes evident that you are over looking what scripture says. I've used enough scripture in my Love One Another blog that a simple and true read of the seven chapters will point to Love as a command.

If commands are given, are there consequences for not keeping them?

I am passionate about this subject. I've been given approval in how I interpret this message of Salvation and works by my minister and was given the opportunity to speak at three of the services on the issue for twenty minutes each time. I am equally met with opposition. But, that is just the way it is going to be. And, in my opinion, I firmly believe that i am correct in my understanding. There is nothing that can make me back up. I tried to stay where I was in my understanding when I chose to ignorantly refute the importance of works. That did not work, though I fought it for several years.

Blessings to you, as well.
May I visit your blog and feel free to leave comments?
Jim

Randi Jo :) said...

Thanks for the responses!!!

Like I said - I'm new in "all this" and so I just have to speak from the information I have up until this point.

I definitely agree with what you're saying ---- the only thing I was trying to present that I disagreed with is that I believe our LOVE for others COMES FROM having a relationship with God.

I really believe it is impossible to love others without the Holy Spirit's love pouring out.

I believe loving others comes as a flow of Him in us.... not something we have to try/strive to do.

True love for each other is impossible without the Holy Spirit.... because without Him - we will always be self-focused instead of others-focused.

Soooo YES we are in agreement with the 'command' to love.. we ARE in agreement that some grow in maturity and devotion to Him and some in the Body stay thankful about salvation and never grow.

but all we disagree on is the steps it takes.....

I believe being reconciled to the Body of Christ and having loving relationships comes as a RESULT of our relationship with the Father and that it's a natural symptom of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit....

If I understand correctly - you believe the love has to originate from us first? and THEN we have relationship with Him??

Like you said on my blog --- we do agree....... but just HOW to please God is where we disagree.

I think when we TRY to earn His favor by loving others --- He sees right through that. He sees our heart. That is why the verse says the greatest commandment is 1) to love God... and SECOND was to love others. The 2nd follows the first in my opinion.

This has proven true in my life... when *I* tried to love others because I know God wanted me to -- I found true agape unconditional selfless love was impossible. I was too human.

and He spoke to me one day --- you are NOT connected to me through the church... you are connected to the church through ME. We can change 'church' and 'Body' here.

what He was telling me was randi Jo get closer to ME!!! *I* am the one who loves others through you. You need me to help you love. and then as I grew closer to Him ---- I found one day how loving I was to others. How much patient I had. How much forgiveness & mercy... and I didn't even realize it had happened. It wasn't me anymore. It was the work of the HOly Spirit.

so anyway!! *THAT* was what I was TRYING to say in my first comments. I agree that He calls us to a new level - not for salvation - but He is calling us to grow in devotion to Him.

As my friend put it --- not to just be content that we're on the team ---- but to be that player that is standing by the coach saying I'm here I'm passionate. what next? put me in!? to look for what's next --- not only what happened in the past.

blessings :)

jeleasure said...

Hi Randi Jo,
These are good thoughts to help focus in on where the break down is.

You are correct whe you say that we need The Holy Spirit to help us to love others. We certainly are selfish. I see it all of the time in surprising sources.

In my opinion, I believe we must allow the Holy Spirit to do these works in us. I understand from a physical family perspective, that we do have love for those whom we are close to. However, we need the Holy Spirit to communicate to us that if we love Him, we will keep His commands. And, by virtue of His love for us, He showed us what and how and when. Then we decide: "Is it more important to me to be 'natural' and not love the people because it does not add to what 'my' agenda is? Or, will I show God that I am genuinely concerned for having a relationship with Him? And, If I want to have a relationship with Him, I'd better learn to love those the way Jesus loved me.

Randi Jo :) said...

yes! :) the key word for me there was ALLOW.

I really stick to my belief that the love comes from Him being in us... and the workings of the HOly Spirit... not our own efforts or decision to love those aruond us.

I think the way to learn to love others.... is to love Him. then because of our devotion and love to Him, He blesses us with His love and presence even more through the Holy Spirit who is the one who loves perfect love through us to others. The key is learning to love Him and letting Him love us back... then when that relationship flow is started --- it's impossible to not have love flowing out to others.

I haven't met anybody who has a strong loving relationship with God --- that doesn't have love pouring out from them to those around them --- because of the HOly Spirit.

but I've met a lot of people trying to learn on their own efforts how to love others --- and it's not natural, it's not selfless.... and it's not genuine - because they are trying to do the loving themselves and doing it to earn GOd's favor and that's not how I believe it is meant to flow. If only they would draw to Him -- He would love through them and they wouldn't have to "try" or "learn".... The HOly Spirit would guide them to do those things. yes they will 'learn' but almost unintentionally --- the HOly spirit is the one who convicts and teaches us to ...

so the relationship with Him is foundational --- and I believe that when one spends enough time in devotion to Him and seeking Him --- He will lead them to this point of the commandment to love others. if He isn't the one that leads them there --- then they are not ready. It's premature and they will only try to love out of their own efforts and those efforts will be in vain and will be for outward appearances.

so ---- I allow Him to do the teaching/convicting of others.

sorry I ramble so much. I just type so fast so I just sit and let it flow!!! I didn't take a lot of time to think about this last comment --- so I'm not sure if what I'm saying makes any sense or even support my side of things - but I'm gonna throw it out there anyway!! hahaha

thanks so so much for the conversation! :)

jeleasure said...

Hi Randi Jo,
Here is a helpful scripture passage from Ephesians that I was reminded of in church, today.

From Ephesians 3:14-19
"14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Paul states that he prays we will grasp how deep, high and wide is the love of God. He further states that he prays we will know this love...that [we] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God"

But the idea I get here is that we need to pursue the knowledge of God that we may have the love second only to the love of God.
Thanks,
Jim