What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? Chapter 10

We’re working our way through Leroy Garrett’s book: What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? The paperback is $7.95, but it’s also available in Kindle edition for $0.99. For $0.99, it’s really an offer you can’t refuse!

Now, by “saved” Garrett doesn’t mean that he questions the salvation of the individual members of the Churches of Christ. Rather, he is concerned to save the Churches of Christ as a “viable witness to the Christian faith. What must it do to escape extinction in the decades ahead …?”

Chapter 10 is entitled “Have an assurance of our own salvation.”

If the Church of Christ is to be saved its members must begin to believe that they are saved. … If the Church of Christ is to have a redemptive role and an effective ministry in our changing world, then its members must have a victorious faith and a joyous assurance that they are a redeemed people, saved by God’s grace. I am fearful that this is not the case with the majority of our people. We do not know that we are saved. We hope we are. We trust that we are. We work at it. We answer the question, “Are you saved?, with a qualified yes at best, such as “If I am faithful . . .” (p. 118)

Bro. Garrett continues,

Someone has said a gathering of Christians for worship should be something like the locker room of the winners of a Super Bowl game. That may be an overstatement, for there is a place for subdued quietness in our assemblies. But in that quietness there should be a contagious sense of joy, not unlike an athlete sitting quietly before being crowned for winning the race. That says it, we are winners, all the time we are winners in Christ, and we should feel it and act it. We certainly shouldn’t have the demeanor of the losing team after a Super Bowl game. Yet many of our people behave just that way, like losers. They are scared to live and afraid to die. Are you saved, are you bound for glory? “I hope so. I’m working at it,” they say. (p. 120)

We don’t really believe in the grace of God.

While we deny it, we really believe in works-salvation. We are saved by being baptized (exactly the right way, mind you!), by taking Communion regularly (it has to be the right day!), and by studying our Bibles (the doctrine has to be exactly right!) To be saved we have to be “faithful” and “right” about all the things that make us good members. No wonder we are nervous when asked if we are saved! Who can measure up to the standard that we set for each other? We keep trying harder, but we are weary of trying. (p. 121)

Assurance comes only in approaching the throne of God empty-handed and with a contrite heart.

This is the way that we can know that we are saved, fully assured of our redemption in Christ. We can be as sure as Paul was when he wrote in 2 Tim. 1:9, “He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,” and the apostle goes on in verse 12 to say “I know and I am fully persuaded.” We don’t have to equivocate. We can be sure, for we are relying upon Him “who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). (pp. 124-125)

Amen.

Yes, we have accepted a works salvation, but with a limited definition of “works.” Originally, the Regulative Principle, which we borrowed from Zwingli and the Puritans, taught that worship could only contain elements authorized by commands, examples, or necessary inference. We expanded that teaching to include church organization (elders, deacons), the name of the church, how the church treasury is used, etc., etc. Thus, we discovered prohibitions for all sorts of things (fellowship halls attached to a building, busses, missionary societies, located preachers, bake sales).

On top of this, we took the 19th Century notion that “positive commands” are non-negotiable tests of faith and hence salvation issues, and we applied that logic to all the conclusions we reached via the Regulative Principle.

Hence, connecting a fellowship hall to the building by a breezeway is not only sinful but damns. Having a children’s worship damns. Buying gym equipment for the fellowship hall with church funds damns.

On the other hand, we find plenty for room for grace when it comes to a failure to love as we should, to evangelize as we should, or help the poor as we should. Grace covers those things — even though the scriptures say much, much more about our salvation being tied to our love for others and our helping the poor than it says about the wickedness of fellowship halls.  This is why a church that is filled with bitter, hateful people, who help no one but who adhere strictly to the Regulative Principle will be hailed as “sound,” while a church that cares for widows, orphans, the hungry, and those in prison will be damned if it allows a woman to pass communion while standing. We have very odd priorities driven by a deeply flawed theology.

And as Bro. Garrett demonstrates, the result has been to destroy any confidence in our salvation. I attended the funeral of a missionary, a man who’d baptized thousands and planted hundreds of churches. The eulogist said, “If anyone has done enough to qualify for heaven, surely this man has!” Imagine the reaction of the hundreds in the pews who’d not accomplished as much! And notice how the eulogy was: “If anyone …” “If”! Perhaps even he would not make it!

So much more powerful would have been a lesson that praised Jesus and his work, declaring that the great missionary was in the arms of Jesus because of the work of Jesus. The missionary had built up treasures in heaven by his diligent Kingdom service, but even he failed to earn his salvation. Praise Jesus, however, that problem was solved the day he was baptized and adopted into God’s family. Even the great missionary did not qualify for heaven, but he was nonetheless saved by grace — a grace that we can all celebrate because it’s a grace enjoyed by all Christians.

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About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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69 Responses to What Must the Church of Christ Do to Be Saved? Chapter 10

  1. abasnar says:

    Paul said:

    2Ti 2:11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
    2Ti 2:12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;
    2Ti 2:13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful– for he cannot deny himself.

    IF, IF, IF, IF …

    2Ti 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

    I HAVE, I HAVE, I HAVE …

    Therefore let no one boast of his salvation as if he has endured to the end already, as he has finished the race already. This is easy-believism and highly misleading.

    Alexander

  2. laymond says:

    “If the Church of Christ is to be saved its members must begin to believe that they are saved. … If the Church of Christ is to have a redemptive role and an effective ministry in our changing world, then its members must have a victorious faith and a joyous assurance that they are a redeemed people, saved by God’s grace.”

    Jhn 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that

    whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    Jhn 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the
    world through him might be saved.
    Jhn 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    Jhn 17:1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
    Jhn 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
    Jhn 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
    Jhn 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

    teleio?–finished– to make perfect, complete
    There is a great difference in the use of this word “teleio?” as “finished” than the word “tele?” as is used elsewhere.

    It is as different as saying “I am through for the day” , and saying this project is completed, the finishing touches have been applied. It’s perfect.

    Mat 13:53 And it came to pass, [that] when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence.

    tele?–finished–to bring to a close, to finish, to end.

    In John 17:4 did Jesus not say he had taken something that was flawed, and made it perfect, finished it/completed it? And wasn’t this before the cross?
    Aren’t we taught we are saved by the blood on the cross? If so what is Jesus saying here.? If all Jesus has said to the apostles, applies to the everyday Christian, Don;t we just have to believe, aren’t we saved by “Faith alone” ?
    Wouldn’t that pretty much nullify the “sermon on the mount” and yes baptism as well.
    What did Jesus mean when he said “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” ?

  3. laymond says:

    There is a great difference in the use of this word “teleio?” as “finished” than the word “tele?” as is used elsewhere.

    I don’t know why the comments section did not accept this, it seems not to be in their dictionary. I’ll try again sorry if it don’t work.

  4. laymond says:

    Nope, didn’t work guess you will have to look up the meanings yourself, if you are interested.

  5. Royce Ogle says:

    If sinners either go to heaven or not based on their faithfulness and good works why did Jesus die?

    Was Jesus’ sacrifice not quite enough? Obviously some people think just that. Do you guys who teach works for salvation really believe that your righteousness is better than that of the most religious people in Jesus’ time?

    Alexander, do you agree with Laymond that Paul was wrong about much that he wrote?

    I’m not trying to pick a fight, I’m just trying to understand how you can conclude that for God to justify a sinner He must wait to see how good a man does and that plus the work or Christ is enough to justify his actions.

    Maybe I just don’t understand what you believe?

  6. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    The scriptures speak of salvation as both accomplished and not yet accomplished —

    (Rom 8:29-35 ESV) 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

    But also ..

    (Rom 2:6-8 ESV) 6 He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

    Then again,

    (2Ti 1:8-9 ESV) 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

    Also, notice the verb tenses —

    (1Co 3:15 ESV) 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

    (Eph 2:5 ESV) 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved

    Now, the serious student seeks to find the truth that includes both the “judgment by works” passages and “saved without regard to works” passages, the “will be saved” and the “have been saved” passages. But both kinds of passages are there, and over reliance on one without the other is dangerous. Overly rely on “saved without works” passages, and you may well get caught up in “easy believism,” a “Christianity” that requires no commitment. Overly rely on the “judgment by works” passages, and you become legalists, never believing that you are good enough to be saved — or else so arrogant that you dare imagine that you’ve earned it!

    If we deny that we “have been saved,” we may wonder whether we “will be saved” at all.

    It is certainly not error to cite either set of passages. If it’s wrong to teach that we’re saved “not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace,” then Paul is a heretic, because he
    taught it. Just so, it’s not error to teach that we’ve already been saved. Nor are confidence and assurance error, as both are taught in the scriptures.

    Just so, if we deny that works matter to God, we’ve also contradicted Paul (and Jesus, and Peter). Moreover, if we deny the possibility of falling away, we err. But is it really necessary to express the full doctrine of falling away (which I’ve covered here many, many times) every time I mention the true doctrine of salvation by faith and not works?

    Since both kinds of passages are in the text, often from the same hand, even in the same epistle, we would be foolish to imagine that the thoughts contradict. Neither should we imagine that someone is a heretic and needs to criticized just because he quotes from one line of passages and not the other. The authors of the scripture often referred to one and not the other. And do we really need to post an entire systematic theology everytime we paraphrase Paul?!

    Garrett is absolutely right to point out that one root of 20th Century Church of Christ legalism is a failure to understand that we are saved by faith and not works. This is very Pauline, very scriptural, and a correct diagnosis.

    Garrett should not be accused of “easy believism” just because he points out this missing element in their theology — no more so than Paul. The problem the 20th Century Churches of Christ struggle with is most definitely not “easy believism.”

    Now, to simply toss verses back and forth at each other is not profitable. What would be profitable would be to struggle to find what the bigger picture is. What is the truth in which all that Paul and Jesus say is true. How do we reconcile the passages without erasing the passages?

    And, you know, if we could actually agree that both sets of passages are entirely true, then we wouldn’t take offense when someone teaches from one set or the other — unless it was quite clear from his teaching that he denies the other teachings.

  7. Anne says:

    and yet we believe that someone is saved who has not been either baptized or baptized “perfectly” because they are such a good person. Isn’t that salvation by works?

  8. laymond says:

    Royce, do you believe Paul was even capable of being wrong about anything he wrote, if not why not.

  9. CyclingDude says:

    Maybe the bigger picture relates more to a marriage framework than a legal framework. Maybe salvation is a covenant (marriage) instead of a point in time contract (fire insurance). In a marriage there is a point in time committment, but you have a long way to go before the marriage is solid and mature, but just because you make mistakes doesn’t mean you’re not married anymore. But, you can give up on your marriage and leave.

    Might be full of holes, don’t know, just a thought.

  10. laymond says:

    Royce if you have only read one of Alexander’s comments you would know he is obedient to Paul to the point of “near” worship, he even agrees that women are so inferior to men they should not be allowed to speak of religious things before men. I am sure he believes that Paul was inspired by the holy spirit/ breath into his ear. I am just as sure Paul was inspired/influenced by word of mouth, but word of the mouth of Jesus Christ while here on earth, and later by those Jesus left behind to spread the word, Just as Luke said he was.

    Jam 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    Royce, are you saying that James is wrong, but Paul could never be ?

  11. Randall says:

    Alexander,
    I take it that you not understand the “IF” in II Tim. 2:11 to be understood as “SINCE.” Many native English speakers also have difficulty with this.

    Amazing how much weight can be put on a preposition.
    Hesed,
    Randall

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Laymond,

    On this blog, we’ll proceed from the assumption that both Paul and James are inspired and spoke truth. There can be no contradiction, nor do we get to pick which one will overrule the other.

    True theology — serious Bible study — is to seek the common truth found in both books.

  13. Larry Cheek says:

    Randall,
    In your statement;
    I take it that you not understand the “IF” in II Tim. 2:11 to be understood as “SINCE.” Many native English speakers also have difficulty with this.
    Am I to believe that your concept is that the “IF” here really means “SINCE”? I understand the “IF” to be conveying the concept that whether you have done that action that is described in the following text or not. But, if you apply the concept that I understand from your comments, it would demand that you have already completed the action. There are many “IF’s” applied in the following verses, all of which I understand to convey the same concept that I have defined above, it appears to me that all are in unison. Therefore, if we saw that the “IF” you identified needed to seen as “SINCE” why would it not be necessary to also replace the others with “SINCE”? Strong’s Concordance applies the same G1487 to each. I believe that replacing the others would distort many concepts in the authors communication.

  14. Alan says:

    Alexander wrote:

    Therefore let no one boast of his salvation as if he has endured to the end already, as he has finished the race already. This is easy-believism and highly misleading.

    That sounds a lot like what Paul wrote:

    1Co 4:4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
    1Co 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

  15. hank says:

    The fact that the apostles and other inspired writers wrote that “we are save” and that “we know we are saved” doesn’t mean that their words equally apply to whoever reads them today.

    Its kinda like the selfish drug dealer with the “Phil. 4:13″ tattoo, wherein the apostle Paul claimed that HE (the apostle Paul) can do all things through Christ which stengthened him. Contextually, Paul talked about how he had learned to be content in EVERY situation through all of the things he had suffered for Christ and BECAUSE of all he had experienced, he could say that he could do “all things.” But, his words just don’t equally apply to each and every “believer” who thinks they do. And there are scores and scores of similar examples.

    And honestly, I do not know how a person can KNOW they are saved without being able to precisely explain who it is (and at which point) God considers one to be “lukewarm”.

    Am I the only one who occasionally worries about that? I just don’t know how millions of people who “know they are saved”, are so absolutely sure that they are NOT “lukewarm”. Can they all eplain exactly what/who it is that God considers to be “lukewarm”?

  16. Alabama John says:

    Hank,
    in my observing many Christians and thinking about the lukewarm question I believe now that it is a mental condition rather than a salvation issue.
    Many really feel in their hearts and minds that are saved and live a happy life in that belief.
    Others are just not sure, very leery, and are constantly afraid they are lost or might be at any given time.
    They actually live a life in fear of damnation and that keeps them in a lukewarm salvation thinking.
    It also makes them not truly love God as to them He is in their thinking and teaching far more cruel than a God of love so lukewarm is the best they can really love Him..

  17. Alan says:

    Alabama John wrote:

    in my observing many Christians and thinking about the lukewarm question I believe now that it is a mental condition rather than a salvation issue.
    Many really feel in their hearts and minds that are saved and live a happy life in that belief. Others are just not sure, very leery, and are constantly afraid they are lost or might be at any given time.
    They actually live a life in fear of damnation and that keeps them in a lukewarm salvation thinking. It also makes them not truly love God as to them He is in their thinking and teaching far more cruel than a God of love so lukewarm is the best they can really love Him..

    I think you’ve missed the point Jesus was making to the Laodiceans.

    In Rev 3:14-19, those who were lukewarm claimed to be rich, to have acquired wealth, and to not need a thing. They did not realize that they were wretched. That doesn’t sound like they lived a life in fear of damnation. In fact, to bring them around to where they needed to be, Jesus gave them a stern rebuke that would likely create some fear in order to motivate them to change. The solution for them was to be earnest and to repent.

  18. hank says:

    Thanks, Alan.

    Yeah, Allen made it seem as though fear leads to (keeps one in) lukewarmness. But, as you pointed out, Jesus used a sure dose of fear to motivate them OUT OF their lukewamrness. You are right in what you wrote.

    Further, I believe that a general complacancy and selfishness can equal “lukewarmness.” Also, Jesus said that if ANY man will come after him (be a disciple) he MUST deny himself daily and pick up his CROSS and follow. Again, whoever KNOWS they are saved must also KNOW that they are not considered lukewawm according to God AND they must also KNOW that God sees them as daily denying themselves and carrying their crosses.

    Unless, we can all be saved without actually carrying our crosses? And without knowing exactly who/what God considers to be lukewarm? Because, how can we NOT know exactly what lukewarm means to God and at the same time, know we are not?

  19. hank says:

    I meant that “Alabama John made it seem….”

    Not, “Alen”. Sorry, Alan…..

  20. Alabama John says:

    No one can love as much out of fear as they can out of either initiated or returned love.

    Fear can make a person ACT exactly as ordered and that is a kind of hotness instead of lukewarmness but its not in love.

    There’s a bIg difference in lukewarmness of ACTS and mental lukewarmness.

    We can do all that is required perfectly and if its not in love it is cold or at best lukewarm.

    I was rethinking of us, not the Laodiceans.

  21. Royce Ogle says:

    Laymond, I believe Paul’s writings are inspired for the exact reason I believe Luke’s and others are.

  22. Hank,

    Your approach means that someone must understand everything in order to know anything.

    Where is the trust in God’s promises?

    Jerry

  23. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    “If” in 2 Tim 2:11 translates EI’. The dictionaries note that it can take the meaning of E’PEI’ for rhetorical purposes, that is, because. But “if” is the usual meaning. You can’t just pick the meaning to suit your theology.

    But try the translation with “because” —

    (2Ti 2:11-13 ESV) 11 The saying is trustworthy, for: [because] we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 [because] we endure, we will also reign with him; [because] we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 [because] we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself.

    Paul considers both possibilities, good and bad, preceding all with the parallel use of EI’. Well, let’s try mixing the translation up —

    (2Ti 2:11-13 ESV) 11 The saying is trustworthy, for: [because] we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 [because] we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself.

    Well, that makes no sense at all. How can we be faithless and deny him when Paul knows we will endure?

    I have to go with “if” in each case — which is the most common use of the preposition, is a consistent use, and fits the intended parallelism the best. And the first 12 translations I checked all agree.

  24. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Hank wrote,

    And honestly, I do not know how a person can KNOW they are saved without being able to precisely explain who it is (and at which point) God considers one to be “lukewarm”.

    I am nearly in tears for you and others like you who don’t know how to know they are saved. What a truly horrible tragedy! And what better reason for me to keep on plugging away here night after night. You, my brother, are in my prayers. Thank you for your honesty, because rather than discussing incidentals, we can deal with the core issue.

    As always, we have to consider the fullness of the Scriptures, not just a text here or there, and I’ve covered a lot of ground here in other places. I refer you to my ebook, a free download at http://oneinjesus.info/books-by-jay-guin/the-holy-spirit-and-revolutionary-grace/ as a starter, just to give an outline of the incredible scope and power of God’s grace and forgiveness. But I have a simpler, easier book you already own. Read 1 John — cover to cover. Note this passage well —

    (1Jo 5:13 ESV) 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

    Notice what he says carefully. Not “whether you may know” but “that you may know.” If we can’t know that we’re saved, then John wasted his time writing 1 John. No! We must conform our theology to 1 John, not 1 John to our theology.

    What is John’s test? “believe in the name of the Son of God.” That’s what the man says, by inspiration.

    Some accuse me of Modernism, Liberalism, Postmodernism, and every other -ism known to man, but I believe that John knows what he’s talking about, and I believe it because he said it. If that makes me guilty of the New Hermeneutics or whatever, so be it. But I believe John. Do you? Really and truly: are you willing to take his word for it, not oppose his truth, and study to see how and why it is true?

    Now, I know you. You’re thinking of what verse you can toss into the discussion to disprove what I just wrote. But I just wrote that I believe what John wrote. Period. And I respect the Scriptures enough not to ignore the passages that are inconvenient for my belief system. Rather, I try hard to conform my beliefs to the Scriptures.

    Am I prooftexting? Not really — not really because I’ve done the hard work of working through the entirety of Scriptures to find the Truth that all Scriptures are consistent with. I just don’t have room to cover the entirety of the scriptures in this little box I’m typing in. (I’ve taught this identical lesson from nearly all NT books and several OT books. Once your eyes are opened to this truth, you find it just all over the Bible.)

    For the sake of the present discussion, though, it should be enough to consider the four corners of 1 John. It’s got 5 chapters all written so that those with faith will know that they are saved. It’s a good, good study which I’ve considered several times, including —

    What the Bible actually says about apostasy: 1 John and Walking in the Light, Chapters 1 – 2, by Jay Guin

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

    (I fleshed some of these thoughts out more thoroughly in the series on 1 John posted earlier this year.)

    And let me toss in these verses —

    (Eph 3:11-12 ESV) 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

    I’ve posted an entire series on Ephesians, which demonstrates that this is no mere prooftext. It declares the theology of Ephesians well.

    I’ve also written on Hebrews extensively. Hebrews repeatedly and strongly denies “once saved, always saved” but also has some of the strongest verses promising assurance and confidence of our salvation (both are true) —

    (Heb 4:16 ESV) 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

    (Heb 6:11-12 ESV) 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

    (Heb 10:19-22 ESV) 19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

    Back to 1 John, which promises “confidence for the day of judgment” and “no fear.” The question John asks is whether we abide in love — a necessary product of a true faith.

    (1Jo 4:16-18 ESV) 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

    Back to Ephesians. Among the verses that finally persuaded me to accept that confidence is possible, because God’s grace is just that gracious, are the above verses and, most especially, the prayer I pray for you tonight —

    (Eph 3:14-21 ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

    And amen.

  25. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Hank, this is a note on being lukewarm.

    One of the keys to understanding the letter to Laodicea may lie in understanding its water situation.

    Approximately 12 miles east of Laodicea was the city of Colossae, whose church was addressed by Paul in the book of Colossians. The city of Colossae was well-known for its refreshing cold waters, which came down from melted ice and snow and rain from Mount Cadmus, which towered above it. These waters were valued for their purity and cooling abilities, and drew in many visitors and dignitaries for just this reason.

    About 7 miles north of Laodicea was the city of Hierapolis, a large Roman city with centers dedicated to the worship of Apollo and, later, Caesar – Domitian, in particular. Probably its most famous feature was its hot baths, fed by hot springs (reminiscent of Yellowstone’s hot springs), which were used to cure ailments of its visitors, many who relocated there specifically for that purpose.

    And there, between Colossae and Heirapolis sat Laodicea, where the streams of cold water from the west and hot water from the north met. The mixing of the mineral-rich hot water and the cold water created a lukewarm water which tasted awful and could make the people of the town sick. It was a constant source of irritation.

    In addition to the taste and the health effects, the water, which was brought into the city via an aqueduct and distributed through clay pipes, had such high mineral content that it was frequently plugging the pipes it flowed through with deposits, resulting in frequent need of repair (see the picture to the right).

    And so, it is interesting that John wrote:

    I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

    Without the context of Laodicea, the reader is left to supply their his or her own context, which (for me at least) went something like this: I wish that you were either totally good/correct/passionate (hot) or evil/sinful/apathetic (cold), but because you’re somewhere in between (lukewarm), I don’t want anything to do with you.

    What if what Jesus is saying is actually contextual to the people He is saying it to?

    In the context of Laodicea, the most valid interpretation of this scripture would be to say – I wish you were useful – either hot, like the water of Heirapolis that heals those who bathe in it, or cold, like the water of Colossae that refreshes those who taste of it. Instead, you are a lukewarm mess like your own water that makes those who drink it want to throw up!

    Chris Lyons http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/archives/309 (emphasis added).

    I think he nails it. The question at hand is one of being worthless to the Kingdom and to Jesus. Are you good for something or do you plug up the pipes? This is same question John asks when he asks whether we abide in love — do we live the love we are called to? Not perfectly. Not as well as God does. But do we make a difference?

    John says,

    (1Jo 3:16-23 ESV) 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.

    What’s the test? “Do we have love?” How do we tell? Well, do we help people who need help? Has our faith produced love “in deed”? Do we have a faith that proves itself by its works? Not works that earn salvation but works that demonstrate the reality of our faith.

    Thus, John says, if God’s love has come to fruition in us, even though it’s an immature love, a not-ready-for-primetime love, but a real love, then “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart,” and we know we’re saved because we see the Spirit at work transforming us into the image of Christ.

    (1Jo 3:24 ESV) 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

    Notice, John begins by telling us to be like Jesus in his sacrificial love. He concludes by telling us we know we are saved “by the Spirit” — not through visions or a mystical confidence (John is talking to people who lack confidence!), but by seeing the Spirit’s work in us — through our love for others. (Compare 2 Cor 3, for example.)

    It all fits. It’s one theology. The texts all fit together. Indeed, you can quite neatly parallel John’s teachings with Rom 1 – 8, even though Paul and John express themselves in radically different ways. Same Spirit that inspires. Same lesson. Very different way of expressing the same thoughts.

  26. Alan says:

    Jay quoted Chris Lyons:

    In the context of Laodicea, the most valid interpretation of this scripture would be to say – I wish you were useful – either hot, like the water of Heirapolis that heals those who bathe in it, or cold, like the water of Colossae that refreshes those who taste of it. Instead, you are a lukewarm mess like your own water that makes those who drink it want to throw up!

    I’ve heard that before… and maybe it’s true. It doesn’t change the fact that these folks thought they had everything they needed but they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked… and the solution was for them to repent. If they didn’t repent they would be spit out by Jesus. They were part of the church and thought they were saved but they were in danger of being rejected by God.

    Lots of people in churches are deceived about their status. Many will be horribly surprised on judgment day (Matt 7:21-23). The road is narrow and only a few find it. We’re repeatedly warned to make every effort because many will try to enter and will not be able. Those who would say our effort is unnecessary are spreading Satan’s lie.

    Salvation is not just about agreeing to the right facts but about fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives. That certainly includes loving our neighbor. But it’s not just about loving our neighbor. It’s also about loving God (the *first* and greatest commandment). God wants our unrivaled love, faithfulness, and loyalty. If we love him we will keep his commandments. We will love what God loves and we will hate what God hates. We’ll deny ourselves — without which we cannot be disciples. We’ll spend time with God. We’ll love his Word. We’ll change our character. We’ll become more like God, restored to his image from one degree to the next.

    Those who enter the eternal Kingdom will here God say “Well *done*” because they’ve been *doing* the will of the Father. (Matt 25:14-30, Matt 25:31-46) Note, this is not talking about five acts of worship, nor about church organization and music. But it’s still talking about things we are expected to *do*.

    After we have done everything, we are still unworthy (Luke 17:7-10). We only enter because of the blood of Jesus. But if we don’t do those things we will not enter.

  27. hank says:

    Even if that interpretation is correct, which I believe it is, it still wouldn’t prove that the complacent and passive (the other way of understanding “lukewarm”) members of the body should KNOW they are saved.

    The point I am trying to make is that even though John wrote that Christian may “know that they are saved”, that assurance was not for all Christians across the board. It sure didn’t apply to the churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, most of the church in Sardis, and Laodicea as they existed when Jesus wrote to them.

    Even still, are you arguing that EVERY member of your congregation should absolutely KNOW for sure that each and every one of you are more “useful” to God than the Laodiceans? I mean, if you don’t know precisely WHY God considered the Laodiceans to be “un-useful” (and you dont – nobody does), than how can you promise Lisa, George, and Steve that they are above the Laodiceans?

    All that the “note on being lukewarm” does is change “lukewarm” into “not useful.” But, we are left with the same problem. If we can’t know exactly why the Laodiceans were considered such by God, how do we know that we are not considered the same?

    Don’t get me wrong, I feel pretty confident when I compare myself to others (even other members of the church of which I am a member), but I don’t really KNOW that I have never been considered “lukewarm” by God.
    But, I am glad that you are absolutely positive that you and all of the Christians you know have never been considered Lukewarm by God. I just don’t know how you can know as much.

    And I appreciate your prayers, I honestly do.

  28. laymond says:

    Royce Ogle, on September 19th, 2011 at 3:58 pm Said:

    Laymond, I believe Paul’s writings are inspired for the exact reason I believe Luke’s and others are.

    Believe it or not, Royce, so do I, only your definition of “Inspired” is different than mine.

  29. Royce Ogle says:

    Hank, You can know you are saved the same way John, Paul, and Peter knew they were saved. They were every day, every waking hour of the day trusting Jesus Christ. They were loving the unlovely, they were caring for those who needed help, and they were teaching others about the worth and work of Jesus for sinners.

    The Bible says more than once that the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is God’s guarantee that he or she will finally be fully saved when at the resurrection they receive a glorified, immortal body, like Jesus’.

    We should remember that Paul was so convinced that the good news about Jesus is what really matters, what changes a life, that he rejoiced when people he didn’t trust and whose motives we wrong preached the gospel. Maybe all of us should adopt that attitude. I decided long ago that if a Methodist, a Mennonite, a Church of God pastor, or anyone else with any other name teaches about the Jesus dying for sinners to put away their sins and his coming again I would be happy they are doing it. I think it’s a good way to think.

    For some observers who don’t know better it would seem that many of us in churches of Christ are seeing how many souls we can exclude instead of throwing the gospel net over “whosoever”. God does not need me or you to decide who he will extend mercy to. He is God and if he wants to save a man on a street corner or in a Catholic meeting, or in a Church of Christ that’s his business, not mine.

  30. laymond says:

    (1Jo 5:13 ESV) 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

    So Jay, Royce was right all along, “once saved, always saved.
    No ifs, ands, or buts. You are saved by faith alone, not even continual faith, just confession. I believe the evil spirits, confessed Jesus as the son of God, were they saved as well? If God marked saved on your forehead once, how can he come along and mark you “unsaved” without confessing to have made a mistake in the first place.
    I wonder why there will be a judgment day.And man will be judged by his works -good or bad- even Paul said the same.
    .

  31. hank says:

    Royce, did the Holy Spirit forget to indwell all those Christians scattered throughout all of the churches of Asia? If they were actual Christians (which we all know they were), then they all had the gaurantee of their salvation which you say makes it impossible for them to be lost.

    Why then was Jesus acting like unless they made some serious changes, they would all be spit out and rejected?

    Do you believe the churches in Asia “had the Holy Spirit”?

    Do you think they would’ve still been saved had they ignored the warnings of Jesus to repent?

    Something has to give there Royce…..

  32. laymond says:

    I agree completely with Jay on this, we need to read what John said, without prejudges.

    1Jo 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
    1Jo 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
    1Jo 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
    1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    1Jo 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

    Many people use this to say all Christians are sinners, so if I confess Jesus I am saved sins and all, NOT SO. John is speaking of those who claim to be sinless without Jesus.

    1Jo 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
    1Jo 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.
    1Jo 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
    1Jo 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
    1Jo 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

    1Jo 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
    1Jo 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
    1Jo 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

    There is more to it, than just saying “I believe”. You have to prove you believe by your works.
    How many here are completely convinced they have obeyed all God’s commands.
    Yeah, if you do everything John covered here, you can feel pretty safe, if not then you still need to fear the wrath.

  33. laymond says:

    Royce Ogle, on September 20th, 2011 at 7:10 am Said:

    Hank, You can know you are saved the same way John, Paul, and Peter knew they were saved. They were every day, every waking hour of the day trusting Jesus Christ. They were loving the unlovely, they were caring for those who needed help, and they were teaching others about the worth and work of Jesus for sinners.

    Royce you proclaim you are saved, is this how you live? If so God bless you, for there has been a great change in you, I remember not so long ago when you were quick to anger, and spoke harsh words against a brother, even denied one who believes in Jesus Christ was a brother. I am glad to see the change. I believe even then you claimed salvation without a doubt. We can examine some of your past posts if you don’t remember what I am talking about.

  34. Hank,
    Do not forget that we can grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) and quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) so that we are devoid of the Spirit (Jude 19). Losing one’s faith (which includes faithfulness & trust) puts one into this position. No one on this blog has suggested that a momentary faith is sufficient! Nor has anyone suggested that repentance is not necessary. In fact, when Jesus said in Luke 13:3 & 5, “Unless you repent, you will likewise perish,” he used two different tenses: first was the aorist tense, which refers to a single point of time (action looked at as a single event); second was the present tense, which refers to continual action. Taken together, these say we must repent and keep on repenting. Otherwise we perish.

    I have noticed that you tend to push people’s words to unreasonable ends so that you make them say things they never intended – simply because they do not also include all the qualifiers that Jay spoke of in a recent comment.

    When you said you feel pretty confident when comparing yourself to other Christians, even in your own congregation, you made me think of 2 Corinthians 10:12, which I would suggest you read and ponder.

    Respectfully with bold meekness,
    Jerry

  35. hank says:

    Jerry,

    You claim that nobody here has suggested that repentance is not neccessary, but you are mistaken. Royce for one, has repeatedly written that sinners are saved by God “without one bit of obedience”. And while you may accuse me of “pushing people’s words to unreasonable ends”, I believe I am merely showing the logical conclusions of the statements they make. If one doesn’t like the logical conclusions of the things they write, then perhaps they should take a little more thought before submitting? Now, if I have misquoted a brother or sister, or actually misrepresnted their words, then shame on me and I would honestly like to konw when I did such a thing. But, I make no apology for holding people to their words.

    You write:

    “When you said you feel pretty confident when comparing yourself to other Christians, even in your own congregation, you made me think of 2 Corinthians 10:12, which I would suggest you read and ponder.”

    Which makes you a little guilty of the thing of which you accuse me! You see, I know that comparing ouselves among ourselves is not wise. That is my point! We are to compare ourselves with the standard of God’s word and when I do that…I realize how much room for improvement I have. I realize that I may be rather selfish and not really carrying my cross and denying myself as the Lord commands. I wonder if in fact I may be considered “lukewarm” (not as useful) to God as he would expect me to be based upon what I have been given. Remember Jerry, I am prhaps the only one here who has admitted that I am not so sure from time to time whther or not God views me as “lukewarm”. Whereas virtually everyone else here has absolutely NO DOUBT that God does not consider them lukewarm, I wonder about that.

    And yet, you ignore all of that and make it seem as though I am in the habit of comparing myself with other sinners. But, that statement was made a little tongue in cheek for if such were the case, I wouldn’t be so concerned about being selfish and lukewarm. I would pretty much KNOW I was not. But, since I really try to avoid such manner of judgment, I am not so sure.

    Having said all of that, I still honestly question how the majority here are so absolutely positive that they are not so selfisfh, lukewarm, and/or ignoring their crosses to the point that Jesus is sickened. I don’t know how everybody here KNOWS for sure that they are not guilty of the precise same thing(s) as were the Laodiceans.

    Perhaps you can explain all of that?

    And please know that it is no hobby of mine to go around trying to cause brethren to question their salvation…but, I don’t particularly care to read other mock those who are concerned about their salvation from time to time and call for their repentance from such! Whic is why I am here asking for someone to adequately explain who and at which point God in heaven considers one to be “lukewarm”? Can you do that?

    Because, how can one go around KNOWING he is save while at the same time NOT KNOWING who and at which point God considers one lukewarm.

    Lastly, Royce wrote:

    “Hank, You can know you are saved the same way John, Paul, and Peter knew they were saved. They were every day, every waking hour of the day trusting Jesus Christ. They were loving the unlovely, they were caring for those who needed help, and they were teaching others about the worth and work of Jesus for sinners.”

    Now, if that is how he is honeslty living “every waking hour of the day” then he won’t relate to my struggle here. Cause honestly, I don’t think I am always liveing like that….

  36. Alan says:

    I’m with Hank on this.

    To look at it another way: Do you really think there are no lukewarm (by whatever definition) Christians in any churches today? Surely everyone would agree that Laodicea was not the only place where that has occurred over the past 2000 years. And so warnings about lukewarm-ness and repentance are as appropriate today as they were then. We should not be preaching to our congregations telling them they are all saved, no need to worry, unless we know there are none who are lukewarm. And we don’t know that. Perhaps some people assume that anyone who comments on oneinjesus.info must surely not be lukewarm… but on what scriptural basis? Talking about being loving and serving is not the same thing as doing it.

    I think some of us are toying around with ideas from calvinism. particularly unconditional election and the supposed impossibility of losing salvation. As Jay said, there are scriptures on both sides of the argument, and both sets of scriptures are equally true. You can’t just explain away what Jesus said to Laodicea with scriptures about assurance.

  37. Hank,
    For not recognizing your tongue-in-cheek comment as being that, I apologize. You still have not accepted, though, that John wrote 1 John so that we might know. Jay was not mocking you when he brought that up; he was honestly attempting to help you find that blessed assurance in Jesus instead of in the amount of “works” that you do. When we trust Jesus will we follow Him? Absolutely. Will we follow Him perfectly? Absolutely not. (If we say we do, we lie and the truth is not in us.) Will we be saved anyway? As long as we continue to trust Him and be penitent of our failings, His blood will continue to cleanse us from all sins. We are able to walk in confidence that our “shortcomings” will not keep us out of heaven just because we should have given away one more tract, or prayed one more prayer. Can we abuse God’s graciousness? Romans 2:4 says we can – and obviously, some do. That is when we grieve the Spirit, quench the Spirit, and lose the Spirit.

    Yet, in all of this, it is by grace through faith that we are saved – as an undeserved gift from God. As Paul put it in Galatians 6:5, it is by faith working through love – love of God and love of our fellow man. You speak much of keeping the commandments. What are those commandments? John names two in his epistle: believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another just as he has commanded us (1 John 3:23). Trusting Jesus and loving one another. What else is there? Everything else is a part of these. At least it is if we understand that all we do is an expression of our trust and our love.

    Alan,
    Laodicea was no longer trusting Jesus (if they ever did, and I assume they did since Jesus addressed them as a church – and He could hardly spew them out if they were never in, could He?). They were trusting themselves. Further, I’m not sure it was their physical wealth they boasted of when they said they were rich (BICBW). Regardless, they trusted something other than Jesus.

    When we trust our works as the means of our salvation, I fear we will always live in doubt and fear. Yet, “perfect love casts out fear.” Now, our love is not perfect – but the more we love, the less we fear. We have respect for God – but not terror. The Prodigal Son came home in fear – but he found a loving Father. Too many of us view Him as the elder brother in the parable would have Him – instead of the way our elder brother presents Him to us.

    Yes, we need to preach the warnings of Scripture – and one of the things we need to warn against is that we must not trust ourselves, but instead look to Jesus. We need to learn the lesson of Titus 2:11-14 and Titus 3:8. When you preach grace, you encourage works of faith. When you do not, you demand works that (as the elder brother in the parable saw it when he said to the Father,”I have slaved for you” – NIV) are of slavery, not of freedom (cf. Galatians 5:1).

    Respectfully,
    Jerry

  38. Alan says:

    Jerry wrote:

    Laodicea was no longer trusting Jesus (if they ever did, and I assume they did since Jesus addressed them as a church – and He could hardly spew them out if they were never in, could He?). They were trusting themselves.
    Jesus didn’t really say that they didn’t trust him. I suppose we could go on a tangent here about what it means to trust Jesus, but I doubt they distrusted Jesus. I get the impression they were distracted by the riches of this world (Mark 4:18-19) and so were unfruitful. That connects more closely with what Jesus actually said.

    When we trust our works as the means of our salvation, I fear we will always live in doubt and fear.

    That’s a straw man. I haven’t advocating works as a means of salvation. Works can be essential to salvation without being the means. (James 2:26). We’re called to the obedience that comes from faith (Rom 1:5). Again, after we have done everything we were commanded, we are still unworthy servants. (Luke 17:7-10)

    We absolutely should preach grace. But if that grace doesn’t lead to a change in our behavior and in our deeds, we are deceiving ourselves (1 Cor 6:9, Gal 6:7, James 1:22) if we think that grace will save us.

  39. Alan says:

    sorry for the misformatted comment above. Let me try again:

    Jerry wrote:

    Laodicea was no longer trusting Jesus (if they ever did, and I assume they did since Jesus addressed them as a church – and He could hardly spew them out if they were never in, could He?). They were trusting themselves.

    Jesus didn’t really say that they didn’t trust him. I suppose we could go on a tangent here about what it means to trust Jesus, but I doubt they distrusted Jesus. I get the impression they were distracted by the riches of this world (Mark 4:18-19) and so were unfruitful. That connects more closely with what Jesus actually said.

    When we trust our works as the means of our salvation, I fear we will always live in doubt and fear.

    That’s a straw man. I haven’t advocating works as a means of salvation. Works can be essential to salvation without being the means. (James 2:26). We’re called to the obedience that comes from faith (Rom 1:5). Again, after we have done everything we were commanded, we are still unworthy servants. (Luke 17:7-10)
    We absolutely should preach grace. But if that grace doesn’t lead to a change in our behavior and in our deeds, we are deceiving ourselves (1 Cor 6:9, Gal 6:7, James 1:22) if we think that grace will save us.

  40. hank says:

    Jerry,

    I appreciate your concern and I do believe that both you and Jay are both being sincere in the things you have written.

    And while I believe that what wrote about “knowing we are saved” is true…I don’t believe it is right to tell everyone who in our churches that it applies to them equally, across the board. If nothing else, the first few chapters of the Revelation to John clearly teaches that NOT all Christians should know they are saved – some actually needed to be told that they were dead and lost.

    Specifically, the Laodiceans were about to be spit out. Now where Jay says it was because they were of no practical use/value anymore (neither cold nor hot), you are now suggesting that they had stopped “trusting in Jesus”.

    Either way, it is clear that neither you or Jay are able to adequatley explain what you mean. For example, how do you know that they were not trusting in Jesus? Exactly, what all does “trusting in Jesus” entail? Does it REALLY neccessitate us daily crucifying ourselves and carrying our crosses? If so, what does that actually entail? If Jay is right, how does he know at which point(s) they became un-useful to Jesus? And how does he know who and at which point God considers one un-useful today? I believe those are fair and reasonable questions. Basically, I believe that whoever KNOWS that they are considered by God to be useful and carrying their crosses, must be able to explain what such actually looks like. And is it different with different Christians at different stages? I would love to hear all that explained clearly.

    And I would really be interested to hear someone answer the questions asked of Royce. Namely, if the churches of Asia were really Christians, then they really “had the HS as their gaurentee of their salvation”, and yet Jesus said they were dead.

    Why and how was it possible to “have the Holy Spirit” and be dead and/or about to die.

    Thanks

  41. Alan,

    I do not believe that I erected a “straw man.” I know many Christians who do trust their works – and who never have any blessed assurance at all. I know you can also point to others who abuse the concepts of grace and take their sin lightly. I also know some of those.

    What many of our brethren seem to advocate is a “God’s grace by my works” salvation instead of “by grace through faith” that inspires my works concept.

    I notice that you did not comment on Titus 2:11-14.

    For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (ESV – but take it in any translation I have ever seen and it teaches the same thing!)

    It was this passage that set me free from the bondage of trusting my own works – when I finally saw what it says grace trains (or teaches) me to do as contrasted with what I “ought” to do. There is a difference, and that is the difference between bondage to the law of “I ought” and the freedom of “I can through Christ.”

    Are there works connected with grace? Yes, there are – but they are connected as a consequence, not as a cause.

    As Paul added in Titus 3:4-8,

    But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. [Emphasis added.]

    What will motivate good works? Paul said that teaching on grace and God’s mercy & goodness will do that. We have tried the other way – browbeating people into doing what is right – long enough. And with what result?

    Why not try it the way the apostle said we should and see what happens? I know. At first, people will resist it – just as I did. But when they see the light that shines from almost every page of the Scripture when eyes are opened to the greatness of God’s love for us, there will be a real change in people’s hearts and lives.

    Respectfully,
    Jerry

  42. hank says:

    Ha! I submitted my last comment having not yet read the most recent one of Alan…and he wrote exactly the way I believe.

    Really, the Bible doesn’t say that they were not “trusting Jesus”. I think Jay is closer in suggesting that they had become unfruitful. It does seem as though they were selfish and caught up in the cares of this world, like most Christians seem to be – myself included (which is something over which I struggle). If anything (and I hope you understand the way I am about to say this), I believe that the Laodiceans may have actually been “trusting Jesus” too much! Like, “I know I should deny myself and spread the good news this week a few times, but I’d really rather do something else. Hmm, Oh well, I will just do whatever it is I want and will “trust Jesus” to save me”

    Does “trusting Jesus” cause me to crucify myself and be useful to God? Or does “trusting Jesus” allow me to be unfruitful? Does that make sense?

    Because (not to compare myself with them) but I have known tons of Christians who “trust Jesus” so much that they are absolutely ignorant of the Bible and of practically no use in the kingdom. IJS

  43. Alan says:

    Jerry wrote:

    I do not believe that I erected a “straw man.” I know many Christians who do trust their works – and who never have any blessed assurance at all. I know you can also point to others who abuse the concepts of grace and take their sin lightly. I also know some of those.

    My point was that you are disputing something I didn’t say.

    I notice that you did not comment on Titus 2:11-14.

    My entire response was making the point of that passage.

    Yes, there are – but they are connected as a consequence, not as a cause.

    Of course. I am simply adding the very biblical point that if there are no works, we are in danger of being rejected by God. That’s why all those warnings are given in the scriptures.

    Why not try it the way the apostle said we should and see what happens?

    I’m perplexed by this. Because I am pointing out scriptures that connect deeds to salvation, you are concluding that I don’t teach and live that grace motivates works. I get the impression that you think it’s inappropriate to point out those passages. Sorry but I cannot leave them out.

  44. Hank,

    I said the Laodiceans were trusting themselves because of what is said about them:

    For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

    Their attitude was one similar to that of many Americans. I am self-sufficient. I do not need anything from anyone – even from God.

    No, those words are not stated openly. They are expressed in actions and attitudes. Yes, I see it in church people as well. We want so desperately to stand on our own two feet that we believe God must have our works to be able to save us. God does want our loving obedience – but He is much more concerned with our hearts of than He is our works of obedience as mere obedience. He prefers our obedience from a heart of love – as I am sure you will agree.

    The fact remains: if I look at what and how much I do as my reason for hope, I can never have the true hope of salvation (i.e., desire + expectation). It is only as I look to what Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit have done, are doing, and promise to keep on doing that I can have that assurance. Do I respond to what they do? Yes! A thousand times, Yes! If I rebel against what they want me to do, I am of all men most pitiable.

    As you and Allan have pointed out, even after I have done all that I am commanded to do, I am still an unprofitable servant. My salvation is assured because of what Jesus does, not by my unprofitable obedience. The change that He works in us by His Spirit gives us His heart – and our lives then display the fruit of the Spirit. Note that this is the Spirit’s fruit borne in us as we walk in the Spirit. It is not our fruit, but His.

    I am left with nothing of which to boast, save Jesus and Him crucified.

    “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.

    “When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
    In every high and stormy gale, My anchor hold within the veil.

    “His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood;
    When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

    “When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found,
    Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.

    On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

    When Edward Mote wrote those words, he spoke truth. All other ground is sinking sand.

    I know, I know – you can point to the first line of the 4th stanza and say, “BUT I MUST STILL BE FOUND IN HIM.” Of course I must be in Him, for there is no other name under heaven by which I must be saved. Can I deny Him in such a way that I lose that hope? Over and over we are taught that we can – and I have never, ever denied it. We are those

    who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5)

    This is the same power that Paul says is God’s power to save those who believe (Romans 1:16). The same power that saves us keeps us saved – and our connection to that power is faith. Romans 1:16 says (KJV) “every one that believeth” is saved by this power. Believeth> is a present tense participle, which means you believe and keep on believing. It is that keeping on believing that Peter speaks of in 1 Pet 1:5.

    But some of us keep acting and talking like God is looking for an excuse to condemn us and leave us out of the heavenly glory to which He calls us and for which Jesus died. That is my concern. That is the concern Jay addressed in the post that began this entire series of comments. And I quote: “…If the Church of Christ is to be saved its members must begin to believe that they are saved” (Leroy Garrett as cited by Jay Guin).

    THAT is what I am striving for in my comments.

    Respectfully,
    Jerry Starling

  45. laymond says:

    Francis Chan has a book entitled, Crazy Love, In Chapter four of his book, he challenges believers to examine themselves as 2 Cor. 13:5 states, “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.

    A good way to examine yourself is by comparing your life with the parable of the soils. What kind of soil are you? Most Christians want to say the good soil. Chan challenges each of us to think that we might just be the soil in the thorns – being choked out by all kinds of vices. Thorny soil depicts the lackluster, halfhearted, lukewarm, and partially committed. The church of Laodicea was thorny soil – happy to claim to be “Christian” but lukewarm in every respect. And what was God’s indictment concerning the church in Laodicea? To spit them out like vomit.
    If they were asked if they were saved, I am pretty sure they would have answered in the affirmative.

    . Francis Chan gives 18 examples of what a lukewarm person looks like and then compares that person to what Scripture calls a genuine believer to look like.

    Here are the first four.

    1. Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians do, so they go. (Isaiah 29:13)

    2. Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church…as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right? (1 Chronicles 21:24; Luke 21:1-4)

    3. Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives (Luke 6:26; Rev. 3:1; Matthew 23:5-7).

    4. Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one (John 10:10; Romans 6:1-2)

  46. Alan says:

    Jerry, do you believe there could be any lukewarm people in your church today? Or in the churches of any other participants in this comment thread?

    If so, do you think church leaders should address that problem?

    What scriptures should the church leader use to do so?

    Are they the same scriptures that Jesus and the apostles gave to people in that situation? Why or why not?

  47. Alan,

    I wrote, in commenting on Titus 3:8:

    Why not try it the way the apostle said we should and see what happens?

    To which you replied:

    I’m perplexed by this. Because I am pointing out scriptures that connect deeds to salvation, you are concluding that I don’t teach and live that grace motivates works. I get the impression that you think it’s inappropriate to point out those passages. Sorry but I cannot leave them out.

    But Alan, I was commenting on how Paul said to motivate those good works. The book of Titus speaks of good works in every chapter – and chapter 2, especially lays them out for older men, older women, young women, young men, Titus as an evangelist, and slaves. All of us are to adorn the gospel of God with our lives.

    The question I was addressing is what Paul added in Titus 3:8 about how to get that result.

    I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.”

    I think we are back at the same place we were last week – agreeing with one another, but not expressing ourselves very well or not really hearing what the other is saying.

  48. Alan says:

    Jerry,

    Titus is a good place to summarize a discussion like this. Paul started the letter by calling for the appointment of elders, because of the ungodly talk which needed to be silenced– by people who claimed to know God but were unfit for doing anything good.

    Then in chapter 2 he itemized a number of things that Titus should teach, things which are in accord with sound doctrine. There were matters of character and of practical life for men and for women, for slaves, and for Titus himself. Paul reminded them of the motivation for obedience, the grace of God. And therefore, Titus should teach them and rebuke them with all authority, calling them to obedience in living this kind of life.

    In chapter 3 he adds teachings on how to conduct their lives in this world, to live a different kind of life because of having been washed and sanctified. Paul told Titus to insist on them living this way, to devote themselves to doing good. He warned Titus about the danger of quarreling about the law (so we should be careful!) and especially about being divisive. He reminded them again to devote themselves to doing good, and not to live unproductive lives.

    So really the entire book is about doing good works — doing the “will of the Father” that Jesus spoke about in Matt 7:21-23… deeds that according to Jesus would distinguish those who enter the eternal kingdom from those who are sent away.

  49. Alan,

    What are the “these things” which Paul wanted Titus to insist on in Titus 3:8?

    The most immediate context is v. 4-7 where he speaks of God’s goodness and loving kindness, of our salvation by his mercy (not by our own works of righteousness) through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit given us abundantly through Christ, of our justification by grace and our hope of eternal life.

    That is what I have been attempting to do: insist on these things “so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.”

    On the other hand, you seem to be insisting on good works (which you admit are motivated by grace) to get people to devote themselves to doing good works.

    My point in originally introducing this is that by insisting on the good works we tend to neglect the grace part, except as an afterthought. You seem, to me, to be saying that by insisting on grace we may tend to neglect the good works part. I think both of these are at least partially true – BUT, I believe that the history of religion in general is that people think they have to do something to reconcile God to themselves instead of accepting the death of Jesus as God’s means of reconciling us to God.

    It is we who need to be reconciled; God was never our enemy; it was while WE were enemies that Christ died for us. That is why, I believe, that Paul in speaking of “insisting on these things” was speaking of emphasizing the grace of God, not the works of which he certainly spoke throughout Titus.

    In Titus 2:1-10, each of the categories of people to whom Titus is to speak (including himself) are to act as Paul instructs, are to do so “FOR [because] the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared” bringing salvation and teaching us how to live. Then in chapter 3 he stresses that Titus should emphasize God’s grace as a means of motivating people to do (“for [as he said in another context] it is God who works in us both to will and to do” those things by which we work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12-13).

    Never forget, when looking at Philippians 2:12 that verses 5-11 are immediately before it. Those verses contain the great hymn of Christ’s humbling himself, emptying himself of equality with God to take the form of a servant among men as man, even to the point of dying on the cross before being exalted to the right hand of the Father where every tongue shall confess and praise Him. Our working out our salvation becomes, in the light of that, not doing good works so we may be saved – but of laying hold of that for which Christ Jesus lays hold of us (cf. Phil 3:12-15) when we cast ourselves at the foot of His cross because he has seized our hearts through His great love and mercy toward us! But it is God who motivates us and empowers us – to will and to do His good pleasure.

    Yes, there were things lacking in the church in Crete that Titus had to set in order. How was he to do it? It was by teaching people how to act in accordance with the sound doctrine of the grace of God. Any doctrine that does not spring from the love and grace of God as shown to us in Christ is not sound. I believe I can stand fast on that. And I believe you can agree to that as well.

    In brotherly love,
    Jerry

  50. Johnny says:

    We have been saved
    Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

    We are being saved
    Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

    We will be saved
    1 Cor. 15:20 “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” Since he is the first fruits, we will follow. His resurrection is the promise and guarantee of our future resurrection.

    It clearly is not a one and done deal, We were cleansed, we are being transformed and one day we will be like him.

    Mixing verses that apply to different aspect of Salvation can be confusing.

    None of you doubt that when you came out of the water you were saved, I doubt any of you question that as you live the Christian live you are being transformed if you allow continue to “renew your mind” And All of you agree that one day those who who remain faithful will one day be raised just as Christ has been raised.

    Are there those who in the Church who are not saved? I do not believe any of you doubt that, and we should warn them to examine their life and ask are they being transformed, are they becoming more Christlike, is the desire of their heart to be more like him.

    And because it is an ongoing process of being transformed, we can be assured that screwing up every now in then does not mean we are not still on the path, the question is are we still on the path and stumbling, or have we turned our backs and left the path.

    I feel over my head reading your posts, so forgive me if I am not as articulate and well read as many of you, I hope to learn and refine my faith by reading your comments.

  51. Alan says:

    What are the “these things” which Paul wanted Titus to insist on in Titus 3:8?

    Most emphatically I believe “these things” refers to the instructions for godly living which precede in the letter. He tells Titus to stress those things so people will be careful to devote themselves to doing good… repeating his admonition from Titus 2:1 and Titus 2:15 to teach these things (and encourage and rebuke with all authority).

    People have a tendency to read Paul superficially, and so miss the overall message he’s delivering. Paul has a much longer attention span than the typical modern day reader. Paul goes on for chapter after chapter developing a single unified line of thought. He’s not jumping around from thought to thought like James or John sometimes do. With Paul it’s all a connected flow on a single line of reasoning. In Titus, it’s all about teaching the people to do what is good, and to silence the unspiritual talk.

    My point in originally introducing this is that by insisting on the good works we tend to neglect the grace part, except as an afterthought.

    Paul insisted on good works. That’s how he closes the letter (Titus 3:14). See also Titus 2:1 (overall), Titus 2:2 (older men), Titus 2:3 (older women), Titus 2:4-5 (younger women), Titus 2:6 (young men), Titus 2:9 (slaves). TItus 2:12 (even grace itself teaches these things… which is all the more reason for Titus to teach them), TItus 2:15 (summarizing), Titus 3:1 (remind the people…), Titus 3:3-7 (rationale supporting the teachings). So, yes, Paul repeatedly insisted on good works, and he insisted that Titus do so also. It’s the main point of the letter.

    Never forget, when looking at Philippians 2:12 that verses 5-11 are immediately before it.

    We agree on that. Over and over again, the NT makes its point in the form “Consider all that God has done for you — therefore, live this way.” The two are inseparable. They aren’t two opposing alternatives between which we must choose. They are parts of the same truth.

    The point I’ve made here which I haven’t heard you confirm (I could be wrong…) is that if we don’t respond as the scriptures call for us to respond, we will lose the blessings that could have been ours. Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father. And those of us who lead churches have a divine obligation to teach and insist on those things, to encourage and to rebuke with the authority of the scriptures in order to instill these things into the lives of the Christians under our care.

  52. Royce Ogle says:

    2 Corinthians 1:22
    and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

    2 Corinthians 5:5
    He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

    Ephesians 1:13-15
    13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

    Ephesians 4:30
    And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

    Four times the Holy Spirit is God’s guarantee. It is clear to most everyone what the word “guarantee” is, but the Bible spells it out in Ephesians 1:14, it could hardly be stated any more clearly.

    So the question is “Do you believe what God promised? Or do you not?”

    Some still deny clear teaching about the Holy Spirit.

    Romans 8:9
    You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

    Romans 8:11
    If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

    Some people not only deny the Spirit dwells in Christians but also deny He even exists.

    I know God loves sinners more than I do and he wants them to be saved more than I do, and that he has already done all he can to provide for them. In the telling of the good news about Jesus and his work God makes a gracious offer, forgiveness of sin and eternal life as a free gift.

    Give up on your self righteousness, change your mind and go the opposite of your way, depend on Jesus the best you can, be baptized, join with a community of believers, and do what you can to please God.

    When Jesus warned in Matthew 7 that people who say the right things and do great things in Jesus name are lost do you think he was only talking about some other people, some other church, and not ours?

    It’s very simple. A man either has Jesus and is safe, or he does not have Jesus and is already condemned and is a sure target for the wrath of God. Jesus still invites “Whosoever will let him come and drink of the water of life freely”.

  53. hank says:

    Royce, I know we have had our disagreements here, but I do love and consider you my brother.

    But, I am curious as to how you understand the fact that all real Christians “have the HS” (like all of the churches in Asia had) and yet many of them were “dead” and/or “about to die” according to the Lord.

    My question is – IF having the HS guarantees that one will be saved…how and/or why would Jesus say that many of them were dead and/or about to die? Why would the Lord say that about Christians who had the HS?

    Do you see what I am asking?

  54. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Hank,

    I certainly agree that not all Christians know they are saved — otherwise, John would not have written them to tell them how to tell! Moreover, I’d agree that some Christians are in a state where they are not assured of their salvation — they have an un-sure salvation. This is amply demonstrated by —

    (2Pe 1:10 ESV) 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

    If we can make our salvation sure, then obviously it can be either sure or unsure. For those who have an unsure salvation, well, they can’t be sure — can they?

    But Peter says, along with John, that assurance is possible. Therefore, it is.

    What is Peter’s test?

    (2Pe 1:5-10 ESV) 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

    The passage begins with instruction to grow in certain Christian virtues — start with faith (of course), and add virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection — and finally, love.

    But the test is not whether we have these qualities with the fullness of Jesus. We don’t. The test is whether these qualities “are increasing.” If they are, our salvation is sure — and we can know it. Indeed, we “will never fall” — so long as we’re growing in Christian virtue. Thus, I would take “lukewarm” to mean “not growing in Christian virtue” — Peter says “ineffective or unfruitful.” This is the same thing as “useless” as I attempted to exegete Revelation yesterday. You see — it’s all the same, said differently but teaching the same principles.

    Why is “not growing” the same as ineffective, unfruitful, or useless? Well, because people who are busy serving in the Kingdom grow. Helping others causes you to grow. It deepens and enriches your heart. It helps the Spirit transform you.

    Sitting around warming a pew and being useless does not. It’s hard to grow without exercise. It’s hard not to grow when you do exercise.

    If we’re not growing, it could be because we’re spiritually ill or spiritually dead. We might have fallen or we might have only be stumbling, at risk of falling. We are certainly in trouble and can have no confidence.

    But for those who are among the sure, Peter tells us it’s possible to remain sure until we are safe in the arms of Jesus. “You will never fall.” He’s not teaching perseverance of the saints in the Calvinistic sense, but neither is he teaching that we’re damned every time we sin! He’s teaching that so long as we grow/are fruitful (and what tree bears fruit without growing?), we will not fall. Not that we can’t, but we can remain far away from the line the separates the saved from the damned by growing in Christ.

    The question, therefore, isn’t whether you’ve been lukewarm in the past but what your state is now. Are you growing in virtue? Are you effective and fruitful or ineffective and unfruitful. Are you lukewarm? Or are you hot or cold — able to heal or refresh — are you useful in the Kingdom?

    Now, notice how this parallels my exposition of 1 John yesterday. Ultimately, the test is whether you possess the Spirit, and you can be sure of the Spirit’s presence by its transformative work in your life. Is it true —

    (2Co 3:18 ESV) 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

    Are you being transformed from one degree of glory to another? If so, the Spirit must be alive in you and you must be saved. You are certainly not lukewarm.

    Are you not? Then perhaps you are resisting the Spirit and overcoming the Spirit’s work in you. Maybe you’ve doused the Spirit. It’s hard to tell — you are unsure. But you can become sure simply by repenting and allowing the Spirit to transform you — by submitting to his work in your life.

    (Rom 8:9-13 ESV) 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

    Hence, we see Paul declaring that if the Spirit lives in you, you are saved (8:9), which can be seen by whether “by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body.” In other words, are you becoming less sinful? or more virtuous? or more like Christ? or more transformed? If so, you should know that you’re saved.

    (Rom 8:14 ESV) 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

    Now, finally, all these passages are speaking to Christians — or former Christians. They written to those who’ve professed faith in Jesus, repented, and been baptized. They are church goers. But some have unsure salvation, some have a sure salvation and don’t know it (but should), some have a sure salvation and do know it, and some are fallen away but still going to church to please a spouse or employer or to sow discord.

    The authors of the passages meant for them to be taken seriously. They did not intend for us to cull a list of do’s and don’t’s from 27 books and demand adherance to them all to test salvation. They meant what they wrote to be enough — but they meant what they wrote to be understood by Christians in Christian terms.

    Hence, it’s obvious when Peter says to add these virtues to “faith” that he means faith in Jesus — which is essential. And when John speaks of “love,” he means the sort of love found only among Christians, that is, a sacrificial, submissive, self-giving love patterned after Jesus of Nazareth.

    It’d therefore be frivolous to insist that “love” isn’t enough because love doesn’t require goods works etc. But among us Christians — those of us who’ve actually read the scriptures — surely we can say “love” and be understood as meaning “cross carrying, dying to others love.”

  55. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Johnny,

    Thanks. That was plain and simple.

  56. Royce Ogle says:

    Hank,

    The brotherly love is mutual.

    First, it is pretty clear, if a person does not have the Holy Spirit indwelling him he is NOT a Christian.

    Romans 8:9
    “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”

    The passage in Revelation that you guys have been going back and for on I think is misunderstood.

    It was a warning to churches (local, geographical congregations), not to individual Christians.

    Revelation 1:11
    11saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (see Rev 1:4 as well)

    A careful reading of the messages to the several churches will make it clear that in those churches on earth (Not like “the church which is the Lord’s body”) there are those who are in good standing, there are those who because of the Lord’s love and discipline should repent, get back to their first love, etc, and there are those who are not Christians.

    The messages are to the “angel” of the churches called “lamp stands”. Many Bible scholars believe the messages were directed to the lead elder or overseer of the individual churches. I think that is right. it is the same thing as today. In our churches there are true believers and there are make believers. And, those who persevere will be rewarded in the life to come.

    The threat of the message is that the “lamp stand” will be taken away. And history records that they were, at least for a time. In Great Briton, in Whales, and other places once there were great churches with thousands saved and the fires of revival burning and those buildings are not monuments to the flesh and it’s desires, empty and no Christian witness there. That does not mean that the whole church was saved and then lost. What It does mean is that sin and liberalism crept in and a social, politically correct gospel was preached at the expense of Jesus and his work, and slowly the church “lamp stand” was taken away.

    Hank, Jesus did for us all we couldn’t do and suffered what we deserved to suffer to FULLY PAY for our sins, to reconcile us to God in his body, and to justify us based upon his obedience.

    The gospel is not Jesus died for our past sins and if we live good enough we might be saved in the end. That is not good news, that is bad news. It’s bad news because I know me and I know that I can’t possibly live good enough to meet God’s demands. I can try but I’ll fail every time. Jesus lived for me, he died for me, He himself is eternal life and I am clinging with all my strength to promises like John 5:24 and inviting others to consider Jesus, to repent and believe the gospel, to be baptized and to live in obedience to him.

    None of will follow Jesus perfectly, our work, our worship, or teaching will never be perfect. We will always be lacking as long as we have bodies of flesh. But, one day our man in heaven will come for us and mortality will be swallowed up into immortality and not one who is clothed in His righteousness will be able to find one tiny thing about which he can boast. Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.

    God bless you Hank as you follow Jesus.

    Royce

  57. hank says:

    Bless you too Royce.

    However, there can be no doubt (whatever it is you believe about the “lampstands”) that Jesus said that many IN HIS CHURCH (which means that they WERE Christians – for nobody can be IN THE CHURCH and not be a Christian) were either “dead” and/or “about to die” if they did not repent and change their lives.

    Further, as actual members of the church (which means that they were Christians) we know that they all “had the Holy Spirit” guaranteeing their salvation.

    Again, with all of that in mind, how is it that Jesus told actual Christians (who had the Holy Spirit) that they were dead and/or about to die?

    With all due respect…you have not answered this question.

  58. laymond says:

    Royce said, “The passage in Revelation that you guys have been going back and for on I think is misunderstood.
    It was a warning to churches (local, geographical congregations), not to individual Christians.”

    Royce a church congregation is made up of individuals, I’m afraid there are to many who think they are saved by,conduction, convection, or radiation. “Find a good church, join, and attend regularly”. Isn’t that what they recommend, after saying the sinner’s prayer? A church is “lukewarm” only if the members are. And a church must be changed by changing it’s members, one at a time if necessary. Just like “faith” without works is dead, a church without works has no faith and is therefore dead. lukewarm.

  59. hank says:

    Royce, Laymond iws right. Besides, Jesus spoke of some who were dead, some who were about to die, and others who were had not stained their garments – all within the SAME church!

    Therefore, it is fair to ask how you can argue that having the gift of the HS upon becomeing a Christian makes it impossible to be lost?

    Because the church in Sardis was full of dead Christians and other Christians who were about to die.

    How do you make sense of that if you believe that a Christian can never be lost?

  60. hank says:

    I believe that some people here would have relieved the fears of the brethren in Sardis and Laodicea by having them all read 1 John and proclaiming “see, he wrote those things so that we will KNOW we are saved” (even thought Jesus told them they were dead)

  61. laymond says:

    Hank, people who insist that they are saved NOW. Nearly always refer to trust in Jesus. If anything is misunderstood it is just that., it is not just trust in the “works” of Jesus it is trust in the “Words” of Jesus, trust that Jesus spoke the “truth”, “The word of God”

    Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

  62. Royce Ogle says:

    Hank and Laymond,

    Wow, I’m not sure we are saying something different. I’ll see if I can state my position more clearly.

    First, a local church on earth is not the same exact entity as the church universal, that great assembly of the redeemed who are the “body of Christ”/”Bride of Christ”.

    The church on earth has some who are not saved, have never been saved. Jesus called them “tares” among the wheat. And, I’ll add, that churches of Christ on earth are not excluded from being a mixture of Christians and pretenders. If you’ll think about it, all of us have known someone who was baptized but was not saved, his life proved it.

    If Jesus wrote a letter to my church in West Monroe he would be writing to people, most of whom are sincere disciples of Jesus. But, I would be very naive to believe that not one person is a member of our congregation who is only an actor, a “make believer”.

    Those people Jesus talked about in Matthew 7 of whom he said “I never knew you” were members of a church without a doubt, but had NEVER been saved.

    It is a mistake to think that the church on earth, (visible) and Christ’s body (invisible) are one and the same.

  63. hank says:

    Royce, you are simply incorrect there. You see, while there are of course members of the Lord’s church who are not saved. There has NEVER EVER been a member of the church who was never saved (as you suggest). Remember that it is the Lord who adds individuals to the church (his body) and he does not add unsaved individuals to his body. He doesn’t.

    Too, you are ignoring the fact that Jesus told his church in Sardis that not only were there those who dead in his church BUT ALSO that there were those who were “about to die” if they did not repent.

    The parables of the weeds and net do not prove that the unsaved never were saved…only that there will be both classes in it. Like Sardis had.

    But when Jesus is talking to his church, he’s talking to those who were added by God to his body upon being saved.

    Now, that’s not to say that there are people in our assemblies who have never been saved and play like they are – and even fool us. But, it is not correct to say they were members of the church.

    Again, NOBODY HAS EVER been added to the church without ever being saved. You may try to make a distinction between “the church on earth”and another more real one somewhere else. But the Bible makes no such distinction. The church is the church bro, and only the saved ever get added to it.

  64. hank says:

    In other words, when Jesus sent his meassages to his churches, he was not talking to the visitors and friends of the actual members. He was talking to the Christians. The saved and unsaved ones…

  65. Royce says:

    Hank,

    An “unsaved Christian”? I have never in my 66 years heard that. Is that what you meant to say?

    This is your quote

    “He was talking to the Christians. The saved and
    unsaved ones.”

    An “unsaved” person is not a Christian by any standard I’m aware of.

  66. hank says:

    Royce,

    Yeah, you read it right. But I find it hard to believe that you have never heard of such a thing. What with all the passages in the Bible that teach as much.

    Even here, I would venture to say you are one of the only ones who do not believe that the Bible clearly teaches that.

    Either way, you are STILL avoiding the question….

    Tell me, what do you think Jesus had in mind when he told a certain church of his that some were dead and that others were ABOUT TO DIE?

    By “about to die” do you think he meant:

    1. Were never alive
    2. Living but about to die
    3. Something else (please explain)

    There are scores of other passages we could look at as well. But, this one in Revelation needs to be addressed. How can you explain it?

    Thanks

  67. Royce Ogle says:

    Hank,

    Maybe I’m the only one who never heard of lost people being in the body of Christ.

    Do you believe that the total membership of churches of Christ is the exact same thing as the body of Christ?

    Do you believe that when a person is immersed that he is a member of Christ’s body, even if he is not sincere, has no faith in Jesus? That seems to be what you believe given your comments.

    Saying there are unsaved Christians is unbelievable. It is unsaved people that Christians are trying to convert.

    Do you welcome visitors to your church on a Sunday with “Welcome, we are Christians, some of us are saved and some of us are not saved….”?

    I love you bro’ but you’ve completely lost me on this one.

  68. hank says:

    NoRoyce, you wrote:

    “Maybe I’m the only one who never heard of lost people being in the body of Christ.”

    — Maybe…

    “Do you believe that the total membership of churches of Christ is the exact same thing as the body of Christ?”

    — Not sure of you’re question. The church is the exact same thing as the body though.

    “Do you believe that when a person is immersed that he is a member of Christ’s body, even if he is not sincere, has no faith in Jesus? That seems to be what you believe given your comments.”

    — No. C’mon man.

    “Saying there are unsaved Christians is unbelievable.”

    — To you, perhaps.

    “Do you welcome visitors to your church on a Sunday with “Welcome, we are Christians, some of us are saved and some of us are not saved….”?”

    — No. C’mon man, that would be stupid.

    “I love you bro’ but you’ve completely lost me on this one.”

    — Perhaps if you will force yourself to answer the question I keep asking you, you will not be so lost on this one.

    Let me ask it again. Here it is:

    Tell me, what do you think Jesus had in mind when he told a certain church of his that some were dead and that others were ABOUT TO DIE?

    By “about to die” do you think he meant:

    1. Were never alive?

    2. Living but about to die?

    3. Something else? (please explain)

    Royce, in all fairness, you owe an attemped answer to how in the world Jesus could write to one of his churches that there were in it (his body) some who were dead and others who were “about to die”. What do you think he meant???

    Now, you may choose to make jokes and talk about how you still just don’t get it and how you don’t belie e it and whatever. But I really wish you would rather just try to answer the simple question.

  69. Royce Ogle says:

    I have already answered. Not everyone in the churches on earth are really God’s children, they are not saved, have never been saved. If you read the messages to all of the seven churches that becomes very clear.

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