“Muscle and a Shovel”: In Reply to the Author, Michael Shank

muscleshovelDear Michael,

I’m flattered that you consider my blog worthy of your time and attention.

I began writing this as a comment in response to your comment, but I proved too long-winded (surely proving my own need for an editor).

I regret any offense, but I think my statements regarding your book are fair. It is very well written. It is poorly edited (although the second edition is much improved over the first). And it’s very much a statement of 20th Century Church of Christ theology — in line with what would be found in a conservative Church of Christ tract rack  — in novel form.

My friend and brother Edward Fudge is also correct in describing your theology as a false gospel. Before I ever began blogging, I wrote a book on that very subject, Do We Teach Another Gospel?

I beg you to take a few hours — these are short books — and read The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace, followed by Do We Teach Another Gospel?

Both are free, fairly short, and very pertinent to your work as an author and evangelist. Neither is in novel form and neither is written by an author as gifted in the art of narrative as you. But, together, they explain Edward’s “false gospel” statement.

Read them and then let me know whether Edward was fair in his assessment.

Denominations

Consider this. We in the Churches of Christ have a very inconsistent position on joining the church. We are delighted to criticize our “denominational” friends for speaking about “joining” a church. After all, we crow, the Lord “adds” converts to the church. We don’t “join.”

And then we turn around and declare then damned for joining the wrong church — which is, of course, by our own logic, impossible. And indeed it is.

In Biblical terms, there is but one church and there are no denominations. Just one church. Period.

What are its boundaries? Well, taking the most conservative position found in the Churches of Christ, the boundaries are: hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized. Thus, all who’ve done those things are saved and members of the one church that exists. Unless they’ve left.

But what if a Baptist pastor did the baptism? What if a Catholic priest immersed a convert for the remission of sins upon his confession of faith in Jesus? Is that person saved nonetheless? By our own logic, yes. And we are right. There is no magic in the person doing the immersing, and any errors held by the baptizer are quite beside the point. Jesus saves — not the pastor and not the priest.

Or must he join the right church? Which, of course, he cannot do, because as he emerged from the baptismal waters, God added him to the only church that there is.

You see, you think in 20th Century categories and not in First Century categories. Therefore, you ask which is the right denomination? Rather than who is Lord and Messiah? But those who’ve confessed Jesus as Lord and Messiah are saved and added to the only church that there is or ever will be.

Falling away

So this leaves us to ponder when someone might fall away — which certainly can happen, but it cannot happen by virtue of joining a wrong church as there is only one church and God added the convert to it.

In this morning’s post, I briefly addressed falling away. Here’s another approach. You exit the way you came in. If you give up your faith or your repentance, you leave the church.

Moreover, the Plan of Salvation or Five Steps ignore the necessity of trusting Jesus for your salvation. And if I no longer trust Jesus, but instead wish to trust our Five Acts of Worship or our strict adherence to New Testament church organization, then I’m no longer trusting in Jesus.

We in the Churches of Christ are uncomfortable speaking of “trust” rather than “faith” because it sounds so, you know, Baptist, but “trust” is one definition of pistis, the Greek word for faith. And the New Testament uses it in that sense quite often.

But more importantly, Paul teaches,

(Gal 5:2-6 ESV) Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.  3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.  4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.  5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.  6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You argue in Muscle and a Shovel that “law” refers exclusive to the Law of Moses. That’s half true. Paul certainly has Torah in mind, but notice how he argues.

Why is it that insisting on circumcision as a condition of salvation damns? Why? Well, Paul says, because circumcision doesn’t count for anything (doesn’t “avail” KJV). The only thing that counts (or avails) is “faith working through love.” Because circumcision is neither faith nor love (although one might well choose to endure circumcision to show his faith or his love for God), it doesn’t count (or avail) — and as a result, it destroys faith.

Really? Really. “[Y]ou who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” Is this because Law is a terrible, sinful thing? Not at all. The reason — as plainly stated by Paul — is that the Law is not faith in Jesus.

Paul didn’t say: You’re following the wrong law. He said: You’re following Law rather than faith in Jesus working through love. And only faith working through love avails.

Adding circumcision to faith in Jesus as a requirement of salvation damns. And that’s a false gospel — as Paul plainly declares in Gal 1.

So what’s the difference between requiring a cappella singing or weekly communion or a plurality of elders as a condition of salvation and circumcision as a condition of salvation? Both add to faith in Jesus. Both make faith insufficient. None are faith working through love.

Obedience

This is not say that obedience and works don’t matter, but that they aren’t the path to salvation. They are, rather, evidence of salvation because they are fruit of the Spirit — which only the saved have.

You and I should certainly teach what we believe regarding worship or church organization and advocate for that position. But we are not empowered to make those views conditions of salvation. They aren’t faith in Jesus working through love. They just aren’t.

The saved, as possessors of God’s Spirit, will inevitably seek to obey and to be fully committed. Indeed, they’ll work hard to learn and obey God’s will  by studying his word —

Studying and understanding the Bible isn’t for the lazy. Studying the Bible requires muscle and a shovel. Mental muscle and a willingness to use honest intelligence (the metaphorical shovel) to dig deep beyond all of our preconceived ideas, our false beliefs and our comfortable traditions.

Studying the Bible takes muscle and a shovel. Peter said to Jesus in John 6 :68 that Jesus had the words of eternal life . How many people today are really willing to take their time and effort to dig down deep where that vein of Truth can be found?

Shank, Michael (2012-06-01). Muscle and a Shovel (Kindle Locations 4354-4363). They’ll do exactly that as part of being penitent people of faith. Exactly.

And they’ll get some of it right and some of it wrong. Perfection will not be achieved in this lifetime — and grace is there to cover our mistakes, both our moral errors and our doctrinal errors — so long as we  don’t surrender our faith, our repentance, or our trust and so leave the church via the path by which we entered.

The damned denominations

As a result, it is plainly untrue to claim that every single member of the Episcopalian denomination is damned. Even under the most conservative Church of Christ view of baptism, a great many Episcopalians were baptized by immersion for the remission of sins on a confession of Jesus as Lord and Messiah. I know, because many were baptized by Church of Christ ministers in Church of Christ baptistries.

But there are other denominations that baptize by immersion for remission of sins. We are not the only folk who can read Acts 2:38! And yet we don’t bother to reach out to our brothers and sisters because they’ve joined the wrong church!!

Oh, you might say, but now they partake of denominational errors. Well, adding “denominational” to “error” doesn’t make the error damning. Yes, the Episcopalians are guilty of some errors. But do they have a genuine faith in Jesus as Lord and Messiah? Do they remain true to the penitence with which they first came to Jesus? Do they trust Jesus for their salvation?

In other words, have they all walked back out through the path by which they entered the Kingdom? Obviously, they did not choose the wrong church (there is only one), nor did they join the wrong church (you can’t join; you can only be added).

No, the question is whether they fell away according to the Bible, not are they in error or imperfect or sinners. Yes, they are. We all are.

Please — I beg you — read the books. Then I’d be delighted to talk by phone or email or here at the blog regarding any questions you may have.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

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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175 Responses to “Muscle and a Shovel”: In Reply to the Author, Michael Shank

  1. I did not see Michael’s response to your blog, but I have been reading the 2 books you wrote and referenced here. I hope Michael takes your advice and reads them.

    Grizz

  2. Jay,

    Thank you for taking the time to review the book and to share you thoughts with us.

  3. Monty says:

    The CofC has traditionally made grace readily available for morale failures to those who get baptism, communion, and IM right. Get those points right and you can have sins wiped out on a daily basis. However, we have taught, or implied, that no matter how devoted to Jesus you are, and how free of moral failures you may be, if your stance on the above mentioned is wrong then there is no grace available for your (perceived) doctrinal error.

    Perhaps, many have failed to see the implications of such beliefs. When the above is taught, we are saying God can forgive, say, fornication, but he doesn’t forgive, say, singing with all your heart to God and being accompanied by a piano. How weird is that?

    That God takes a hard line approach against people who don’t decipher the code(how to do church) as well as we (think we)have but gives abundant grace to all who know what sin is and commit it anyway and then ask for forgiveness. Now that’s a double standard! One standard of grace for us and one standard of grace for you other guys.

    Now, some would come back and want to argue about repentance and such. I understand that. However, my point is that grace is for the undeserving and not for folks that think they got it all right (See the story of the two men who went up to the temple to pray). One man had is “religion” down pat (fasting and praying) but his heart was in the wrong place(conceited and proud).The other man’s “religion”(doing the code right) was in shambles, but his heart was in the right place. (“Lord, be merciful to me a sinner”, he said). Only one man went home justified that day.

  4. laymond says:

    Monty comes roaring back :)

  5. Matt says:

    Jay, I just went to the link for “Do We Teach Another Gospel?” and got a 500 Internal Server Error. The other book downloads just fine.

  6. James G. says:

    Monty said, “The CofC has traditionally made grace readily available for morale failures to those who get baptism, communion, and IM right. Get those points right and you can have sins wiped out on a daily basis. However, we have taught, or implied, that no matter how devoted to Jesus you are, and how free of moral failures you may be, if your stance on the above mentioned is wrong then there is no grace available for your (perceived) doctrinal error.”

    Bingo! And here’s the rub: even *if* we are 100% correct in our understanding on these practices, our *attitude* toward others’ salvation and our standing with God can render us the teachers of another gospel, if we’ve come to trust our certainty, our rightness, and our obedience rather than trusting in Christ and his grace. In other words, we’ve dodged a cowpie only to step on a landmine.

  7. qinhan says:

    Having been reared in the hardline Churches of Christ, none of the arguments put forth in this book impressed me. I’m at the point now where I can anticipate these arguments and finish hardliners’ thoughts before they utter them. I’ve been waiting for years for them to start coming up with fresh new ideas. Unfortunately, Mr. Shank’s book is not ground-breaking or even all that useful.

    And yes, Mr. Shank, would it have been terribly difficult for you to avail yourself of the services of an actual editor? I don’t mean to be pedantic, but if you can’t construct a simple sentence in modern English, how can I trust you to properly exegete passages of scripture that are thousands of years old? If you can’t spell in your own language, how can you ask us to trust your handling of Greek, Hebrew, or even King James English? You should really seek some help in this matter. It’s not a small issue, certainly not one that can be forgiven just because you wrote a cute little mea culpa on some Amazon reviews..

    Thankfully, though, I now have the opportunity to peruse the 2 books recommended in this article. I feel certain that this more than makes up for the time wasted on “Muscle and a Shovel.”

  8. James G. says:

    I’m not sure being grammar Nazis and condescending is too productive when trying to win someone over to a more grace-centered view. Quite the opposite, I’m afraid. It would be best to address the ideas and teachings than to make ad hominem attacks.

    My 2¢.

  9. jwzg says:

    Thanks, James. I was thinking the same thing.

  10. Reader says:

    Well, in Jay’s defense, we are in the real world where scholarly work is subject to criticism. As Jay pointed out, many readers asked him to review the book and give his take on it. He did so–in a brief manner nonetheless-but is still catching flack. Recall, Jay commented that the book was well written though poorly edited. Keep up the good work Jay.

  11. James G. says:

    It wasn’t Jay’s remarks that were ad hominem and condescending. Read some of the comments. They aren’t scholarly criticism, they’re just petty. Recall, the problem I commented on wasn’t the discussion of ideas and the criticism thereof, but personal, petty remarks of mockery of the author.

  12. Kevin says:

    James is exactly right. Evolutionists and other Atheists levy the same ad hominem attacks against Creationists…”those people are not scholarly enough to deserve a place at the academic table.”

  13. Kevin says:

    Jay,
    I disagree with your reasoning in the “Denominations” section above. You said, “We in the Churches of Christ have a very inconsistent position on joining the church. We are delighted to criticize our “denominational” friends for speaking about “joining” a church. After all, we crow, the Lord “adds” converts to the church. We don’t “join.”
    And then we turn around and declare then damned for joining the wrong church — which is, of course, by our own logic, impossible. And indeed it is.”

    I don’t think this is inconsistent at all. The Lord does indeed add Christians to His church; however, it is entirely possible for someone to join an institution that is not Christ’s church. That is not logically impossible at all. If Christ’s church exists (and it does) and a man-made institution exists that calls itself a church (I believe that too exists), then it is indeed possible for one to join the man-made institution based on its own man-made rules. Now, we may differ on whether a particular man-made institution is, or is not, the same as Christ’s church, but I’ll wager that we could agree that there is at least one that is clearly not Christ’s church.

  14. Kevin says:

    I do agree that some on our denominational friends have been added to the Lord’s church by The Lord, but again, it is not inconsistent to also say that some have subsequently joined a man-made institution.

  15. I would say this is true. But it’s also true of that “man-made institution” name-plated as “the churches of Christ”. In this regard, there is no difference between this denomination and the others. Many believers are also members of religion clubs. Members of some religion clubs know that this is not the same as being a part of the Body of Christ, while others conflate their membership in their particular club with their identity in Christ.

  16. Larry Cheek says:

    Kevin, and possibly others,
    I believe that the majority of the confusion about this joining of a church has to deal with the physical assembling or assembly of human bodies. I remember Christ stating specifically that his kingdom (the church or the called out) was not of this world (in reference to this physical world). But in my opinion the church that God adds the saved to is the spiritual church, the spirit that is within us is added to the spiritual kingdom that belongs to Christ. Therefore, all physical assembling of the physical bodies of Christians on this Earth is a man-made or man directed action. Christ is King ruling over these spiritual creations which are contained within our physical bodies, and these spirits are directing our physical bodies in being obedient to Christ. On this Earth there is not and never will be a perfect assembly of physical Christian bodies, anyone that claims to without sin is a lair. Multiple physical bodies gathered together does not create a place of cleanliness (free of sin) or righteousness. A gathering of Spirits that are cleansed from sin and added to His Kingdom, remain sinless by Grace, until that Spirit rebels against God, whether assembled together or not.

  17. Kevin says:

    Charles,
    “But it’s also true of that “man-made institution” name-plated as “the churches of Christ”.”

    Would you say that all churches of Christ are man-made institutions and that there are no congregations that are name-plated as a “church of Christ” that represent a manifestation of Christ’s Church on earth?

  18. Kevin says:

    “But in my opinion the church that God adds the saved to is the spiritual church, the spirit that is within us is added to the spiritual kingdom that belongs to Christ. Therefore, all physical assembling of the physical bodies of Christians on this Earth is a man-made or man directed action.”

    Larry,
    I have to disagree with you here. If I understand your remarks correctly, you are stating that all physical assemblies of Christians on earth are man-made…i.e. that there is no manifestation of Christ’s Church on earth. That’s not what the Bible teaches. The same Greek word, ekklesia, that is rendered as “church” in Acts 2:47 (Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.) also appears in several other passages in which the context points to a literal, physical manifestation of Christ’s church on earth:
    -Acts 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
    -Acts 8:1a And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem;
    -Acts 11:22a Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem:
    -Acts 13:1a Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers;

    If the Christ’s church existed in physical form on earth in the 1st century, there is no reason to believe that it cannot exist in physical form on earth today.

  19. Kevin, every Church of Christ is a man-made institution. And like most other Christian religion clubs, most are a manifestation of Christ’s church in the earth. The fact that some think these to be mutually exclusive ideas is an unfortunate folly. When one Christian religion club thinks, “We are a manifestation of the body of Christ, but those folks in that other club are not,” they raise themselves higher than their brothers. And without any real reason. The church is a spiritual house. We should not conflate it with the creations of our own hands.

  20. Kevin says:

    Charles,
    Thanks for sharing. I am firmly in the group that does see those ideas as mutually exclusive. A particular church either is, or it is not, a congregation of the body of Christ. If a congregation IS a part of the body of Christ, then it IS naturally a part of the universal church; however, if a congregation IS NOT a part of the body of Christ, then it IS NOT a part of the universal church. The congregation cannot be both a part of the body and not a part of the body at the same time. In like manner, a congregation cannot be both a part of the universal church and not a part of the universal church at the same time. Perhaps the congregation is as sound as a congregation can possibly be, or perhaps it is erring significantly. Either way, if it is a manifestation of Christ’s church on earth, then it is most certainly not man-made.

  21. Larry Cheek says:

    Kevin,
    I was not attempting to imply that the church that Christ instituted is not present within those meeting together within a congregation. What I am emphasizing is the physical congregation which we see is made up some very dedicated members, some lukewarm members, some adolescent children and possibly adults, visitors that may attend other congregations, churches and hopefully some of the area residents adults and children that not committed themselves to Christ yet. We should never desire an assembly of a congregation to all be Christians, this would prove that our influence in the outside community was dead. Of course this would only situation where we could boast that our congregation is of Christ’s true Church. My point being, just because some members of the body of Christ are meeting within our assembled congregation the totality of all those meeting are not included in the body because of the presents of some Christians. So now let’s speculate just a little. Could anyone apply a percentage figure of the assembled that would be necessary to claim the title of The Lord’s Church to the whole physical body? This is the problem of the physical. But, if we compare the spiritual portion of the Church with the same assembly, it matters not if only a small number of Christian Spirits are assembled with others that are not Christians, the true Church is still assembled. Anywhere Christians are assembled it is the true Church, but others assembling with them are not sanctified or made part of the Family of God by their attendance. I see this as how the true Church of Christ or Christians can exist anywhere in this physical world, whether in prison, in bondage, under the severest of oppression that this physical world can offer. Christ’s Church exists within individuals. The Church is still the Church while it is not assembled. It is totally out of order to refer to a congregation only while it is assembled as being The Church. A congregation is never fully in or out of The Church. God will not save Christians by congregations, nor will he condemn those in congregations as a total body. God holds each man in account.

  22. WE are the manifestation of the Body of Christ. A 501c(3) corporation with a board of trustees is NOT, no matter how “sound” it may be. If a believer can “become a member” of your club, it is not the church, for the believer is already a member of the church. We can be part of both, just like you can be a member of the Lions Club and an Indian tribe. The main problem with conflating the club and the church is that people often establish an identity with their club which eventually takes the place of their place in the church. It’s like having a wife and a sister. Both are wonderful, but woe to the man who cannot tell which is which.

  23. May Patterson says:

    While I see many inconsistent arguments/falsehoods throughout this book, the point I am most grieved to see is the claim that the Bible does not teach that we can have a personal relationship with Christ.
    “having a personal relationship with Jesus is a hoax. It’s one of the greatest false teaching of modern-day religion…it’s not taught anywhere in God’s Word.” (page 108)
    Christ disagrees: “Now this is eternal life:that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) Would the author think it more Biblical to have an impersonal relationship with Christ? Is it best to approach Christ as a stranger or only as a group? Should we not seek to know the Lord? Jesus said”I know my sheep and my sheep know Me- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.” (Jn 10:14-15) Jesus also said to love the Lord our God; love implies relationship. Love is personal. The Bible refers to a believer as a child, adoptee, son, friend, citizen of heaven, member of Christ’s body – all of these imply close connection, affiliation and interaction, which are the words Webster uses to define the word “relationship.”
    Having a “personal relationship” can be used by some as a catchy phrase, but it is Biblical. It is never wrong to encourage anyone to spend daily time with Christ and to see it as a personal, individual, intimate and ongoing relationship.

  24. Kevin says:

    May,
    Not necessarily. It all depends on what one means by “personal relationship.” I know people who utter that phrase and mean that Jesus leads them personally through intuition regardless of what is found in scripture. I think you and the author are talking about two different things.

  25. Kevin says:

    Larry,
    Thanks for clarifying.

  26. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would make known to us what is of Jesus. Kevin, we are not led by intuition, but by the Spirit of God. Personally. In real time. Just like earliest believers were. I think May understood Brother Shanks position quite well and posed her objection quite fairly. Shank’s gospel of intellect and effort is first and last a false gospel. The number of copies of that book snapped up by members of the CoC saddens me greatly.

  27. Kevin says:

    No, I disagree. I think the author has read and would agree with the passages to which May refers. I don’t think he would disagree with her statements above and the way that she defines (at least in this post) “personal” relationship. I suspect this is not the “personal relationship” to which the author is referring in the book. My family members who use this term certainly go well beyond what May mentions.

  28. Dixie smith says:

    Are they baptized for remission of sins acts 2:38. Are they in Christ gal 3:27. Are they heirs according to the promise because they are christ’s and of the seed of Abraham. Who received the promise. Do they have the Ernest of the Holy Spirit which is received upon baptism acts 2:38. Another question what about Paul why do you think he talked so much about being in Christ. I was babtized into the father the son and the Holy Ghost. I am Christian only there still a lot of Adams and eves wanting to do it there way. Look up if you love me you will keep my commandments. I don’t want to take a chance with my soul. I’m digging in the scipture and every other man better be like the berians. They were noble. No man has authority only god’s word. Trust in the word. It says my people or dying for lack of knoeledge

  29. “Take a chance with my soul?” What does that mean, exactly?

  30. Samuel says:

    this book is nothing more than a moment of good clean fun and the understanding of one mans experience. its not doctrine or anything more than a imperfect humans story. Cofc is far from “just another denomination, or bible club” we are the body of Christ submitting all authority to him. Episcopalian, baptist, mormon, methodist, catholic or any other group claiming to hold to Christ and wearing any title other than Christian are completely mislead. Christ built one church and condemns division, wearing a man made title as a symbol of your religious beliefs puts that soul in error among many other things this world would like to pass around as ok. I believe Joshua said it rather clearly in Joshua 24:9-15, paul in romans 16:16, and in titus 1:1-3. I don’t claim to be perfect but like minded as paul I will continue to press on toward the goal, Philippians 3:12-16. May you all have a blessed day

  31. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Samuel wrote,

    this book is nothing more than a moment of good clean fun and the understanding of one mans experience. its not doctrine or anything more than a imperfect humans story.

    Samuel,

    Do you want to maybe reconsider what you just said? The book is chock full of doctrinal arguments. Why pretend otherwise? I’ve read the book. Yes, it’s also a story of an imperfect human, but it’s the story of his discovery of the doctrinal views of one element of the Churches of Christ.

    I’m happy for you to defend his work, but let’s not pretend it’s something other than what it plainly is.

    Cofc is far from “just another denomination, or bible club” we are the body of Christ submitting all authority to him.

    In other words, you say that everyone else is damned because they aren’t part of the body of Christ, as the body of Christ is exactly co-extensive with the Churches of Christ? Seriously?

    Do you seriously believe that only those in the Churches of Christ submit to the authority of Jesus? Again, Christians are required to be honest, in all things but especially when they discuss matters related to Jesus. And it’s just not true that the Churches of Christ are the only ones who seek to submit to the authority of Jesus.

    As the saying goes, you are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.

    Episcopalian, baptist, mormon, methodist, catholic or any other group claiming to hold to Christ and wearing any title other than Christian are completely mislead.

    Really? Where is the Bible are we required to wear the title “Christian”? It’s certainly authorized, but is it mandatory?

    And given that the Episcopalians, Baptists, etc. ALSO called themselves Christians, why do they fail this test? And even if it’s somehow sin to call oneself a Methodist (as well as a Christian), why is this sin so reprehensible as to necessarily exclude every Methodist on the planet from God’s grace? Indeed, where in your understanding is there room for God’s grace?

    Christ built one church and condemns division, wearing a man made title as a symbol of your religious beliefs puts that soul in error among many other things this world would like to pass around as ok.

    And so, if wearing the title “Methodist” is error, does that mean that it damns? Does all error damn? Or is it just certain errors? And if just certain errors, how can I tell which ones damn and which ones don’t?

    I don’t claim to be perfect but like minded as paul I will continue to press on toward the goal, Philippians 3:12-16.

    Delighted that you don’t claim perfection, but why is it that you’re saved despite your imperfections and the Methodists are not? Why do you receive grace for your errors and the Methodists do not receive grace for theirs?

    Your entire arguments runs along these lines:

    1. Look! I found an error that every believer is guilty of other than those in the Churches of Christ. (Not true; there are other denominations that refuse all titles other than “Christian.”)

    2. Because they are in error, they are damned. (Really? There’s no grace for error? Any error at all or just this special error?)

    3. Therefore, only those in the Churches of Christ are saved. (And no one in the Churches of Christ is guilty of error? Or is God only really concerned about whether we call ourselves “Christian” and not both “Christian” and “Baptist.” Which means, I suppose, that those who admit to being “institutional” or “multi-cup” are also damned because they use labels in addition to “Christian.”)

    This whole line of reasoning is based on bad facts, bad logic, and really bad exegesis.

  32. Gene G says:

    I find it sad that we can’t seem to just do what Jesus ask us to do in life. Love never fails. To have the idea that everyone is out of step but Johnny is not a teaching of our Savior.

  33. Lloyd says:

    Jesus said, “if you love me you will keep my commandments” John 14:15. We have to be careful not to let our feeling (emotions) get in the way. Remember, God is the same God that was from the beginning of time. Remember what happened to Sodom, Lot’s wife, and many countless other events where destruction was the punishment for not obeying. The same will come to those who are not willing to obey God’s New Testament commandments.

  34. Glenn Ziegler says:

    Lloyd,

    You write in favor of keeping God’s “commandments” and I agree that we ought to obey God’s commandments under the new covenant put in force by the shedding of Jesus’ blood and His death. To be clear, though, could you list what you meant by “God’s commandments under the new covenant??

    I just want to be sure we’re talking about the same thing. Okay?

    Grizz

  35. Paul McGinty says:

    Interesting you accuse another brother of being a false teacher and who preaches/writes a ‘false gospel’, strong charge indeed, hope you have a lot of God behind you on that. Hate to accuse a brother of being a false teacher, when God Himself hasn’t. From an elder who firmly believes in grace covering doctrinal errors, and would afford that grace to every other religion but can’t afford any grace to brother Shank. (‘and grace is there to cover our mistakes, both our moral errors and our doctrinal errors.’)
    Also interestingly enough you state ‘This is not say that obedience and works don’t matter, but that they aren’t the path to salvation.’ Something that couldn’t be far from biblical truth. ‘He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him…. Hebrews 5:9, along with countless other scriptures on obedience. As for works James would say that they matter that much that our faith is dead without them 2:14-26. As for genuine faith, I would side with Jesus when He says it is to do the will of the Father.
    In Christ
    Paul McGinty

  36. Paul, at some point, we must differentiate between those who merely teach that we should obey God and those who would also provide us with a different path to eternal life than what Jesus said. We are reconciled to God by faith in Jesus Christ. This is God’s gift to us. Jesus directly says that the one who believes HAS eternal life and will not be condemned, that he has crossed over from death to life. The one who would deny or marginalize this reality offers us a different gospel than the one Jesus has revealed. The one who offers us the keys of “intellect and effort” to open the doors of the Kingdom has contradicted the Lord of Glory. Such a one is not merely mistaken on a minor point of doctrine, nor on a matter of freedom, nor simply misunderstands a few passages. Such a one goes to the core of mankind’s reconciliation with our Creator and denies the source of its power and its efficacy.

    Neither Jay Guin nor Ed Fudge are known for reactionary or aggressive approaches to brethren who disagree with them. Heaven knows Jay and I have disagreed sharply on this or that, and I have always been shown respect. But Shank teaches damnation (“headed toward eternal destruction”) for membership in any clan other than his own, even for one who believes in Jesus. This is simply not true. One who makes threats on God’s behalf when God has made no such threat is not to be listened to. He is, rather by definition, a false prophet who repeatedly says “God has said” what in fact, God has NOT said. God has not threatened to kill his sons if they join a religion club which has “Baptist” on the letterhead.

  37. Oh, and this old canard about “It’s not about what I think, but about what the Bible says” is so clearly disingenuous that every time I hear it, I wait for the human interpretation about to be offered. I am seldom disappointed.

    It’s like going to a used car lot called “Honest John’s”. If he really was honest, he wouldn’t have to tell us. It’s like a father who beats his son unmercifully for an offense and says, “It’s for your own good.” It sounds good, but we all know better.

  38. Paul McGinty says:

    Charles
    Thank you for your reply. I completely agree we must differentiate, bible gives us continuous warnings about false gospels, false teachers and those who would twist the message etc but tell me what is so false about brothers Shanks message? You quote Jesus but I also think you know we can’t just quote one passage and state that settles it. Because as you say, ‘nor simply misunderstands a few passages’, could one not bring the charge that you have misunderstood the passage that you quote from John 5:24? You state a false prophet is (and I agree) one who says God has said when in fact God has NOT’ So when did God say ‘The one who offers us the keys of “intellect and effort” to open the doors of the Kingdom has contradicted the Lord of Glory.’ As far as the Apostle Paul would say it is a ‘faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life.’
    As for threats, if I said one who denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is antichrist and therefore hell bound, would you state this simply is not true?
    You say Shank teaches damnation (“headed toward eternal destruction”) for membership in any clan other than his own, even for one who believes in Jesus. (I let brother Shank reply to that) but as far as I understand he simply states being in Christ, (I think his clan is other brothers and sisters in Christ). Can one claim salvation and not be in Christ? You understand you can claim to believe in Christ and yet not be in Christ. Our Lord was clear on this: ‘not everyone who says Lord, Lord…’.Even people who will do great things in His name, Jesus will declare ‘I never knew you’. The Gnostics believed in Jesus yet the Apostle John calls them antichrist. Jehovah Witnesses believe in Jesus as do Mormons, would grace cover their doctrinal errors? Would you say ‘Jesus directly says that the one who believes HAS eternal life and will not be condemned, that he has crossed over from death to life.’ for JWs, Muslims and Mormons? You state ‘The one who would deny or marginalize this reality offers us a different gospel than the one Jesus has revealed. ‘For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than was preached… 2 Cor 11:4. So what is this different gospel you speak off? And how does one deny or marginalize this reality?
    You state ‘God has not threatened to kill his sons if they join a religion club which has “Baptist” on the letterhead.’ Again would you include: JWs, Mormon, Unitarian, Pentecostal, on the same letterhead? But in the same breath you believe God will kill his sons (brother Shank) because he teaches damnation and offers a different gospel! ‘If one teaches a different gospel let them be eternally condemned.’ Gal 1:9 Tell me doesn’t brother Shank believe in Jesus? Or is his Jesus completely different from yours? I leave you with this please help me understand what gospel brother Shank is teaching that is so damning? Thanks again for your reply, look forward to hearing from you.
    In Christ
    Paul

  39. Johnny says:

    If your faith is in the name on the door, whether you worship in exactly the right way, whether you understand completely what baptism means, on your ability to follow rules based on conjecture of what silences mean, anything other than faith/faithfulness in Christ as King then you should carefully study Galatians. Salvation is based on His grace accessed through faith, it can not be earned and adding requirements to that is a false gospel.

  40. Paul McGinty says:

    Tell me Johnny if a Mormon’s faith is in the name on the door, (as Mormon’s do place their faith in Jesus. Their Articles of Faith state 3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. 4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the gospel are: first Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ) would you accept him as your brother?
    Paul

  41. Johnny says:

    I am friends with several Mormons and while they are good moral people I do not believe they are Christians. I base this on their belief about the nature of Jesus. The “Jesus” they believe in is just not the Jesus revealed in scripture. They also have a works based belief system in where one earns their position in the afterlife.

  42. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Paul,

    I’ve written a reply to your comment that will appear as a post tomorrow morning. Please take a look and let me know what you think either in the comments or by private email.

    Jay

  43. Paul McGinty says:

    Johnny just a couple of things if I may, you seem to know the difference between someone who has the correct faith in Jesus and someone who has a faith in Jesus but that faith won’t save him because he places his faith in a false Christ, as you clearly state the Mormons do, could you explain who Jesus is and what it means to place your faith in him? And just one other thing, what would be an example of an ‘adding requirement’ to placing your faith in Him? Would baptism (as you bring up Galatians 3:26-27) be one of those adding requirements? Thank you.
    Paul

  44. Pingback: “Muscle and a Shovel”: In Reply to Paul McGinty | One In JesusOne In Jesus

  45. Skip says:

    Paul, have you thoroughly studied Mormonism? They believe they will become God’s like Jesus. They believe our Bible is corrupted and thus they only trust the book of Mormon. They taught and practiced polygamy. They won’t allow a Christian to worship with them in their temple…

  46. Johnny says:

    Paul, I think Jay answered your question better than my meager ability to do so would have.

  47. Paul McGinty says:

    Skip I have studied mormonism thouroughly, my point was simply to say you can’t make a blanket statement ‘all you need to do is have faith in the name on the door’. I’m afriad there is lot more to it than that.

  48. Paul McGinty says:

    Actually Johnny Jay didn’t really answer. I have replied in detail to him,(will post it here) one being simply that he didn’t reply to my questions. And Johnny I think your meager ability would be alright.

  49. Paul McGinty says:

    Jay, thank you for your reply. I have taken careful considerations to your reply I only ask you give me the same curtsy. It is long so please bear with me.
    As you have concerns for the souls of brothers and sisters in the conservative Churches of Christ, do you have equal concern for brothers and sisters in the liberal Churches of Christ? Just on the point of being conservative, how would you define conservative? As I look at Jesus and how He lived and some of the things he taught I wouldn’t call Him conservative, ‘give up everything’ I would call Him an extremists, am I wrong there? Also I take it when you say ‘fear of souls,’ you believe the conservative brother is lost? So it would help if you define what a conservative is and how your soul is in danger of being lost if you’re a conservative Christian?
    Let me start with what you state at the end of your comment:
    ‘My request of you and the rest of the Churches of Christ is simple: trust God’s promises. Please.’
    So you assume then I don’t trust God’s promises. Amazing, you don’t even know me and get from a post that I don’t trust God? And were in that post do you see that I don’t trust God again? Since you’re a blunt man (calling someone a false teacher and damning souls because they are conservative is pretty blunt), please allow me to be blunt myself.
    I’m really not sure why you gave this long post, you state this is in reply to my comments, which for one you didn’t address and didn’t reply to the things I asked you. I asked you for the evidence that shows Michael Shank is a false teacher. Just as a side note I did reply to Royce, here is what I said, since he probably would notify you anyway:
    ‘Jesus says ‘anyone who says ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell’
    I read Edward’s comment, I’m wondering if you, like Edward Fudge know Michael Shank that well to call him a false teacher, who teaches a horrendous gospel and is blatantly sectarian, a strong charge indeed. Will you be like Edward totally confident on the day of judgment, accusing Michael Shank, knowing that God will be able to see that when the crunch came you were not silent but confidently condemned brother Shank? Also shouldn’t you not also condemn the ‘Christian Chronicle’ for endorsing such a false teacher and promoting this horrendous false gospel?’
    I would also ask the same of you, should you condemn the ‘Christian Chronicle’ for endorsing such a false teacher and promoting this horrendous false gospel?
    You also state that grace covers our doctrinal errors (but apparently not Shanks) and please could you post the Scripture that states ‘grace covers our doctrinal errors’, as yet I’ve searched and cannot find it, only warnings not to change, twist, let go off, and not put up with other doctrines. Also one who is so enamored with grace you sure do a lot of condemning especially the conservative churches.
    You didn’t address Hebrews: ‘Jesus is the source of salvation to those who obey’. Again I ask is obedience necessary for salvation? You seem to think it is not ‘This is not say that obedience and works don’t matter, but that they aren’t the path to salvation.’
    You didn’t address James faith without works is dead. You go into this long dissertation about faith, which I don’t deny, have never denied, and then finish of with a request that I trust God, of course again clearly implying that I don’t. Amazing you get that from one post. Your main point seems to be a cappella which I didn’t even mention on my post and the fact is I don’t have a problem with worshipping with an instrument, not sure why you constantly bring this up.
    But please allow me to address some of the things in your comments:
    You constantly bring up faith in Jesus to which I never have never will disagree with, so I’m not sure why you would bring this up. Do you understand why I put my faith in Jesus and how I understand what it means to put my faith in Jesus?
    You state: “Indeed, the issue was rarely whether Jesus really walked the earth but whether he is Lord and whether we submit to him as such. And to submit to someone as Lord involves both faithfulness and trust.’”
    I think the Apostle John would strongly disagree with you on this point, to deny that Christ came in the flesh (walked on this earth in human form) is antichrist.
    You state: “Certain Judaizing teachers were insisting that believers in Jesus could not be saved merely based on faith. They taught that circumcision was also necessary, because the Torah commands circumcision. But Paul teaches that faith is sufficient.”
    And many will insist that believers in Jesus can only be saved merely based on faith alone and they would say that baptism is an added requirement to that faith, so therefore it is wrong. But you don’t believe this right; ‘Therefore, we enter salvation by faith (normally at the moment of water baptism).
    You state: “Study v. 6 very carefully. (Gal 5:6 ESV) 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Note the “only.” Paul’s argument is that circumcision may not be added, not because circumcision is a wicked practice, but because it’s not faith working through love. And this is the culmination of an argument that goes all the way back to chapter 2, insisting on the sufficiency of faith –“
    His argument is not that circumcision may not be added, or ‘because it’s not faith working through love’, it was because they were saying you had to be circumcised, you just stated it yourself ‘They taught that circumcision was also necessary, because the Torah commands circumcision.’ It was a salvation issue, remember to be circumcised also represents the keeping of the law of Moses, that is why the Jews we calling upon people to be circumcised Acts 15 to be saved. Paul’s argument is not that circumcision may not be added, he circumcised, but that you can’t claim circumcision in order to be saved, not because it’s not faith working through love, its part of a dead law. Since you bring up Galatians, that is the argument Paul is putting forth ‘Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to OBEY THE WHOLE LAW’ 5:3. The Jews were stating you have to be circumcised; you have to be justified by keeping the old law. So just on your exegesis do you believe baptism is faith working through love?
    You state: “Paul argues to the same effect in Romans. How does this fit with the meaning of “faith”? Well, God promised Abraham and Israel, through the prophets, to save those with faith. Either we trust God’s promises or we don’t. If we trust him, then we don’t need to add a cappella music to faith as a second salvation issue”.
    Again you bring up a cappella is that your main issue? Are you equating a cappella with circumcision, you have to be circumcised in order to be saved? You can only worship a cappella to be saved? Again I don’t believe a cappella is a salvation issue. And again simply add instruments to where you worship.
    You state: “ the usual retort at this point is to cry that we must obey God, which, of course, we must do because obedience is a natural, inevitable, necessary result of having faith. Faith will always produce obedience because faith includes submission to Jesus as Lord, as explained above.’”
    But you still didn’t address the point is salvation based on obedience? You say we must do because obedience is a natural result but again I ask you is it necessary?
    You state: “The next retort is to insist that obedience requires a cappella singing only. But in making that argument, we make a subtle shift in the meaning of “obedience.” In normal English and normal Greek, I can say that my son is “obedient” to me, even though he sometimes disobeys. Otherwise, there’d be no obedient children at all!”
    Got to be honest with you Jay you keep bring up a cappella is that the false gospel you talk about, you have to worship a cappella?
    You state: “You see, the normal meaning of “obedient” is that the person’s heart is in submission and wants to obey and so normally does obey. But obedience does not require perfect obedience — or we’d all be damned.”
    Not sure who is saying ‘obedience requires perfect obedience anyway, but the bible does call for obedience for salvation, just like faith, confession, repentance etc .
    You state: “if someone were to sing with instruments unaware of this rule, we’d still refer to such a person as obedient. That’s a fact. Indeed, even if someone mailed them a tract on a cappella singing and that person were unconvinced, without rebelling, honestly intending to obey, they’d still be “obedient.” Obedience is a state of the heart — or else we’re all damned, because none of us is perfectly obedient.”
    ‘And so, even if a cappella singing only is really required, So are you saying a cappella is only required? If someone was to sing with instruments they would be fine because no where in the bible does God condemn someone for worshipping Him with an instrument. There is no need to be ‘unaware of this rule’ there is no rule in the bible that states you cannot worship God with an instrument.
    You state: “You see, your and my salvation does not depend on our being experts in theology or hermeneutics. It depends on our having enough faith to confess our Lord and submit to baptism. And then we really are saved.’”
    First of all where does faith come from? ‘faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.’ Romans 10:17. So it does depend on being experts in the message of Christ right. Because someone can come along and say ‘hey Jay Jesus is not God, but was created by God, place your faith in Him.’ And you would have no problem with that theology right? Our salvation depends on our knowledge of Jesus, ‘a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life’. Again if my theology is Jesus is a created being but I still accept him as savior are you saying it wouldn’t matter as long as you have faith?
    You state: “And I am saddened and dismayed beyond my ability to express by the fact that so many in the Churches of Christ do not trust Jesus enough to believe his promises.”
    ‘So many….’ not sure that I have personally been with countless churches of Christ to make the comment that so many do not trust Jesus, again a bold statement to condemn so many who do not trust Jesus.
    You state: “‘(Gal 5:5 NET) 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness. Do you do that? By faith in Jesus or by faith in your understanding of a cappella singing and weekly communion? Is your confidence in Jesus or in your own understanding of how to discern the silences of the texts?”
    You’re the one who keeps bringing up a cappella, then changed and use instruments and see what reaction you will get at your own congregation. Change the weekly communion to monthly as well? Yes my confidence is in Jesus and no I don’t discern the silence of the Scriptures, man lives on the very words of God not the silence of them.
    You state: “Gal 5:6 NET) 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight – the only thing that matters is faith working through love. ‘Do you trust that promise? Really trust that that only thing matters is faith in Jesus working through love? I do. But if you think a baptized believer must understand the necessity of engaging in five acts of worship weekly on a Sunday to be saved, then you just don’t trust the promise.”
    So do you really trust that promise? Don’t you believe your congregations must understand the five acts of worship weekly on a Sunday to be saved, otherwise again use an instrument, partake monthly, give quarterly etc. these things are not the necessity, so you won’t have a problem changing them or if members of your flock do not participate in them or agree with them.
    You state: “‘And the very sad result of this lack of trust is the very, very long list of things that must be believed in addition to the Lordship and Messiahship of Jesus to be saved. Indeed, the conservative Churches of Christ seem to be adding to the list of “salvation issues” every year — and each addition takes away that much more hope from the unfortunate members who must agree with the preacher on hundreds of obscure doctrinal points — many built entirely on silence.”
    So the list would include what….. Worshiping a cappella, having to give on the first day of the week, have to take communion weekly, have to meet twice on Sunday, have to meet on a Sunday….. again you will change these right because they are not “salvation issues.
    ‘Churches of Christ have a long heritage of a cappella worship, that is, we sing without instruments. Words and music will be projected on screens to help everyone participate.’
    Is this act of worship (a cappella) simply a tradition built entirely on silence?
    I know this was long but I do hope you will read with an open mind as I have done and I look forward to your reply.
    Yours in Christ
    Paul

  50. Lloyd says:

    Thought these facts were of interest to the above referenced A Capella singing:

    Present-day Christian religious bodies known for conducting their worship services without musical accompaniment include some Presbyterian churches devoted to the regulative principle of worship, Old Regular Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Plymouth Brethren, Churches of Christ, the Old German Baptist Brethren, the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church and the Amish, Old Order Mennonites and Conservative Mennonites. Certain high church services and other musical events in liturgical churches (such as the Roman Catholic Mass and the Lutheran Divine Service) may be a cappella, a practice remaining from apostolic times. Many Mennonites also conduct some or all of their services without instruments. Sacred Harp, a type of folk music, is an a cappella style of religious singing with shape notes, usually sung at singing conventions.

    Opponents of musical instruments in the Christian worship believe that such opposition is supported by the Christian scriptures and Church history. The scriptures typically referenced are Matthew 26:30; Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12, 13:15; James 5:13, which show examples and exhortations for Christians to sing.[9]

    There is no reference to instrumental music in early church worship in the New Testament, or in the worship of churches for the first six centuries.[10][11] Several reasons have been posited throughout church history for the absence of instrumental music in church worship.[nb 1]

    Christians who believe in a cappella music today believe that in the Israelite worship assembly during Temple worship only the Priests of Levi sang, played, and offered animal sacrifices, whereas in the church era, all Christians are commanded to sing praises to God. They believe that if God wanted instrumental music in New Testament worship, He would have commanded not just singing, but singing and playing like he did in the Hebrew scriptures.

    The first recorded example of a musical instrument in Roman Catholic worship was a pipe organ introduced by Pope Vitalian into a cathedral in Rome around 670.[13][nb 2]

    Instruments have divided Christendom since their introduction into worship. They were considered a Catholic innovation, not widely practiced until the 18th century, and were opposed vigorously in worship by a number of Protestant Reformers, including Martin Luther (1483–1546),[15] Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin (1509–1564)[16] and John Wesley (1703–1791).[17] Alexander Campbell referred to the use of an instrument in worship as “a cow bell in a concert”.[18] In Sir Walter Scott’s The Heart of Midlothian, the heroine, Jeanie Deans, a Scottish Presbyterian, writes to her father about the church situation she has found in England (bold added):

    This came from Wikipedia which is nuetral in all respects to religion. No instruments until the organ un 670 A.D.? Wonder why? Not widely practiced until the 18th century, why? Aren’t we suppose to be the 1st century Church in the 21st Century?

  51. Paul McGinty says:

    Before I respond in detail, Lloyd help me out here do you, not what history or Wikipedia says, do you believe the bible teaches it is sinful, wicked, evil whatever word you want to chose, to worship God with an instrument and therefore a salvation issue?

  52. Lloyd says:

    This is a Sermon outline that for sake of me typing it all again I posted for you. It is exactly how Worship in the Physical sense is gone and Worship in the Spiritual sense has taken its place in everything we do.

    INTRODUCTION

    1. At Jacob’s well, Jesus and the Samaritan woman discussed the matter
    of worship…
    a. Samaritans and Jews differed as to where one should worship – Jn 4:20
    1) Samaritans believed they should worship on Mt. Gerazim
    2) Jews understood that it should be in Jerusalem
    b. Jesus said the time was coming for a different kind of worship
    – Jn 4:21-24
    1) Where worship would not be defined by its location (though Jews
    had been right)
    2) Where true worshippers would worship the Father in spirit and
    truth

    2. What does it mean to worship the Father in spirit and truth? Many
    say it means…
    a. To worship God from the heart (“in spirit”)
    b. To worship God as He directs in His Word (“and truth”)

    3. Yet note the contrast made by Jesus…
    a. The Jews had worshipped correctly by going to Jerusalem
    b. But the time was coming when place would not be important
    — A contrast is being made between OT worship and NT worship

    4. Somehow Old Testament (OT) worship had not been “in spirit and
    truth”…
    a. Yet God required worship from the heart from the Jews – cf. Deu
    6:4-7; Isa 1:10-18
    b. And God required worship as directed by His Word – cf. Deut 5:32-33

    [If “in spirit and truth” does not mean “from the heart and in harmony
    with God’s Word”, then what does it mean? Let’s first consider…]

    I. WORSHIPPING GOD IN SPIRIT

    A. MEANS TO OFFER “SPIRITUAL” WORSHIP…
    1. In contrast to that which is mostly physical
    2. This explanation is in keeping with the context – cf. Jn 4:24
    a. Jesus began by saying “God is Spirit…”
    b. The worship of God is to be “in spirit” (i.e., spiritual)
    3. Note these comments:
    a. “…men must offer a worship corresponding with the nature
    and attributes of God.” – J. W. McGarvey
    b. “Since he is Spirit, he must receive spiritual worship…”
    – B.W. Johnson
    c. “A pure, a holy, a spiritual worship, therefore, is such as
    he seeks the offering of the soul rather than the formal
    offering of the body – the homage of the heart rather than
    that of the lips.” – Albert Barnes
    — A worship was coming that was more in keeping with God’s
    nature!

    B. AS OPPOSED TO “CARNAL” ORDINANCES…
    1. OT worship consisted of carnal (fleshly) ordinances – cf. He 9:1-10
    a. A physical structure (tabernacle)
    b. Special priesthood, clothing for priests
    c. Lamp stands, burning incense
    d. Instruments of music
    e. Feast days
    f. Animal and meal sacrifices
    — All which appealed to the carnal or physical senses of man
    2. NT worship is geared more toward the spiritual side of man:
    a. God’s temple is now spiritual, made up of Christians – 1Co 3:16; Ep 2:19-22
    b. All Christians are priests, offering up spiritual sacrifices
    – 1Pe 2:5,9
    c. Our prayers are as sweet incense – Re 5:8
    d. Our music is making melody with the heart, not the harp – Ep 5:19
    e. The Lord’s Supper – Ac 20:7; 1Co 10:16-17; 11:17-34
    f. Spiritual sacrifices of praise and service – He 13:15; Ro 12:1-2
    — The emphasis is on the spirit of man, not his physical
    senses!

    [Physical ordinances of the Old Covenant were until “the time of
    reformation” (He 9:9-10), which occurred with the coming of the New
    Covenant. As Jesus proclaimed, the new worship is more in keeping with
    the nature of God (“God is Spirit…”), designed to relate more to the
    spiritual side of man. Now let’s examine…]

    II. WORSHIPPING GOD IN TRUTH

    A. MEANS TO OFFER “TRUE (REAL)” WORSHIP…
    1. To worship according to the commands of God?
    a. Certainly we should do this
    b. But this is no contrast to what God expected in the OT – cf.
    Deut 5:32-33
    c. Jesus admitted that the Jews were right in their worship
    – Jn 4:22
    2. What then is the contrast between worship that was and that
    which “now is”?
    a. Not between true and false worship
    b. But between that which is true (real) and that which had
    been a shadow
    — A worship was coming that was more in keeping with truth and
    reality

    B. AS OPPOSED TO “SHADOW (SYMBOL)” WORSHIP…
    1. Many elements of worship in the OT were simply a shadow or
    figure of that to come
    a. The Tabernacle was a symbol – He 9:8-9
    b. The Law with its worship was only a shadow of that to come
    – He 10:1
    2. Christ is now in the true tabernacle (heaven)- He 9:11-12,24
    a. We should expect the worship of the true to be different
    from that of the shadow
    b. We have already seen that to be the case:
    1) Old Covenant worship, which was but a shadow, was
    physical in nature
    2) New Covenant worship is according to the true realities
    (God is Spirit, Christ in heaven) and is therefore more
    spiritual in nature
    — The emphasis is on that which is true (real), not which was a
    shadowy symbol of things to come

    [This explanation of worshipping God “in spirit and truth” is more in
    keeping with the immediate context. Since God is seeking “true
    worshippers” who worship Him accordingly (Jn 4:23), some thoughts about
    our worship today may be appropriate…]

    III. WORSHIPPING GOD TODAY

    A. NOT ALL WORSHIP IS ACCEPTABLE…
    1. There is vain worship – Mt 15:7-9
    a. Based on traditions of men, while ignoring the commands of
    God
    b. Offered without involving our “hearts” (spirits)
    2. There is ignorant worship – Ac 17:22-23
    a. Ignorant of the true nature of God
    b. Ignorant of the worship He desires
    3. There is will worship – Col 2:20-23 (KJV)
    a. Self-imposed, not God-directed
    b. What we like, what we think is good
    — Just because we worship God, does not mean He is pleased with
    our worship!

    B. MANY OFFER CARNAL WORSHIP…
    1. When they appeal to the OT for their authority for how they
    worship
    a. For instrumental music, burning incense, clapping, etc.
    b. They seek to justify that which appeals to the flesh
    (senses), not the spirit
    2. When they offer that which appeals to their fleshly nature
    a. Preferring what is based on how it sounds
    b. Preferring what is based on how it feels
    — Striving to be more spiritual, some revert to becoming more
    carnal, a reason to be concerned (cf. Ga 4:9-11)!

    C. GOD SEEKS TRUE WORSHIPPERS…
    1. Who worship God “…with their spirits” – Matthew Poole
    a. Seeking to engage the spirit (mind) more than the organs of
    the body
    b. Content with the simplicity of worship that stresses the
    spiritual side of man
    2. Who worship God “…according to the rule that he hath
    prescribed, in truth and reality.” – ibid.
    a. Not desiring to return to the carnal ordinances imposed
    until a time of reformation
    b. Content with the worship ordained in the New Covenant
    3. Who can worship God anywhere, anytime, with true spiritual
    worship – e.g., Ac 16:25
    — God seeks such worshippers, who seek to worship Him in spirit
    and truth!

    CONCLUSION

    1. Matthew Poole offered this explanation of our text in his
    commentary…

    “God…is a spiritual Being, the Father of spirits, and requires
    a spiritual service proportioned to His being; and therefore those
    that pay a religious homage to him, must do it with their spirits,
    and according to the rule that he hath prescribed, in truth and
    reality.”

    2. How can we be sure to offer spiritual and true worship acceptable to
    God…?
    a. Look to the New Testament for our authority in worship!
    b. Worship in ways ordained by Christ and His apostles! – cf. Ac 2:42

    3. As God is Spirit…
    a. Our worship should be spiritual and not limited to special places
    b. The emphasis should be on the spiritual (e.g., meaning of the
    words), and not the physical (e.g., how it looks, sounds, feels)

    Remember…

    “…the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will
    worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking
    such to worship Him.”

  53. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Lloyd,

    You posted this twice. It was automatically moderated by my spam software due to its length. I’ve allowed one of the two posts to appear.

    Ultimately, your argument depends on the Regulative Principle, the theory that silence is a prohibition and that authority is required for each particular of worship. We’ve covered it many times here and I’ll not bore the readers with a repeated rebuttal. However, doesn’t it seem odd that Jesus would be interpreted as saying to the Samaritan woman “Look to the New Testament for our authority in worship!” That seems highly unlikely that Jesus meant her to understand that, given that not a book of the NT was written when he spoke to her.

  54. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Paul and Lloyd,

    I’m not insisting, but we’ve covered the instrumental music controversy here many times. And the point I’ve been trying to make is that it’s not a salvation issue, regardless of who is right on the question. Too often, we assume that “being right” = “salvation issue.” Therefore, when we ask whether IM is a salvation issue, we pull out the traditional — and VERY familiar — IM arguments — when we’d be far better off expending our energies asking whether all error damns or all sin damns or why it is that IM damns and so many other errors and sins do not. What is the standard that tells us which sins are damnable and which are not? You see, even if you were to prove beyond all doubt that God considers IM worship a sin, you’d not have shown that he damns for that sin — it’s two very different questions.

  55. Paul McGinty says:

    Lloyd in all that you still never answered the question, DO YOU believe that using an instrument in worship, is sinful, wicked, evil etc Do YOU believe it is a salvation issue? DO YOU believe the bbile clearly teaches this?

  56. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Paul wrote,

    Also I take it when you say ‘fear of souls,’ you believe the conservative brother is lost? So it would help if you define what a conservative is and how your soul is in danger of being lost if you’re a conservative Christian?

    Paul,

    Christians who violate the teachings of Gal 5:1-7 are in danger of falling from grace. I’ve already explained how I believe certain conservative Church of Christ teachings violate this passage — particularly the claim that certain practices, such as instrumental music, damn even when participated in by faithful baptized believers in all good faith, utterly without rebellion.

    I’m gratified that Paul’s teaching in Galatians seems to be primarily pointed at those who teach this error, as opposed to their victims.

    I read Edward’s comment, I’m wondering if you, like Edward Fudge know Michael Shank that well to call him a false teacher, who teaches a horrendous gospel and is blatantly sectarian, a strong charge indeed. Will you be like Edward totally confident on the day of judgment, accusing Michael Shank, knowing that God will be able to see that when the crunch came you were not silent but confidently condemned brother Shank?

    I accused him of teaching a false gospel. And, yes, having read his book as well as his web site, it’s true. He teaches that all those in denominations other than the Churches of Christ are damned because, among other reasons, they use instrumental music. He even says this on his website. And this is not only false, it’s false because he makes the error condemned by Paul in Galatians.

    I have not declared him damned. I’ve said he teaches a false gospel. I believe that, and I’ve studied the issue in great detail. I think the right thing to do is to warn those who are in jeopardy because they appear to be in violation of Galatians.

    Frankly, I was none too happy when my studies of Galatians led me to this conclusion, because I knew that having seen this, I’m obligated to issue a warning. And I knew I’d be criticized for not being gracious on this issue when I’m so gracious on others.

    But this particular error divides the church. It causes Christians to declare Christians of all other denominations to be damned. And it makes it impossible for Christendom to display the unity for which Jesus prayed

    It seriously harms the evangelistic efforts of the Churches of Christ. This “we’re the only ones going to heaven” attitude closes a lot of doors. And it causes people — people I know and hear from all the time — to doubt their salvation because they don’t think they’ll ever measure up.

    I appreciate reader Alabama John reminding us over and over of the good people who die in the Churches of Christ in terror that they’ve “not done enough.” And I’ve seen it, too.

    I’ve also seen people die knowing the grace of God, comfortable of their welcome into Jesus’ arms. I know which kind of death I want to die.

    [to be continued]

  57. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    I would also ask the same of you, should you condemn the ‘Christian Chronicle’ for endorsing such a false teacher and promoting this horrendous false gospel?

    And I don’t think the Christian Chronicle has “endorsed” point of view. They’ve reported it.

    You also state that grace covers our doctrinal errors (but apparently not Shanks) and please could you post the Scripture that states ‘grace covers our doctrinal errors’, as yet I’ve searched and cannot find it, only warnings not to change, twist, let go off, and not put up with other doctrines. Also one who is so enamored with grace you sure do a lot of condemning especially the conservative churches.

    (Isa 53:5-6 ESV) 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned– every one– to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

    Would you argue that “iniquities” does not include doctrinal error? Do you seriously contend that any doctrinal error at all damns?

    On the other hand, I’m sure we agree that some doctrinal error does damn. If you deny that Jesus is the Christ, you are not saved. So how do we draw the line? Well, I offered my understanding in the post. What is yours? Where is the line? Or do you contend that every error damns?

    You didn’t address Hebrews: ‘Jesus is the source of salvation to those who obey’. Again I ask is obedience necessary for salvation? You seem to think it is not ‘This is not say that obedience and works don’t matter, but that they aren’t the path to salvation.’

    Obviously, the Hebrews writer says nothing of faith, and yet faith is essential. How can this be? Get the context —

    (Heb 5:8-10 ESV) 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

    We’re also told that Jesus learned obedience and therefore became a “source of eternal salvation” to those who obey. Why?

    I forget where I first heard this (C. S. Lewis, perhaps?) but Jesus could not be obedient until he was in submission to God and was asked to do things he did not want to do (as a human). Thus, his crucifixion, for example, taught him how to obey. Why does that matter to us?

    Well, because of what the writer says in Hebrews 8 (his themes stretch across the chapters). He quotes a prophecy from Jeremiah 31, which says,

    (Heb 8:8-12 ESV) 8 For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

    I am about to cover in a series of posts the connection of Jeremiah 31:31 ff with a train of thought that begins in Deuteronomy and culminates in Romans 8 and Hebrews 8. If you’ll check back in a few days, you’ll see the discussion. The gist of this is that God promised in the OT that, through the Holy Spirit, he would write his laws on our hearts. He even promised to cause us to obey. See, for example,

    (Eze 36:27 ESV) 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

    (I also believe that the work of the Spirit within us can be resisted and even doused or quenched. Therefore, we can overcome what the Spirit wants in us.)

    Hence, to someone who knows his OT, such as the Hebrews writer and his readers, the ones who “obey my rules” are those who possess the Spirit. And Jesus, having learned obedience, is able to teach us obedience through the Spirit. That’s how it works.

    (If you deny the personal indwelling, this is nonsense to you, of course.)

    And so it fits very nicely. Jesus learns obedience, and this enables him to teach us what he previously did not know, through his Spirit — exactly as promised by Jeremiah and Ezekiel (and others).

    The Hebrews writer does not mean that faith is not necessary (because only those with faith receive the Spirit) or that we can obey well enough to earn our salvation.

    This interpretation is exactly parallel with N.T. Wright’s explanation of Rom 8 and the “Torah of the Spirit of life” found in his books Justification and Paul and the Faithfulness of God. That is, those who are led by the Spirit and who obey God’s will are those who possess the Spirit and who obey on account of the Spirit. Maybe the clearest explanation is found in Wright’s commentary on Romans in the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary series (a great read, by the way, easier for me than the other two).

    After all, there are people who are not saved who are better people than some who will be saved. It’s not ultimately about merit but about faith, grace, and the Spirit — and the Spirit produces the only obedience that matters.

    [to be continued]

  58. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    You didn’t address James faith without works is dead.

    I’ve covered this many, many times here. It’s a standard CoCo argument and it’s routinely used in an effort to set up a contradiction between James and Paul, with James’s supposed position winning. Obviously, James and Paul do not disagree, and obviously Paul teaches salvation by “faith and not works” over and over and over. Moreover, you can’t read Romans or Galatians through the lens of James, as though Paul expected his readers to read his letters with a copy of James in their laps to correct Paul’s language.

    I addressed the relationship of works and grace and faith in detail in a series called “Faith That Works.” http://oneinjesus.info/?s=%22faith+that+works%22 (the link is in reverse chronological order).

    Here’s another link that’s shorter but not as complete (it’s just one post): http://oneinjesus.info/2009/04/how-to-argue-like-a-christian-what-is-faith-part-1-james-and-paul-and-the-spirit/

    You state: “Indeed, the issue was rarely whether Jesus really walked the earth but whether he is Lord and whether we submit to him as such. And to submit to someone as Lord involves both faithfulness and trust.’”
    I think the Apostle John would strongly disagree with you on this point, to deny that Christ came in the flesh (walked on this earth in human form) is antichrist.

    I quote 1 John 4:2-3, which makes exactly that point. You read “the issue was rarely whether Jesus really walked the earth” as though I deny that fact or consider it non-essential. I plainly say to the contrary later. My point is that when Paul says “faith” he is usually thinking more about faithfulness or trust than belief that Jesus is the Christ, not because Paul denies it, but because Paul is making a different point.

    His argument is not that circumcision may not be added, or ‘because it’s not faith working through love’, it was because they were saying you had to be circumcised, you just stated it yourself ‘They taught that circumcision was also necessary, because the Torah commands circumcision.’ It was a salvation issue, remember to be circumcised also represents the keeping of the law of Moses, that is why the Jews we calling upon people to be circumcised Acts 15 to be saved. Paul’s argument is not that circumcision may not be added, he circumcised, but that you can’t claim circumcision in order to be saved, not because it’s not faith working through love, its part of a dead law.

    Except that is not what he says in Gal 5. Or the rest of Galatians. What he says is —

    (Gal 5:6 ESV) 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

    His point (and this is clear from his argumentation from chapters 2 through 4) is that because we’re saved by faith (working through love) we can’t be saved by something else.

    To make this clear, he preceded that verse with —

    (Gal 5:5 ESV) 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

    His emphasis is (a) it’s through the Spirit and (b) by faith — that we have hope. Faith brings the Spirit, which is why we have hope.

    This is why he spent chapter 3 explaining that Christianity is “by faith” because of God’s covenant with Abraham, which was also by faith. It’s not just that the Law does not save, but that faith does. (Remembering that “faith” includes belief in Jesus, faithfulness, and trust.)

    [continued]

  59. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Again you bring up a cappella is that your main issue? Are you equating a cappella with circumcision, you have to be circumcised in order to be saved? You can only worship a cappella to be saved? Again I don’t believe a cappella is a salvation issue. And again simply add instruments to where you worship.

    I’m delighted that you aren’t trapped by the a cappella teaching of many in the Churches of Christ, but this discussion began as a conversation about Michael Shank’s book, and he considers a cappella a salvation issue. And, yes, I believe he and many others in the Churches of Christ treat a cappella singing that same way the Judaizing teachers were treating circumcision: an essential touchstone to be saved.

    You state: “ the usual retort at this point is to cry that we must obey God, which, of course, we must do because obedience is a natural, inevitable, necessary result of having faith. Faith will always produce obedience because faith includes submission to Jesus as Lord, as explained above.’” But you still didn’t address the point is salvation based on obedience? You say we must do because obedience is a natural result but again I ask you is it necessary?

    The link above (http://oneinjesus.info/2009/04/how-to-argue-like-a-christian-what-is-faith-part-1-james-and-paul-and-the-spirit/) lays it out in detail. The NT teaching, I believe, is that obedience comes from the indwelling Spirit which comes from faith. However, there are people with a very genuine faith who are physically or mentally disabled so that they cannot obey as well as you or I. They can’t make the assembly. They can’t teach the gospel. Their obedience is severely constrained by their afflicted bodies — and yet they are saved, I’m sure, because of their faith/faithfulness/trust. (You could read John Milton’s “On His Blindness” at this point.)

    Except as noted, a genuine faith will necessarily produce obedience. Therefore, if someone lacks obedience (except as noted above), they are not saved. (Logically, the second sentence is the contrapositive of the first. They are logical equivalents.)

    Notice that it isn’t “works cause salvation.” Rather, it’s “salvation causes works” and so “no works means no salvation.”

    First of all where does faith come from? ‘faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.’ Romans 10:17. So it does depend on being experts in the message of Christ right.

    Context! What is the message?

    (Rom 10:14-16 ESV) 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”

    The “message” is the gospel, which is what is to be believed. It’s all about faith in Jesus. Paul here is not discussing how to organize a church or set up a worship service. He’s talking about the necessity of missionaries to preach the gospel so people can be saved by coming to faith in Jesus.

    [continued]

  60. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Because someone can come along and say ‘hey Jay Jesus is not God, but was created by God, place your faith in Him.’ And you would have no problem with that theology right?

    No. I thought I said,

    Thus, Paul says the Christian confession is “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9), which is a pledge of submission to Jesus as Lord as well as recognition of his divinity. “Lord” is the word used in the Septuagint for YHWH.

    Why make such an accusation? It’s plainly false. There are better ways to argue about Jesus.

    You state: “And I am saddened and dismayed beyond my ability to express by the fact that so many in the Churches of Christ do not trust Jesus enough to believe his promises.”
    ‘So many….’ not sure that I have personally been with countless churches of Christ to make the comment that so many do not trust Jesus, again a bold statement to condemn so many who do not trust Jesus.

    “So many” would be too many if it were one person. But I’m a third generation Church of Christ editor, I read the Gospel Advocate and Spiritual Sword, I graduated from Lipscomb, I sent two kids through Harding, and I’ve spoken at several lectureships. I get emails daily from readers struggling with the legalistic teachings of their churches. I post here daily and have received tens of thousands of comments from readers all over the world. I correspond routinely with some of the leading thinkers of the conservative Churches.

    I am distressed at the teachings of many in the Churches of Christ for very good reason.

    [the end]

  61. Glenn Ziegler says:

    Jay,

    IN the latest response I have read from you – the 2nd in a series, due to length one supposes – you deny that Paul and James disagree, and you go on to offer some mockery of this idea that they disagreed by saying you doubt readers of the letters to saints in Rome and/or Galatia were expected to have James’ letter in their laps as a corrective to Paul ‘ terminology. Oddly, your approach puts Romans and Galatians in the laps of James’ readers!! Your own approach is weak for the same reasons you claim against others’.

    How much of this fickle reasoning is one supposed to ignore?

    Why teach from a position of “I really haven’t figured any of this out”? Why not refuse to spread speculation as though it is teaching?

    Does that leave your followers any less confused than you are?

    G

  62. Glenn Ziegler says:

    Lloyd,

    I was going to give a blow by blow response until it got to 4 pages before finishing the second point in rebuttal. Suffice it to say that your comment has much error and very little truth.

    G.

    Ps- Feel free to ask for the detailed rebuttal at grz311@yahoo.com.

  63. hist0ryguy says:

    Jay,
    I heard someone was talking about IM/AC and decided to come to the party. Just kidding, brother. In all seriousness, I am enjoying the discussion about the book and its author. I pray your health is better, and will keeping reading as I once gain fade into the background.

    PS: Hello to Charles, Grizz, and everyone who remembers me.

  64. Larry Cheek says:

    Glenn,
    Could you give a brief explanation what has given you the incite that the James readers would have Romans and Galatians in their laps? Other than just to oppose Jay’s comment.

  65. Glenn Ziegler says:

    Larry,

    That’s just it … IF there is agreement between James and Paul (and I believe there is), then it hardly matters. Where there is agreement, there is no need for any such guide. If we miss it, then we have understood NEITHER writer.

    Do I have to explain why neither of them is contradictory? Why? You are a good reader and thinker … as are most who come with open hearts to learn of God. Listen … this is the essence of being still before the Lord of hosts. Let God’s Spirit show you … and do not trust any voice who claims God’s writers were led by His Spirit to contradict one another.

    Wait for it, Larry. God will be faithful to show you. As for me, I am learning to trust His Spirit to give you understanding.

    G

  66. Glenn Ziegler says:

    Lloyd,

    If I follow the gist of your sermon, it looks like you got the conclusion while missing the application. Making rules about dates and places from inferences and picked apart examples are the epitome of carnal approaches to worship. Even making rules about music or vestments (dress codes) fits under carnal approaches. To encourage homage to God (spiritual worship) is to ask one another to express appreciation for who God is and what God does which will, when observed by others (either believers or non-believers), cause them to honor or even glorify God.

    If someone psalms … plays an instrumentand perhaps also sings … or sings a spiritual song … or even speaks in song as Jay did on this blog when he shared the video of Jon Guerra singing (and playing) ‘I Will Follow’ … Ephesians 5:19 says this is acceptable because it is evidence we are filled with the Spirit and not with wine. IM or no IM is a carnal approach. From the heart my soul can sing through a shout … a trumpet call … even a gong or cymbal … or a rap or beat box or a Gregorian chant (if that is how you express yourself emotively) … in celebration to/of/for God. A mute person’s soul can sing. How it shows up physically (if it does … a smile? a laugh? a clap?) … is irrelevant. Like Louie Giglio shows with stars and whale song (and some iPad editing and mash – up tech) … God can hear creation praise Him in ways and things that get past us all the time.

    You came close, Lloyd … just tweak the application to align with the conclusions reached.

    G

  67. Lloyd says:

    I am confident in the reponse I left (though really long) and feel there is no change to the Conclusion. As a response to another comment above, I completely agree with Michael Shank and don’t know where anyone would get the idea that I am accusing him of anything. This has been an interesting discussion covering many different topics which are all in some way included in Shank’s book. I also look forward to staying looped in the discussion here. I believe instruments, Lying, Adultery, Idoletry, like any other sin that you choose not to turn away from is Blaspheme. I see that I am not getting anywhere with those involved in this discussion so I think it is time to “wipe the dust from feet”.

  68. Monty says:

    Lloyd,

    Not sure how you can put instruments in with direct commands forbidding, lying, murder and stealing. Those things are repeatedly warned against. Is there a secret memo God put out, that others didn’t get. Please give book, chapter, and verse,(isn’t that the mantra?) and without deductive reasoning, please. Surely, if instruments carries the same weight as lying, and stealing it must be in there somewhere.

  69. lloyd says:

    That’s just it, no sin is greater than another. That is the point I am trying to make. A sin is a sin is a sin. A white lie is no different than murder in the weight of severity. The only unforgivable sin is the one that you never repent of and do not turn away from. Some people deal their entire life with certain sins that rule their lives, You have to continually try to overcome that sin. Your “deductive reasoning” should have told you that. No sin has more weight in God’s eyes, they are all the same.

  70. Monty says:

    Lloyd,

    I said, nothing about one sin being greater than another. You assumed that instruments was a sin, and lumped it in with lying. .”I believe instruments, Lying, Adultery, Idolatry” ….I simply asked where you came up with instruments being a sin? Where is that one located? I can show you plenty of the others where they are located. If Jesus commanded everyone to play an instrument, then everyone would have to play regardless if they knew how or not, that would be quite chaotic and to not play would be heresy, if commanded. Clearly God doesn’t command instruments(for good reason), but he doesn’t forbid them either.

    But while we are on the topic, I take it you believe that, we are not under a constant state of grace, and that every sin committed must be said a prayer of “I’m sorry Lord forgive me”,in order to be cleansed “again.” If you die without asking forgiveness for that one sin, you’re doomed. Now perhaps that’s not what you believe and I’m assuming wrongly. But it sounds a lot like we are saved by self will. If you try hard enough you can overcome, if you don’t, you won’t.

  71. Paul McGinty says:

    Jay wrote,
    “Christians who violate the teachings of Gal 5:1-7 are in danger of falling from grace. I’ve already explained how I believe certain conservative Church of Christ teachings violate this passage — particularly the claim that certain practices, such as instrumental music, damn even when participated in by faithful baptized believers in all good faith, utterly without rebellion.”
    Jay
    And of course Gal 5:1-7 does not apply to liberal churches of Christ. You bring up the instrument again, yet you and your congregations worship a cappella. Now I’ll go out on a limb here and say even though you claim it is a tradition, you will not worship with an instrument because (I could be wrong here) the congregation would see it as wrong, right? You condemn someone who says you can’t worship with an instrument, yet you worship without an instrument. And of course you only do this because it is ‘long heritage of a cappella worship’,
    You state : “I’m gratified that Paul’s teaching in Galatians seems to be primarily pointed at those who teach this error, as opposed to their victims.
    So why aren’t the Christians who violate the teachings/doctrines of Galatians ‘who teach error’ not afforded the grace to cover their error as you firmly believe. Or is it only doctrines that don’t cause one to fall from grace? Those who teach the error are damned but not those who believe the error?
    You state: I have not declared him damned. I’ve said he teaches a false gospel. I believe that, and I’ve studied the issue in great detail. I think the right thing to do is to warn those who are in jeopardy because they appear to be in violation of Galatians.
    Well since we are sticking with Galatians ’if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.’ Gal 1:9. So in fact you do declare him damned. As you have already stated ‘And this is not only false, it’s false because he makes the error condemned by Paul in Galatians.’ Again it’s not an error it’s a flat out false gospel which you believe, to which as you say the Apostle Paul condemns.
    You state: Frankly, I was none too happy when my studies of Galatians led me to this conclusion, because I knew that having seen this, I’m obligated to issue a warning. And I knew I’d be criticized for not being gracious on this issue when I’m so gracious on others. ‘
    Again since we are studying Galatians, the Apostle Paul didn’t issue a ‘warning’ he flat out condemned those who would preach a different gospel, in fact he would go so far as to say ‘I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves,’ Strong condemnation indeed, your not obligated to issue a warming, if you go by Galatians your obligated to condemn, but will you?
    ‘But this particular error divides the church. It causes Christians to declare Christians of all other denominations to be damned.’ Aren’t we calling the kettle black on this? I never meet someone so damning (particularly to conservatives) than yourself.
    You state : “And it makes it impossible for Christendom to display the unity for which Jesus prayed”
    Your wed-site is one in Jesus (which I am absolutely for, I’m just wondering (I could be wrong here) have you reached out to brother Shank because you desire that oneness with him? I’m not talking I‘ve read his book, he’s a false teacher so I will condemn him, I’m talking getting together and seeking unity?
    You state: “And I don’t think the Christian Chronicle has “endorsed” point of view. They’ve reported it.”
    I think giving someone a two page spread in their paper is a huge endorsement. I think the good people at the Christian Chronicle have the biblical sense to know that if Michael Shank is a false teacher, teaching a false gospel (which you clearly believe) would give him a two page spread to promote his false gospel. That would be insane. This guys a false teacher, with a false gospel, sending people to hell but hey we’ll do a two page article on him and his book. Also in that article Brittany Clements reads Shanks book and is baptized and says “thanks to your guidance in the book…I am finally finding the truth I have been craving for years.’ But Jay that can’t be right, because Shank is a false teacher, giving a false gospel which sadly Brittany has embraced.
    To be continued

  72. Lloyd says:

    Of course I believe one can fall from grace or the Bible wouldn’t have taught it. We have to ask forgiveness of our sins if we are to be forgiven. There is no such thing as “once saved always saved”. No one is perfect and we will all fall short of the glory of God. About the instruments, It is the fact that it is not authorized….. If God authorized it then it would be ok. He did not so where the Bible is Silent I must be also.

  73. Paul McGinty says:

    Jay You state: “Would you argue that “iniquities” does not include doctrinal error? Do you seriously contend that any doctrinal error at all damns?
    On the other hand, I’m sure we agree that some doctrinal error does damn. If you deny that Jesus is the Christ, you are not saved. So how do we draw the line? Well, I offered my understanding in the post. What is yours? Where is the line? Or do you contend that every error damns?”
    Ok so then we agree doctrinal error is a sin, as you state ‘“Would you argue that “iniquities” does not include doctrinal error? Sin is lawlessness, we would agree, so then wouldn’t we also agree that doctrinal error is lawlessness? And yet you claim grace can cover some lawlessness, in regards to doctrinal error but will not cover others, the example you give to deny Jesus is the Christ and then you ask ‘so how do we draw the line?’ first of all still waiting for the passage that States ‘graces cover our doctrinal error. You quote Isa 53????????????
    Well since you bring up Isa 53 you will notice the very opening reads ‘Who has believed our message…’ of course you can’t if the message is in error not matter how much grace covers it. Also verse 13 ‘by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many……’ Again how can the servant be justified if the knowledge is in error? Really can’t see how Isa 53 says anything about ‘grace covers doctrinal error.’
    The Apostle Paul (as I think you will agree) is the champion of grace, a recipient of grace and taught of God’s magnificence grace, but the same Apostle is constantly warning us of doctrinal error more than anyone else. As an example, he condemns Hymenaeus and Philetus, and their belief that the resurrection was already past (2 Tim. 2:15-18). This is decidedly doctrinal, not moral. You may say well this is doctrinal error that damns as long as it’s not a salvation issue? So list the doctrines that Jesus gave us that do damn and the ones that do not.
    Again the Apostle Paul, the chief exponent of salvation by grace, would not tolerate such doctrinal error. In all the places he mentions doctrine (and please check) not once does he state grace covers doctrinal error. Watch your doctrine and life closely (he would tell Timothy). Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers 4:15-16 The same Apostle would also give this charge command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 1:3 a far cry from grace covers your doctrinal errors.
    The only time Our Lord Jesus uses the term error in regards to doctrine is to condemn it not to endorse that grace covers it Mark 12:18-27 their doctrinal error they don’t believe in the resurrection. As Christ Himself would state a true disciple is one who holds to my teachings John 8:31 The church in Pergamos was rebuked for holding to doctrinal errors of Balaam and the Nicolatians. Also the church in Thyatira. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, you can’t Lord one over the other. Yes Jesus I’ll take your grace but you won’t mind the errors of your truth.
    Once again and this will settle the matter just post the passage that states ‘grace covers our doctrinal errors’ and I will concede the matter. You say Where is the line? Or do you contend that every error damns?” My line, what I contend ‘What shall we say then shall we go on sinning that grace may increase? By no means we died to sin how can we live in it any longer,’ As doctrinal error is a sin, as you clearly point out, shall we carry on in doctrinal error? As the Apostle would state how can we. The line: as Jude would sate there are those who would change grace into a license for immorality. Of course there is nothing immoral about doctrinal error. And as the Apostle Paul would tell Titus in 2:11-14 graces teaches us to say no to sin. Doctrinal error is sin, graces teaches us to say no to doctrinal error.
    To be continued

  74. Paul McGinty says:

    Llyod you say ‘If God authorized it then it would be ok. He did not so where the Bible is Silent I must be also.’ The churches of Christ have spent billions of dollars building buildings and yet God has not authorized it. The bible is indeed silent, so must you be silent on building buildings?

  75. Lloyd says:

    Now you are being rediculous. The structure in which we worship has no bearing on the Worship we offer to God. They worshiped by the river side, they worshiped under ground, in houses, and in many other places. The place means nothing to God, it is the Worship that pleases him and he did not Authorize the use of instruments to worship Him.

  76. Johnny says:

    Paul, Lloyd is an example of what Jay is saying. He would consider me lost during the 40 years I was a professing believer who worshipped in a Baptist Church.

  77. Johnny says:

    And from my reading of his work so would Mr Shank.

  78. Monty says:

    Lloyd’

    Can you give book chapter and verse where God authorized prayer in the OT? Did God authorize singing before the Israelites broke out in song after crossing the Red Sea? Did God authorize Miriam to get out the tambourine and lead all the ladies in a dance and song of worship? Where does it say that God authorized men to call on Him, before men did so, in Genesis 4:26. Were those people wrong because God hadn’t authorized it ?

    Where is man commanded(authorized) to pray to God, before the scriptures speak of someone actually doing it? Are all those who prayed to God without being authorized, doomed? What about those who fasted before God, where is the authorization for that? Are they condemned or did God accept their attempts at humility and worship? Where is the Lords Supper authorized every week? If it isn’t authorized specifically every week then we can’t do so without sinning (according to you). How often we take it isn’t authorized, right? The only authorization is “as often as you do this.”To say or believe someone is going to hell(even someone baptized for the remission of sins) who doesn’t observe it every Sunday is man binding tradition on man. What do you believe about that Lloyd? Would it be OK (in your opinion) to take the Communion on a Wednesday night in addition to Sunday. Wouldn’t that honor Jesus’ command? (“as often as you do this”) What about just skip Sunday morning altogether and take it Sunday night, like Paul did in Acts 20, of course(tell the members in advance)or would they run you out of town on a rail, for heresy? Why wouldn’t that be OK, Lloyd? Tradition maybe?

    What about giving? Every Sunday, right? What about the member who gives once a month, when their SS check comes in? Are they sinning Lloyd? It isn’t “authorized” on a monthly basis, is it?Could you give us a thorough check list of all the practices that cause damnation? Hand-clapping? Praise teams? Do you or your group, believe the sick should call for the elders to pray over them and “anoint them with oil?” Isn’t that specifically authorized? Lots of people did religious things, worshipful things, before, or without being “authorized” to do so.

  79. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Paul,

    I’ll be responding only briefly to your comment, having invested so much time already in this conversation.

    Frankly, I stopped reading at “Really can’t see how Isa 53 says anything about ‘grace covers doctrinal error.’” If your contention is that there is no grace for error, then we’re all damned. I’m sorry that you hold to a doctrine that grants so very little hope.

  80. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    HistoryGuy!! Delighted to have you back. The best kind of commenters are the ones who actually persuade me I’m wrong — and HistoryGuy did much more than his fair share of setting me straight. (Not that he’s always right, of course.)

    As I recall, you had your fair share of health issues. I hope you are doing well, as well. I’m much improved. Today I worked nearly 8 hours — so nearly up to a full work day!!!

  81. Paul McGinty says:

    Jay
    Is that a round about way saying I can’t really answer you? You stopped reading because you know you couldn’t reply and you knew you were being convicted. Frankly I’m amazed that I went as far as I did with your comments, most of them bizarre indeed. But you did reply so I did feel obligated to respond. When someone who claims to be biblical and makes a statement like ‘grace covers doctrinal errors, see Isa 53 clearly shows this, it’s time to hang up. A last point proves your reasoning, once again a bizarre comment ‘” If your contention is that there is no grace for error, then we’re all damned. I’m sorry that you hold to a doctrine that grants so very little hope.’ Please post for everyone to read my contention that there is no grace for error? Truly amazing since we are discussing doctrines. But then again that tells it all doesn’t it.
    I’m sorry that you have an incredible cheap view of grace and throw grace around like it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re covered. I have a confident hope in our Lord and I hold to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m sorry that I‘ve had discussions with (and sadly an elder), one of the most condemning men in the church. In all sincerity I pray that your bitterness and condemning attitude don’t consume you.
    In Him
    Paul

  82. hist0ryguy says:

    Jay,
    I am wrong daily, sometimes twice! Yes, I have learned to live with my health, and been busy with homeless families, preaching, academic pursuit, and welcoming sanctification. I never left, just posted less. I could not help but chime in last night after realizing this thread is grappling with at least four complex and passionate issues: the visible & invisible church, covenant & spiritual worship, a high view of salvation & low view of sanctification, and the path toward apostasy vs. apostate. I will leave those issues to everyone already immersed in them.

    Regarding the book, I appreciate the author sharing his story of migration to churches of Christ. I am partial, sure, and believe the Stone-Campbell Movement (SCM) has much to offer Christendom, today. 1st generation leaders in the SCM had their convictions while being gracious to the “Christians in the sects.” However, Muscle and a Shovel reflects a fairly hard-line 20th Century COC perspective. I agree with you that the book contains several grammatical issues and logical fallacies. Additionally, it is my opinion the author would benefit from and appreciate a different theological trajectory, which would allow him to affirm most of his convictions while being more gracious to others.

    I am sure you will agree that either this blog or The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement is a good place for him to begin.

  83. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    HG,

    I urged Michael to read The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace, which is a free download available at this site. It wrestles with the core issues you identify and does so with a Church of Christ readership in mind. Couldn’t disagree with either this blog or the ESCM, as well.

  84. Jay – I know we’ve had discussions in other posts about related issues, but I think your statements here can be re-framed.
    “So what’s the difference between requiring a cappella singing or weekly communion or a plurality of elders as a condition of salvation and circumcision as a condition of salvation? Both add to faith in Jesus. Both make faith insufficient. None are faith working through love.”

    If these are works down because of trust in Jesus, then they are a part of faith working through love. If one assumes that faithfulness means trust in Jesus, and trust in Jesus means doing what he says, and if what he says is clear on these matters (ah, back to our knowability discussion), then these are a part of faith working in love. Now, I understand that one can view these things as check list items of a legal system of salvation by works, but what if we don’t put them in that framework, but rather in the framework of a relationship based on love, but that it has rules, and if we follow those commands then we show our faith working in love?

  85. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Justin wrote,

    If these [requiring a cappella singing or weekly communion or a plurality of elders as a condition of salvation] are works done because of trust in Jesus, then they are a part of faith working through love.

    It’s a tempting argument to make, but why wasn’t circumcision a work done because of trust in Jesus? It seems clear that the Judaizing teachers were nominally Christians, claimed faith in Jesus, and insisted on circumcision as a matter of obedience and salvation. If they’d confessed Jesus as Lord, then they considered themselves to be obedient to Jesus. Indeed, they would have surely argued from God’s covenant language with Abraham that circumcision was very closely tied to Abraham’s faith — the faith that Christians are called to emulate, as Paul himself argues. I say this because in Gal 3/Rom 4, Paul rejects this argument — surely because it was being made.

  86. Gary Vance says:

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

    I appreciate the strong affirmation John gives to the “once saved, always saved” position that Baptists espouse. His concluding remarks in the his first epistle brings great focus to the idea that those who have put their faith in Jesus have entered into eternal life already…not hoping to gain eternal life in the future, but currently possessing this gift. The logical question that must be answered is this…How long is eternal? One who has entered into eternal life cannot re-enter the temporal zone of non-eternal life…or it was not eternal, but temporal. The Church of Christ cannot be counted as authoritative on the peripheral issues of faith as long as it misses the central theme of salvation through faith in Jesus.

  87. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    I don’t mind readers posting their views on the perseverance of the saints (POTS), but I don’t want the Comments to be a debate on that topic. We’ve covered that ground several times, and the focus of the current posts is the disagreements between the conservative and more progressive elements of the Churches of Christ, both of which reject POTS (with some exceptions, of course).

  88. Glenn Ziegler says:

    Gary,

    What makes you think “eternal” life is a durational term? In – depth examination of both the term and it’s usage in the inspired scriptures reveals a term most often descriptive of quality, NOT duration. So why do you assume it is about duration of life, and not quality of life?

    Grizz

  89. Gary Vance says:

    Hello Jay, I am a pastor serving a non-denominational church in Tennessee. I found your site after doing a Google search on “Muscle and a Shovel.” A Baptist man I know was given a copy of the book and is offended by the hard line Church of Christ doctrine that judges all other flavors of faith as deceived and bound for hell. I am well acquainted with Church of Christ doctrine and have had many friends over the years who are members of the church. I must say I am delighted to find your reproof of this doctrine and warmed by your advocacy for accepting that many believers legitimately claim salvation apart from the tradition you have chosen.

    You are the moderator of this delightful forum and I will happily submit to your ultimate decision regarding the acceptability, direction and relevance of my comments. I didn’t realize you wanted to narrow the contributors down to just members of the Church of Christ as you discuss your differences of Bible interpretation among yourselves.

    My interest in this conversation has to do with the core foundational essence of the Gospel rather than simply the POS which I view as an inseparable side effect. One’s understanding of scriptures is critical and I’m hoping to more clearly articulate what I believe and preach as I encourage my Baptist friend and others in the defense of their faith. I also want to clearly understand your position as well. I fully concur with your gracious statement, “But those who’ve confessed Jesus as Lord and Messiah are saved and added to the only church that there is or ever will be.” Also, I readily agree with, “This is not say that obedience and works don’t matter, but that they aren’t the path to salvation. They are, rather, evidence of salvation because they are fruit of the Spirit — which only the saved have.”

    I too believe the first part of your following statement, but differ with you on the latter part, “And they’ll get some of it right and some of it wrong. Perfection will not be achieved in this lifetime — and grace is there to cover our mistakes, both our moral errors and our doctrinal errors — so long as we don’t surrender our faith, our repentance, or our trust and so leave the church via the path by which we entered.”

    The implication drawn from your statement is that salvation is entered by a path of faith, repentance and trust (which I fully agree), maintained by these same three dynamics and can likewise be exited by a loss of one or more of the same three.

    I am puzzled by your concept of the Holy Spirit’s position of residency in the human soul and role in salvation. Are you saying that coming into the Church is what constitutes salvation rather than receiving the Holy Spirit? Which comes first? Do you view them as synonymous and simultaneous? You seem to view the soul as similar to a container of a liquid that can be poured in or poured out by human choice. I, however, view the Spirit entering a human as an act of conception…precipitated by faith, repentance and trust…creating a whole new being through spiritual reproduction…resulting in one entering into the Body of Christ (the Church) and eternal life. Yes, eternal life…nothing less and not probationary.

    Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be spiritually born again to be saved. Yes, there is an intellectual and willful process required of a human to receive God’s salvation that involves faith, repentance and trust. Those three actions precipitate receiving the Holy Spirit which produces the required spiritual new birth. My understanding is that this action causes the regeneration of a human soul and produces a new eternal being that cannot be aborted or reversed….an action which produces eternal life in the here and now.

    I will happily bow out of your conversation if you do not wish to engage me on these matters. Regardless…blessings to you and I must say I am encouraged to read the reasonable positions you advocate.

  90. Gary Vance says:

    Hello Glenn (Grizz), You raise an interesting question regarding the meaning of the word “eternal” (aionios).
    I believe John would have chosen a different word if he wanted to encourage the reader in regards to the “quality” of life one attains by faith in Jesus. Perhaps he would have chosen the same word Jesus used for “abundantly” (perissos) when He said in John 10: 10 “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

    I find nothing in the context of this passage implying anything other than everlasting spiritual life when John uses the word eternal (aionios). A Christian living by the precepts of the Bible and guided by the Holy Spirit is acquainted with the joy produced by the “abundant” life and generally does not need scripture to affirm this peaceful state of living. However, due to the limitations of human intellect and reasoning, most believers struggle to grasp the unfathomable riches of God’s love, grace and mercy which ushers the believer into the “eternal” life rendered as a result of saving faith in Jesus. I believe John’s intention was to allay doubt and fear regarding one’s secure standing through the new birth.

    John wanted the reader to understand, salvation through Jesus, though initiated by a willful and intellectual decision, actuates spiritual regeneration, producing a new, created, eternal being that cannot be undone through a reversal of one’s will or intellect.

    Glancing through my concordance and lightly examining the passages, I find nary an instance supporting your idea regarding quality of life as opposed to the eternal duration of time when the word “eternal” is used.

  91. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gary V,

    I reject POTS and OSAS based heavily on Hebrews, in which a major theme is to avoid the real danger of falling away due to unbelief or rebellion. (And I take c. 11 to be an amazing lesson on faith as trust.) And I think Paul agrees —

    (Gal 2:11 ESV) 11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

    And Gal 5:1-7, with which I’m sure you’re familiar.

    We’ve often discussed Calvinism here and I’ve explained my views many times and have been challenged many times. And there are regular readers here with whom I disagree, but they remain welcome to participate, and they do.

    It’s just that I’ve only got so much time in the day, and in addition to chatting in the comment section, I really need to finish up my posts on M&S. So I try to keep things fairly close to the topic at hand — but I’m not very good at it.

    I’ve not said much about the Spirit because the topic hasn’t come up in M&S yet. My views are fairly orthodox (I teach the personal indwelling, as fulfillment of Deu 30:6 and many passages in Jer and Eze and a very cool parallel with Exodus). I just see too many passages about falling away, but I think the normal course of a Christian’s life with God is to become saved, receive the Spirit, remain saved, die, and experience the resurrection into eternal life. That is, I think the ordinary case is perseverance; but just as the elect of Israel who rebelled against God died in the desert, so can we. I think that’s what Hebrews teaches.

    You are welcome to explain why I’m dead wrong, but I’ll most likely not reply further on that topic. Got some writing to do …

  92. Pingback: "Muscle & Shovel": Chapter 8C (Everyone Else Goes to Hell, Part 2) | One In JesusOne In Jesus

  93. Clint says:

    “So what’s the difference between requiring a cappella singing or weekly communion or a plurality of elders as a condition of salvation and circumcision as a condition of salvation? Both add to faith in Jesus. Both make faith insufficient. None are faith working through love.”

    However, acts of worship and church structure are specified – commanded – in the New Testament. Circumcision is not.

  94. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Clint,

    Are you saying that obedience to every NT command is a requirement for salvation?

  95. Musical instruments have not divided the church over the centuries. This is simple nonsense. Actually, the only sizable group who does not use musical instruments is the Orthodox, and they will tell you that this is not a doctrine but a tradition. They certainly do not make issue with anyone over it. That leaves a couple of small denominations who have an issue with it. In the grand scheme, it’s a tempest in a teapot. I know this is a huge deal in the CoC, but I really wish my CoC brothers could see from the perspective of the rest of the body of Christ –that it is nothing more than a minor curiosity, like the Amish wearing black or Oneness Pentecostal ladies not cutting their hair, or Mennonite sisters wearing ugly shoes.

  96. Charlsie pritchard says:

    Jay–what’s the matter with me?(4th generation coc) I was so relieved when this topic came to an end,an was so looking forward to a discussion of the Psalms but this morning the blog came up in it’s entirety–I read the ‘whole thing’ over. It was a much needed conversation and was conducted in the most part with respect and politeness. I’m not sure anyone could have moderated this but you. Thanks so much for what you do,please take care of your health issues -I am praying for your recovery,as I’m sure are all your other daily readers–again thanks charlsie

  97. Clint says:

    “Are you saying that obedience to every NT command is a requirement for salvation?”

    I’m saying the effort to obey is the least we can do. Blatant disregard for God’s instructions just can’t be a good idea, can it? What other commands can we choose to disobey then? Certainly none of us are going to be sinless; however, I for one am going to do all I can to not just ignore God’s instructions. I don’t think that’s the intent of grace. Paul didn’t think so either – Rom 6:1.

  98. Jay’s assertion that grace covers error is an important one, but it does push open another door of discussion. Actually, it simply brings into the light what has been tacitly divisive for so long. The assertion is that while there is grace for the believer who does wrong or who believes wrong, that grace is not all-encompassing. We have actually believed this for years without verbalizing it. We simultaneously declare that our obedience is not entirely perfect AND that we must obey God completely or be damned. The conclusion is obvious: according to this standard, we are all damned. But we don’t believe that WE are damned by this circumstance. We hold two inconsistent views on the subject. This incongruity leads us to the question, “Well, just what does grace cover and what does it NOT cover?” That question is not well answered, because it leaves the defendants sitting on the jury trying to rule on each other. We stagger about with this issue, tossing around ideas like “doing our best” or “following the plan of salvation” and talking about other people’s sins as though they were felonies while ours are mere misdemeanors. It’s all relative nonsense with us winding up “not like other men are” and invariably better than they. We are not getting anywhere with this, except to bite and devour one another.

    The only legitimate answer to this conundrum is a radical one. That is, we must entirely drop our self-defense and accusation and self-righteousness and acknowledge that neither our own good works nor our evil works matter as to whether or not we are saved. We are saved by faith. While this sounds radical, I am of the opinion that it is not that far from us. No, I believe the only real problem we have in accepting this reality is that we are inexcusably, indefensibly, astonishingly PROUD. We are proud enough to feel qualified to judge whether or not another man has faith in Jesus. (This is a task, BTW, never EVER assigned to us.) We cannot seem to help ourselves from sorting the sheep from the goats (again, not our job) and pulling the tares out of the wheatfield (again, not our… oh, you get the picture). Can you imagine what would happen to us if we could (my most radical fantasy) just STOP DOING THAT?

    Here are some things that would NOT happen: 1. Correction about doctrine would not cease, nor even need to slow down. We would simply have to stop putting those “Express Shipping to Hell” stickers on select targets. We can still teach each other. But we have so long had this habit of trying to manipulate other believers by literally scaring the hell out of them, that we have forgotten how to really speak the truth in love– because our love today ends where you don’t do what we say. Can you imagine that a believer might learn better without our gun to his head? 2. Believers would not simply “live however they want”. Why? Because God (again, not our job) is forming us into the likeness of Christ. HE disciplines his sons, not you-know-who. (You’re sensing a theme by now, I hope.) God is faithful and pretty darn good at his job of fathering. My daddy was a strict disciplinarian, but he never used me to discipline my younger brother. Wise dad. 3. No unbeliever would get to heaven illegally because they got past our screening process and God failed to catch ‘em sneaking across the border. 4. We would not have any more heresy to deal with in the church than we do already. Do we really not understand that all this division we have created by our judgment makes it EASIER for heresy to take root?

    OTOH, here are some things which would happen: without our judging each other’s spiritual status, division would decline. We would not need to divide so much, because disagreeing- in and of itself- would not have to divide us. We would be suddenly safe in each other’s company. We would be more likely to listen to each other about our incorrect understandings. Why? For the same reason you listen to your loving father better than you listen to some stranger threatening you with imminent, horrible death. So, without our taking turns holding Damocles’ sword over each other, we could build trust among the body of Christ. We would turn our efforts to the truly lost, those who do not know Jesus, since we would be out of the sheep-sorting business. Having no one else to hold up to examination, we might even let God apply that process to ourselves, and finally see the beam in our own eye.

    Not one more person would be saved or lost the day we stopped judging each other’s faith. Because our judging never got anyone saved nor did God ever take our word for whom to condemn. But life as believers would be a lot sweeter; we would grow up into the Head much more readily; and once we sold off the guillotine, we might even start to be identified not by how well we know who’s damned, but by our love for one another.

    Is our black robe really SO hard to hang up?

  99. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Clint,

    I entirely agree that blatant disregard of God’s commands is a very serious offense. However, that is rarely the case. If you and I disagree about the sinfulness of instruments and I choose to worship with instruments prayerfully convinced that God approves of such worship, I have not blatantly disregarded God’s will even if I’m wrong. We can’t impute bad motives to our opponents to win a doctrinal debate.

    No one is arguing for intentional violation of God’s will. That is not the subject at hand. Rather, if the Christian Churches, for example, worship with instruments in good conscience, having prayerfully considered the issue, are they saved by grace even if in error as to instruments? We cannot presume evil intent.

    Now if grace covers other sins continuously, as taught in 1 John 1:7, how do we have the right to declare certain errors as outside of grace? We are like the Catholics except our “mortal sins” are instrumental worship and quarterly communion. We make some sins damning regardless of the heart of the sinner — all so we can damn “the denominations,” and it’s wrong.

    Grace covers the sin of Christians unless and until they fall away. Period. They fall away by rebellion — deliberately continuing in sin (Heb 10:26-27).

    Sin is sin and covered by grace whether it derives from moral weakness or intellectual weakness. We cannot declare that doctrinal error is outside of grace unless we are willing to assert that we are doctrinally perfect — and we most certainly are not. Besides, God rewards the humble. not the proud. To claim perfection in doctrine is nothing but arrogant — and always wrong.

  100. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Charlsie,

    Thanks for the note. I’m presently in the hospital with pleurisy. Hit me Tuesday. Felt like a kidney stone – except worse. And narcotics made it hurt even more. Really. Unbelievable pain.

    But antibiotics and antivirals settled it down by the end of the day — leaving me to endure days of testing to see what really happened. But I should be discharged tomorrow. And the pain has been minor since late Tuesday.

    I’m guessing that it’s a result of the sepsis earlier this year. Sepsis attacks all the organs, which may have set this up.

  101. bill walker says:

    I grew up in the Methodist church & never heard of the ‘church of Christ’ until I was a freshman in college. I began a serious study of the scriptures at that time & quickly came to the conclusion that the teachings of the ‘church of Christ’ mirrored the teachings of the New Testament church, to a degree that no other denomination came close.

    For those in denominations who are shown the truth about baptism from the Scriptures, but adamantly reject that truth, does Jay teach that God shrugs His shoulders & does not hold them accountable to that intentional rejection?

    When I studied the Scriptures on my path to conversion I learned that the only way to escape condemnation was to be ‘in Christ’ (Rom. 8:1). Then I saw that the way to be ‘in Christ’ was to be immersed into Christ (Gal. 3:27). Those not immersed into Christ are not ‘in Christ’ & therefore subject to God’s condemnation.
    .

    Having grown up in a denominational church I can assure you the liberal & disrespectful attitude towards God’s word is sickening. It amazes me that so many of my brethren seem to want to embrace this same liberal, disrespectful attitude.

    I left family & friends to turn from Methodism (which is no where found in the Bible). Mr. Guin apparently would say I endured that pain needlessly. It was needless because Mr. Guin appears to teach that IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT ANYONE BELIEVES. God’s grace covers everything. No where in the Scriptures is this false teaching taught.

    Muscle & a Shovel teaches the truth, Jay Guin teaches false doctrine.

    –bill walker/professor/faulkner university

  102. Monty says:

    I think I just heard Jay return to his computer. :-)

  103. Well, many folks do take on new beliefs at age 18 and never outgrow them. This happens across the spectrum of faith. But in this case, the painfully poor reasoning demonstrated by a gentleman who holds academic credentials at a CoC university does not speak well for that institution. Sometimes passion loosens our grip on reason.

  104. Kevin says:

    Charles,
    You’re response is hardly any better than Mr. Walkers. Rather than dealing with what he wrote (and I am not suggesting that I agree with his conclusions), you attack his reasoning abilities and insinuate that he is perhaps irrational. You then stereotype an entire academic institution based on six paragraphs in a blog.

  105. Larry Cheek says:

    Mr Walker,
    Are you of the opinion just as Mr Shank has professed, that no believer can be immersed into the body of Christ unless it is performed with the oversight of a member of The Church of Christ? Now if you have not arrived at that conclusion from reading the book, please direct me to the portion of the book that does not convey that message.

  106. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Bill,

    Please explain to the readers —

    1. Why you label me a “liberal”? A “liberal” in theological circles is someone who denies such supernatural elements of the scriptures as inspiration, resurrection, and miracles. I deny none of these. So why the label?

    2. You declare “Mr. Guin appears to teach that IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT ANYONE BELIEVES.” Just where did I teach this? Because I know it’s just not true.

    3. You accuse me of teaching “God’s grace covers everything.” Again, where did I teach this? I don’t believe it to be true, and if I taught it by mistake, I need to correct the post.

    4. You seem to assume that I have a “disrespectful attitude towards God’s word.” Again, where have I been “disrespectful” toward the scriptures? I understand that there are those who disagree with many of my interpretations of the text, but I would be devastated to think that someone believes I’m not trying to honor God’s word. I strongly believe, and often teach, that those who are saved must respect the scriptures, based on —

    (1Jo 4:6 ESV) We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

    My critiques of Muscle & Shovel will be found at http://oneinjesus.info/muscle-shovel-review/. It’s quite a lot of material, but I try to be thorough and understand what the other guy is saying before I criticize him in a public forum.

    I do disagree with Shank, for many reasons, but not because I’m liberal, disrespect the scriptures, or believe the things you accuse me of. I’m happy to discuss the real reasons Shank and I disagree. You see, I think Shank teaches contrary to the scriptures — and I respect those scriptures so very much that I couldn’t stand by silently.

  107. Larry Cheek says:

    Mr Walker,
    Considering your credentials, professor/faulkner university, believing that you may be able to accurately determine messages in scripture, leads me to ask a question about one of your communications.
    “When I studied the Scriptures on my path to conversion I learned that the only way to escape condemnation was to be ‘in Christ’ (Rom. 8:1).”

    My question is concerning the the escape from condemnation that you mentioned. While studying the scriptures that told of men who were teaching and the men who were committing their lives to Christ, I did not encounter the concept that the purpose for their commitments was to avoid or escape condemnation. Those on The day of Pentecost might possibly have feared condemnation, but that is not an absolute, their statement actually is more in tune with the concept that they desired to be within God’s favor, you see they really thought that they were purging false teaching from God’s people The Jews, something they were commanded to do by the Law . While becoming aware that the actions they performed were in opposition to God they desired to amend their actions to be accepted. Do you see these men as motivated from fearing condemnation?
    Reading the remaining accounts written portraying men committing to follow Jesus, I do not find fear of condemnation as being the driving force for changes in their lives. Therefore, I see escape of condemnation as a totally selfish act, escape of condemnation as the driving force for commitment to God can be performed by an individual without an ounce of Love for God or Christ. We should all know that God’s desire is our Love, stated from the beginning and throughout scripture.
    With the mindset not containing Love produces all kinds of abnormal understanding of scriptures. Remember what is quoted in scripture, about those who do not love truth, (God).

    In response to your statement:
    “For those in denominations who are shown the truth about baptism from the Scriptures, but adamantly reject that truth, does Jay teach that God shrugs His shoulders & does not hold them accountable to that intentional rejection?”
    You have erroneously arrived at this concept because of the lack of reading Jay’s comments. Jay has repeatedly attested to the fact that he holds men responsible for intentional rejection of any direct commands in scriptures. Intentional rejection is to be condemned.

  108. Vick says:

    Jay
    I have enjoyed reading these comments but outside of all these vast opinions and truths we are back to an overall belief of faith through grace. Jesus is the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Him. It appears that there is much confusion by many who think they are “the way, the truth, and the life.” Maybe some of the pharisaical views of those (including me) that have become so legalistic will be changed and they will come to the Father as children. Thank you for your love and trust in our Lord and Savior.

  109. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Vick,

    Thank you.

  110. Tina says:

    What is cofc???? I know coc is CHURCH OF CHRIST. What is the F in there???

  111. Mr. Al says:

    “Jesus saith unto him, I am THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me”. It seems if anyone who TRULY understands what Jesus is saying to us in John 14:6, they would not be on this page arguing utter minutia. Additionally, how can Jesus be any more explicit than His declarations in Matthew 21:25 and Matthew 15:7-9? He describes organized man made religions with all contempt in Matthew 23 There is not a better description of the modern visible churches than the one Jesus provides in Matthew 23;27. Please do not come back at me that Jesus was speaking ONLY to the people of that time. Such a response denies who Jesus is. I am a former member of the COC, and after leaving their environment of Scripture abuse, I was then placed on the enemies’ list of the church’s leader, which was borrowed not only by other members of that specific congregation, but other’s as well. I fail to see any Jesus in that kind of behavior which is apparently a common practice in the COC The “errors” within the COC far exceed doctrinal. Their abuses and applications of Scripture to inflict guilt and shame on others, is unacceptable.

  112. Dwight says:

    One of the biggest problems within the “conservative” coC is labeling. It is easy to do and once done hard to undo so it creates a fear factor. If you do something different, let’s say eat communion around a table, you will be labeled a “liberal” or “progressive” or in the worst case “sinful”, even though you are closer to how the original LS was conducted. This is because once you declare your system superior and right, then anything out of that system is inferior and wrong. Now having said this there are many things within the coC theology that are right, but not all things and you should not judge others by a different set of rules than what you apply or don’t apply to yourself.
    It seems Bill has moved from one doctrinal belief system to another and puts his faith now on this system, thus this system will never be wrong. God’s grace doesn’t cover everything, but it does cover everyone, otherwise we would all be lost even if we did many things that are Godly. We maynot all be in a life boat, but we are all on the same ocean and we need to respect that.

  113. Kevin says:

    Labeling is not unique among conservative churches of Christ. I have been among both those on the right and the left, and I have heard labeling emanating from both. For every “liberal” / “progressive” / “sinful” label from the right, I have heard “legalist” / “patternist” / “sinful” from the left.

  114. Ann says:

    Wow! I went to the COC for over 30 years. My husband was a elder for over 15 years. We left the COC for a number of reasons. When I read all this back and forth it just must make our Savior so sad for his children to be fighting and debating Him. When we debate Jesus all we do is inflate our own egos with how much we think we know. Jesus is never glorified or honored when debates like this go on. I love Jesus more now than I ever have and I know I am in Him and His Holy Spirit is in me. That is what Jesus told his disciples that was going to happen. He had to leave so His Spirit could come to live in His children.
    I makes me so sad that books like this come out and make the COC look so arrogant. I think so many people will be surprised who they will see in heaven.
    If we spent as much time worshiping and praising Him as we do debating Him some amazing things would happen.
    This is the verse that comes to my mind.
    Matthew 11:30. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
    God does not want us to be lawyers of His word but lovers of it. He had the Pharrasies for that!

  115. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Ann,
    Certainly the way in which some Christians (including posters here and myself) debate doctrine can be sad as you suggest, but I think you are entirely incorrect if you are suggesting that ANY debate / discussion is sad. In fact, I think most of the discussions on Jay’s blog are very helpful. Can those discussions be contentious at times? Sure. Is that necessarily a bad thing? No. According to Ray Vander Laan, our Western way of learning is SIGNIFICANTLY different than both the Eastern manner of contemporary Jews and 1st Century Judaism. IOW, there is nothing inherently wrong or sad with debating Christ or doctrine. Now, the manner in which we do so can be sad, and conclusions that we may draw from debate may be sad.

  116. One of the biggest flaws in the American church is the lack of healthy conflict among people who love each other more than the conflict. Rather than engage with our differences, we simply snort and split. This is not what God intends for us.

  117. Larry Cheek says:

    I believe that without disagreements and debating we would never see the full picture described in scriptures about some subjects. If we all just accepted what the educators taught to those who became our teachers Christianity would look very different today. Where would you be in you walk with the Lord if there had not been for men like Martin Luther? Would we still be listening to a message from one man? Or a government controlled message?

  118. Dwight says:

    One of the things I have been trying to do with my brethern is discuss, but we want to debate. It seems beyond most of us to look at the scriptures and talk about it as we want to take a position first and then defend our position or attack the others position. We mostly intend for our preacher to tell us how to be and can’t take it beyond that.
    I recently got badly burned by talking to another “brother” and found out that he took my personal words with him and he maliciously broadcast them on the internet grossly out of context. He judges me and everyone, but himself and his group as sinful and apostate. And then I got slammed again for having had the discussion with him by our preacher/elders after his broadcast was sent to the churches that consider themselves as conservative and our church was named in it. All for the sake of discussion. Obvously that didn’t deter me, but let it not deter anyone else. The more we talk of Christ in our lives, the more we should become like Him.

  119. Bequem says:

    I have problems of inconsistency when I read members of our brotherhood calling folks of different churches “dammed” (condemned). How can we do so if…

    1. We read all sorts of Bible translations done by them?

    2. We use and quote their commentaries and exegetical tools?

    3. We sing hymns and spiritual songs written and composed by them?

    4. We use and quote their books on all types of subjects, e.g., family and marriage counseling?

    5. We copy their ideas from building architecture to effective ministries?

    6. We keep an eye on their perception of a godless world out there?

    7. We use their best arguments and debates for the existence of God, Science and Faith, infallibility of Scripture, resurrection of Christ, etc.?

    * James 4.11-12

  120. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Bequem,

    Thanks for your note. I couldn’t agree more.

  121. Rick says:

    I find it Sad, seeing many comments and points made, countered. We forget to look at how we excuse things we do, as “God surely wont mind if….”

    I study, and this book has made me study more, why, because its NOT about ME, its about God.

    when we worship, its about GOD, I guess we excuse it and cover it with all kinds of label’s that allow us to have a clean soul, but when we worship, its for our GOD, not to make it easy on us, or sound better to us..

    I wont say anyone is going to hell, but I know its going to be filled with many who THINK they are right and who are good people. we have been told that not everyone will make it. so…

    study, and dont just take what anyone on these forms/blogs/sites says as GODs word or truth, but a warning… we have been given instructions, like a plan, label it how you want, call me what you want, but if GOD gives me instructions/example to use a cert. kind of “Fire”, I wont use any other than that which stated.

    I did see a statement I see worth repeating. “Grace is a gift for someone not deserving”, if we think we deserve it… well draw your own conclusions.

    Be careful , I see many CoC falling because its easy and they draw more young people in by twisting GODs word so it fits with todays culture or movement. Michael made a really good statement in his book. “todays generation will tolerate, and the nxt one will accecpt” Something like that. im sure its not exactly but you get the point. I see this going on, . alot these days, … young youth ministers breaking away, pulling many young adults , why, its more about “Them”, and “feeling”. and less about what GOD wants.

    not saying CoC are 100% correct, and many of them are in error, heven/hell thats for GOD to decide, but as for me and my house.. all you can do is present the truth, i see so many who think/feel that GOD wont care that we use instruments. I hope not, just remember who/why we worship… forget that and well, remember many good people who had great intentions “according to man” thought it would be ok.. to .. say use a different color fire?

    One big thing i got from this book is a better desire to study, and to try and use the example that “Randal” did in his approach, loving, kind .. but the truth, from GODs word.. I need to work on that

    I am glad Michael wrote this, I personally recommend this, if you have not read it, and just decide not to cause of all the hate spewed on forms or comments, then you will miss a good book and maybe some good information that would help you. if you start reading and stop cause u get mad or disagree… well, all i can do is pray for you. you where warned at the start.

    Peace to all, but lets not pretend unity and tolerance are the same thing.. be honest with our selves, the end is drawing close, and when Jesus comes, the “Fat lady has sung”.

  122. Mark says:

    Bequem wrote, “I have problems of inconsistency when I read members of our brotherhood calling folks of different churches “dammed” (condemned). How can we do so if…

  123. Mark says:

    Comment posted before I could finish it.

    I have heard people in the cofC brotherhood damn people on the same pew in the church who were baptised in a cofC baptistery.

  124. Saved says:

    Does anyone know what Jesus meant by being baptized? If not I encourage you to read your Bible and not listen to some preacher who was taught by the same Bible School preacher who was taught by the guy who taught them. Did they ever study the Living Word. I would say not. You can not be out of context in your study of the Bible when even children understand it. Let’s let the Holy Spirit dwell and quit being so religious so we can have a relationship with our Lord.

  125. Larry says:

    Dear Jay
    I found you comments in you Falling away section hard to follow and it seemed to me that you switched from the plan of salvation and those five acts, as you called it, to 5 acts of worship? Maybe this was a typo or maybe I just didn’t understand where you were going.

  126. Dwight says:

    Yes, I reread Jay’s comments and there does appear to be a switch from the plan of salvation to worship. There is often regarded “5 steps” towards salvation, but I have never heard of 5 acts of worship. But whatever the case, they “the steps” seek to undermine that man is saved and accepted on God’s terms and some of the steps may be present at the time or after. They were after all in Acts 2 only told to repent and be baptized, but it is assumed that they had faith, etc.

  127. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry (not Larry Cheek) wrote,

    it seemed to me that you switched from the plan of salvation and those five acts, as you called it, to 5 acts of worship

    I wrote,

    Moreover, the Plan of Salvation or Five Steps ignore the necessity of trusting Jesus for your salvation. And if I no longer trust Jesus, but instead wish to trust our Five Acts of Worship or our strict adherence to New Testament church organization, then I’m no longer trusting in Jesus.

    Well, I was speaking of the Five-Step Plan of Salvation in terms of becoming saved. Then I addressed the question of falling away. In conventional, conservative Church of Christ thought, I can get all Five Steps right but if I mess up on the Five Acts of Worship or attend a congregation that is not “scripturally organized,” I’m not only sinning, but I’m damned — so that instrumental music damns or an elder having no children damns.

    I don’t believe that. In fact, I believe you exit the Kingdom by the same door through which you enter. If you lose your faith or your penitence, you can lose your salvation. Merely being in honest error on fellowship halls or the use of the church treasury or instrumental music says nothing about your faith in Jesus or your penitence — since it’s honest error — and so say nothing about your salvation.

  128. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Further to Larry (not Larry Cheek) —

    The point is was making is also about trust. One element of the Greek word translated “faith” is trust in Jesus. This is not usually preached in Churches of Christ, but we don’t entirely deny it. We just aren’t used to thinking in these terms. But when Abraham was saved by his faith, his “faith” was trusting in God’s promises.

    One of the great weaknesses of our legalistic approach to salvation is that we want to trust in our own intellectual accomplishments — how well we discern the silences of the scriptures — confident that we are saved because we’re the ones who care enough to know that kitchens in the building are wrong and such like.

    It’s merely that we make kitchens into sin, but we make them into salvation issues, putting them on the same level with faith in Jesus as Messiah. We thereby require all strongly held doctrinal positions to be right on penalty of damnation — making our intellects our saviors — rather than Jesus.

    But we are saved by grace, not by brilliant exegesis of the silences of the scriptures. We are saved despite our imperfections and even our erroneous positions on kitchens and fellowship halls and instrumental music — by grace.

    Hence, one of our core problems is a failure to trust in God’s promises. God promised to save us by faith —

    (Eph 2:8-10 ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    Either we trust his promises or we don’t. And we don’t — which is a very, very dangerous place to be.

  129. Sherese says:

    I was raised very “denominationally” in the CoC, and have been so hurt by the choosing of what is right and wrong by people and not scripture. My brother recently left his wife of 20 years for another woman, and has been forgiven for that (because of his ability to lie throughout their relationship) also leaving 4 boys to be raised by others, but I have to hide that I drink by putting my wine underneath my house even though I have never in my life been drunk, but in my parents mind, and their Church, it is a sure ticket to hell. I went to a Christian school and am so hurt by my family’s lack of grace and weighing what they think is right and wrong, I will never enter an earthly church again. No book can explain what goes on in this church setting, and how aweful a feeling it is to be judged constantly. No matter what anyone tells you CoC preachers have interpretations of what they believe is truth and twist scripture based on their opinions. A very painful experience of which I will never return from!!!

  130. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Sherese,

    Thanks for your note. And I know very well where you’re coming from. Many readers here have suffered and are suffering similarly.

    I would encourage you to join the discussion over at http://ex-churchofchrist.com/, a discussion group committed to helping people who’ve been emotionally wounded by the legalism and judgmentalism of some in the Churches of Christ. I know some of the people who minister there, and they are good people.

    I would also want you to know that the Churches of Christ are changing and changing rapidly. Not rapidly enough, but more and more congregations are repenting of their legalism, finding grace, and changing in very positive ways.

    I don’t know where you live, but you may want to check out the churches recommended by readers here if any are near where you live. http://oneinjesus.info/recommended-church-of-christ-congregations/.

    And please feel free to email me at jfguin(at)comcast(dot)net privately.

  131. Dwight says:

    What Jay is speaking is true. I attend a conservative coC and although the preacher does preach the sin of instrumental music it is not regarded as such by many of the members and I have seen a bigger role of grace and love over law come through in the recent years. Change takes time and is resisted, but it can happen.

  132. Red says:

    Sherese, I recommend you watch the services at the Hills
    http://www.thehills.org/
    It is where I attend now and there are many there like you and I. I too attended a cult-like cofC and know vey well the harm these cult churches can to do adults and children.
    God Bless,
    Red

  133. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Sherese’s experience is a tragedy IMO, but it could have happened virtually anywhere. I know of some Southern Baptist congregations in Georgia where this could have happened…today. This is not unique among churches of Christ. While I disagree that consuming a moderate amount of alcohol equates to sinning, I know a lot of wonderful Christian men and women who do, and they are far from belonging to a cult.

  134. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Dwight,
    I think I know where you are coming from, and I agree. But I would phrase this differently. IM isn’t a question of grace and love vs law. If IM is sinful, then we should abandon the practice and oppose its use…expecting grace to automatically “cover” a sinful practice (law) would be presumptuous and sinful in itself. Love would demand that we alert others of the sinful nature of the practice. If, on the other hand, IM is not sinful, then there is no opposition between grace & love vs law. Semantics, I know, but an important semantic.

  135. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Kevin wrote,

    IM isn’t a question of grace and love vs law.

    Well, yes and no. What you’ve written is exactly right as a matter of logic. 100%. But what it overlooks is that grace is not merely a legal principle. Grace reveals the character of the Gracious One. Grace helps us to understand the personality and purposes of God better than law because God is a God of grace.

    Therefore, once we come to understand grace, not only have we learned a new principle, we’ve seen God more closely, more exactly. And when we see God better, we better anticipate and understand his laws. And if we really understand grace — and understand it well — it becomes obvious that IM is no sin.

    For many, it’s intuitive but obvious. For others, there’s a more concrete line of reasoning from premise to conclusion. For example, grace reveals a God not likely to hide commands in the silences of the text. Grace reveals a God anxious for a real, authentic relationship, not mere form, not mere ritual. Etc. Etc.

    When we ponder grace, we find ourselves coming to understand God all the better — and some of the supposed laws, well, they evaporate. They vanish.

    (Mat 9:13 ESV) 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    What does it mean? Well, it means that we need to understand God better. It’s not about refining the lines of doctrine so much as refining our relationship with God and understanding what he really wants. Which is? Mercy, not sacrifice. And as we learn the meaning of the verse, we realize that God cares nothing about things like instrumental music.

    Hence, while grace is obviously not a license to sin, it is a window into the mind of God.

    (1Co 2:14-16 ESV) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    And so grace opens our minds to spiritual things, to spiritual discernment. And it changes everything.

  136. Steven Jackson says:

    Jay, I stumbled upon this blog article purely by accident having just finished the book in question. I find it interesting that as an elder in the Lord’s church, you spend the majority of your blog and responses on this subject citing your own thoughts while the author of the book that you readily criticize, spent a good deal more of his time in the book citing scripture.
    You have invested tremendous effort and energy trying to explain why passages in the Word of God don’t mean what they actually say. God said exactly what He meant to say and the Bible is perfectly capable of explaining itself.
    Faith without works is dead and our faith itself is proven, just as Abram’s was, through our obedience. Scripture states plainly that disobedience is the hallmark of the absence of faith even among those who claim to believe. We actually demonstrate our trust through our obedience. To attempt to sever that inter-relation is nonsensical.
    Grace, God’s plan of reconciliation for mankind manifest through the cleansing blood of Jesus the Christ, saves us from our sins when we are obedient and submissive to it. Nowhere in scripture are we told that it “opens our minds…to spiritual discernment.” Paul spent I Cor 2 explaining how he was inspired to reveal unto them the mystery of God, not how they would be spiritually enlightened by grace.
    Conditions of salvation are set by God not man. I would suspect, based on scripture, that Nadab and Abihu did not expect the origin of the fire for the sacrifice that day to be a condition of the continuation of their lives. I would further suspect, based on scripture, that Ananias and Sapphira did not believe that a “little white lie” about how much they were giving would be a condition for their salvation. Was striking the rock rather than speaking to it, so egregious that it should have been a condition of entering the promised land for Moses given all the other faithful things he did?
    How dare WE attempt to dictate to God what will and will not be conditions of salvation? We are His creation and though we choose to separate ourselves from our perfect Creator through our sinful actions, He still chose to redeem us through the sacrificed blood of His son. All He has asked is that we demonstrate our love for Him through obedience (Jhn 14:15; 15:10; I Jhn 5:2-3).
    If God has done all of this for us and He says (paraphrasing), “give on the first day of the week” and “sing in your worship to me” and “appoint elders” then why don’t we just obey him and leave our opinions and feelings out of it. If God had wanted our input into how to construct the perfect law of liberty, then I have no doubt He would have asked. Why would we even want to attempt to do anything except EXACTLY what He’s asked of us, given how much He has already done for us?
    God can save anyone that He so chooses and can pardon any sin of omission or commission, but we do not have the authority to tell ourselves or anyone else, that it is acceptable to ignore any New Testament direction of scripture. In attempting to loose where God hath not loosed, we proclaim another gospel and will find ourselves “anathema.”
    I am deeply troubled that someone holding the office of elder in the church would so lightly dismiss the sanctity of the scriptures in exchange for some variants of human wisdom.

  137. Steven, “citing scripture” is no guarantee of presenting truth. In fact, scripture itself tells us that quoting scripture can produce exactly the opposite. Stacking scriptures and concatenating verses no longer impresses most of us. It is a demonstrable understanding and association of the individual contexts within the broadest understanding of scripture to which we are prepared to listen. You offer your own interpretations and opinions and tell the rest of us to leave ours out. If I look at the history of Jay’s posts, his high regard for scripture is clear and unmistakable, even where he and I might disagree.

  138. Steven Jackson says:

    Charles, where did I offer an opinion as scripture, remove a scripture from its context or present a private interpretation of Scripture? If I did, I will gladly apologize and correct it. I am not concerned with impressing anyone other than God and would hope the same of any Christian. I find nothing but false accusations and lecturing in your reply. Certainly I found no direction from you on where I had said anything contrary to scripture. If my concern offends you then I am sorry it is not received in the light it is intended.

  139. Monty says:

    Steven Jackson, Jay said, “And they’ll get some of it right and some of it wrong. Perfection will not be achieved in this lifetime — and grace is there to cover our mistakes, both our moral errors and our doctrinal errors — so long as we don’t surrender our faith, our repentance, or our trust and so leave the church via the path by which we entered. – what part of that statement do you disagree with? And if there is no disagreement, then you have more in common with Jay than you think.

    Or do you feel that God only covers the doctrinal errors in the CofC? Are those who do err to the right in the CofC bound for eternal punishment? The one cuppers? Will God forgive them?The no Sunday Bible class? Will God forgive them? Don’t they bind where God has not bound? Or are you of their persuasion? Is it only the error of those to the left of where you stand that God doesn’t forgive? By the way, who stands “exactly” where you stand on all matters of doctrine(I mean, it is just the Bible right, let it speak for itself, right)? Why are there, as someone said, 27 variations of the CofC? You know that even in your own congregation(if it’s any size whatsoever) there would be those to your left and perhaps even to your right, if given say a 100 question quiz on where they stand on divorce and remarriage and instrumental music just for starters.

    I used to use the phrase when studying with those not in the CofC, “why is there so much religious division in the world?” Then I would say ,’God is no the author of confusion.” and people would agree with me as I pointed out all the various 1000 or more denominations, all the while knowing that my own little group for all of it’s protests to the contrary, was splintered into many many groups.

    I always struggled with God could forgive the sins of the flesh (I commit) but (so I was led to believe) couldn’t, no wouldn’t, forgive the sincere, good hearted (better than me morally)Baptist trusting in Jesus death on the cross, of their doctrinal error. I don’t struggle with that one any more, thanks in large part to Jay Guin.

  140. Steven, you are suggesting that if one disputes your interpretation of the conditions of salvation, that he is challenging God. Such intentionally conflates your words with God’s. I would also make note of phrases like, “If God had wanted our input into how to construct the perfect law of liberty, then I have no doubt He would have asked.” Pure opinion, when you chastise Jay for offering his. Yes, Stephen, right here in your words. As to other opinions, you suggest that Jay is saying “…that it is acceptable to ignore any New Testament direction of scripture. In attempting to loose where God hath not loosed…” Again, Steven, you are offering your mind-reading as though you knew the mind of another man, to whom it appears you are only half-heartedly listening. As to “false accusations and lecturing”, well, the reader reviewing your post should thus put that concern to bed. That’s all you offered to Jay.

  141. Steven Jackson says:

    Charles, I did not attempt to set conditions of salvation. I challenged the idea that we can assume or teach that any command, inference or example is not a condition of salvation. Only God will determine what those are. I only asked the question, why would we do anything other than take the summation of the Scriptures at their face value. I provided Scriptural examples of individuals who took liberty with God’s law and met consequences they did not expect as rationale for asking the question.
    As for my comment, I did not present that as a scripture and yes that is my opinion that God would have asked us and it is no more than an opinion. However that opinion was not offered as a substitute for scripture nor an explanation for any doctrinal issue. In retrospect, my off-hand comment, offered for effect, added no value to my question and I should have left it out.
    Lastly, you left off the first part of my quote. I made no claim to know Jay’s mind. I responded to his summation of his second point, “So what’s the difference between requiring a cappella singing or weekly communion or a plurality of elders as a condition of salvation and circumcision as a condition of salvation? Both add to faith in Jesus. Both make faith insufficient. None are faith working through love.” We cannot parallel adherence to commandments made in a prior dispensation to accepting current dispensation instruction at face value without suggesting that we have authority to bind or loose because there is clearly a difference between circumcision (work of the law of Moses) and God’s prescription for organization and worship under the law of Christ.
    I appreciate your attempt to turn tables on lectures and false accusations with, “you did it first!” but you have yet to support your concerns on comments with a single scripture. My intent was to challenge Jay’s position with the scriptures that support my concern. If your assertions were supported with scripture I would not be able to take exception to them.

  142. Steven Jackson says:

    Monty,
    Scripture (I John) teaches that the blood of Christ continually cleanses us so long as we continue to walk in His light. We will all stumble from time to time both morally and doctrinally. If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, then we’re forgiven. Doesn’t matter whether we’re erring to the right or to the left because they’re equally errant. However, whether morally or doctrinally, if we live in rebellion to one of God’s laws then can we say that we’re walking in the light?
    Paul “lived in all good conscience before God” while he was attempting to destroy the church. But despite him doing what he was doing in attempt to serve God, he was lost in his sin. I agree fully that it binding is just as wrong as loosing. Certainly I neither adhere to, nor do I condone it.
    As to people agreeing completely on every point, I also agree that they won’t. That however does not mean that I am absolved of doing everything in my power to align my beliefs as closely to the Lord’s word as possible. If I love my brethren and lost souls as I’m commanded to, then there is no way that I can stand by silently while something contrary to God’s Word is being taught or excused. It was clear that Apollos was sincere and an excellent teacher, but because he was teaching only part of the gospel (the baptism of John) Aquila and Priscilla were compelled to take him aside and teach him the way more perfectly. Certainly they did so out of love, but that love was one which drove them to address error.
    There are plenty of schisms within the religious world, both inside and outside buildings with church of Christ on the sign outside. But there is no division in the Lord’s church. He’s either added us to His one church or he hasn’t. My challenge is to make sure that when I find myself morally or doctrinally at odds with His word, that I change my position rather than trying to justify my position or rationalize that issue as being non-essential to salvation. I hope everyone makes it into Heaven. I trust Jesus and the Father to do everything we are told they have done, are doing or will do. However I would not risk my salvation or anyone’s by trusting God to do something contrary to His own word.

  143. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Steven J,

    Do I correctly perceive that you are a follower of the Volunteers from the mountains of East Tennessee? Always glad to have an SEC fan here at OIJ, even if a Tennessee fan. I figure Paul had you all in mind when he wrote,

    (Rom 5:3-5 ESV) 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

    But I believe UT has found themselves a quarterback. Glad we won’t see him again until next year.

    So we disagree about intercollegiate football teams. Let’s see where else we might differ …

  144. Larry Cheek says:

    Steven Jackson,
    My first impression of your original post was that you thought Jay was not reviewing (Mussel and Shovel) fairly. Now I am not sure. Did you read the book (Mussel and Shovel) thoroughly? If I had read the book many years ago, my comments would have been yes,yes yes, or go, go, go this will set the record straight. It was not only Jays review to the book that helped me to see many errors within the content, but my own studies had previously brought many of the concepts he places into a position of fellowship or in other phrases lost from God’s plan to question. Did you read Jays full review I mean 30 some posts? If not please make the effort.

  145. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Steven J wrote,

    I find it interesting that as an elder in the Lord’s church, you spend the majority of your blog and responses on this subject citing your own thoughts while the author of the book that you readily criticize, spent a good deal more of his time in the book citing scripture.

    Really? Read the blog. Read the several articles I’ve written regarding Muscle & Shovel. It wouldn’t surprise me to find that I’ve cited more scripture than any other author in the Churches of Christ, electronic, print, or otherwise. I post about 1500 words a day, most posts filled with scripture.

    There are plenty of criticisms that you could throw at me that might just stick, but this only shows that you’ve not taken the time and trouble to understand me or the points I make. My posts on Muscle & Shovel are indexed at http://oneinjesus.info/muscle-shovel-review/. You’ll find more than enough scripture being cited by me there and in the thousands of other posts written here. If you care to understand my disagreements with Michael Shank, the posts are there, as are the scriptures.

    By the way, even Satan can cite scriptures. The challenge is to cite them for what they actually mean. We should never be impressed by the mere presence of scriptural citations.

  146. That review had a lot more utility than just the review of Shank’s “Shovel”. The review, and the conversations that sprang from it, addressed a number of common issues that are worthy of surfacing and addressing. I’m with Larry on this one; it is worth the effort.

  147. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Steven J wrote,

    we do not have the authority to tell ourselves or anyone else, that it is acceptable to ignore any New Testament direction of scripture. In attempting to loose where God hath not loosed, we proclaim another gospel and will find ourselves “anathema.”

    Just where have I suggested such a thing? This is a sheer strawman argument.

  148. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Steven J wrote,

    Nowhere in scripture are we told that it “opens our minds…to spiritual discernment.” Paul spent I Cor 2 explaining how he was inspired to reveal unto them the mystery of God, not how they would be spiritually enlightened by grace.

    Really?

    (1Co 2:14 ESV) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

    — which I quoted. You argue that Paul is speaking solely of apostles, but the text will not stand such an interpretation. Notice the contrasts he draws.

    In v. 14, he contrasts the “natural person” with, in v. 15, the “spiritual person.” Which are you? As a Christian? Do you believe Paul is referring to all but the apostles as “spiritual” and everyone else as “natural”?

    Notice these other translations —

    (1Co 2:14 NET) The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    (1Co 2:14 NIV) The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

    The NET Bible translation notes explain,

    Grk “natural person.” Cf. BDAG 1100 s.v. ψυχικός a, “an unspiritual pers., one who merely functions bodily, without being touched by the Spirit of God.”

    So, since all Christians possess the Spirit (Acts 2:38, Rom 8:9-11), all Christians are “spiritual persons” and not “natural persons.”

    THus, we might paraphrase,

    (1Co 2:14-15 ESV) The [non-Christian] does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The [Christian] judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.

    That’s a fair rendition, except that, of course, a Christian is “spiritual” only to the extent he yields himself to the work of the Spirit within him. Hence, there are differences in degree.

    This language, as challenging as it may seem, is consistent with other verses, such as —

    (1Jo 2:27 ESV) 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie– just as it has taught you, abide in him.

    The anointing is, of course, the Spirit possessed by all Christians. So what does this verse mean? Do I explain it away because it’s a little uncomfortable?

    (1Jo 2:20-21 ESV) 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

    (Heb 8:10-12 ESV) 10 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”

    (Rom 8:9-15 ESV) 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. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

    (2Co 3:17-18 ESV) 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 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.

    In fact, the scriptures are filled with texts that speak of the present influence of the Spirit on Christians. So, yes, we are most definitely told that the Spirit opens our minds to spiritual discernment.

    Or if these texts aren’t describing the direct influence of the Spirit on the Christian, what do they really mean?

    We disagree about other things, but let’s try to keep the conversation constrained to a couple of key topics. At this point, I perceive that we disagree about (among other things)–

    * Whether the Spirit has a present influence over Christians through a personal indwelling.

    * Whether God’s grace covers sin. After all, you seem pretty clear that grace only applies to those who obey. But what about those of us who sometimes sin. Does grace cover sin? Isn’t sin, by definition, a failure to obey? And if grace only applies to the obedient, then it doesn’t apply to sin, and then it doesn’t apply at all. But maybe I got lost somewhere. But you seem to be saying that only the sinless receive grace — and, of course, they don’t need grace. So I guess I’m confused.

    Or are you saying that some sins get grace and some sins don’t? If so, where is the line to be found? What do the scriptures say?

  149. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Jay,
    My comments pertain to yesterday’s brief discussion.

    You wrote:
    “Well, yes and no. What you’ve written is exactly right as a matter of logic. 100%. But what it overlooks is that grace is not merely a legal principle. Grace reveals the character of the Gracious One. Grace helps us to understand the personality and purposes of God better than law because God is a God of grace.”

    I am having trouble following where you are going. I get the “Yes” portion of your answer, but I don’t understand the “No” portion. It is not so much that I overlooked “grace not merely being a legal principle” as much as I just didn’t address it. Of course grace is not merely a legal principle. That goes without saying. In fact, numerically speaking, I would argue that God’s grace impacts us more each day in a non-salvation manner than in a salvation manner. Naturally, the grace that pertains to salvation, being of eternal consequence, is qualitatively greater though it may not be quantitatively greater. Just my opinion.

    Anyway, I don’t understand your “No” answer. My point is that we are wrong to align grace vs law. Are there some situations in which God may not hold us accountable for transgressing his law? Of course. John states in 1 John 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.” We sin and God forgives. I’m sure we can think of other examples; however, just because God doesn’t necessarily condemn us for sin doesn’t mean that sinning is “okay.” It’s not. I sin frequently, and I am automatically forgiven frequently, but that doesn’t mean that I should continue sinning or that sinning is not unimportant.

    I love Matt 9:13, but I think you may have overlooked the context. The Pharisees were condemning Jesus (and falsely so) for eating with sinners. They were both unmerciful AND incorrect in their condemnation. These Pharisees were great at going through the motions, but they lacked both love for their fellow man. Christ compares the Pharisees with Judah and Ephraim of Hosea’s day. Jesus is not teaching that we can ignore law whenever it suits us. While He will forgive us for sin (whether moral sin or doctrinal sin), He will not do so if we intentionally, with willful disregard and impenitent heart, sin and keep on sinning.

  150. Dwight says:

    From what I understand “Muscle and Shovel” is the telling of a man who found his way to the right church system and thusly the right path to God, but in the early days, man found God, then assembled with those who had also found God.
    I am not really sure where Jay had said something that was out of line in the above. In the truest sense faith and works do not save, Christ saves and we must have faith in Him and do the will of the Father who sent Him in obedience. Christ was the one sacrificed for our sins.
    I do not even really wholly disagree with Steven J. in regards to scripture, but rather his general assessment of Jay’s specific assessments of the book, which is dead on in many aspects. I can critique a movie by showing logic flaws without stating the dialogue of the movie or the book it was based on and usually in spite of it.

    Kevin, in regards to IM, I believe God is not vague, I mean if God could tell the Jews what kind of animals he intended them to not eat in detail, then why do we believe we must determine His will by implication and bad implications at that. I do not believe this is a matter of grace, but law, but the perfect Law of Liberty. Paul taught against those who sought to impose as law those things that were not given as law. He taught against those who sought to teach that you couldn’t partake of the New Moon feast, etc, which were actually commands on life ad religion from the OT law. IF we seek to regulate worship, then we should also seek to regulate life as that God had made laws on all of the Jews life. If IM is out due to silence in worship, then so is entertainment as God never commented on that at all and then we have to go down the list of things that God spoke for in the OT and then was silent on in the NT. Since God was vehemently against gluttony in the OT, but doesn’t mention it in the NT by name, are we to assume that God is now for gluttony. If IM was a sin, by command, then God would have said so by command, but otherwise we are at liberty by law.
    God Bless

  151. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Dwight,
    I am not arguing against you. I just wanted to point out that I don’t think we can frame the issue as grace & love vs law or, rather, “grace & love over law.”

    I attend a non-instrumental COC, and I am fine with that. I wouldn’t encourage its introduction at this congregation, and, in truth, I think it’s a bad idea generally unless a congregation has overwhelming support for it. Even then, I would question its introduction if it meant a break in fellowship with the broader churches in the area. Others may disagree, and that’s fine too. But if I get a vote, that’s my guidance.

    With that said, I liken IM to military orders. God told us what to do (sing), but He didn’t tell us how to do it. Singing with IM is still singing. God told us to preach the Gospel, but He didn’t restrict us in the method. Audio sermons, writing, drama, even singing can preach. God told us to “Go”; the how us up to us…missionaries, internet, radio, airplane, VTC; all useful. Just so, singing with our w/o musical accompaniment is still singing.

    How many of us have hummed a few words when we didn’t all the lyrics?? We knew the melody but the exact words escaped us? If IM is sinful, so was that momentary lapse of humming according to the argument because we often define singing so narrowly.

  152. Steven Jackson says:

    Larry, I did read the book in question thoroughly. Given the late hour at which I stumbled across this site, I will readily admit to not reading all 30 something responses. My concerns were based on the content of the first couple of responses only. So there very well may be valid concerns raised that I have not seen because I did not read them all. To your core question, I am not really concerned about the book review, only any misunderstanding or misapplication of scripture that might have been used in reviewing or conversely in writing the book.

  153. Steven Jackson says:

    Jay,
    As I responded to Larry, I will readily admit that at 1am this morning when stumbling across the blog, I did not read all or even most of your posts. I read the first few and was forced to stop and respond with just my three initial points. My reference in citing scripture was based solely on the posts that I read where you disagreed with positions espoused by the book’s author. In those instances he had cited supporting text and your response did not offer the same.
    Could you have already cited that text in another blog post, sure, but your disagreements with the author of a book written by man are not the point. What concerned me and what I commented on, were the positions you appeared to be taking that do not appear to line up with scripture. If I left the impression I was commenting on all of your work, that was not my intent. Only the first several posts in this thread.
    I am aware that Satan used scripture and used it out of context. No where did I endorse that. There are certainly more folks using it incorrectly today (broad is the way) than there are correctly. But you cannot rightly divide it, if you aren’t using it to begin with. So someone may not be impressed with quotation of scripture, but the absence of scripture is far less impressive still.

  154. Steven Jackson says:

    Jay, you suggest I have constructed a strawman. My comment was directed at the following quotation:

    “So what’s the difference between requiring a cappella singing or weekly communion or a plurality of elders as a condition of salvation and circumcision as a condition of salvation? Both add to faith in Jesus. Both make faith insufficient. None are faith working through love.”

    You are attempting to parallel instruction and example given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit during the Christian dispensation for those living under the same, to a command given by God in the law of Moses for those under it. The Spirit’s condemnation for those attempting to bring over tenets of the old law into Christianity was that they were making the law of Christ of none effect by rejecting God’s grace offered through him, in favor of the works of the law (Rom 2-4).

    Singing (Col 3:16; Eph 5:19) is a command and at face value, unexplained by man, it sits alone without accompaniment. Examples and commands we have of New Testament worship (Acts 20, I Cor 16) and observation of the Lord’s Supper indicate that Christians met and were to meet on the first day of the week. I Tim and Titus record the Spirits instruction through Paul about appointing “elders” and each reference to New Testament elderships indicate plurality. Are these not direction of scripture?

    If we suggest taking these at face value is unimportant and can be dismissed, is that not a “private interpretation?” (II Pet 1) If this is acceptable, then could we not similarly say that meeting to worship regularly is no more a condition of salvation than circumcision? We’re instructed to love God and loving God is keeping his commandments (Jhn 14&15). If the instructions given by the Spirit are not prerequisites for demonstrating our love for God, which commandments are and which are not important? Is II Tim 3:16 still true if some are applicable at face value and some are not?

  155. Steven Jackson says:

    Jay, maybe I can better identify my issue with I Cor 2. I wasn’t arguing that it didn’t mean what it said. I asserted that vs 14-16 cannot be taken out of context of the whole chapter, much of which is Paul explaining their inspiration. But my ultimate destination was to clarify that I Cor 2 does not define grace. Your quote:

    “Hence, while grace is obviously not a license to sin, it is a window into the mind of God.

    (1Co 2:14-16 ESV) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

    And so grace opens our minds to spiritual things, to spiritual discernment. And it changes everything”

    You seem to be asserting that God’s grace is manifest through the miraculous indwelling of the spirit. Titus 2 tells us two things about God’s grace: 1) it hath (past tense) appeared to all men, and 2) it brought salvation. Christ, not the Spirit, brought salvation (Acts 4:12,Gal 3, Rom 6, John 14:6, etc). No doubt we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit when we submit ourselves in baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). But to assert there is an indwelling that rises to the level of directing our actions and revealing mysteries today would make I Cor 13 untrue (when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away with [paraphrased]). That which is perfect or complete has come, the Word of God. The Spirit’s inspiration of the writers provided us that Word and He works through the Word. You cite I John 2:27 as justification for a controlling indwelling of the Spirit, but you ignore the preface to 2:27 in 2:24, “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” They had already been taught and that teaching is what they were commanded to abide in.

    As to the question of grace, I’m not sure why you’re confused, but clearly you are. Grace cleanses us from our sins at the point we submit ourselves to God in obedience. “Obeying the gospel” and “walking in the light” are never confused for perfection in scripture. You seem to be attempting to separate the cleansing blood of Christ from saving grace. Again, Titus 2, grace hath (past tense) appeared. God could provide no greater “unmerited favor” than the gift of His son for the redemption of mankind. He provided it and while he remains long-suffering and not willing that any should perish, that grace remains available to us if we will accept it. Our acceptance is through our faith in him, a faith which is marked by our love for God. That faith and that love are demonstrated and perfected by our humble obedience to His gospel. Not perfection (Rom 3:23) but our pursuit (I John 1) of Christ’s perfect example and an open access to God’s second law of pardon for that continual cleansing when we do transgress.

    Grace is available to all. Those who obey the gospel, accept that grace and to use your phrase, “it applies to them at that point.” To suggest otherwise would be to suggest what? You think that grace saves those who are disobedient to the gospel? Those same folks the Spirit said Christ would take vengeance upon (II Thes I)?

    As far as which sins grace washes away, the scriptures tell us plainly which sins. The ones of those who are in Christ, through faithful obedience to His gospel and who are walking in His light.

    We can make everyone feel good by lying to them and saying that as long as you’re sincere and you mean well, that you’ll be ok. We can attract big crowds, become socially relevant, amass power bases, conscript large sums of money and teach people something that could very well lead them straight to Hell (Matt 7:21-23). The problem is that there’s not a single New Testament scripture, nor Old Testament example, that would suggest that God will depart from the framework he laid out when he sacrificed his son and accept their “offering” any more than he accepted Cain’s.

    Last point, in this thread there is an amazing amount of debate about which is worse, sins of morality or sins of doctrine. Sin is sin. It separates us from God. Living (continuing in) as a false worshiper is no different than living as (continuing in) an adulterer.

  156. Monty says:

    Steven Jackson, said, ” If I love my brethren and lost souls as I’m commanded to, then there is no way that I can stand by silently while something contrary to God’s Word is being taught or excused.”

    That was sort of my point, I was getting at. If you sir have every example and necessary example “all interpreted correctly” (and God’s grace only applies to you or your group, if you do),as you said, ” However, whether morally or doctrinally, if we live in rebellion to one of God’s laws then can we say that we’re walking in the light?” Then it behooves you to list, post, write a blog, pass out what they are at church, write to brotherhood papers, and inform everyone exactly what they are. If you mean by one of God’s laws a “thus sayeth the Lord” then of course I am in agreement, but even then grace is there in our weaknesses and when we fail. I often fail to live like I know to live. Knowing how I’m supposed to live is not really a problem, it’s the obedience part.

    If the one cuppers are preaching heresy, are you silently standing by? Are those in your own congregation who believe differently than you, in danger? Shouldn’t the CofC (if we have it all figured out perfectly have some type of manual, and who gets to document everything that is right and wrong? If there comes a time when congregation A studies and disagrees with one of the tenants that congregation B has carved in stone, are they no longer faithful, if they still preach and teach Jesus, and baptize believers?

    You’re a newcomer here, and that’s great, glad you’re here, there is much to learn. I know from experience. But your version of believing the gospel is believing that you have to have everything interpreted correctly to be saved. That’s not the Good News. Your version of the Gospel(and the church) is that of a balloon that is blown up that cannot sustain even the slightest of pinpricks before it pops and is reduced to a nothing. That is not the way it is at all. What saves a man, is the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross. It is sufficient. I believe the Good News. I become a disciple of Jesus through believing in Jesus and submitting to baptism(of course with a penitent heart over my sorry condition). Then I begin to learn and grow as I follow HIs teachings. I am in a state of grace, sins covered, unless I stop believing in Jesus or begin living a lifestyle of unrepentant moral corruption. Walking in the light is not having to have every example or necessary inference determined correctly(if so, I would suggest we’re all doomed). Walking in the light is loving my brother, loving God, not living in open rebellion to God, or saying and teaching something heretical like Jesus didn’t really come in the flesh. Again, walking in the light is not misunderstanding an inference. Your version of what the Good News means that the church(again as you understand it) didn’t exist until whatever group you now align yourself with began teaching all the things(as you see them) that are damnable if you miss one of them. Is that what you would call an unbeliever of off the street to do? “Hey,Come follow me and my group, we believe in Jesus-wink-wink, but what we really believe, if I’m honest, is that if you believe we have correctly dotted all our i’s and crossed all our t’s you’ll be good enough to be saved.” “And if you missed one of the t’s”, they ask? Is your answer,” hey, trust me, we didn’t.” Sorry, that doesn’t sound like anything I want to put my faith in. I know people like that, I used to believe that, sadly I still see some people like that in my own congregation. Years of preachers pounding that into their heads will do that.

    Thank God, for Jay’s blog. If it was about my ability to figure scripture out to a T, Jesus death was unnecessary. God’s word has the power to save us, but not the Tinker-Toys of human hermeneutical gymnastics. Drop a Bible on a deserted island to a guy stranded there who owns a guitar or any other instrument, he isn’t going to say after he reads the Psalms I’d better not play and sing and praise this God I now have come to believe in. He’s also, not going to read Colossians or Ephesians and say ,”Uh-Oh, I’ve been doing something wrong, I’ll be out of God’s grace if I don’t stop.” Sorry, not going to happen. That interpretation comes from the guys with those Tinker-Toy sets.

  157. Dwight says:

    Kevin, This is how I understand it also as I attend a congregation that doen’st have IM. My biggest issue is not with or without IM, but out judgment of those who decide to do something that isn’t called sinful by God as sinful by us. We interject ourselves into the given law, much like the Pahrisees did, in order to broaden its borders.
    We are indeed told to sing and we should. An interesting thing that I have fallen victim to in the past is that when in the presence of those who are singing with instruments as I have come across, is the concept that we are sinning by joining in song. Now I might struggle with my conscence, but what I am really doing is resisting a direct command to sing by God, by acknowledging a derived implication by man.
    Then we argue that it is the words and the spirit, then we have music class so that we can become technically better in our efforts at hitting the notes and following a emotional melody.

  158. Steven Jackson says:

    You sir, don’t have a clue what I believe based on this. You ascribe a bunch of beliefs to me that I neither hold nor espoused in an effort to support your preconceived notions of anyone who questions the scriptural assertions made on this site. Obviously you have reached a higher plane of understanding so I will step out of the way where you cannot further twist and abuse my comments to spread false teaching.

  159. Dwight says:

    Steve, I whole heartedly believe in commands as things we are to do, but then again we are to do them within the context of us doing them and not just being commanded. Meaning that we are told to sing, but what happens if I don’t sing, as I am not singing now, am I in jeorpardy of not doing God’s will. Many of the laws in regards to worship were to be taken at face value, but are also subject to us in the doing of them as we are the Temple of God and the priest. In James 5:13 we are told “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.”
    Does this then mean that whenever we are cheerful we must sing and when ever we are suffering we must pray, after all we do have examples of this in scripture. Jesus prayed in the garden and Paul and Silas, although in jail, sang because they were obviously cheerful.

  160. Dwight says:

    The Lord’s Supper, should be done as Jesus said to do it and He gave specific foods for specific reasons, but we, and I say we, have upturned the Lord’s Supper from a uncommon meal done in remembrance into a thing that doesn’t largely resemble what Jesus and apostles did.Meaning that we are very good at keeping somethings the same and very bad at not saying we are doing it exactly the same, even while ackowleding that we dont have to because we are fufilling the spirit of eating around a table and taking larger amounts of food while facing each other.
    This is just one of the things were we are at the mercy of God in.

  161. Larry Cheek says:

    Steven Jackson,
    I believe that you were asking questions with a real concern for legitimate answers. I personally did not see that you were attacking Jay or his message. Some of the topics and information that we discuss here needs much clarification to someone first encountering this sometimes very opinionated blog, many who have been here for many years and discussed some very heated topics tend to come down far too hard on someone just arriving. That is wrong, maybe some of the other posters know of you, I don’t, but, I would like offer my condolences to you and ask you if you would read Jay’s pdf book above ” The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace” you can read it on line or download and print it. Please read it even before reading any more of the comments on Muscle and Shovel.

  162. Dwight says:

    Steven, I understand your frustration, but remember Jay was commenting on the book, but he never condemns it or the man, but does question some of the concepts held within.
    You initially stated, “Why would we even want to attempt to do anything except EXACTLY what He’s asked of us, given how much He has already done for us?’
    This kind of goes to the issue.
    Do we do exactly everything we are asked by God? Do we partake of the Lord’s Supper exactly how they did it? We, tend to think we do and then when we are questioned about the fact it doesn’t look exactly like how they did it, then we remark that we are following the spirit of the command. So we can be just as cagey as anybody. We cannot and should not condemn others in something that we ourselves falter on.

  163. Dwight says:

    Steven, My suggestion for you, and it is only a suggestion, is to not get mad, even when confronted with something you don’t beleive in and then shut down conversation. This isn’t a site where one mode of thinking rules and I have been writing here for months. It is about discussion. Some of the conversations might be direct and confrontational, but if we can’t put up with it, then we are going to have a hard time conversing with anybody unless they totally agree with us and then we might as well be talking to ourselves.
    I personally do not agree with everything Jay writes in everything, but I do in some things.
    If you believe your point to be good and you have some good ones, then clarify and discuss, but remember that this is a blog and many points of clarification by others have been said or posted elsewhere and you are catching glimpses of an ongoing discussion many times without context.
    God Bless

  164. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Steven,
    I encourage you to stay around as well. The blog needs different perspectives. Jay does a terrific job of writing thought provoking pieces, and the comment section can be quite interesting and educational…and yes, sometimes heated. However, if you are willing to discuss and engage in meaningful Q&A, your time here will be well spent. FWIW, I typically lean to the right on a lot of issues, and most of the commenters have been very cordial even when disagreeing.

    V/r,
    Kevin

  165. Monty says:

    Steven J,

    If your comments were directed at me I apologize if I came on too strong. But you have to admit you came on a little strong to Jay. Maybe I inferred too much with what you said. Those inferences can be a booger sometimes to interpret. I assure you that not many(if any) regular posters on here believe in not obeying the commands of God. This blog will definitely challenge what you believe about key issues and cause you to reconsider what you’ve (perhaps) thought to be true, whether you studied it for yourself or as my professor in Bible College used to say, “just opened our mouths like a baby bird and gulped that worm down the parents fed us.” It’s definitely not for the faint of heart or for anyone who believes the answers were all “reasoned” out for us in the last century.

    Again, my apologies, if I offended you.

  166. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Steven J,

    I’m going to try to limit myself to one topic per comment — and limit myself to two topics, being the two I identified in yesterday’s comments. There’s just so much time in the day, and I think these two topics are whether we most disagree. If we can find common ground on these two, the rest will work itself out.

    1. The personal indwelling of the Spirit.
    2. The boundaries of grace — more precisely, which sins are covered and which sins are not?

    The Spirit

    The series I’m presently posting on 1 Cor will shortly make its way to the “that which is perfect” verse, and we should deal with that argument then.

    In the meantime, I ask you to consider what the scriptures say about the Spirit holistically — that is, from Torah to Revelation.

    I’ll take this in small bites, beginning with Deu 30:6 —

    (Deu 30:6 ESV) 6 And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

    You find this verse echoed a number of times in the NT. It is, in fact, the first of a series of prophecies about the Spirit, as shown by —

    (Rom 2:29 ESV) 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

    And we need to add —

    (Deu 10:12-16 ESV) “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good? 14 Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. 15 Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.

    Here’s how I see these three passages fitting together —

    Deu 10:12-16 is part of Moses second presentation of the Law to Israel, just before they crossed the Jordan and conquered Jericho. He was teaching God’s law to the second generation of Israel. And after a lengthy reminder of what had happened in their history up to that point, Deu 10:12-16 is a call for obedience — but contrary to much teaching today, Moses insisted that Israel obey from the heart.

    Indeed, the command is for each Israelite to circumcise the foreskin of his own heart — to get his heart right with God — to want to obey, to obey from the heart. But the onus was on each Israelite to do this himself.

    Deu 28-30 is prophetic, speaking of a future falling away and exile. And in 30:6, Moses declares that God will gather his people together once again and God himself will circumcise their hearts to obey (this passage is the foundation for much of Rom 9 – 11, by the way).

    Notice the change? The onus shifts from each man having to make his own heart right to God making his heart right. It shifts from human effort to God’s effort.

    Paul himself interprets this passage as speaking of the gospel and Christianity in Romans 2 (and 9 – 11), and he credits the Spirit with this work.

    Now, this is plainly not the representative through the word only view, because Deu 10:12-16 is speaking of man fixing his own heart in response to the inspired word. Deu 30:6 and Rom 2:29 are speaking of a CHANGE from that — something more — that God himself does, according to Paul, through the Spirit.

    If this is not a direct working by God on the heart of the Christian to soften his heart to wish to obey, to desire obedience, to defeat (not completely, but significantly) our stubborn nature and help us to yield to God, what does it mean?

    I should add that there are many other scriptures that add to this argument. You should also consider, for example,

    (Jer 31:31-34 ESV) “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

    (Quoted in full in Heb 8 where it is applied to Christianity and applied — continuing into Heb 10.)

    Ezekiel interprets Deu 30:6 (and context) as follows:

    (Eze 36:24-27 ESV) 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

    There are more such prophecies, which are easily looked up once you know to look for them.

    Then if you read Romans 8 in light of Deu, Jer, and Eze, it’s plain that Paul sees the indwelling of the Spirit as fulfilling these very prophecies. Paul assumes that we know our Old Testaments well enough to be familiar with these passages.

    And, of course, he’d already mentioned the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit in Rom 2:21. He then says,

    (Rom 7:5-6 ESV) 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

    What is the “New way of the Spirit”? A better book? Better laws? No, it’s having our hearts circumcised by the Spirit so that we want to obey, so that we desire what God desires. It’s being changed from the inside out by the Spirit! Really?

    (Rom 8:13-14 ESV) 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. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

    “Led by the Spirit” doesn’t mean “obey the rules by human effort.” That is not what the passages promise. They promise that God himself will write his laws on our hearts, in contrast to our attempting to circumcise our hearts for ourselves.

    Hence, it’s no surprise to read —

    (Phi 2:12-13 ESV) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

    God works in me to will (desire) and work for his good pleasure? Exactly. Just as promised by Moses, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah.

    Now, none of this requires miracles or faith healing or even tongue speaking. Just a heart that is softened by the hand of God himself — circumcised by God to desire what God desires.

  167. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Steven J,

    Let’s talk a bit about grace, and I’ll try to be brief (although I get excited about it and so tend to ramble).

    You wrote,

    As far as which sins grace washes away, the scriptures tell us plainly which sins. The ones of those who are in Christ, through faithful obedience to His gospel and who are walking in His light.

    Well, yes, but you’re still arguing in circles. When am I in the light and when am I not in the light? Do I leave the light when I sin? Every sin? Just some sins?

    Or am I always in the light — until I fall away so as to be damned?

    As long as we leave our definitions vague, then we’re free to fill them with tradition and habit and sloppy thinking. So, yes, you’re right — but you’ve not answered the question.

    You equate “walking in the light” to “faithful obedience to His gospel.” And does that mean sinless obedience? (You say no.) So does it mean sin is okay (God forbid!) So what is the answer?

    Let me put a very traditional theory on the table to reject.

    Traditionally, it’s been taught that grace covers sin when and only when the sinner repents, confesses, and asks for forgiveness of that sin. Repentance requires that the sinner give up that sin. Some add a requirement of restitution.

    The problem with this theory is that you’re not forgiven until you’ve stopped committing that particular sin. And that means we all have unforgiven sins because we all still sin. Not a one of us has fully repented over every sin, and so — according to the theory — not a one of us has been forgiven of every sin. And therefore, according to the theory, we are all damned in the eyes of God.

    It’s not a very good theory.

    Many among even the most conservative Churches of Christ respond — correctly, I think — by pointing out 1 John 1:7 —

    (1Jo 1:7 ESV) 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

    And so we come full circle — except we’ve not defined “walk in the light.” By one point of view, we have to be perfect, because the text says “as he is in the light” — which is, of course, absurd.

    Some argue that “walk in the light” means “repent and confess and make restitution and ask forgiveness” — returning us back to a truly impossible standard. That can’t be right.

    So perhaps we find our guidance in —

    (1Jo 1:5 ESV) This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

    Isn’t “walk in the light” and being “in him” the same thing? Isn’t the point that there is no darkness at all and therefore, if we are in him, we are in the light? And if this is so, what sins are forgiven? What sins are charged to the account of someone “in him”?

    Well, Paul says,

    (Rom 8:1 ESV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

    Hmm … if I’m “in Christ Jesus,” there is “no condemnation.” Sounds a lot like if I’m “in him” there is “no darkness at all” and I’m “walking in the light” and the blood of Christ is continually washing my sins away. If I’m in him. But only if I’m in him.

    So that’s a theory that allows grace to be grace. All the alternatives ultimately destroy grace — swallowing it in exceptions and howevers and buts that are bigger than grace itself.

    Now, I can demonstrate every single point of this argument from many scriptures. I’m trying to keep the argument simple and not lose the key point in extensive exegesis. But there’s not an argument here that can’t be backed with pages of citations and theology.

    But you need to first see the logic. And here it is from one last angle.

    We want “walking in the light” to cover the sins that are common to all believers. We all sin, and yet Christians are forgiven, saved, and going to live with Jesus. This is grace.

    On the other hand, we sometimes just desperately want certain sins to damn. We want the church that uses IM to be damned for its error. But when we create a rule that damns for IM, we inevitably create a rule that damns for our own sins. If we say any doctrinal error damns, then we are damned unless we are doctrinally perfect — and who can meet such a standard? If we say any sin in worship damns, well, who has worshiped perfectly?

    And so, you will not find in conservative Church of Christ literature an answer to the question — which sins damn and which do not? Because they want to move the line to fit our shifting traditions. And it’s an impossible task. Hence, our preachers avoid the question with undefined terms or by accusing any one who asks such a question of having a sinful attitude. (This is not my first such discussion. I’ve corresponded with most of the editors among the conservative Churches. All avoid the question. All. If you doubt me, read the dialogue at http://www.graceconversation.com.)

    But it’s a fair question, because our preachers do damn those who use IM and don’t damn everyone for every sin — just some sins. And it’s only right that they answer for how they decide which sins damn and which do not.

    And I entirely agree that some sins damn and some do not. Some Christians fall away and some do not. And I believe the scriptures plainly answer the question in a way that makes grace real, powerful and a source of great confidence and assurance — without creating a once saved, always saved result.

  168. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Jay,
    Your second post to Steven (Boundaries of Grace) is one of the best pieces that I have read on this blog. You lay it out very well. The “boundaries of grace” question was the first instance in which I diverged from many of my “conservative” (bad label but I don’t know what else to use) peers. Why will the use of IM damn, but the insistence of using one-cup will not? Why will a belief in premillenialism damn but a belief in the literal indwelling of the HS (or representative indwelling through the word) not? Why will support of missionary societies damn but support for Church of Christ disaster relief not? Why is IM sinful but listening to Christian radio not?

    In my experience many will lean on 2 John 1:9 – “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” Unfortunately, we tend to interpret this verse to mean that we must be doctrinally perfect with regard to IM, premill, and a litany of other theological questions. Yet we accept differences with respect to literal indwelling / representative indwelling. Well, what is the scriptural basis for allowing disagreement on this topic? Clearly someone is right and someone is wrong. And if someone is wrong, how can they be abiding in the doctrine of Christ as traditionally defined in many COCs? Perhaps this verse doesn’t mean what we think it means (genitive).

  169. Grace says:

    The “boundaries of grace” question is a question that has been asked over many years to those who are in legalistic churches. These are not new questions, all of these questions have been asked by people from other churches over many years.

    None of the questions are new, they’re just new to those who are now asking them.

    It’s nice to see! And with the ones who are now asking them there is the opportunity to show their fellowship with other churches rather than belittling them.

    God bless you on your journey with grace and peace!

  170. Dwight says:

    Grace, There are no new questions & no new answers. But we all live either with an open mind or with a closed mind to those questions and answers. Grace has no boundaries, but we do in our following and obedience. Hitting a wall is different than going over the wall, but sometimes when we talk of grace we want to move the wall around, closer, the further away, then sideways and we can’t do this, because it is God’s wall. David was a man under grace but he also always kept God in his view as well, even when he comitted heinous sins. David did ask for forgiveness, as we should, but our life should also be dedicated to humbleness to where out life is always seeking God and his pleasure, while knowing that God has brought us under his wing. Unfortunately we want to make everything in the scriptures to have a value of sin or not sin, but we as Chrsitians are to “do all things in the name of the Lord” to where our life itself either is in sin or our life is living in God, even while we fall and stand. Many people fall and see the ground and then start digging themselves in further, this is not living a Godly life. We must daily renew our minds.

  171. Dwight says:

    Grace, I meant to start the above conversation with, “You are right, there are no new…”Otherwise it sounds as though I might be disagreeing with you.

  172. Grace says:

    Dwight you said: “Grace, There are no new questions & no new answers.”

    I didn’t say the questions or answers are new, I said:

    All of these questions have been asked by people from other churches over many years. None of the questions are new, they’re just new to those who are now asking them.

  173. Grace says:

    We agree then, cool! :)

  174. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Jay,
    I just read a blog over at Start2Finish regarding the basis of unity, and its remarkably similar to your position on grace. Perhaps things are changing quicker than you think.

  175. Dwight says:

    I attend a rather conservative coC and they are starting to focus more on grace as well with the broader understanding that we are all under it. Of course this doesn’t diminish the things we should do and some of the more unsightly views by the leaders on certain things, but it is more in the right direction from what I remember many years ago. But of course there are some that are going the opposite way into more legalism and bondage of human traditions as God’s law.

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