“Muscle and a Shovel”: In Reply to Paul McGinty

muscleshovelThis is in reply to a comment from Paul McGinty,

Paul,

The reason I’ve written the books I’ve written and posted here, and the reason I set up this blog back in 2007, posting daily for 7 years, is my concern and passion for the members of the conservative Churches of Christ.

I published The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace in 1994 or so. I then wrote Do We Teach Another Gospel? and decided to make it available at no charge via the Internet. I also obtained permission from my publisher to make The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace available for free on the Internet.

I give these away because I fear for the souls of my brothers and sisters in the conservative Churches of Christ. As you point out, there’s a sad irony in the fact that my studies reveal that the Churches of Christ aren’t the only ones going to heaven (praise God!), but also that certain teachings of the Churches of Christ can be damning. That is certainly not the result I hoped for — I have many dear friends among the conservative Churches — but I do no one any favors by concealing what I’ve learned.

I mean, if you found out that a doctrine held by a dear friend potentially damns, wouldn’t you tell that friend, even if it meant risking the loss of your friendship?

I tried to explain this problem in the main post. I see nothing in your comment that shows that I managed to make myself clear. Let me try again — because this is important — literally spiritual life and death.

Everyone who hears, believes, repents, confesses, and is baptized is saved. What do we hear, believe, and confess? Well, the gospel — in particular, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. (Surely we are agreed to this point.)

In reality, hear, believe, and confess are all usually subsumed in the New Testament in the term “believe” or “faith.” The authors rarely break “faith” down into all three components, but to have faith you must hear the gospel, and for me to know you have faith, you must confess.

“Repent” usually means “submit to Jesus as Lord.” In fact, Paul rarely uses the word (5 times in the epistles) because “faith,” as used by Paul, includes a range of meanings that picks up “repent.”

To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that he is the Messiah or anointed King of Israel (into which we Gentiles have been grafted). It implies a commitment to loyalty or faithfulness. In fact, the Greek word for “faith” is sometimes translated “faithfulness” in every translation I’m familiar with. To be faithful to Jesus is not greatly different from being penitent. Either way, the thought is that we submit to him as King/Lord.

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.

So “faith” includes penitence/faithfulness/loyalty/submission to Jesus as King/Lord/Messiah/Christ. Sometimes the writers speak of both “faith” and “penitence” in the same verse to emphasize the need for change (penitence is not just submission but change to become submissive).

Another sense of “faith” is trust. When Abraham was commended by God for his faith, it was because he trusted God to keep his promises. And if you look up the dictionary definition of pistis (Greek for faith), you’ll find trust as one of the meanings.

Therefore, in Paul’s vocabulary, to say that we are saved by “faith” includes the ideas of faithfulness and trust. 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.

Therefore, we enter salvation by faith (normally at the moment of water baptism). How do we fall away? Well, common sense suggests that we fall away when we no longer have faith. God doesn’t move the boundaries or constantly shift the target. The standard doesn’t slowly get higher. Rather, the test remains faith/faithfulness/trust, but as we mature in Jesus, our ability to do better increases, and faithfulness will therefore show itself by greater obedience, because faithful people who’ve grown in their knowledge of God will understand and do more for God.

So if I’m right, I should be able to produce passages that show that people can be damned for losing their faith — which can happen multiple ways. Well —

(Heb 10:26-27 ESV) 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

If we surrender our faithfulness, not by making an honest mistake or having a difficult time in our walk with God, but by rebelling against God’s will, we can lose our salvation.

Another way of looking at it is if we surrender the repentance that originally led us to faith and the baptistry, we lose our salvation.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

(1Jo 4:2-3 ESV) 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

Just so, if we deny the very confession that allowed us to be baptized, we can lose our souls. Again, we leave by the way we came in.

Finally,

(Gal 5:2-5 ESV) 2 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.

Church of Christ literature routinely quotes v. 4 for the proposition that we can fall from grace. Amen. We really can. But I’ve seen very few efforts among the conservative Churches to explain what that means in context.

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.

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 —

(Gal 3:6-9 NET) 6 Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, 7 so then, understand that those who believe are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” 9 So then those who believe are blessed along with Abraham the believer.

(Gal 3:11-14 NET) 11 Now it is clear no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous one will live by faith. 12 But the law is not based on faith, but the one who does the works of the law will live by them. 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.

(Gal 3:23-26 NET) 23 Now before faith came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.

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.

Now, 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.

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!

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.

And so, even if a cappella singing only is really required, 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.

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.

And we stay saved until we lose our faith — by denying Jesus, by rebelling against Jesus’ lordship, or by losing our trust in Jesus’ promises.

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.

(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?

(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.

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.

The solution is simple. Trust the promises. The following are found in just Romans 9 – 11. I could add many, many more.

(Rom 9:30-33 NET)  30 What shall we say then? – that the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness obtained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith,  31 but Israel even though pursuing a law of righteousness did not attain it.  32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but (as if it were possible) by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone,  33 just as it is written, “Look, I am laying in Zion a stone that will cause people to stumble and a rock that will make them fall, yet the one who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

(Rom 10:4 NET) 4 For Christ is the end of the law, with the result that there is righteousness for everyone who believes.

(Rom 10:11-13 NET)  11 For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”  12 For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him.  13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

(Rom 11:20 NET) 20 Granted! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear!

My request of you and the rest of the Churches of Christ is simple: trust God’s promises. Please.

I’m sure you have questions. Please ask them in the comments or by private email. I’ll do my best to answer them.

Previous posts in this series are —

Reader-Requested Review: “Muscle and a Shovel”

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

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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39 Responses to “Muscle and a Shovel”: In Reply to Paul McGinty

  1. Skip says:

    Any religious group that isolates itself from all other groups (i.e. Jim Jones/David Koresh) sets itself up to inexorably fall into deeper and deeper error. No one church group has a lock on all truth. Being open to being wrong is healthy and will ultimately lead us in a healthier direction.

  2. Kim Beckwith says:

    Dear. Brother in Christ,
    We in the instrumental camp have the very same concern with brothers who would make hymns singing as opposed to choruses a salvation issue. Forgetting to think of the One to whom we sing, they make the style of worship a salvation / damnable issue. I grieve even as you over those who make salvation harder than it is. Of course Jesus spoke so directly to that issue. My encouragement and prayers go out to you.
    Your Brother in the faith.
    Kim Alan Beckwith

  3. laymond says:

    Jay according to your thinking all we have to do is find a scripture that tells us one thing we must do, do it and we are saved.
    Does this also apply to the following advise given by Jesus, that says nothing about acknowledging that Jesus is Lord.

    Mat 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
    Mat 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

    Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

    Some people say their good Christian heart leads them to do good works, not because Jesus demands it of them for their salvation.
    I say the oposite happends, doing the good works demanded of Jesus leads to a good Christian heart. I believe the old addage “practice makes perfect” applies here as well as other places.

  4. laymond says:

    I should have said “in my opinion” in the above comment. I confess I have no inkling of what is contained in “your thinking” sorry.

  5. laymond says:

    “The reason I’ve written the books I’ve written and posted here, and the reason I set up this blog back in 2007, posting daily for 7 years, is my concern and passion for the members of the conservative Churches of Christ.”

    Jay, is this your way of confessing that you believe God approves your theology, but disapproves that of the conservatives. Maybe your way of condemning those who disagree with you.?
    The same thing you have accused the conservatives of doing. Once again I must confess this is my opinion, but it is derived from my reading what you write.
    Just my opinion once more, but I would think they/the conservatives, are just as concerned for your salvation as you are for theirs. There are two ways to see what you have written either you believe they are lacking in knowledge to save them, or they are knowledgeable and just ignore that knowledge. And I really doubt they are intentionally steering anyone in the direction of damnation. so that leaves me to think, you believe they are just not as smart as you are, am I wrong ?

  6. Skip says:

    Laymond,
    I could never arrive at your conclusions based upon reading what Jay has written. Conservatives condemn those who disagree with their theology. Jay is not condemning but considers them still brothers. Albeit, brothers who have drifted into a form of legalism. Paul had no less of a concern in addressing the Galatian Christians.

  7. laymond says:

    Skip, I am sure that is your prerogative , and I defend it.

  8. laymond says:

    Skip,l I hope we don’t get moderated for speaking of the person of the writer.
    But when you compare Jay to Paul, are you saying Jay claims to be an “inspired writer” as some claim Paul was. why not just refer to what Paul wrote if you are one of those who believe Paul said he wrote by inspiration of God, Which I never see Paul as saying that, but I concede some do see it that way.

  9. Skip says:

    Laymond, I actually did not say Jay = Paul. I actually actually did not say Jay was inspired. ( BTW, the apostle Peter considered Paul’s writings as scripture. This means Peter believed Paul to be inspired. )

    Do you begrudge Jay’s concern over legalism?

  10. laymond says:

    Skip, maybe Jay sees legalism, where others see tradition .

  11. ZBZ says:

    Skip wrote,

    “Any religious group that isolates itself from all other groups (i.e. Jim Jones/David Koresh) sets itself up to inexorably fall into deeper and deeper error. No one church group has a lock on all truth. Being open to being wrong is healthy and will ultimately lead us in a healthier direction.”

    Very well said, Skip! I have always found it paradoxical that some folks in our fold can so strongly believe they are right about something, but aren’t willing to have it tested to ensure it’s validity. Put it out there for all the world to scrutinize! If we truly, without a shadow of a doubt, 100% believed we were right, we’d be willing to have our conclusions tested endlessly. In any other field of study, testing a conclusion will only make it a stronger conclusion! The more eyes and ears I have evaluating my procedures, independently examining my data, and agreeing with my conclusions, the better! It makes my case stronger and ensures that I am, in fact, correct in my conclusions.

    So why do some folks in our fold shut the outside world out and refuse to be challenged? Why can’t we stand our beliefs up beside the beliefs of others to be compared/contrasted? Why must every conclusion that disagrees with our conclusion immediately and without proper consideration be written off or damned? Hmm?

    I suspect it’s because we secretly fear our conclusions won’t stand up to independent, external examination. I suspect it’s because we secretly fear our conclusions are not derived through a process that can be replicated to produce similar results. We are secretly afraid we’re wrong, and have been for a long time.

    It is fear that controls us. And someday when we’re finally over this fear (either by a change of heart of by simply dying out), we’ll recognize “being wrong is healthy and will ultimately lead us in a healthier direction.”

  12. Skip says:

    Laymond said, “Skip, maybe Jay sees legalism, where others see tradition .”

    I am not sure you want to invoke the tradition card. Tradition did not do to well with Jesus.

    Matthew 15:2-6 ““Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition.”

  13. Ray Downen says:

    Jay has written clearly and stands for truth in what he has written in this study. My objection to what some believe and teach is that in teaching that salvation is by faith alone, they are making Jesus mistaken in requiring that every new believer is to be baptized. The apostles make clear that it’s those repentant believers who have been baptized who are “in Christ.” That is, in His church and saved and headed for Heaven. To teach salvation by faith alone is to differ from Jesus and His apostles. Jay seems to include being baptized in his definition of having faith in Jesus. We should have no quarrel with what Jay has written in this study! Laymond is wrong to differ or complain with the clear teaching of Jay in this study. Any implication that salvation is by faith ALONE when we understand that faith is only what we believe is of course wrong.

  14. Grace says:

    Ray, I would love it if you could see and tell your theology about salvation to many people I know who cannot be baptized that have huge faith in Jesus – a lot more faith than most people who have been baptized.

  15. laymond says:

    It is strange to me that we all respect the traditions of the first century Jews in the Church but today’s traditions are “legalism”. name all this legalism practiced in the conservative church that breaks the commands of God.

  16. laymond says:

    “Jay seems to include being baptized in his definition of having faith in Jesus. We should have no quarrel with what Jay has written in this study! Laymond is wrong to differ or complain with the clear teaching of Jay in this study.”
    Ray, how does baptism show having faith in Jesus, when baptism precedes Jesus ever preaching a sermon.?

  17. rich constant says:

    laymond:
    I think what everyone…. is gettiin at, is what constitutes the fellowship of faithfulness in the called out body of believers through the gospel of God.
    as Paul says
    ROM 1:1-7
    Rom 1:1 Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, separated to the gospel of God,
    Rom 1:2 which He promised before through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,
    Rom 1:3 concerning His Son who came of the seed of David according to flesh,
    Rom 1:4 who was marked out the Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord;
    Rom 1:5 by whom we received grace and apostleship to obedience of faith among all the nations, for His name’s sake,
    Rom 1:6 among whom are you also, called-out ones of Jesus Christ;
    Rom 1:7 to all those who are in Rome, beloved of God, called-out saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  18. rich constant says:

    P.S.
    Then then the close of The Letter To Roman fellowship of faith,

    Rom 16:25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel, and the proclaiming of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery having been kept unvoiced during eternal times,
    Rom 16:26 but now has been made plain, and by prophetic Scriptures, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known for obedience of faith to all the nations;
    Rom 16:27 to the only wise God through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever. Amen.

  19. 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 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.
    ‘Now, 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 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 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 stateif 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?
    ‘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.
    ‘(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.
    (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

  20. Ray Downen says:

    Laymond asks “Ray, how does baptism show having faith in Jesus, when baptism precedes Jesus ever preaching a sermon.?” Our faith is not in the baptism of Jesus, but rather it’s in the baptism commanded by Jesus, which is found in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus is not our Lord because HE was baptized. We are baptized because Jesus is our Lord and HE commands that every new believer is to be baptized. The great commission was given after Jesus was resurrected, not at the beginning of His teaching and healing ministry.

    Anyone really interested in the subject is invited to read my study on the subject at http://missionoutreach.org/OwensMaxey.pdf. I have a real quarrel with Al Maxey’s view that believers are saved by faith alone. I agree with Jay that faith saves those who obey Jesus because they realize He is Lord of all.

  21. rich constant says:

    I also would Surmise from this that Paul is calming inspiration.
    and when I read i might understand 3:4,
    3:5 as it HAS now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit

    Eph 3:3
    that by revelation He made known to me the mystery

    Eph 3:1 Because of this, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you, the nations,
    Eph 3:2 if, indeed, you heard of the stewardship of the grace of God given to me for you,
    Eph 3:3 that by revelation He made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief,
    Eph 3:4 by the reading of which you are able to realize my understanding in the mystery of Christ,
    Eph 3:5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations, as now it was revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit,
    Eph 3:6 for the nations to be joint-heirs, and a joint-body and joint-sharers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,
    Eph 3:7 of which I was made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me, according to the working of His power.
    Eph 3:8 This grace was given to me, I being less than the least of all the saints, to preach the gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ among the nations,
    Eph 3:9 and to bring to light all, what is the fellowship of the mystery having been hidden from eternity in God, the One creating all things through Jesus Christ,
    Eph 3:10 so that now to the rulers and to the authorities in the heavenlies might be made known through the assembly the manifold wisdom of God,

    Eph 3:11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
    Eph 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through His faith.

    i could go on and on about the accomplishment of THE FAITHFULNESS OF CHRIST…THE “FAITH” WHICH WAS ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS.

    Heb 12:1 So therefore we also, having so great a cloud of witnesses lying around us, having laid aside every weight and the easily surrounding sin, through patience let us also run the race set before us,
    Heb 12:2 looking to the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, “and sat down at the right” of the throne of God. Psa. 110:1

    BLESSINGS rich

  22. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Laymond,

    Context matters. The verses I cited were clearly speaking of the salvation of Christians after the death of Jesus. Matt 19 is Jesus speaking to someone in terms of his present — pre-crucifixion — salvation.

    However, “follow me” is prospective. Jesus is speaking of the Kingdom, I think. And I see very little difference between following Jesus, being a disciple of Jesus, and having faith in/being faithful to Jesus. Different facets of the same jewel.

    To follow Jesus, who has now been revealed as Lord, certainly includes believing in his Lordship. How can you follow the anointed King and not consider him King?

    To be a disciple is both to study his teachings but to commit yourself to his teaching and to want to be like him. And how can you dedicate yourself to his teachings and not consider him Lord?

  23. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Laymond,

    You can decide to worship God a cappella as a matter of tradition. You cannot deny the salvation of those who use instruments as a matter of tradition.

  24. laymond says:

    Jay, I agree with both of what you said. But I can’t see what is wrong with the members of a church that has always sung without instruments, saying we are going to keep it that way. And I can’t see how insisting on that tradition is denying any command from God. I can see where one who insists on a change to satisfy their belief might be going against a command of God, the one which says “love your neighbor as yourself”, or do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    And I was saying we should not pick one small sentence spoken by Jesus and build a total theology around it.

  25. Randall says:

    This discussion has taken a turn not uncommon in the CofC and I fail to see how a number of these comments are glorifying to God or edifying to man. I hesitate to comment here as I am more than a little tired of this type of controversy and I no longer attend a church with a CofC sign out front. None the less, the CofC is still family to me, albeit a rather dysfunctional family too much of the time.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say this one more time since it is consistent with Jay’s (and others) belief that faith=faithfulness, if I understand correctly: This if from Martin Luther and it may not be a verbatim quote (especially since it is in neither German nor Latin): Man is saved through faith alone, but not that faith which is alone. Also attributed to Luther is the following: Man is saved by faith not works, but by a faith that works.

    One thing we learn from studying history is that we don’t seem to learn from studying history. I would attribute this to someone but it is old and I can’t recall the guy’s name that first said it, possibly Hegel.

    I am back to lurking now and will try not to interrupt this particular thread again. I wonder if it will generate 50 or 100 comments? 😉
    Hesed,
    Randall

  26. Phil Lacefield, M.Th. says:

    Laymond, for the answer to your question, please read Matthew 28, Mark 16;, Acts 2, 8, 9, 10, 22; Romans 6, Galatians 3, 1 John 1.

  27. It is too easy to reprise the old IM arguments when that was not at the heart of Jay’s objection (and mine, and others) at all. I read McGinty’s response and it represents much of what passes for intellectual argument in the CoC. That is, stick your head above the log, fire a blind shot in the general vicinity of where you are not, then drop out of sight to reload. Repeat until you think the enemy must be dead by now. To reasonably attempt to answer such scatter-gunning in this sort of format is impossible.

    What some of us see as false doctrine, and what Jay refers to as “not trusting the promises of Jesus”, is well-represented by an 88 year-old sister whose deathbed I attended. After a lifetime of listening faithfully to CoC preachers every Sunday without fail, her last words to me were, “I just hope I have done enough to get into heaven.” Her conclusion, after thousands of sermons from the CoC, was that she was responsible to “do enough” to have eternal life. She died in worry, not in faith, not in joy, because salvation by faith in Christ was such a terrifying prospect in her denomination that they changed it to something altogether other. “Faith plus obedience”, or more incredibly, obedience AS faith. This, boys and girls, is a false gospel. As a young preacher I was grilled more than once on the old “a tree falls on you on the way to the creek” question, in the questioners’ hope that I did not find faith sufficient for salvation. Even as a callow youth, I could read Jesus’ words and know better.

    I now find it amusing that a tribe who has used the term “false teacher” so many times as to own the trademark on it now find themselves in high dudgeon when the shoe is on the other foot. We have been subjected to the “false teacher” label for everything from a woman reading a scripture in public to playing a guitar at a Saturday night meeting, to how we dispense the Welch’s grape juice. Now, we identify Shanks’ teaching which pends a believer’s salvation on where his rump rests for an hour a week, which teaches that the blood of Jesus does not cover that deep and hideous sin of being a Presbyterian believer instead of a CoC believer, and our brothers who have denied the sufficiency of the work of Christ to save stand aghast at OUR blasphemy.

    “We have heard the joyful sound: “Jesus Saves!” “Jesus Saves!” To which we have for too long replied, “Not without us, he doesn’t.”

  28. Pingback: Links To Go (February 13, 2014) | Tim Archer's Kitchen of Half-Baked Thoughts

  29. laymond says:

    Sounds like another of Charles’ universal salvation speeches. My opinion is that Charles exhibits some resentment toward an organization where he was once a member, as I say, that is my opinion, but I don’t reach that opinion out of thin air, I conclude it from Charles’ writings.
    I haven’t seen anyone here trashing other churches as Charles does the CoC. Maybe I missed it but I just don’t remember it. Maybe if Charles just forgave trespasses and moved on, he would have more peaceful existence.

  30. Paul McGinty says:

    Read Charles response and what represents for bitter liberal non biblical arguments in the CoC. That is, attack the biblically minded, who follow the teachings of Jesus, fire out of context passages at them, drop put of sight to reload. Don’t answer the clear points of view (because they can’t) but round up a barrel full names to call them, and attack them with they have no grace.

  31. You guys decide whether I am liberal or univeralist and report back, wouldja? I can’t be both and I’m sure either one would require me to fill out some forms for somebody…

    As to following the teachings of Jesus, Paul, Jesus said clearly and directly and unequivocally that the one who believes has eternal life, and has crossed over from death to life and will not be condemned. In over thirty years listening to CoC sermons– and seven years preaching them– I never heard this statement of Jesus acknowledged as true. Here, I have offered a single observation about one sentence of Jesus’ own words, instead of firing a cannonade. Perhaps we could talk about just one? The comment format does not really work well for discussing several points at once. Thanks.

  32. Paul McGinty says:

    Charles
    You state : You guys decide whether I am liberal or univeralist and report back, wouldja? I can’t be both and I’m sure either one would require me to fill out some forms for somebody…’
    We lets just say you’re sadly bitter towards the churches, could be due to bad experiences in the past I don’t know. And I pretty sure you can be both a liberal and Universalist, so no need to fill our any forms.
    ‘As to following the teachings of Jesus, Paul, Jesus said clearly and directly and unequivocally that the one who believes has eternal life, and has crossed over from death to life and will not be condemned. In over thirty years listening to CoC sermons– and seven years preaching them– I never heard this statement of Jesus acknowledged as true. Here, I have offered a single observation about one sentence of Jesus’ own words, instead of firing a cannonade. Perhaps we could talk about just one? The comment format does not really work well for discussing several points at once. Thanks.’
    Charles you must have lived a very sheltered life, I’ve heard ‘this statement of Jesus acknowledged as true’, many times and many times I have preached it and taught it. I think you might want to be careful to brush all of CoC with your own 30 years of listening. Thanks

  33. Paul, does that mean you believe what Jesus said in John 5:24? That was where I was headed. If you have indeed taught that the one who believes has eternal life (with no mention of baptism, as Jesus made none here) then I am both impressed and I stand corrected in my assumptions. And I have never met a universalist in the CoC — no matter what schism of that denomination– although I suppose some could last awhile before being shunned for such beliefs. I have seen CoC folks accused of universalism by their co-religionists, but upon inspection, that label simply meant “they fail to damn everybody that we do”.

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  35. Kevin says:

    John 5:24…what does “believe” mean in this passage. Is it merely mental assent to a set of facts? Is it mental assent plus trust? Or is it a synecdoche…a part for the whole…using belief to represent mental assent, trust, repentance, obedience to other commands? Doesn’t the Bible, in both the OT and NT, often link belief with obedience

  36. Kevin says:

    as in Hebrews 3:16-19?

  37. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Kevin,

    First, I entirely agree that “faith” in the NT could be defined as “belief to represent mental assent, trust, repentance.” This is not synecdoche, though. It’s the meaning of the Greek pistis. I’ve covered the point here in some detail, most recently at http://oneinjesus.info/2014/02/muscle-shovel-reply-paul-mcginty/. That is, I said that in THIS VERY POST. Have you read it?

    I’ve written a series going through M&S chapter by chapter. The table of contents for the series is at http://oneinjesus.info/muscle-shovel-review/.

    Where we disagree is the distinction between “obedience” and “obedience to particular commands.” As is said in THIS VERY POST —

    Now, 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.

    The next retort is to insist that obedience requires a cappella singing only [JFG: OR BAPTISM]. 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!

    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.

    So let’s consider Heb 3:16-19, a passage I’ve written on more than once.

    (Heb 3:16-19 ESV) 16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

    “Unbelief” is apistia, which BDAG defines as “unwillingness to commit oneself to another or respond positively to the other’s words or actions, lack of belief, unbelief” or “unfaithfulness.” This is, of course, exactly consistent with what I wrote above.

    Obviously, there comes a point at which our imperfect disobedience ceases to be obedience. And as the passage indicates, this is at the point of rebellion. This is a major theme of Hebrews, and culminates with 10:26 —

    (Heb 10:26 ESV) For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

    “Go on sinning deliberately” is rebellion. (This can be traced through the chapters of Hebrews.) Obviously, rebellion does not include sinning by accident, unwittingly, unaware of the command being violated. If that weren’t true, then Adam and Eve would have been guilty before they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were protected by their innocence — unaware of God’s laws.

    Rebellion requires deliberateness. If someone disagrees with you about baptism because he honestly, prayerfully believed his evangelist and lacked koine Greek expertise, well, that’s just plain not deliberate.

    The great logical fallacy of the conservative Churches of Christ is to treat as rebellious countless millions with a genuine faith in Jesus, genuine repentance, and a desire to honor him however they can — just because they disagree over anything at all that gets much press in the Church of Christ literature. Thus, once some editor beats the drum long and loud over the sinfulness of kitchens in the building or fellowship halls or using church funds to support orphans in their distress, well, those who dare disagree are considered damned for their rebellion because they didn’t “obey.”

    Well, that’s not grace, and it’s not the New Testament. Not even synecdoche will make innocent actions deliberate.

    I’ve now answered your questions in considerable detail, even though the answers actually appear IN THIS VERY POST. I would take it as a favor if you would read the post and those that follow. You are welcome to comment and ask questions as you go along. But read the posts.

  38. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Jay,
    Sorry for the confusion and the lack of clarity. I did read your post. I am making my way through the entire M&S review. However, my questions above were not intended for you. They were intended for the post above mine. Charles mentioned John 5:24 and stated, “Jesus said clearly and directly and unequivocally that the one who believes has eternal life, and has crossed over from death to life and will not be condemned.”

    I don’t think you referenced this specific passage in your post. I did read where you stated, “In reality, hear, believe, and confess are all usually subsumed in the New Testament in the term “believe” or “faith.”” So, I know you concur with synecdoche, but I don’t know if Charles does.

  39. Grace says:

    Jay said : “Obviously, there comes a point at which our imperfect disobedience ceases to be obedience. And as the passage indicates, this is at the point of rebellion. This is a major theme of Hebrews, and culminates with 10:26.”

    When reading Hebrews 10:26 integration with the context of the chapter is best to know what is being said. It is important to comprehend that it is the superiority of Christ and His sacrificial death that is over everything else. The primary aspect of this theme is Christ’s sufficient sacrifice for sin once for all.

    The book of Hebrews was, of course, written to the Hebrew people. The writer of Hebrews is addressing Jews who had knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures but also knew of the miracles and of the teachings of Jesus. The issue being discussed were people who were continuing to sin who knew about Christ and yet continued to walk in their rebellious ways by rejecting the sacrifice that God had provided.

    Hebrews 10:1-4 The law is a shadow of the good things that are coming, not the real things themselves. It never can perfect the ones who are trying to draw near to God through the same sacrifices that are offered continually every year. Otherwise, wouldn’t they have stopped being offered? If the people carrying out their religious duties had been completely cleansed once, no one would have been aware of sin anymore. Instead, these sacrifices are a reminder of sin every year, because it’s impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

    Going to church doesn’t make a person a Christian anymore than going to a garage makes a person a car. People who continue to trust in anything except Christ alone, who is the light that scatters all shadows, it is said to be tantamount to “trampling under foot the Son of God” believing that His once of all sacrifice is insufficient in itself to save. If something in place of or in addition to Jesus is trusted in, it is no different than a denial of Him.

    There are sins of commission and sins of omission. All sins fall under one or the other. Sins of commission are the category of the things we did and shouldn’t have. Sins of omission are the category that encompasses the sins of not doing what we should have. Sin is not just something we do, but it is something that we should have done.

    Unintentional sin is any disobedience to a command unknowingly. Unintentional sin is an unplanned or unintended disobedience to a command.

    Leviticus 4:1-3 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and does any of them, if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering.

    Leviticus 5:14 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: If a person commits a trespass, and sins unintentionally in regard to the holy things of the LORD, then he shall bring to the LORD as his trespass offering a ram without blemish from the flocks, with your valuation in shekels of silver according to the shekel of the sanctuary, as a trespass offering.

    Unintentional sin is an undeliberate transgression. Either the person does not know it is wrong, they forgot, or they are such a creature of habit that they did not think before they behaved sinfully. They were careless and inadvertent, but no less a sinner that behaves impulsively. Sin is any imperfection that doesn’t measure up to God’s perfection.

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