“Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 8C (Everyone Else Goes to Hell, Part 2)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel.

This idea that the Church of Christ denomination is the only saved denomination is wrong on so many levels that I have to say a few more things before we move  on.

I’ve twice posted articles defending my view that damning everyone outside the Church of Christ denomination commits the Galatian heresy —

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

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

The Galatian heresy is the mistake of adding salvation or fellowship boundary markers to faith in Jesus working through love. (“Faith” is defined throughout this post as previously defined.) The Judaizing teachers added circumcision as a condition of being recognized as saved — and because circumcision is not faith in Jesus working through love, it’s not necessary for salvation.  Insisting otherwise divides God’s church and falsely adds circumcision to the gospel. It produces what Paul calls a “different gospel” (Gal 1:6) that can ultimately cause those deceived by such teaching to fall from grace (Gal 5:1-6).

I explain this in more detail in the linked posts and the materials linked in them. And this should be a terrifying thought. It terrifies me — so much so that I post here daily in an effort to rescue people I love from the Galatian heresy.

Shank ultimately damns not only over baptism but also instrumental music and several other marks of the church, such as the Five Acts of Worship. He finds enough “marks” unique to the Churches of Christ that no other denomination can possibly satisfy them. As a result, in his teaching, about 98% of believers in Jesus are damned. Maybe more. After all, there are plenty of Churches of Christ that don’t agree with Shank on much of what he’s written — even within the conservative camp.

Paul wrote,

(Gal 5:2-6 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.  6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Let’s consider how this passage would read in more contemporary terms:

(Gal 5:2-6 ESV)  2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you [make a cappella music a mark of the church], Christ will be of no advantage to you.  3 I testify again to every man who [makes a cappella music a mark of the church] that he is obligated to [make no doctrinal errors at all].  4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified (that is, declared righteous) [based on certain supposed marks of the church other than faith in Jesus and love for your neighbor]; you have fallen away from grace.  5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness [that is, we confidently expect to be found righteous because of our faith in Jesus].  6 For in Christ Jesus neither [instrumental music nor a cappella music] counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

I have a friend who worshiped in a very conservative church that wouldn’t allow teaching on grace. The preacher began spouting the marks of the church and the importance of obedience, and my friend asked him if he was free from all doctrinal error? He said “yes.” Soon thereafter, he resigned. I mean, that’s the choice — either be boastful enough to consider yourself doctrinally perfect or else humbly admit that you might be in error and be forced to rely on grace.

Unless you have the guts to say, “Yes, I have no doctrinal error at all in my understanding and teaching,” then you can’t damn others for error just because it’s error. I mean, you’ll be judged by the same standard you use to judge others.

But judging based on faith working through love is simple and easy. It’s easy to confess your faith in Jesus, and whether your faith is working through love should be obvious from your life. You won’t have a perfect love, of course, but that’s not the standard.

If the standard is faith working through love, we can judge others and not risk being damned because God will judge us by the same test. And we have the decided advantage of having scripture on our side — which is much better than even 200 tracts.

When I began this blog, my central concern was to teach that these “marks of the church” simply do not draw the boundaries of the church. I had no interest in who is right about instrumental music or the frequency of communion or all sorts of other issues. I just wanted to teach grace.

However, I soon found that the willingness of many to even hear grace is caught up in a certain arrogance — the notion that I cannot be wrong and therefore do not need grace for doctrinal error. It was normally unconscious but clearly a part of the psyche of many of our members.

You see, when you deny the full scope of God’s grace, when you insist on a narrow grace, then you’re forced either to believe that you don’t measure up — and so suffer the agony of knowing you’re going to hell — or else figure that you do measure up — and so become arrogant. And we’ve all seen it, and some of us have been guilty but got over it by being humbled by God.

No, a truly humble person will be miserable in a graceless church. And this why so rarely will someone who denies scriptural grace — perhaps even referring to the “grace-unity heresy”! — ever admit a doctrinal mistake, even when the flaws in his logic are plainly and lovingly laid out, even when the grace-denier must ignore entire books of the Bible to hold to his views — because to admit error is to admit damnation, in the mind of a grace-denier.

But the humble person will find in grace the freedom Paul promised.

(Gal 5:1 ESV)  For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

I remember as a teenager in Bible classes being asked to read this and then laughing outloud at the absurdity of calling my religion “freedom.” It was anything but …

Praise God that I found teachers who opened my eyes to grace. I don’t know that I could have gotten there on my own — and my life’s ambition is to share the same blessing with others — because I know exactly what it’s like to feel damned and hopeless, knowing that I could never get all the answers right and please God with my doctrinal perfection.

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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117 Responses to “Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 8C (Everyone Else Goes to Hell, Part 2)

  1. Nick Gill says:

    One of my standard lines when discussing my orneriness and contrariness is, “I don’t completely agree with anyone… Not even myself.”

    A fellow believer replied, “Except for God, right?”

    I replied, “Nope. Now be patient and hear me out. I *want* to agree with God on everything, but let’s be realistic — if I did, I would be doctrinally perfect. I don’t know where I disagree with Him, and I hope I will be faithful enough to change when I learn of our disagreements. But I know myself, and I know enough about Him to know we don’t agree on everything.”

    They were troubled, but what else could I say?

  2. Skip says:

    Jay, Amen. Thanks for your labor.

  3. Brian B. says:

    Is this supposed to be 8B, or did I miss a post?

  4. Dan Harris says:

    Jay, not to put too fine a point on it, but…… When you refer to the “Galatian Heresy” are you saying that not only are the churches of Christ denomination not the only ones going to heaven, but those who do believe that falsehood are no longer covered by the grace of God and are themselves lost (because they are following another gospel which is not from God)?

    Imagine the smile that must be on the face of Satan as he admires his handiwork at turning the gospel of Christ into a series of works of obedience knowing that God’s grace cannot be obtained by those who accept this “Galatian Heresy”.

    It’s enough to make one wonder why those who do believe in grace should not en mass simply leave the denomination of the churches of Christ and form congregations distinguished by some other title so as not to continue to confuse outsiders who are already confused about the whole, orphanage, kitchen, choir, non-instrument, non alcoholic wine, works based religion thing.

    God help us not to return to being church of christers but to humbly offer the gospel of grace to our friends and loved ones who may remain in that broken religion. DH

  5. laymond says:

    “that can ultimately cause those deceived by such teaching to fall from grace”
    Jay maybe if you first described just what “grace ” is. Is it something given freely except when you really need it, then watch out for the hard landing.

  6. If Dan can read Jay’s words and therein finds a condemnation of believers who are in error, then he and I are reading entirely different blogs.

    Jay and many more have exposed and condemned the heresy which is currently so popular in Shank’s book. Neither Jay nor we have condemned those brothers who hold this error. One of the sad features of traditional CoC reasoning is the failure to distinguish between rejecting a doctrine or an action and sending to hell on a shutter those who participate in these actions. Dan seems to presume that by criticizing Shank’s teaching, that Jay operates in the CoC tradition– damning all who disagree. Reading carefully will disabuse a person of that notion.

    Our brother Michael is dead wrong about how and why we are saved, and is leading people astray with a false gospel. And God’s grace covers these actions because Michael is a believer. Amazing, isn’t it? Yes, grace covers an astounding range of foolishness and bad actions by the sons of God. But let us not confuse God’s grace for our sins with an excuse for those sins. God’s discipline is still here to address our incompletely-formed thinking and character. Sometimes that discipline appears in the voices of other believers.

  7. Greg Guin says:

    Excellent Jay! Your commentary on these issues deserves inclusion in your Greatest Hits. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

  8. Alabama John says:

    And coming to that understanding is why so many are and have left the church of Christ.

    This understanding will grow, not demenish.

  9. Monty says:

    The Galatian heresy was that in order to become a Christian(Christ follower), you had to become a Jew first, I assume (or immediately after, to affect the forgiveness?). Post baptism or prebaptism? (never heard this discussed before) Gentile men would have to be circumcised. Circumcision was the seal of the Covenant with Abraham and stood as a synecdoche for the Law. Do we really find the equivalent of that today? The Galatian heresy was that all men were not the same. There were the Jews, and below them everyone else in the world, and only by becoming one of the chosen(Jews) could you have any hope, even through the Messiah.

    I think what we see happening today is more along the lines of “men teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.” For example, believing the Bible teaches taking the Lord’s Supper “every Sunday” (and only on Sunday) and believing obedience to this doctrine(supposedly taught) keeps one from being in disobedience(falling from grace), isn’t the same thing as believing you have to be anything with strings attached, preceding being a Christian. If that weren’t the case, then no denomination could pass that test. All groups have some doctrines taught by men(error) or else there are some with perfect obedience in all matters. Something denied on here. Or, is it, just the denial that what we do, could be in error, that invokes the Galatian heresy? All religious groups, if pressed hard enough, damn other doctrines, taught by other churches. I would appreciate feed back as I’m working through this.

  10. laymond says:

    (Gal 5:1 ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

    Does anyone here know what Paul is saying here, and to whom he is saying it.?

  11. Ray Downen says:

    I observe that some want to throw out the baby with the bath-water. They imagine that the new birth of water and spirit is simply legalistic and must not be required of believers today. They suppose and bravely teach that people are saved by faith alone. They wrongly claim that faith includes repentance, which is totally separate from what we believe.

    Faith does NOT include repentance. Faith does NOT include obedience. Faith is internal, what is in our minds. Faith without works is dead. Yet that’s precisely what some are saying is the Jesus Way. Just believe! Then do whatever you please, for there’s no apostolic instruction that isn’t legalistic and legalistic is ungodly.

    That’s what I hear some saying. Of course no one who loves Jay and Jesus would say anything like that, would they? But what they say is that the apostles were wrong in demanding that entry into the church of the Lord was by repenting and being baptized as well as believing that Jesus is LORD. Is it reasonable to ignore the conversion accounts in Acts which place baptism prior to fellowship? Or is it in Acts that we see how sinners become saints?

    The several passages which point out that baptism brings us INTO Christ are thought by some to have no bearing on the subject of conversion. They think baptism is just one of the many good things that a CHRISTIAN should do. It’s sinners who now believe in Jesus who are called by the apostles and all who loved and served Jesus in the apostolic age to be baptized. No Christian could possibly be baptized unless rebirth can happen over and over. The new birth of water and spirit is a ONE-TIME event, and it results in a non-Christian becoming a Christian.

  12. Ray Downen says:

    I today received a brief comment about conversion from another brother who wrote:

    ON THE DAY of PENTECOST
    by David Wilkerson

    What gospel did Peter preach to the masses on the Day of Pentecost? The Bible tells us that when the people heard the apostle testify, “They were pricked in their heart, and said . . . Men and
    brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37-38).

    Peter did not tell these people just to “believe and be saved.” Nor did he ask them to merely make a decision, to cast a vote for Jesus. No, he told them to repent first, and then be baptized in obedience to Christ! What gospel did Paul preach to the pagan Athenians on Mars Hill? He told them very directly, “God . . . now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

    These Greek intellectuals had no trouble believing in God. In fact, you could say their very pastime was “believing” in many gods-first this one, then that one. Whenever someone came along preaching a god persuasively, they believed in it. So, they believed-but they did it while living in sin. Simple belief was not enough! Paul told these men, “No! No! Jesus cannot simply be added to your list of gods. You may believe in them all, but you can´t do that with Jesus. He has come to save you from your sins and He commands all His followers to repent and be cleansed!”

    Later, Paul preached the same gospel of repentance to King Agrippa: “I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:19-20). Paul is saying, “Everywhere I´ve been, I´ve preached repentance. And genuine repentance proves itself by its actions!”

    These passages make clear to us that the apostolic church preached unabashedly the same gospel John and Jesus preached: “Repent for the remission of your sins!”
    ——–
    RAY: Repentance is not the same as believing. The demons believe in God. But they CHOOSE to not obey Him. Obedience should follow faith, but it is not itself faith.

  13. Hank says:

    Ray wrote:

    “The several passages which point out that baptism brings us INTO Christ are thought by some to have no bearing on the subject of conversion.”

    That is a good observation!

    However:

    In Christ there is salvation (2 Tim. 2:10).
    We are baptized into Christ (ROM 6:3).
    Therefore we are baptized into salvation.

    In Christ there is redemption (Col 1:14)
    We are baptized into Christ (Rom 6:3)
    Therefore we are baptized into redemption.

    In Christ there is no condemnation (Rom 8:1)
    We are baptized into Christ
    Therefore, we are bapized into no condemnation.

    How can one be baptized “INTO Christ” if one is already “in Christ” before being baptized?

    I mean, I cannot jump “INTO” the pool if I am already IN the pool.

    Logically, one must be outside of Christ before he can be baptized INTO him.

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Brian B,

    8B will show up tomorrow at 6:00. I rearranged these so many times, to get them just right, and then a moment’s inattention …

  15. Dan Harris says:

    Charles, I don’t think I was saying one is lost if they hold a doctrinal error. But I was asking if we can be saved if we believe in a works based salvation. Paul told the Galatians they were lost if they taught men to be circumcised in order to be saved. Why? because then one’s hope of salvation would be from becoming a Jew first or from an obedience based gospel, and not from the gospel of Christ — a gospel of grace accessed through faith. If I teach that obedience to baptism, A Capella singing, communion on Sunday, and women keeping quiet in worship is the gospel of our salvation is this not “another gospel”? If I teach and believe this, then mighten I feel that I deserved to be saved because I did everything that was required? Can anyone who feels he/she deserves to be saved (because they have obeyed some set of rules) really be saved?

    Maybe I’m just saying it in a weird backward way (entirely possible), but anyone who thinks they have done what they need to do to be saved based on their works or their doctrinal position is unworthy of salvation. and someone who is absolutely sure there is no way under God’s heaven they could ever do enough or think right enough to be saved is just a step from salvation (that step being belief in the gospel). It’s almost like one of those crazy thought puzzles that only makes sense if you realize you don’t understand it. But if you think you understand that you don’t understand it, then you have lost all understanding. (I guarantee you will never hear that statement in a coc Sunday school class!)

    Any way….. I shall read Jay’s thoughts tomorrow. They will surely be more clear than mine. D

  16. Skip says:

    Ray said, “I observe that some want to throw out the baby with the bath-water. They imagine that the new birth of water and spirit is simply legalistic and must not be required of believers today.”

    I haven’t seen Jay on this site teach that the new birth in water is not God’s will. In fact, over the months I have seen very few contributors who thought that baptism wasn’t a part of God’s plan.

    What persons are your referring to?

  17. Dan, I think I hear where you are coming from. But I would suggest that most of us don’t have a view of salvation that is one of a limited set of easily-identified views. We do not usually select from a shelf of cans labeled Calvin, Arminius, OSAS, Grace, Faith Only, etc. We tend to be more complex than that in our thinking. I am sure that there are folks who believe that they are saved by virtue of their obedience. But most of the “works oriented” folks I know would tell you that they are saved by what Jesus has done, but that more is required. It’s a faith+works thing, and I have heard from people along just about every point in that spectrum. Under close examination, most reveal that the pieces of their soteriology don’t fit neatly together. So, I am loath to make generic statements about these folks’ belief in “works salvation”.

    In Galatians, Paul was speaking to people he knew. He was well-acquainted with both the details and the history of their views. He was not speaking in broad generalities. When we take Paul’s specific references (circumcision) and transfer them to our modern doctrinal analogues (water baptism, church attendance, etc.), that interpretive step is OURS, not Paul’s. We should be very cautious here not to attribute to Paul more than what he said.

    We are not able to discern the hearts of men. Only God knows for certain, whether or not a man has believed in Jesus. A man’s capacity to articulate his faith is NOT what saves him, and we should be very slow to judge what we cannot know by what we think we hear.

  18. Ray Downen says:

    Skip asks, Ray said, “I observe that some want to throw out the baby with the bath-water. They imagine that the new birth of water and spirit is simply legalistic and must not be required of believers today.” I haven’t seen Jay on this site teach that the new birth in water is not God’s will. In fact, over the months I have seen very few contributors who thought that baptism wasn’t a part of God’s plan. What persons are your referring to?”

    One who teaches salvation precedes the baptism commanded by Jesus is teaching an incomplete plan of salvation (conversion). It’s JESUS who commands that new believers are to be baptized. He knows what is necessary. Peter spoke for JESUS as quoted in Acts 2:38. And MANY imply or state that Peter was simply wrong because they find writings to Christians which emphasize that it’s necessary (absolutely necessary) to believe in Jesus in order to be saved. So they want to write off what seeking believers are told is necessary. They say baptism is NOT necessary. Jesus said it is necessary. The apostles taught it IS necessary. They disagree.

    I hear Jay comparing baptism with circumcision. And then declaring that since circumcision is no longer necessary then baptism also is not necessary for salvation. Yet the new birth of water and spirit includes both repentance and baptism. Faith alone is not sufficient for conversion or salvation. The NEW BIRTH is essential. And Peter affirms that what is needed by seeking believers is repentance AND baptism (change of spirit and state). We are baptized INTO Christ, says Paul. And some nowadays are insisting that it’s people already IN Christ who should be baptized to then receive the new birth of water. But, they say, salvation occurs the instant a person truly believes in Jesus as Lord. Why they think Jesus commands baptism is beyond me, since they think baptism isn’t really very important.

  19. Hank says:

    Ray wrote:

    “We are baptized INTO Christ, says Paul. And some nowadays are insisting that it’s people already IN Christ who should be baptized…”

    Thats my question here, to all who argue that salvation precedes baptism. HOW can one who is allegedly already “IN” Christ be later baptized “INTO” Christ? It is impossible to get INTO something of which one is already in. Right?

  20. Skip says:

    Ray, was Cornelius saved when he received the Holy Spirit just like Peter did. Is the indwelling Holy Spirit proof of salvation?

  21. Nick Gill says:

    When Peter says Cornelius received the Holy Spirit, “just as we did,” is he referring to the indwelling Spirit which Peter and the others received in John 20 or the outpouring public sign of the Spirit which the Twelve received at Pentecost?

  22. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Nick,

    If you check the context you’ll see that “we” refers to we Jews. Peter’s point is that the Gentiles receive the Spirit just as do the Jews, not the apostles.

  23. Nick Gill says:

    Jay,

    Peter seems to be pointing to what was just seen by those circumcised believers in attendance — the “poured out” activity of the HS rather than the “indwelling” activity — which was definitely *not* how *all* the Jews received the Holy Spirit.

    Nowhere else in Luke/Acts does it suggest that the indwelling arrabon and paraclete inhabits believers before immersion. Thus, Occam’s razor suggests that the best interpretation of this passage ought not to require that additional complicating condition.

    Obviously, that doesn’t mean that Occam’s razor is right in this application — only that the addition of that condition is unnecessary to understand the material in question.

  24. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Nick,

    First Argument: In re “measures of the Spirit”

    I don’t follow you. You seem to be arguing from the H. Leo Boles playbook. I disagree with Boles on many things, including his notion that “baptism with the Holy Spirit” is somehow different from the “ordinary” indwelling. To accept Boles’ thesis (found his book on the Holy Spirit, which has heavily influenced CoC thinking but is very unorthodox as to the broader world of Christianity), you have to accept —

    * That John the Baptist found it more important to talk to his disciples about the salvation of the apostles and Cornelius than the salvation of his disciples when the Kingdom comes or the salvation of Jesus’ disciples generally. And that John’s speech to his disciples was not intended to be understood by them, because they certainly couldn’t have gotten from “baptism of the Spirit” that about 20 people would one day receive this gift. They would have heard an allusion to the Spirit being outpoured on all flesh, as Joel and other prophets promised.

    * That the baptism of the Spirit promised by Jesus to his apostles in Acts 1 is different in kind from the Spirit promised in Acts 2:38, although Peter seems to clearly tell his listeners that it’s all the same. He refers to the “gift of the Holy Spirit” as the “promise” in v. 39, which refers back to v. 33 “promise of the Holy Spirit” — which is a reference to Joel’s prophecy, which Peter says is exactly what the apostles there received. Re-read the sermon top to bottom and see if you don’t agree.

    * Acts 11 seems to make this abundantly clear to me (and is what convinced me to reject Bole’s highly selective Baconian methodology) —

    (Act 11:1-4 ESV) Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” 4 But Peter began and explained it to them in order:

    Acts 11 relates a conversion between Peter and members of the “circumcision party” — Christian Jews who weren’t keen on seeing Gentiles saved without circumcision.

    (Act 11:15-17 ESV) 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”

    Peter at this point has not mentioned the apostles or the 120 disciples. Hence, “us” refers to those present, a group of Jewish men, and of course Peter meant “us Jewish Christians” in contrast to “them” Gentiles.

    (Act 11:18 ESV) 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

    Their reaction is that God has granted salvation “to the Gentiles” — nor just Cornelius — because they are speaking and thinking in terms of Jews and Gentiles, not apostles and Cornelius. If they had perceived Cornelius to be some kind of special case who did not receive the same Spirit as the Jews in general, then they’d not have so easily generalized to Gentiles in general.

    * Acts 15 is even clearer —

    (Act 15:7-9 ESV) 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.

    Plainly, “us” is Christian Jews, not the apostles only, and “them” is Christian Gentiles. “Made no distinction between us and them” surely doesn’t mean that God treated Cornelius like an apostle of Jesus. No, the point is that both races/ethnicities receive the same Spirit prophesied by the apostles.

    This is much of what Acts is about — the Gentiles enter the Kingdom just as do the Jews. Cornelius was not a special case, except for being first. He was a typical, exemplary case meant to be generalized easily to all Gentiles.

    * Paul writes,

    (Tit 3:4-7 ESV) 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    Notice that Paul uses the language the Prophets — poured out on us — with regard to the gift of the Spirit received by all Christians.

    * Same in Rom 5:5 —

    (Rom 5:5 ESV) 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.

    The use of “pour” with “Spirit” also refers back to several OT prophesies as well as to Acts 2. And yet Act also describes an outpouring of the Spirit (following the language of Joel). Same language, same Spirit.

    Per Occam’s Razor (always a fan of Occam), the simplest explanation is just one Spirit, one outpouring, one “type” the Spirit. The gifts that come with the Spirit vary according to the Spirit’s will, but it’s all just the personal indwelling.

    So why use “baptism of the Spirit” in Acts 2 and 10? Because there was no concurrent baptism of water — and Luke wants to make the point that this is just as salvific as if immersion had taken place. It’s “baptism” just not the water kind.

    Why not refer to the several other baptisms in Acts as baptism in Spirit? Because they were in water and Spirit– normative and in no need of deep explanation. Luke was writing a history, not a theology of baptism.

    AND because the two references to John the Baptist promising baptism in the Spirit were intended to set a major theme of Luke-Acts — with “baptism” to be closely tied to “pour out” (more on this in a future post) and hence harken back to the prophets’ promises re the outpouring of the Spirit on “all flesh” (per Joel). Hence, we should read John the Baptist telling us that all baptisms in the name of Jesus are in the Spirit (unless the Spirit has already been received).

    The “all flesh” prophecy that Peter quotes and Peter’s sermon as a whole tie all future receipts of the Spirit together with Pentecost. Pentecost, as described by Luke, has a much stronger emphasis on the Spirit being poured out on all flesh (theme of Acts!) than water baptism (which is important but not the centerpiece of the sermon).

    Second Argument: When was Cornelius saved?

    * Cornelius did not receive a “measure” of the Spirit unlike that of the ordinary Christian. (See above.) (“Measures” are quantitative whereas Boles tries to use the word for qualitative differences — which is more than a little forced.)

    * In Acts 11 and Acts 15, Peter’s recounting of the salvation of Cornelius does not mention the baptism. Peter is only concerned with what God did. And Peter plainly intends to be understood as saying these Gentiles have been saved.

    (Act 11:13-18 ESV) 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel stand in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa and bring Simon who is called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

    11:13-14 states the theme of the passage: Cornelius “will be saved.” Vv. 18 recapitulates the theme with the Jews of the circumcision party declaring that God has saved them “has granted repentance that leads to life.” And yet Peter says nothing of their water baptism. In fact, he quotes John the Baptist’s contrasting water baptism with Spirit baptism — and if we’d been there listening to Peter quote John, we’d not have asked about water baptism either — because we were just told that Jesus himself would baptize with Spirit in contrast to water baptism.

    (Act 15:7-9 ESV) 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.

    Before the Jerusalem Council, Peter doesn’t say “God showed me it was ok to water baptize Gentiles.” Rather, he says that the Gentiles heard the gospel, believed, and God gave them the SPirit and “cleansed their hearts by faith.” Again, water baptism is not mentioned — just Spirit baptism.

    Per Occam’s Razor, it’s really easy to simplify all this, as Paul has done —

    (Rom 8:9-11 ESV) 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

    If you have the indwelling Spirit, you are saved; otherwise, not.

    Absent the confusion sown by Boles’ speculations, it’s really pretty easy. But the Churches of Christ have largely ignored all the above because so many deny the personal indwelling of the Spirit — which forces a crazy theory about measures and cessationism and all kinds of stuff just not found in the Bible.

    Oh, and this moves baptism out the center and replaces it, in the center, with things like faith in Jesus and the receipt of the Spirit, which is what Peter actually talks about. That’s doesn’t erase water baptism, but it gives it a healthier emphasis — so that it’s entirely appropriate to speak at the Jerusalem Council about salvation and Cornelius — with the apostles and elders and Paul and Barnabas present, among many others, and not mention water baptism, because baptism is not the question. It’s how God chooses to respond to those who approach him with faith.

  25. Nick Gill says:

    First Argument: In re “measures of the Spirit”

    I don’t follow you. You seem to be arguing from the H. Leo Boles playbook. I disagree with Boles on many things, including his notion that “baptism with the Holy Spirit” is somehow different from the “ordinary” indwelling.

    “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.’ And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.'” (John 20:19-23 NET)

    Notice the date John provides — John’s really particular about days. This is still Resurrection Day — Jesus appears among them and imparts the Holy Spirit unto them.

    “I wrote the former account, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after he had given orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. To the same apostles also, after his suffering, he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God. While he was with them, he declared, ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait there for what my Father promised, which you heard about from me. For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.'” (Acts 1:1-5 NET)

    Whatever Jesus is talking about obviously hasn’t happened yet.
    Whatever John is describing has already occurred.

    This is my quandary.

  26. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Nick,

    Here’s a post where I offered my thoughts on these passages: http://oneinjesus.info/2011/12/acts-2-were-the-apostles-baptized-in-water-part-2/

    And now I have to find something to do with my 2000-word comment.

    PS — I find the resolution in prolepsis, a figure of speech common in John 13-17 where Jesus speaks of something as having happened that has not yet happened, to emphasize the certainty of the future that Jesus sees. I’m not very doctrinaire on the subject, that is, I’m open to other suggestions, but that fits Jesus’ use of language and deals with the fact that in Jesus 7:37-39 (from memory) John says that the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified. I take “glorified” to refer not to the resurrection but the Ascension when he was seated at God’s right hand.

    “Glory” generally refers to the literal, bright, shining presence of God. Hence, a literal glorification is to be brought into God’s presence in heaven. John 12:16 seems to refer to Jesus post-Ascension. But it’s hard to insist on that, but it does all fit together, I think.

    Still, the clinching passage to me is —

    (Joh 16:7 ESV) 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

    “Go away” and “send” seem to suggest that Jesus will do this from heaven. It’s not consistent with John 20. Then he’d have said “come back” and “bring.”

  27. Pingback: "Muscle & Shovel": Chapter 8D (Cornelius and H. Leo Boles) | One In JesusOne In Jesus

  28. Jay:
    I get your point about how that if grace will not cover doctrinal error, then we must be must be doctrinally perfect to be saved. I also get the point that people in various groups may have faith in Jesus and love for him, but have a flawed understanding of certain issues. Here is an interesting question for you. Let’s say you know a person who professes faith in Jesus and love for him. He says that he robs banks for Jesus in order to give to the poor, and that to his understanding this is exactly what Jesus wants him to do. Will grace cover that?

  29. Alabama John says:

    May I be so bold to answer as this has been asked me in different circumstances?

    If the bank or any other business owned by the Egyptians is owed something and its time to leave for the red sea Gods grace would cover it.

    Same goes for stealing food, clothes, vehicles, gas, and even lives from the enemy while escaping their clutches and praying God forgive me.

    Sin or not, depends on the situation.

  30. Alabama John – regular old bank robber in Alabama – this is not an exercise in situational ethics

  31. Grace says:

    Perhaps answering this will help with your situation. Did God give Jacob grace when he deceived Isaac to receive the blessing?

  32. Justin, I can’t speak for Jay, but my answer is “yes”. I know people who gossip and condemn others their entire lives, and they call it “speaking the truth in love”. I know believers who live their entire lives and never help the poor to any appreciable extent; they call it “caring for their own”. I know entire congregations who keep their money in the bank or spend it on air conditioning instead of caring for widows and orphans; they call it stewardship. Jesus condemned people who saw him “a stranger, and you didn’t take me in”. Most American Christians have never pulled a blanket over a poor stranger in their own homes. Grace covers them, too.

    Using an extreme example does not intimidate a thinking person. We quickly get past the idea that while God’s grace does cover things WE consider “not so bad”, it thins out to insufficiency for those particular sins WE find particularly abhorrent. Such a limited grace would be a very human one, and would certainly never have reached the grand height of sacrificing one’s own son for impenitent and uncaring sinners who would ultimately reject him. We cannot fathom what God has already done, so we file His extravagance away behind mild phrases and seldom contemplate its enormity. It is this intentional myopia that allows us the hubris to blithely judge how much grace God can have for other believers without throwing ourselves on our faces in gratitude that he has continuing grace on US.

  33. Alabama John says:

    Justin, I am just an old country man and do not know what siteation ethics is.
    My answer would be “Yes”.

  34. It’s very interesting to read your replies, Charles Mclean and Alabama John. I wasn’t expecting that. So, grace would cover a person who says they are bank robbing for Jesus. Very interesting.

  35. I would still like to hear Jay’s take on the bank robber.

  36. Alabama John says:

    Justin, Everyone loves Robin Hood, write books about him and even make movies.

  37. Grace says:

    Never known of anyone who robs a banks for Jesus. I have seen plenty of jerks for Jesus, people who don’t show any fruit of the Spirit toward others.

  38. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Patience
    Jay is in the hospital for gall bladder surgery
    About to go home and sleep a while

  39. Hank says:

    Justin,

    Not sure if you caught it, but on an earlier thread, it was argued that “grace” will cover those who believe in Jesus but who refuse to acknowledge him because of the fact that they love the praises of men more than God.

    It’s therefore no surprise that it would be argued here that that same “grace” would cover the bank robbers for Jesus (if there are any).

    “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be LOST?”

  40. Justin, how do you see the bank robber’s self-justified sin, compared to the self-justified sins of the greedy or the selfish or the judgmental? Or what about the believer who is simply proud, as in “I thank you, Lord, that I am not as other men are”? I could line up a group of those folks from here to Christmas. Is there somewhere along this spectrum that you would draw a line that says “Grace goes this far and no farther”? That would be interesting to hear about as well. Thanks.

    I would note that there is a large difference between approving of a believer’s actions and understanding that God’s grace applies to them. To assume that to take the position I have here is to condone bank robbery (or pride, for that matter) would be a mistake. Our sins are why God disciplines his sons. (I think the KJV’s uncomfortable “scourges” is actually a better rendition, if not culturally comfortable.) But Father disciplines us believers for our sins, to deliver us from them. He does not take us out to the woodshed and kill us. The fact that Father is long-suffering and gracious with us does not mean he is no longer holy.

  41. Praying for you, Jay!

  42. Hank wrote,“When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be LOST?”

    Some of those disciples were not only astonished, they were also bitterly disappointed. “Lord, so what is the point of our being better than that publican over there –a self-confessed sinner– if you are going to go ahead and justify him anyway?” 8/

  43. Hank says:

    Not only him, but even the Pharisee who thanked God that he wasn’t like that Publican, he would be saved by grace too. But why stop there? I’m sure that Judas will spend eternity in heaven as well. Why would grace not cover him?

    The flip side of arguing that there is a limit to God’s grace, is arguing that there is no limit at all. Which is the only real position for everyone who “believes” to know that they are always saved (be sure of their salvation) no matter what.

  44. Nick Gill says:

    I’m sure that Judas will spend eternity in heaven as well. Why would grace not cover him?

    He showed more repentance and grief for his own sinfulness than many baptized believers I’ve met.

    Hank, rather than attacking anyone else who tries to articulate where they believe the limit of grace is, why don’t you man up and tell us where you believe the limit is.

    Many believe that grace only covers one thing: known error (moral or doctrinal) that has been confessed (some will allow for private confession, others assert that only publicly confessed sin can be covered by grace) and repented of by a person who has experienced immersion in water by a believer, knowing at the time that that immersion was to receive remission of sins and to be added to the one true a cappella church of Jesus Christ.

    Is it possible for us at least to agree that that statement of grace is too narrow?

  45. Hank says:

    “Hank, rather than attacking anyone else who tries to articulate where they believe the limit of grace is, why don’t you man up and tell us where you believe the limit is.”

    Nick, who is it that you believe I have attacked? What did I write that could could be construed as an “attack”? I shall be more careful and instead humbly inquire of others as to why they don’t “man up” and answer whatever question(s) I may have. Like you did of me.

    To your question though (as to where “the limit of grace is”) – I don’t know. I have never argued otherwise. I believe it varies upon the individual and their sin. But I believe that there is a limit. At some point.

    Do you believe that there is a limit, somewhere? Or no limit at all?

    If you believe that there is a limit (but do not know where/at which point), then you are like me.

    If you claim to know where the limit is, than do share.

    So, you either:

    1. Believe there is no limit.
    2. Believe there is, but like me do not know where precisely.
    3. Believe that there is, AND do know where it is precisely.

    Where do you stand brother?

  46. Nick Gill says:

    I’m not sure where I messed up my HTML code, but the end of that post should not have been indented and italicized. As it is, it is sort of confusing, so let me repost that part.

    Hank asked:

    Where do you stand brother?

    Nick here:

    I believe there is a limit. I will attempt to articulate (as precisely as I know how) where I believe that limit is, but I am not so certain of it that I’m unwilling to change my thinking (since I changed my thinking several times to get to what I think today). So, in a nutshell, here are where I believe Scripture draws the limits of grace for believers.

    1. Rejection of faith (“He who does not believe shall be condemned” among a host of other passages)
    2. Rejection of repentance (Hebrews 6; 1 John 1)
    3. (which might be considered 1a) — Rejection of reliance upon “faith working in love” as the only mark of justification (The Galatian Heresy)
    4. (which might be 1b or 3b) — Self-justification (Matthew 7, where Jesus depicts people having the temerity to stand before him on the day of Judgment and trot out their works as credentials for entry into the New Jerusalem; cf. the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican)

    That’s where I stand, brother. Now, please answer your own question for me. What do you believe Scripture reveals as the limits of grace?

  47. Hank says:

    “You feel free to critique everyone who tries to draw out of Scripture some kind of understanding on the extent of grace, but when you are asked to *add* something to the discussion, you shrug your shoulders and say, You feel free to critique everyone who tries to draw out of Scripture some kind of understanding on the extent of grace, but when you are asked to *add* something to the discussion, you shrug your shoulders and say, “I dunno where the limit is, but I know it ain’t there. Or there. Or there. Or there.” It sounds like you have a very firm idea in your head of where the limit is; how else could you question other people’s articulation of the idea if you don’t have a pretty firm grasp on it yourself? It sounds like you have a very firm idea in your head of where the limit is; how else could you question other people’s articulation of the idea if you don’t have a pretty firm grasp on it yourself?”

    Not so. The only questioning I have done of “other people’s articulation” is when and where they imply that there is no limit at all. I mean, I first commented on this most recent post AFTER reading the arguments of people here contending that the grace of God that brings salvation extends to bank robbers for Jesus. Thats just crazy too me.

    And I have not said, “I dunno where the limit is, but I know it ain’t there. Or there. Or there. Or there.”
    (Which was classy of you to use the word “dunno”, you ARE the fineSt example to follow here).

    What I have said (and still say), is that I simply do not know where the limit to God’s grace is. I don’t know. I believe it varies with certain individuals.

    I just aslo know that if and when others admit the same (that they do not know themselves), then they have to give up criticizing those who warn against the dangers of believing certain errors or living in certain sins.

    I know there is a limit. And I know that those who refuse to acknowledge the Savior are lost. And so is Judas.

  48. Hank says:

    Not to be overly technical, but I am more guilty if making fun of peoples positions (that no believer can be lost).

    You, misquote people with ignorant language (“dunno” and “ain’t”) to try to make them seem stupid.

    And all the while, you play as if it offends you…

  49. Nick Gill says:

    I mean, I first commented on this most recent post AFTER reading the arguments of people here contending that the grace of God that brings salvation extends to bank robbers for Jesus. Thats just crazy too me.

    So you don’t know where the limit is, but you know that wherever it is, that guy is so far beyond it that anyone who has any doubt of it is basically a universalist. That sounds like you know something about where the limit is, but for some reason you won’t articulate the thought process you use that leads to the following result:

    Bank robber for Jesus = so clearly damned that it is crazy to imagine otherwise.

    they have to give up criticizing those who warn against the dangers of believing certain errors or living in certain sins.

    Ahh… and herein lies the problem. No one here — no one — if you can find a regular participant in comment conversations on One In Jesus that fits the bill, I will stop commenting for one month — no one believes that it is BETTER to live in error or sin than to live in truth and light. We participate in these conversations because we all believe that it is unhealthy to live in error and/or sin.

    So where’s the problem? “certain errors… certain sins.” If you truly have no idea “where the limit to God’s grace is,” then you must criticize every error and every sin, all the time, and be in constant confessional prayer for forgiveness, or else constantly live in a state of not knowing to whom you truly belong.

    But you don’t live that way.

    You believe certain errors can be held safely, while other errors are dangerous.

    So do I. You and I disagree on what those errors are, but you and I both feel compelled to warn others of the dangers of enforcing what we believe to be error.

    The difference is that I’m trying to follow Jay’s example to be open with the group, putting my thought process on the table because I *know* I am in error and that I need you and Royce and Grace and Justin and Ray and all the rest of my brothers and sisters in Christ — all of us who share the Spirit — to participate in God’s reshaping of me into Christlikeness.

    It seems sad to me that you’re not sure if you or anyone else you know is in Christ — I mean, maybe the limits of grace are so small that no one we’ve ever met is actually in Christ.

  50. Hank says:

    Good points. But, Royce is whack 😉

  51. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Justin asked,

    Let’s say you know a person who professes faith in Jesus and love for him. He says that he robs banks for Jesus in order to give to the poor, and that to his understanding this is exactly what Jesus wants him to do. Will grace cover that?

    In today’s world, it’s hard to imagine those facts actually arising, as robbing a bank is both considered wrong by society in general and requires the use or threat of violence. Such a hypothetical Christian would have to be delusional — and I suppose that God makes allowance for the mentally ill.

    Let’s try a question that actually comes up. An engaged couple comes to the local minister wanting to join the church. It turns out they know nothing of Jesus and Christianity at all, coming from a part of the country where Christianity is essentially dead and very misunderstood.

    The minister teaches Jesus and baptism and faith and repentance, and they are thrilled to learn the truth about Jesus and to be baptized (correctly).

    A month later, they ask the minister to marry them and he insists on pre-marital counseling, which they happily agree to. In the course of the counseling, he learns that they are having sex and had no idea that pre-marital sex violates God’s will. After all, few Bibles define “fornication” or “sexual immorality.” Where they grew up, sex between engaged people is not only acceptable but standard behavior, with no moral implications of any kind.

    Thus, in their hearts, they did not sin. They had no idea that sex outside of marriage was wrong, and the preacher’s lesson plan didn’t cover it because where he grew up, everybody knows that premarital sex is wrong.

    As soon as they learn this teaching, they immediately submit themselves to Jesus and remain abstinent until their wedding night.

    Now, were they damned from the moment of their baptism until they stopped having sexual relations? And if not, does that mean premarital sex is permitted by God? If they were damned, do they have to repent of all other sins to become saved?

    This is a particularly tricky one in the minds of some because of such verses as —

    (Gal 5:19-21 ESV) 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    On the other hand, if you apply this passage strictly, well, to be honest, it describes some of our congregations! And does every moment of envy damn?

    What do you think?

    PS — Hint: “do” in the last verse is present participle active in the Greek.

  52. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Ala. John and Justin,

    (Exo 3:21-22 ESV) 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

    (Exo 3:21-22 KJV) 21 And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: 22 But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

    The KJV gives the false impression that the Israelites borrowed these things, with a false promise to return them. ESV is more accurate in translating they request a gift.

    The translators of the NET Bible see it as a matter of plunder following a military victory — which God himself had won with 10 plagues —

    It is clear that God intended the Israelites to plunder the Egyptians, as they might a defeated enemy in war. They will not go out “empty.” They will “plunder” Egypt. This verb (‌וְנִצַּלְתֶּם‎‏‎ [venitsaltem] from ‌נָצַל‎‏‎ [natsal]) usually means “rescue, deliver,” as if plucking out of danger. But in this stem it carries the idea of plunder. So when the text says that they will ask (‌וְשָׁאֲלָה‎‏‎, vesha’alah) their neighbors for things, it implies that they will be making many demands, and the Egyptians will respond like a defeated nation before victors. The spoils that Israel takes are to be regarded as back wages or compensation for the oppression (see also Deu 15:13). See further B. Jacob, “The Gifts of the Egyptians, a Critical Commentary,” Journal of Reformed Judaism 27 (1980): 59-69; and T. C. Vriezen, “A Reinterpretation of Exo 3:21-22 and Related Texts,” Ex Oriente Lux 23 (1975): 389-401.

    In short, it was a demand for reparations — which was ordinary and customary in that day and time following a war. And so, I guess had there been a First Bank of Egypt, it could have been plundered.

  53. Nick Gill says:

    You, misquote people with ignorant language (“dunno” and “ain’t”) to try to make them seem stupid

    Brother Hank,

    I sincerely apologize for offending you with my language choice during my attempt to characterize the way I perceive your style of communication. I was raised in Alabama, and I use “dunno” and “ain’t” every day. I used them to generate a sense of hastiness in response, not an attempt to make you seem less intelligent. I don’t think you are ignorant or stupid – in fact, precisely the opposite, which is at the heart of my frustration. I know you are more than intelligent enough to know that neither Jay nor I believe that there are absolutely no limits to God’s grace — yet you seem to characterize any position that doesn’t fit what you already believe about the limits of God’s grace (a variable you still won’t even attempt to share) as one that rejects all limits. In other words, either we get lucky and match up with your thoughts on grace or we are universalists.

    I’m not trying to trick you or get you to share something only for the opportunity of skewering you… I am just trying to garner for the rest of the group the opportunities you have: the opportunity to critique someone’s understanding of the matter. You critique our positions, but share nothing in return.

    All that being said, let me return to where I began. It was wrong of me to caricature your position meanspiritedly, and I am very, very sorry.

  54. Jay: Hope your feeling better. My hypothetical case is a little far fetched. Here’s another one. Let’s say a homosexual couple comes to your church. They believe that the Bible teaches that it is not sinful to be in a monogamous homosexual relationship. What do you tell them? Does grace cover this?

  55. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Justin,

    No fair. I asked you a question. Answer mine and then I’ll answer yours.

  56. Hank says:

    “…neither Jay nor I believe that there are absolutely no limits to God’s grace — yet you seem to characterize any position that doesn’t fit what you already believe about the limits of God’s grace (a variable you still won’t even attempt to share) as one that rejects all limits. In other words, either we get lucky and match up with your thoughts on grace or we are universalists.”

    I know that you guys do affirm that there is a limit to God’s grace. I believe that most here would also agree. However, there are some here who “seem” to believe that there IS NO limit to said grace. I say that because at least one well known contributor here has argued that God’s grace will save even those “believers” who refuse to even acknowledge the Lord because they prefer the praises of men over the praises from God. I assume you (and Jay) would deny that such believers would be saved in that situation?

    Basically, if the (presumably) un-immersed “believers” who REFUSE to acknowledge the Son of God will be saved by his grace, then what “believer” would possibly not be? If such were true (that believers who refuse to acknowledge the Lord are still saved), who could be lost? (Mind you, we are not considering non believers, but “believers”). It would be seemingly impossible for a believer to be lost if he can be save even while refusing to acknowledge the only Son of God.

    You made valid points about my inability to precisely define exactly how far the grace of God will cover the sins of us believers. Because I do not know. I realize that the “tables can be turned” on me and that I would end up having no clear answer as to how I KNOW that your or I are even saved ourselves. I get that. I just don’t believe that the answer is to make the circle so big that it covers even the authorities of Jn 12 who refused to even acknowledge the Savior.

    Now, I have read Jay’s past attempts (as well as yours and others) attempting to explain precisely where the grace of God no longer saves (refusing to have “faith”, etc), but it seems so very vague as to be basically no explanation at all.

    I mean, what about the Pope? Or the Mormon elder? Or the un-immersed “Christian”? Or the faithful practicing homosexuals mentioned above?

    If we can’t say that any or all of those are outside of the grace of God, then who is?

    It just seems as though unless one takes the position of “universal believerism” (if you will). Then really, we are in the exact same boat of uncertainty. Only your boat is a whole lot bigger…

    Does that make sense?

    BTW – your apology is accepted. Its easy to write things in ways and with words we shouldn’t. If we could control our fingers, we would be perfect bro 😉

  57. Alabama John says:

    Jay, the word SPOIL as used in Exo 3:21-22 usually means far more than taking “things”. That is why many Egyptians up to today have a Jewish look.

  58. Grace says:

    Judas felt sorrow, not godly sorrow. True repentance turns us toward God, not away from Him.

    There is the list of sins in Romans 1:29-32 that we all commit. I don’t believe we should condemn a person who commits homosexuality anymore than we should condemn a person who commits envy, covetousness, pride, and deceit, those who are disobedient to their parents, people who are untrustworthy, someone who is unloving, unforgiving, and unmerciful toward another.

    What we should do is point anyone doing any of these sins to God’s word and to the goodness of God. And let Him do His work and lead them to repentance.

    We all have sins we fail in. Instead of being like Judas, we should turn to God and confess our sins to Him. 1 John 1:8-9

    When we are critical and condemning of a person, that’s how the accuser wants us to be. Having the heart of God we ache for another with His compassion, and let God do His work without trying to take the lead over Him.

  59. Hank says:

    Grace, you wrote:

    “I don’t believe we should condemn a person who commits homosexuality anymore than we should condemn a person who commits envy, covetousness, pride, and deceit, those who are disobedient to their parents, people who are untrustworthy, someone who is unloving, unforgiving, and unmerciful toward another.”

    I understand you believing that we shouldn’t treat any sin/sinner different from any other. Personally (if it were up to me), I would agree. But, in the Scriptures, doesnt God make a distinction between certain sins and sinners? Some churches were instructed to remove themselves from a certain sinner and to deliver the sexually immoral brother over to Satan, right?

    Other Christians were instructed to keep away from other Christians who were idle and not walking according to the tradition they had received.

    So, it seems clear that certain sins and/or sinners ARE to be treated differently than others. We ALL have sin (every one of us), but not all of us are supposed to keep away away from all of us. Nor are we all to deliver all of us to Satan.

    Its very tough and seems almost impossible to be consistent here. But, there are differences in sin(s) and how they should be addressed. According to God

  60. Grace says:

    God doesn’t tell us to condemn the person. God’s word tells us to not let the person have too much sorrow over not being around us. That does not benefit them or us to do such a thing to them.

    2 Corinthians 2:5-11 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

  61. Jay – You did ask some questions about the pre-marital situation, and I’ll try to answer them.

    Your questions:
    Now, were they damned from the moment of their baptism until they stopped having sexual relations? And if not, does that mean premarital sex is permitted by God? If they were damned, do they have to repent of all other sins to become saved?

    First let’s define the sin as a sin of ignorance. They didn’t know it was wrong.

    This is an interesting scenario. I’ll show you my reasoning from two perspectives.

    One: Let’s follow the scenario to it’s logical extremes.
    Extreme A: Grace does not cover sins of ignorance. This implies that we must know every type of sin we might commit and avoid doing so. This seems absurd.
    Extreme B: God’s grace covers all sins of ignorance. Thus, the less we know, the less culpable we are. Thus, no one is culpable unless they know it is wrong…this also seems absurd.

    Both of these extremes seem to have problems to me, so I would propose a another
    option that is kind of relational (ah, yes).

    Two: Relational perspective
    In a relationship, one would deal with a person as a whole…not this sin or that sin…this grace or that grace. The question is whether the person is really faithful to that relationship. Then, one would have to use judgement in each case to determine that. So, I hope that in this case, these people would be following Christ faithfully and that a sin of ignorance would be covered by grace.

    So – the question I think can be answered that God will judge righteously, and I will leave it to him to judge such people on a personal basis based on their faith.

    Do I know how God will judge this situation: Not sure. I hope the case would be that grace would cover them.

    Would I advise them to take the safest route with their souls – absolutely! Take no chances.

    Now, I hope you’ll consider my question. Thanks.

  62. Nick Gill says:

    So, it seems clear that certain sins and/or sinners ARE to be treated differently than others. We ALL have sin (every one of us), but not all of us are supposed to keep away away from all of us. Nor are we all to deliver all of us to Satan.

    Its very tough and seems almost impossible to be consistent here. But, there are differences in sin(s) and how they should be addressed. According to God.

    This is a hard truth, Hank, and you’ve expressed it well. This is precisely where hypotheticals serve us poorly, because we are desperate for a general rule to apply — our Western minds are so convinced that the best (maybe only) path to truth is to extrapolate general principles from specific pieces of data, and that’s certainly an important *part* of how we know what we know. But it is a fallible method, dangerously so because it lets us feel a great deal of confidence that is based on our own mental skills. We relegate prayer for wisdom, communal spiritual discernment, and the wisdom of the elders in each situation to some lesser means of knowing and acting — but it seems to be exactly how the early church discerned which sinners needed to be ostracized and which comforted and welcomed.

  63. Grace says:

    God doesn’t tell us to condemn the person. God’s word tells us to not let the person have too much sorrow over not being around us. That does not benefit the person or us to do such a thing to them.

    2 Corinthians 2:5-11 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

  64. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Ala. John,

    As I recall, the Talmud records that not all Jews left Egypt. Some chose not to partake of the Passover feast — surely for lack of faith. And they presumably lost their oldest son and otherwise stayed in Egypt and inter-married.

    It also seems likely that some Jews fled to Egypt after the Babylonians descended on Jerusalem.

    And there was at least the Elephantine colony of Jews in Egypt.

    In short, plenty of opportunities for intermarriage.

  65. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Hank asks,

    But, in the Scriptures, doesnt God make a distinction between certain sins and sinners? Some churches were instructed to remove themselves from a certain sinner and to deliver the sexually immoral brother over to Satan, right?

    It’s easy to find in the NT lists of various sins that the author says will deny participants heaven. However, each list is different, and many contain items that we don’t find all that wicked.

    (1Co 6:9-10 ESV) 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    It’s easy to condemn those who engage in homosexuality based on this verse, but who is “greedy” by Paul’s standards? They are just as condemned.

    (Rom 1:29-32 ESV) 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

    “Gossips”? “Disobedient to parents”?

    (Gal 5:19-21 ESV) 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    “Rivalries”? “Divisions”? Sounds like a lot of churches I’m familiar with.

    Therefore, we can either take these as “super-sins” rather like the Catholic mortal sins, and declare them utterly outside of grace, which seems contrary to everything else we know about grace (and would surely damn us all) — or else we can conclude that these are examples of sins that, in that place and culture, have been taught against or are generally known to be wrong so that someone who indulges in them is behaving in a rebellious way — that is, fully aware that this is wrong.

    In our culture, no sane person thinks robbing a bank is okay with God. There may be other cultures that see things differently, but in the US, those who rob banks know that they are not only breaking the law but displeasing God — absent very extreme facts, such as mental illness.

    This is why in 1 Cor 5 Paul makes a point of noting that even the pagans consider incest to be sin. The couple in sin knew they were engaging in sin.

    The difficulty we have today (and Paul had then) is that the culture often condones behavior that Jesus did not. The result is a need for teaching, and you’d think that, generally, penitent people would accept apostolic teaching. And it can be jaw dropping to consider some of the sins that Paul has to deal with in his letters — usually without disfellowshipping his readers, just trusting them to accept his authority as an apostle.

    (1Jo 4:6 ESV) 6 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.

    Of course, to submit to apostolic instruction is not the same as submitting to Jay’s instruction. But there has to be an agreement that the scriptures decide what is right and wrong, not our consciences and not culture — with due allowance for the need to teach the truth.

  66. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Justin,

    Very well done. The relational perspective is obviously very helpful in the analysis. Because the couple proves their penitence by changing their behavior when better instructed, clearly they were (by definition) penitent. And, of course, the church’s leadership must teach its members right from wrong. And yet we should judge the whole person — not that this buys an indulgence for known sin but it does keep us from ignoring the entire person and his heart and overall relationship with God.

    The much more difficult question, whether it’s homosexual sex or gossip or disobedience to parents, is what happens if the church member does not accept the instruction as apostolic.

    (1Jo 4:6 ESV) 6 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.

    I think John makes it clear that our members must accept the scriptures as authoritative — but obviously we often disagree about what the scriptures mean. Church leaders have the duty to teach what they consider to be true and even to impose congregational discipline when necessary to protect the church or the sinners from the effect of their sin. This is very un-Western, especially in the US where we generally refuse to accept the authority of our leaders, even in church. But the elders in particular are charged with teaching sound doctrine — and if you join a church, you are subject to their God-given authority.

    Many readers will doubtlessly freak, but what’s the alternative? To vote? To let each member do as he or she pleases? Of course, we are often desperately unhappy with our choice of elders, but the scriptures are pretty plain.

    (Tit 1:9-11 ESV) 9 [An overseer] must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. 10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

    The problem, of course, is that we often do a terrible job of ordaining elders — which is another topic altogether — but clearly the elders are charged to set congregational doctrine and to rebuke those who are insubordinate (refuse to submit). (And we need a major revolution in how we evaluate elder candidates.)

    In theory, someone who, in genuine penitence, disagrees with the leadership about instrumental music, or homosexual conduct, or division, or gossip, may nonetheless have a penitent heart and remain in grace. But he must nonetheless submit to the congregation’s leadership, agree or not.

    (Heb 13:17 ESV) 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

    Per BDAG, “leaders” is 1. to be in a supervisory capacity, lead, guide;

    “Submit” is 1. to give out, give, give up, yield or 2. to meet a contractual or other obligation, pay, pay out, fulfill

    Hence, despite a lot of bad exegesis on this and similar passages, the leadership of the church actually matters, and they have the burden of deciding what is and isn’t sin — and they’ll bear God’s judgment when they are wrong.

    Thus, in any of these cases, the question isn’t just “is he covered by grace?” but also “what should church leadership do?” — and the leadership should teach the truth — lovingly, gently, patiently.

    (2Ti 2:23-26 ESV) 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

    That’s what we should call “gospel preaching.” I see no place for “taking a stand” unless our stand is for love, forbearance, and patience.

  67. Hank says:

    “God’s word tells us to not let the person have too much sorrow over not being around us.”

    True, but that was in his second letter to them. Presumably, after the brother repented and came back after being ostracized and handed over to Satan.

    But no doubt, he and his sin were treated differently than those of the others.

  68. Grace says:

    Paul didn’t say the person had to say they want us to forgive them, he said, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.

    We don’t really know what’s going on inside a person. God knows what a persons been through in their life. They could have abused as a child and we don’t know it, but God does. God knows what a person has been through, and sometimes things have happened to people that may take years to work on. You could look at a person and say, oh my how terrible their behavior is! God could look at that same person and say, you have things we will work on together, but look how far you’ve come.

    That’s why I believe we don’t condemn.

  69. Hank says:

    Sure, but the fact that Paul instructs them to forgive the brother he had not long before instructed them to ostracize and hand over to Satan, clearly implies he had repented of his immoral behavior.

    In this particular case recorded in scripture, their “condemnation” of his sin led to a soul being saved. Perhaps more souls would be saved if more of the same was taking place?

    One thing is certain, God is in favor of doing what he says in the situations he says to do it. It’s difficult for sure. But he has said what he said…

  70. Hank says:

    Grace, I am trying to understand your position (without putting words in your mouth).

    Do you believe that no sinners and/or sins should be treated any differently than others? Since we are all sinners anyway? Is that what you believe is Gods will?

  71. Grace says:

    As I said, we all have sins we fail in. The Scriptures list all the sins that are against us all. There are sins that need to be approached in a different way by the church, that doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t have sins that God is working on too. And actually the church for years has turned people away from God being critical and condemning to them, they more or less have put out the message, God forbid a sinner be in church with them!

    When we are critical and condemning of a person, that’s how the accuser wants us to be. Having the heart of God we ache for another with His compassion, and let God do His work without trying to take the lead over Him.

    I don’t know about you, but I need God’s grace everyday.

  72. Alabama John says:

    Jay,

    In 400 years, that’s a lot of generations in slavery. Mixing of the two races, slaves and master usually happens pretty fast and usually starts with the slave women first. No telling who all else was in slavery to the Egyptians that got mixed in that blood quantum.

    After 400 years many Jews would consider themselves to be Egyptian by blood, worship and nationality. The claim usually goes up in status, not down. Knowing how many Jews were sincere in either putting the blood on their door post or not and thus saving their first born sons is impossible for us to know and its like so many things to be judged, left to God.

    Same as happened just a few hundred years ago when black slaves from other countries were brought here.

  73. Alabama John says:

    Where does the sin of Glutony fit in with all the other sins?

    Seems that one fits most in the church today and is seldom talked about and is accepted by the members sitting next to you far more than any other I know of.

    Seen many be withdrawn from for other sins, but never this one.

  74. Hank says:

    Good point, AJ. Although does the Bible instruct to “withdraw” from the gluttonous? Again, its certainly hard (if not virtually impossible) to be consistent here.

    However, the answer surely must not be to ignore the commands

  75. R.J. says:

    “Let’s say a homosexual couple comes to your church. They believe that the Bible teaches that it is not sinful to be in a monogamous homosexual relationship”

    I would have to honestly question their penitence and lovingly urge them to change. Because homosexuality is not only against God and morals but also against nature. But it’s not the unforgivable sin! Through the spirit of God they can be transformed!!!

  76. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    AJ,

    I certainly wouldn’t deny that intermarriage occurred pre-Exodus. The Law had not yet been given. And if Moses, as a Jewish adopted son of the Pharaoh’s daughter, could be accepted in Egyptian society, it’s likely true of others.

  77. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Hank,

    You’re not going to find me arguing against church discipline. The NT plainly teaches it. There are two practical barriers —

    * Very weak teaching on when it’s appropriate due to very weak teaching on when someone is in jeopardy for his soul.

    * The legitimate fear that the church will not back the leaders’ decision — even splitting the church. It’s done wrong so often it’s fallen into disrepute among the general membership. The practice needs to be redeemed, but it’s a long row to hoe.

    The theology I can sort out. But the practical problems of disfellowshipping a member are really, really tough.

  78. We have, for most practical purposes, eviscerated church discipline by subdividing the local church into isolated, autonomous, mutually-exclusive enclaves. We have created a Christendom where we do not help one another change; we merely subdivide into homogeneous groups wherein no one need change. The idea of “obeying the elders” ignores the reality we have created: the ability to pick the set of elders whose leadership we can live with. When Jesus told the Jews about how to resolve disputes, the option of voting with one’s feet and leaving the tribe to join a more-amenable tribe down the street was simply unthinkable. For us, it’s a way of life.

  79. Hank says:

    Jay and Charles,

    Exactly! (Did I just say that)…

  80. Grace says:

    Church discipline doesn’t mean God no longer gives His grace. He doesn’t quit what He is doing in a person’s life. We’d all be without hope if He did! Just think of all the people you murder driving down the road or even just in the parking lot at Wal-Mart.

    Matthew 5:21-22 You have heard that it was said to our people long ago, You must not murder anyone. Any person who commits murder will be judged. But I tell you, don’t be angry with anyone. If you are angry with others, you will be judged. And if you insult someone, you will be judged by the high court. And if you call someone a fool, you will be in danger of the fire of hell.

    Matthew 5:43-48 You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong. If you love only those who love you, why should you get a reward for that? Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than anyone else. Even the people who don’t know God are nice to their friends. What I am saying is that you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

  81. Hank says:

    “Church discipline doesn’t mean God no longer gives His grace.”

    Oh, no doubt! In fact, it is by God’s grace that he instructs us to take difficult action toward certain brethren caught up in certain sins. It’s his way of trying to save us by his grace.

    For the grace of God that brings salvation trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.

    Its just that sometimes his grace that brings salvation “trains” us by being ostracized by our brethren and (as harsh as it sounds) being “handed over to Satan”.

    As many have said here, it is very difficult and challenging. But, the scriptures are plain on it being the will of God.

  82. Grace says:

    The church for years have abused their discipline, pretty much saying to people no sinners are allowed in the church. The church should follow that God says to gently and lovingly discipline people. And the church should not put aside that God says that we are to give grace to each other, not sometimes, but always.

    Luke 6:37 Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you.

    2 Corinthians 2:5-11 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

  83. Alabama John says:

    RJ,

    I would ask them to sing and hope they did as good as Roy Oberson and K. D. Lang on “Crying”.

    Homosexuals in animals and humans goes way back and in most cultures, they were either treated as special, priviledged individuals or killed outright.

    In animals like cows, there are bulls and cows and every once in a while one that likes the other sex usually a male. These where I live were usually fattened up and killed as their meat didn’t have the male taste of a bull, heifer, cow, or of a steer. It was different and some said sweeter.

    Some choose to be homosexuals for some unexplainable reasons to normal folks, but, many are born such and their looks and preferences as children growing up show it.
    .

  84. Larry Cheek says:

    Grace,
    Do you understand that in 2 Cor. Paul is giving the church instructions how to treat their brother who repented of his actions. It is obvious that some in the church were having problems with accepting him back in full fellowship after his repentance. It is a common failure today also.

  85. Grace says:

    The people at church that need to be disciplined could be people who are not really saved. Handing someone over to Satan could show them their need for Jesus.

    1 Corinthians 5:11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.

    God doesn’t take sin lightly. God also doesn’t take lightly when people are unforgiving and unmerciful. When we are unforgiving it hurts us and it can cause someone else to stumble in sin worse so than before.

    When a person says they are sorry, or asks any of their brothers or sisters to forgive them, or expresses sorrow, Jesus says we are to forgive.

    Luke 6:37 Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you.

    There are sins that need to be approached in a different way by the church, that doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t have sins that God is working on too.

    Church discipline doesn’t mean God no longer gives His grace. He doesn’t quit what He is doing in a person’s life, we’d all be without hope if He did!

    We don’t really know what’s going on inside a person. God knows what a persons been through in their life. They could have been abused as a child and we don’t know it, but God does. God knows what a person has been through, and sometimes things have happened to people that may take years to work on. You could look at a person and say, oh my how terrible their behavior is! God could look at that same person and say, you have things we will work on together, but look how far you’ve come. That’s why I believe we don’t condemn.

    When we are critical and condemning of a person, that’s how the accuser wants us to be. Having the heart of God we have His compassion on others.

    James 2:13 Anyone who shows no loving-kindness will have no loving-kindness shown to him when he is told he is guilty. But if you show loving-kindness, God will show loving-kindness to you when you are told you are guilty.

    I need God’s grace everyday.

  86. Nick Gill says:

    Church discipline doesn’t mean God no longer gives His grace. He doesn’t quit what He is doing in a person’s life, we’d all be without hope if He did!
    When we are critical and condemning of a person, that’s how the accuser wants us to be. Having the heart of God we have His compassion on others.
    I need God’s grace everyday.

    Grace,

    Why do you keep repeating these things as if anyone disagrees with them?

    We all agree with them; we are trying to apply the whole counsel of God to these matters — the whole counsel which includes both “For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive…” and “Do not judge according to external appearance, but judge with proper judgment.”

    We’re also trying to apply these things in a world where pedophiles view churches as one of the best hunting grounds in existence.

    When we are unforgiving it hurts us and it can cause someone else to stumble in sin worse so than before.

    Stumbling can also come from being influenced by a brother or sister whose sin is not addressed, but allowed and encouraged to continue unchecked. There are two reasons why the world sees hypocrisy among Christians: we preach love and do not act lovingly, and we preach holiness and do not live holy lives. Both are problems that need to be addressed.

  87. Grace says:

    “We’re also trying to apply these things in a world where pedophiles view churches as one of the best hunting grounds in existence.”

    I agree and believe that’s why the church needs to discipline certain sins. That could be someone that isn’t saved, who handing them over to Satan could help them see their need for Jesus.

    Someone who is saved can struggle with sins that could take years to come out of, not everything happens as quickly as we want. God knows what a person has been through, and sometimes things have happened to people that may take years to work on. I believe when the church knows that person struggles with pedophilia, the person would not be allowed to serve in the children’s ministry and it would be wise to have someone with them at church to help keep the person and others around them safe.

    Someone could struggle with kleptomania, or heroin drug use, or have anger problems. Yet when they say they are sorry, or asks any of their brothers or sisters to forgive them, or expresses sorrow, Jesus says we are to forgive.

    Luke 6:37 Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you.

    Forgiveness always seems so easy, when we need it, and so hard when we need to give it.

  88. Hank says:

    Grace wrote:

    “I agree and believe that’s why the church needs to discipline certain sins. That could be someone that isn’t saved, who handing them over to Satan could help them see their need for Jesus.”

    Grace, the church is NEVER instructed to discipline those outside of the church. Never. We are ONLY instructed to ostracize and “hand over to Satan” members of the church. Certain brethren involved in certain sins.

    Besides, it would make no sense at all to be instructed to “hand over to Satan” those who ALREADY belong to Satan. You cannot deliver to Satan those of whom he already has.

    We are not to avoid the sinners who are not members of the body. We are only to avoid (discipline) those who are our brothers and sisters involved in certain sins.

    1CO5.9.ESV – I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who BEARS THE NAME OF A BROTHER if HE is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

    The discipline is for Christians, not unbelievers. This is an important point.

  89. Grace says:

    1 Corinthians 5:11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who CLAIMS to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.

    People outside the church are those who have not been to church. They haven’t even given church a chance to see that Jesus is the Messiah.

    I certainly believe there are false brethren who come in the church.

    1 John 2:19 These people came from our own group, yet they were not part of us. If they had been part of us, they would have stayed with us. But they left, which proves that they did not belong to our group.

    False brethren can certainly be disciplined by the church when they are there. The church doesn’t want anyone, especially false brethren, to cause any kind of trouble, discord or division at the church.

    Titus 3:10-11 Warn troublemakers once or twice. Then don’t have anything else to do with them. You know that their minds are twisted, and their own sins show how guilty they are.

    There are people in the church who “claim” to be part of it, who are not. There are many problems that can happen when false brethren come in.

    It doesn’t say they are handed BACK to Satan, handing someone over to Satan doesn’t mean the person ever left him.

  90. Hank says:

    “People outside the church are those who have not been to church. They haven’t even given church a chance to see that Jesus is the Messiah.”

    Grace, in the Bible, there is no such thing as those who have not “been to church”. People didn’t “give church a chance”. According to God, the church is the body of Christ, the body of the saved, and one was either in the church or not.

    Be assured that whenever the NT addresses the subject of church discipline – it is ALWAYS and ONLY referring to those who ARE members of the church. Those who have been born again.

    Your insistence that the church is to discipline is to be administered to those outside of the church is unbiblical. And with all due respect, can you name a single known commentator or scholar who EVER believed what you seem to be arguing?

  91. Grace says:

    “Grace, in the Bible, there is no such thing as those who have not “been to church”.

    Not everyone met with the church. There were people back then who had not met with the church who were outside of the church, just as there are people now who have not met with the church who are outside of the church. People who haven’t given the church a chance to see that Jesus is the Messiah.

    I never said the church is to discipline people who are outside of the church. The church disciplines people who have come in the church. And the Bible says there are false brethren who are in the church. Being false brethren in the church doesn’t give them a pass from being disciplined by the church for any sinful behavior they bring in with them.

    False brethren can certainly be disciplined by the church. The church doesn’t want anyone, especially false brethren, to cause any kind of trouble, discord or division at the church.

    Titus 3:10-11 Warn troublemakers once or twice. Then don’t have anything else to do with them. You know that their minds are twisted, and their own sins show how guilty they are.

    Sinful behavior in the church by anyone can be disciplined by the church, and knowing there are false brethren in the church is certainly a good reason to need discipline in the church.

    Handing someone over to Satan could show them their need for Jesus.

  92. Hank says:

    “I never said the church is to discipline people who are outside of the church. The church disciplines people who have come in the church. And the Bible says there are false brethren who are in the church.”

    Grace, where does it say that “there are false brethren who are in the church”?

    Are you arguing that there are people “in the church” who are not born again?

    Do you contend that church discipline (handing over to Satan) is for only “false brethren” who are not actually IN the church? Or for actual Christians? Or both?

    I’m trying to follow you here…

  93. Gracer says:

    You are the first person I’ve ever known to claim they don’t believe the Bible says there are false brethren that come in the church. That to me shows someone who doesn’t know the Bible well. I’ve given Scriptures that there are false brethren, if you want to play like there isn’t, go for it. I’m sticking with the Bible. I’m not playing word games with people.

  94. Hank says:

    “You are the first person I’ve ever known to claim they don’t believe the Bible says there are false brethren that come in the church.”

    Grace, make NO mistake, the ONLY people that have EVER come INTO the church (according to God), are those who have been delivered from darkness to light, who have had their sins forgiven, and who have been saved.

    You imply that there are people “in the church” who have never been added to the body of the saved. Is that what you believe?

    Sure, there were/are “false brethren”, but the same have never been actually born again.

    The ONLY people who have EVER been actually IN THE CHURCH, are those who have been born again and became “Christians”.

    And church “discipline” has ONLY been instructed to be applied to those who are IN the chur h. Not non Christians/”false brethren”.

    Again, when you refer to “false brethren”, are you referring to actual Christians, or those not born again?

  95. Nick Gill says:

    Guys, stop talking past each other…

    Grace is — I think — talking about the regular assembly… False brethren in the local assembly.

    Hank is — I think — talking about “in Christ”/””added to the church” …as in people who have been added by God to the universal “ekklesia” rather than the local assembly.

    does that help sort out your conflict?

  96. Grace says:

    False brethren come in the church, we can think they are part of us in the church, but they really are not, so says the Bible. False brethren who come in the church claiming to be a brother/sister can be disciplined by the church. They don’t get a pass from being disciplined by the church.

    This is not that hard. I will pray that you have better understanding that there are false brethren who have come in the church.

    This is understood plainly by everyone I have ever known who reads the Bible.

  97. Hank says:

    Yes. And that the church “discipline” question only applies to those IN the church. Not, WITH the church.

    We are having a verbal dispute. We need to define “false brethren”. Are those IN the church and Christians? Or outside of the church (never having been born again)

  98. Hank says:

    Thanks for chiming in Nick,

    What I am trying to find out from Grace is whether or not by “false brethren”, is she referring to people born again and IN the church, or those never added.

    And, does she believe that “discipline” is for those actually IN the church, or those never added?

    Does that make sense?

    Because it seems as though she is wanting to believe that church “discipline” (handing over to Satan) is only for those not actually born again.

    When we all know that it is ONLY for those who are actually and really IN the church, the body of the saved?

  99. Hank says:

    “False brethren come in the church, we can think they are part of us in the church, but they really are not, so says the Bible. ”

    By “in the church”, do you mean IN the body of the saved?

  100. Grace says:

    I believe anyone claiming to be a brother/sister in the church can be disciplined by the church as they see necessary for each person.

    The man in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul had been told about the man’s behavior in sexual misconduct and the church being led to believe it was appropriate behavior. Paul knew there were people who were in the church who were not saved and expressed that he believed the man was not saved telling them to hand the man over to Satan. By doing so could show the man his need for Jesus and save him, and protected the church from his misconduct.

  101. Larry Cheek says:

    Grace,
    I have never seen a message written by Paul the even remotely expressed that the man who was disfellowshiped was not saved. In fact we in the church are not to fellowship someone as a brother in Christ unless he has been saved. It appears to me that you are indicating that this man was just an attender who had never committed himself to Christ, if that was true he would not have been considered as a brother by Paul, he would know the difference. This was a brother in Christ who was committing a sin, the congregation was aware of the sin and were boasting about their abilities to tolerate this sin claiming that they can forgive so freely, expressing that this forgiveness they were capable of was comparable to God’s forgiveness. The lesson in 2 Cor, Paul had understood that some in the congregation were reluctant to accept the brother who had repented (been restored) back into full fellowship, treating him as if he had never even committed the sin, that is the way God forgives and treats us when we repent of sins.
    On a second observation are you explaining that we are obligated to judge who within the congregation is a false brother? Actually, there are no false brothers, a brother is never not a brother, there were some men who claimed to be brothers who were not. How could you ever disfellowship anyone whom you had never fellowshiped? If you fellowship an individual as a brother in Christ who is not, has that individual sinned or you?

  102. Grace says:

    It can be entertaing talking to people in the CofC denomination when they think they can talk in circles to make something seem not so. There are false brethren, people we fellowship with we think are part of us in church, but really are not.

    Keep talking in circles, it’s not like people don’t know these tactics played by the CofC. As long as you try to talk in circles there’s no point in talking.

    Not everyone we fellowsip with in church are saved.

  103. Grace says:

    I’m sometimes posting from my phone and that it is so small to write a post on, my typing isn’t so good, sorry about that.

    Paul never once said the man in 1 Corinthians 5 was his brother, when Paul spoke about him, he would say that man or this man, never did he say the man was his brother. The church thought it was ok to accept the man’s behavior, they weren’t being forgiving they were being tolerant of the behavior, being led to think that it could be accepted as appropriate or nothing to be concerned about. Paul expressed that he believed the man was not saved telling them to hand the man over to Satan. Paul’s concern over the man not being truly saved hoped the man would be saved as he surely needed Jesus, who we all need to save us.

  104. Hank says:

    Excuse me please if my last comment comes through and this here is a repeat.

    Basically, I can’t believe what I have been reading. Grace, what you are espousing here is the j EXACT OPPOSITE of the Bible!

    The Bible teaches us to judge and discipline those IN the church (actual Christians) and not jidge those OUTSIDE of the church.

    But, you say that we are to judge and discipline those NOT IN the church (not actual Christians) and to not judge our actual brethren.

    As Larry noted, “Actually, there are no false brothers, a brother is never not a brother, there were some men who claimed to be brothers who were not.”

    Its a good point – the Bible NEVER talks about a “false brother”. Either one is a brother IN the church, or he is NOT a brother and NOT IN the church.

    Grace, you keep talking about “false brethren” who are “with” the church but not actually IN the church/the body of the saved.

    Its all so unbiblical. Again, you are arguing the exact opposite of the book of God! There has never ever been a known bible commentator in the history of the world who has argued that church discipline is supposed to be applied to only “false brethren” and not actual brethren.

    Hopefully, youre just messing with us and not serious?

  105. Alabama John says:

    This who is a brother and who isn’t has always been a problem when a member fo the Church is witthdrawn from and disfellowshipped. Heard these seemingly same positions many times that I think are being spoken here.

    Some have believed if the person comes back and asks for forgiveness it is given and they are back in the church but were out before and others argue that they were still in the church body, but out of the local church but in a lost condition.

    Some have even wanted to rebaptize them when they wanted to come back as they were kicked out so to speak and were not a member of the church anymore.

    It seemed to me we do not have the authority to do any subtracting or adding to the church or declare who is in and who is out.

  106. Grace says:

    “the Bible NEVER talks about a “false brother”.

    Paul and John through their life’s experience knew there are false brethren who claim to be brothers/sister, who really are not.

    2 Corinthians 11:26 I’ve been on many journeys. I faced dangers from rivers, robbers, my people, and Gentiles. I faced dangers in the city, in the desert, on the sea, and from false brothers and sisters.

    1 John 2:19 These people came from our own group, yet they were not part of us. If they had been part of us, they would have stayed with us. But they left, which proves that they did not belong to our group.

    The church can discipline anyone claiming to be a brother/sister in the church fellowship.

    1 Corinthians 5:11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who CLAIMS to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.

    Titus 3:10-11 Warn troublemakers once or twice. Then don’t have anything else to do with them. You know that their minds are twisted, and their own sins show how guilty they are.

    Again, I never said the church is to discipline people who are outside of the church. The church disciplines people who have come in the church, anyone claiming to be a brother/sister in the church can be disciplined by the church.

    Not everyone met with the church. There were people back then who had not met with the church who were outside of the church, just as there are people now who have not met with the church who are outside of the church. People who haven’t given the church a chance to see that Jesus is the Messiah.

    The Bible says there are false brethren who are in the church. Being false brethren in the church doesn’t give them a pass from being disciplined by the church for any sinful behavior they bring in with them.

  107. laymond says:

    I believe Grace might be talking about something Jesus said, not Paul.
    Mat 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

  108. Hank says:

    By “false brethren” I mean “a brother who is not actually IN the church”. Or, “someone actually IN the church who is not a brother”. There simply is no such thing. If some is a “false brother” then they are not a member of the church. And one cannot be IN the church and NOT BE IN the church at the same time. Its impossible.

    Remember, all of this came up because you (Grace) said that as Christians/members of the church/members of the body of Christ, we are not to judge or “cindemn” each other. But then we brought up the biblical instructions regarding church disciplines wherein Christians were told to ostracize and hand over to Satan certain brethren taken in certain sins. Which would disprove your idea that we are NOT to judge or “condemn” any brother as being any different than any other members of the church guilty of sin.

    So, you argue that the brother is not really IN the church at all. That he is not a Christian. That he is simply a “false brother” WITH (but not IN) the church.

    So, apparently, your position is that the church IS to judge “false brothers”/non-Christians. But, and again, not to judge actual brothers. Which is the exact opposite of what every known Bible commentator in the history of the world has said. Grace, you are the likely the only person to EVER take such a position.

    With all due respect, it is absurd. I mean, you would have the church condemning the sexually immoral people in the world (not actually in the body of Christ/the church), you would say to hand them over to Satan.

    BUT, if an actual Christian (a real brother in Christ) wants to have HIS father’s wife….well then the rest of the church needs to treat him the same way they do everybody else?! Thats ridiculous!

    The way you have it, the non Christian man with his father’s wife would be expelled and handed over to Satan because of his sin, but if he actually accepted Jesus and became an actual Christian, then the church would have no more right to treat him any different??

    Are you serious?

  109. Grace says:

    Please don’t say that I said something that I did NOT say. I never said the church doesn’t discipline Christians.

    I did say, When a person says they are sorry, or asks any of their brothers or sisters be forgiven, or expresses sorrow, Jesus says we are to forgive.

    Luke 6:37 Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you.

    James 2:13 Anyone who shows no loving-kindness will have no loving-kindness shown to him when he is told he is guilty. But if you show loving-kindness, God will show loving-kindness to you when you are told you are guilty.

  110. Hank says:

    Grace,

    You have said over and over again that we are not to treat any one sin any different than any other. You have repeatedly said that we are not to criticize or “condemn” anybody, but to always just forgive them. I just reread your comments. Here is one quote of yours:

    “When we are critical and condemning of a person, that’s how the accuser wants us to be.”

    But now, you deny agree that we ARE to exercise church discipline (discipline of Christians by Christians)? If that is how you feel, then we need to quit arguing with each other. We are on the same page!

    I just have one question: If you do believe that the church is supposed to discipline certain Christians in certain situations, does that not mean that we ARE to treat certain sins differently than others? If not, then which Christians are we to “discipline”? And at what point?

  111. Hank says:

    One more question:

    Would/should/could the disciplining of Christians ever include withdrawing from and handing over to Satan? Until the person repents?

    Or is that action reserved only for non Christians?

  112. Grace says:

    I said, I believe anyone claiming to be a brother/sister in the church can be disciplined by the church as they see necessary for each person.

    And there are certain sins that need to be disciplined, I never said there wasn’t.

    I do not believe we condemn anyone, God is the ultimate Judge and knows the heart of the person better than anyone on this earth. There are many different situations people are in and go through in every individual life.

    We don’t really know what’s going on inside a person. God knows what a persons been through in their life. They could have been abused as a child and we don’t know it, but God does. God knows what a person has been through, and sometimes things have happened to people that may take years to work on. You could look at a person and say, oh my how terrible their behavior is! God could look at that same person and say, you have things we will work on together, but look how far you’ve come. That’s why I believe we don’t condemn.

    When we are critical and condemning of a person, that’s how the accuser wants us to be. Having the heart of God we have His compassion on others.

    Now, you can try to say I said something that I did not say. I believe most people can see that this has become nothing more than an argument and when it becomes like that it’s no longer edifying.

    God bless

  113. Hank says:

    You too.

  114. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Hank and Grace,

    I laid out my views on church discipline in detail at GraceConversation.

    In short, discipline is either a tough love effort to prevent a member from falling away, such as from rebellious sin, or to protect the church from an evil influence. In 1 Cor 5, Paul expresses both concerns.

    We can’t know with certainty who has already fallen away vs those who are headed in that direction. Therefore the church must act based on when someone appears to be in jeopardy of falling away.

    If a member is a predator, perhaps a thief or molester, then the safety of the flock is paramount.

    In a tough love setting, the church should act before the member no longer cares whether he is removed from fellowship. You can’t disfellowship those who aren’t in fellowship.

  115. Hank says:

    Jay,

    I totally agree. Hope youre feeling better!

  116. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Thanks
    No computers or desks until spasms stop but the occasional iPhone comment is allowed
    and so no writing of new posts for a while

  117. Alabama John says:

    Jay,
    Marriages could of occured as you say, but in the relationship of slave and master the children are mostly conceived out of wedlock but still have the blood of both. We here in the South are very familiar wiith that and the blood of the slave race as time passes gets thinner in the childrens blood and more in the masters.
    After 400 years, there would be a lot of Jews blood in the Egyptians race and lots of Egyptians blood in the Jews. Persons would be in one or the other race because of family or many other reasons so what blood one has or had in them doesn’t matter as much as some think. The decision to be one or the other race mattered most.
    That is why God asked them to put the blood on their door post as that showed which race each one chose.
    There probably were those dressed in Egyptian clothes and looked and acted Egyptian that put the blood on the lintel post as they considered themselves Jews in heart but chose to be Egyptian for many other reasons. Usually we can thank their mothers for that!!!! Mothers do not change.

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