Salvation 2.0: Part 9.4: An Unsure Salvation

grace5Another collateral result of this understanding of Heb 6:4-6 is that our salvation can, at times, be very unsure. While confidence and assurance is always available to us, we often turn our back on God’s promises and slide into a state of jeopardy before we fall away entirely.

Hebrews says,

(Heb 6:10-11)  God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.

Our hope is not necessarily sure. And the way to make our hope sure is to serve others. Peter teaches a similar lesson —

(2 Pet 1:5-8)  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Although we begin with faith, we must grow in the Christian virtues — and never stop growing.

(2 Pet 1:10-11)  Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Here we encounter the same thought. We can have an unsure election. We can live in jeopardy of falling away. But we can also live in a way where we “never fall” and have a sure “election” and “calling.”

Plainly, Peter doesn’t see calling and election as unconditional and irresistible, but they can be sure if we are growing in Christ. You see, the best way to avoid going backwards is to go forwards. Playing with rebellion, going backwards even briefly, is dangerous because our heart can be quickly hardened. We can’t count on being able to repent in the future.

Calvinistic perseverance

I can’t reconcile either Hebrews or 2 Peter with the notion that Christians necessarily persevere and so their calling and election is necessarily sure. No, we are plainly taught that we have to be diligent and grow in order to have a sure election — and I think this is a teaching that should be taught over and over and over. We need to hear it.

Our assurance is in Jesus, but we only stay in Jesus so long as we are true to Jesus — and so we minister to others and allow the Spirit to fill us with the virtues Peter describes. If we turn away from the life of Jesus, we risk also turning away from his salvation.

About Jay F 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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103 Responses to Salvation 2.0: Part 9.4: An Unsure Salvation

  1. Price says:

    Is this a fair summary of your comments ? That we are saved by Grace through Faith and not by works….but just for a brief moment in time and then it’s all up to us and our ability to perform at a high level of obedience…. I’m not buying that…. So, surely I must not be understanding you correctly… If I have to depend on my performance, then how good do I need to be ? 50%…75%…100%… Seems like that’s the Old Law part 2…. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness…

  2. Dwight says:

    I think works might not save us, but the lack of works might condemn us, hence the scripture of James 4:17 “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
    There are plenty of scriptures that talk of the unjust steward and the useless dross or tares or useless branches that are separated from the ones that produce. This is something we don’t talk about near enough. We often think that keeping ourselves holy and going to assembly is the point that we are as saints at our best, but in reality it is when we are actually doing things for others.
    “Pure and undefiled religion is helping the widows”
    God doesn’t want things that believe they are saved because they have gone through certain motions, but those who continue in motion in affecting others. We should never be afraid we aren’t saved, but we should never sit back and rely on that concept. Paul sure didn’t. Paul talked of running the race and getting to the end, not just starting it or being associated with it or being on the list. Paul understood that it is a partnership with God that carries us through as we carry God with us on our journey.

  3. laymond says:

    Price said;” If I have to depend on my performance, then how good do I need to be ? 50%…75%…100%…”
    Price we need to be as close to 100% as is possible, but it is only one day, seems to me anybody can be good for one day, you might ask, what day, I say to you TODAY.

  4. laymond says:

    One day at a time.

  5. Monty says:


    More than condemn Jay, I’d be willing to listen to your interpretation of the passages Jay dealt with. I believe Jay is just as dependent on the blood of Jesus as you are. But deal with those passages please rather than throw out they don’t fit with your once saved always saved view. Convince us they don’t say what they say. But please don’t start with those he is addressing in Hebrews aren’t “really” Christians.

  6. Dwight says:

    I like the scripture of I John 1 “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Being in Christ places us in a relationship with others in Christ, but our walking in Christ also keeps us in a relationship with Christ and allows the blood to cleanse us. From what? Sin! While we are cleansed at baptism, it according to James “isn’t the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience before God”, we are because of our baptism in a covenant relationship. But anyway, we must walk. Walking involves being active and moving forward. This kind of leads up back Enoch.

  7. Price says:

    So Dwight… how good do you have to be in order for your sins to be forgiven..? Please.. the whole world needs to know… 50% of perfect or better ? Does God grade on a curve ?

  8. Dwight says:

    I also am reminded of Peter. Got out of the boat (highly impressive) on a story sea and walked towards Jesus, but then he looked around and became distracted by the waves that were already there and then began to flounder. True, he was pulled back up by Jesus, but also true that Peter knew enough to call out to Jesus for help and salvation. How did they get back to the boat? Either Jesus carried him or Peter walked back with him.
    But Peter learned a couple of valuable lessons.
    Have faith…and grow it…don’t let if be diminished by the things around and then you can walk through anything.
    Jesus wants us to walk. He said follow me, which meant going where he went.
    Jesus is there and willing to help and aid…but we got to ask in our weakness.

  9. Monty says:


    Just as a suggestion. Faith saves. I guess you would agree with that. So adding to our faith only further makes more sure our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith. If it was just by grace then everyone gets in. If it’s by grace through faith then that rules out those without faith. Nothing changed as far as Jesus and the cross. What changed was the faith of the believer. This is only a problem if you interpret faith as only a mental assent to the death of Jesus and his resurrection. Faith is simply more complex than that. When I, or you, add to our faith love ,etc.. we haven’t overridden salvation by grace through faith, we have only more firmly established that we are truly the people of faith. We make sure our great salvation. Not by performing well enough in order to be saved but by having a faith that is a growing faith as Jay said.

    The scripture does speak of a “dead faith,” or made “shipwreck their faith.” Cooperating with the Holy Spirit who enables us to grow these virtues is God’s obvious plan for mature and final salvation. To be more and more conformed into the image of Jesus. Certainly the Hebrew writer wasted a lot of good ink and papyrus in showing those Christians how the Israelites fell in the desert due to a lack of faith if everyone who starts the journey finishes, regardless of if they maintain their faith or not. Even if faith just has to be maintained by you, then that does put some of the onus on you, or me.

    I think we do err when we say “well the onus for me is to just believe” OK, that’s still something you do, right? Again Calvinism’s end is, “I can’t do anything,” not even believe, unless God does it for me. We’re like babies that God has to change our diapers. I don’t think that’s Biblical. Abraham was willing to be obedient in sacrificing Isaac. That was a sign of what? Faith! He did something that made more certain his right standing with God. Surely, even though he believed and it was credited to him as righteousness if he had told God, “NO! I will not sacrifice my only son”, do you really think he would be the father of faith? He wasn’t called the father of works after that. HIs sacrificing Isaac, a work, or a call to obey, didn’t negate God’s grace but only made more certain he would be called the father of the faithful. To extrapolate some’s view of salvation by grace to it’s logical extent would have been for Abraham to have said no to God’s command because that would somehow negate God’s grace if he acted in obedient faith. Same thing they do with baptism.

  10. Dwight says:

    In our weakness we are made stronger. In our humbleness we are made great.
    I think we ask the wrong questions from the wrong perspective.
    It isn’t about being good to have our sins forgiven of us, it is about knowing we are bad and trying to get better despite that within the presence of God. Whatever we lack, God has plenty of. We just got to get closer to the source and be willing enough to ask. Now to be in the light we must walk in the light, so we must walk where Jesus is, doing the things Jesus did.
    As we have been told, God cuts off the dead and useless branches and burns them.
    I would gather that many of us will be seen as dead and worthless because we do not grow and produce and we are content in our “salvation” and doctrine.

  11. Price says:

    Monty, I disagree with your concept of faith… I agree that it’s not mental ascent or even recognition of the truth… Satan knows who God is and he’s still damned. I see it more as Trust…but the idea that faith includes works is just an attempt in my opinion to make us “somewhat” responsible for our own salvation.. I reject that out of hand. If Jesus wasn’t enough we’re doomed. When a gathering of Jews asked Jesus what works they had to do (against a backdrop of Torah and Talmud).. He said this… [Jhn 6:28-29 ESV] Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” A true saving faith / trust will obviously promote actions consistent with that faith / trust… but they are not the same… Paul said we are saved by grace through faith and NOT BY WORKS, lest anyone could boast… Nope, I’m sticking with faith in Jesus as Lord and hope that the HS continues to work in and through my own jar of clay and I trust in Him 100% to save me based on who He is and not what I’ve done.

  12. Dwight says:

    Price, you are trying to quantify productivity, but people are productive at different levels. The point is to be productive. It is the unproductive vine that is cast aside, but there is no scripture that argues how much the vine should produce, although there is the concept in Luke 12 “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” God expects us to use our gifts and rewards us when we do towards His Kingdom.

  13. Chris says:

    So thankful God looks through all the complex layers into the deepest parts of our hearts.

  14. Price says:

    @ Dwight.. If my salvation depends on it then why in the world would we NOT want to quantify it.. this idea of not knowing how it’s gonna turn out until we stand before God is a life filled with fear rather than how the Hebrew writer defines faith… I like living with the assurance that God isn’t going to drop me on my head when I screw up.. or if I didn’t understand baptism correctly when it happened, or if i like instruments in worship, or if I like Christmas, or I use one cup instead of multiple ones, or if I give to the orphans home… good grief… This concept… again, just in my opinion…. not trying to go all Nadab and Abihu on people…. ignores the sanctification process as one in which God expects us to mess up and He has a plan to teach us through those moments.. Nobody is questioning that we should try and do our best in every circumstance… I don’t disagree with that at all… it’s just that I don’t declare myself righteous… I think Job taught us about that.

  15. Price says:

    Jay, first of all, you should know that i have the greatest respect for you as a person and as a leader in your assembly and as a man that has put serious effort into understanding the Word. We aren’t that far apart on this issue… Do I believe that a sincere faith produces faithfulness…yes… How could it be otherwise… In that sense they are equal … if you believe you will do.. pretty simple……except that the “doing” part is quite imperfect… We learned from the first covenant that it is practically impossible for one to do what is right without error.. So, the question becomes, can you have saving faith and not be perfect ? I believe the answer to that is Yes !! Because we aren’t saved based upon our works but our faith.. the faith of a mustard seed is more powerful than a 1,000 works… God looks at the heart of a man… He KNOWS what a man believes.. He knows that he is but dust.. He knows that he needs a savior, so He provided him one… I guess there are those that would beat their chests and declare themselves righteous by their performance… Me… I’ll just go to my closet and ask God to forgive me as I’m just a sinner in need of amazing grace…

  16. Dwight says:

    One of the interesting things about those who were according to James were justified by works was the fact that they understood that by doing something they would get something. This is not a wrong concept. Abraham while sacrificing his son was sure that he would get God’s approval after all why do it at all and his son back. This took great faith. Rahab understood that if she helped the spies she would be spared destruction at the hands of the Jews under God. This also took great faith considering she was a gentile.
    Now salvation cannot be earned, because we cannot save ourselves, at least initially, but works that are done in faith will justify. A person that has faith and does nothing will not be justified.
    As noted by Jay, many people do good things, but a saint does good things because they believe in God and expect for the good things to come back to them from God, on some level, if not in the here and now, then in heaven.
    None of this is suggesting that we need to say to God, well I did this and now you owe me, because in reality God doesn’t owe us anything. But God is giving and will give.
    There is the concept of the man who works and builds up a barn, but this is futile, as things of the earth do not last, but he was told to build up his riches in heaven. How can we do this if building doesn’t accomplish anything?
    Faith is faith, but faith doesn’t help the needy or feed the starving or do worship or pray to God. Faith must be expressed outwardly and physically and that is what God wants. God doesn’t want nothing. God wants something and will reward that something if Godly.

    I would never suggest, “We …justify ourselves and declare ourselves righteous” and this would be terribly wrong.
    God justifies and declares us righteous when we do things in faith and obedience. But he won’t justify us and declare us righteous when we don’t do His will and act against it. This is reflected in David who was a man after God’s own heart. God knew David’s heart, but even so David did some terrible things and God didn’t let him pass on the sin simply because He was a man after God’s own heart. David was held accountable by God for what he did and didn’t do towards God, by God. David could have said, “Well you know the real me. You know that I love you. Doesn’t that mean something?” IT does, but not in the absence of obedience.

  17. Monty says:

    So, Price,

    Are the calls to “add to faith”, “increase faith”, “hold to faith”, make “more certain”, “not shrink back”, “build up your faith”, “buffet my body daily”, Paul said some had “departed the faith.” “See to it my brothers that none of you has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. Hebrews 3:12. In what way are we not responsible for remaining faithful and building up our faith? If the Hebrew writer tells us to see to it…who is supposed to see to it? Us! God speaks through his word through inspired writers to give instruction on how to see to it, and he even gives us warnings on what will happen if we neglect so great a salvation. Does that make me feel less secure than once saved always saved? If I ever believed that, then yeh. But I never have believed it. But I do believe in a loving God who sent his only begotten son to die on a cross for my sins and by his grace and mercy I am saved. Not because I was good enough or that I will ever be good enough in some legalistic sense. That gives me great comfort. I don’t have to be good enough! But I do have to have faith.

    It would appear from all of the scriptures quoted that maintaining my faith in Christ is of utmost importance, even increasing and fortifying my faith. Faith must be nurtured, say,like a flower we grow. It must be watered and the soil weeded. Peter warned that Satan walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Is that not a call for Christians to be alert and sober minded? Why should a Christian have to put up his guard against an enemy that Christ has already defeated in our life? Please don’t say the devil can do us physical harm but not spiritual harm. Peter says, by standing “firm” in the faith we resist him. We can’t keep him from physical harm(like the Christians in that time who were suffering persecution)but by resisting by standing firm in the faith, not abandoning faith, he cannot takeaway our salvation. But while not all up to us, it certainly requires fully trusting in Jesus. We are the ones who have to stand firm, add to, build up, make more certain, etc, etc, etc,…….only a premise that starts with once saved always saved, and man doesn’t have to do anything to obtain salvation, so he can’t do anything to lose it, and if he can’t lose it(since it was a gift) then there is no need to maintain it or increase(fortify)it ,would make nonsensical all of the above exhortations to persevere in faithfulness(which involves obedience on our part, not perfect obedience mind you, but one that is characterized by God as obedient.
    He knows.

    Price says, that all with real faith will have good works, and that is true, but it doesn’t answer the question: Can a Christian fall from grace? If so, what kinds of things would precipitate that fall and are there things instructed to us to make sure (on our part) that falling away never happens? Scripture makes it abundantly clear (if not committed to a Calvinistic bent) what those things are and how to avoid unbelief. If I can do something in order to be saved, it would make sense that I could do something(or neglect to do something )that would make me no longer saved. What is that something I have to do, or have, or keep, to be saved and to keep on being saved? Faith. What kind of faith? Obedient faith is real faith. Again, not perfection in an attempt to justify myself, but a faith that expresses itself in loving obedience. Jesus once asked, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things I say do. ‘ Jesus equated love with obedience. Most of us when we were saved by grace made a verbal commitment publicly that we would let Jesus be the Lord of our life. We pledged ourselves to do his will. I will be the first to admit that I don’t do his will perfectly or anywhere close to perfection. He never required perfection from me, but he does require faith, and faith is more than something mental or saying,” I sure do love you,” actions speak louder than words we say. Faith requires of me a commitment to walk with God and to tend to our relationship, and to keep it. Not lose it, neglect it, forfeit it, or abandon it. That instruction is to me, or you, and not to God.

  18. Jay Guin says:


    What Monty said.

    PS — Also what I said to Chris a few days ago: /2015/11/salvation-2-0-part-9-2-heb-64-6-and-falling-away/#comment-161604

  19. Price says:

    Jay.. love ya brother… but I’m gonna go in my little closet and thank God for the mercy shown me a sinner in need of grace.. You guys just keep climbing that tower of performance and self advancement… I’m just not that capable.

  20. laymond says:

    Price, what do you mean by, ” I’m just not that capable.” I don’t see that what we are told to do is so laborious that it is impossible to do. are you not capable of love, are you not capable of being a good neighbor, a good husband and father, If we love God, our creator, and our fellow man who was created in Gods image just as you were, and are prepared to share with others, especially those less fortunate than yourself. If you can do this , I believe you are very capable of doing the work of God .It really don’t even take any extra time if you just merge it into your everyday life. soon it becomes the natural thing to do. The only reason I see that some are incapable to obey God is they really don’t want to.

  21. Monty says:


    Wow! Way to take the high road! If the heat gets hot you have to get out of the kitchen I suppose. Or if you can’t give an explanation for all the scripture warning us to keep the faith then accuse those you disagree with as “climbing the tower of works.” Pretty amazing the spin you put on it. However, that is pretty typical for those in the once saved always saved camp. I knew Jay and myself were just kicking a dead horse.

    I deny I can obtain salvation apart from God’s grace, you do too. However, I assert that faith is needed by the lost to be saved. I suppose you do too. But faith is my response(not God’s) to God’s grace in Jesus Christ crucified. God doesn’t do faith for me. He doesn’t believe for me, he doesn’t trust for me, he doesn’t get baptized for me, and he doesn’t make me keep on trusting after I’m saved against my will. But he does rewards faithfulness. Without faith it is impossible to please him. Price do you believe we have to please God in some way shape or form? If you deny that then you deny Hebrews 11: 6. Hebrews is a letter written to Christians about remaining faithful.

    Do Christians have a responsibility to remain faithful? If so, then whatever that is, even if it’s just some sort of mental gymnastics, it is something we do, not God. If I can do something mentally then I can do something physically also. If not, why not? I can love my neighbor, not just in thought, but in deed, that is a way I remain faithful. It’s not the only way. James argues that to say, “be warmed and filled”(just some mental aspect) won’t cut it. I don’t climb the tower(maybe you think you do) when I do good to my neighbor, I do it because God’s been good to me and I appreciate him for doing so, and so in thankfulness for his goodness, I love my neighbor. If I cut my neighbors grass thinking I’m amassing enough credits to earn salvation then that is climbing the tower. Does God expect us to love our neighbors? Of course. And if we refuse to do so consistently what does that show? It certainly doesn’t show we have a superior theology concerning grace. It shows the love of God isn’t in us. It shows the faith we profess isn’t real faith, at least not saving faith. Saving faith, works. Period! And it doesn’t do so believing it’s earning anything. I can work to be saved and not be saved and I can work like the dickens because I am saved and it validates my faith. It makes my secure faith, even more secure.

    “Let us not grow weary in well doing for at the proper time we will reap a bountiful harvest, if we faint not.” It aint about being the best worker in the field but about making sure we don’t grow weary and faint(give up) while we are in the field. What are we doing in the field? Working! Those churches in Revelation were told to repent of some things and to hold onto some things, or else. They had to turn away from false teachers that were leading them into sinful practices and they were to be faithful even unto death(not deny the faith) or in one case to remember their first love. James says, “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh unto you.” The warnings about falling away in the NT are not about be sure to do enough good works to be saved but about being sure not to have an evil heart of unbelief. To keep the faith they started out with.

  22. Price says:

    Monty…I’ll stick with the biblical definition of faith.. … you guys can make up the list of what all needs to be done and send it over to Al Maxey… He’s been looking for a list like this for quite some time…If you can break it down per week day then we’ll have a Good Christian checklist to go by and we can all bring it to Sunday School class each week and get a red star if we checked it all off.. In fact, if you write a little commentary by each one you might get the guy to put it as an insert into Muscle and Shovel…Perfect fit. How to Earn God’s Favor Once you Dry Off… I like it..

  23. laymond says:

    Price, there is already a pretty extensive list of dos and don’ts between Mat 5:1
    and Mat 7:27 If Al has been searching for a list, surely he has been looking in the wrong place. Maybe you should lead him to just where it is.

    The one below, just might be the one missed by so many people of your belief.

    Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

    I don’t see how you can go wrong, as long as you glorify God.

  24. Price says:

    @ Laymond.. I wouldn’t use the word necessary as it relates to works… I would use “unavoidable”…but that’s just me…

  25. Christopher says:

    I find it difficult to wrestle with scriptures pertaining to judgement and mercy. Why? Because a number of of the former seem, in their immediate context, unbelievably harsh and cruel and utterly inconsistent with love or mercy. Take, for instance, the story of Gehazi (Elisha’s servant). After he sins by going after Naaman to obtain some reward for his healing, Elisha tells him that
    “Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” (2 Kings 5:27). This is a man with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Just how could he say such a thing and not be immediately rebuked by God? His leprosy will cling to his descendants forever? How does that comport with Ezekiel 18?

    But then we see Gehazi in the king’s presence 3 chapters later, answering his questions about Elisha. So I suppose we may deduce that Gehazi was healed of his leprosy (for why else would he have been in the king’s presence?), contary to what Elisha said – perhaps because he was one of the four lepers in 2 Kings 7 who alerted the Isrealites that the Arameans had fled the area (and that the siege was therefore over). And we breath a huge sigh of relief.

    In this regard, it is interesting to note the dramatic contrast between John’s letters and, say, Hebrews. In John’s third letter, he calmly mentions the evil behavior of Diotrephes (apparently the main leader) who is throwing people out of the church. He concludes by saying that if he comes, he will call attention to what he is doing. I cannot envision the author of Hebrews writing a letter like that but, rather, a frighteningly condemning letter.

    I could go one and on with examples – Aaron’s sons being immediately burned to death for lighting the sacrificial fire on their own (rather than letting God do it) versus the woman caught in adultery who should, by law, have been stoned. And so on and so forth.

    Does anyone else struggle with this dichotomy?

  26. Monty says:

    James writes, “Was not our father Abraham justified by works, and by works was faith made perfect.” Paul writes in Romans 4: 2 “For if Abraham was justified by works, he hath whereof glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God and it was credited unto him for righteousness.” Now one of three things is happening here. 1. Scripture is contradicting itself. I don’t believe any of us believes that. 2. James and Paul are discussing 2 different usages of the word works, 2 different definitions. 3. There is a way, even if we refuse to see it, that works makes our faith complete without jeopardizing grace. Paul is using works in the negative of someone believing he is owed salvation based on there on merit. James is saying positively speaking that our works are a testimony to or faith. James has no problem saying we are “justified”(made right) by works. So, understood in context we should have no problem saying the same thing. It was either Luther or Calvin who rejected the book of James because he couldn’t reconcile James with Romans. Some today are having the same problem. Obviously there is a way to speak positively of our actions, our obedience, and making efforts to grow in grace and knowledge that compliments grace without those verses becoming anathema.

  27. Dwight says:

    I find it interesting that some that can believe that God can be both God and the flesh, but can’t find it possible that we can be justified by faith and works.
    Price, I think you have an issue with justifying ourselves and being justified. There is no possible way we can justify ourselves, even in having faith. God justifies. He justifies us according to our faith and our works. God both wants self motivation out of our love, but also motivates out of commands and punishment. This has always been the case.
    Correction isn’t for punishment, but for aligning us with His will, which is always good.
    This is why we correct our children.
    Christopher, if our life was about our life here, then God would probably make it very comfortable for us and make everything to our liking, but God’s plan is for heaven. This is our goal and this is where we will find peace and comfort and God’s goodness. Many have to deal with hardships, but this should only make them look towards heaven more.

  28. laymond says:

    Thanks Christopher, If I had written the same thing, I would be accused of being a heretic.

    Jhn 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
    Jhn 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
    (will draw ALL men unto me)
    Jhn 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
    ( whatever you ask WILL be done)
    Jhn 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
    (I WILL do it)

    Jhn 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
    NIV I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me,
    ( I see this as a warning to the apostles, I am leaving, and the devil can’t stop me, but you have to stay and fight)

    This is what Jesus says about “the holy ghost”
    Jhn 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
    (NLT And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.)
    (NIV When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:)

    And yet there are some among us who insist that Jesus was speaking to all Christians, not just his apostles.
    I don’t see any difference in the way Christians are treated than the average sinner, I don’t see where the Christian’s prayers of asking are answered to a great extent.

  29. Dwight says:

    There is a difference between sovereign and micro-managing. God is sovereign in that when he expresses his will with control God can make it happen and yet God doesn’t micro manage man’s lives or death, unless he has a particular plan that we don’t know about. God could have taken the tree of Good and Evil out of the garden and yet God placed it there and allowed man to sin. God gave man free will and when man disobeyed God, God cast man out into a harsh world where disease and dirt and bad things happen. I bet Adam and Eve looked back and missed the garden. We too should look upward and miss heaven.
    One of the things I think we overlook is that God is complicated and not one dimensional in character. He is loving and yet he is jealous and rightly so. HE gives grace, but he also judges according to his words and rightly so. We are or were initially built off of God’s model (in his image) so how we treat others is how we will be treated by God, because God has treated us that way first. We expect forgiveness and God is forgiving, but if we fail to forgive our brother, then God will retract His forgiveness to us.
    Paul was beaten many times, despised by His own Jewish brethren, run out of town, etc. and yet he considered it a good thing because it drove him towards something better…God and heaven. And he considered all of the blessings that he had from God and was going to get.

  30. laymond says:

    Dwight said, “God could have taken the tree of Good and Evil out of the garden and yet God placed it there and allowed man to sin.”

    Dwight, do you know why the tree was in the garden?

  31. Dwight says:

    It was God’s will to test our will. God knew we would fail, but we had to be shown that we have a choice, otherwise there would be no choice. That is my explanation. But the results are still the same. God didn’t force us to go one way or the other and he left it up to us to decide.
    Which brings up a thought exercise. Adam knew God, so he had “faith” in God, but still failed to act in accordance to what God wanted. But was it really faith as Adam layed aside trusting that God would fulfill his promise of death when he ate of the fruit. Adam and Eve placed their trust in a lie that they accepted, instead of what they should have known was going to happen.
    They acted not out of faith in God, but out of self desire and then was denied the tree of life.
    If they would have acted in faith, they would have stayed in the garden and had access to the tree of life.
    Did their action doom them or did their faith doom them or did their action based on their lack of faith doom them?

  32. Monty says:


    You’re either a poor reader or a dishonest responder blinded by your theology. Enough of taking what I say and twisting it to serve your purposes whatever they are. Here’s just one of many things you have twisted. I said, “1. Scripture is contradicting itself. I don’t believe any of us believes that.” You come back and write. “Scripture isn’t contradicting itself. Your understanding of what it says is misinformed.” My point was scripture isn’t contradicting itself so that’s off the table as to what James meant. You then write some garbage like “Abraham didn’t Re-justfy himself.” I didn’t say he did. Who are you arguing against? “There was no need, you said. What he did was demonstrate his faith to others.” What others did he demonstrate his attempted sacrifice of his son to? God? You said,”James felt it was important to see outward demonstration of God working in an individual.” So, were back to an outward sign of an inward expression? That was not the purpose of Abraham attempting to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham had already been going where God sent him and demonstrated his faith in numerous ways like believing God would even give him a son in his old age. But when Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only son(of promise) God said, something amazing, “Now I know that you love me.” and by doing it, he was justified(James words, not mine or yours.

    James said he was “justified by his works.” You say no he was not,(I’ll believe James). He wasn’t even re-justifying himself.” Who ever said that? Abraham didn’t re-justify anything. And there is nothing in there about sacrificing Isaac was some need to “publicly demonstrate his faith to others”,(your words). That’s not even in the text. The text is about being justified by works. You rename the words used instead of addressing what is said, and add context(filler) that isn’t there, to suit your agenda. Abraham was justified in one sense by faith and also James says in some sense he was justified by works. The idea is to understand how both statements are true. Because they really are without having to change the words and add filler. I will gladly try reason the scriptures with someone who is giving an honest attempt, even when they disagree , but I refuse to deal with someone who is either in to big a hurry to read what I wrote and misses what I’m saying or is so interested in winning the debate that they have to put words in my mouth that I didn’t say. I’m done.

  33. Dwight says:

    In regards to faith and works (and other points) there is an attempt to divide the scriptures and conquer a concept or point.
    But you are right. The idea is to understand how both statements are true.
    There was the apostle that “Jesus loved”, so does this mean he hated all of the other apostles? No!. Jesus could “love” a particular apostle without hating the rest and he constantly showed this fact. One fact didn’t cause an opposite fact to happen. Two facts can coexist without opposition.
    The Kingdom can be in heaven (literally) and it can also be a mustard seed (figuratively) and both be equally true concepts.

  34. Price says:

    Monty IMO you suggested that scripture can’t contradict itself based on your understanding of what James says and then you reach back to Rom 4 trying to make them mesh by suggesting justification is based on faith and somehow based on works. I just don’t see how you can imagine that Abraham needed to be declared righteous by works when he had already been declared righteous by faith apart from works. Tim 4 leaves no doubt and the role of earning justification or righteousness. It is not a minority opinion that James is stating that you show yourself to have faith by how you act.

    hebrews says that Abraham trusted God and that he could raise Issac from the dead to fulfill his covenant. So even then his faith directed his actions. That is to say that faith preceded his work.

    I don’t see Gods response of now I know as being all that amazing. It’s not like the Alpha and Omega didn’t know something or needed to be informed. He was giving Abraham an “atta boy”. He was letting Abraham know that He did know his heart and the motivation behind it. If it was in any way amazing it would have been to Abraham himself being informed that God knew what was on his heart. If perhaps having a angel grab you wasn’t amazing enough

  35. Dwight says:

    Price, so then the question is what would have happened if Abraham, who showed his faith by going to the place of sacrifice, decided not go all the way in the sacrifice Would he have gotten the approval that God already had placed on Abraham prior to the act of sacrificing his son? After all God knew his heart…right?

  36. Price says:

    Dwight… Good question. One could stop having trust in God I suppose But if the faith is genuine then the response is as good as it can be. Some have great faith. Others can barely come up with a mustard seed. Are we to assume that a mustard seed isn’t sufficient ? That’s why I resist a checklist meantality. But in this instance his faith motivated his response. Why should we assume that God wouldn’t still be interested in his faith rather than his performance ? He wasn’t initially. One has to ask themselves what it means when Paul says that if a ram had any reason to boast it wasn’t before God. What does that mean to you ?

  37. Jay Guin says:


    Thanks. It’s from a lesson I try to teach teenagers when I have the opportunity. I taught it to a group of graduating seniors. 6 years later they tell me it’s the best, most important lesson they ever heard. But it’s not MY lesson. It’s straight from 2 Peter. It’s just a lesson we rarely teach because we’re so obsessed with pushing either Calvinism or Arminianism that we don’t teach it for what it was meant for: How to live.

    I’ve never heard this taught from the pulpit. The Churches of Christ don’t want to teach a sure salvation. The Baptists don’t want to teach an unsure salvation. And so how to make the unsure sure is ignored and forgotten.

  38. Jay Guin says:


    You’re putting me to the test! Let’s see …

    “As we lawyers say, you assume a fact not in evidence. Who says that God himself subjects people to the kinds of harm you mention, such as abuse.”

    God Himself does:

    “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7, NIV)

    “Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” (Lamentations 3:38, NIV)

    “When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it?” (Amos 3:6, NIV)

    “…And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” (Job 2:3, NIV)

    So my first reaction to these verses is that God is not saying that he is the source of all bad things but that, when he is of a mind to punish, he punishes. Obviously, anyone who knows the OT knows that God brings punishment to both Jews and Gentiles when he suits him to penalize their wicked behavior. This is his justice, for which I praise him. So let’s check out some context.

    The first passage is from a prophecy directed to Cyrus, king of Persia —

    (Isa. 45:1-7 ESV) 1 Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: 2 “I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. 4 For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, 6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.”

    God takes credit for Cyrus’s victories and the calamities suffered by his enemies. Parallel is —

    (Isa. 45:17 ESV) 17 But Israel is saved by the LORD with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity.

    God is saying: I can make you king and I can destroy you. He is not saying, all evil in this world is my fault.

    Next is —

    (Lam. 3:38-40 ESV) 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? 39 Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins? 40 Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!

    Lamentations is about the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon. The author’s point is that God can bless us or curse us (as he had seen and as God had said in Deu and Lev). If we sin, God said he’ll punish us. Why should we complain? We knew we were sinning! We should rather repent.

    Again, the point is not that all evil comes from God but that God does punish as he has said he would.

    The Amos passage —

    (Amos 3:1-8 ESV) Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: 2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. 3 “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? 4 Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing? 5 Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing? 6 Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it? 7 “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. 8 The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken; who can but prophesy?”

    In context, Amos is saying that God will punish Israel for its sins. Thus, when he asks, “Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?” Well, this makes perfect sense if God has threatened destruction if the people don’t repent. When the city is then destroyed, they should learn their lesson.

    Heed v. 7: “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.” That is, they know it was God who brought disaster because the prophets said so. “The lion roared.” God is the one who brings disaster to a city WHEN THE PROPHETS SAY SO.

    I have no interest in the TV evangelists who announce that every disaster is God’s judgment — because there is no prophet who warned us and so they are full of themselves and not the Spirit.

    If God is not sovereign, what is the point of praying to Him, in seeking His deliverance? Why ask Him to give us our daily bread, keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil (as Jesus teaches)? Are you saying that the disease that is in the world is not from God (as part of his curse on the earth and all in it)? Stop and think what horrible diseases afflict the world, afflict even children who do not know enough to choose good over evil. Recall that Jesus said not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from God’s will and that he so trusted in the Father’s sovereignty that he was able to sleep through a storm at sea without a care (and was bothered to find his disciples scared out of their wits).

    As a victim of more than one horrible disease, and a chronic pain sufferer, I do not need to told about these things. These issues are very present to me.

    I think the Orthodox have a better understanding of the curse of Gen 3 than we Protestants (which we inherited from our Catholic forebears). The curse is the consequence of sin entering the Creation, but it’s not God’s will. Check out for an enlightening perspective (but you can skip the parts about Mary).

    I can’t offer a comprehensive explanation, but sin — rebellion against God — affects not only those who sin but the entirety of creation. Jesus came to reconcile us, help us defeat sin, and where Jesus is most intensely present, even the creation itself returns to proper balance. The storms on the sea are calmed not just because “Jesus did a miracle,” but because the creation subjected to futility and adulteration returns to submission where Jesus is most intensely present.

    Therefore, I think it’s a mistake (a very common one) to blame God for the fallenness of this world — a fallenness that cost Jesus his life on the cross. I think it is therefore contrary to the will of God, and God is doing his best to defeat it. But to defeat the consequences of rebellion requires that humans give up their rebellion.

    The scriptures aren’t the least Pollyanna-ish. They report the horrors of human suffering with incredible honesty. We are naive because we like to read the pretty passages and ignore the full picture.

    For example, speaking as someone who spent Saturday in a wheelchair, Jesus healed but one of the many lame people by the pool. In theory, he could have healed them all. He could have healed the entire population of lame Jews or every lame person on the planet. But he healed one. Just one.

    Why? Why stop there? Just to show off? Well, to show what is possible — if we’d join him in defeating the principalities and powers, in giving ourselves to him. The point of a miracle isn’t to take away the curse. If it were that easy, Jesus wouldn’t have gone to the cross.

    The miracle is a foretaste of the new heavens and new earth. Until then, it’s war — and God makes things better but not everything better. And as more ground is taken and more enemies defeated, things improve. Poverty is pushed back. Diseases are cured. Famines aren’t as deadly. And we credit these things to science and man, when in fact they come from the spread of the Kingdom — I believe. I’m a Kuyperian to that extent. There’s a common grace from God. He makes it rain on the just and unjust. And he defeats the Enemy a little at a time — and things get better. But the final victory will only come as people follow Jesus, defeat sin in their lives, and as a result, spread a common grace that will be beyond our imagining.

    Don’t misuderstand me…I am not opposed to seemingly unjust or terrible suffering, just so long as there is a good explanation for it and so long as God is willing to deliver all from it who cry out to Him. But that is not what we get from the scriptures and God does not deliver all (or even many) from evil. The best answer we get from scriptures is in Job where God asks Job “What do you know, after all?” My word – Job lost all ten of his children, his wealth, his friends and his health – all (according to God) – without just reason. It just seems God did not grasp how much Job suffered (having never suffered like that Himself as a human being) and was unwilling to share the reason for it (unlike how He answers the “complaint” of an angel in Zechariah 1:13), like He is saying “How dare you question why I allowed you to be brutally savaged by a fallen angel against whom you have no power to withstand?”. Might is not a good explanation for right.

    As I think I’ve shown, I don’t take Job to be the “best” answer. It’s AN answer, but plenty more are offered. In fact, I now realized that I missed one —

    Thirteenth Answer:

    (2 Cor. 12:7-10 ESV) 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 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. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    Sometimes God says, “No” even to his apostles.

    This is a hard one because God has a long history of winning victories through weakness — from Moses to Gideon to David and Goliath to Jesus to Paul. Jeremiah preached from a prison hole in the ground. Ezekiel suffered all sorts of pains to preach for God. So did many other prophets.

    Jesus promised his followers,

    (Lk. 9:57-58 ESV) 57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

    To borrow a phrase, Jesus never promises us a rose garden. We pick and choose the pretty passages and hope to live like Job after he was tested and tried and not like Jesus or Paul. But it’s pretty clear on a fair reading of the text that many of Jesus’ followers will suffer in this life — as Jesus did. It’s even built into Paul’s theology —

    (Rom. 5:1-5 ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

    Not many sermons get preached on this one, because “we rejoice in our sufferings” does not look good as a mission statement. But that’s what it is.

    It’s not that all Christians suffer — but many do. I can barely type the keyboard because of my arthritis. The pain radiates to my elbows. And yet I type because I feel called to type. You’d think God would take away the pain, wouldn’t you? But maybe he wants me to minister to others who suffer. Beats me. I just know that I’m supposed to type.

    I am not sure you have a full appreciation for what goes on in the world. Children are sold as sex slaves. Women in ancient China would have their feet bound from childhood so they would be deformed (that was thought to be desirable among men). There are people in North Korea who have grown up from infancy in a prison camp and lived their lives there. People contract all sorts of horrible diseases all over the world. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, floods and blizzards kill thousands every year. Lions and other animals kill and eat human beings. And so on and so forth. If God does not answer people like these when they cry out to Him in humility and dispair, what does that tell us? Why do so many scriptures allude to prayers and cries of people? What, then, is the “work” Jesus said the Father was at even to his day?

    Please spare me your condescension. I live in Tuscaloosa, where we cared for Katrina refugees and dealt with an F5 tornado that ran next to my church building and near my house. It’s been years, and I just spent this afternoon talking to my wife about the families we tried to help and how the system works against the poor. My congregation has been at the epicenter of relief efforts for these disasters for years, and it’s been at considerable sacrifice and cost.

    We’ve been in the homes of people who can’t afford rent to move out of buildings laced with mold, without utilities, and who refuse to move because their friends and neighbors living in similar squalor can’t move with them — and they need their friends to survive. And I practice law in the affordable housing field. I know how to help people — but not how to get the city to zone for affordable housing.

    Although I live a privileged existence in many ways, I beat my head against the principalities and powers daily. I successfully campaigned for the state to grant additional housing credits to Tuscaloosa to bring affordable housing to people displaced by the tornado — and the housing industry couldn’t build enough new housing to use the credits because the red tape defeated my efforts. I beat my head against the principalities and powers daily.

    But here’s the point: I beat my head against the principalities and powers daily. Sometimes, they lose. Not always, but often enough to make the effort worthwhile. God’s power is made perfect in weakness.

    I don’t expect you to have an answer to these questions. But if the world is to be won, answers would sure help that cause. It is not simply a matter of preaching the gospel. Most everyone has heard of Jesus. They have to know God is truly good beyond all question. That is a tough sell to someone who has suffered greatly in one way or another. Knowing that Jesus died on the cross for him does not explain why he was born with cystic fibrosis or why she was sexually abused, caged and beaten by her own father for over ten years or…well, you get the picture.

    I have relatives with CF. I have friends who were abused and who suffer today from their childhood trauma. I’m not naive.

    However, neither do I blame God.

    To me, the metaphysics are very difficult to articulate. It’s hard to explain the WHY.

    But I can explain the THEREFORE, the “what do we do about it?”

    What we do about it is —

    * Have faith that God’s plan is the right, best, only plan.
    * Look forward to a better heaven, earth, and body. (I would rather like a body that didn’t require pain meds to get through the day.)
    * Bring more people into the Kingdom.
    * Convert the church from politics, moralism, legalism, and Gnosticism to actually serving as Jesus served. Help the church become the church (to quote Hauerwas). Be a light on a hill. Beat your head against the principalities and powers every day. And believe that God will — somehow or other — use your sacrifice in a way that betters this world. And believe that there’s no other way.
    * Pray — but not for magic. Pray that the church becomes the true church. That we each contribute something that helps redeem the world. Look forward to the day when we meet Jesus in the new heavens and new earth and recognize that the new world is perfect because of something we helped God accomplish. We’ll see the evidence that our works were not in vain when we get there. In the meantime, we live in the paradox, sustained by faith and the Spirit.

    That’s my limit for tonight. Time to take my nighttime meds.

  39. laymond says:

    I asked Dwight, do you know why the tree was in the garden?

    Dwight said, It was God’s will to test our will. God knew we would fail, but we
    had to be shown that we have a choice, otherwise there would be no choice.
    That is my explanation.

    Jas 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God
    cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

    so I believe Dwight sincere but wrong. So does anyone else know why
    the tree of good and evil was placed in the garden.

    I believe I know, and I can tell you how and when I found out.

  40. Monty says:


    Thanks for your response to Chris. We all feel what Chris feels(the falleness) of the world. Something is horribly wrong with the world. To not feel “it” is to live a life of pretend and fantasy. We (most all people, except perhaps for the most debased) desire to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We desire to see a world that functions without disease, hurricanes, twisters, tsunamis, without sexual abuse and premature death, a world without pain and suffering. What we need is light. We need some hope that change is possible and that all is not lost. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” Jesus is that hope.

    I think what you wrote pointed to that light. It was spot on. God is not the enemy. He is the cure for what ails us. If we believe that man should be able to do as he pleases without any repercussions, without true justice, without anyone telling him, “No, that’s wrong” then I suppose God is an enemy to that total self infatuation,self absorption, and to sin. Left to our own devices we would have destroyed ourselves millennia ago. Take away the light of God’s presence and you will know the full extent of chaos. Thanks be to God that he hasn’t abandoned us to ourselves, even though that’s what men craved. Jesus came to teach us the way to a better world, for healing what is broken(us), and that way is the downward path of self sacrifice, a cross. Jesus took up his cross and now we must take up ours to partner with him in the reconciliation of the world.

    The book of Revelation points to the struggle between good and evil(as does the whole of scripture) but in more vivid video gamefish kind of way, graphic spiritual battles, trumpets sounding, heavenly hosts, epic plagues, death, beheadings, war, the whole gamut of an epic battle. The kind of rendering that gets our attentions. All of us know that for the average man on the street who perhaps knows very little about scripture he is intrigued by Revelation, the mark of the beast, and some kind of battle between the forces of good and of evil. And even the least knowledgeable believe the ending of the story. Good(God) and his people prevail. The Good overcomes the evil. Sin and death are forevermore destroyed. Thank goodness(God) we know how it all ends. We see the light pointing to us to the conclusion of the matter. And, believe it or not, it really does end happily ever after, we just haven’t got there( the ending) yet. But until such time comes, we get to partner with God to try to make a little bit of heaven on earth. A foretaste of glory divine.

  41. laymond says:

    Monty said, “The Good overcomes the evil. Sin and death are forevermore destroyed. Thank goodness(God) we know how it all ends. We see the light pointing to us to the conclusion of the matter.”

    Monty, is that what is happening now, preparation for Armageddon, the last battle between good and evil, as some republicans seem to be saying. ?

  42. Monty says:

    Let’s see, If I have faith then it follows that I will have works. If I don’t have works if follows that I don’t have faith. Everyone with faith will have works. And back and forth it goes. That has a ring of logic to it, but it begs the question, why do Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, John, teach us how to act, and how not to act? Why are warnings given if I fail to act? If I am a true person of faith, I will act properly, so it is argued. If I don’t act properly, I’m not a true person of faith. The argument is either we are or we aren’t and there’s nothing we can or cannot do about it. If I trust, then I will obey, no if ands or buts. This view is that basically, the believer is preprogrammed. That is the “true” believer. If I’m not pre-programmed then I’m not a true believer. It all sounds simplistically wonderful. It certainly takes away any responsibility on my part. Just truly believe and God takes care of everything.

    The only problem with that is Paul faced daily the “concern for all the churches?” “Who is led into sin and I do not inwardly burn?” Hey Paulie, relax all the true believers are gonna do just fine! Why was Timothy instructed by Paul to persevere to watch your life and doctrine “closely” and instructed to “persevere” in them, because if he did (if he didn’t I suppose he just never was a true believer)he would save(future tense) both himself and his hearers? Why does Paul repeatedly warn Christians that those who “live by the flesh” will not inherit eternal life? I thought all true Christians will live by the Spirit automatically? Certainly there is no expectations on us to live a certain way(that would be works righteousness wouldn’t it?). Why did the Hebrew writer instruct his hearers(Christians) to “not shrink back” and to “hold unswervingly to the hope they professed?” A true believer can’t fall way right? Why does he say if “we”(includes himself) keep on sinning, no sacrifice for sins is left?” Why does Paul and Jude warn about false teachers coming in and ravaging the flock if true believers will always believe, always persevere, always walk according to the Spirit, always walk in the light, and are never carried away with every wind of doctrine, never fall from grace, etc. etc.,,,there’s just so much wasted print warning the “false” believers, those without “true” faith don’t you think? You have to ask yourself the question: Does scripture warn false believers to become true believers, or does scripture warn believers not to become like unbelievers?

    If true believers have faith and never “fall away”, never “make shipwreck of their faith”, never “keep on sinning” on at least occasion, if they always without exception persevere, then why so much angst from the writers of the NT to the contrary? Does the Christian have any responsibility to live, and to do, anything whatsoever, to remain faithful? To keep the faith, to remain in the faith, to build up his faith, to grow, to mature in the faith? If not, then why so much print and warnings to the contrary? If we can fall away, then there is something outside of God’s control and his desire. What is that something? Us! Our free will to sin, yes even after we have “true” faith, to rebel, yes even after we have tasted that God is good. When we became Christians God didn’t remove our free will. We must of our own free will hold to faith. We must diligently pursue righteousness(God) and turn our backs to unrighteousness. We (not God) must rid ourselves of all bitterness rage and anger….we(not God) must be kind and compassionate to one another. It’s a responsibility, it’s a direction or mindset taken by us that culminates in obedience. Not perfect obedience of course. But a life that is characterized by obedient trust. It goes without saying that it is easier to have more “belief’ as a cerebral thing than manifestations of our believing. So then, is it a works salvation? Hardly. But on the other hand is the Christian relieved of duties? Are there no expectations from God about doing and not just saying we believe? Is it really just as simple as the true believers will of course have works, will of course always persevere and such? If scripture points to anything it is that it isn’t as simple as that. That our faith is fragile in a sense, and not because God hasn’t done enough, but because we still have an adversary who must be resisted(and not given into),we still have a fleshly sin nature that requires self discipline of us. When we look at it from a mere human standpoint we might think the odds are stacked against us, even with grace. But from God’s perspective (the Biblical perspective) we are overcomers and we can overcome because God has graced us with his Holy Spirit that when submitted to will lead us into paths of righteousness for his name sake. It’s not us trying to save ourselves by being good enough, it’s about submitting to and not resisting the will of God in our lives. And that requires a faith that through submission(there’s no other way) we live more and more as imitators of God, as we mature and cooperate in the faith. Grace is greater than all our sins, but we are slaves to who we obey. Both are true.

  43. Dwight says:

    Laymond, the context of Jas 1:13 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” is evil. God does test man, but not with evil. The tree wasn’t evil. But God does desire to see what man will do in his faith. There is always a moment of truth that acting out exposes. We can have faith, but how strong and deep is the faith set is the question.
    The things is why is their consequences for actions if God knows our hearts?
    I think God knows our hearts and our direction, but not entirely how we will act or react until we do.

    In regards to saving ourselves. If we are thrown a life saver (not the candy) that someone throws to us while we are drowning and we reach for it and grab hold on tight because we have faith that we will be pulled in are we then in jeopardy of saying we saved ourselves?
    No! Even though we took action and took an action that if we didn’t take wouldn’t have saved us.
    And if we get on the ship and jump off are we then going to argue that the one who saved us didn’t do his part and didn’t save us?

  44. laymond says:

    Dwight, the bible calls the tree ” the tree of good, and evil . The woman was tempted by evil, the man was tempted by woman.
    So how can you say it was only a test, not a temptation.? If God planted the tree for that purpose then God was the tempter. Could there have been another reason for the tree?

  45. Dwight says:

    Laymond, I am tired our your jumping around and not reading and addressing the points. I never said the tree was there to tempt man, but to test. You basically say the same when you say, “checking his creation.” This ends our conversation.

    Since the issue of the tread is of faith and works, one of the interesting points is that God didn’t condemn Adam or Eve until they ate of the fruit or enacted their disobedience. If it was matter of jut faith, then God should have condemned them before that point. The act of taking and eating exposed their true disobedience.
    This sets that stage for what God accepts and rejects. He just doesn’t read the heart, but also takes into account what man does in regards to his heart….the fruit of man.
    Turning this around, just think of all of the people that think something evil, but don’t act on it, and if works don’t justify, then we all have been condemned previous to the act of sin that we didn’t do.

    God judges on the heart and the act as one thing, because the act exposes the true heart.
    In the same way murder was killing another, one could kill another by accident and it not be murder, but one couldn’t think about killing another and it be considered murder, which was sin.
    This is the point of Eph.4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,”
    The sin was bound up not in being angry, but rather in the action of wrath, which was a reflection of the anger and hate.

    I know that Matt.5:27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
    But this doesn’t mean God judges us of adultery by thinking of it, but is arguing that the heart leads to it. The next few verses “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you;” which is a reflection of doing something that is sinful.

  46. laymond says:

    Jesus said, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
    Dwight says,
    “But this doesn’t mean God judges us of adultery by thinking of it”

    I believe the whole idea of repentance is, a change of heart, not a change of rhetoric.

  47. laymond says:

    Larry, this is not the only time Jesus used hyperbole to express the seriousness of a situation.
    Jesus simply meant , do whatever it takes to separate yourself from sin. But when we consider the “wages of sin” the statement is not so outrageous.

    But I see what you are saying, your works do have more to do with salvation than some like to admit.

  48. Dwight says:

    IT would take quite a bit of faith to cut off may hand I am afraid. And I’m not sure this is pure hyperbole, but rather a concept that what ever lengths to avoid doing sin we must do is what we must do if we could isolate that one thing.
    But even though we all know that it isn’t the hand that causes one to sin, the scripture makes a point that sin is bound up in action and not just thinking about it. And if you can keep the action from happening by whatever means, then you have used your faith to secure your holiness.
    One of the opines of Paul in Rom.7 “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”
    Paul argues against doing sin, but he also makes the statements that even though he is thinking about not doing sin, often he does it anyways.
    But Paul also says, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
    So even though Paul makes the argument of sin of the flesh which is at odds with the spirit, he alludes to Jesus as being the one who can get him past his flesh and sin by “walking in the Spirit.”

  49. Dwight says:

    The point of where I was going is that it seems contradictory to say that our acts can condemn us, but our acts can’t save us. At least to an extent. Because God rejects faithless acts and God shows mercy even when we mess up because we have faith.
    One of the things that I think about is that even when Israel committed idolatry at the mountain when Moses came down with the 10 commandments, God punished them, but still allowed them to go towards Canaan, but when the Israelites failed to their faith in God as they neared Canaan, the generation was rejected. So sinning is one thing, but losing faith in God ability to deliver us is much worse.

  50. Jay Guin says:

    Dwight wrote,

    So sinning is one thing, but losing faith in God ability to deliver us is much worse.

    Most excellent, and nicely said.

  51. Dwight says:

    Monty, I believe you are right. When Peter got out of the boat, I would consider this great faith, because he actually walked on the water, but his faith faltered and so did he started to sink. He would have drowned if not for Jesus who he asked for help. Now imagine if Peter would have sought to reject Jesus, even though Jesus was right there and try it on his own. He would have drowned then too. Jesus chided Peter for his lack of faith in his ability to walk on water by the power of God and Jesus, without Jesus having to physically hold him up. Jesus wants to see the faith expressed by walking all the way, but also wants us to know that He is there as well and able to support us when our faith falters, but rejection in faith and walking will ultimately drown us.

  52. Christopher says:


    Biblically, I see prayer and subsequent answers to prayer as one of God’s primary means of building faith, appreciation and gratitude in His people. He enjoins us to pray “without ceasing”, to “always pray and never give up”. Why would He do that if He had no intention of actually answering these prayers? Look at how often Jesus was astonished and disappointed by people’s lack of faith. He said that if ANYONE had faith as small as a mustard seed, he could move mountains. Why do we suppose he was speaking figuratively when he said it after cursing a fig tree that subsequently died?

    Paul’s failure to move God by prayer to remove the thorn in his flesh is often cited as as example of God not answering prayer. But no one remembers why he was given that thorn – to keep him from becoming conceited after being caught up into the third heaven and seeing things he wasn’t permitted to speak about. How many of us have been caught up into the third heaven? And yet we (I think mistakenly) draw a parallel to his situtation and ours when there is no real similarity. We also forget that Paul was given a verbal response when his request was denied. Has God ever told us why He was not likewise answering our prayers? It’s not that hard to be told no when our father gives us the reason why.

    My point was simply that we in the CoC seem to be missing something – the power of God manifested in answer to prayer and faith. Faith is being sure of what we hope for. Could it be, in our rationalistic and empirical 21st century mindsets and in our CoC doctrine (that basically comes close to teaching that miracles no longer happen), that we are not really sure of what we hope for when we pray? What did Jesus say? Ask and believe you have received it and it will be yours.

    Just a couple more of my cents worth…

  53. Christopher says:


    I just think you are not being intellectually honest. There are almost innumerabe verses from the scriptures attesting to God’s activity in response to prayer, commands to pray, parables about prayer and so on and so forth. Jay concludes that because only one person is recorded being healed at the pool, no one else was. That is not a logically valid conclusion. That’s like saying if Jay tells us he helped his wife with the dishes yesterday, then that’s the only thing he did for her. By contrast, we read in Matthew that “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Is the use of the word “every” hyperbole or literal? A lot of people seem to conclude that God rarely heals people today because that’s what the evidence shows. Yet. we read further in Matthew that Jesus “…did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.” And Jesus tells us that there were many lepers in Isreal in Elsha’s time, but only Namaan was healed. Why? Because it was God’s will for them all to suffer a horrible lifelong disease? Are we not told in Lamentations that God does not willingly afflict the sons of men? Are you aware of what leprosy does to someone?

    The apsotles suffered horrible deaths not because of disease, but at the hands of evil men – because of persecution. And in those deaths, they didn’t suffer for years on end, but for a couple of days at most. I am not saying we should not suffer…only that we should not suffer interminably on earth. It almost seems some of you want to make the scriptures conform to the present, observable reality rather than the other way around. Something is amiss – that’s my point.

  54. laymond says:

    “It almost seems some of you want to make the scriptures conform to the present, observable reality rather than the other way around. Something is amiss – that’s my point.”

    (I couldn’t have said it better) seems about 1980 was a turning point in the CoC I have never figured out why.

    I don’t see where God decided that miracles through prayer were abolished, Just miracles through man.
    Christopher, true faith is what is missing. even faith that God would choose to save his creation through one man, even though , we have a recorded example of that very thing in Noah.

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