Monday, January 12, 2009

The Serpent in the Church

I know, I know, same old stuff! I just am having a hard time understanding why believers want to cling to the Law. Why is it we have such a difficult time throwing ourselves at the mercy of Jesus? Why do we still think that we are somehow lacking, that we have not really been created in God's image, that we need to become like God by our own effort?

Adam and Eve were perfect, had perfect standing before God and perfect fellowship with God. They were created in God's own image!!! And yet they fell for the lie when the serpent came to them saying "don't you want to be like God?", they decided that God's word pronouncing them to be in his image was not enough and they decided that having the knowledge of good and evil ( MORAL LAW) would be able to make them more godly.

And so sin entered Adam's race through the seemingly good desire to be more godly
and our perfect standing and perfect fellowship with God was broken. God provided temporary forgiveness through the shedding of the blood of animals so that man could still have some semblance of relationship with his Creator. But the reason the blood of animals had any power was because of the blood of Jesus which would be shed at the right moment in history, once for all. God had a plan to completely destroy the power of Satan, and that plan was to forge a new covenant with man that was completely unbreakable!

This covenant was ratified by God the father and God the Son, Jesus, who became human in order to break the curse of sin and the law (which is the power of sin, not the other way around 1 Cor. 15:55-57) BECAUSE JESUS IS THE MEDIATOR OF THIS NEW COVENANT IT CAN NEVER BE BROKEN BY US. We enter into the new covenant simply by agreeing that Jesus may be our representative, by putting our trust in him. This, my friends, is the simple good news that we call the gospel!

So, Scripture is clear! We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), we are the righteousness of God ( 2 Corinthians 5:20-21. I hope we can all agree that we've been reconciled back to God and our original position in Adam before the fall has not only been restored but it has been restored permanently without any fear of our breaking the covenant this time...once again...because of Jesus...

Now, though Satan can never ever affect our relationship with God the way he did with Adam, he can still tell us lies which, if we choose to believe them, will produce unbelief in God. This unbelief will drastically undermine the level of freedom and power we walk in. In fact, unbelief will lead us to live according to the flesh under law rather than by the Spirit, and it will cause us to sin.

The saddest thing about this is that most of the church seems to be falling for the same lie Adam did! The serpent has slithered his way into the church and he is still expounding the benefits of the Law! After being restored back to our Creator's original design, we are still tempted to believe that we need the knowledge of good and evil, the moral law (the ten commandments!) to perfect us, faith in Jesus is far too simplistic.

I don't believe that the Law was given to reveal the character of God, for one thing, there is no evil in God. And if that were the case, the law would have been given to Adam and Eve in the very beginning. The law was given to reveal the fallen character of man,to uncover sin, to provoke sin, to make sin spring to life(Romans 7:4-6, Romans 7:9). Jesus was given to reveal the character of God!

"And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known." John 1:16-18


Do you really believe this? We could not intimately know God through the law which came through Moses, in fact, any of the Old Testament people who knew God knew God by faith. Though for hundreds of years the Jews worked to obey the law and thereby know God, Scripture tells us that no one saw God until Jesus. The law was not given to reveal God to us, the law actually separates us from God by producing fear in us (Hebrews 12:18-21), it perpetuates death and curse, it can only uncover our sin and it keeps us in bondage as slaves(Gal. 4:1-7).

Jesus came to reveal God to us for the first time (as fallen man) and he came to do battle with sin and the law (which are the weapons that armed the devil against us Col. 2:13-15), to die through the law to the law (Gal. 2:18-20), to cancel the written code that stood against us, to become the end of the law for all who believe (Romans 10:4), because he did not come to condemn the lost but to save them and the law could not save us! That's why Jesus came with truth and grace, not the law!

So next time the serpent comes to you extolling the beauty and wonder of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, why don't you pass...why don't you take the bread and the cup and feast on the love of Jesus? The serpent doesn't belong in the church anymore.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

Methinks you underestimate the power of fear.

And God is not the source of fear.

jul said...

Hi anonymous, I'm a little confused by your comment. Maybe you wouldn't mind explaining a bit more?

lydia joy said...

Go Julie, go Julie...........!!

I am so glad that God ratified this New Covenant with Jesus and not me or you or anyone else for that matter!! Pfhew!! He knew what He was doing and He did it out of love for us!

"BECAUSE JESUS IS THE MEDIATOR OF THIS NEW COVENANT IT CAN NEVER BE BROKEN BY US. We enter into the new covenant simply by agreeing that Jesus may be our representative, by putting our trust in him. This, my friends, is the simple good news that we call the gospel!"

Indeed, this really is some darn tootin' GOOD NEWS if you ask me!!!

You rocked in this post by the way!! Just picture me as your personal cheerleader in grace!! Love you!!

cucca said...

AMEN!! :)

RJW said...

Well said, Julie!!!

How ironic...the original deception STILL works; eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and be like God. Satan is basically still calling God a liar; what a sweet trick from the "Father of Lies".

If we can be convinced that God is not for us but against us our minds become a playground for our enemy.

God is in the LOVE, reconciliation, redemption, and restoration business. Is it sooo hard to believe He exists to simply love us?? "God is love" is the premise we must start from.

Craig Glenn said...

good one Juls...geat teaching....must say, Anonymous also has me confused...

jul said...

Thanks everybody for you comments. I really never get any opposition on here, can that be good for me ?

SLW said...

Interesting, to say the least. I really enjoyed your take on the serpent's temptation.

Though Adam and Eve were in an unhindered relationship with God, they weren't quite in perfect one, for they were ignorant and they knew it. Ultimately, that state is addressed and rectified by Christ (1 Corinth 13:9-12), but what matters is that it cannot be addressed by human effort. I think that was your ultimate point.

Unhindered fellowship with God, then, now and always is broken when one doesn't have the faith to trust in and wait upon God, but instead relies on his or her own efforts. In effect, such lack of trust impugns of God's character ("he's holding out on me" or "I can do it better myself") and makes him a rival rather than a friend or even a father. Hence Paul's desperation in Gal 3:1-3 &5:2-6.

Your understanding of the covenant in Christ is excellent! The type of such is Abraham's, not Moses'. Abraham's was initiated by God through promise, and sworn between God and himself (torch and firepot). Abraham was an onlooker, though the benefactor, and all that was required of him to enter in was faith in what God said and did. In my view, however, it was possible to lose the benefits of that covenant, and it is possible to lose the benefits of the new covenant by losing one's faith in God (Heb 6:4-12).

Your assessment of what is meant to be revealed by the law, i.e. commands, is incredibly insightful and correct. However, I do believe the Law (as in the Law, the Prophets, and Writings, i.e. the OT) does reveal much about God's character, his motivations, his governance, etc., even for those of us looking back from the perspective of Christ.

This was a really good post, among the best I've read of yours. God bless you as you plumb the depths.

ViolableWings said...

Hi Jule, my wife and I really enjoyed that post :-) as always! I don't comment or post much, even though I pray constantly for more courage to do so, but I felt I really needed to this time. One because this post really effected us in a wonderful way, secondly because I can't help but wonder what SLW means by "it is possible to lose the benefits of the new covenant". From his website I see he is an AG pastor, and with me having been raised by the most part in the AG I know that most are big on denouncing openly the "once saved always saved" or "eternal security" idea. The last sermon I heard from our old AG church was on the Vine and the brances, the pastor said that that story proved that salvation is not eternal, and that we are not secure because we could be cut of and thown by the most part in hell (his interpretaion of the flames). Sorry didn't mean to go on, just get a bit fumed when those things come up still being pretty young in the grace message.
Ron

jul said...

SLW, thanks for you very kind words! I always appreciate your insight.

VW, I'm not sure what SLW was alluding to exactly, but I too grew up in the Arminian camp, Wesleyan which is very similar to pentecostal in doctrine (just nix the tongues heh). I believe that we are in an everlasting righteousness, and salvation is secure. There are however, several passages that give strong warning about falling away. My view (which is not yet solidified in any way) that if falling away is possible it would take an outright denial of Jesus, that he died for us and rose again then ascended to the Father's right hand, and then a deliberate turning back to the Old Covenant (which at the time of hebrews,written to Jews, probably would have even entailed animal sacrifices etc).

I don't believe that any truly saved would make this turn around, but that the warnings were to those in the church who were not in the church, if you know what I mean! So to summarize the warnings are to those who are not saved but are either being convicting of their unbelief in Jesus by the Spirit or are part of the church outwardly but have never been regenerated/born again and therefore there beliefs are easily changeable.

But maybe SLW was alluding to the idea that we can live far short of the abundant life Jesus promised us in the New Covenant by living according to the flesh under the law rather than by the Spirit. Many are saved but live without experiencing many of the benefits Jesus has provided.

Anyway, glad you're enjoying my blog, thanks for your comments. Always feel free to tell me what you think (and if you're shy, just e-mail me!). Blessings!

SLW said...

Jul (& VW),
Jul, didn't mean to stir up any bad feelings on your sight, sorry. :-) I'll attempt a clarification, hopefully it will help.

Your supposition about my beliefs, Jul, is on mark regarding falling away-- it is a denial of Christ, a heartfelt cessation of faith. One cannot be saved without a sincere recogniton of who Christ is and what he has done (Rom 10:8-9); and on the other side, one cannot remained saved without the same. This is not about passing temptations or doubts, but of cold-blooded, considered determinations of soul. The possibility of one turning away from his or her faith in Christ, in my view, wouldn't have been mentioned so often, and at times so clearly, if it were not truly in the realm of possibilities.

Where there are problems with such a viewpoint is if one assumes a person is saved by faith, but lost by works. Our works cannot save us, and our works cannot estrange us. The only way to salvation, i.e becoming a benefactor of the covenant, is by faith in Christ, the only way to lose it is by turning from that faith. So, as long as one is convinced that Jesus is the Son of God, who died for our sins and was raised for our justification, that one is secure here, now, and eternally, despite failures, frustrations, and seasons of doubt.

What that says about 1 Corinthians 5 or Matthew 7:21-23, I'll leave to you.

ViolableWings said...

I see what you both are saying, and please don't think I am being argumentative, but I have been taught that same thing in some AG churches, and taught a much more detailed version in our last church (the one that I referenced the branch and vine teaching previously) where commiting any given sin too much for too long and you have lost sight of God, and lost salvation. Our pastor often said in sermon, "I sure was glad Jesus hadn't come back that day or I might not have went up!" I understand that probably (giving him the benefit of the doubt) he was being a bit emphatic but still, it doesn't do much good for the already fearful people being taught the don't stray or burn theology. Ok now I'm being emphatic lol, but back to my thought, I feel that if the promise is given, and received by the individual truly, that is the Holy Spirit received, could anyone really "cold bloodedly, from the heart truly" deny Christ? I mean really, its impossible for us to see the heart of others, and if it is true that such departure of the Holy Spirit could be, could any amount of teaching stop someone from doing that given the circumstance that would drive a person to that state? I can't help but feel that God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit can hold on to anyone whether we hold on to Him or not. Wouldn't "no one can snatch them from my fathers hand" mean us too, if we could isn't that somebody? I know I'm being difficult but I feel these things have to be asked whether they can be answered or not.
Ron

Joel B. said...

Hey Jul,

I agree with the others... great post! Believers, although filled with the Spirit and dead to Adam, still have minds that can be led by the lies of the devil, so we need to be grounded in the truth of the good news! Our minds are sometimes forgetful, and we need to hear the same things over and over again, to get it ground into our minds and hearts!

About the conversation here in the comments, I have a few thoughts. Not to try to present this as rock solid truth, but here's what I see anyway. :) I look at what the Bible says about those who are in Christ. I mean, those who are truly in Christ, not just those who say "Lord, Lord" (Matthew 7) or who "say" they have faith (James 2:14), but those who have truly been born again of the Spirit.

The Bible says those in Christ are new creations (2 Cor 5:17) (a brand new creation, made from nothing into something). It says we have died to who we were in Adam, and have been made alive together with Christ (Eph 2:1, Col 2:13). Our old nature has died, and is no longer there. We have a new nature, that is one spirit with God (1 Cor 6:17). We have become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). And get this... we have been born again of incorruptible seed! Seed that is no longer corruptible. (I know you know all this, but I'm writing it all out to make a point). :)

When we read Hebrews 6, we must read it in the context of all that the writer is saying previously and afterwards. He is really making a lot of little points, but also some big ones. Throughout chapters 6 through 10, he is making a huge point about the one time, sufficient sacrifice of Jesus that took away all sin. There was only one sacrifice that could ever do it, and the sacrifice of Jesus was that sacrifice. All of the writing is about the superiority of the sacrifice of Jesus over the blood of bulls and goats, which could never take away sin, and the superiority of the Priesthood of Jesus over the Old Covenant Levite tribe.

The writer sows a few good seeds up to chapter 6, and then he begins with "Therefore..."

Therefore (in light of what's been said up till this point), let's leave this discussion of elementary things behind, and let's move on to talking about perfection. "Please, let's not have to lay again the foundation we've already laid. You should get that by now. You already know that people need to repent from dead works, and they need faith toward God instead. So let's move on to perfection."

And this is what he goes on to do. And contrary to vss. 4-6 being about losing salvation, I believe that, in light of all else that he says, he is making the case against losing salvation! "Let me begin this discussion about perfection by making this point," he says. (You realize I'm paraphrasing). "God has perfected forever those who are sanctified" (he later says). "See, don't you get it? If one were to be perfected, it would be impossible, if hypothetically they would fall away, to renew them again to repentance."

"Why?", you ask. "Well, it would mean that the Son of God would have to be crucified again! And that just ain't gonna happen!"

And the writer goes on, in the next few chapters, to make the case for the once for all sacrifice of Jesus. There is no other sacrifice. In short, I think we wrongfully focus on the hypothetical statement, and we misinterpret it, and we miss the fact that he is using it to make a point about the sufficiency of the one sacrifice of Jesus.

I mentioned several verses that say what actually happens to a person who is truly born again. All of this, and more, shows that we are secure in Him. No one can snatch us from His hands, as Ron said.

The same thing is true of Hebrews 10:26. ("For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins..."). We need to read the entire context, including the chapters leading up to it and the verses after it, to see that he is making a point about the once for all, sufficient sacrifice of Jesus. The word "if" doesn't appear in the original Greek. It's a matter-of-fact statement. "We sin willfully." (I don't know about you, but when I sin, it's not as if someone's holding a gun to my head! James even said that we are tempted when we're drawn away by our own desires, and it gives birth to sinful actions).

The writer of Hebrews is saying that there is only one sacrifice that takes away all our sin. When we sin, we can't turn to any other sacrifice. He says it was bad enough when someone rejected Moses' law (when they were under the law). How much worse, he says, is it for those who reject the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus! What an insult to the Spirit of Grace!

Sorry so long here! I thought I just had a few minor thoughts, but I guess it took me a while to make my point. I'll try to be shorter next time. :) And again, I'm not asking anyone to agree with me, but the discussion in the comments brought this to the surface of my thinking.

Joel B. said...

(By the way, the "incorruptible seed" reference is 1 Peter 1:23).

RJW said...

I'm with Joel. No being unbirthed from the Kingdom.

SLW said...

Joel and RJW,
If the concept of being unbirthed is untenable to you (and I do understand why), you are forced to explain away the reality of folks falling away or walking away from Christ as resulting from them never being born again in the first place. In real time, such a possibly ends up undermining the very confidence the doctrine of perserverance is touted to convey. In other words, one must still shudder over the thought "what if I end up being one of the not truly born-again?" Practically, what is the difference in outcome between one approach and the other?

The fact is, the only true confidence comes from knowing Christ and the Holy Spirit testifying to our spirit that we are a child of God. Certainly, we can't believe in a perserverance that has people that out and out hate Christ being welcomed into the Kingdom because at one time they were assumed to be born-again!

Joel B. said...

SLW,

That's like saying that I'm forced to explain away all the fake diamonds in the world. It's simply a reality that there are fake (not real) diamonds among the genuine ones. I don't think it's too hard too imagine that there are possibly many "churched" people who have never been born again. The Bible itself says that those who have been born again, have been born again of incorruptible seed. I'm sure there are quite a few who have all the "right" actions but never were born again. Whitewashed tombs. I'd say it's probably more common than we'd like to think. Sad, yes. But that doesn't take away from the truth of it.

SLW said...

Joel,
I don't quite see your analogy as being germane, it doesn't address the practical way perserverance is touted as a source of security. I would agree, from God's perspective, that he knows who are his, that are the real deal and will prove out in the end. What I am saying is that that knowledge is "unusable" by us slogging through the journey. Our belief yesterday does nothing to prove that we won't tomorrow abandon Christ and so prove "we weren't born again in the first place." So, security can never be found doctrinally, but only relationally with Christ.

Joel B. said...

The analogy made the point that I was making. There are fake diamonds among the genuine ones. I'm not trying to make a case of how one knows who is genuine and who isn't. We're saved by grace through faith alone. Perseverance, or any other mark of the Christian life is a matter of God's gift of grace working in and through us. If it's up to "me" to persevere, then I'm toast! But the Spirit in me keeps me, and I can persevere while resting contently in Him.

Joel B. said...

Which gets back to the post. Instead of listening to the lies of the serpent, who would try to get us to doubt and be fearful, we trust God's voice of grace.

SLW said...

Joel,

Where I can give an amen, I should. So, amen!

jul said...

I've been following this interesting debate! I've already debated both sides of the issue many times myself, so it's nice to sit back and just learn.

To be honest, I don't find that you (SLW and Joel) really believe much differently though you explain differently. I myself fall more in line with Joel, if I didn't already make that clear, but wanted to be clear that I can see the other side as well. I don't consider SLW's arguments offensive or heretical hehe, though I've met a few lose-your-salvation types who were downright ignorant, preaching hell, fire and judgement on the heads of believers. Those are the guys who think that if you live your whole life following Jesus and happen to sin then walk out in front of a bus before you have a chance to repent, confess, ask forgiveness, then you're going straight to hell.

Thank God SLW, you are not one such fool. Haha, I say that in all sincerity, I've been really encouraged by your understanding of grace, your gracious spirit, and your wisdom many times. And I'm even more encouaraged that you're pastoring a church with this kind of heart.

So thanks to all of you for your comments and feel free to continue the discussion, I'm loving it!

ViolableWings said...

SLW,
I just want to make certain of what I have read, there have been many "doctrines" that I have had heaped upon me. It just sounds like you may being going the direction of speaking in tongues being the evidence of salvation, which the AG churches I have been apart of in the past never said that but did imply it on some level, or at least say, "well as long as you are activly seeking". I'm not saying that is what you are saying, I just want to clairify whether or not that is what you meant by "the witness of the Holy Spirit", or is it like what I have heard before that when you are truly saved you don't do anything wrong (a perfect 10 commandments obeyer). I have also been taught that you begin to show fruits of the Spirit, and those fruits always seem to be defined as some sort of work e.g. service to the church, active "witnessing" on the street, titheing, or doing good deeds. If its not, how in the world do you know? I know that the word says that none of us are perfect, and I understand that sin is sin (that there are no little ones). Like Joel said, I don't know anyone who has had their arm twisted to sin, so I just can't see that anyone who has sinned after salvation hasn't done it willfully. Should we just sit around in terror that we are not believing hard enough, straining to show fruit by trying to do good and wear a smile? Again, I'm not trying to be difficult its just been and still is a hard road, and I am far from perfect and mess up alot so people going about talking about things like this is a bit scary to me. I mean I could go about and say, "well gosh, I wasn't aware that was a sin, but now that I see it, boy am I sorry", but somehow that just feels like lying to myself, and honestly I can't see that being the case with anybody.
Ron

Joel B. said...

I do find this type of discussion very stimulating and interesting. My thoughts on it all have changed over the years, and I'm guessing that they'll continue to evolve as my understanding grows and changes.

The whole blog post and discussion turns me on, so to speak, because it involved issues of grace and identity. Even if we all don't agree on every last aspect of it, I think it remains true that the church's understanding of grace and identity is undermined by the serpent's lies. By the grace of God, this is my heart's passion, to help people to be rooted and grounded in God's love and grace, and who they are in Him, and to dispel the lies of the devil.

Joel B. said...

(should be "involves," not "involved")

ViolableWings said...

Ok, a couple of the previous comments got posted while I was commenting with my last comment so I just want to clarify something. There was a time in my life that I knew I was saved, I really felt changed, heck there were a couple of these times, and later on life things got really odd. I lost my desire to keep going, depression set in, I did wrong things and didn't care that I did them. In essence, I fell away, I can't say that I didn't believe in God, or Jesus for that matter, but the way I felt and had gotten, I didn't really care if they liked me or not. I even remember one time saying "I don't believe" the thing is that I never stopped believing, but rather was speaking and acting out of the pain I was in mentally. Still, you knowing me at that time would probably have to say, "that dudes lost". Was I? Had I not been saved in the first place? That seems like a life full of worrying about tommorrow because we never know what terrible thing will happen in our life, to our mind, to our heart, which could bring on a depression that is far greater than we could have imagined. To try and deal with that and worry about the fact that we may not have been truly saved all those years because of the anger and rebellion we are feeling at that time is enough to put a person in a state of suicide. I speak from experience with depression. I hope I don't sound confusing or obnoxious on your blog Jul lol, but like I said in a previous comment, its all such a whirlwind to me sometimes, all I want to know is that God isn't going to let me go, that He isn't going to tell me I was never really saved because I am hurting and angry and maybe even rebelling a bit.
Ron

SLW said...

Ron,
No, I don't believe someone has to speak in tongues in order to be saved. That would have meant the Apostles were unsaved until Pentecost, or that Paul was unsaved until Ananias came along. Clearly, neither of those is true! The reference was to Romans 8:16 & John 20:22, and speaks of the work of the Holy Spirit within a believer which, I think, lets us know we're born again (children of God).

As for true Christians never sinning, perish the thought! I don't think there would be so many incidences of correction in the Epistles if that were the case. It's good and right for us to aspire to walk inspired by the Holy Ghost (see Galatians 5). If we pulled that off we would never sin. That won't happen in these bodies of sin, but by the grace of God, we can make progress.

What needs to be avoided in regards to sin is to attempt to control or undo it by human effort (law). All that can accomplish is bringing one back to the frustrating knowledge that he or she is not perfect, duh! We progress by keeping our eyes on Jesus, rather than staring reflectively, self-absorbed on our own flesh.

And Ron, this is something you need to remember always: Christ never casts out those who come to him.

ViolableWings said...

the work of the Holy Spirit within a believer which, I think, lets us know we're born again (children of God).

This in a nut shell is what I am trying to understand, what is it that happens that lets us know that we didn't just think we are born again? I thought it was trusting in the finished work of Christ and not in anything I can do to save me? Is there anything else? To say that one could commit themselves to that trust, and then circumstances in life that give birth to psycological pains, anger, rebellion and the like cause them to "fall away", mean that they never truly believed seems like saying there is something more than just faith. I have heard the "faith without works is dead" thing spun in every direction of the compass but it always seems, in my mind anyway, to come back to adding to what Christ did through our own efforts as the evidence. What is this work of the Spirit? I feel like there is a work of the Spirit in me, I know that I know He is here, but at the same time, I also know how easy it is for me to fall into depression and walk away with my hands up, or at least has been in the past. I would love to say, that if anything happened to my son, or my wife that I would be able to bear it and keep my faith. But from what I have read in some of the comments, if anger and rebellion rose up in me and I walked away in the misery of my loss, that would mean that I never truly believed. I mentioned that the last AG teaching I heard, please dont get me wrong I don't have it in for the AG, its just that it was my life for so long and there was so much contradiction in the teaching given, was the brance and the vine. In it he said that it was proof that the once saved always saved idea was rubbish. That one could be grafted into the vine, be a saved, an in Christ believer, and be cut off and thrown out. I mean you have to have salvation to lose it don't you? Try not to lose patience with me Jul, Joel, SLW, lol, I want off of this marri-go-round much more than you can imagine, even now it feels like it would be easier to give up, that ingorance would truly be bliss. Its times like this that make me wish I was born on an island where no Christian had ever gone and peacfully practiced what ever voodoo that my tribe doo, LOL.
Ron

Joel B. said...

Ron,

I think we need to take great caution to not turn verses such as Romans 8:16 ("The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God") into any type of "requirement" for knowing we are saved. Words like that from Paul and other writers are meant to be good news, not meant to be words that cause people in Christ's body to go around questioning and wondering if they're saved or not, because they haven't 'felt' or 'sensed' anything that gives personal meaning to those words.

Ron, you are right... it's all about trusting in the finished work of Christ, and there's nothing you can do to add to that or take away from it. The essence of the gospel - the good news - is that in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them (2 cor 5:19), and that Christ became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. It's all a gift, and our "work" is simply to believe.

I think that while the NT writers do warn about those who have an outward appearance, or who "say" they have faith, there is such a small focus on that, and the overall gist of the gospel message is we believe and God does all the work. We are the beneficiaries of the finished work of Jesus.

Sadly, very sadly, the church has tried to play the role of judging who is saved and who isn't, mainly by looking at outward appearances (tongues, works, etc), and they are the ones who have put undue and unnecessary focus on the questioning of one's salvation.

Again, the focus of the New Covenant is the good news! Our job isn't to find some 'proof' within ourselves that we're saved. Our job is simply to trust, and rest in the truth. :)

SLW said...

Ron,
You said,
"I feel like there is a work of the Spirit in me, I know that I know He is here"
What more could anyone ask for? That sounds like the real deal to me. Cry out "Father!" with thanks.

And, on to other things...
The official A/G doctrinal statement is thin, so once one's off the bulleted list, there's a lot of variation from preacher to preacher and church to church. I don't consider that a bad thing, but I suppose it can be a source of confusion.

You know my viewpoint: true Christians can and do fall away. The perpective that those who do were never truly saved in the first place has also come up in this thread. I think the perspective of "eternal security" has also been mentioned, at least in passing. To tell you the truth, as much fun as it is to discuss all this with good brothers and sisters, all of it seems incredibly impractical to godly living. We have to live in the minute, today, right now. What may happen tomorrow is inconsequential, let it tomorrow take care of itself (Matt 6:34). I seldom get past thinking, "today, I know Jesus." I let Jesus take care of tomorrow.

Joel B. said...

I'm not sure how well I said what I meant to say, but the point is that the church has made such a stink of getting people to prove that they are saved, that they have taken away from the true foundation of the gospel, which is that "having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." (Rom 5:1-2)

Joel B. said...

I agree with what SLW is saying overall, except in one thing. Not to argue with SLW, but just to make myself clear, I believe that incorruptible seed means it's not corruptible. :)

jul said...

Ron, I understand where you're coming from with the depression thing, I can so relate to the temptation to want to throw my hands up in the air and give up on it all! And in essence, that is what I finally did, just not in the way the old serpent was hoping for haha!

That merry-go-round you're talking about is lawgracelawgrace around and around, up and down. Roller coaster Christianity that depends on my performance, oh yes, by God's grace of course, but I must 'appropriate' the grace, or yes but we must 'balance' the grace. As a child of God slightly less brave than Paul, I can't write the words I really want to, but let's just say that's all a bunch of rubbish, I mean the kind that needs to be flushed down the toilet.

All the wrestling and fighting and anger you experience is the kicking of a living spirit! Before you were born again, you were dead in your transgressions, but you are alive! The fact that you are alive shows me that you have been born again, born in the same manner that Jesus was when he entered the world as a little baby. He had this weak flesh like us, but he was without sin. His father was not Adam, but the Holy Spirit. And he was the first born of many brothers--us! We are like him, we have been recreated in his image. He has already dealt with our sin and he will return, not to deal with sin, but to give us immortal perfect flesh to house our already immortal perfect spirit!

Yes, it's good news! Here's a few warnings for you: if you stray from the flock, Jesus will leave the 99 to come find you. If you take your father's resources and go out into the world and spend it all on liquor and loose women, your father will wait for your return and he will not be disappointed. If you think you can escape his love, be forewarned! You never can! He is your bridegroom and however many times you play the whore to the old impotent husband he will receive you back with joy! If you are angry with him, he will comfort you, he will listen, he will win you back again. You will never reach the end of his mercy, you will never be able to outrun his love. Where ever you may hide he will chase you down and coax you out into freedom and joy.

You are his and he is yours, forever. This striving you are now experiencing is not for no purpose! You will soon enter his rest.

SLW said...

the point is that the church has made such a stink of getting people to prove that they are saved, that they have taken away from the true foundation of the gospel, which is that "having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." (Rom 5:1-2)

That is excellent!

ViolableWings said...

Joel,
I hear what you are saying, and am encouraged in the hope that despite my short comings and fragile, over sensitive nature, that Grace is Grace, and God has made me incorruptable never to be lost from Him.

SLW,
My wife Anne has been with me on this the whole way, she has suffered pretty much the same mass of confusion as I have, if not a bit more. She see's what I am trying to ask but reckons I am saying too much in asking it, and in hind sight I think she is right, and causing the answer to either seem to be not answered or lost in the mix of everything else. So, here is the basic questions by them selves.

Can a believer lose their salvation? And if so how?

and.....

How does one know one is a true believer?

I am sorry, again I don't mean to be difficult, but my whole family is AG, and they are forever trying to make me feel like if I am still saved at all, its but by a thread simply because I am not going to church anywhere, and talk about the "dreaded eternal security". No one has said that but its what always seems to be implied. So when issues with these questions come up and seem clouded by anyone it makes me not just fall backwards a little, but tumble helplessly. I want to live in the now, but for me its too hard to do if I cannot be certain now that no matter what choice I make in the future because of what ever may come, I am always safe in my place with God because of Christ.
Ron

ViolableWings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ViolableWings said...

Jul,
Thank you, that is very encouraging :-) it put tears in my wifes eyes and was taken into our hearts.

sorry about the deleted comment lol, I published without checking for mistakes again, I'm bad about that.

SLW,
Thank you for not losing patience with me, there is I think too much suspicion in me where the "church" is concerned, I still have people from our old church trying to lure us back in by making us feel like were lost. I hope you haven't taken anything I said personally or wrong, its just years of fear and confusion talking. We are like a couple of Eeyores over here, we don't want the carrot and the stick anymore, we just want love and acceptance.
Ron

SLW said...

Ron,
I'd like to think I'd never lose patience with you, but I am going to bail out of this conversation. It's taken a turn from discussion and debate to ministry, and I'm not comfortable pursuing this any longer on someone else's blog.

Jul has been gracious and kind, but this is her platform for ministry, not mine, and I don't feel right pressing my viewpoint any further than I already have. You can always e-mail me if you'd like to pursue the discussion. I hope you understand.

Thanks Jul, Ron, Joel and everyone else for an engaging conversation. Blessings to you all.

ViolableWings said...

Hmm, sorry Jul, I guess I lost sight of the fact that this was going on in the midst of your comment section of your blog, I didn't mean to make a thing of it, however pressing and related those two questions are to the original post, or so I think anyway. What is the serpent in the church really if not doubt of salvation. Thank you Jul for allowing me to speak my heart, and thank you Joel for just being the brother you are, encouraging and passionate about the Grace of God.
Ron

silent wings said...

This was solid stuff Julie!!! I really enjoyed the discussion surrounding this post too. 37 comments later... some really good meat and great comfort in here. In particular your last comment ministered deeply to me:

"...if you stray from the flock, Jesus will leave the 99 to come find you. If you take your father's resources and go out into the world and spend it all on liquor and loose women, your father will wait for your return and he will not be disappointed. If you think you can escape his love, be forewarned! You never can! He is your bridegroom and however many times you play the whore to the old impotent husband he will receive you back with joy! If you are angry with him, he will comfort you, he will listen, he will win you back again. You will never reach the end of his mercy, you will never be able to outrun his love. Where ever you may hide he will chase you down and coax you out into freedom and joy."

Thankyou my dear friend.

Ron - I can so relate to your struggles as my husband and I too work through the doubts, fears, questions and failures we've experienced and live through even now. You are not alone and you are in His loving, keeping, pursuing arms.

jul said...

Thanks Cirra, I'm glad you got something out of all this.

Honestly guys, this is 'my' blog hehe, but it would be terribly boring and lonely without all of you commenting and stuff! It doesn't bother me at all, in fact I enjoy having these discussions going on. And SLW, I understand if you want to continue by e-mail but I hope that we can be a family and a body here even in cyberspace and all minister to each other, that's fellowship!

Love you all!

ViolableWings said...

Hi Jul, just to switch gears to a more on the post topic lol, I was thinking about this statement you said in your post.... they decided that God's word pronouncing them to be in his image was not enough and they decided that having the knowledge of good and evil ( MORAL LAW) would be able to make them more godly.

And so sin entered Adam's race through the seemingly good desire to be more godly


I don't reckon that there was a moral law to worry about back then, I reckon they had excellent relationship with God, He walked with them, talked with them, and probably laughed and played tag with them. I don't think, "think mind you lol, that there was even the thought of needing to do better or be more "Godly" in reference to being more accepted or what have you. I do reckon that the old serpent did have one particular sin that he knew back then to use. The one that got him, not wanting to be more Godly, but rather being like God, on equal terms. Isn't that what got Adam and Eve? Moral Law is a problem for us today, and just another thing that the serpent can and does use, boy do I know that one, but was it really an issue or consideration back then? I have seen that he still uses that becoming equal to God thing in some religeons. Actually I think there is at least one "Christian" religion that says that we will eventually be Gods of various levels some to the point of being equal or taking over for "God". Kind of bizarre. I'm not trying to be contradictory or anything, I'm just trying to learn and understand some truth by expressing some stuff that has annoyingly rolled around in my head off and on, some blogs just give me an opportunity to see what others think. What do you think?

jul said...

Hi Ron,

I think the knowledge of good and evil is moral law. If you look at the law that was given to Moses, it was detailed knowledge of good and evil. Before the Law was given to Moses, I believe that humans had a basic knowedge of good and evil after Adam ate the fruit, which was probably what we now call our conscience.

I think before this, Adam and Eve had no conscience and they also had no need for one since they God (rather than good vs. evil). All along there is a dividing, two ways we can live. We can live knowing God, or we can live knowing good and evil, these are two distinct systems that man has freedom to choose between.

Now we could call these systems Old and New Covenants. Ironically, the new is older that the old hehe...It is God's original plan,Jesus was the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world.

Apart from God's ability to save and keep mankind in the face of any possible opposition there could be no relationship of trust with us.

I'm not sure if I'm really answering your question or not, but it seemed like you may have misunderstood me. I don't think Adam and Eve had a desire for moral law until the serpent came and painted a pretty and deceptive picture of it to them. And I still believe that Adam and Eve were already like God because they were made in his image, it was a trick to use the argument that if they ate the fruit they would be more like God because we all know that man is far less like God under the law system then under the faith system. This is because in the law system man is a free agent separated from God by his sin, but under grace through faith man is joined in fellowship with God in a union that allows man to share in the divine nature of God through Jesus by the Spirit at work in us.

Feel free to keep on dialoguing with me, I think we all learn a lot from each other when we do this. Also, I'm afraid I may have just been really confusing!

SLW said...

Jul,
Yes, I do consider us a big family, you are a wonderful sister, I just didn't want visit your place and move around the furniture on you. ;-)

Ursula Kuba said...

Julie,

Awesome post!

To answer your question:

I just am having a hard time understanding why believers want to cling to the Law. Why is it we have such a difficult time throwing ourselves at the mercy of Jesus? Why do we still think that we are somehow lacking, that we have not really been created in God's image, that we need to become like God by our own effort?


There is one main reason. The control spirit love the law, and if it can get people to buy into the law, it can keep them in bondage. It uses the law. On top of that it is a witchcraft spirit. Its deception. And the terrible thing about deception, is you don't know you are deceived! The church by large is very much held by this spirit. Its like cancer in our churches. It rips believers apart, and rips churches to pieces. And so, from a spiritual realm, this is what is happening! BUT Jesus. Freedom is there. They just have to look to Jesus!

ViolableWings said...

Jul, not very confusing :-P lol, its kind of a hard to understand what I'm talking about sometimes because something will ignite what has been rolling about in my head and makes me slide into it without warning LOL. I think I may have to post something on some of the things that have popped in and out lately on the subject of Adam and Eve. Along with a disclaimer of course that its not my actual beliefs but rather random thoughts :-P

SLW, I thought that Jul's couch was in the other corner last week. LOL, but really, I'm just bad about getting caught up in what is going on in my head and the worries of the heart, its good to share and express, plus Jul's a pretty cool chik so I reckon we are both forgiven before asking to be lol. I guess my getting touchy involves throwing of the last of the shackles of the institution.
(i say chik affectionatly and humorously lol, not to offend :-)
Ron

Matthew Daelon said...

I've not read all the comments, but I will add this, even if it's already been added. The only thing we "do" is believe. Trust, cling to, rely on, have confidence in...Christ. Not myself.

I must hold fast my confidence in the finished work to the end. It's a salvation beginning and ending with faith.

I do believe we must continue to believe the message of the Gospel firm to the end; otherwise we believed in vain.

It isn't the question of how faithful you are in doing, but do you trust HIS faithfulness? He who promised is faithful. Continue to believe.

RJW said...

>Though Adam and Eve were in an unhindered relationship with God, they weren't quite in perfect one, for they were ignorant and they knew it.

I think is a sticking point for me. Ignorance of good and evil was the BETTER place. Adam and Eve FELL into the knowledge of good and evil. Living dependent on God was not to be improved on by gaining knowledge of performance. To me, this is where legalists get hung up.

Tony Yu said...

wow, thankyou Julie. I never saw it that way. I really needed to hear that. I really struggle understanding this but I think I'm going to get a breakthrough!

"they decided that God's word pronouncing them to be in his image was not enough and they decided that having the knowledge of good and evil ( MORAL LAW) would be able to make them more godly."

This is a very interesting truths that makes everything seem very clear about Grace.

The knowledge of good and evil in christian circles is actually a curse.
It is the very thing that causes frustration and is the very thing that sincere people use to control naive people.
This is what Jesus called the yeast of the Pharisees Mt 23.

Most of the Christians are clinging onto the thinking that it will help them; most of the unsaved know that the Law doesn't work and that's why they don't want anything to do with Christiainity.

The very thing that the church clings to is the very thing that will push the unsaved away- what a contradiction when Jesus came to seek and save the lost!
What a curse! how can this be and yet many believers don't see it!

This is what I have been discovering from the acting classes that they teach us to overcome things.

jul said...

Tony, thanks for your encouragement, I'm glad you got something out of this post.

Jamie, I agree with you. I don't believe that we're better of with the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve lacked nothing because the knew God, nothing seperating. Of course, we still have it better as I've said many times before since they still had a breakable covenant while ours is eternally unbreakable! Yay Jesus!!!

And Matthew, thanks for you $.02. Great thoughts to remember.