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Question #1:   I was listening to a Christian radio station and heard a statistic that 95% of Christians have never led anyone to Christ, and encouraging them to do so. I personally have never led anyone to Christ, but I don't want it to stay that way. It is probably selfish to say that I am shy when it comes to talking to other people, because God used imperfect people in the Bible all the time - like Moses, who said he wasn't a good speaker. I've wondered what sets the scene for being ready, willing, and able to tell people about the Lord? Is it having a really close relationship with God, being passionate about your faith, or seeking others out? Do you develop relationships with people, or pass out tracts to people and let that do the talking?

Response #1:  It's a good question. Some people are gifted with the gift of evangelism, and I think that it is undeniably true that these types are more likely to be put into situations conducive to ministering the Word to unbelievers. I find it very interesting that most of the gifts – in fact all of the other spiritual gifts – given by the Spirit have to do with ministering to the Body of Christ itself (rather than outreach to unbelievers). Evangelism is in fact the only gift that specifically ministers to the unsaved. Of course, a person does not have to have the specific gift to share his/her faith with an unbeliever. I would say that willingness is one major factor in this equation and preparation is another. A person who is truly willing to do what for most of us is the somewhat intimidating job of telling others about the Lord (intimidating because of shyness, because of our fear of rejection or retribution, etc.) is much more likely to be used of Him in this capacity. A person who is consistently praying to the Lord for boldness and for such opportunities, looking for them aggressively, and making the most of them when they appear is much more likely to be leading people to Christ than those who don't. And it is also true that God uses prepared people. A person who has thought a lot about this issue, who consistently prays for help in it, who knows the pertinent theology and the pertinent passages inside out, and who has prepared ahead of time various ways of handling objections, questions, and concerns, is much more likely to be used of the Lord in this capacity than someone who has not.

All this having been said, I do think that to leave the impression that if a person does not regularly or has not ever led someone else to a saving faith in Jesus Christ that said person is some kind of a "second class Christian" is very wrong-headed, legalistic, and completely non-biblical. As I say, we are entitled to draw some conclusion from the fact that all but one of the spiritual gifts in the Church are directed towards the edification of the Body of Christ, not its expansion; therefore most of us should be concerned with the growth and welfare of our brothers and sisters in Christ most of the time rather than with the unsaved world (even though this is exactly the opposite of the emphasis that contemporary evangelicalism stresses). I believe that this is because the expansion of the Church is the Lord's prerogative. Every human being presently on the earth who is not a Christian is here for the express purpose of testing their will – do they, will they be willing to turn to God and be saved? God is not willing that any be lost, but wants all to be saved (1Tim.2:4; cf. Ezek.18:23; Matt.18:14; Jn.12:47; 2Pet.3:9). Therefore you can be sure that if a person ends up going to hell, it is not because of lack of information. There has never been nor will there ever be a case of a person who was willing to turn to God but was not given the opportunity to hear the gospel. What that means of course is that our role in bringing a person to salvation is minimal. If we are truly being used of God in this capacity, it is a privilege and a blessing. If He means it to be "us" who brings the knowledge of Christ to a particular person, then it is a shame if God ends up using someone else because we were too busy or too scared or unprepared. But the one thing of which we can be sure is that no one is going to end up in hell because of our failings – everyone is responsible for their own response to God in Jesus Christ, not for anyone else's. So our attitude towards evangelism is also important.

In particular if this is our special calling, we should be willing and eager to roll up our sleeves and head into the vineyard to do the job of work the Lord has called us to do – and willing to do the prior preparation to be effective evangelists at that. If we are not called to evangelism as a special gift or ministry, we also ought to be more than happy to share our faith with those who want to know about Jesus. We should not hide our faith under a barrel, and we should ever be open to the opportunities that may present themselves to share the gospel. But we need not feel bad if, in the process of leading a good Christian life, aggressively pursing personal spiritual growth through hearing, learning, believing and applying the Word of God, and putting that faith into practice in the ministry to which we have been called, we don't end up having numerous opportunities to evangelize.

I find it highly ironic in the church visible of our day, the era of Laodicea where lukewarmness regarding spiritual growth is the hallmark, that almost no one agonizes about the lack of substantive Bible teaching, the lack of truly prepared Bible teachers, the lack of truly orthodox Bible churches, the lack of interest in pursuing a truly deep relationship with Jesus through the truth of scripture – but it seems that almost every group and voice out there in evangelicalism-land does agonize about witnessing. This is no doubt because where the hard unseen work of the Christian life is left out, tangible signs are always sought as replacements – that has always been a hallmark of legalistic thinking. This is the reason of course why the Charismatics are doing so well: no one wants to do the hard work of spiritual growth but they still want to "feel spiritual"; enter groups who give them tangible signs such as tongues and healing and other miracles. Now tongues and healing and other miracles are wonderful if they truly come from God, but only if they truly come from God. In the same way, an emphasis on witnessing is a wonderful thing if it truly is and outgrowth of spiritual growth, but not if it is an attempt to substitute for spiritual growth.

That is my main objection to what your radio station is doing. Most good Christians who hear messages like this are naturally inclined to start standing on street corners handing out tracks and pestering the pedestrians who come by. That is well and good – if it is really what the Lord wants. But if, as I suspect, what the Lord really wants is for those people to grow up spiritually through an aggressive regime of substantive Bible teaching over a lengthy period, and, once spiritually mature, to engage in the ministries to which He has called them for the edification of His Church, then such activities are a distraction at best and a legalistic trap at worst. I suspect that, in all too many cases, God does end up using such evangelism from false pressure-motivation to spread the word of the gospel (as in the case Paul relates: Phil.1:15-18), but that does not mean this is the use to which these believers would be put in the "first-best will of God" if they were really doing what they were supposed to be doing with their Christian lives.

So I try not to judge anyone who is spreading the gospel, but I also try to resist the idea that if you are not handing out tracts you're a bad Christian. As I say, the Lord is not going to let anyone go to hell for lack of information. And on the other hand, we live in a country where it is almost inconceivable to imagine that anyone who has been here for any length of time (certainly anyone born here) has not heard about Jesus Christ and could not get from a wide variety of sources all the information about Him they would ever wish almost instantly. In such an environment it seems to me that the tactics of evangelism ought to be much different than they would be in the case of some aboriginal tribe who truly had never before heard the name "Jesus Christ". It seems to me that for highly educated, highly skeptical people who have heard about Christ all their lives but have never been interested, the best possible witness is the witness of the life of a truly attractive Christian (attractive in the inner person, that is), coupled with the willingness to share their faith and the spiritual maturity and mastery of the truth necessary to "give a good account" to all who ask of the hope that is in them (1Pet.3:15). For most people (in the USA anyway) this sort of evangelism coming to an unbeliever from someone they know and respect is much more likely to be effective in my view than the strident call of a perfect stranger on a street corner telling them they need to be saved. It is true, of course, but just as likely to contribute to their negativity to the gospel as it is to truly light for them the path of salvation. So you see, you should not be too quick to assume that your life's witness has been to effect. One sows, another reaps. When an unbeliever who has seen the power of Jesus in someone else's life is moved later to investigate the gospel, we should not consider that the example which moved him/her was not an important part of the process (even if he/she ends up inquiring of someone else).

Perhaps this is why in the book of Acts for example, the approach to evangelism and the idea of evangelism is so much different in tone than what we find today. For the biblical approach is one which asks God's help first, recognizing that to get a hearing, God's help is going to be the main issue, both in getting the audience's attention, and in giving believers the boldness to speak effectively:

"Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4:29-31 NIV

In the One in whom we have placed our faith for eternal life, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #2:   

I forwarded your response to a preacher and got an almost opposite response. He had wrote:

You wrote:

Some people are gifted with the gift of witnessing, and I think that it is undeniably true that they are more likely to be put into situations conducive to ministering the Word to unbelievers. I find it very interesting that most of the gifts - in fact all of the other spiritual gifts - given by the Spirit have to do with ministering to the Body of Christ. Witnessing is the only gift that specifically ministers to the unsaved.

HE WROTE:

"Soul-winning is not a "gift". It is a commandment of God. I have heard from more than one Christian that it is a gift of the Spirit, but could someone point me to the scripture which says that? Let me back my statement with scripture:

Mat 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Mar 16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

Act 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

2Ti 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Pro 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. "

YOU WROTE:

I do think that to leave the impression that if a person does not regularly or has not ever led someone else to a saving faith in Jesus Christ that said person is some kind of a "second class Christian" is very wrong-headed and completely non-biblical.

HE WROTE:

"The saving is not up to us. That's God's business. The sharing of the Gospel is our business. There is no such thing as a "second class Christian", but there are lazy ones, unprofitable ones, and discompassionate ones."

YOU WROTE:

we are entitled to draw some conclusion from the fact that all but one of the spiritual gifts in the Church are directed towards the edification of the Body of Christ, not its expansion; therefore most of us should be concerned with the growth and welfare of our brothers and sisters in Christ most of the time rather than the unsaved world.

HE WROTE:

Although the edification of the the saints is up to the church, so is the spreading of the Gospel! As each member of the body of Christ is edified, they should be out reaching the lost by all means available to them. That's why we call it the "Great Commission"!

Although the edification of the the saints is up to the church, so is the spreading of the Gospel! As each member of the body of Christ is edified, they should be out reaching the lost by all means available to them. That's why we call it the "Great Commission"!"

YOU WROTE:

In particular if this is our special calling, we should be willing and eager to roll up our sleeves and head into the vineyard to do the job of work the Lord has called us to do - and willing to do the prior preparation to be effective witnesses at that.

HE WROTE:

It's not a special calling - it's a command! God has endued us with His power, and we are to sow or water His precious seed.

YOU WROTE:

So I try not to judge anyone who is spreading the gospel, but I also try to resist the idea that if you are not handing out tracts you're a bad Christian. As I say, the Lord is not going to let anyone go to hell for lack of information. And on the other hand, we live in a country where it is almost inconceivable to imagine that anyone who has been here for any length of time (certainly anyone born here) has not heard about Jesus Christ and could not get from a wide variety of sources all the information about Him they would ever wish almost instantly. In such an environment it seems to me that the tactics of witnessing ought to be much different than they would be in the case of some aboriginal tribe who truly had never before heard the name "Jesus Christ".

HE WROTE:

There are a billion people on this planet who PROFESS to know Jesus Christ, but they do not POSSESS Him. It is not enough to know who Jesus is. Until they understand what He is, the relationship between their sinful selves and a Holy God, and the purpose behind the propitiation (i.e. salvation via grace through faith), they can have all the bibles, literature, and media sources there are - but as the Ethipian eunuch once said, "How can I, except some man should guide me?"

I'm confused now.

Response #2:  

I stand firm by everything I said. I think it is unfair to characterize my e-mail to suggest that I think we are not supposed to be sharing the gospel of Christ as we are given opportunity to do so. Clearly, we should and should want to, and just as clearly that is very clear from my missile. I do think the final statement included here by this person is very telling. The main argument this person makes for putting more emphasis on personal evangelism is that some people are not really Christians in his view or perhaps are not very good Christians unless they make this a priority. This gets directly back to what I was saying, namely, that an emphasis on edification is really what the Church is lacking, not an emphasis on personal evangelism.

As this impassioned e-mail you have sent me and the radio show you heard which began the conversation and any manner of other pieces of evidence one could provide would clearly show, sharing the gospel is pretty much all many Christian and Christian groups want to do. But what happens when a person is saved? If the group that shares the gospel is spiritually weak and immature (or provides no serious way for the new Christian to grow), then the seed of faith, malnourished as it will soon become, is likely to fall away and become just another unbeliever in the category this person is fretting about. There is, it seems to me, no great lack of evangelism or information about how to be saved in our society or the church visible of our day. There is a great lack, on the other hand, of substantive Bible teaching which can keep a person from falling away after salvation and can help them achieve their purpose in this life of growing spiritually and helping others to do the same. And if a person is not growing, does not understand so as to believe the deeper truths of scripture, in my experience that person is not going to be a very good personal evangelist in any case. This is my main complaint with the legalistic guilt trip the radio station you referenced was laying on its readers: it provides even more false motivation to put an even greater emphasis on doing something that can be a distraction from the number one objective of spiritual growth, personal and collective. My plea is a plea for balance. Getting involved in questionable activities (as some contemporary "witnessing techniques" are, in my view) at the expense of what you know God wants you to do, and doing so because some legalist is making you feel guilty, is a bad bargain and a bad idea. No one is discouraging witnessing. But what is the right way to share the gospel? In my view, the best way for most Christians to share Jesus is to do so with those who are actually interested in hearing the message, not with those who are not.

The long list of passages the person presents are also worthy of comment. The first thing to notice is that they are all addressed directly to the apostles, men who had as a primary function of their calling the spreading of the Word of God (and who were specially gifted to do so, including the ability to heal and work other miracles, things which do get a person a hearing from unbelievers). Today however, not only is it true that "not all are apostles", but it is actually the case that no one today is an apostle (there being only twelve so gifted in the history of the Church in the full sense of that word). Nor do we have the ability to do miracles or heal people. Therefore for an unbeliever to take us seriously, it seems to me that a good life witness is an absolutely essential prerequisite to getting a hearing. On the other hand, if we act like obnoxious fools, we should not be surprised if we are treated as such.

Of course that does not mean we can't be guided by these passages that the person presents, but it is fair to say that they don't mean, for example, that you and I need to go to Jerusalem to be witnesses there. And there are a lot of other things in these passages that are often misconstrued (assuming that Matthew 28 is talking about water baptism, for example). So the point is that we have to apply these passages in a doctrinally correct way. We witness to the world by everything we do. We also witness when the occasion arises by our words, assuming we are prepared to do so. But witnessing is not a substitute for spiritual growth, either individually or collectively. The so-called "great commission" passage (these words are of course nowhere in the Bible) actually makes my point. What exactly does Jesus tell us to do? He tells the disciples to "make all the nations students/disciples". And how does one do so, "by [Spirit] baptizing them" (i.e., giving them the gospel so that they may receive the Spirit) and "by teaching them". In other words, you cannot split evangelization and Bible teaching. That is like inviting someone to dinner, sitting them down at a beautiful table, then giving them nothing to eat. Moral: don't give the gospel to someone you and your organization are not prepared to help deeper into the faith.

Over-focusing on the entry point of the Christian life while being completely unprepared to help a person live that life is a disgrace, and in my view very few of the people, groups, churches, institutions, denominations who are so het up evangelism are at all concerned about spiritual growth – at least to judge by their actions. Ginning up their members to get more involved in personal evangelism thus has the effect of having them spend even less time in actual Bible study than they are already doing (and most such groups are already spending precious little time therein). I can see how a pastor or a church or a group that was not really interesting in contributing to the growth of the Body or not capable of doing so might want to push personal evangelism beyond what God was calling each individual to do: 1) as said before, it's activity and it can be exciting (when someone responds), so that it provides a substitute for the hard work of spiritual growth; 2) of course pastors need to be paid, and that takes bodies in the pews who will pay, and if they are pressured enough (e.g., telling them that tithing is necessary when of course it went out with the historical nation of biblical Israel) they will pay. So evangelism, especially of the type being suggested here (i.e., "you're not really saved unless you come to our church and jump through the specific legalistic hoops we set up") might seem appealing. Even if a new person "led to Christ" falls away from the faith through lack of spiritual food, well, at least they got their money in the interim.

Jesus calls us all to do what He wants us to do. Accepting Him and His work, following Him in this life, growing spiritually and helping others to do the same through the gifts and ministries we are given, all these things clearly are our responsibility. This will undoubtedly include personal evangelism. But like anything else, the time and place and nature and focus and emphasis and circumstances of that legitimate activity are between us and the Lord as He guides us through His truth and His Spirit. They are not the proprietary province of anyone with a starched collar or a radio station or a computer to tell us "we are not good enough" or "not spiritual" or "not biblical" because we are not doing exactly what they say when they say how they say and how often they say. Indeed, as pointed out here and previously, personal evangelism of the sort that passes for appropriate as it is often practiced in the contemporary evangelicalism movement is often a complete waste of time and has on occasion done more harm than good. Whenever we do something out of guilt about what other "Christians" are telling us, much more often than not we are very far away from God when we do. Let each examine his/her own conscience on the matter, let each pray on the matter, and let each do his/her fair share of the work that Christ has called us to. But, really, is this for me to be telling you when/why/how/where/how much, even though I have no idea of what it is that Jesus is really wanting you to do specifically?

Legalism comes in many forms, shapes, and colors, but it always carries one tell-tale sign: an obsession with wanting to run other peoples lives right down the specifics (rather than a desire to help them grow in grace and do what Jesus wants them to do).

The reality is this: a spiritually mature believer who is walking in the Spirit and listening closely to the Spirit, taking advantage of the opportunities for ministry that God provides, is worth more in evangelism than 1,000 immature, unprepared believers who are operating out of guilt and self-effort – and this ratio is almost certainly a drastic underestimation.

In our Lord.

Bob L.

Question #3:    

I was having a discussion about offerings and whether it should be done anonymously or publicly like how the offerings were laid at the apostles feet in the NT. I had received this reply and wanted to know if you agreed with it. He wrote:

"Make sure you don't make your personal preference law. I believe tithing with your name on the envelope teaches accountability to the Lord and to your pastor or the deacons of the church (whoever is involved in the finances). We don't have deacons or gossip mongerers making an issue out of how much people give or don't give. If I gave my tithes faithfully for ten years and then I suddenly stopped giving, or I cut way back (yet I am still working the same job, same hours), then I would actually be glad if my pastor - out of love or concern for my wellbeing - sought me out to see how I was doing. I am not saying he would or has done this as I really don't know what they would do in that situation - but it would certainly never happen if I kept my finances anonymous. In the book of Acts, the church knew who was involved in the giving - think of Barnabas, Ananias and Sapphira. This is my personal preference though. I know enough about myself that I desire to be above reproach and declare my tithes and offerings, so I am never in a position of temptation to cut back or not give because no one else would know."

Do you agree, and is this biblical?

Response #3:

First of all, tithing was a system of taxation for the support of the priests and Levites under God's theocratic administration of the state of ancient Israel. It doesn't play a biblical part in the Church today. Please see the following links:

Is Tithing net or gross?

Tithing and the Book of Life

Is tithing required for salvation?

Secondly, since the book of Acts was a transitional period where many things that happened are not meant to be taken as a pattern for the current time (since now there are no apostles, but there is a Bible etc.), it is always risky to build doctrine on a single passage found there. It is enough to note that in the situation in Jerusalem in the very first days after Pentecost many unique things happen which never happen again. For example, I haven't seen any reports of any other believers dropping dead for not giving "all" as in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, either in or out of scripture. And of course during these early days the believers didn't work and did have "all things in common". That is why many of them sold everything they had, that is, to support the Church during this unique, unprecedented, and not to be repeated seminal period. Later, of course, we find things working very differently, even in the book of Acts.

Jesus tells us not to sound a trumpet when we give, that we should not even let our right hand know that our left hand is making a contribution. Ideally, therefore, we ought to give with as much anonymity as possible, although of course since financial transactions are trackable in many instances, complete anonymity may sometimes be impractical (i.e., if we write a check). As far as the whole system of pledging is concerned, Paul advised the Corinthians to give on a weekly basis according to their financial situation (1Cor.16:2). In short, anonymity and our present financial situation should govern our giving, not public pronouncement or long-range planning – for we cannot not what is coming in truth (cf. Jas.4:13-16).

I suppose the thing that bothers me the most about the quotation you include is this whole idea of "accountability". This is an extremely obnoxious and dangerous false doctrine steeped in legalism that is becoming more and more entrenched in contemporary evangelicalism. We are most definitely accountable to God, and we will to be sure give an account to our Lord Jesus on that day of days for absolutely everything we have done in the body, whether good or ill. Please understand, on that day "my pastor told me to . . . " will not be a defense. We are nowhere told to hand over our free will to another person and be "accountable" to him/her/them. We are accountable to God for everything we think, say and do, and He holds us to account, disciplining us as every situation requires. The problem with handing this accountability over to another human being or group thereof is that it robs us of our own free will and reduces spiritual growth to the following of a narrow set of (usually false) legalistic standards as judged, interpreted and evaluated by mere human beings. Such a system will inevitably cause us to become like the Pharisees and cultivate an appearance of what passes for "spirituality", but will kill off our desire to know the Lord and serve Him from the heart. This movement is one of the most devastatingly dangerous to hit the church visible in a long time, and has the potential to manipulate Christians into all sorts of false and counterproductive behaviors. Heaven forbid that we are ever reduced to such a poor spiritual state that we only do the right thing and refrain from doing the wrong thing because some mere human being in "spiritual authority" might see us.

In the One we strive to please at all times, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #4:

There are people at my job, even professing Christians who say God ***** and this bothers me.

Exodus 20:7: Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Now, we know of a certainty that this is dealing with our words. But, I want to take this to the spirit of the law. Can it mean that our actions can take the name of our Lord in vain as well?

Response #4:   

Christians should know better, that is for sure (e.g., Eph.4:29; 5:4). I have to believe that their consciences bother them about this somewhat (or else they are in a spiritual state where they are not being overly bothered by much of anything). I think your example of not responding in kind ought to have a positive impact.

As to the spirit of the commandment, I think it is certainly true that when we identify ourselves as Christians we are immediately held up to a higher standard – by the Lord as well as by others. This is a hard standard for anyone, but with time, spiritual growth, and sanctification, we can rise to the challenge as the Lord would have us do. Advertising the fact of our Christianity is something else again. It is one thing to happily and freely profess the fact when it is appropriate to do so; it is another thing to gratuitously beat people over the head with it. I cannot say I have a scripture that definitely tells us not to do that sort of thing, but it does strike me that our Lord's mentioning of what not to do in terms of giving, fasting, and praying (i.e., not to make it obvious to others that we are doing so) may well apply here. For one thing, a person should be careful about setting themselves up as an example too vociferously just from the point of view of basic common sense. I had a very wise seminary prof. with a great sense of humor who remarked one day that every time someone cut him off on the freeway they had a "fish symbol" on the back of their car. It's funny, and it says an awful lot about unsolicited personal advertising. Many Christians who are only lukewarm or otherwise spiritually immature are very happy to loudly proclaim their Christianity – but are they ready to "walk the walk" as they "talk the talk"? In my view, we should do the former and leave it to the Lord to give the appropriate opportunities to do the latter.

I can't say, for example, that a football player who kneels down and crosses himself every time he makes a touchdown is absolutely in error, but I must admit it gives me a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Maybe I should stop watching football.

If we advertise that we belong to Jesus and then act in a way shameful to Him, how have we not undermined our witness and done damage to those looking to us as examples?

Yours in the One we gladly profess to be our Lord and Savior to all who have ears to hear, Jesus Christ the true love of our lives.

Bob L.

Question #5: 

I received this paper from a Christian who says this is how we receive eternal life. I thought that it was close to legalism and not sure if his theology is correct. He wrote:

"For this we Know But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Heb 11:6

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
1 John 5:13

We know For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;, this is why Jesus Died

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Eph 2:8-9

Now, Jesus Died for Me You and the Whole World, There is No Work we can do, we cannot Forgive our Own Sins,

We Come To Jesus By Faith.

We Believe and Confess that Jesus is the SON of GOD, For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10

And we Repent of all of our Sinful Works of the Flesh,

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesians 4:24

And by this, We Come to Jesus By Faith, And We Repent and Sin no more John 8:11 and by this we are Forgiven and we are Under Grace (by grace ye are saved Eph 2:5

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation;but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24

But how do we know we Have EverLasting Life?

Is hearing the Words of Jesus , And Just Believing in the Son of God enough?

And How do we not fall into Condemnation ?

And how do we Pass From Death unto Life ?

The Scripture says

For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass James 1:23

If we Believe in Jesus, We must keep the Commandments Words and sayings of God, to have EverLasting Life Because Faith with out works is Dead

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

James 2:26

Because this is our Works for our Faith,

As Jesus said

Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.Matt 12:33

Jesus said Ye are my friends, If ye do whatsoever I command you.

Wouldn't be WONDEFUL to be called the Friend of God? John 15:12

And Wouldn't be WONDERFUL to be the Brother, Sister, Mother of Christ?

Who Ever does the will of God, is His Brother, Sister, Mother Matt 12:48-50

Keeping the Commandments Words and Sayings of God is his will, and is the One and only way to Love God, and this is the One and only Way that God will love us, That's Right the only way God will Love us, and this is the Only way we will Have EverLasting Life

This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever John 6:50-

His Bread is the Word of GOD, Gods Words are Spirit and LIFE John 6:63

if any man eat of this bread Which is his word, he shall live for ever As the Scripture says

If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. John 14:21

If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John 14:23

Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

John 8:51

In these Two Scripture John 14:21 John 14:23 tells us, The Father and Jesus will love us and will Manifest him self to us, And Jesus will come to us, and will abide with us, IF we Keep his Commandments Words and Sayings As Jesus said

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. the righteous is an everlasting foundation. Prov 10:25

for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 2 Peter 1:10

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matt 7:24-27

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness Romans 1:18

How do we not fall into Condemnation? Lets take a look at the Scripture.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1

The Scripture says those who walk after the Flesh are under condemnation Why ? As Long as we Walk in the FLESH will Continue in Sin Transgressing the Commandments Words and Sayings of God, The Flesh does not want to do the Will of God. This is Why The Word of God Tells us, that as LONG as we walk after the Flesh we CANNOT Please God - Romans 8:9

Because we will Continue in Sin, Sin Separators Man From God, In Romans 8:9 Tells us that if we Walk in the Flesh That God cannot Dwell in you, Because of Sin, and if you do not have the Spirit of Christ you are none of His-Romans 8:9 ,

For when you walk in Flesh Which is Sin you Soe Corruptions to your Self, Gal 6:8 , Which is Death Because of Sin, This is Why In Romans 8:13 -For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die

All will suffer in the flesh until they cease from Sin 1 Peter 4:1,

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Romans 6:6

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Eph 4:22-24

how do we Pass From Death unto Life ?

For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ Romans 6:20-23

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall liveRomans 8:13 "

Is this biblically correct? Thanks in advance!

Response #5:  

The simple answer to your question, "is the biblically correct" is "who knows?" This hodge-podge of passages wherein the commentary given to "explain" them is so loose as to have nothing to hang one's hat on represents to me the worst sort of "biblical sermonizing". I would rather have a pastor tell jokes and illustrations for twenty minutes rather than lay a bunch of passages on me with no real explanation but to do so in a context where I feel guilty and nervous but do not really know why or what to do about it. That sort of thing corrodes faith and does not build it up.

Here are the biblical facts:

1) Either we are believers in Jesus Christ or we are not; if we are, then we do have eternal life; and as long as we do believe and have eternal life, then nothing can snatch us out of God's hand.

2) Sin is a serious business; we should not sin. If we go down the road of sin, giving in to it instead of fighting against it, giving our allegiance to it in place of our allegiance to Christ, moving backward in our sanctification instead of forward, we run the risk of undermining our faith. And in extreme cases if we completely destroy our faith through preferring sin over Jesus, that is, become unbelievers again through giving in to sin's influence, then "the end is worse than the beginning" (2Pet.2:20-22).

3) But no one is sinless after salvation. If we claim we never sinned, OR if we claim we don't have sin (i.e., a sin nature), OR if we say we are not sinning now at all, "we make Him a liar and the truth is not in us" (1Jn.1:10).

4) Forgiveness of sin is available to us all as believers through the confession of our sin to the Lord whenever we sin. If we confess, "He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all of our unrighteousness" (1Jn.1:9). Why would Jesus need to be our advocate in regard to sin as believers if we were or could be sinlessly perfect after salvation?

5) Claiming that Christians never sin or can get to the place where they never sin is a heresy (technical name: Pelagianism).

6) Repentance is something that cannot be divorced from faith in Christ in the first instance and from genuine confession of sin after believing. It is not a step so separate that it can be split off from faith or the appeal for forgiveness. It is not the result of emotion nor is its quality defined by emotion. Repentance merely expresses the change of our will, like the turning of a light switch to "on" from the dark position of "off". It can't be faked (Esau and Judas cried, but they didn't really change their core thinking). Genuine repentance is always followed by faith action; just as faith action in regard to initial or continuing forgiveness is always preceded by repentance; they are opposite sides of the same coin (if the coin is not counterfeit).

I think if you understand and accept these six points, everything in the e-mail you shared which is incorrect or merely "squishy" will be eminently obvious to you.

For further information, I would also heartily recommend to you the following study which covers all of these issues in great detail: Bible Basics 3B: Hamartiology: The Biblical Study of Sin

In the One who died for all of sins, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #6:  

I have two questions. First, this was said in response to a study we had on Jesus interpreting scriptures. Here it is:

"When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight." (Luke 24:30-31) Notice that Jesus vanished out of their sight at the same time that he broke the bread. That makes me think about this bible verse: "'I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.' The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, 'How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?' Jesus said to them, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.'" (John 6:48-56) Two different things to think about are: 1) Even with Jesus interpreting the scriptures to the apostles, their eyes were not opened until after the breaking of the bread (a.k.a. Lord's Supper, a.k.a. Eucharist); 2) And with Jesus vanishing with the breaking of the bread, another miracle has happened...God, who had become man for our salvation, takes on the appearance of bread for us to eat. By the way, Jesus was born in Bethlehem which means "house of bread". And Jesus was laid in a manger. A manger is what the shepherds used for feeding their flock of sheep. Jesus is our Shepherd, and we are his flock. With God, there are no coincidences."

Secondly, do you find this statement to be true? This is what my friend wrote:

"Doctrine doesn't depend on literacy, but literate people are the ones responsible for keeping doctrine sound. If they fail in their task, someone will surely be brought forward by God to reveal the error of their way."

Thanks in advance!

Response #6:    

In the Luke passage, from what I can tell from the context, the disciples did indeed understand what Jesus was telling them before the breaking of the bread, but were kept from recognizing Him by the power of God rather than through any spiritual ignorance on their part (of which they of course had plenty). They didn't recognize Him until afterwards because "their eyes were held back" from recognizing Him (Lk.24:16). Later, "their eyes were opened" (Lk.24:31) and they recognized Him – before, apparently, they actually ate anything (let alone drank anything).

I don't find anything in the passage to suggest that Jesus became literal bread. Like the metaphor, "the blood of Christ" which describes our Lord's work for us on the cross (but is not literal blood), so the "bread of life" is also a very poignant metaphor, this time describing His perfect Person (see these links: CT 2B, SR 1). Both metaphors go back to the Levitical sacrifices and temple ritual where the blood of the animal sacrifices uses the physical death of an animal to represent the spiritual death of our Lord; and where the eating of the literal bread of presence is used as a metaphor to represent faith in the perfect Person of Jesus Christ, the author of our salvation. Even though the Roman Catholic church has long maintained the false doctrine of "transubstantiation" (see the link: Transubstantiation), in fact, communion's purpose is not to impart some magical, mystical property or grace (we have the Spirit dwelling in us, and we have Jesus dwelling in us – what greater spiritual benefit could possibly be given us?), but to focus our thoughts on the One who died for us, and to help us to remember that He is our all in all, our very life: "keep on doing this in remembrance of Me".

You can find out more at the following links:

The Leftover Baskets of Bread and Fish in John 6.

Communion and the Blood of Christ.

The Communion Ceremony outside of the local church.

As to the second question, I'm not sure it's a question. Truth is what the Word of God is. Understanding it, at least to be able to dig it out of the Bible in the first place, verify it, and teach it to others certainly would require a person being literate. As I have said before, I don't find the gift of prophecy to be currently functional in the Church (which would be the only other way to get the Truth apart from the scripture, namely, direct conversations with God Himself).

In our Lord, the true bread of life, Jesus Christ whom we love more than anything else in this world.

Bob L.

Question #7:

I forwarded your email to him and his reply is beneath yours in I believe.

It does not say that. Why would Jesus break bread if they were not going to eat it? The fact is that before the breaking of the bread, the apostles could not recognize him even with Jesus interpreting the scriptures for them. If they had understood the scriptures before the breaking of the bread, they would have recognized him then. But the Bible tells us that even with Jesus himself interpreting scriptures to them, they still could not recognize him until after he broke the bread. If you recognize who Jesus is, you will understand the scriptures. But if you don't recognize who Jesus is, then you won't understand the scriptures. A person's eyes must be open to recognizing Jesus before they can understand scripture. You can't have one without the other. Jesus does not become bread, the bread becomes the body and blood of Jesus but under the appearance of bread and wine at the time of consecration. That's why it's spiritual food because to our physical senses, it still looks, smells, and tastes like bread and wine after the priest consecrates it. To believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist requires us to have faith beyond our physical senses. John 20:29: Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Belief in the Real Presence also requires us to remember that Jesus is God, and God is not limited by the things that we are limited to. If the disciples would have thought that Jesus only meant it as a metaphor or a symbol, there would not be any reason for many of them to leave him in John chapter 6 saying that it was a teaching that was too hard to accept. In John chapter 6 why didn't Jesus call his disciples back and say, "Wait! Come back, I only meant it symbolically!"? If you believe that God is merciful and just, you would have to believe that Jesus would not let someone leave him over a misunderstanding. As for the Protestant comeback where they try to compare it to when Jesus said that he is the vine and the door, everyone who heard him comparing himself to a vine or a door knew that he was speaking metaphorically. That's why they did not say that it was a teaching that was too hard to accept. The people back then weren't dumb. They knew the difference between when someone was speaking metaphorically and when someone was speaking literally. Just because you don't see it in scripture does not take away from the billions of Christians throughout Church history that believe in the Real Presence and who do see it clearly in scripture. Besides Catholics, this also includes the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The idea that it was only symbol is a modern idea that was foreign to the apostles and foreign to the Early Christians. For about the first 1,000 years of Christianity, there was no Christian who said that they believed that the Eucharist was only a symbol or metaphor. And it was only in the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century that the real presence started to be denied by a significant number of Christians. When we take this into consideration, it's not surprising that Saint Paul would give this stern warning about someone who is going to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord in Holy Communion when they are in a state of serious sin: 1 Cor. 10:16-17 "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf." and 1 Cor. 11:23-31 "For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord "unworthily" will have to answer for the BODY AND BLOOD of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying. If we discerned ourselves, we would not be under judgment".

Thanks in advance!

Response #7:  

I stand by everything I wrote. If you have a specific question about any of it, I am only too happy to answer. But it is pointless to argue with those of the Roman Catholic religion. For one thing, it is their doctrine that the Bible is not the ultimate authority. So if you prove to them that their view is not consistent with scripture, they fall back on the church fathers. If you show them contradictions in the church fathers, they fall back on canon law and papal infallibility. Since their religion identifies the church itself as the sole possessor of and only legitimate interpreter of the truth because their church is God's only true instrument on earth, by definition anything their church teaches is correct, while anything you say is wrong – even if what you say is clearly also what any reasonable person would take away from a simple reading of scripture. This question is a good case in point. Transubstantiation is not a view that a normal person would come up with on their own from reading scripture. And it is certainly not a view that someone who is a Christian would come up with from reading scripture. It is a very odd idea, since nothing in the Bible even points in its direction. Yes, Jesus says in Jn.6:54 that to have eternal life we have to "eat His body and drink His blood", but that is to be saved – and is very clearly metaphorical. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus (so that eating bread is an analogy referring to believing in His Person; while drinking blood is an analogy to believing in His work). Since communion is for believers, we are ipso facto not saved through communion – that is a ritual of remembrance of what Jesus did for us: "do this in remembrance of Me" (eating = remembering Him coming in Person; drinking = remembering Him dying for us on the cross).

Anyway, how could you or I ever hope to turn bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ? Who has such a power? Thus nothing in the Bible would ever bring a normal person or a true Christian to believe that in the simple communion service of the local church the bread becomes the literal body of Christ and the wine becomes His literal blood – that is, without someone "teaching" that this is so (please see the link: Transubstantiation). It's very clearly not to be found in scripture, so why do the Roman Catholics make such a big deal out of their very odd and clearly unbiblical teaching? The answer really is very simple. By inventing and teaching this "doctrine", the Roman Catholic religion has placed the only means of "getting grace" and the only means of "being saved" into the hands of the people who can perform this "special magic", namely, their priests. And of course their priests will only do this trick for those who are "communicants", that is to say, those who have become Roman Catholics. In other words, this is one of the oldest cult tricks in the books. Tell everyone that you have something they need to be saved, that they can only get it from you, and that you will only give it to them once they commit to you. But as Paul says, "You did not learn Christ in this way" (Eph.4:20). We Christians believe that everyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ is saved, and that this grace of God is available to all without exception and without the fleshly works of any human ritual, human organizations, or human mediators – "it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph.2:8-9).

Legalistically adding to salvation in any way is always the surest litmus test if you wish to discover quickly whether or not an individual or an organization is truly following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. If they do, then they are not.

In Jesus who died for us that we might have eternal life through faith in His Holy Name.

Bob L.

Question #8:   

Dear Bob,

Is it ok for the church to baptize someone who is living with a partner who is not saved and they are not married to them. They live together as if they are husband and wife but are not. This as gone on for a number of years. Does 1 Corinthians 5 apply to this situation? I am in a terrible dilemma, the church I have been going to is planning to baptize someone who is cohabiting with a partner who is not a Christian, when I asked the leadership they said they know she is in this relationship. I do not want to cast stones, but 1 Corinthians 5 tells us not to keep company with the immoral brother or sister for that matter, I know we are sinners saved by gods mercy but where is the line drawn for church discipline in open unrepentant immoral conduct,

God bless,

Response #8: 

You are really asking two different questions here, and I will take them one at a time. On baptism, it is well known that I am not a proponent of water-baptism. I see that ritual as one belonging to Israel, referring to repentance, and gradually phased out during the apostolic age (the fact that the church visible of later generations re-instituted it notwithstanding). There is much to say about that topic (please see, "Baptism: Water and Spirit", a link that will take you to many more links on the subject), but I will not belabor it here since the second question seems to be the one that is really the thing weighing on your mind (except to say that this dilemma is a good indication of the problems of the non-biblical application of John's baptism in churches today).

As to the second issue here, on the one hand we are all sinners; but on the other hand as you rightly point out we as individual believers and organized local churches as well have some obligation to limit association when it comes to gross and willfully sinful conduct. Ideally, the fact that we don't know about each others' sins is not of great moment because in the process of teaching the Bible diligently in an orthodox way (another place most churches are sorely wanting, however) those who refuse to adjust their conduct to the truth are driven away by the truth, while those who stay in the fellowship are forced by the Spirit working on their consciences through the truth to adjust their behavior. Problems arise when we become aware of serious, gross, and unrepentant violations of the truth either as individual Christians or as a community of believers before this process has run its course. Ideally, this would never happen in the case of those who will eventually leave or adjust through any sort spying on them or prying into their lives (both of which activities are violations of the principles of free will and individual believer accountability before God). Churches which institutionalize their own system of "making members accountable" are (or are on the point of becoming) spiritually bankrupt. The development of a legalistic system of "do's and don'ts" is bad enough – creating a system for spying out and reporting members' behavior is the stuff of cults.

If on the other hand a person deliberately makes an issue of some outrageous conduct of theirs by airing it publicly and flaunting it ("I ____, and I'm proud of it!), they should indeed be confronted, and fellowship broken if they refuse to change (this is precisely the principle taught in the passage you quote, 1Cor.5). So it does matter to some degree how the matter came out. But once out, it does seem to me that for the church to ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist is bad enough (and I am having a hard time imagining what circumstances would justify such a course of action since this seems to be exactly what the Corinthians were doing). But to put the church's seal of authority on conduct of this nature – which is what a "baptism" would do, whatever you think about the validity of the ritual in this present day – seems to me as well something far beyond the pale of appropriate Christian behavior.

As I am wont to say at such times, I don't know all the particulars and it is important to calculate that critical fact into the answer given above. I do wish and pray for you for God's guidance on the course of action you should take.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

 

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