Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Proof is in the Pudding

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13)

I have continued to be captivated by this verse over the days. The comments that were left in the post below have really affected my thoughts.

The statement from Jesus needs to be looked at plainly. He says something to his disciples. He say YOU ... by this love will all men know YOU ... by this will all men know something about YOU ... they will know a characteristic of YOU.

Let's think about the neagtive aspect of the verse. Could it be that the world will know something in reverse about US? Does He say, "By this will all men know that you are not my disciple, if you don't have love toward one another?" He absolutely does not say such a thing. It is a bad interpretation. (They have a name for that kind of drawing of a false conclusion from a statement, but I can't think of what it is.)

Would this be a better negative application: "Men will not know that you are my disciple, if you don't have love toward one another?" I think this better represents the statement in the negative.

I really think this verse has a lot to do with illusatrating our faith, with presenting ourselves to the onlookers all around us. The thrust of the statement is positive, and this should be the focus - LOVE ONE ANOTHER! This love gives the world something to see that endorses our words. If we love one another, all men will be shown that we mean what we say as we share God's Word.

The negative aspect goes right along with James' teaching on having a faith without works - it is kind of like hiding a light under a basket. Being Christ's own and not loving our brothers is like having faith without works. What can it accomplish for those who are looking for direction in the night? They can't see a light hidden under a barrel. They can't see the difference Christ makes if we are not walking in the works of the Spirit, the love of God.

When I posted the verse, honestly, I had not been inspired or prompted by the "Lordship Debate" (which some say is over, even though I see it discussed on many blogs and among Christians I know.) I was not thinking about "Lordship Salvation Teaching" at all last week.

Actually, this was my inspiration for thinking about that passage and bringing it to the Reasoning table: I was reeling from a sense of a "lack of love" brought on by a certain situation with some church members ... gossiping and criticising someone I really care about. It was upsetting ... and I thought, "How is this different than the way the world treats one another?" Then, when Levi came, the opposite was demonstrated as brothers and sisters from EBC brought us meals for 2 weeks after his birth! What care! My unsaved family could see that faith that our church family has in their love for us. (I know bringing a meal is not laying down your life for someone, but it sure helps when your family is going through big adjustments like a birth, or a severe illness, or a death.)

What are your thoughts?

31 Comments:

  • I know this will be a bit of a shock but I totally agree with your understanding of the negative implication of this verse. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 1/18/2007 7:13 PM  

  • Hi Rose,
    When hurt by others, or taking up the defense for others we perceive are hurt by others; Christ's love in us toward the offenders is on trial. How will then, we stand?

    It may not be an immediate response, but we must love the agent God is allowing to nip at our shoulder. This is not to say our salvation is in jeopardy if a knee jerk reaction is all we can muster up, but we Christians should not allow a root of bitterness to rule and ruin our walk of love, joy, and peace.

    In His deep abiding love,
    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 1/19/2007 6:38 AM  

  • Rose,

    Take a moment to reflect one more time on what is known about us by the manifest love. He does not say that our faith will be known. He does not say that our election will be known. He does not say that our justification will be known.

    What will be known? The fact that we are his disciples! The crucial question - the one that is either overlooked over answered with little or no thought - is whether disciples are the same as believers. In other words, is it possible that not all regenerate believers will be disciples?

    The lordship camp says, "No, such a thing is not possible." They deny the possibility of there being such a thing as a carnal believer. The grace camp says, "Unfortunately, yes. There will be regenerate believers who do not become faithful disciples."

    I appreciate your insight and sensitivity into this verse. I am suggesting that you've inadvertently read the word "faith" into the word "disciples" and come to the conclusion that the lack of or presence of love is a good indicator of the lack of or presence of faith.

    This is the same mistake that Calvin made in his Institutes, III:ii:8.

    Something to think on.

    Blessings.

    By Anonymous Bud, at 1/19/2007 8:21 AM  

  • KC,
    I have been thinking some more and now I am not so sure that there is necessarily a negative counterpoint to this statement of Jesus'. IOW, is he saying that the love is the ONLY way that folks are going to know we are His disciples, or is it even more open of a statement than we would think? In the last post GORDON said:
    Could it be that only true believers have the capacity to love with genuine agape? It is the first-fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22. Perhaps Jesus was saying a true disciple has the ability to demonstrate that level of love.

    Perhaps that is all there is to it. There will be this love present in the church as a body, this love that is something not found in other bodies of people. Perhaps it may or may not be present and strong in all of the individuals in the church, but it will be there among them, because only they are able. (ABLE, but not compelled) I don't know ... I am just kicking this around some more. Thanks for your understanding, brother!

    John,
    How sweet to read your comment this morning, when we haven't had a lot of time to talk. snore.... zzzz.....
    Your comment sounds like just what a Christian SHOULD think and feel. I hope that you and I can internalize that attitude. Thanks for taking the time to enter it.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/19/2007 2:24 PM  

  • Bud,
    Thanks for your comment as well.
    You say:
    [You may have] come to the conclusion that the lack of or presence of love is a good indicator of the lack of or presence of faith.

    No, no, I am not coming to that conclusion at all. I was thinking that the world would not be able to see the faith (know you are my disciple) without seeing that love. Look at my post again. I said that I DON'T think this is a good flip side:
    "By this will all men know that you are not my disciple, if you don't have love toward one another?"

    Again, I DO NOT BELIEVE THE ABOVE IS IN THIS VERSE. Don't put me in JC's institute, Bud!

    You are right, though. I was sort of forgetting the distinction for a moment between simple faith and discipleship, assuming that those He was talking to had simple faith. Wouldn't you say they probably did? I mean, was Jesus in the business of teaching people to be His disciple who did not have faith in Him? (Hmmm... now that I ask ... I have to ponder that question myself a bit). I do appreciate the importance of keeping the distinction between simple faith and discipleship, I truly do.

    So let me ask you, maybe even as Devil's advocate ... was Mother Teresa a true disciple of Jesus?

    I have a follow up question for you, but I don't want to assume I know the answer you will give to that. Thanks, Bud!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/19/2007 2:27 PM  

  • Rose I think the statement itself is only positive but I agree the only negative "implication" that could be drawn from it was as you explained.

    I think this has as much to do with our credentials as any other use. Jesus demonstrated His deity and relationship to The Father in many ways that men would know to accept His word as that of the Father. We demonstrate our relationship to Christ only through our love for one another and only through that love will the world accept our instruction in “all things” whatsoever He commanded.

    By Blogger Kc, at 1/19/2007 4:05 PM  

  • Rose, I really enjoyed your post today. I think it hurts the heart of God to see his children not show the kind of love he has shown to us. I also have heard hurtful things said by those within the church. It is sad that Christians seems to "shoot the wounded" rather then showing the love of Christ.

    By Anonymous Amy, at 1/19/2007 8:33 PM  

  • Rose, your question about Mother Teresa is a great question, and it surfaces another point that is often overlooked.

    In Jesus' day there were disciples who were not believers! Judas is an example of such a person. Off the top of my head I would guess that many of those who "were no longer following" in John 6 might fall into that category... I'll have to retain the right to change my mind on that.

    But just as there are believers who are not disciples, so there are disciples (people who follow Christ and attempt to live out his teachings) who are not believers!

    If - big if - Mother Teresa did not believe in Jesus for her eternal life, then she would be another disciple who was not a believer. I don't actually know much about how she lived or what she believed.

    There are another distinguishing characteristics of Jesus' disciples, in addition to John 13:34-35. For example, disciples are distinguished in that they actually "abide" (govern their lives by) the words of Jesus (John 8:30-32). They love Jesus more than anyone or anything else (Luke 14:26). They forsake all material wealth for Christ's sake (Luke 14:33).

    There's more, but the point is that Christ's disciples can be known by the way they live. But we need to be careful about simply assuming that they are believers - we should ask for their verbal testimony. And we should be doubly careful lest we fall into the same trap that Beza and Perkins fell into, and assume that we can determine whether one is a believer by how they live...

    Sorry for rambling...

    By Anonymous Bud, at 1/20/2007 8:16 AM  

  • Hi Rose, glad to see you're posting. I always enjoy what you and John have to say.

    Now, I'm going to stir the waters a bit here. First, the statement: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." seems to be an if then statement, which can be stated this way: If you are my disciples then you have love for one another. There is a standard contrposition which would be: If you do not have love for one another then you are not my disciples

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/20/2007 1:29 PM  

  • ...oops, I didn't mean to publish yet. I'll continue.

    So, lack of love for one another indicates that you are not a disciple of Christ.

    Now, we all are sinners. We fall down in our love for each other. Isolated cases of showing a lack of love would not indicate that a person is not a disciple. But a consistent lack of love for one another would be an indication of not being a disciple. I think this is the best way to understand Jesus' imperative statements.

    So far, I don't think this would be controversial...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/20/2007 1:33 PM  

  • ...this is the final part of my response, sorry I broke this up like this.

    The question is: is there a distinction between faith and being a disciple? I think the answer is yes and no. Judas was a disciple of Christ, but ultimately he was not saved. In that sense disciple is not equivelent to having saving faith. However, I think the Gospel of John, the Synopic Gospels, and Revelation indicate that those who have faith will be disciples and endure being disciples.

    Faith, salvation, works, can be summed up in these logical statements:

    (1) If you have faith then you have salvation.

    (2) If you have faith then you have works.

    Contraposition of (2) is:

    (3) If you have no works then you have no faith.

    Question: logically speaking, in this scheme I outlined, does works indicate you have salvation? No. Logically speaking, works can be present but there is no salvation. To assume works prove faith would be a logical falacy from (2).

    Question: In this scheme does works cause salvation? No. Salvation is caused by faith. Works is a side-effect of faith.

    I know you and many others will disagree with this analysis. :o)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/20/2007 2:22 PM  

  • Hey Rose, HI, sister! I enjoyed your post and agree.

    Hey Earl,

    Are you telling me that you study logic yet you make such a grievous error?

    You say:
    ----------
    Now, I'm going to stir the waters a bit here. First, the statement: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." seems to be an if then statement, which can be stated this way: If you are my disciples then you have love for one another. There is a standard contrposition which would be: If you do not have love for one another then you are not my disciples.
    ----------
    You have completely mis-stated, and introduced your theology into, Christ's statement. You are being quite gratuitous with the text.

    There is indeed a conditional statement here, and if/then statement.

    Here it is:

    IF:
    You have love one for another

    THEN:
    All will know that you are are Christ's disciples

    There are many logical implications that you do not seek to cover in your restated conditional

    The construction Jesus uses leaves room for these elements:

    1) A person could be a disciple and others may not be able to know that they are

    The apodosis of Christ's conditional sentence has to do solely WITH OTHERS KNOWLEDGE of the intended audience's discipleship.

    2) A person could be a believer in Christ and fail to be seen as a disciple by other people, in which case there would be a difference between one who has saving faith in Christ and one who submits to the rigorous (works-laden) demands of discipleship.

    In any case, you have been gratuitous and inserted your theology into Christ's conditional statement.

    The true apodosis of Christ's conditional is:

    Men will know that the audience of Christ's teaching are his disciples.

    Who are the audience here? The 11 Apostles (Judas was already gone, cf. 13:30).

    Jesus was giving them a new commandment (vs 34) to love one another. He was telling His disciples (who had already given everything up for him) that others will know that they are his disciples by their love for each other.

    The furthest thing from Christ's mind is giving them a test whereby they can determine whether or not they are saved or not. This notion would disregard both the context of this passage and the whole gospel of John which states simply and effectively that assurance is of the essence of faith in Christ (John 6:47; 11:25, 26, etc.).

    Furthermore, when you go down into the context of the upper room discourse.

    John 15 has Jesus commanding his 11 apostles to "Abide in My love" (15:9). Why would he command his 11 Apostles, who he knew were saved, to do something, that by virtue of their salvation, they were to do anyway?

    He tells them the way to abide in his love. By doing HIS COMMANDMENTS (15:10). Is this then how they keep their salvation or gain it in the first place? No other logical and rational inference can be deduced, unless you are willing to admit that Jesus was being irrational. Now if you are a Van Tillian, well then, you revel in such anti-rationalism. But I know you to advocate Clark, since you are into logic, which isn't a created 'substance' but is eternal in the sense that it is the way God thinks.

    The commandment that Jesus gives them is to "love one another" (15:12). The direct implication is that if His 11 apostles do not love one another, they will not abide in His love. Why would he tell them something that is impossible for them to do? This is the height of irrationalism.

    The answer is, according to this third class conditional, the possibility for his audience to fail to love one another is real. And if they fail to love one another, they will not abide in His love. This is talking about "FELLOWSHIP" and not a basic "RELATIONSHIP".

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 1/21/2007 1:41 PM  

  • Well, I knew there would be some disagreement, and I brought it to you complete with a grievous error. I don't go for the small itty bitty errors. :o)

    I really enjoyed the response. Thanks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/21/2007 4:49 PM  

  • Rose, I agree with your interpretation of the negative.

    What is interesting about all of this is how Jesus defines the greatest demonstration of discipleship as being love instead of following a list of rules.

    Anyone can follow the rules and yet not be transformed internally. Only one who has been changed can love with the love of God.

    Great series of posts. I hope you and the baby are well.

    By Anonymous Gordon Cloud, at 1/22/2007 10:41 AM  

  • I like pudding, I really do, especially chocolate pudding and banana pudding...yum yum.

    Amen, j. wendell

    By Blogger Kris, at 1/22/2007 5:58 PM  

  • Hi Amy!
    It is really nice to get a visit from a new lady. It looks like you are in good company, too. Thank you for commenting. I think many Christians know of the hurt that is so much worse when it comes from other brothers and sisters. Come again!

    Bud,
    I have been away from this for a few days and now I must remember what I was thinking. Hmm...
    OK, I think I would say that if Mother Theresa was adhering to the teachings of the Catholic religion wherein one works her way to heaven, than she was not a saved woman (that is a big assumption, as you say, and I am only using it for purposes of this hypothetical. I do not know what was in her heart and have not read much of what she had to say.)
    OK, so in my view, if that is the case, she is not a true disciple of Jesus. I don't think there really are disciples of Jesus who aren't saved and this is why: A disciple is defined as such in Websters:
    one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another: b : a convinced adherent of a school or individual

    I would say that, at this point in the age, if one misses the main point of His teaching: that He is the only way to God and that faith in Him alone by surrendering any idea of working one's way to heaven is our only hope of salvation ... receiving the free gift that Christ has purchased. If one misses this teaching, can they really be called a DISCIPLE of Christ, truly? I mean, they may be following SOME of His teachings, the hard ones about that work that His believers are to do. But.. if they are not one of His believers, but are missing His true message of salvation, are they really His disciples?

    If Mother Theresa was doing this, then she is a very good woman, as good as they come, but not a disciple of the Christ that we know in Scripture, only a disciple of His teachings about the poor and about self-sacrifice.

    Am I wrong?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/24/2007 1:15 PM  

  • Bud,
    You were not rambling. I appreciate your comment.

    we need to be careful about simply assuming that they are believers - we should ask for their verbal testimony.

    Yes, yes, because only then can we hope to know who they are placing their confidence in for eternity.

    And we should be doubly careful lest we fall into the same trap that Beza and Perkins fell into, and assume that we can determine whether one is a believer by how they live...

    I don't know who Beza and Perkins are, but I would shout AMEN to what you just said there. Not everyone displays the new life as they should. It is a shame.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/24/2007 1:18 PM  

  • Earl,
    the baby is crying. I hope to address your GREIVOUS error in a while. tee hee

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/24/2007 1:19 PM  

  • Earl,
    I'm going to stir the waters a bit here. First, the statement: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." seems to be an if then statement, which can be stated this way: If you are my disciples then you have love for one another. There is a standard contrposition which would be: If you do not have love for one another then you are not my disciples

    Earl, you say you are going to stir the waters a bit, but it seems to me that you have created a 'whir' over the stream as you lept this big leap:

    There is a standard contrposition which would be: If you do not have love for one another then you are not my disciples

    This is like saying "if you belong to the army, you will wear an army uniform at some time" and that a standard reversal would be "if you wear an army uniform at some time, then you are in the army." Of course, the second statement is not logically necessitated by the first. I think you know this. I also think you are trying to relieve some boredom by posting this. Am I right? ;~)

    Also - am I right that Antonio's response was the exact relief that you had in mind?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/24/2007 3:21 PM  

  • Also, Earl, the more I have pondered this verse, I am not at all sure that it is an IF THEN statement. Look at it again. It just says "by this will all men know..." It does not indicate that this is the ONLY way they will know and it CERTAINLY does not indicate that if all men don't know they are disciples, then the disciples are not disciples.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/24/2007 3:23 PM  

  • Hi Gordon,
    the greatest demonstration of discipleship as being love instead of following a list of rules

    amen and amen. THAT is a great truth to glean from the verse.

    The baby and I are fine and thank you for asking! He is now 5 weeks old. He slept 7 hours the other night! He has been averaging about 5-6 for the last week. This is very important for mental health of the mother as you well know, I am sure.

    Kris,
    I really like chocolate pudding. I tried to teach my daughter spelling by having her write words in chocolate pudding smeared on a cookie sheet. I don't think it helped.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/24/2007 3:27 PM  

  • Antonio,
    I appreciate your enthusiastic response. It is great to see you around. You said you were going to post some ministry related announcement on your blog a couple of weeks ago. I keep going there and looking for it.

    I agree with almost all of your response to Earl, except maybe that I don't think it is necessarily an IF THEN statement as I said above. However, if it were, then I would say that your IF and THEN is perfect. I hope you are well, brother!

    Earl,
    I hope you are well also! You both are probably a lot warmer than me today. Winter has arrived in Ohio.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 1/24/2007 3:31 PM  

  • Rose, it is indeed a conditional statement, as I have stated. It uses the conditional particle "ean" making it a bona-fide third class condition.

    Supposition:
    IF you have love for one another

    Apodosis/result:
    All will know that you are Christ's disciples

    It is definitely an if/then statement.

    Also, I wouldn't make it a habit of taking definitions for bible words from the english dictionary.

    the word for disciple is "mathetes" meaning "learner". A disciple is a student/learner of a teacher, and one who follows Him.

    I am sure that you will find room in that definition for someone who is not born-again.

    Cannot someone be a student, learner, and follower of Jesus, who has not yet discovered Christ's grace gospel?

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 1/24/2007 5:03 PM  

  • Hey Rose,

    As you can tell from my blog, I haven't spent alot of time on it lately.

    Actually, I have spent probably 5 hours or so on an article that I need to post soon.

    Please be in prayer for this trip to India. I will give the details in my post. We will be back to the U.S.A. 11 days after we leave and we will be doing evangelism and church planting in villages who haven't heard the name of Jesus.

    I want John to go!

    Blessings to you and your family, sister!

    hubba hubba, we luv ya!

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 1/24/2007 9:26 PM  

  • I think you are right about the statement in the negative. Stuff like that matters a lot more than one would think. What I have found is that life has many ambiguities...Should I spend money this way or that? Should I teach my children about this or that? Bringing someone dinner when they are going through a hard time, is just good. It feels good to do and it feels good to recieeve. You have to take simple goodness where you can get it because everything else requires so much more pondering and uncertainty. That love is our security. We call debate this and talk that, but it all comes down to "will you have my back?" We can walk like people's who are covered in a world full of wolves and people in fear of them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/25/2007 12:07 PM  

  • Rose, Antonio, everyone,

    I see there were some comments directed my way, with some question towards me. Like everyone else, life is a bit busy, sorry for the lack of response.

    Antonio has a valid criticism of what I say in the point that Christ was technically addressing about the world (all) being able to identify disciples.

    The way Christ made the statement there is an IF ... THEN ... construction to it, we can even see it in the English versions of the passage.

    Antonio's construction: IF you have love for one another THEN All will know that you are Christ's disciples
    is correct. The way the contraposition (or contrapositive) works is if you have:

    IF A THEN B

    then is you switch the A and the B around you get:

    IF NOT B THEN NOT A

    So we have:

    IF All do NOT know that you are Christ's disciples THEN you do NOT have love for one another.

    Strictly looking at that statement, Anotonio's analysis is correct.

    However, here is where we part company in the analysis, and where I happily go into my GREVIOUS error -- and here is where I remember Martin Luther's famous "sin boldly" statement :o) I see Jesus building in the Gospel of John on the themes of discipleship and believing, and that these themes are intertwined (sp). Belief is just a simple thing of placing your trust in Christ for your salvation -- and you are saved for all eternity. However, I see Christ is teaching that God is at work in people who believe, and the consequences of it is that God will fashion disciples out of those people who believe. This is not a works-righteousness view -- it's a optimistic view of God's power to change believer's lives. All who believe are saved, and over time will be disciples, faithful disciples.

    Some will say that my view is a grevious error. And say those who teach otherwise make a grevious error.

    But Christ died for our grievious errors. If Antonio, and you Rose, can't see the optimistic power of God in this way -- then do not violate you conscience! I will not violate mine in going over to your viewpoint. Out of the three of us, someone is greviously wrong. But Christ died for us since Antonio, you Rose, and I are believers. Our sins are covered. And I am delighted to see the gospel furthered, by your blogging, and Antonio's mission work.

    And here is where we get to a concrete example of love for on another in the body of Christ. Our strongly held opinions often get in the way of fellowship. Antonio could not in good conscience, nor you Rose, be at my church -- and I couldn't in good conscience be at your's or Antonio's church. We will also very spiritly and sometime heatedly argue our views -- because it is an important area. But we can still pray for each other and demonstrate love for each other. Antonio demonstrates this when he tells me my errors are grevious. Only someone who really cares about me and cares about the truth will do this (although Antonio is greviously mistaken here :o).

    If this were the extent of my grevious errors, I'd be doing pretty good. But I'll tell you, you all don't know the tiniest fraction of how grevious my sins are. Praise God for Christ and his death and resurrection!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/26/2007 12:42 PM  

  • Rose -

    Great post, I really enjoyed it.

    Earl said:

    "it's a optimistic view of God's power to change believer's lives"

    then he said:

    "But I'll tell you, you all don't know the tiniest fraction of how grevious my sins are."

    My question is when, in this life, are you going to be changed by the power of God so you are not such a grevious sinner? Have you not believed?

    I think that's the point. A statement like:

    "All who believe are saved, and over time will be disciples, faithful disciples."

    Doesn't make sense unless we lie to ourselves about how "faithful" we are.

    It get's back to the old "How good is good enough" question.

    In Christ (because He says so not because my life does),

    JL

    By Blogger Jon Lee, at 1/26/2007 4:06 PM  

  • My question is when, in this life, are you going to be changed by the power of God so you are not such a grevious sinner? Have you not believed?

    Good question! Have you even noticed Paul in the progression in the dates of when his letters were written he comes to say he is the chiefmost of sinners? I can look back on my life and say I have made lots of progress, but I also get a deeper look at my life and understand that I am much more of a sinner than I began to realize before. I don't think I'm the only one who has seen this kind of thing in their life. Luther noted this, and his last words, "We are beggars."

    I can say I have seen great progress, both in growth in walking with Christ, but also in understanding how pervasive and deep my sin is. It's one of the things that keeps me running to Christ. It's also a freeing thing to be among other Christians who have also discovered this in their lives. It frees us to be open with each other.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/26/2007 6:43 PM  

  • Earl,

    I would take issue with your assessment of your adjective "optimistic" as if my model is not optimistic.

    In my position, the Christian:

    has a regenerate new nature, that cannot sin
    has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
    Has been blessed with every spiritual blessing
    has everything that pertains unto life and godliness
    has exceedingly great and precious promises whereby he can escape the corruption in the world
    Is positionally dead unto sin
    Has the Word of God inborn in him

    This is optimistic! The Christian has no escuse NOT to persevere in faithfulness. The Christian has no excuse NOT to keep Christ's words until the end. The Christian has no excuse NOT to grow in holiness, and in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I would not call your view optimistic. I would call it unbiblical and unrealistic.

    The Bible and its authors are realistic. Holiness is never presented in Scripture as being taken for granted in Christians. We find many passages demanding our sanctification, and warnings against apathy and retrogression. Perseverance is never guaranteed in the life of the regenerate one. The believer is admonished, encouraged, warned, and motivated by rewards to endure in the faith until the end. The Bible explicitly entreats the will hundreds of times with commands to pursue holiness.

    The writers of the New Testament were under no illusion that perseverance of the saints was inevitable. They understood the necessity of vigilance, determination, and consecration. Significance in this life that would transect into eternity is promised to the Christian saved by grace through faith who submits himself to the demands of discipleship. Purpose and meaning are offered to God’s children; the abundant life is laid out before them! Furthermore, the conditional honors of co-heirship of and co-reigning in the Kingdom of God are obtainable. The victorious Christian will be presented 'blameless' before Christ at His coming.

    Yet anytime that man is faced with true responsibility there lies a possibility of failure, and such is the case with the born-again Christian.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at 1/26/2007 8:53 PM  

  • Ahh, the necessity of vigilance, determination, and consecration -- absolutly! Those are some of the means God uses to bring about perseverance.

    It is interesting how this discussion models some of the disussions in history. Martin Luther, in Bondage of the Will, in his argument against Erasmus, discusss these very points. Your argument echos Erasmus, who was one of the greatest scholars in history.

    I think I hear the baby crying in the other room. I'm afraid I'm making too much noise at the Coles.

    Thanks for the fun party and the excellent conversation! :o)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/26/2007 9:33 PM  

  • >It may not be an immediate response, but we must love the agent God is allowing to nip at our shoulder. This is not to say our salvation is in jeopardy if a knee jerk reaction is all we can muster up, but we Christians should not allow a root of bitterness to rule and ruin our walk of love, joy, and peace.<

    Amen and well said John.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 1/27/2007 2:34 PM  

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