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

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hatred, Murder, and Scripture

Another Guest Post ...but this time by a frequent visitor who wishes to remain anonymous. This post is about repentance (in the 'forsaking sin' sense) for the believer and doesn't get into the question of whether or not 'repentance' is necessary to come to Christ, so let's not get into that this time. :~) -Rose

Hatred, Murder, and Scripture by Anonymous (a regular visitor at RR)
21"You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell." - Matthew 5:21-22 [NASB]

15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. - 1 John 3:15 [NASB]
Christ, in the sermon on the mount makes clear the thought that murder goes deeper than just the act itself. The Apostle John however makes it even more clear. John does not say that the sin of hatred is similar to the sin of murder, he says that the one who hates is a murderer.

Given this premise, what should we as a congregation do for a brother or a sister who grew up in our congregation and one day confessed that they although they have never acted upon it, they have had a compelling, "uncontrollable" desire to murder half the congregation - a desire that began at puberty.

Would we regard this homicidal compulsion as "okay" as long as the individual didn't act upon it? Or would we regard the hatred, just as John regards it? Would we call it murder, and bid that soul repent of their murderous desire?

What if the individual was personally convinced that he or she had no control over his or her murderous desire, and therefore refused to even entertain the possibility of repentance? What if he or she was willing to abstain from killing people, agreeing that murder was sinful, but being at the same time unwilling to address murderous desire as a sin to be repented of? Would we accommodate that? Would we reason that as long as they were abstaining from murder, and as long as they continued to regard murder as sinful, they wouldn't have to repent of their murderous desire, because, hey - its just a feeling right, and you can't help your feelings, right?
What of the unmarried man who burns in his lust for the pretty young ladies. Do we say to this man, that as long as he doesn't rape anyone, or commit fornication he can lust all he wants. Is that what Paul taught? No, we tell this young man that lust is a sin, and he must repent of it. If he believes he cannot, his problem is not merely lust, but unbelief.

I expect that some churches couldn't care less. Show up on Sunday, tithe, come to prayer meeting, and try to live clean so you don't make us all look like hypocrites or worse. If you do something really bad, we will kick you out, but as long as you keep your sin private, no one is going to care, because they are so busy nursing their own private sins, that they wouldn't dare talk to you about yours, lest someone drag their own skeletons out of the closet.

But not every church is worldly, deceived, and powerless. Not every congregation in bondage and weak. Some are actually Spirit filled, and Spirit led, and some more than others. Some exchange the Spirit for cheap imitations, but that is another post altogether. What is germane to this post is that some churches actually expect Christ to save you from your sin, and not just save you in spite of it. They expect you to repent, and if tell yourself you cannot repent they lovingly teach you that scripture says you can - but they don't stop there - they go on to teach you that unless you are willing to repent, you cannot be allowed to fellowship with them. They regard their congregation as an unleavened lump, and your sin as unwelcome leaven, and rather than coddle you in your sin, they would deliver you to Satan until you learn to get real with God, and stop nursing your sin.

That kind of expectation will no doubt seem over the top to some, or even many, but it quite biblical.

Now we speak about these things, not because any of us would actually be clueless in such situations. I think most of us would clearly see that hatred or lust are things that must be repented of, and not coddled. We wouldn't instruct anyone to simply repress/suppress their sinful desires, for even the heathen do that. Christians have much better tools than repression for tearing down strongholds! Grace and repentance. If the brother who hates is a murderer, and the brother who lusts an adulterer - then the one who hates, or the one who lusts must repent of their wicked desires - just as a "real" murderer must repent of the same hate, and a "real" adulterer must repent of his lust.

I say again, we ask these things not because we are concerned with murder, hatred, lust or adultery - but we ask such things in order to see clearly how we are to deal with them. We first look at what ought to be cut and dry, then move onto the more nuanced, more clouded, more debated, and more difficult.

Let's consider then the homosexual Christian.
Do we accept a homosexual into our congregation who, while willing to abstain from expressing outwardly his or her homosexual desires, is never the less convinced that he or she is in bondage to such desire, and therefore doesn't have to repent of it?
What are your thoughts, and ... be reasonable.
-Anonymous Regular Vistor at RR

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Inspiration and Endurance of the Old Testament

(Chris has a blog called Bible Thoughts that you can find by clicking on the link in his name, below. He calls himself an Arminian, but he doesn't believe one can lose their salvation. I have found a lot of things on his blog to be very helpful. He has a lot of great verse studies in his sidebar. Thanks for letting me post this brief thought, Chris.)

Guest Post
The Inspiration and Endurance of the Old Testament by Chris Skinner

The words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 5:17-20:
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
This verse is often used by many to prove that the Mosaic Law is still in effect. Understood this way, it poses a problem for all believers. Covenant theologians maintain that the civil and ceremonial law has passed away and argue that the Lord was referring here exclusively to “the moral law”. This view is untenable because, as discussed earlier, there is no basis for this distinction. Furthermore, if this was the case, Jesus would have explained this clearly to his audience as it would have been a foreign concept to them. Jesus was a Rabbi and first century Judaism never made these distinctions.

Jesus lived under the dispensation of the Mosaic law which did not end until his death. What did he mean when he stated that no jot or tittle shall pass from the law? A jot is the smallest letter in the Hebrew language. He is referring to the Law in it's broader usage, the entire Old Testament. Jesus is not saying that Law of Moses is operational for all time, but affirming the inspiration, infallibility, inerrancy and preservation of the Hebrew Scriptures.

The word “fulfil” according to Strong's Dictionary means “to make replete...satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.: - accomplish, X after, (be)complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply”1.

All things in the Old Testament will be fulfilled. This is in contrast to “destroying the Law” which would meaning failing to fulfil the Scripture. Yeshua was saying that all the things in the Tanakh shall be fulfilled and his words in the Tanakh shall be preserved until eternity.

1 Strong's Hebrew-Greek Dictionary, emphasis added.
-Chris Skinner

A quick thought from the host, but please check out the new GUEST POST above this

I have been upset this week. Some things are going on that have really got me distracted and burdened. I just want to share something that happened today that lifted my spirits for a moment, hoping that maybe the same thought could comfort you some day. Warning: it isn't a biblical thought (that I can think of) or very spiritual, but it speaks to the human state.

I have been consumed with a feeling of humiliation and frustration over an "incident" and a miscarriage of justice regarding it. There seems to be no good way to find relief from the result. I think through it and try to find a way that I can remedy my frustration and there is none. People just fail. People are no good. People dissapoint. I can't change it. That is the same thing I have been learning all my life. Why does it surprise me now?

I was standing in a Rite-Aid thinking again about the situation and feeling the frustration of it and this old old lady in front of me says to the clerk very feebly, "The sunshine is just lovely."
It struck me: the comfort. I always find this bit of human comfort when I am reminded of it: (tell me if you see this too)

I will be old some day and none of this will matter. I will just be thankful and consumed with the understated joy over little things like "sunshine."

Is that weird?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Another Deserted Island Scenario

Guest Post by Colin Maxwell (aka "goodnightsafehome"). Colin lives in Ireland and does a lot of street witnessing.
Note from Rose: I don't often agree with Colin's views when we discuss Reformed/Calvinistic topics or when I see his comments that are influenced by the same (which influence he readily admits), but I find much to appreciate from this brother: what he proclaims to the lost people of Ireland, for starters. Also, he is a very nice man and gracious in the blogosphere. That holds a lot of importance for me in this venue!!

He sent me this question for a guest post and at first I was hesitant to post it because I thought it sort of represented a "still open" kind of wound on a lot of FG believers. BUT - I decided it would be a good discussion and I am genuinely interested in what people will say to his question. Please be civil in your responses: please, please, NOTE that Colin has not mentioned the name of the person who came up with the original deserted Island scenario. I just don't think there is a need to be overly defensive. Let's just discuss this interesting idea of this bit of scripture washing ashore. THANKS!! BE NICE!!

Colin Maxwell's Deserted Island Scenario:
Here is an adaptation of a recently proposed scenario where a man stranded on a desert island discovers a piece of paper with one sole verse of Scripture written on it. Without any indication that it is Scripture, the original verse is John 6:47 where someone (we know Who! But there is no indication that our forlorn islander has any clue) said: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. The argument is advanced that, with no other information than what is contained in this verse, this man can believe the (relatively) unknown speaker and obtain everlasting life.

Let’s change the text. Instead of John 6:47, let us assume that the tide carried verse was from John 8:24 where we read: “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Simple questions: Is there enough here to convert the soul as some believe there is in the previous scenario text and why/why not?
-Colin Maxwell

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What’s Grace Got to Do with It?

Guest Post by Jim Reitman (aka “agent4him”) Jim is an advocate of Free Grace Theology.

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20b-21 nkjv)
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21 nkjv)
I guess I’ve been a Free Grace kind of person since I first believed (circa 1978). Three years later Zane Hodges came out with Gospel Under Siege, while I was an MA student at Dallas Seminary, and I readily embraced Zane’s argument: Grace is truly free; I had freely accepted it for my own “salvation.” But since then (for the most part) I have been a pretty miserable person to live with - just ask Peggy, or any of my co-workers before I retired - that is, until I began taking Prozac® in 2005. What’s up with that? If Jesus couldn’t make me more like him in 28 years, how could a chemical do it now? Do I actually reveal God’s righteousness in Christ or is it just a drug-induced “high”? What, if anything, does grace have to do with it?

Now that I’ve bated you with intriguing questions - which I will not answer :-) would like to explore how two familiar verses may have huge implications for the future of FG. Do FG advocates generally look or sound all that “gracious”? (That’s rhetorical for all of us, who plead the 5th). While none of us denies the essential role of grace in justification, what role should it play in our further development as a theological “system”? Do we sell FG short in our theology of sanctification?

The gospel was meant to reveal the righteousness of God (Rom 1:17) and I would submit that God intended for those who are “saved” to then participate with Him in “revealing” it to the world. How do we do that? The word “grace” occurs only five times in Romans 1-4 (the “justification” section) but then five times in chapter 5 - four in 5:15-21 alone—the so-called “sanctification” section. Were we meant to receive grace freely - after being justified (5:17), so that his abundant grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life, revealing it in us now (5:21)? And a bonus question for the Calvinists in our “mixed multitude”: Can we “resist” his free grace after we have been regenerated and justified?

In 2 Cor 5:21 the verb is “become” (ginomai) though it can certainly be read as “be,” depending on context. Why am I getting in our faces about this? Because a vast majority of evangelicals have just assumed, along with Luther, that this transaction refers only to justification and not to sanctification. Then I asked myself why the key verses for my blog handle “agent4him” (“agent” of reconciliation, 2 Cor 5:18-20) occur after 5:17 but before 5:21? (see the entire passage posted at bottom of this post). Are we in FG really in the business of reconciliation? Was I “saved” to then be formed into a really righteous agent—not just declared—that I might reconcile others to Christ? Do I really appropriate free grace now to make that happen in me (Rom 5:17)? Could it be that is how I “reign through righteousness to eternal life”?

…Nah, I think I’ll just stick with Prozac®. :-) (see how happy I am?)
- Jim Reitman
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (nkjv)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I am tired of blogging.

I don't know when I will recover - maybe tomorrow or maybe next week.

Maybe next month. I don't know.


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