The Repentance Requirement

by Todd Deaver

Phil argues that doctrinal error is sin, just as moral error is sin, and the only way a Christian can be forgiven of sin is to repent. Furthermore, in his discussion of repentance Phil says that “Grace teaches correction (Titus 2:11-14); one may not continue in moral or doctrinal error.” He goes on to ask, “How can the misled, deceived, sprinkled infant say he has faithfully repented in later years, if he does not correct the situation with an immersion?”

In Phil’s view doctrinal error is not forgiven until the erring believer repents, and the erring believer has not repented of his doctrinal error until he corrects it and embraces the truth on that point. So no matter what the error might be, persistence in it eventually becomes fatal: “There comes a point when God’s patience has an ending; and there comes a point when we must discipline the person caught up in error.”

But is it true that a Christian has not repented unless he has ceased believing the error? Let’s ask another question: If I lose my patience with my kids–again and again–is that proof that I haven’t repented of that sin yet?

I don’t actually have a big problem with patience, but here’s a true confession: I struggle in every worship assembly to keep my mind focused on the worship. As far back as I can remember, there has never been an assembly where I didn’t catch my mind wandering over and over again during the singing, praying, and communing. I think I have a penitent heart, and I think I repent (quite often) of this failure. But given Phil’s view of repentance, I have never really repented of that sin. That is discouraging news indeed. As there is, according to Phil, a limit to God’s patience and mercy toward such unintentional, persistent transgressions, after thirty-plus years of committing this one, I’m confident I’ve surpassed it.

And who can credibly contend that he has “repented” of all sin by this standard? By this definition, I can’t be forgiven of all my sins until I’ve repented of all my sins, which would mean I’m no longer committing any sins at all!

Jay made some great observations on this topic a couple of years ago in an article titled “Our Repentance Hypocrisy.” He writes,

Subtly, unconsciously, we apply two different definitions of “repent” depending on the situation. When we speak to a potential convert, we urge the convert to repent, meaning that the convert should give up sin and try to live a righteous life. However, we don’t expect the convert to actually stop all sin–this would be impossible. Rather, we merely expect a change of heart, but a heart that tries very hard indeed to live as Jesus would have us live.

When we address a doctrinal error that we’ve divided over, we again demand repentance. However, in this case we require those who disagree with us to actually change. Regardless of how pure and innocent their hearts, we declare that they’ve failed to repent until they’ve given up their wicked practice. Indeed, they are damned even if they are utterly unaware that they sin by their false practices. Hence, the independent Christian Churches cannot be forgiven for their use of the instrument, we say, because they’ve not yet repented. And their lack of repentance is amply proven by their failure to give up the instrument.

Jay goes on to point out that all of us continually sin in many ways, committing the same sins over and over. Has any one of us banished selfishness from his life? Has there even been a single day when you didn’t act selfishly in one way or another? What about jealousy, pride, covetousness, lust in the heart, ingratitude, lack of contentment, lack of spiritual zeal, unjustified anger, poor stewardship, lack of vision, failure to take care of our bodies with a healthy diet and regular exercise, lack of discipline and self-control, failure to reach our God-given potential, failure to be as spiritually minded as we ought to be, failure to match Jesus’ love and compassion?

Even though we experience gradual improvement, many of us likely grapple with at least some of these sins all our Christian lives. Is that proof that we’re doomed because we haven’t truly repented?

We apply one standard to ourselves and another standard to other Christians, according to Jay. He notes that somehow

The sins we’re guilty of are forgiven even though we still commit them, because deep in our hearts, we really want to serve God, we are trying hard, and God forgives our failings.

The sins they’re guilty of aren’t forgiven, even though they’re trying to do right, too. They really want to serve God, they’re really trying hard, and yet God doesn’t forgive their failings. After all, they should know better–and they haven’t stopped. Of course, neither have we, but that’s different.

Jay’s final observation should make us all think–and perhaps repent:

It’s beyond me just how we dare consider that we’re forgiven for sins that we know better than to commit–failure to care for the poor as Jesus did, failure to seek and save the lost as Jesus did, failure to pray as Jesus did–but consider that [other Christians are] damned for making mistakes they aren’t even aware are sins.

It seems to me that the doctrine of apostasy Phil and Greg are promoting does, in fact, require doctrinal (and even moral) perfection, at least by the time a saint reaches spiritual maturity–whenever that might be. Because God’s patience with error only lasts so long, there must come a time in every Christian’s life–assuming he lives long enough–when God expects him to have all Bible doctrine correctly figured out.

Greg says that “no error fits into the category of perpetual indulgence.” If that’s true, we should all be praying for an early death, because there’s no hope for those who reach spiritual adulthood. After all, not even the exceptionally mature ever achieve doctrinal perfection.

Summing Up

I would ask Phil or Greg to address the two problems we’ve noted.

(1) Do you claim that sincerely believing error even on the issues earlier cited (e.g., Was Junias an apostle? Where do saints go immediately after death? etc.) will lead to the loss of salvation if not corrected? And if not, on what basis do you distinguish these doctrinal errors from those that are truly fatal?

(2) Do you believe that repentance always entails the cessation of the sin? If yes, doesn’t this lead to an impossible perfectionism?

We agree with Greg’s post on grace, “Talking Past Each Other,” and the lesson on grace that he presents. But we fail to see how Greg and Phil can simultaneously teach that grace will cover sin, while also teaching that (except for a temporary period of God’s patience) grace won’t cover sin that hasn’t been repented of by no longer sinning.

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137 Comments on “The Repentance Requirement”

  1. Alan Says:

    I would ask Greg and Phil a couple of questions:

    1) Are you certain that you have correct doctrinal beliefs on every biblical topic?

    2) Are you saved, in your current state?

  2. coreydavis Says:

    Todd,

    May I ask – are you striving to control the wanderings of your mind during worship (a problem many of us struggle with)? Or are you simply going to give into them and hope grace covers you?

    That, to me, is what shows whether or not one is truly repenting – are we actively trying to correct the problem or are we giving up and hoping to have it covered by the “grace blanket”?

    Surely we can see that some things are easier to make a clean break with than others. For instance, if one was committing adultery then they would just have to stop. Committing a “little” adultery now and then would be hard to do and still state that the person was showing repentance. The struggles of controlling the mind and the tongue are somewhat different, wouldn’t you agree?

  3. K. Rex Butts Says:

    Todd,

    Given Phil’s understanding of God’s grace in relation to our repentance, I think your question “And who can credibly contend that he has “repented” of all sin by this standard?” gets to the heart of the problem with such an understanding of grace and repentance. Indeed, if Phil is correct then ALL OF US are doomed because we all will fail this requirement at some point.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Rex

  4. Bondservant Says:

    Someone who has used curse words in most of their vocabulary the majority of their life who has repented may still have struggles to never say a curse word again. A person who has smoked cigarettes for many years and is addicted who has repented may still have struggles to suddenly stop smoking. A person who has been addicted to alcohol and or drugs for many years may still have struggles to suddenly stop using alcohol or drugs. Do you know their struggles and their heart better than God knows them? Do you know Todd’s struggles and his heart better than God knows?


  5. (I have been severely impressed in the direction and tone of the multiple conversations here. I think this is a very worthy endeavor for all involved. So, I’ll try contributing again:)

    When jumping to the moon, it doesn’t matter who can jump higher. No one is going to make it.

    The result of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was that man was disconnected from God’s heart. Man was unable in himself to replicate God’s decisions about good and evil, and walk in sync with Him. Being out step with God – whether you’re 1% out or 100% out – is sin.

    Sin loses its power in those who have been saved. The more we understand how out of sync we are, the more we feel sinful (compared to yesterday), even though we have matured because of His renewing work in us. We sin less, but our ability to identify sin in ourselves increases to the point that all we can do is stand in agreement with God.

    This is what repentance is – a change in thinking. We are changed from disagreeing with God’s assessment of us, to agreeing with it. You can never replicate the heart of God on your own with willpower or focus. That is why the idea of a list of sins to REALLY avoid is so ludicrous – the entire bible is about men being unable to live up to the law and the need for redemption (the Hebrews 10 type)!

    But if you are in agreement with Him about your life – in other words, if you humble yourself in the sight of the Lord – then He will lift you up:

    John 10:27-30
    “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

    “Greater than all” – that includes you. You are unable to snatch yourself out of the Father’s hand!

    Let God be true and every man a liar!

    -Brad
    web[at]bradstanford[dot]com

  6. coreydavis Says:

    As usual, you rush to type a response without carefully reading what I’ve written.

    My entire post is based upon the supposition that brother Deaver has repented and continues to work on bringing his focus under control. As I struggle with the same problem, I completely understand.

    My point is that there must be evidence of repentance. Like you gave as an example, I’ve struggled with using course language in the past. It isn’t easy to give up. However, I would hope that someone who knew me before I became a Christian could easily observe, through conversation, that I am constantly striving to remove such from my speech.

    Repenting of something like that (improper speech) is a continual thing. Repenting of a doctrinal error ought to be somewhat different. I have repented of alterations to the worship of God in the past (such as IM, choirs, etc.). There is no reason for me to go back to such. It would take a deliberate act to do such again. It wouldn’t be a slip of the tongue, like with sins of speech.

    Do you see the difference?

  7. Royce Ogle Says:

    When in God’s wisdom, before the first sin was committed and before the earth was formed, God planned to forgive undeserving, wicked sinners of ALL sins. He would be able to do this because in the person of Jesus Christ, righteousness would be fulfilled, and punishment for sin fully executed.

    Paul quoted Psalm 32 in Romans 4 “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
    “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
    and whose sins are covered;
    8blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”(vs5-8)

    Is this wonderful news true or not true? It is true that God for Christ’s sake has forgiven those who trust Him and is not counting their sins against them. Their sins are counted to Christ.

    Of course there are many who don’t believe this passage of scripture just as they don’t believe much of what Jesus himself said. The truth is what it is and the answer to the “sin” problem of human beings is Jesus Christ. Sorry, but you and I are not able to strike our own deals with God, there is only one way to the Father and that way is a person, Jesus Christ who is alive and in heaven as I type this. You will not get to the Father through Him and your self imposed rules of worship and dozens of other things men require of men.

    It is dangerous to fail to put your whole trust in Jesus. If you are trusting in your good works, your good theology and Bible doctrine, your being in the right church in earth, I fear you are at least in danger of being severed from God’s grace. There is no other gospel except the gospel of Jesus, trusting Him, and being set right because of His obedience not your own.

    Every sincere believe will want to please God and do good works. Anyone who lives in habitual sin and is never sorry for their sins and not willing to repent an try to please God is not saved. Those who are saved are safe in Jesus and only in Jesus.

    For many this news is too good and they will continue to refuse to believe it but its true non the less. I’ll never understand why a person would want to cling to fear, uncertainty about eternity, and never being sure you are in God’s favor. Repent and trust Christ alone and live life abundantly.

    Royce

  8. Josh Kraft Says:

    Let’s see if I get this right. Repentance is NOT required for doctrinal error because GRACE covers all sins including those that one hasn’t repented of. Amirite? 🙂

  9. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Wonderful post Brad. Wonderful words of life.

    Rebecca Pippert shared similar insights in
    Hope Has Its Reasons, c. 2001, Intervarsity.

    Confession is the evidence of a changed mind,
    Mt.3:5-8. Rom.4:7-8 expresses our hope.

  10. Bondservant Says:

    If I want someone I love who lives in another state to forgive me wouldn’t the loving thing to do be to turn to that person and acknowledge that I messed up, not as a rule to be forgiven but out of love. When I wanted Jesus’ to forgive me I repented and turned to Him because of my love for Him.

  11. Todd Deaver Says:

    Josh,

    I’m not saying repentance isn’t necessary. I’m saying I can have a penitent heart and still fall into the very sins I repented of. Committing a given sin a second time is not in itself evidence that I didn’t repent of that sin after the first time.

    Further, I’m saying I can have a penitent heart (one that God accepts) even if I’m not yet aware of all the sins I’m committing–and that includes doctrinal error. Obviously I can’t repent specifically of a sin I’m unaware of–in which case I don’t cease to commit it–but I can still have a penitent heart, one that seeks to do the Lord’s will as well as I understand it. Phil’s understanding of repentance, as I said, requires unattainable perfection.

  12. Josh Kraft Says:

    I’ve really never heard any brother teach otherwise with regard to the individual and his own personal growth as a Christian. But what does any of this have to do with the public fellowship of damnable error? You guys are confusing apples and oranges.

  13. eddy Says:

    Just to clarify. Todd, what is your answer to Phil’s question about the sprinkled infant repenting in later years? (I know my answer is different from a lot of folks on this.)

  14. Todd Deaver Says:

    Josh,

    It is relevant because Phil (as I understand him) is saying (1) any doctrinal error will damn if not repented of and (2) this repentance requires changing one’s view on that doctrine. That means any mature Christian who holds any doctrinal error is damned.

  15. Todd Deaver Says:

    Eddy,

    A man who comes to understand his infant sprinkling was unbiblical should by all means be immersed, I believe. Repentance involves a constant effort to conform to the teachings of scripture. If I realize I’m wrong but don’t care to change, I don’t think I’ve really repented.

  16. Josh Kraft Says:

    IMO he needs to define what he means by “doctrinal error.” I hold that some “doctrinal errors” (i.e., HS indwelling, the current location of the dead, the war question, etc) are NOT damning. OTOH there are others which ARE. I do not disagree with his argument as long as the “doctrinal errors” to which he refers are the damning kind.

  17. Alan Says:

    It is impossible to repent of a doctrinal position until you realize it is incorrect. As long as you believe your position to be correct, you are bound by that position. (Rom 14:23).

    What would motivate someone to abandon a position they believe to be correct? Perhaps peer pressure, fear of losing a job, people pleasing…. But surely, reverence for God would never cause someone to abandon what they believe to be true.

    So for the purpose of these discussions, talking about repentance from a doctrinal position is a red herring. The question is, what about those sincerely held but mistaken doctrines?

  18. Dusty Chris Says:

    Josh,

    How does one know if doctrinal error falls into the damnable vs non damnable category? It seems to me that what is damnable to one may not be damnable to another…even amongst like-minded conservatives. And for the ulta-conservatives (like I grew up in)…I’m sure their list is longer.

    Since there is no definitive list (the Bible is silent on at least some damnable offenses) how does one know if a dotrinal error is damnable or nondamnable (smoking or nonsmoking)?

    I grew up in a KJV only fellowship. This is interesting to me because I still feel a pang of guilt (or something) if I read from anything but the KJV. It was pounded into my religious head that KJV was the only true version and all other versions were in error. After growing up in a KJV only fellowship, my heart is not a true test whether or not I am in error, because what I was taught was in error….but I still have an internal reaction. Although I read from more than the KJV now (which makes me feel naughty) the teaching I received as a kid still affects my heart, although in lessening degrees.

    A list or chart might be helpful for us to know what is damnable or not so damnable, even if it is conceptual rather than concrete. That will at least help us to see what you are talking about. I would also like a progressive and an ulta-conservative do the same.

  19. Alan Says:

    This is interesting to me because I still feel a pang of guilt (or something) if I read from anything but the KJV.

    That issue has always seemed incoherent to me. What about non-English-speakers? What about people who study from the Greek text?

    I admit there is plenty not to like about many modern translations. Better to use several (one of which can be KJV).

  20. Royce Ogle Says:

    I know some folks who had better hope doctrinal error doesn’t damn.


  21. It seems that Paul covers sin questions very thoroughly in Romans 6-8, especially Romans 8. Like:

    “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

    I think he wrote this for the CofC:
    “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

    “A slave AGAIN to fear” (emphasis added). When you believe that salvation is an opportunity to maybe stay out of Hell, you will always be a slave to fear.

    But the good news is that you are no longer facing Hell and wondering how to stay out, but facing heaven, longing to please the one that saved you from destruction.

    Focusing on what’s wrong is turning again towards Hell and being a slave to fear. God did not die for us to be afraid of Him, but to have relationship with Him. Why do we persist in the dogma(s) of fear?

    We have the Spirit of sonship. Is Jesus quaking in His boots wondering if He will go to Hell? Then neither should we. We are co-heirs – we get the same thing he does. Let’s rejoice and spread the Good News!

    -Brad
    web[at]bradstanford[dot]com

  22. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    another ace Brad.

  23. eddy Says:

    Thank you Todd. M-D-RM ala TBC in the 70’s emphasized repentance=repayment and resitution. I’ve spent the last 30 years trying to re-drive in reverse all the speed zones where I went over the limit. I’m considering returning my high school and college diplomas because had I not cheated on my seventh grade math asignment, I would not have been eligible for high school, etc. I’m thinking about repenting of the times I’ve sung with IM–do I repent by going back to each place and singing the exact same songs acapella (still confused how to repent of my being encouraged by those times of false worship. Also chewing on how to repent of fellowshipping the IM folks, who wrote some of those songs). Glad that you linked repentance to the heart of the matter; also glad my wife does not equate faithfulness with perfection…wondering how to repent of not loving my wife as Christ loved the church.

  24. Rich Wells Says:

    Not being able to precisely define exactly where to draw a line does not negate the concept. There are several lists in the Bible that say liars will not inherit the kingdom of God. Brad eloquently said this is a matter of thinking and lifestyle. But some want us to be able to count up the number of lies per day a person can do before being considered a “liar”. That just can’t be done, however, the Bible does say that liars won’t enter heaven.

    A trite example is knowing how many gray hairs a person must have before one is declared as having gray hair. My wife found my first gray hair when I was 24 but few would consider me to have gray hair then. Now, at 52, there is no doubt.

  25. nick gill Says:

    Alan,

    Your point on Romans 14 is well-made and integral to this discussion.

    Paul placed *no* limit on how long his brother in Romans 14 could go on DISAGREEING WITH JESUS about the cleanliness of foods.

    I’ve mentioned this to leaders before and been told, “Well, Paul was on his way to Corinth, so there must have been some kind of limit,” before I even got done speaking.

    That is pure presumption, based solely on the belief that doctrinal error cannot be forgiven, that “no error fits into the category of perpetual indulgence.”

    I’m not even beginning to suggest (pre-empting the strike I know will come from someone) that Romans 14 teaches an “anything goes” stance towards Christian beliefs and practices — nothing in the Bible has ever suggested that “anything goes”.

    But despite protestations to the contrary, Paul says disagreeing with Jesus on some matters won’t send you to hell.

  26. nick gill Says:

    Our utter inability to accurately draw the line doesn’t negate the concept of line-drawing?

    What would negate it, then?

    I fear that, a la Luke 16, none could negate it even if they came back from the dead.

    When will we understand Jesus’ example that uncleanness is not contagious, but cleanness is contagious?

  27. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Rich,
    I am glad that you mentioned that the scriptures contain several lists of sins. Mk.7:21-3 is one that Jesus spoke. The items on Jesus’ list have not divided us. But if a brother or sister has a psalm(1 Cor.15:26), some would object that is not “cong. singing”.
    If any of the sisters prayed or spoke for God
    (1 Cor.11:5),most cofC would be in an uproar.

    I enjoyed your subtle humor re gray hair. Jesus said our hairs are numbered. If our sins were numbered, they would be greater in number.
    Both David and Paul understood the blessing of God upon those He does not reckon sin to, Rom4.

    Our hearts would condemn us less often(1Jn.3:19-20), if we would confess our sins more often(1Jn.1:8-9),and we would mature to ask for forgiveness of our brothers and sisters(1Jn.5:16)– if we knew them well enough to care. The general indifference to others we see week by week is shameful in many churches.

  28. Sonny Owens Says:

    In your last paragraph who are the “we?”

  29. Bondservant Says:

    Are you implying that those who trust Jesus who confess their sins are not Christians?


  30. “But some want us to be able to count up the number of lies per day a person can do before being considered a “liar”. That just can’t be done, however, the Bible does say that liars won’t enter heaven.”

    Liars won’t enter heaven = true.

    Jesus saves us from all of our sins = true.

    The Spirit works on us daily, renewing our minds so we will no longer sin = true.

    Sin is immediately conquered in the flesh when we are saved = false.

    All of these concepts coexist. It is not up to us to “draw lines”. That’s God’s job.

    If we really love people, then we should not try to correct them with our own flawed reasoning. That simply substitutes their prior deception with a new one.

    If we simply take them to Jesus, He will do His work in them, and we can be confident that if we can be saved in spite of our mistakes, they can be saved in spite of theirs.

    ALL of this trouble and division has been caused by people keep trying to do God’s job. It’s the same thing that happened in the garden. if there is any repenting to be done, it should be of that first.

    -Brad
    web[at]bradstanford[dot]com

  31. Josh Kraft Says:

    Especially you, my friend. 😉

  32. Bondservant Says:

    I believe Royce has shown many times he has a heart for God who loves God and loves people. Royce like anyone else can get frustrated sometimes with those who continually to try to find ways to condemn other Christians. So far I have only seen Royce show his frustration a couple of times. The majority of the time I have seen Royce try to bring light to the conversation.

  33. Royce Says:

    Anyone who claims to be right on every Bible doctrine is more in danger for being a liar than his theology.

    I mean that in the best possible way..

    Royce

  34. Josh Kraft Says:

    It was just a joke. *insert rolleyes smilie here*

  35. Rich Wells Says:

    We seem to be creating opposite poles here as we defend the extremes of our ideals. On one end the assumption is that grace doesn’t cover doctrinal errors and therefore it is important to have the perfect answer to every issue. On the other end, grace covers everything and all that is expected of us is to believe in Christ and be a good person to others. I don’t believe either is Biblical. To please God, we need to strive to all good and right for Him and pray for grace to take care of our mistakes.

    The following is an example of the same principle from one of my life experiences. Please excuse the length.

    In one of my past lives, I was given the charge to develop a global corporate strategy for a particular topic. The Europeans had more experience in the subject so they had a large influence in our discussions. However, the Germans and the French proposed opposite philosophies. I was initially proud of my first draft of the written strategy because I thought I had well incorporated both strategies in the composite.

    During one of the conference call reviews, the German rep said, “You know that we Germans and French seldom agree on anything, but one thing we do agree on is that Rich Wells is wrong!”

    Wow! Was that an interesting conference call. I knew not to fight it because these kinds of issues can’t be resolved until all parties are in the same room.

    So I did my homework and met in Germany about six months later. I asked the Germans what actions they followed during their last major project. I asked the French what actions they followed during their last major project. Guess what? They both followed the exact same philosophy and that happened to be the way I had originally proposed. The whole room broke out into laughter and that topic hasn’t been an issue since (Fall 2000).

    To summarize, we argue ideals because they are easy to define. The lines are easily drawn whether we accept there is a line or not. However, the hybrid approach that is more difficult to describe and defend is often the right one.

    Doctrine and moral living are both important. We feeble humans can’t measure where people cross the line because that’s God’s call. We just need to do the best we can which includes striving to understand the Bible for proper worship and other doctrinal topics. We should do this because we want to please Him and not because we think we know it all.

  36. Josh Kraft Says:

    BTW Royce you are building a strawman. Nobody ever claimed that one had to be 100% right on every “doctrinal” matter. (For example, I disagree with those of my brethren who hold that the righteous dead go immediately to heaven at death. Why? Because the Bible doesn’t teach it. However, I don’t withdraw my fellowship from them because their error isn’t one that causes them to commit sin, deny any fundamental of the faith, or walk contrary to the gospel.)
    The liberal’s problem is that he apparently thinks that one can be wrong about pretty much EVERYTHING. Such a one stands refuted by 2 John 9-11.


  37. Let’s just admit it. None of us knows where to draw all the lines. We’d like to think we do. We’d like to think that since we can’t obey perfectly, we can at least approach perfection in our knowledge and discernment and judgment and scriptural interpretation and doctrinal accuracy.

    And all our intellectual achievement is just as much filthy rags as our well-intentioned acts of righteousness. Yours. Mine. Everyone’s. Some may be better at it than others, but there are scriptural topics about which even the most spiritually educated and intellectually honest folks blanche and shrug and simply glorify God – from Job on forward.

    Even Jesus – in this life – couldn’t pin a date on the eschatological events He Himself prophesied. Did that make His doctrine incomplete? Wouldn’t it have confirmed His foreknowledge beyond all doubt?

    Paul put it this way: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

    Until then, we struggle. We’re Israel. We’d still be named Jacob if we didn’t struggle with God. I think it’s great that we struggle together like this on blogs and in journals and in Bible class conversations. We should.

    But maybe – just maybe – the whole point is not trying to achieve on our own behavioral perfection or intellectual doctrinal perfection but struggling together to accept the grace of God and the power of Christ’s blood to cover both our lack of self-control and our lack of divine perception.

    Grace is a great equalizer.

    It calls us back to the dim mirror to look hard at ourselves … so we won’t walk away and forget what we look like.

    It calls us to hang our heads and pray, “God, be merciful to me – a sinner.”

    It calls us deeper into the Word and into the heart of God to see glimpses of ourselves in the redemptive Story.

    Then, at last, it calls us home – where we can finally see ourselves as our Father sees us.

  38. Royce Says:

    Josh, You need to go back and read Phil Sanders’ Proposition One. In part it went like this, All doctrinal error is sin and all doctrinal error can damn. That is a short version but exactly what he said.

    You might have bone to pick with Phil but not me. I never made such an outrageous claim.

    Royce

  39. Royce Says:

    “God, be merciful to me – a sinner?”

    We don’t believe in the “sinner’s prayer, remember?

    …..just havin’ a bit of fun..

    Royce

  40. Josh Kraft Says:

    I can’t speak for Phil. He can speak for himself. But I’m sure that he is using the term “doctrinal error” in a specific sense to refer to damnable doctrines and not ones that are harmless as far as salvation is concerned.

  41. Royce Says:

    Josh,

    Lets just let Phil speak for himself. This is word for word copied from what he said. I didn’t make this up.

    “I am saying that people who continue to entertain and press beliefs that are false and harm others are sinning. Doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation.

    Doctrinal error can lead to eternal damnation, and yes I believe this can be any doctrinal error. It is so because error is equated in God’s eyes with sin. Any sin can lead to eternal damnation. Doctrinal sin is not less evil than moral sin. Doctrinal error has led a multitude of souls astray from God.”

    Well, there you go Josh.

    Royce

  42. Josh Kraft Says:

    I think that “…AND HARM OTHERS” are the key words in that quote in ascertaining where he is coming from with regard to his use of the phrase “doctrinal error.”


  43. “On one end the assumption is that grace doesn’t cover doctrinal errors…”
    “On the other end, grace covers everything and all that is expected of us…”

    The biblical position is that Grace covers all, much is expected of us, and God will do as He promised and do it through us, via the work of the Holy Spirit.

    It is the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of Rich or Brad that yields love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self control. Without these things, what’s the point of anything you might accomplish with your willpower like any other man-made religion?

    It’s not about if we’re supposed to do “this”, or if we’re exempt from “that”. The whole story is that God is in control and won’t let his saved ones go unchanged. He promised to make his bride without spot or blemish. We can not get in the way of that, and the Spirit gives us the desire to not even try, but to pursue holiness.

    The two extreme viewpoints are irrelevant. God’s promises should be the topic of discussion, not “how do we stay out of Hell”.


  44. Beautiful! Well put, Keith.

  45. Rich Wells Says:

    Brad, I appreciate your comments.

    Sometimes it’s hard to put ideas into writing that perfectly portray what I actually mean. Yes, grace CAN cover everything. But since the Bible talks about Hell, then grace WILL NOT cover everything (everyone). That’s a hard pill to for me to swallow.

    “The two extreme viewpoints are irrelevant.” Yes, that was my point.

    However, what are examples of salvation issues?
    Believing in Christ? I hope all say yes.
    Participating in communion (even within several years after believing in Christ)?
    Praying or not praying ever?
    Does one ever have to worship God to be saved?
    Asking for forgiveness?
    Worshipping God like Nadab and Abihu?

    Just some questions.

  46. Bondservant Says:

    Participating in communion (even within several years after believing in Christ)?

    Some cofC say if you have the Lord’s Supper any day other than Sunday you will be condemned.

    Praying or not praying ever?

    How are we to pray, with our hands lifted up, with our hands folded, with our eyes open, with our eyes shut?
    The Bible never says we should pray with our hands folded or our eyes shut, so does that mean someone who does so is sinning and will be condemned for doing so?

    Does one ever have to worship God to be saved?

    Define worship.

    Asking for forgiveness?

    Define asking for forgiveness.

    Worshipping God like Nadab and Abihu?

    Some cofC say that others can’t use David from the Hebrew Scriptures as an example, but say it’s okay to use examples from the Hebrew Scriptures they pick and choose to use.

  47. Rich Wells Says:

    There are big picture items and smaller details. Let’s answer the big picture items first and then work on the details.

    One question for the progressives.

    Will a person be saved if they have never formally or informally worshipped God in their lifetime of being a Christian (let’s say ten years or more)?

    I ask this question because I don’t remember worship being in the progressive description of what it means to be a Christian.


  48. Excuse me, I’m getting confused a little here:The post reads: “A man who comes to understand his infant sprinkling was unbiblical should by all
    means be immersed, I believe. Repentance involves a constant effort to conform to
    the teachings of scripture. If I realize I’m wrong but don’t care to change, I don’t
    think I’ve really repented.”

    If I am reading correctly this is suggesting my sister who is a catholic is saved because she believes she is, actually not a good analogy because she was baptized emerced as she became a Catholic in later life but some are just sprinkled so you get my jest.
    when all through Acts I’m given instruction for baptism I’m specifically thinking about the men Paul spoke to who he ask have you received the Holy spirit and they said we don’t know what that is Paul said by what baptism were you baptized and they said the baptism of John so they were rebaptized Acts 191-6 If I’m understanding correctly some are suggesting these folkes, Cornelius and perhaps even the jewish brethren in Acts 2 were actually saved prior to their water baptism now if this is true you are only damned when you come to the conclusion that a thing is wrong like eating forbidden meats denominationalsm isn’t equal to pagan worship because like us they are believers just not at the same point in their walk.I think when the bible is explicit we have to be also. I personally don’t think the bible is as explicit about Music as it is about baptism my congregation would differ so I must hold my tongue Romans 14, I’d rather see them in heaven than divide them a brother spoke about the war issue that’s another issue that seems more important to me than whether someone has a piano at their service. They play the piano and you can go back to noninstrumental worship but if I drop a bomb on my brother’s family in Iraq as an instrument of government they are still lost for eternity with no second chance they can’t get rid of the bomb blast and my brother can’t convert them time is done.I’m not trying to stir up contraversy but rather trying to illustrate the problem with doctrinal lines and why this is confusing Unfortunately, . in part the lines differ with whoever you talk to.All will claim they have the mandate of the church from the day of pentacost.
    Brothers will say scriptures talking about making music in your heart apply to the church service when in fact a consistent position might be no instruments anywhere worship or not because Paul wasn’t specifically talking in context about church service worship. They tell me look at history what about the first 200 years of the churches existance yet they ignore the fact that we have no record prior to Constanteen of Christians practicing war, even Cornelius it doesn’t say he continued in the military, it doesn’t say he left either it was silent so we don’t know. nor does history tell us he was involved in a military campaign. I wonder if our point of view gets obscured by our own frame of reference, I grew up in the instrumental side of COC so of course I wouldn’t want to believe my brethren are condemned Someone else participates in or has family that participates in the military so their understanding will necessarily slant towards acceptance of the view the military is fine for Christians note I’m not suggesting God doesn’t use the military he does absolutely I’m questioning christian participation in it. Back to baptism if I have a number of relatives who have been sprinkled do I stretch the scripture to at least in my mind get them in to heaven? My wife is a former methodist and of course she wants her family saved if the sprinkling is permissible until they come arround than they are so I’m confused because in order to remove the rigid lines we seem to be or some of us seem to be removing the line all together, I’m not sure I want you to do that even if you would by that standard accept my instrumental brethren. I don’t think the brothers writing the post are eliminating any line but it seems in the comments some might be forgive me if I’m getting this wrong and please explain. I guess it goes back to one of the arguments My definition of doctrinal error may not equal yours so who is right when we both argue with scripture that our position is scriptural. One brotherrecently said calling ones self the Christian Church is hiding the name of Christ when”ian” means foller of and if Christian Church hides the name unless you read Jesu’s words “I am the Way” how would a gentile without any exposure know what “The Way was. But up until Acts 11 the church was called “the way”.Were they hiding Christ?
    Was his view obscured because the congregation he left was over the line and if I left a noninstrumental congregation that was in Error couldn’t I go to the IM side and make the same wrong conclusions?Isn’t this why Paul says “work out your own salvation wih fear and trembling? If my congregation is teaching false doctrine or even if I just think they are maybe I should go somewhere where I can be more valuable to God’s work. Paul separated from Barnabas because they disagreed about John Mark. Neither condemned the other they just went separate ways and continued teaching the good news.
    Part of our problem might be trying to make English Greek.
    Hope I’m not taking this out of bounds by discussingdoctrinal specifics.
    If I am write me off list and advise how I can properly conform and keep on track.
    God Bless:
    Mike
    Reply

  49. Alan Says:

    I ask this question because I don’t remember worship being in the progressive description of what it means to be a Christian.

    I agree with Bondservant on this: We need to define “worship” before we can have a meaningful discussion about it. I can’t tell you whether “worship” is required for salvation until I know what you mean by “worship.” Since we are all committed to a biblical answer, we need to get the definition from scripture. I count eight different Greek words that are translated as “worship” by one or more of the major English translations. Which of these words are you talking about? (Strongs’ numbers supplied..>)

    2999 latreia
    3000 latreuo
    4352 proskuneo
    2151 eusebeo
    4576 sebomai
    2356 threskeia
    4574 sebasma
    3009 leitourgia

  50. Zach Cox Says:

    Rich,

    You’re only 52! You had me fooled 🙂
    I think you are arguing based on the assumption that worship is limited to an assembly rather than the totality of the life lived out before God? Am I reading you correctly? Nice to have you in this discussion.

    Zach


  51. My point is, why ask the question “What are salvation issues?” The Spirit is in charge of motivating us to renewal, just as He was in charge of bringing you to Jesus in the first place? Did God not promise to complete the work started in us? Is God a liar?

    Again this is not a call to laziness, because the Spirit won’t allow it! The Spirit will make us eager to listen to God with all of the excitement we had when we first received salvation (more actually)! For He is the one that motivates and corrects. Paul even states that if you believe differently that God will teach you, which is reaffirmed in Hebrews.

    This is the Good News! Salvation truly is salvation, especially from ourselves!

    -Brad


  52. I responded to Rich above and it applies here, so I’m just copying it to here:
    ——————-

    Why ask the question “What are salvation issues?” The Spirit is in charge of motivating us to renewal, just as He was in charge of bringing you to Jesus in the first place. Did God not promise to complete the work started in us? Is God a liar?

    Again this is not a call to laziness, because the Spirit won’t allow it! The Spirit will make us eager to listen to God with all of the excitement we had when we first received salvation (more actually)! For He is the one that motivates and corrects. Paul even states that if you believe differently that God will teach you, which is reaffirmed in Hebrews.

    This is the Good News! Salvation truly is salvation, especially from ourselves!

    -Brad

  53. Walley Says:

    Phil and Greg seem to think that every person should have a thorough and complete understanding of God’s word. In all truth there is no one who understands every teaching of God’s word perfectly. Secondly, in all of our endeavors to be righteous we fail, (Rom. 3:10-17). If understanding every doctrine of God’s word correctly is a necessity for salvation then there is no possibility of salvation for anyone. We are saved by the grace of God! Repentance is motivated by our faith in Jesus. When the Holy Spirit brings us under conviction of sin our faith brings us to repentance. There will always be some sin that we are fighting to overcome, but we are still saved.

    There are sins that we committ that we are not aware of, what about them? (read I Jn.1:8-10). When we confess that we are sinners we are forgiven of our sin and ALL unrighteousness.

    If we are in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation. Why not? Because we are free from the law of sin and death, (Rom. 8:1-3).

    Often our rejection or conditional acceptance of grace is nothing more then an attempt to bring Christians under our legalistic controls.

    Read Gal. 3:1-5; it becomes clear that anyone who thinks that he can perfect the flesh by human effort is deceived. Read Rom. 8:9-11, Our bodies are dead because of sin, our spirit is alive because of righteousness. We are saved by the grace of God through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the free gift of God, Eph. 2:8-10.

    We should accept our salvation by grace and strive to live to the glory of God because of our faith in Jesus. Otherwise we will live a continually defeated life, constantly wondering if we have missed a sin and failed to repent. Salvation is by GRACE!

    Walley

  54. Josh Kraft Says:

    Alan,

    I would ask you and all other “progressives” one question:

    Are you certain that you have the correct doctrinal beliefs on the subjects of grace and fellowship?

    If you answer “Yes” then stop this agnostic claptrap about not being able to be certain of Bible doctrines.

    OTOH if you answer “No” then you must admit that it’s certainly possible that you are wrong regarding your views on grace and fellowship and that those who take the contrary view are correct.

    Josh

  55. Josh Kraft Says:

    Brethren,

    Amazingly I find myself in agreement with a “progressive” who in a comment in another post basically said that nothing was being accomplished by this whole exercise. I highly doubt that any minds will be changed on either side. After all of the blogs have been posted back and forth and after all the commentators have had their say neither “conservatives” nor “progressives” will be moved from their respective positions.

    I’m beginning to think that all that internet blogs and forums are really good for is to waste time. I spent precious time (time I’ll never get back) yesterday posting comments and replies. And for what effect? Not a thing. My time could have been better spent studying the Bible, teaching the lost, etc. instead of wasting it here.

    As I take my leave I urge my “progressive” brethren to give up this quest of yours to “reform” the churches of Christ. We neither want nor do we need your “reform.” Why not just leave and go join yourselves with a group of individuals who are of the same beliefs as yourselves? I hear that the Christian Church is looking for new members….

    Take care.

    Josh


  56. It saddens me when I hear that dialogue is only helpful when minds are changed. It seems to me that dialogue is also helpful for mutual understanding whether or not any minds are changed or not.

  57. Josh Kraft Says:

    But I understand your side. And I know of the arguments that are used to try to uphold the “progressive” view as well as the express motivations of its adherents. I have also “weighed” the view and have found it to be “wanting” and to be a part of the “broad way” (Matt 7:13-14). I have heard “the conclusion of the whole matter” and “all has been heard.” Why should I, therefore, waste any more time with it?

  58. Orion Says:

    Josh,

    Are you interested in an answer for the purpose of learning, or are you interested in showing everyone how clever you are at asking leading questions?

    But so that you may know. I am confident in my beliefs on grace and fellowship. If I am wrong and God’s grace won’t cover my sin, then I am lost. However, it is no more lost than I am by trying to keep the law perfectly.

    If God has extended his grace to me, how can I not extend grace to and fellowship other believers who are as imperfect as I? Is God diminished if I mistakenly extend the hand of fellowship too far?

    I prefer to err on the side of grace, just in case Jesus really meant “for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged.”.

    I choose Jesus and his work on my behalf.

    May God grant you peace.


  59. Hardly all has been heard. That’s like saying we have God figured out now. There is much for the Spirit to teach us all on this subject. I believe all of us have something to learn here. and the unity of the brotherhood is worth it. What is a brother worth: 2 rehashings? 3? Relationships are frustrating, especially those that seem to long not be had.

    But there is something greater afoot here. I, too, thought that this was going to go nowhere, but I see the inklings of breakthrough, and have prayed for it. Just having a civil dialog means a lot!

    100 posts is not going to change 100 years of bad teaching. But some number will. Reconciliation is always possible not because of us but because of God. Have patience, pray, and the dialog will turn before your very eyes.

    Plus, God can redeem the time for you anyway. It was not a waste!

    -Brad
    web[at]bradstanford[dot]com

  60. K. Rex Butts Says:

    Orion,

    I could not have precisely the “progressive” view any better.

    Thanks! Your brother in Christ!

    K. Rex Butts

  61. Josh Kraft Says:

    Orion,

    I was interested in showing that liberalism is as illogical and self-contradictory as it is unBiblical. Any person who “judges” another person as being “wrong” on a matter (as you liberals say that faithful brethren are) is implying that they claim to know the truth on the particular point that the other person is said to be “wrong” about.

    As to “judging”…Jesus did not condemn all judging in Matt 7:1(Cf., John 7:24).

    Josh

    PS. I said above that I “was (PAST TENSE) interested.” I’m not any longer. Not here at least. You can read my comments later for why I do not wish to waste any more precious time in gaining any more “understanding” of you liberals. I “understand” you guys completely.

    Now please stop your attacks on the church of my Lord and then leave to go join yourselves to a group that you will feel much more “at home” with (i.e., the Christian Church).

  62. K. Rex Butts Says:

    Josh,

    You wrote:

    “As I take my leave I urge my “progressive” brethren to give up this quest of yours to “reform” the churches of Christ. We neither want nor do we need your “reform.” Why not just leave and go join yourselves with a group of individuals who are of the same beliefs as yourselves? I hear that the Christian Church is looking for new members….”

    I am truly saddened that you feel this way. Even if we “progressives” are all wrong, I still would be left without a clue as to how you could have such a desire to your fellow brothers (and sisters too) in Christ. Surely that is not a sentiment from God who continually sought after stubborn and rebellious Israel, who as the incarnate Jesus even loved and shared the passover with Judas knowing that Judas would betray him for some silver and gold, who through the Apostle Paul pleaded with numerous Jewish and Gentile Christians to love and accept each other despite their many differences.

    On this blog, I have continually signed every comment “You brother in Christ” to remind both “progressives” and “conservatives” that I regard them as my family in Christ, even when we disagree. Your comment appears to enhance and embrace division without sorrow rather than strive for unity and love.

    I wish you would redact your comment. Thanks you!

    Your brother in Christ,

    Rex


  63. Brother i was following you nicely until you got to this “As I take my leave I urge my “progressive” brethren to give up this quest of yours
    to “reform” the churches of Christ. We neither want nor do we need your “reform.”
    Why not just leave and go join yourselves with a group of individuals who are of
    the same beliefs as yourselves? I hear that the Christian Church is looking for new
    members….” First if I feel something is a waste of time it’s not necessary to come back and waste more I just go away after all as you said, bible needs to be studied teaching needs to be done and These brethren aren’t connected with your congregation why not let Jesus as promised separate the weat from the tears why take it upon yourself. I haven’t seen any new testament scripture asking anyon to leave the church if you feel it’s false doctrine than shouldn’t you work out your own salvation and do as you stated the right thing? I don’t consider myself a progressive btw but as stated in previous post I do have my roots like you have yours But the last thing I want you to do is leave God’s church whichever biblical name you choose to call it. Peter was warned he would deny Christ but Jesus didn’t say why don’t you just leave he did tell Judas to do what he had to do but that was more of get it over with your determined to do it and it was foretold. Paul warned wolves would come in to the flock in acts when speaking to the elders he stated that even some of them would be the ones he was describing but I never saw him ask them to leave even though his spiritual baptims most likely gave him the forknowledge to know which ones would cause the problem How can you know your reasoning might not touch a heart not everyone who reads posts how do you know you by your words didn’t save a soul about to fall. When I try to get traffic to my website I do it with one thing in mind my responsability is to make the gospel available not to change hearts or minds God through his Holy spirit has to do that. I can warn plead exhort but I can’t save convert or change hearrts. Many go to the website for only a minute what a waste but Jesus talks about leaving the 99 sheep and trying to save the one. The father never gave up on the prodical son although he certainly could have but his brother was upset in the above post you sound more like the brother than the father which might be understandible but this is a cyber form if the progressives aren’t coming to your congregation nor you to theirs I guess I don’t get it all of us come here of our own free will and both sides are trying to “reform” the church to their way of thinking would you be saddened imensely if the brethren of the progressive mindset repented of their foolly and accepted your position compleetely? And yet if it’s the other way arround they should leave Even brethren of the conservative persuasion have told me changes have occured since Caneridge in the conservative side some thaings Cambell and Lipkins or others said aren’t necessarily accepted as doctrine today. If I told my wife I’m wasting my time why don’t you just go join yourself to someone else when she said something I disagreed with would God be happy with me?

  64. Josh Kraft Says:

    All has not been heard on everything, of course. But IT HAS BEEN with regard to the vomit-inducing liberal pabulum that I’ve read the last couple of days not only here but also at some of the links that I’ve visited. I’m sick of the lies and distortions of truth. I’m sick of people who make up stuff about what members of churches of Christ believe and then attack that strawman. (I’m looking right at you, Royce.)

    I could have spent my time in Bible study and prayer. I could have spent it in teaching those with “good and honest hearts” the way of salvation. But now that time is forever gone all because I squandered it in perusing liberal nonsense. But not anymore. I’m through. I shake the dust off of my feet….

  65. Dusty Chris Says:

    I am certain of my salvation and my position of grace and fellowship. Well said, Orion.

    I wonder why it is better to not be certain of your salvation? What are the advantages to your faith to not be sure of your slavation? That sounds like living with an controlling/abusive father, never knowing whether or not you are going to get hit or ignored. With damnation around each corner, it is easy to project that onto others.

    Maybe that is a difference between conservatives and progressives. Perhaps if we see God as controlling, relentless, and vindictive, then there is no freedom, no grace, no tolerance for anything but perfection. From that perspective, one can never be sure of anything other than the surety of damnation for making mistakes. No grace, no mercy. There is no Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is unpredictable, moving like the wind.

    Whereas if one views God as loving, forgiving and interested in saving us (instead of condemning us) then there is freedom and one can be assured of their salvation. Progressives live their lives without the fear of damnation, I hope. With grace and mercy extended to me, I am able and willing to extend it to others.

    I guess my hope for all of us is to get a better understanding of the love of God so we can offer salvation to a lost and dying world. Perhaps if we focus on what we have in common, the 5%differences we have will seem insignificant to the task we have ahead of us.


  66. Maybe Royce could pray for Josh and Josh could pray for Royce tonight.

    Maybe the rest of us could pray for them and each other, too.

    It’s harder to have something against someone you’ve prayed for.

    (I need all the prayers I can get!)

  67. Josh Kraft Says:

    I’ll redact my comment after Paul redacts his in Gal 5:12. Until he does that his desire for the unrepentant errorists of his day is mine for the unrepentant errorists of today (i.e., that they would–as the Greek literally says–“cut themselves off”). I’ll follow Paul because he followed Christ (1 Cor 11:1).

    I hold no ill will toward liberals. I love them and desire their salvation as I do all men. However, I also love the church and know what “a little leaven” can do spiritually to “the whole lump.” So if the “leaven” is unwilling to become “unleaven” the “leaven” needs to be purged in order to protect “the whole lump.” If there is gangrene in a person’s body a doctor will remove it in order to protect the body.

  68. Josh Kraft Says:

    [I]f I feel something is a waste of time it’s not necessary to come back and waste more I just go away.”

    On this point I agree. I have now wasted more time instead of just going away. It’s a failing of mine that I’m striving to correct.

    Take care.

  69. Royce Ogle Says:

    Josh,

    I know you didn’t really go away…lol

    You accused me of creating a straw man, then I quoted Phil Sanders word for word (cut and paste) and you made some lame excuse for him.

    I decided long ago that I would assume the position of Paul who when told about people who preached Christ but for the wrong reasons, said so long as Christ is preached he would rejoice. I disagree with brother Phil, and even Todd and Jay on some things, but I love the brothers and am glad every one of them preaches Jesus. The gospel accompanied with other things that might be error is better than no gospel at all by far.

    I have been attacked over and over and labeled an unbeliever, false teacher, change agent, and worse, here and in emails. My infraction? Preaching Jesus as the only way to heaven and urging folks to trust Him alone. I’ll gladly take the reproach for His names sake.

    Am I right about everything? Absolutely not. There are some doctrines I know so little about I refuse to even discuss them because I have not studied them much. But, I am right about Jesus! I’ll keep believing and teaching the story of His love as long as I am able.

    We MUST forgive each other, be kind to each other, and gently instruct an erring brother. So, there is quite enough blame to go around, and I am not without fault. I hold no ill against anyone here and hope others feel the same.

    Royce

  70. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Keith,
    Thank you for reminding us of what John wrote about praying for each other, 1 John 5:16.
    I will ask for all of us to express ourselves with Jesus’ humility and self-control.

    Our reasoning leads us into trying to control others with threats of God’s wrath. Trusting Jesus as a small child, CHANGES US to share his compassion with others.

  71. Larry Siegle Says:

    If somehow brethren could just stop the name-calling, take our eyes off each other and sit for an hour at the feet of Jesus, some of these “issues” would melt away into non-existence.

    Our stance before God is not wholly dependent on the trivial pursuit of absolute doctrinal correctness (which like the Law-zealous Jewish believers of the first-century were warned by Paul, would only lead to pride and falsely believing that salvation is “ex argon” (out of works), instead of “by grace through faith” (Eph. 2:8, 9). If WE (humans) could do everything in our own strength, Jesus would never have had to go to the Cross on our behalf and to die in our stead.

    One point that stood out to me in the article was the comment from Jay who said: “The sins we’re guilty of are forgiven even though we still commit them, because deep in our hearts, we really want to serve God, we are trying hard, and God forgives our failings.”

    The phrase that captured me immediate attention was the part about “we are trying hard.” God, through the power of His word transforms us from being “try-ers” to becoming “doers”–because we can do “all things through Christ who gives us the strength” (Phil 4:13). Someone once observed, “We give power to that which becomes the focus of our energy and attention.” The more we are determined not to look at pornography (for example), the more our mind is filled with the attraction to look at pornography. We give the temptation power in our lives by thinking about how we are not going to give in to temptation in our lives. Remember, Eve “looked at the tree and it was pleasant to the eyes” (Gen. 3:6). The more she looked, the better it seemed. Instead of determination, will-power, etc, perhaps “surrender” is the best solution: “God, you know the weaknesses of my flesh and the desire of my heart. I give you these weaknesses and ask that you give me the grace to set my affections on You and on Your Word that I might not be tempted to place any wicked thing before my eyes…” Next step, get busy with OTHER THINGS that having nothing whatsoever to do with that particular temptation, and soon, the strength of that sin is broken and has lost its drawing power.

    One comment for Josh with regard to the investment of his time. Nothing that ever involves the Word of God is a waste of time. Humility of heart and an earnest desire to understand the hearts of one another can, and should always be a source of joy and refreshing. We have to abandon “combat-mode” in favor of trying to have a meaningful conversation through which everyone takes away something of value and who learns from the perspectives of others. Because your journey with the Lord differs from that of Todd, Royce or others, does not necessarily negate the lasting contribution that may come from having a willingness to learn. It does not imply that 100% agreement will ever be reached, but only that your “love for the brethren” is demonstrated in a positive and fruitful way.

    Each of us have gained priceless insights during our years of ministry and fellowship within the brotherhood (despite our differences) and it would be a shame to consider hearing these experiences a waste of time. It is not possible to know the motives of one another, or to fully comprehend the reasons why we are where we are at this moment in time. All of us realize there are certain “hot button” issues that raise the blood pressure of those who hold them near and dear. It is easy for us to generalize “liberals” and “conservatives” and to place one another into a hopeless theological box.

    Our concern about doctrinal error would be better transformed into a concern of practicing that which offends the heart of God. It is never about rules and regulations, it is about RELATIONSHIP and all that it means to be in fellowship with God through Christ–our love, devotion and appreciation for all that He has done for us. We tend to “draw lines” and pretend that “our” lives are equal to “God’s” lines when such may not actually be the case. We do not think the way God thinks because He is infinite and beyond our ability to comprehend.

    Repentance is our response to God’s Word tugging at our hearts, confession is our agreement with what that Word says, forgiveness is what God extends to us on the basis of the sacrifice of His Son. God called us to we victorious in every area of our lives and has provided the means through which it can be accomplished. Can we lay down our “brotherhood” sponsored “swords” in favor of yielding ourselves in submission to God’s “sword” of the Spirit–the Word? Our “swords” tend to “wound” the spirits of each other, bring offense and bitterness. God’s “sword” cuts away only those things in our hearts and minds that are harmful to us, and to one another.

    Thanks

  72. Larry Siegle Says:

    sentence correction: “We present that “our LINES are God’s lines…”

    Sorry, I am going to fire my secretary (oops, never mind, that would be ME so I would have to fire myself).

  73. Alan Says:

    Some of us have forgotten 2 Tim 2:24-25


  74. Phil & Greg

    Todd asked you to “address the two problems we’ve noted”.

    (1) Do you claim that sincerely believing error even on the issues earlier cited (e.g., Was Junias an apostle? Where do saints go immediately after death? etc.) will lead to the loss of salvation if not corrected? And if not, on what basis do you distinguish these doctrinal errors from those that are truly fatal?

    (2) Do you believe that repentance always entails the cessation of the sin? If yes, doesn’t this lead to an impossible perfectionism?

    Phil and Greg, I and many others are waiting for your answers. Can you give us straight no beating around the bushes answers to these questions. If not, then why not? Do you speak as the oracles of God?

  75. Josh Kraft Says:

    Royce,

    I’m trying to leave but someone always has to write something that I’m compelled to respond to for some reason.

    In my above comment about your lies about the churches of Christ and building strawmen I was not specifically making reference to that earlier strawman of yours but to a post that I had read at YOUR OWN BLOG (http://gracedigest.com/2009/04/14/on-grace-conversation/) where you state that we “hyper-traditionalists” hold that one MUST be baptized by a member of the churches of Christ in order for that baptism to be valid and that BOTH of them must understand that the baptism is for the remission of sins. That’s a lie. Nobody holds to any such thing. Get your facts straight before you start to attack people.

    This, hopefully, is my final word at this blog.

    Josh

  76. Rich Wells Says:

    I really don’t want to split hairs on worship. Let me see if I can get at my point from a different angle.

    If the discussion on how we need to focus on Christ and His love and grace is a call for us to emphasize the heavier motivational issues within Christianity then I fully support it. I must confess that sometimes we (including me) let petty discussions on details get in our way of focusing on important matters such as evangelism and helping the needy (and edifying each other in general).

    However, if this is a call to only talk about the love of Christ and forget about the daily details of worship pleasing to God, etc., than I totally disagree.

    As an analogy, if we were to ask people to name the top two or three things in life, most will probably include relationships with God and family. However, everyone must still eat. But not listing such a given doesn’t negate its importance.

    Likewise, we should list the love and grace of God as top priority, but that doesn’t negate the importance of the other, more outward aspects of living the Christian life.

  77. Rich Wells Says:

    Hey, Zach:

    Thanks for bringing this forum to my attention. I am enjoying and learning. We shouldn’t be afraid to explore ideas different than our own. Sometimes it alters our position and sometimes it can help reinforce or help us better communicate our view.


  78. Josh,
    With all due respect I have been reading comments made throughout this last post. I hope this is not true but you are coming across as “I have my mind made up don’t confuse me with the facts.” Rather than being traditional, coservative, progressive, liberal,or whatever term pleases you. wouldn’t it be better to just be Biblical as we seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus? When you have a moment spend some time in Romans 14 and them try to make your previous statement fit the context of that scripture.

  79. Alan Says:

    If the discussion on how we need to focus on Christ and His love and grace is a call for us to emphasize the heavier motivational issues within Christianity then I fully support it…. However, if this is a call to only talk about the love of Christ and forget about the daily details of worship pleasing to God, etc., than I totally disagree.

    We are in agreement on that. I suspect most of the others here are also.

    I must confess that sometimes we (including me) let petty discussions on details get in our way of focusing on important matters such as evangelism and helping the needy (and edifying each other in general).

    See, Jesus specifically and repeatedly taught that helping the needy is a salvation issue. How else could we take the parable of the sheep and the goats, for example? But he never said anything comparable regarding any of the myriad of topics over which our churches have divided over the past 150 years. So it seems we strain out gnats and swallow camels. It’s a hard habit to break.

  80. Brad Adcock Says:

    No, Josh, it is not a lie that some members of the church of Christ believe that you must be baptized by a coC member and both believe that baptism is for the remission of sins. I personally know an entire congregation in my home town that believes EXACTLY that. Speck, meet the log.

  81. Orion Says:

    Josh,

    I agree that Jesus does not condemn all judging, merely that the method and measure we use to judge is the method and measure with which we will be judged. In my opinion a good reason to be careful in judging.

    It is my understanding that the purpose of this forum is to determine the rules for deciding which sins (and we all have sins) are grounds for disfellowship.

    It seems that you are viewing this discussion as between people who hate God (liberals) and those that love God (conservatives). I think both groups are coming at this discussion from the view of wanting to please God.

    Trust me, I have no desire to judge you, nor have I done so. I would just like to figure out the rules for why something I see in scripture as freedom, you see as sin that deserves disfellowship.

    From my reading of scripture, I see many of the issues that divide those of the Stone-Campbell heritage as things in which we have freedom. Much like choosing vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry…all are good options. I see that freedom in Christ gives us many “right” options. Others reading the same scriptures see these same issues as either right or wrong. Does the fact that you see something as wrong mean we can’t fellowship, which wrong is ok, which is not…what are the rules?

    I am saddened that you so easily give up on brothers who are searching by suggesting we go elsewhere. My wish is for unity (not uniformity) among all believers.

  82. Rich Wells Says:

    “Liars won’t enter heaven = true.”

    This fits my definition of a line drawing statement. Not all are willing to admit/agree/accept that God does draw a line – in/out of heaven.

    What percentage of the disagreements on this blog are due to differing vocabulary rather than actual differing opinion?

  83. Brad Adcock Says:

    But that’s a line that is utterly destroyed when Christ enters the equation. I am a liar, yet I am covered by His blood. Christians who have lied will get to heaven, will they not?

  84. Rich Wells Says:

    Brad,

    I do appreciate your comments.

    I think we are dealing with two separate issues here. One, is defining what actions would be considered sin as defined by God (Bible). Two, is the power of God’s grace.

    When I talk about salvation issues I’m not saying that messing up in one point will eliminate grace. I’m just saying that particular issue is a sin that we Christians should strive to avoid like we should strive not to lie.

    All sins are to be avoided including doctrinal ones.

  85. Dusty Chris Says:

    Well said Larry. I can tell you have years of wisdom behind you.

  86. Doug Young Says:

    For a while now, I’ve found it difficult to muster the desire to follow the various threads of so much of this, but to see what’s gone on here of late only supports the thought that comments should be shut off completely. Regardless of the side, I don’t think any of the principle bloggers (Jay, Todd, Phil & Greg) could ever manage to keep up with responding to each other’s main posts, plus the demands of those who comment. Throw in the issue of attitudes, and its even worse to conceive of it happening.

    I happen to think that what’s transpired here is indicative of something much worse than the disagreement over fellowship and various other doctrines. Some hearts need the warmth of God, and I for one, am prayerful that God works a mighty work on some of us.

    Sorrowful that I clicked the “Comments” link on this day,

    Doug


  87. As one who has been a part of CofC-based reconciliation first hand, I will say that what you’re seeing here is simply open heart surgery in installments. It’s downright ugly, and at the end of the day you’re thinking, “That’s it?!?” but these discussions have to happen for breakthrough. Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him.”

    If you don’t see the possibilities of joy in a non argumentative CofC, and you don’t see the great benefit to God’s kingdom that would come from reconciliation, then you will not be able to stomach what is still to come.

    But if you long for heaven, and long for things to be right on the earth, then for the joy set before you, encourage those who do have the stomach for such things to pioneer their way through this. We are, after all, commanded to be peacemakers (not peace*keepers*, interestingly enough). And peacemaking assumes conflict.

    It hurts my heart just as much, but I love my brothers in the CofC. And on the other side of this surgery is new life that’s worth the struggle.

    -Brad
    web[at]bradstanford[dot]com

  88. Alan Says:

    Well said, Brad!

    Let’s just be sure we use a little anesthesia with the open heart surgery. No need to inflict excessive amounts of pain.

  89. Mark Littleton Says:

    Doug, I hate to admit it, but I’m afraid that I have to agree. The “comments” section simply isn’t contributing to the goal(s) of this endeavor. I don’t know what the answer is, but I just don’t think the current format is it. Surely there is a better way…

    Mark

  90. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Mark,
    I respectfully disagree with you and Doug
    about what is happening here. I have read some of the most Christ-honoring words from Royce Ogle — for all of us to trust in NOTHING but Jesus crucified and risen, to see the Father. And Brad and Keith and Larry have shared wisdom that has refreshed many.

    As we express our limited perspectives, we contribute to a larger and sharper view of the two ways that people approach the Lord: seeing our own need of mercy — or blind to it. Jesus said to some Pharisees, “but now you say, ‘we see’, you sin remains.” We were not called to be Answer Men, but sharers of
    the Christ’s compassion. Day by day, the image of Jesus’ humility grows brighter or fainter in our faces.

  91. Jay Guin Says:

    Doug,

    You’re quite right that it’s impossible to respond to all the comments. To assure that the principal discussion stays on track and we don’t get ahead of ourselves, I think all four of the principal authors have decided to minimize our participation in the comments, that is, I think we’ve separately come to the same conclusion. But that doesn’t mean the comments haven’t been helpful. They’ve certainly been helpful to me.

    I’m encouraged my comments — on both sides. I’ve learned a lot. And, personally, although there’s quite a diversity of opinion, and emotions can be strong at times, it’s obvious that many here are truly disciples of Jesus. It’s good to be in the company of such men.

  92. Richard May Says:

    I’m not sure whether anyone was watching, but Josh Kraft explained, at least from his point of view, when a person in error can be fellowshipped and when he can’t. Josh said:

    “However, I don’t withdraw my fellowship from them because their error isn’t one that causes them to commit sin, deny any fundamental of the faith, or walk contrary to the gospel.”

    Now, those three tests may be ambigous to some, but I doubt they are to Josh. I’m I right in supposing that if these are the tests for fellowship, they are also the tests of salvation, in Josh’s mind?

  93. Alan Says:

    The comments come from the whole spectrum, including extremes on both ends that are beyond what the principals would support. Maybe the rest of us (myself included) could do better at resisting the temptation to respond to the most extreme comments. By engaging in (and feeding) those fringe conversations we draw attention away from the more reasoned discussions that are more likely to yield constructive results.

  94. Alan Says:

    …one that causes them to commit sin, deny any fundamental of the faith, or walk contrary to the gospel.

    If I understood the McGarvey article mentioned elsewhere in the comments, his position was similar to that. Essentially, he didn’t think beliefs are sin. Instead, sin is something you do in disobedience to God. So if the belief leads you to disobey, it leads to apostasy (if one persists in it). But it is persistence in the sinful act, not persistence in the belief, that is fatal.

    I’m not sure that is purely biblical wisdom, but it does make some sense. Still, it doesn’t solve the dilemma of practicing a sincerely held erroneous belief.

  95. Richard May Says:

    But I’m thinking that in Josh’s mind it probably does. To see what he doctrines he felt someone could believe and him still fellowship, do a search on this page for fundamental. “Fundamental” will only show up a time or two. Most of them in my comments now. A sincerely held erroneous belief will cause someone to be damned if it causes the believer to commit sin, deny any fundamental, or walk contrary to the spirit. If the belief doesn’t do cause any of that, you can believe it and still fellowhip Josh at least (and be saved).

    I’m am missing something?

  96. Josh Kraft Says:

    I want to apologize for my earlier comments. I was in an irritable mood caused by a bad case of insomnia. And I should have learned by now not to post anything online after a week of only getting 2-3 hours of sleep each night. My irritation due to a lack of sleep is, however, no excuse for the attitude that I displayed in many of my comments.

    I still hold that the “progressive” view is wrong. And I still hold that there are times when it is appropriate to “get tough” with people. However, I realize that not every person who comments here fits into the category of an unrepentant false teacher. There are new Christians and other sincere individuals who need a kinder, gentler approach.
    And instead of a hand I offered them a clenched fist. For doing that I’m truly sorry.


  97. Josh, you know we love you and are glad that you are our brother in Christ.

    Thank you for being transparent with us. I’ve posted my share of comments I’ve later regretted because of writing them during a migraine and I should have known better. The problem with migraines and insomnia and similar ailments is that they sometimes take away your “know better.”

  98. Doug Young Says:

    Jay…I understand where you are coming from. I think “lawyers” might tend to have a unique ability to process tons of information without getting caught up in the superfluous. Maybe that’s why I decided against law school. LOL. I don’t think I ever let you know that though.

    Suffice to say, I don’t seem to carry that ability. I just wanted to get it out there that the comments are a terrible distraction to me. To be brutally honest, I just want to see you four hash this out in a Christ-like way. I feel I can follow 4 better than 40. But I understand if you want to keep it the way things are. I trust that you know what you are doing.

    Josh…I appreciate your apology.

  99. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Josh,
    Your humility to apologize is a strong encouragement for all of us participating here.
    May the joy of the Lord be your strength.

  100. K. Rex Butts Says:

    Josh,

    Your humble heart and apology is accepted.

    We may not always agree but that need not stand in the way of our fellowship as brothers in Christ.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Rex

  101. laymond Says:

    OK, eat your soft food, everyone give and receive a hug, and get a good nap.
    I feel so much better now knowing the church is in strong hands. Oh no not the hands here, Christ’s hands where it has always been and will remain until he hands it over to God. 🙂

  102. laymond Says:

    If anyone has any doubts as to what Phil believes just watch the latest video on “In Search of the Lord’s way”
    “Is hell real”, he takes the reading of revelation and twists it to fit his way of thinking, and according to this show his doctrine says any sin is a damning sin,
    (correction, he said if a preacher tells you a thing is a sin) and those who sin will burn in hell forever. be scared very scared, because Phil is going to be there just like everyone else who commits a sin. you can’t preach one thing to a congregation, then moderate your belief on a forum such as this. Which is it Phil does any sin send you to hell or not? even the ones you are ignorant of? http://www.searchtv.org/

  103. laymond Says:

    I think we should all take time out to read the story of the rich man in hell, and the poor man in paradise. then take inventory of all the things in our life we could do without. See just how many of Lazarus exist in our community, and ask our self are we willing to give up our $250,000 home, or our 25,000 dollar car to help those in need, or is that also a sin that is going to send us to meet the “rich man” It seems that the thing that sent the rich man to hell was neglecting the poor, how do we all stand on that “doctrine” ?

  104. Randy Lucas Says:

    With all due respect, I don’t believe I found your analysis of Phil’s lesson to be an accurate summation of what he said. I will supply, directly from the transcript of the broadcast, what he said and let everyone else draw their own conclusions.

    “Well, what can one expect of the future? Well, that, my friend, depends upon you. The Bible says in the book of Romans chapter 2, verses 6 to 11 that: “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but there will be glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.” My friend, those who choose to rebel against God; they put themselves first; they ignore him and put him out of their minds; these people will indeed face eternal punishment according to the Bible. You remember Matthew 25 and verse 46. It says that they will go away into eternal punishment. The Bible warns us about where sin is going to lead. Sin is your enemy, my friend, and when any preacher talks to you and says something is sinful, you just remember that that sinful behavior, that sinful thought, that sinful idea can lead you astray and can cost you your soul. The book of Hebrews chapter 10, verses 26 and 27 says, “For if we go on sinning deliberately,” that is we know what we are doing and we just keep on doing it, and we do this, “after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” Verse 31 concludes, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” My friend, there are times in people’s lives when they just keep pushing and keep pushing into sin. And they forget that Jesus died on the cross for them. You know, if you reject Jesus and his death on the cross for you, and you deliberately sin and you go on sinning, who else is going to come down here and die for you. If you reject the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, no other sacrifice will do.”

    I guess my statement would be that all rebellion against God is sin, but is all sin a rebellion against God?

    Also, somewhat pertinent to the “grace conversation”, the following is an excerpt from the transcript of the same broadcast.

    “Now, at this point somebody says, “Well, how can a loving God send anyone to hell and punish them forever?” Well, this is an important question and it deserves an answer. First, God did not make hell for people; He made it for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25 and verse 41). If anyone is lost, it is by his own choice to live in sin and rebellion toward God. Second, God must punish sin to be a holy and righteous God. When sinners follow evil throughout their lives and follow it long enough to become enslaved to it and unchangeably set in their thinking and their ways, they will likely always hate God and hate righteousness, and God just lets them go. Third, God has done everything possible to keep men from being lost. Now, before you think that God is unloving, remember that Jesus suffered on the cross. He suffered not for his own sins but for your sins and mine. Jesus has demonstrated his love by dying for us, so that we wouldn’t have to suffer forever in hell. He took our place on the cross, so that we could be set free from sin and death. If there were no answer for hell, we would all be in a sorrowful condition; but Jesus died to give us a solution to the threat of hell.”

  105. Wayne McDaniel Says:

    Randy,
    I appreciate you providing an excerpt from Phil’s broadcast msg. Each one who reads it may decide for themselves if his emphasis is a good representation of Paul and Jesus.

    I wonder how Phil would explain Paul’s words, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by law.”? Gal.5:4

  106. laymond Says:

    Randy, that is the reason for me to include the link to the message, so everyone could decide for their self.


  107. I am still waiting for Phil and Greg to answer the questions that have been asked of them. They had enough time to answer the questions by now.

  108. Ed Boggess Says:

    The first question was:(“1) Do you claim that sincerely believing error even on the issues earlier cited (e.g., Was Junias an apostle? Where do saints go immediately after death? etc.) will lead to the loss of salvation if not corrected? And if not, on what basis do you distinguish these doctrinal errors from those that are truly fatal?”

    The answer is not difficult. If someone believes Junias was an apostle or wasn’t an apostle makes no eternal difference. If someone believes a departed saint goes to hades or to heaven makes no eternal difference. On the other hand, if someone is persuaded of one or the other but goes contrary to his conscience, to him it is sin.

    The second question is:”(2) Do you believe that repentance always entails the cessation of the sin? If yes, doesn’t this lead to an impossible perfectionism?”

    This question is no more difficult than the first. Repentance has to do with a person’s will. Repentance always requires the will to no longer continue in sin. This includes sin in general and specific sins of which the person is aware. For instance, Simon (Ac 8)sinned in that he desired to buy what was exclusively apostolic. Peter explained to him and commanded he repent or else be at risk (perish). His will to put God’s will above his own needed restored. Had he remained putting his desires before God’s, he would have been lost. Had he died of a heart attack at Peter’s denouncing of his “wickedness”, God alone would be his judge.

  109. Rich Wells Says:

    “The answer is not difficult. If someone believes Junias was an apostle or wasn’t an apostle makes no eternal difference. If someone believes a departed saint goes to hades or to heaven makes no eternal difference. On the other hand, if someone is persuaded of one or the other but goes contrary to his conscience, to him it is sin.”

    I do agree with you on this. The real question is how do we know? Can we describe the criteria for sorting between salvation and nonsalvation issues? This is meant to initially leave out the grace factor. Grace can cover any and all sins should God choose.

    One of the first criteria I use is if the issue affects any of my actions. If no, then probably not a salvation issue.

    Any ideas?

  110. Larry Siegle Says:

    I believe we err in our basic premise in seeking to determine what is a “salvation issue” and what is not a “salvation issue.”

    The primary questions God asks about “salvation” are: What is your relationship to My Son? Did you accept the benefits of His sacrificial death, burial and resurrection from the dead? Have you placed your trust in Him to save you from your sins?

    Everything else is addressed within the confines of our relationship “in Christ” and in our growth in grace and knowledge. There is no “check list” that believers must conform to, separate and apart from what God has revealed to us in His Word, and there is room for spiritual growth and development in the lives of believers.

    When we “worry” about theological questions in connection with salvation, we miss the point. God does not expect us to maintain “theological perfection” as a condition of eternal salvation. Churches of Christ are so obsessed with doctrinal issues and “doing everything right” that many people have no clue about the meaning of personal relationship with God. As long as a believer has placed his trust in Christ, is staying in the Word and growing in their relationship and obedience to that Word, he is saved. Period.

    God does not judge personal faithfulness on the mere basis of congregational faithfulness, as is demonstrated in the case of the Corinthians and other churches mention in Rev. 2-3. Each person is responsible for his own relationship with the Lord, there is no “corporate insurance policy” that says as long as I am a member of a “faithful congregation” I am safe. The whole concept is utter nonsense.

    The “spirit of fear” that exists in the hearts of believers who never have assurance of their salvation (because of OUR preaching) needs to be “cast out” and replaced with the message of grace, love, mercy and trust in God’s ability to “keep us from falling” as long as our trust is in Him.

  111. Rich Wells Says:

    Larry,

    You make some very good comments concerning our need to focus and trust in Christ.

    I see this as a balancing act. We must emphasize the trust in and grace from Christ as well as seeking his will and follow it to the best of our abilities.

    The analogy I use is that of the westward movement wagon trains in the 1800’s United States. Each wagon train needed its inspirational leader, food gatherers and preparers, maintenance people, and scouts and sharp shooters.

    As long as everything worked well, the wagon train moved forward in a straight line. As soon as trouble occurred, the train stopped and circled to defend itself. During those periods all must help with the defense. Once the trouble went away, then the wagon train resumed its trek.

    The balance of the situation is this. Troubles are real and must be defended otherwise the wagon train will fail. Yet, during periods of defense there is no progress because all energy is used up in defense and not moving forward.

    I do not believe the church of Christ, as a whole, is wrong doctrinally . However, it is clear to me that we have inadvertantly placed too much emphasis on defense and not the motivating, forward moving focus of the trust and grace of Christ.

  112. Royce Says:

    Larry,

    You are correct. It is not a message that is well received. For some reason people want to cling to their goodness for keeping their salvation, and for many the uncertainty of if they are saved.

    Eternal life and keeping it depends solely upon the work and worth of Jesus and not upon us. If it did we would everyone be finally lost. I know some people almost bleed out their ears when they hear this, but for salvation there is no “man’s part and God’s part”. Jesus did man’s part! That is the heart of the gospel.

    The work of redemption is not a “partnership”, we wicked sinners had nothing to offer. When Jesus stood before the tomb of his friend Lazarus and called him to life from death there was no partnership. In the same way we who were “DEAD” in trespasses and sins He made “ALIVE”. (By grace you have been saved) What can the once dead man claim? He can only boast in the one who raised him.

    God calls, God grants repentance and faith. Not one person would be saved but for the blessed Holy Spirit drawing that person to Christ where he meets the resurrection and the life never to die again.

    Royce

  113. Josh Kraft Says:

    Brad,

    Of course one can find a preacher or a congregation somewhere that believes almost ANYTHING. My point was that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of “conservatives” don’t hold to that idea. (I suggest that one read the chapter titled “What We Are Not Saying” in Thomas B. Warren’s book The Bible Only Makes Christians Only…And The Only Christians.)

    Royce implied in his blog that the view was the representative view of “conservatives.” By doing so he erects and attacks a strawman.

    “Conservatives” do not hold to any type of “apostolic succession.” To hold that one must be baptized by a member of the churches of Christ and that both must believe that the baptism is for the remission of sins would imply just that. It would imply that a person could never know for sure that he was actually saved when he was baptized…unless he could read the heart of the person who baptized him, the person who baptized the person who baptized him,…. One would have to engage in “heart reading” all the way back to the apostles in order for one to be certain.

    Josh

  114. Josh Kraft Says:

    Thank you all for accepting my apology. From this point onward instead of invective I’ll strive to appeal to the Bible and to what it teaches in my comments. 🙂

  115. Stephen Says:

    I just went to this site called Concerned Members and this guy named Joe McKnight said this…

    I have a NKJ bible that I have converted into a coC version. I cut out most of the Old Testament, Revelation, I&II Peter & Thess., Gal. Col. Eph. What was left, I took a black marker and marked out chapters and verses that are not coC certified. It does not leave much of a bible, but it does get the message across quickly.

    ——————
    This is very unnerving and I will never step foot in that dark site again. Seems like the blind are leading the blind.

  116. Josh Kraft Says:

    “I’m I right in supposing that if these are the tests for fellowship, they are also the tests of salvation, in Josh’s mind?” — Richard May

    One should never withhold or withdraw his fellowship from a brother who is in fellowship with God. Nor should one be in fellowship with a person who is not in fellowship with God. As long as a brother in Christ is not engaging in willful and habitual sin, denying a fundamental of the faith, or in any other way walking contrary to the gospel he is saved and hence is to be fellowshipped by his brethren.

  117. laymond Says:

    1Pt:1:13: Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

    17: And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

  118. Larry Siegle Says:

    Ouch.

  119. laymond Says:

    Royce, I have often wondered how you and I saw salvation so differently, now I believe I know.
    Royce said “Jesus did man’s part!” and I believe Jesus did God’s part. we still have to do ours.

  120. Rich Wells Says:

    Royce,

    Thanks for your comments. We certainly haven’t emphasized Christ’s part as much as we should.

    I do still have a hard time reconciling some of the statements here with the fact that a pillar of the Jerusalem church, Peter, at one time stood condemned, even in his height as a leader. Gal 2:9-14. His overall lifestyle was obviously in line with Christ but he blew a doctrinal issue.

  121. Royce Says:

    Rich,

    So do you think Peter was lost according to the Galatians passage you referenced? If so how or when did he get saved again? Or could he?

    No, he was not condemned as to his salvation because he did something wrong as he had a history of doing. If that is the standard that determines if we stay saved or not none of us will make it. Not one of us is right about everything, no person obeys perfectly which is precisely why Jesus’ work is so necessary for us.

    Laymond, What do you think Christ (who is not God in your opinion)accomplished by his perfect life and sacrificial death? Evidently many of you believe he only provided a 2nd chance to keep the rules perfectly. Do you actually believe you are good enough to merit God’s favor? I’m not and neither is any man.

    Royce

  122. Dusty Chris Says:

    If my church wasn’t written up on that website, I would worry. Luckily, it is…so we must be doing something right.

    I would be interested in hearing what our conservative brothers think about it.

    I think when the practice of grace, joy and love are completely removed from our religious doctrine, it begins to function more as a Gestopo than it does as a church.

  123. laymond Says:

    Royce, do you ever read what you write? You say “Jesus is God” then you say no man can gain favor with God, so we must depend on Jesus who IS God (in your opinion.) how are we to gain favor with Jesus/God ? I believe they are two, but I believe the two are one as far as agreement is concerned.( the son never disagrees with the Father) if no man can gain God’s favor by doing what his son said to do, then all are surely lost. What was Jesus saying to the apostles when he said you no longer need me to pray for you,talk to God yourself. No we can’t be Holy as God is Holy, but we can ask for forgiveness, we are no longer cut off from God, as man was before the sacrifice of Jesus.

  124. Ed Boggess Says:

    All lies are of the devil, the father of lies. I see little value in trying to redefine truth to make it include less than truth. Apparently, this is the hope of some. It seems to me that if all lies are of the devil, we should want to avoid all of them. None of us will ever reach “doctrinal perfection” but neither should we be satisfied with striving for anything less or to imply that since it is out of reach we can lower the bar.
    On the one hand Junias and on the other believing that Jesus did not come in the flesh. Obviously, two things that belong in different categories. Certainly your first criteria is legitimate and practical – if believing affects my actions. However, simply believing Jesus did not come in the flesh put one’s soul at risk, 2 jn 7f. So I am back where I began.

  125. laymond Says:

    Royce said “Evidently many of you believe he only provided a 2nd chance” .
    If you look back a ways Royce I believe it would be the “third chance” but who is counting.
    What was that? something about seven times seventy. I doubt that God would ask more of man than he is willing to give.

  126. Rich Wells Says:

    Royce,

    Paul, who received his words directly from the Holy Spirit (1. Cor. 2:13), intentionally chose the word ‘condemned’ to describe Peter’s situation at the time. I assume that is what Paul meant.

    Yes, I believe Peter is in Paradise today. His lifestyle indicates he was ready to correct (repent) his mistakes usually as quickly as he made them. This gives me confidence.

    Again, we must find the balance. There are admittedly passages in the Bible when in isolation support the progressive comments on this site. Likewise, when in isolation, there are passages that support even the extreme conservative.

    When it comes to salvation, God/Christ certainly has the biggest part. However, salvation is only given to those who have a lifestyle of devotion to Him. Therefore, we also have a role to offer.

  127. Rich Wells Says:

    Dusty,

    Although I have several concerns with practices at the churches listed on that site (from what I have read), I am very saddened by the attitudes presented on the site.

    I’m with you, these kinds of tactics build bigger walls rather than improve situations.

  128. Alan Says:

    Rich wrote:

    Paul, who received his words directly from the Holy Spirit (1. Cor. 2:13), intentionally chose the word ‘condemned’ to describe Peter’s situation at the time. I assume that is what Paul meant.

    Careful now, Rich. Paul didn’t write in NIV English. he chose this word:

    G2607
    καταγινώσκω
    kataginōskō
    Thayer Definition:
    1) to find fault with, blame
    2) to accuse, condemn

    So was he merely at fault, merely to blame, merely accused, or condemned in an eternal sense? The Greek certainly doesn’t conclusively demonstrate the latter. If anything, the better interpretation is the sense of the other three words. The primary meaning is 1), and that should be the interpretation unless context demands otherwise.

  129. Rich Wells Says:

    Alan,

    I appreciate you keeping me honest. The NIV actually uses the word ‘wrong’. The TNIV, a generally more progressive version of the NIV, changed the word back to ‘condemned’.

    I accept that this is not a perfect ‘proof’ text by itself because of the translation issue. However, it should not be ruled out. There is a strong lesson here. We need to understand we can be wrong on a doctrinal issue and need correcting just like Peter.

    The same word is used in 1 John 3:19-20 where it is clearly talking about heaven/hell issues. Here, we are comforted knowing that we shouldn’t feel overly guilty (condemn ourselves) for if we keep God’s commandments His mercy and grace will cover us.

  130. Randy Lucas Says:

    I hope we get a response to Todd’s post within the next couple of days because Monday will be two weeks since any of the principals participated.

  131. Jay Guin Says:

    Randy,

    Phil and Greg have had other responsibilties to tend to, but the discussion will be continuing. As schedules firm up, we’ll announce the timing.

  132. Bob Brandon Says:

    From reading the bulletins on the Fishinger and Kenny congregational website, Greg’s been getting over a serious medical situation and is resting at home.

  133. Dusty Chris Says:

    I would like to get opinions from conservative and progressive brothers who frequent here. From your perspective, what does it mean to grow spiritually? Understand more? Experience more? Sin less? Something entirely different? What are the benchmarks of spiritual growth to you?

    What do you think?

  134. Alan Says:

    I imagine I would name the same indicators that you would. For example, putting to death the works of the flesh, growing in the spiritual graces (2 Pet 1 etc), loving God more and loving people more, and showing both by your actions more. I can’t really quantify it. The wind blows where it wills and you can’t see it but you can see its effects.

  135. Dusty Chris Says:

    But doesn’t growth mean replacing ideas or construsts that no longer work or taking risks not previously taken (spiritually) to explore new avenues and expand your current repetiore? How does one know he or she is growing in spiritual graces? How do you know you are loving ‘more?’

  136. Alan Says:

    It’s implicit in 2 Pet 1 that we can know. We’re told to add love, and urged to have the virtue in increasing measure. We can obey that, and we can know that we have obeyed it.

    We are also urged to grow in knowledge. But that’s only one aspect of growth, out of many. One person may grow faster in knowledge, while another may grow faster in love. Which one is “more saved?” Neither. It’s not our growth that saves us.


  137. Doesn’t a debate have to have two sides participating for it to qualify as a debate?


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