Falling from Grace: The Paradox of Romans 14 and Galatians

Of course, I don’t really think that Romans and Galatians contradict each other. But we in the Churches of Christ often argue and act as though they do. You see, we’ve never really wrestled with the paradox of Romans 14 and Galatians. Let me explain.

In Romans 14, Paul deals with Christians who insist that Christians must celebrate certain holy days.

(Rom 14:5) One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Paul declines to take sides in the controversy, concluding that neither side should judge nor look down on the other.

(Rom 14:4-13a) One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. 5 Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. … 10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. … 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.

In Galatians, the Christians were struggling with a very similar issue —

(Gal 4:10) You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!

However, in Galatians, Paul makes a dramatically different argument.

(Gal 4:9-11) But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

(Gal 5:1, 4) It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. … 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

In Galatians, observing holy days is a salvation issue. In Romans, it’s a “don’t judge” issue. In Galatians, Paul fears for the salvation of his readers. In Romans, he tells them not to judge each other over such things. Why the difference?

Is Romans 14 about matters of indifference?

Before we can answer that question, we need to dispense with some arguments routinely made in this context. It’s routinely argued within the conservative Churches of Christ that Romans 14 deals with matters of indifference.

Roy C. Deaver argues in ”Who Is the ‘Weak Brother’?” The Spiritual Sword (Oct. 1986, vol. 18, no. 1, p. 28),

It must be stressed that this section deals with matters of opinion and matters of indifference—things which are right if done, and right if they are not done.

Is Paul really speaking only of matters of indifference? Well, he addresses both the question of eating meat and the question of holy days. He definitively concludes that there is no sin in eating meat. However, he gives no answer as to holy days. Indeed, he doesn’t address the merits of the argument at all — only insisting that both sides should not judge or look down on the other side.

Can we just presume that Paul reached his conclusion by finding the holy day question one of indifference? Surely not! After all, in Galatians, he referred to celebrating holy days as enslaving and even threatening to cause the church to fall from grace.

And there’s another serious problem with Deaver’s analysis. Consider every issue that the Churches of Christ have split over during the last 120 years — going back to Daniel Sommer’s 1889 “Sand Creek Address and Declaration.” Nearly all have been over issues where one side said the question is a matter of indifference and the other said it’s not! Daniel Sommer considered located preachers a sin that damned. The rest of the Churches concluded that located preachers are a matter of indifference. Just so, those who split over one cup, support for orphans homes, and the Sunday school all divided over whether the issue is a matter of indifference or a matter of doctrine.

As a result, Romans 14, which was written for us to help us maintain the unity Jesus died to bring us, has not worked to bring unity to the Churches of Christ at all. Those who see the Sunday school as a matter of indifference are glad to extend fellowship to those who disagree, but those who see the Sunday school as sin see the question as doctrinal, not indifference, and therefore find nothing in Romans 14 to require them to be united with those they disagree with.

In short, under this interpretation of Romans 14, nearly every disagreement among us is over whether a teaching is a matter of indifference and so nearly every disagreement becomes a salvation issue to at least one side of the dispute.

And so, we really need to get past the cliché level of analysis. What’s really going on here?

Well, for the it’s-wrong-to-eat-meat camp, abstention from meat eating was not a matter of indifference. It was doctrinally required? Why?

Paul doesn’t give us a final answer, but it’s surely the same issue we see elsewhere in the New Testament: meat sacrificed to idols. If not that, it’s about keeping kosher, as in many cities a Jew could not find meat prepared in accordance with Mosaic food laws and so couldn’t eat meat. In either case, the anti-meat brother was arguing from doctrine. He would have argued that it’s sin to worship an idol by eating meat dedicated to an idol, or else that it’s sin to violate God’s will for our diet revealed in the Law of Moses.

Just so, the holy day question appears to be an effort to keep the holy days prescribed by the Law of Moses. But Paul does not give the answer on this question! Rather, he jumps directly to the conclusion: don’t look down or judge your brother!

Paul’s logic is that both issues are “disputable” — even though he gives the answer on the meat question. Both questions remained disputable even though Paul had given the answer!

Now, let’s bring the questions up to current times. Suppose an eldership gets up and announces that they’ve concluded all Christians must eat only vegetables. Would we consider their decision a matter of indifference?

More realistically, we dispute even today over whether to celebrate Christmas or Easter. Some argue that every day is equally holy. Some disagree. Some of our members see Sunday as the Christian Sabbath and consider it wrong to work on Sundays. Others see every day as equally holy. Are these doctrinal questions? Or matters of indifference? If your elders told you not to work on Sunday would you consider that a matter of indifference, like what color to paint the foyer? If they insisted that you honor the Mosaic Sabbath regulations — no food preparation, no travel beyond one mile, no lifting of burdens, no healing — would that be a matter of indifference or a matter of doctrine?

Therefore, you see, the distinction between indifference and doctrine is no difference at all when one or the other of us believes it’s a doctrinal issue. A matter is truly indifferent only when both parties consider it indifferent, which is certainly not what Paul was talking about.

What’s a “disputable matter”?

Another approach taken by many is to focus on “disputable matters” (NIV) or “doubtful disputations” (KJV) in 14:1. The idea is that I should not judge you on a matter that seems doubtful to me. However, if it’s doubtful to you but I’m certain, I may certainly judge and condemn you.

I have a friend who was unsure about instrumental music before he went to college. At that point, he didn’t see the instrument as a salvation issue. To him, it was a disputable matter. After taking some classes, he found the arguments of Justin Martyr and Thomas Aquinas convincing, and so concluded that it is a salvation issue. One year, those using the instrument were going to heaven. The next year, they were going to hell, their eternal fate being determined by the level of my friend’s education.

You see, we tend to judge the doubtfulness of the issue subjectively — whether it’s doubtful to me. And that means that the lines of fellowship depend entirely on how certain we are of our convictions. And we can be very, very certain of some very, very doubtful things.

Obviously, God never intended for the lines of fellowship to depend on our level of certitude.

“Accept one another”

What very few among us will do is allow the text to answer the question. You see, Paul’s discussion doesn’t end at the last verse of chapter 14. The discussion continues into chapter 15, where Paul writes,

(Rom 15:5-6) May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What’s the cure for our lack of unity? It’s a gift from God — an attitude from God himself: “the spirit of unity.” It’s all about having the right heart. Paul continues,

(Rom 15:7) Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

We considered this verse in an earlier post, where we demonstrated that the verse can be properly translated,

(Rom. 15:7) Continually accept one another, then, [in the same way] Christ accepted you [when you were first saved], in order to bring praise to God.

We concluded,

The standard by which we stay saved today is the same standard by which we are first saved! (Other passages that teach this include Romans 11:20; Galatians 3:2-3; 1 Peter 1:5.)

Now, that means that “disputable matter” means anything that we dispute over — other than the things we have to agree on to first be saved: particularly faith in Jesus and repentance.

Or let’s look at this way. If you and I are disputing over a matter, it’s disputable. We may both be 100% certain as to what we think the answer is, but we are disputing, and so it’s disputable.

However, we can’t still both be Christians and dispute over whether Jesus is the Messiah or whether we must submit to him as Lord. We have to believe those things to be baptized. Those are not disputable among Christians.

That’s, of course, an extremely broad definition of “disputable matter,” but it does have limits. Not just everything qualifies.

Now, imagine that the Churches of Christ had understood this in 1889. How many divisions would we have suffered?

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32 Comments on “Falling from Grace: The Paradox of Romans 14 and Galatians”

  1. Ed Boggess Says:

    The use or non-use of instrumental music in public worship is disputed. I refuse to use it and believe it is an unauthorized addition to primitive Christian practice. On this basis use it – “it is evil for the man who ___ with offense”, v 20. “He who doubts is condemned if he ___, because he does not ___ from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin”, v 23. If I were to practice IM, I would condemn myself because I believe it is wrong. I have no option!
    On the other hand, those who use it, believe it is not necessary. They could give it up without offending their conscience. However, this is not what happened in 1889! Those who desired its use, insisted on its introduction, overriding the protests of those who resisted, until they gained control and those who could not continue in good conscience where it was practiced were told to go elsewhere. This is historically documented.
    As to the application of Rom 14, it fails to recognize the difference between individual and congregational matters. Eating meat or not, observing days or not, and a host of other things are individually applied. One can observe Christmas without forcing its observance on others of the same congregation or eat meat without forcing another to do the same. But other things cannot be individually applied and by nature are corporate, involving the entire congregation. Instrumental music is certainly corporate. Its introduction involves everyone who worships at that congregation, whether they believe it is acceptable or not. Consequently, those who cannot in good conscience worship with it, must either withdraw or sin against their own conscience.


  2. Ed, I would disagree to an extent … to the point where a fellowship meal was shared by early Christians and a Gentile brought the meat dish – or to the extent that a Christian today donates and erects a Christmas tree in the church, perhaps on or near the dais, it is no longer an individual but a corporate concern.

    The meat question, according to Mark (7:19), was settled by Jesus. Paul agreed. Yet it was not acceptable to be judgmental, either by nor to, the incorrect party.

    It is quite acceptable to teach and admonish with all wisdom (Colossians 1:28; 3:16); to correct and train and rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 3:16; 4:2).

  3. Randall Says:

    Christians may celebrate Christmas as an American tradition, not as a Holy day like the Catholics do. We may use a stencil and spray snow to make a Santa Claus in the window, or snow flakes or candles, but not three wise men (we don’t even know there were three of them – that’s just a Catholic tradition), or angels or other religious symbols. I know this b/c those were the rules in the house in which I was raised. Then in high school my brother’s Episcopal girl friend said that her priest said that people celebrated Christmas either as Christians or pagans and she asked me which way I celebrated it. I didn’t know how to answer.

    We celebrated Easter every Sunday like the bible said, not once a year like the Catholics. We we enjoyed coloring and hiding eggs and eating chocolate bunnies. There was nothing unChristian about that.

  4. Jay Guin Says:

    Ed,

    By the same logic, conservative Churches of Christ shouldn’t support orphanages and the Herald of Truth out of their budget because the non-institutional members could then be in full fellowship. And they should use only one cup and abandon their Sunday schools so they can be in full fellowship with those who have scruples against those things. And on and on and on.

    The solution to unity isn’t yielding to the scruples of the most legalistic Christian there is. While Rom 14 certainly keeps us from tempting our brother from sinning against his conscience, it doesn’t make us a slave to his conscience. And if my church were to adopt instrumental music in a third service, for example, the other churches in town wouldn’t be tempted to follow suit against their consciences — not remotely.

    Rom 14-15 gives the scriptural principles. We just need to obey them.

  5. Ed Boggess Says:

    Keith & Jay,
    First, yes. Some things can become corporate and therefore must be dealt with differently; as regards the entire congregation. Second, I could be wrong, but I believe that individual matters should be handled one way and corporate matters another. For instance, if a woman chooses to wear a veil as per 1 Cor 11, she can do it individually without involving the entire congregation. Let her do it. Smoking, moderate drinking, wearing jewelry, attending movies, etc & etc. Each has been and still is considered by individuals a sinful practice. Such individual matters can and should be practiced by the individual without binding upon all. On the other hand, corporate matters by their nature involve the entire congregation – clapping, weekly LS, orphanages, Herald of Truth, etc & etc. If I am a member of a congregation, I have control over my individual matters but the corporate matters are directed by the elders. The elders make the decisions whether to support this or that or to worship in this or that manner. Their duty is to God and the flock they oversee. It is not to other congregations who may differ with their decisions. They have no control over what another set of elders may do or decide. They must choose to do what they believe is best for their flock. One set of elders chooses to sing with an organ; another set of elders chooses to sing without the organ. Individually a Christian may choose to yield his individual “right”; but corporately the elders must do what they believe is best for the entire congregation. Since they are the most mature and informed of a congregation (at least they are supposed to be), their decisions will hopefully avoid demanding all to eat no meat (or in modern parlay: refuse to allow eating or a kitchen in the building). Consequently, there will be differences from congregation to congregation. There were in the NT also. Is this division?

  6. Royce Says:

    I think we might have completely missed Paul’s contrast between the Romans passage and the Galatians passage. It is one thing to observe a holy day, it is quite another to believe by so observing you will be justified by it.

    That is precisely the difference. Depending on anything other than Christ for justification is wrong and is condemned in the most harsh language Paul is ever recorded as using.

    Meanwhile, many of us place ourselves right in the middle of Paul’s holy scorn by adding to faith/repentance things such as style of worship, and other things patternism includes.

    Royce

  7. Richard GF Says:

    Jay, greetings in Christ from sunny Texas,

    I am amazed, literally that you are unable to fathom what you have just done.

    Instead of “men” defining the meaning of the words here, why not just stay with the scriptures?

    This is precisely what the Jews did with the Mosaic law–and they thoughtit was A-ok…but it wasn’t and it isn’t today.

    However, you just did it. Fantastic..

    Richard GF

  8. Orion Says:

    Richard,

    You ask, “Instead of “men” defining the meaning of the words here, why not just stay with the scriptures?”

    What are the word definition(s) with which you object? Please be specific as the general nature of your statement is unhelpful.

    Scripture as we have it is a collection of words. Not every word in scripture is defined in scripture, so we must arrive at a meaning from somewhere. I think you would agree that the scripture does not contradict itself, so the definitions assigned to words cannot contradict the meaning of other scripture. Definitions should also take into account the historical context of the people, events, and time of their writing.

    I think Jay has done an admirable job of being honest with scripture in finding a meaning of words that neither condradict other scripture and is true to the historical context.

    Words, even words of scripture with out meaning are not instructive nor helpful.

  9. Ed Boggess Says:

    Greetings Royce,
    Is it possible to believe that we are saved by grace and covered by God’s righteousness, not our own and still be conscientious in our style of worship and in not going beyond what is written? Is it possible that a mindset that is careless about these things is a beginning step of apostasy? David was a man after God’s own heart but David was rebuked for bringing the ark to Jerusalem in a manner beyond what was written. He might have reasoned, what does it matter since Paul says I enjoy imputed righteousness (Rom 4).

  10. Richard GF Says:

    Richard GF to Orion, greetings in Christ from sunny Texas,

    It was stated by Jay–The Meaning of “Faith”

    N. T. Wright explains in Christian Origins and the Question of God: Jesus and the Victory of God, p. 263, how “faith” was used by First Century Jews. He refers to a story told by Josephus regarding a Jewish rebel named Jesus –

    I was not ignorant of the plot which he had contrived against me … ; I would, nevertheless, condone his actions if he would show repentance and prove his loyalty to me.

    [quoted by Wright at p. 250.)

    Josephus notes that “believe in me” is translated “be loyal to me” in most translations. The phrase “show repentance and prove his loyalty to me” could be equally well translated “repent and believe in me.” “Believe in” or “have faith in” means “be loyal to” or even “submit to as lord.”

    Wright explains,

    Josephus asked Jesus the Galilean brigand leader, ‘to repent and believe in me,’ in other words, to give up his agenda and follow Josephus instead. Jesus of Nazareth, I suggest, issued more or less exactly the same summons to his contemporaries.

    And, IM in man’s worship is not a “disputable matter” It is outright sin–it constitutes an act of unrighteousness.

    For men to claim to be the priests of God today and then offer up something not authorized by God in their worship–has been harshly treated in similiar situations in scriptures.

    Richard GF

  11. Royce Says:

    Sure Ed, I agree that we should be careful about not only worship, but all of our living before God. Isn’t it going beyond what is written to condemn another brother to hell because he doesn’t comply with my (or your) preferences? Almost all coC fights and slanders are in reference to these sort of things, and with little or no biblical support.

    Meanwhile, a watching world is headed toward perishing and instead of preaching Christ we are preaching “church”, “tradition”(often inaccurately), and nonsense.

    Royce

  12. Jay Guin Says:

    Ed,

    I agree that differences among congregations are not division in the Biblical sense.

    Why is it, do you suppose, that churches that have two services — one a cappella and one instrumental — are accused of being divisive when they are accommodating the views of both perspectives?

  13. Jay Guin Says:

    Richard GF,

    How would you suggest we learn the meaning of First Century koine Greek if not from men?

  14. Ernie Says:

    After reading a number of posts here (at the request of one who holds to the views of Jay and Todd) I wanted to comment on at least one underlying flaw in the interpretation of Paul’s writings concerning “the law” and “grace”. I do believe Jay has it right by saying there is no contradiction or conflict between grace and law in Paul’s writings.

    However, Jay (and Todd) makes the mistake of assigning the scope of all law, or a general concept of law to Paul’s very specific use of it. Paul, in his writings is (in almost every case) referring to the Mosaic Law, the Old Testament. He uses the definite article “the” (ton nomos – the law) in front of “law” a number of times when he writes of it. Furthermore, contextually (immediate, near, and remote) it must been recognized that Paul refers to the law of Moses. Fighting Judiazers was one of Paul’s main ordeals in life (just read the book of Acts!).

    Context clues:

    Romans 2:12 – For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;

    It cannot be argued that Gentiles were under no spiritual law whatsoever because without being subject to any kind of spiritual law, Gentiles could not sin.

    Romans 2:17 – Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law…

    What law did the Jews rest in? They were confident in the strength of Mosaic Law as is seen all over the New Testament (e.g. Pharisees).

    Romans 7:7 – What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

    Romans 13:9 – For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    These are direct quotes from the Mosaic Law.

    I could go on and on about contextual clues in Romans indicating that Paul is talking specifically about the Mosaic Law almost every time he uses the word “law” with only a couple of exceptions.

    One of the main points of Galatians (3:24-25) is that Christians are no longer under the school master, “the law” (o nomos) and there is no Jew or Gentile in Christ. There is no more separation of the Jews as a special people by God for the purpose of bringing about the kingdom of Christ because Christ fulfilled “the law” (Matt. 5:18; Luke 24:44). So by the time we get to Gal. 5:4 the reader should already understand that those who try to justify themselves by the Mosaic Law (thanks to the work of Judiazers following Paul around) they have fallen from God’s saving grace.

    The whole point even of Revelation is an end to the Jewish order of things and the full establishment of the church founded at Pentecost AD 33. This conflict is the most spoken of conflict (next to that of the individual versus sin) in the whole NT.

    Those who attempt to relegate Paul’s discussion of “the law” to a general concept do not understand the context of Paul’s letters (and most of the NT for that matter) at all. Most likely they do not understand what God’s saving grace. How many believe grace = salvation, or worse can’t state what that unearned gift is with any specificity at all? What is God’s grace that saves (Eph. 2:5, 8)?

    From this major, fundamental flaw (a lack of understanding of “the law” and “saving grace”) has sprung this entire “conversation”. All the arguments about lists of condemning doctrines and fellowship with denominational organizations and attitude are details. Until both sides come to understand both of the basic terms in this conversation accurately, you will never come to “the same mind, speaking the same thing” as Jehovah commands (1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 3:16; John 17:22).

    In Truth and Love,

    Ernie

  15. laymond Says:

    Maybe the indwelling spirit 🙂

  16. Ed Boggess Says:

    Jay,
    You ask, “Why is it churches that have two services, one instrumental and the other non-IM are accused of being divisive?” I suppose such a congregation is perceived as putting forth “an uncertain sound”, instead of being accommodating. If a matter is perceived as being unauthorized and therefore going beyond what is written by some, they will not see it as accommodating, but an action calculated to weaken the resolve of those who oppose IM by shifting it to a realm of expediency. Of course, the elders who choose to offer two services, one with & one without, intend it to be accommodating and I doubt they would have any other agenda.
    Royce,
    In answer to your question, yes, if one is condemning another on the basis of his own preferences or even his reasoned conclusions from biblical passages that are less than clear and unquestioned, then he certainly is skating on thin ice! Personally, I choose to avoid condemning when possible, aside from those whose sins so obviously precede them to judgment, and simply preach the positive good news.

  17. Richard GF Says:

    Jay, greetings in Christ from sunny Texas,

    Choosing a Jewish historian who lives by the choice of the Romans to write Jewish history is not the best source available.

    Richard GF

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Richard, your anti-Semitism is very clear. Paul a servant of the Lord spoke of his love and his zeal for God’s chosen people in which we Gentiles are grafted into the olive tree. You disgrace the name of Jesus.

  19. Orion Says:

    Richard,

    Of the examples you cite of how “faith” was used by first century Jews, in the N.T. Wright book, which do you think is not correct? For clarification I’ll add the proper noun to the citation, “believe in Jesus”, “be loyal to Jesus”, “repent and believe in Jesus”, “submit to Jesus as Lord”.
    What is faith in Jesus more than giving up my agenda (dying to self) and following him? Please help me understand what I am missing.

    I realize that you think IM is a sin but your last two paragraphs seem to be addressing a different topic from the use of “faith” by first century Jews.

  20. Jay Guin Says:

    Richard GF,

    Todd and I have repeatedly shown from the scriptures that “faith” includes submission to Jesus as Lord. I’ve now shown this to be true from the use of koine Greek in the First Century.

    If you are arguing that I’m in error, please explain the foundation for your position. Are you saying that the dozens of scriptures that assure us that all with faith are saved do not require faithfulness/submission to Jesus as Lord? I’m really not seeing where you are trying to get to.

  21. Jay Guin Says:

    Ernie,

    You posted this comments before my posts of earlier today, which partly respond to your question. Tomorrow’s posts will complete the argument. But let me see if I can tie some of this together in terms that respond to your question.

    First, I wrote, “Paul is plainly referring to the entirety of the Law of Moses in the these passages, not just the ceremonial elements.” https://graceconversation.com/2009/08/18/falling-from-grace-why-the-different-result-in-galatians/ One huge mistake the Churches of Christ have historically made in reading Galatians is to take “law” to mean only ceremonial law, but this is simply not right, as you seem to agree.

    The question that arises is: if God’s command to sing only a cappella isn’t part of the Law of Moses, and if Paul was speaking in Galatians of the Law of Moses, how could insisting on a cappella singing as a requirement to be saved someone cause one to fall from grace? Is that your question?

    The mistake that question makes (assuming that’s your question) is to assume that Galatians is simply Paul’s announcement of one of many arbitrary rules: seek to be saved by the Law of Moses and you’ll fall from grace. But this is not the nature of Galatians — or Christianity.

    After all, it would hardly make sense for God to damn over seeking salvation by sexual purity (plainly commanded in both Testaments) but not damn over seeking salvation through a cappella singing (an inference from an inference at best).

    This is why I spend so much time exegeting chapter 5. https://graceconversation.com/2009/08/19/falling-from-grace-exegesis-of-gal-5/ You see, you have to follow the flow of Paul’s logic to understand what he’s saying.

    And in that post, I listed several contrasts that Paul makes. It’s never between old law and new law or ceremonial law and moral law. Paul’s argument is to contrast salvation by faith with salvation by works.

    (Gal 5:6) For in Christ Jesus neither

  22. Richard GF Says:

    Jay, greetings in Christ from sunny Texas,

    As you have perhaps noticed I don’t have a lot of time right now but when school begins this coming Monday I may have an extra hour here and there.

    Quite frankly, I just don’t hold out much hope for the progressives here because of their attitude toward the texts. You do give a really good example so I will address it while things are relatively quiet this morning.

    I will attempt one more time to get this sorted out in simplier terms.

    Let me begin with an example from the Old Testament. The Story of Cain and Abel.

    I want us to consider the story a tad bit differently this time around.

    Now do you believe that either one of the two brothers “believed in God” or, “had more faith and trust in God” than the other? Think About It.

    And as you do–you made this statement–

    Todd and I have repeatedly shown from the scriptures that “faith” includes submission to Jesus as Lord. I’ve now shown this to be true from the use of koine Greek in the First Century.

    Now, because you have done so, what exactly have you accomplished? Do not your opposite in the beginning of this discussion also “SO BELIEVE AND TEACH?”

    I know that faith=submission to the Lord and I have never doubted that all in this discussion ought to have that conclusion.

    So what!!

    Let’s return to Cain and Abel for just a moment–and consider the Jews of the first century who are dead–spiritually dead, separated from God by their sins and they were lost as a nation.

    Well, that is not going to work–I seem to have misplaced my bible programs on this computer–I suspect someone deleted them but I will get them back on this computer. So for now–I can only reference it

    In the latter part of the book of Amos–God told the people that they were not sacrificing as they ought and they did not believe it.

    This is the case here–For anyone to presume that because we have a grasp of the meaning and application of faith…does not mean that folks then do it because those who insist in the instrument in worship–are not offering sacrifices “well-pleasing” or “authorized” by God and for the most part cannot see it nor grasp that idea.

    Your post was helpful and illumanating in this area because you illustrated the emphasis more on the “knowing” than on the “actual doing.”

    With Cain and Abel–both men fervently believed in and worshipped God..They were both well aware of what God wanted in their offerings and sacrifices.

    One of them decided that “they could do better” and ended up killing his brother when the “better” was rejected by God.

    Even today because you and other progressives can give the “correct definition” of faith that is well and good but the proof so to speak is in the pudding.

    All here know better or we should know better than to offer beer and steak in the Lord’s supper.

    Why is that? Because we are told what to offer..

    The same is true with music–we are told to sing and when you folks get done taking those passages and picking them into nothingness–I kindly point out–that all we have is “sing” in the New Covenant.

    Jay, the scriptures are clear–Anyone as a priest of the most high God–to be well pleasing to God can only offer to God those sacrifices that God has given man to offer. Im is not one of those things.

    The emphasis of the progressives here should be noted and observed. Because God says nothing, we have a choice when nothing is further from the truth.

    Jay–in Matt 19–the Jews tell us that they were fully aware of the law on that subject–they just made the decision not to and they{not us for the most part} understand exactly what Jesus was saying.

    you stated….

    If you are arguing that I’m in error, please explain the foundation for your position. Are you saying that the dozens of scriptures that assure us that all with faith are saved do not require faithfulness/submission to Jesus as Lord? I’m really not seeing where you are trying to get to.

    My response–I have just done so…but it is not where everyone for the most part is in agreement it is one’s failure to adhere to your statement in the first paragraph.

    Cain had great difficulty as a faithful believer to accept the idea that his sacrifice was not well pleasing to God.

    I am just one person but if you step back and look at the pages upon pages that you two have written
    you guys defined the terms for apostasy and repentance. If you go back are re read all of tha stuff
    you will see the conservatives trying to find a way to get you to take another look.

    What would of been the difference–if you had allowed your opposites to define apostasy and repentance–then place it along side of yours and iron it out so eveyone would be on the same page.

    Further when you looked at any text…to place both understandings side by side and work it out prior to continuing on.

    You guys had an agenda–one that you believed might have some success—but everyone involved gave up some good sound basics of bible study to get it done…

    So, the opposition left you–and from their point of view, with good reason.

    As one more in the middle–I consider both extremes dangerous to the body of Christ mainly because you want to fight with each other and drag us into it…

    Now, Jay, I am not angry, nor frustrated—I have been down this road far too many times for that any longer. I believe you folks can and should change. But I do not see that happening because one cannot see the need. And, objectively, I understand that others feel the same way about the other side..but both the liberals and the untra conservatives are in danger and cannot see it.

    I lack the ability to impart anything that will help either side reconsider. I only engaged this time because I am always willing to take another shot at it. But I am done–you can have the last word
    Peace

    Richard GF

  23. Brad Adcock Says:

    RichardGF, you stated:

    “What would of been the difference–if you had allowed your opposites to define apostasy and repentance–then place it along side of yours and iron it out so eveyone would be on the same page.

    Further when you looked at any text…to place both understandings side by side and work it out prior to continuing on.”

    I missed the part where Jay and Todd forbid Mac and Phil from doing just that. Why couldn’t the conservatives have done that with what Jay & Todd submitted? Why did the conservatives absolutely have to submit their definitions first for there to be a side-by-side comparison? The fact is that a definition of terms was laid out by Jay and Todd, and though they had every opportunity, Mac and Phil refused to lay down anything for comparison and simply chose to attack.

    You yourself admit this when you say: “If you go back are re read all of tha stuff you will see the conservatives TRYING TO FIND A WAY TO GET YOU TO TAKE ANOTHER LOOK.” (emphasis added)

    In other words, the conservatives made absolutely no attempt to do what you say they should have (define the terms so they could be compared side by side), and instead had as their agenda (hmmm) making Jay and Todd see how wrong they were.

    This isn’t meant to be an attack on you by any stretch; I’m just pointing out what appear to me to be flaws in your argument against Jay and Todd.

  24. Jay Guin Says:

    Yes, the conservative wanted us to take another look — but without bothering to engage us on the scriptures.

    Greg, Phil, or Mac made assertions and cited scripture to support them.

    We’d respond that the scriptures they cited do not say what they claim.

    They’d then ignore our arguments about the Bible and make a new assertion (sometimes contradictory to the previous assertion) and assert new scriptures as support.

    We’d then show how the scriptures don’t support the new assertion either (and sometimes how they are now contradicting what they said before).

    And on and on. They routinely ignored all discussion about what the Bible actually says.

    For example, we repeatedly challenged their misuse of the word “truth” as used in the New Testament and offered extensive support for our view. Not once did they challenge our arguments from scripture. Rather, they just kept on making the assertion.

    Similarly, early on, when Phil wrote an essay arguing for his position, I responded by going through and showing that nearly every scripture he cited didn’t say what he claimed. He never responded.

    https://graceconversation.com/2009/04/21/proposition-one-response-from-phil/
    https://graceconversation.com/2009/04/26/exegesis-of-texts-cited-in-proposition-one-response-from-phil-part-1/
    https://graceconversation.com/2009/04/26/exegesis-of-texts-cited-in-proposition-one-response-from-phil-part-2/
    https://graceconversation.com/2009/04/26/exegesis-of-texts-cited-in-proposition-one-response-from-phil-part-3/

    And I don’t see conservative commenters arguing our interpretation of the scripture. We argue our case and we get as a response something like: “What about Cain and Abel?” Well, rather than building a New Testament theology on Cain and Abel, I suggest we go back to Romans, 1 John, Hebrews, and Galatians. What about them?

    I have yet to receive a single challenge to our interpretation of those key passages. I went so far as to ask Paden a while back just to read 1 John, and he wouldn’t even agree to that.

    If dialogue is to have any chance of success, it will require both sides to talk about the same scriptures at the same time.

    I challenge any conservative to go back to the posts on 1 John, Hebrews, and Romans and show where Todd and I have misconstrued them.

  25. Richard GF Says:

    Jay, greetings in Christ from sunny Texas,
    I managed to get off an hour early –uh–can I ask a dumb question: Are you wanting me to feel sorry for your side?

    Could it be that the responses were not what you wanted?

    Let me tell you a little something about Cain and Abel
    It fits this situation far too well.

    Rome was not built in one day or in a hundred.

    There is an excellent reason forthe example of Cain and Abel. Did you ever ask why? Phil gave up on you?

    You followed the same old pattern of response–that does get tiring after a bit.
    Your determined attitude toward the destruction of the individual texts–is not going to get it.

    Now, you are not following me at all–you have already shut down–cannot get the other side at all and you are not alone. So what do you expect??

    you stated—I challenge any conservative to go back to the posts on 1 John, Hebrews, and Romans and show where Todd and I have misconstrued them.

    Really?–Your wagonwheel rut theology is showing

    Somewhere along the line folks need to remember that it not the fact that scriptures are used–it is how they are used–and, thinking about that–just how did you use yours? Better question–Did it work? And, if it didn’t–isn’t that the fault of the other side??
    And you are clueless as to why it didn’t…

    Richard GF

  26. Richard GF Says:

    Brad, greetings in Christ from sunny Texas,

    you stated
    other words, the conservatives made absolutely no attempt to do what you say they should have (define the terms so they could be compared side by side), and instead had as their agenda (hmmm) making Jay and Todd see how wrong they were.

    Excuse me–I have very little use for either side here
    but how are they different in their approach to this situation than your side?

    Ok–let’s try this–Who asked specifically for this type and kind of study? And if you want the other side to have the right attitude–shouldn’t it be suggested and tried????

    And, I when what passes for bible study smells–well, it smells.

    In the communication process with my kids–I am very clear as to what I would like and why–well, not always the why but more times than not–it is included.

    Nor do I get in a hurry to get a kid to make progress nor do I demand that said progess be after my liking..

    When I study the scriptures with folks–I attempt to begin not where I am but where they are..Somehow I do not think that happened here.

    Lastly, rather than seeking immediate agreement–we should practise our communication processes first and not get angry when the other side cannot grasp your side.

    After all, if they grasped your side–they would be on your side and not the other…isn’t that true.

    And if you are in it to win–don’t bother to even start–that is something else but it is not discipleship and it does not describe mathes at all.

    Again, look at the jews–the two major ruling parties fought and killed each other rather than resolve the idea that on some things they could be in error.
    Richard GF

  27. Jay Guin Says:

    Richard GF,

    I asked for an argument from scripture. You respond with a rant and insults.

  28. Royce Says:

    Richard GF,

    If you could write in a coherent way so that the average person like me can understand what you are saying you might not be so difficult to read.

    I think, you think, you have the same views as the conservatives who have written here you just can’t say it as well.

    Royce

  29. Richard GF Says:

    Jay, greetings in Christ from sunny Texas,

    Sorry, I am not ranting and I am not raving…If I give you texts you will proceed to explain to me why I am wrong. If i tell you the truth, I am ranting and raving.

    This pretty much removes me..But what I said is absolutely true–The Jews of the first century could not see it nor believe it about themselves–neither can you.

    Since this is my last post–Royce–It is true that I on many issues would prefer to err on the side of caution than out and out error.

    But I point out one more time both sides–you the progressives and the ultra conservatives are in the same exact boat–It is sinking.

    Actually in these posts I spoke my mind quite clearly–but I did so knowing that I could go back and review previous conversations along this line and pretty much predict the outcome.

    It was as expected..but I felt you folks at least needed an opportunity to think–you are not and what is sad you will never ever figure it out.
    Jays response tells me that he is clueless as to what I am telling him and how to fix it.

    Richard GF


  30. No one is so blind as he who refuses to see. The Pharasee’s definition of Law had become the standard by which all else was judged. Has the conservatives view of Scripture become the standard by which all other thoughts are judged? Wouldn’t it be better if Scripture remained the standard by which all is judged? Sometimes is seems that the more I learn the more questions I have. If I can’t by faith depend on Jesus for salvation, in whom shall I trust? Shall I lean on my own understanding? Could it be that I need to humble myself with the thoughts that I am not worthy of able to trust self? Perhaps then He will lift me up! It is by grace through faith are you saved and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast. I think for me, I will depend of that grace Paul is talking about to cover not only my misdeeds but my misunderstandings as well. I will trust God.


  31. I agree that Paul is referring to the entirety of the Law of Moses. I don’t recall that I ever made any distinction between this “ceremonial” law and “moral” law. Isn’t that how the Catholics and their offshoots teach it? I don’t make any distinction at all between “moral” and “cermonial” law. It’s all the same law. If an Israelite/Jew violated any part of it, they sinned. If they kept all of it {Jesus} then they remained unseparated from God by sin.

    Before we can discuss the law and Paul’s use of it, you have to understand what grace is. Contrasting law with grace will not make any sense otherwise.

    In Truth and Love,

    Ernie


  32. Richard, if you love your Christian brothers – whether you consider them progressive or conservative – you will take the time to explain what they are “clueless” about, rather than just dropping by to insult their intelligence.

    “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” – 2 Timothy 4:2

    If you find that a biblical instruction, may I encourage you to do so.

    If not, farewell – but know that you have left something important undone.


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