Discipline: The member who is struggling to repent

Posted August 23, 2009 by Jay Guin
Categories: Apostasy

by Jay Guin

Several passages deal with members who are wandering from the faith but haven’t yet left the faith. They are struggling in their submission to Jesus as Lord.

(2 Thes. 3:14-15) If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Plainly, the disobedient person under consideration is still a brother in Christ. He is impenitent, but not so much so that he is lost – at least, not so far as we can tell.

The goal of the disassociation is to shame him. Now, obviously enough, this means the action must be taken while he still cares what the church thinks. He must still be part of the community – so much so that being expelled could bring him to repentance. For this to work, the thought of losing the friendship of his brothers and sisters must be unbearable.

If the man can simply move his membership to another congregation or leave the church altogether and be content, then it won’t work. The solution isn’t to insist that other congregations honor the decision (although, as a rule, they should). The solution is for the church to have such a dynamic love that members can’t bear to lose it! Read the rest of this post »

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Discipline: Introduction

Posted August 22, 2009 by Jay Guin
Categories: Apostasy

by Jay Guin

This is a continuation of the progressive posts on what causes a saved person to fall away. And that’s important, because these teachings on church discipline won’t make any sense to someone with a very different understanding of grace. You see, it all fits together. It has to fit together, because it all comes from the same Mind.

Now, the New Testament says quite a lot about disfellowshipping or excluding various people from the church. These verses are often interpreted this way –

* I am right

* You are wrong

* You must leave

Simple enough, I suppose, but completely removed from the heart of God shown through Jesus and the scriptures. Read the rest of this post »

Conclusion

Posted August 21, 2009 by Jay Guin
Categories: Apostasy

Perhaps a chart would help explain how all this fits together —

To become saved Baptism To stay saved
Hear, believe, confess the gospel Faith Accept Jesus as Son of God Faith Accept Jesus as Son of God Faith Faith
Repent Penitence Accept Jesus as Lord Penitence Accept Jesus as Lord Love Love
Accept Jesus as Savior Accept Jesus as Savior Only Hope

The first column is the Plan of Salvation as we’ve traditionally taught it.

The second column follows the language that Todd and I used in our first several posts.

The third column expresses the same thoughts in Jesus-centered terms. “Faith” is accepting Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. “Repentance” is accepting Jesus as Lord. But there’s a third element that Gal 5:4 helps us focus on — accepting Jesus as Savior. You see, he’s not really our Savior if we try to be our own saviors. It’s not until we add “only” to faith and repentance that we stop trying to sharing the role of savior with Jesus.

The fourth column, labeled “Baptism,” marks the line between becoming saved and being saved.

The fifth and sixth columns repeat the second and third columns, because the standard for being saved is the same as becoming saved.

The seventh column borrows its language from Gal 5:6b —

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

“Love” fits in the slot for repentance and for accepting Jesus as Lord because love fulfills the law. “Only” fits into the slot in parallel with “Savior” because it’s the “only” that allows Jesus to save — rather us having to save ourselves.

The final column take the familiar triad — faith, hope, and love — and shows how it parallels our salvation. “Hope” is both the new heaven and earth that await us at the End of time and the confidence we have that we’ll actually be there. And that confidence is found in the “only” — in our trust in Jesus to save us. Read the rest of this post »

Falling from Grace: Why Legalism Can Damn

Posted August 20, 2009 by Jay Guin
Categories: Apostasy

While we have to accept Paul’s teaching of justification by faith on the strength of the inspiration and authority of scripture, we should pause to consider why the rule would be that adding works — any works — to faith/faithfulness as justifying the Christian creates a different gospel and causes the Christian to fall away. It’s a truly terrifying prospect that we need to reflect on in a bit more depth.

“Legalism”

When we speak of “legalism,” we don’t mean someone who insists on obedience to God’s commands. We insist on obedience to God’s commands. Rather, by “legalist” we mean someone guilty of the Galatian heresy — that is, insisting that we should add certain works to faith in Jesus as conditions for a Christian to remain saved.

Insisting on baptism is not legalism. Insisting on repentance is not legalism. Damning someone because they disagree with you over instrumental music or whether an elder may have only one child is the Galatian heresy and therefore is legalism. Read the rest of this post »

Falling from Grace: Seeking to be Justified Other Than by Faith

Posted August 20, 2009 by Jay Guin
Categories: Apostasy

We’ve gone halfway around the world to make a point.

You see, being penitent and being led by the Spirit all lead to the same place — a devout life of love and fruits of the Spirit. It all ties together in a perfect, beautiful unity.

But there is a very real concern here. Paul says that if you add any law to the gospel as a condition to salvation, then you’ve made yourself accountable for every law as a condition to salvation, and thereby you’ve fallen from grace. Thus, there’s no apostasy in insisting on worshipping a cappella or insisting that instrumental music is acceptable. But declaring that all who worship with an instrument are outside the church and therefore damned may well cause one to fall away. That’s not to say that there is no error possible on the instrumental music issue; only that the error does not cause one to lose his soul — provided he continues in his faith and faithfulness/penitence.

Understand that being wrong and being lost are two very different things, and we sometimes get them confused. If being wrong damns, then there is no grace and Christ died for nothing. Read the rest of this post »

Falling from Grace: Understanding Faith, Love, and the Spirit

Posted August 19, 2009 by Jay Guin
Categories: Apostasy

Chapter 5 is a critical passage in understanding Paul’s doctrine of faith vs. works. You see, Paul believes that those who’ve been saved receive the Spirit, and that the Spirit leads to a changed life.

Thus, his logic is: faith (which include faithfulness/penitence) => salvation (at the point of baptism) => receipt of Spirit => fruit of the Spirit/good works/love/service

In short, faith expresses itself through love because the Spirit changes our nature so that this is the kind of people we become. We become people with loving natures. But we have to cooperate with the Spirit in its work in our hearts. Read the rest of this post »

Falling from Grace: Exegesis of Gal 5

Posted August 19, 2009 by Jay Guin
Categories: Apostasy

Paul returns to the question of why grace doesn’t lead to license in chapter 5. To follow his argument, we’ll need to work through most of the chapter —

(Gal 5:1) 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. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Note the contrast. It’s —