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Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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| Continuing a theme...
Jim over at faith classics said, Repentance is not a one time thing but rather a continual dealing as the light of God's word exposes our natural thinking and self centered focus.
Jim, for those who you who don't know him, is a godly man whom I have met on several occasions. His hearts desire is that people stop pretending to be Christians, and get on with the real deal, and I share this passion with him without reservation. So my reply to him, which follows, is not intended to be overly correctional, but rather I am springing off that quote. You should read the post in context to understand what Jim is saying...
If the "repentance towards God" that Paul preached as half of his gospel (c.f. Acts 20:21) is in fact the ongoing process you describe, then we must conclude that justification is a process that is completed after we die, as it depends upon a completed regiment of repentance.
I think you are confusing justification and sanctification?
Repentance, first and foremost is something God grants , and we must understand what it is and what it is not.
The unbeliever, above all else, denies God's rule over his life. That is the nature of rebellion, and it is a nature that no man can overcome by himself. But those whom God draws to Himself are granted repentance, that is, they are granted a change of mind from that of the closed "I will not have this man to rule over me" heart, to that of an open, receptive heart. It is into this God-prepared receptive heart that faith takes root.
Repentance, as I understand it, is a one time thing.
Notwithstanding - the nature of repentance is that one has changed masters - no longer do self and sin rule as master, but Jesus is Lord. That being the case, the believer thereafter is driven by the indwelling Holy Spirit to no longer walk in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Failure to do so results in chastening in the hear and now for as many as God loves.
I agree, there is no excuse to live a carnal and loose life given that we have truly been set free from that, but it is not the fear of judgment that ought to drive us - for no one has ever been sanctified by fear of judgment, and frankly, it is a beggarly motivator at best. Rather we are cleansed and made righteous by faith.
We walk (righteously) by faith, not by sight. When this is understood properly, fear is replaced by love as the motivating factor of our walk, and we escape the legalistic pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstrap mentality that rises from an understanding of the Christian walk that blurs the line between justification and sanctification.
Which is not to argue that we sit around and wait to be made holy - we are commanded to walk in the Spirit by faith. We ought not to grieve and quench the Holy Spirit by Whom we are sealed unto that day, we are to walk in the good works prepared for us beforehand by God, but that in the strength that -He- supplies.
If we do all the right things in our own strength, we get the glory, and not God, and even these acts that seem righteous, and maybe even make us feel "good and right with God" so long as we do them - these same acts become the very thing that keeps us away from God, because rather than resting in the finished work of Christ, we look to our own righteousness to propitiate God and in doing so we turn away from all that Christ alone has done for us, and our second state is worse than our first, because from thence forth, unless we are sorely shaken from that path - we will always pursue God through our own righteousness, and the constant failure will only wear us out, or make us so arrogant we cannot be reasoned with.
Labels: justification, repentance, sanctification
posted by Daniel @
"the believer thereafter is driven by the indwelling Holy Spirit to no longer walk in the flesh, but in the Spirit."
A M E N !!!
Daniel, you're finally turning your comments into posts; good idea.
Mark, can I ask you a question; what if the believer decides not to be driven by the Holy Spirit but actively rebels against his conscience and quenches the Spirit.
How do we respond to a person in that situation, considering that restoration is the key?
"what if the believer decides not to be driven by the Holy Spirit but actively rebels against his conscience and quenches the Spirit."
Jim, please read Romans 8:1-15. The contrast here is between an unsaved person (5-9) and the truely saved person (1-15). What marks the truely saved person? A walk according to the Spirit, 1,4,5; being in the Spirit,9; indwelt by the Spirit,10; those who put to death the deeds of the flesh,13; those who are led by the Spirit,14.
The unsaved are marked by living according to the flesh,5; carnal mindedness, 6-8.
There is no such thing as a carnal Christian, as far as a static position. Carnal Christianity, as seen in 1 Cor., is a phase young Christians go through, only to be grown out of. A continuance in this phase should raise legitimate questions about the validity of one's claim to faith. It must be remembered that we are not only saved FROM something, but also saved TO something - to be slaves to God. See Romans 6.
Daniel, although I can see you point, I think (it is early for me and I am always mentally tired on Mondays), I am not sure I agree.
I think repentance is used in a much broader manner than simply that first time repentance. I believe it is also used in terms of an ongoing process that is part of the work of sanctification in the believer where they continue to put off the old nature and put on the new.
I think of 2 Corinthians 7:6-10 where we read,
"But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. 8 For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it--though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. 9 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. 10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death."
These words were addressed to the Corinthian church. Yes, they were not a great example of what a church should be, so much so that Paul had written to them his 'grievious' letter that had made them realize this and turn away from living that way, that is, they repented. Did they do this on their own, of course not, as part of their ongoing sanctification they were moved by the leading of the Spirit to realize that they were not living as they should as those who believe in Jesus Christ, and they turned from that.
One of the things that stands out to me, both in my own life and the lives of those God has called me to pastor, is that the more I have grown by grace through faith in sanctification, the more sin I see in my life that I never realized was there in the first place. What am I to do with that remaining sin, do I repent of it and believe that through faith Jesus has dealt with it? I believe that is the call of repentance.
If we live by faith not by sight, would that not make faith a continual thing as well. So what would repentance not be so as well?
This is not saying, as you inferred, that ones justification is thus deferred until the end, nor that ones justification is somehow improved by this. I would say that this has everything to do with ones sanctification. One is justified once, completely and totally through repenting and believing in Jesus, and joined inextricably to that is sanctification which will continue that pattern of living by faith but also continuing to repent as the Spirit grants it, of those area where our flesh is still battling against the new life in us.
I have to admit...your concept of repentance being a one time thing doesn't make a lot of sense to me. We are justified once, sanctification is a ongoing process throughout our Christian lives. Repentance is part of that sanctifying process and is a result of our seeing more things in our lives that go against what God wants in our lives.
Rileysowner, and Annette,
If you follow the first link in this post to Jim's blog, I have answered concerns similar to the ones you bring up here. After reading my responses there, if you still see some trouble in what I wrote, let me know.
In fact, I will just put a link to it here so you don't have to go looking for it.
You stated that the believer is driven by the Holy Spirit so that they will no longer walk in the flesh. Why does this not happen immediately after salvation? Why is there a growing out phase?
How long would you say a believer who lives in rebellion against the Holy Spirit should still be considered a true child of God? A day, a week, a month, a year?
Can you please qualify the degree of this growing out phase?
BTW Mark, I am not talking about the person who walks the aisle, professes faith and then continues to live like the same unregenerate being he was before.
Jim, look at Hebrews 6:1-9. Note that the writer says "leaving the discussion of elemantary principles...let us go on to perfection..." Now, note verse 4. The writer moves into a sobering thought..."For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened... if they fall away..." Here the writer of Hebrews is introducing a possiblity that stagnation may be a sign of eventual apostacy.
>You ask, "Why does this not happen immediately after salvation? Why is there a growing out phase?"<
Even our physical life begins in infancy and grows over time. Note Phillipians 4 where Paul "Learned" contentment in life's ups and downs as a Christian in and out of prison and beatings for the gospel.
>You ask, "How long would you say a believer who lives in rebellion against the Holy Spirit should still be considered a true child of God? A day, a week, a month, a year?"<
In Matthew 5:48 Jesus taught that we should be perfect as our Father in Heaven. That is the goal. And, in the eternal state, will be realized. However, if one does not show signs of pressing toward that goal, even on this side of the grave, then there simply is no evidense of the working of the Spirit in that life. Christ-likeness is the Father's aim in the salvation process. Justification is merely part of the whole picture. See 2 Cor. 3:18; Galatians 4:19; Eph. 4:11-16.
Remember Matthew 18:15-17 - church discipline? There is a process to go through there. If at the end of the process outlined there there is no repentance then that erring one is to be looked as a sinner in need of evangelism.
Mark, I agree with you regarding church discipline, although sorely lacking today. Yes we are to regard the unrepentant believer as the heathen, which would include exclusion from the fellowship and disassociation from all social interaction such as eating together.
Your Hebrews 6 reference sounds a bit confusing? If we fall away will we lose what we had?
My biggest concern here is that we are watering down the requirements for the christian life by stating that a mere effort to "press toward the goal" is enough. Are we trying to make the mark attainable so that the power of the Holy Spirit is not truly needed? We do not get an "A" for effort.
God desires us to live by His Spirit and this requires death to self, which will produce an overcoming life, not mediocre christianity.
"Your Hebrews 6 reference sounds a bit confusing? If we fall away will we lose what we had?"
Not "we", but "they" - the stagnant ones; those who make no progress beyond the fundamentals. The Spirit will produce the fruit of His indwelling. If the evidense is not there something is terribly wrong. God's aim for His saints is Christ-likeness. Hence, one of the reasons for the indwelling Spirit.
Progression is key; w/o it the very definition of Christianity is nullified.
John 17:3 is the definition of Christianity. The knowledge is on-going, and should be evident.
Mark, let me give you an sample question. I am sure this is where many young christian men are today.
Joe is a 20 year old kid who gets saved. He has no christian background and prior to hearing the gospel lived a very loose and carnal life.
He is excited to be a child of God and experiences very much joy in his new walk with Christ. He is actively engaged in telling people about Christ and fearlessly shares his testimony.
However, he is soon confronted with his past when he meets a former girlfriend. Unable to resist the temptation he finds himself again in promiscuous relationship. At first his conscience smites him but gradually he is able to suppress it. His zeal for the word and evangelism dramatically drop off.
Those from his church fail to grasp the nature of his problem and are afraid to confront him directly. After a few months of this kind of living he stops attending church altogether. Finally after a lengthy time the elders go to visit him, and with pleading encourage him to forsake his sin. He does so and humbly returns to the fellowship. There he meets a lovely young christian girl. But contrary to her parents desires they get married hoping that his lustful desires will be quelled.
Only a year or so into his marriage major stresses enter his life through work. He finds himself again giving into those temptations and before long is involved in an adulterous relationship. His wife, too bitter to forgive, files for divorce.
Joe is distraught and seeks counsel from his godly friends. For awhile he grows spiritually and shows signs of a real hunger for the word.
10 years down the road find Joe happily married again and serving as a deacon in the church. However, his lustful desires again creep in and this time pornography consumes him. He becomes a slave to this evil with every thought defiled.
His church attendance becomes full of effort and his love for the members greatly diminished. Further he becomes hostile to the pastor and his plan for outreach.
Joe is now 45 yrs old and firmly embittered about life. He grudingly puts up with church but in his heart has lost all desire. His children see this and fall away as they enter the teen years.
While this is a hypothetical scenario I dare say it is all too common these days in almost every evangelical church. Change a few details and you have countless similar stories.
Mark, would you say this person was experiencing progression? Would you say this fella was never saved? In danger of losing his salvation?
This is reality, how do you deal with cases like that? Or do Calvinist's not have problems similar to this?
Jim, though your question was directed at Mark, at the end of it you tacked on a "do Calvinist's not have problems similar to this?" which inclines me to join in. ;-)
First, it is a good question because rather than argue about what our theology looks like on paper it gives us opportunity to explain how that theology plays out in practice.
I am Calvinist, and this is what I would do:
First, because scripture teaches that God's enemy sows tares amongst the wheat (that is, false converts amongst the genuine converts), and because scripture teaches that not everyone who cries "Lord, Lord" is actually a believer, and because Christ (in explaining the parable of the sower) states that some will believe and eventually fall away in a time of testing - I must conclude if I wish to have a consistent theology, that not everyone who names the name of Christ is actually saved. It is not the job of the believer to assure other believers they are indeed children of God - but rather it is the job of the believer to teach other believers where that assurance can be found - in the indwelling Holy Spirit who witnesses to our spirit that we are sons, and if sons heirs.
So regardless of how polished the outside of Joe's cup looks at age 20, when Joe falls into grievous sexual sin it is not my job to decide whether Joe is a genuine believer; it is my job to discipline him according to the scriptures, and if he is willing to repent, to walk with him until he is victorious in this area.
Because it is practically impossible to judge whether a person's repentance is deep and genuine, or hollow and just for show - so we are not instructed to judge the validity of anyone's repentance. But we are instructed to deal decisively with a person's refusal to repent. That is an important distinction.
Let us use a real example instead of this pretend one.
A young man he receives a powerful anointing from God, and in the strength of that anointing does many great and zealous things. He is the shining star of faith for years; but one day he gives into lust and commits adultery. When his adultery is about to be discovered, instead of repenting he tries to cover it up. When the cover up is he commits murder to cover up his sinful secret. Has he been progressing spiritually?
We are talking of course of King David, and the answer is plain from David's penitent Psalms that God used this horrible thing to deepen David spiritually. God works all things, or so we are told, together for good for those who are called. That is, God even uses our horrible sins to deepen us, and draw us closer to him.
Our firmly embittered 45 year old Joe is no exception. If Joe is a genuine child of God, he is -not- experiencing stagnation - God will use even Joe's sin, even Joe's bitterness, whatever is there, God will (and is) using -that- for Joe's good that is, -IF- Joe is in fact a child of God.
The Calvinist isn't trying to gauge people's spiritual progression, he is simply being faithful to biblical instruction - if Joe continues to repent he can stay in the church, if Joe refuses to repent, he must be disciplined until he does or is removed from fellowship. The church must remain a -holy- assembly - the moment it is unclean it is unfit for God's use. The sooner a church sees that the more serious they get. Evangelism doesn't fail because people aren't out there hitting the pavement hard enough - it fails because the church is unclean -- we may well speculate that at first God may allow some "new" into such a church - people whom God is sending to reform them. People with discernment - watchmen on the wall - but if these are ignored, eventually God may give the church over to the tares and bury it.
Jim, my concern is with today's emphasis on an overly liberal spread of assurance. Why more concern for assurance than for church purity? Why more concern for assurance than seeing an individual become conformed to Christ?
Peter's treatment of assurance is found in 2 Peter 1:3-14. Here he acknowledges that the Lord has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness... This is where the ministy's eyes should be also. An eldership and deaconate who tirelessly look to disciple, discipline - who wish to see the Body of Christ come into all that God has for it as far as conformity to Christ. Now look at verses 4-8 in 2 Peter 1. Individual Christians are to stretch and strain after these as Paul did in Phillipains 3. The church leaders should be exhorters to the church, (coming along side and "coaching" if you will). They should come along side each person - the whole body should be involved in this too, Eph. 4:11-16 - to spur on towards Christ-likeness. Any falling behind should be dealt with in an individual manner. Unfortunately discipline is sometimes needed. The unrepentent should be put outside for a while, and even evangelized.
In short, I believe the emphasis we see today on assurance is NOT biblical. Progression forward to Christ-likeness is where our eyes should be. Again 2 Peter 1:3-14 is how we should define assurance; for there we see what assurance looks like... progression forward. "for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom..."
Mark also mentioned church discipline, and I honestly believe that if it were practiced would eliminate many of the problems we see today. That and a vital discipleship program with a concerted effort to make sure all new believers are grounded solidly in the Word of God.
I would agree with both of you that we are not to go around assuring folks of their salvation. That is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Mark, I do think assurance is vitally important though, for without it we become no different than the Catholic who is hoping and praying that he'll make it. We look to our works and fruit as signs that we are actually genuine when scripture tells us to look unto Jesus.
While I do not dismiss the reality of tares in the church, I believe we can know those who are genuine in the faith. There are many brothers I have had fellowship with and after a short while of worshipping the Lord together I knew we shared the same divine life.
Do either of you brothers believe that we will stand before Christ at the Bema seat? What is the purpose of this judgement?
Jim - we will all (believers, and non-believers) stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for our lives at the bematos.
The purpose of judgment is to identify and condemn sin. Our sin will be identified, but it has already been condemned in Christ, and will not be "purged" again. Those who are not in Christ will bear their own condemnation, but there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
After the condemnation has passed, and death is dealt with forever - those who are left (that is, those who were in Christ on Calvary) will receive rewards in proportion to their faithfulness on earth.
Many outside of Dispensational circles hold that the Judgement Seat of Christ is one and the same as the Great White Throne Judgement; Hence Daniel's response here: "The purpose of judgment is to identify and condemn sin. Our sin will be identified, but it has already been condemned in Christ, and will not be "purged" again. Those who are not in Christ will bear their own condemnation, but there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
After the condemnation has passed, and death is dealt with forever - those who are left (that is, those who were in Christ on Calvary) will receive rewards in proportion to their faithfulness on earth."
Here Daniel perfectly articulated my view as well. Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology covers this matter well, beginning, I believe, on page 1140.
You say, "Mark, I do think assurance is vitally important though, for without it we become no different than the Catholic who is hoping and praying that he'll make it. We look to our works and fruit as signs that we are actually genuine when scripture tells us to look unto Jesus."
Yes, yes, I agree! Most Calvinist commentators I have read see that our looking to Jesus is first and foremost.
Daniel, I didn't realize you were amillenial? I also didn't realize they lump both the Bema and Great White throne judgement together.
However, I think this is the first time I have seen you say that there will be varying degrees of rewards.
I just learned that Wayne Grudem is throwing his support behind Mitt Romney. That causes me to really wonder about his theology. :)
Grudem is historic premil and holds that the two judgements are one. Like I said, as far as I know, only dispensationalists differentiate the two judgements.
I just learned that Wayne Grudem is throwing his support behind Mitt Romney. That causes me to really wonder about his theology. :)"
James, dost thou not reside in Canada?
Jim, the first witness said that the lady was hit by a green car, the second witness without collaboration says the lady was struck by a green minivan.
Given only these accounts, we are left to conclude that either:
a] the lady was struck by a green car, and then struck again by a green minivan; or
b] the lady was struck by a green "car" which happened to be a minivan.
We are given only that much information, and the expectation is that given that much information we ought to be able to discern which of the two scenarios is most likely.
Reason dictates to us that if there were in fact two collisions, we should expect at least one and likely both witnesses to describe the twin collisions. Given that no witness comes forward and describes two collisions, we are not lacking in discernment if we conclude that both witnesses were likely discussing the same event - but that the one testimony (minivan) is simply more precise than the other (car).
Certainly, one could stand high upon a podium and demand that the testimonies do not rule out the possibility that there were two separate collisions - and they are right, strictly speaking, the testimonies are not so specific as to entirely rule out the possibility - it is just that given the testimonies, no discerning judge would give much weight to the notion.
Maybe there really will be two separate judgment days, with two different thrones. But I doubt it.
Mark, when you call me James is that with a condescending tone? :)
Yes, I do reside in the great nation of Canada. However my father's family is from the States and I find US politics much more interesting than our northern version.
I respect your thoughts and opinions because you are usually very careful to qualify them with good biblical evidence. I am enjoying this discussion so I would like to ask you some furthers questions.
Rev. 20 depicts the judgements to come including the binding and ultimate judgement of Satan.
Why did not all the dead live again until the 1000 yrs were finished?
Do you believe Satan is actually bound today and no longer deceiving the nations?
If the 1000 yrs. is not literal when are the thrones set up in verse 4?
When do the souls beheaded for their witness to Jesus come to life and reign with Christ?
Jim, we tread now into a doctrinal area where the Lord has not seen fit to spend great amounts of time instructing me.
Why did not all the dead live again until the 1000 yrs were finished?
In 1 Thess 4:16-17 we read, " For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." [ESV]
Those who are "in Christ" and alive when Christ returns will never be separated from him, but will be caught up into the air, together with those who died in Christ - and none of these shall be separated from Christ ever again.
That is what the text says.
Paul is not speaking in prophetic imagery, but is speaking plainly.
Now let's look at John's prophetic imagery in Revelation 20:4
"...Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years..." [ESV]
Those who died for their witness and also those who didn't worship the beast or its image will be raised on that day.
Note something telling that John mentions about these same who are raised in this first resurrection (c.f. verse 6): that the second death will not have power over them.
The group of people identified by John are described using three different images  martyrs,  people who didn't worship the beast or his image, and  people whom the second death will have no power over.
In Revelation 2:11 John has already mentioned "those who will not be hurt by the second death" - and there he describes them simply as those who "overcome".
John himself defines in his first epistle what he means by overcome (c.f. 1 John 5:4) - whatever is born of God overcomes the world (our faith).
Taking Paul's clear account of Christs return, and John's prophetic imagery - we see that upon Christ's return the dead in Christ rise, and those who are Christ's and alive rise - and are forever with Christ from that moment on.
So coming back to the question - the reason not everyone is resurrected in the first resurrection is because not everyone is in Christ. Only those who are/were in Christ when Christ
returns will be raised, and these will reign with Christ until the second resurrection - the resurrection of everyone else (a.k.a. the wicked).
At this point you do well to consider who is going to sitting on the thrones (plural) that are set up in Revelation 20:4 (hint: 1 Corinthians 6:3).
Do you believe Satan is actually bound today and no longer deceiving the nations?
In the book of Job, Satan is given very specific boundaries which he is not allowed to act outside of. In a very literal sense, Satan was bound at least in Job's day. Likewise Satan has to ask to sift Peter (c.f. Luke 22:31), so while I don't insist that it must be so, I see nothing illegitimate or strained in understanding Satan as being bound right now, and therefore by virtue of these limitation being unable to deceive the nations presently.
Scripture sometimes speaks of angels with keys unlocking people who are bound etc. Such could easily be metaphorical for having authority to loose some binding - authority to give permission to operate freely within some given sphere.
In Hebrews 2:14 we are told that the devil had the power of death, a power we know that Christ took away from him at Calvary. We know also from scripture that the image of the beast (see revelation 13:5) will be given this same power again.
I think Satan is restricted in this present age, but I don't think this is a permanent restriction - I think a day is coming when Satan will be "loosed".
My answer therefore hinges upon what exactly your understanding of being bound entails. If you think that being bound means shut up in a box somewhere entirely removed - then no, I don't think Satan is bound. But if you understand binding as having present unassailable boundaries - then yes I think Satan is presently bound.
If the 1000 yrs. is not literal when are the thrones set up in verse 4?
I will have to get back to you on this one. I want to give a more careful answer than time presently permits.
When do the souls beheaded for their witness to Jesus come to life and reign with Christ?
The day that Christ returns.
Daniel, I appreciate your answers considering the limited instruction you have received in this area.
Blessings to you brother!