Saturday, December 25, 2010


Peace is declared to you! Justice has been satisfied! Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall have peace with God!

Merry Christmas One and All!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Faith Worth Experiencing

1Peter 1:3-9

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.
This "Faith Worth..." series started with a quiet discussion titled Faith Worth Sharing. One long time reader, Look Up, commented that sharing one's faith with someone else has very little value because the object we should be sharing is Christ Himself, not "our" faith.  His point is well taken, but I must point out that I would never want to duplicate MY faith in anyone else. My faith is in Christ the Lord, and my faith is my experience of THE FAITH. Look Up wasn't wrong, but he did read an argument into my articles that was not there.

This happens with the text of 1Peter 1:7 as well. I might argue in exactly the same way. The wording could be made to sound like a personal faith, but it is actually about "The Faith." If you read only verse 6 it is easy to misinterpret the passage, especially if you have a system of theology that tells people to examine the quality of their faith. However, if you read verse 6 you must find that Peter says "In THIS you greatly rejoice..."

The good student of the Bible must ask "In what?" and find the answer in the preceding verses 1Peter 1:3-5. We rejoice in the promise, protection, provision, and preservation of God. The genuineness of "your faith" is not how well you trust, obey, act on.... these things of God, it is how well God follows through with them. Our faith is genuine, and not in vain, if God is truly the God He says He is. If Christ did in fact die for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, be buried and raise again the third day according to the Scriptures. 1Cor 15:12-19

So how does this all fit in with sharing your, or the, faith? It's as I often tell people. When you step out in faith like Peter did when he stepped out of a boat on to raging water to walk with the Lord he quickly experienced the genuineness of the faith. When his personal faith started to fail, the faith was still valid because the Lord is faithful. 2Tim 2:13 "The faith" works exactly the same way with personal witnessing. You step out and God is with you.

If you have been working on the things that we discussed before, under the article Faith Worth Building then you are no doubt getting a desire to tell others about what you've learned. It's a natural progression. I'm sure everyone can remember that burning desire to tell everyone about Jesus Christ when they were first saved. It's not a requirement for Salvation.. nor is it a positive indicator of one becoming saved (or not) but it is the normal experience of a Believer.

I've learned myself, and seen it demonstrated over and over again that one of the greatest personal faith building experiences is getting out there and sharing Christ with people. On the street... at work... in church.. at home anywhere and everywhere. God will be with you and you'll experience His faithfulness which is the genuineness of the faith!

Folks it's Christmas time. This is the one time of year when people EXPECT you to talk about Jesus. So open your mouth, be loving, be truthful and tell the whole story. The bad news - sin, death, hell, and the Good News 1Cor 15:1-11.

Merry Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Important Recall Notice

The Maker of all human beings is recalling all units manufactured, regardless of make or year, due to the serious defect in the primary and central component of the heart. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units (code named Adam and Eve), resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units.

This defect has been technically termed "Sub-sequential Internal Non-Morality" or more commonly known as SIN, as it is primarily characterized by loss of moral judgment.

Other symptoms include (but are not limited to):

·       Loss of direction
·       Foul vocal emissions
·       Amnesia of origin
·       Lack of peace and joy
·       Selfish or violent behavior
·       Depression or confusion in mental component Fearful

The Manufacturer, who is neither liable or at fault for this defect, is providing factory authorized repair and service FREE of charge to correct the SIN defect.

The number to call in your area is F-A-I-T-H. Simply believe that Christ died for your sins, was buried and rose again, and your unit will be regenerated. No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Christ will repair and replace it with:

·       Forgiveness
·       Love
·       Joy
·       Peace
·       Longsuffering
·       Gentleness
·       Goodness
·       Faith
·       Meekness
·       Temperance

Please see operating manual HOLY BIBLE for further details on the use of these fixes. [ See sections 1Cor. 15:1-4;  Eph. 1:7;  and Gal. 5:16-26 ].

Continuing to operate any human unit without receiving this repair fully voids any and all Manufacturer's warranties (explicit and/or implied), exposing the owner to dangers and problems too numerous to list; including potential legal judgment for damage to other manufactured items including but not limited to other human units. Such continued operation shall result in the owner/operator being permanently impounded. [For free emergency service before it's too late: call upon the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us and gave Himself a ransom for our sins].

Any and all human units not receiving this recall action shall be destroyed by fire. 

This action has been authorized by the Creator.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Systematic Theology

I've often complained about Systematic Theology, and perhaps I'm not alone in this.  This week, I've been checking out a new-to-me blog called The Naked Bible. This quote from the blog's author,  Dr. Michael Heiser, sums up my thoughts about Systematic Theology very well near perfectly. I will be adopting his words.
I don’t really care too much about systematic theology; it’s almost always English Bible-driven and “top down.” I care about biblical theology. - From a comment in THIS DISCUSSION.
"top down" means that the System drives the understanding of the Bible not the other way around.  I believe that such systems give poor theologians false confidence in their doctrine. I also believe they all to often keep good theologians from teaching good doctrine while they correct bad doctrine. Truly talented teachers are able to do both at the same time but in my experience these men are rare and far between.

When Brother Lou was reviewing my book he reacted with grace to my stance on Systematic Theology, even though he has been a teacher of the subject himself. I almost felt bad for having this view expressed in the book. It's funny to me that out of all the things I wrote about in Fail-Safe this is the one topic that comes up most often when people criticize me.

So what are your thoughts about Systematic Theology?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bad Kool-Aid: The Gospel According to INSERT NAME

If you are not familiar with the Bad Kool-Aid series please read the introduction first.

Many Bibles have the first four evangelistic letters of the New Testament titled as "The Gospel According to" Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  This has led to people offering many "takes" on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and calling their take "The Gospel According to INSERT NAME." Many of the authors of such works use their various authorities to redefine the Gospel in such a way that agrees with their own views.

This practice is so prevalent that even secular media have taken the approach. A simple search at returns 10,879 books that contain "The Gospel According to".... This practice seemingly gives biblical validation to the idea of relative truth; what is true for me might not be true for you.

There are many various implications of the Gospel, but that there is more than one valid "take" on the Gospel of Jesus Christ is Bad Kool-Aid. There is only one Gospel according to the Scriptures, which is the same Gospel and the same take on that Gospel as Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul and Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Stephen, Apollos... and every one else. There is ONE Gospel, and ONE take on it. 1Cor 15:1-11, Gal 1:6-9, Gal 1:11-12


If you find someone spreading the Bad Kool-Aid of a Gospel According to INSERT NAME, please link them and their audience to this answer! Tell them that they are spreading Bad Kool-Aid and that there is only ONE Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here's a TinyURL to use:

Friday, December 10, 2010


I'm starting a new series of posts that will be on going, so long as this blog continues, called "Apostasy Watch" and I'll be posting things that show the great falling away. 

2Thes 2:1-17

1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.  

13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given useverlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.
Here is the video that made me decide now is the time to sound the warning in earnest! Perhaps I have waited much longer than I should have. 

Walking In The Light

1Jn 1:5-10

5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

1Jn 2:1-11

 1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
 3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.
7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 10 Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. 11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.

Jn 13:1-10

 1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
   Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

Zech 3:1-10
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
 3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”
 Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”
 5 Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by.
 6 The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: 7 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.
 8 “‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9 See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.
 10 “‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” 

Saved people get dirty in the world but the Lord God Almighty loves us to the end. He cleanses us who expose ourselves to Him, as we are, and then we can go on to be used of Him as we are in fellowship.  If we do not do this, though we are saved - like Joshua the High Priest, or Peter the man who had already been bathed, then we cannot have fellowship and we cannot be used of the Lord. 

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Bible X-Files?

Dr. John MacArthur has a new book coming out. I heard about this a few weeks ago from a commenter here at On My Walk, but now there's a promo video!

Brother Martuneac, author of In Defense of the Gospel which was recently reviewed here has a discussion about MacArthur's new book "Slave" going on over at his blog. Lou quotes MacArthur's own explanation of the book.
“Studying the New Testament I discovered a distortion of truth when it came to the word ‘doulos.’ The book Slave is about the hidden word that unlocks the believer’s identity. There had been a conspiracy to cover up a truth that is so essential to the New Testament that without it we misunderstand our relationship to Jesus Christ.”
You "discovered" a distortion of the truth? Written about a "hidden word"? There's been a "conspiracy"? Wow, hold the show there Spooky Mulder... I'm sure you're just trying to sell some books but you're going a bit over the top here buddy. What is this? An episode of The Bible X-Files?

Well I don't know about any of that... last I checked the Bible has been completely open for study to everyone for a long time and ignorance of what it says, or doesn't say, is really the fault of an individual - not a conspiracy.  As for what MacArthur intends to explain to the world with his upcoming book "Slave"- well, I think this quote from his sermon "Slaves for Christ" sums it up pretty well.
“When you give somebody the gospel, you are saying to them, ‘I would like to invite you to become a slave of Jesus Christ…give up your independence…give up your freedom, submit yourself to an alien will, abandon all your rights, be owned by, controlled by the Lord’. That’s really the gospel.” (1:06 of video linked above)
"That's really the gospel." Really? Alright MacArthurites, remind me again how I have misrepresented this man's doctrine again and again...

Here's the promo video. I'll definitely be buying this book, if only because I want to show it to all the people who tell me that MacArthur doesn't pervert the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Faith Worth Building

A few days ago I posted an article called "Faith Worth Sharing" and it is not surprising that, as of the time of this writing, no one has commented on it. Isn't it a strange and sad thing that it doesn't matter that the Lord Jesus Christ commanded the Church to preach the Gospel to every single person on the planet - nearly none of us actually try to do it?

So are we all "false converts"? The Lordship Salvation (LS) proponents are all to glad to have us "examine ourselves to see if we're in the faith" by seeing if we obey Christ's commands or not... well how are we doing with the test? Depending on who you listen to there are some 2 - 5 % of us who actually do regularly share our faith. So 95-98% of "Professing Christians" (to use the LS phrase) do not obey the command of Christ to preach the Gospel.

I could just jump on the LS bandwagon, declare us all unsaved and start preaching about how we must be sharing the Gospel!!! Of course.. here's a thought... if you (and I) aren't listening to the Lord Jesus Christ on this one what are the chances you're going to shape up and flight right because someone like ME tells you to? Would we be any more saved if we started sharing the Gospel? Oh I could have some fun with this... but what I REALLY want to do is HELP!

I've been around the block on this topic, so to speak. I've helped local assemblies learn to step out in obedience to the Lord and really work at having the Brethren sharing their faith regularly. I've created tools, lesson plans, teachings.... Many things really.. to help people do this. Some of these have been helpful, but to be honest (as some of you may know) they were missing something important and so became most useful to those who would work by their own effort instead of working by the effort of the Spirit.

The faith that is worth sharing, is also worth building. Why are we not sharing our faith? Because we haven't built it up. Truly. Obedience (or the lack there of) is not the problem, the problem is we are distracted by the world! We have left our first love!

Revelation 2:1-5  
1. "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, 'these things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2"I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary.

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place - unless you repent.
These words may be hard to hear, but I pray from the mouth of the Lord to our ears!! So what was that first love?
Acts 2:42 sums it up very well.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Our faith is built the same way the Early Church was built. We begin at the beginning and get grounded in the truth, then as we grow up our faith becomes a gushing fountain that pours into everything else. We become like the 2 - 5% who are even now sharing their faith; so unable to stay quiet that we tell everyone!
Oh but what about the woman at the well? She knew just about nothing and yet she ran off to tell everyone about Jesus Christ right? Yes she did. However, she didn't have the full story and the Lord had to fill in what she didn't tell the people. Further we have no indication from the Scriptures that she continued in this behavior. The blessed truth is that when we are first saved we are most often overtaken by the joy and want to give that to everyone; but this quickly dies down as we get rejected and find we don't have all the answers.

I'm not making excuses for not sharing your faith, Heaven forbid!! I'm telling you why we're not sharing our faith. We have not built it up. We have left our first love.

It is the purpose of the gifted offices of the Church to build the Believers up so as to equip us all for the work of ministry!

Ephesians 4:11-16  
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
 Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers all have one mission - to build up the Believers for the work of ministry.  If the Believers are not working, it is because they have not been built up.  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Faith Worth Sharing

You've been sent to PREACH the GOSPEL here!
I spend a lot of time discussing the doctrine of the Gospel here at On My Walk, but I want to ask the readers plainly - do you actually share your faith?

It's fine and good to hack away at all the straw that men build, and to sharpen each other's iron but are we obeying the Great Commission?

What IS the Great Commission? Well it's a big mission is what it is! Firstly we are to preach the Gospel to everyone. Yes everyone.

Mark 16:14-18
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
It is not our responsibility to "make converts." Those who believe will be saved, those who do not will be condemned.

But this is not all we have been commissioned to do. We have also been commissioned to "make disciples."

Matthew 28:16-20
16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. 
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
We do not have the authority, or the commission to "make converts" but we do have the authority and commission to "make disciples" of the converts. Which is a side conversation which has been discussed at length. Hopefully this thread will not need to go there.

Including here.
What I want to discuss is how we're doing with each of these things. Are we, you and I, preaching the Gospel and then following through with strong discipleship?

Some will say that you need to be led by the Spirit to share your faith with someone... and while there are times when we are led to do many things I do not for a moment believe we get out of step with the Spirit by sharing our faith. We've got a command from the Lord to preach the Gospel to every living person.

What's more, the only people Paul DIDN'T share the Gospel with were those who the Spirit told him not to go to. Paul had a more pressing mission, and someone else would go to Asia.

Acts 16:6-10
6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
and here.. 
Wonderful, lovely, highly gifted, beloved children of God read and participate here at this blog. We spend a lot of time and effort talking about what the Gospel is, what it means, how we are to receive it... I truly hope those reading who are so well equipped with an understanding of the Grace of God are obeying the Great Commission and sharing that free gift with EVERYONE, and doing it INTENTIONALLY.

Do you want to be used by God to reach someone? Know what the Gospel is, and then go talk to them.

Romans 10:14
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 
To which you reply Romans 10:15 and I reply Mark 16:15.

and even here.

Not to mention everywhere else. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Testing The Test - Part 3 Conclusion

Maybe assurance should be tested for
using a 'Bell Curve'? 
Here's the conclusion to this three part series discussing the reliability, and therefore the validity of the John MacArthur organization's test of a person's salvation. This test can be found at his Grace To You website.

In Part 1 I made the applicable introduction to the subject and found some of the test, the objective part of it, was actually valid and trustworthy. In Part 2 I began to look at the subjective portion of the test. There's an important note about subjective testing in that part - just because a test is subjective doesn't mean it is invalid or unreliable. However, reliability decreases with any increase in subjectivity.

This time I'll pick up where I left off in Part 2, and cover the rest of the MacArthur test - questions 3 through 7. I will then offer a conclusion and a closing thought.

Just as before, each individual test question will be evaluated by three standards that it must meet in order to be trustworthy:

  1. Be in accordance with the Scriptures. If it does not explicitly come from the Scriptures then it is man’s wisdom and cannot be relied upon, and is therefore invalid.
  1. Be passable by every single saved person, at every moment, in any situation. If it could give a false indication of an unsaved state to a person who actually is saved then the test is invalid.
  1. Be impossible to pass for every single non-saved person, at every moment, in any situation. If it could give a false indication of salvation to an unsaved person then the test is invalid.

NOTE: Unless otherwise noted MacArthur is referencing chapters and verses from the book of 1st John.

Question 3 reads:
  • True believers keep His commandments (2:3-4; 5:2-3). The term here refers to a watchful, observant obedience. Here the believer desires to obey truths he deems precious. It involves a proactive approach to obedience-the Christian studies Scripture in order to understand and obey it.
  1. Does this explicitly come from the Scriptures? NO.  Mature believers keep His commandments. Hereby we know that we experience Him deeply – ginosko -  Not that we know we are saved. This is well explained in ‘But’ Theology series. However, it is also clear from the passage. 1Jn 2:5 in particular. Being “in Him” is not in the Pauline usage of being baptised into Christ, but in the Johannine usage of “abiding in” Christ, as we see in 1Jn 2:6.  The “test question” falls apart dramatically when the second cited passage is examined. 1Jn 5:2-3 follows after 1Jn 5:1 (as though this needs to be explained…) The test question is invalidated by 1Jn 5:1 where we find that everyone who believes is saved. Then we see that additionally those who love Him, will love other saved people. This is again, birth and then maturity.
  2. Can every saved person pass this test in every situation? NO. The immature, many of whom John wrote to in 1Jn, and those who are failing in their walk or who have simply not come to maturity yet, such as illustrated in 2Peter 1:5-9 will not pass this test. Yet as Peter states, they have had their sins cleansed.
  3. Is it impossible for an unsaved person to pass this test? NO. Many will say “Lord, Lord….” And will have done mighty works… and yet not be saved. Though they will believe they have been obediently following His commandments. 
Question 3 is therefore unreliable and invalid.
Question 4 reads:
  • True believers love the brethren (2:9-11; 3:10, 14-15; 5:2). Ask yourself the question, "Do I love God's people and desire to be around them?"
  1. Does this explicitly come from the Scriptures? NO. While there are things in this question which come from Scripture, as we have seen in the last question, this is about being in fellowship and maturing not simply if you are saved or not. 2Peter 1:5-9 shows that brotherly love is a fairly high point of maturity. However, the Lord did say that the world would know that we are His disciples by our love for each other. In this way, our maturity and our following are made “manifest” to the world. Not that we are saved so much, as we are maturing followers of Him. Careful examination of 1Jn 3 shows more than a simple test of Salvation. He who does not love His brother abides in death. The person who does not do all the things listed in 1Peter 1:5-9 will abide in death - that is they will be dwelling in darkness and not experiencing the abundant life of Christ. 
  2. Can every saved person pass this test in every situation? NO. Immature Believers may struggle with this. Every Believer may go through periods where they don’t want to be around other people, for various reasons.
  3. Is it impossible for an unsaved person to pass this test? NO. Many people following various religions of the world love the people that also follow their own religions. They see their religion as from God and the other followers as “God’s people.”
Question 4 is therefore unreliable and invalid.
Question 5 reads:
  • True believers affirm sound doctrine (2:20-23; 4:2,6). John here teaches that no true believer will fall into any serious, Christ-denying error or heresy.
  1. Does this explicitly come from the Scriptures? NO.  Though 1Jn 2:20-23 is cited as support, it speaks those who deny Jesus is the Christ – not ‘falling into serious error’. The language used in the question is objectionable because it is unclear. The intent of the question is to bring other “errors” into what John wrote under the guise of being a “Christ-denying error” but John is talking about denying Jesus is the Christ – not some related error. Further 1Jn 4:2,6 are also cited in support. However, 1Jn 4:1 is clear that John is writing to saved people, instructing them not to believe every spirit but to test them. Obviously true believers may believe false doctrine.
  2. Can every saved person pass this test in every situation? NO. The Corinthians were taught that there was no resurrection to be expected, long after they had believed the Gospel and had been saved. Acts 18:5-8. They had to be reminded of what they had believed, and have it explained to them all over again. 1Cor 15:1-58. The Galatians were taught that they had to obey Mosaic Law and other things in order to be saved after they had believed the Gospel and received the Spirit by the hearing of faith. They also would have failed this test before they were corrected by Paul, though they were indeed saved.
  3. Is it impossible for an unsaved person to pass this test? NO.  Many unsaved people believe true doctrines, and are ignorant of false doctrines. Depending on the questions asked it is very easy for an unsaved person to pass this test.
Question 5 is therefore unreliable and invalid.
Question 6 reads:
  • True believers follow after holiness (2:29; 3:3-4, 6-9). These verses certainly aren't talking about sinless perfection, or even the frequency or duration of sin. The term sin in these verses describes one who lives an immoral, ungodly, unrighteous life as a matter of continual practice, and carries the attitude of hardened hate for God's righteousness.
  1. Does this explicitly come from the Scriptures? NO. The author of the test imagines what these verses mean. These tell us that as we walk in the Spirit (or abide in Christ in the Johannine sense) we will not sin. Gal 5:16 also explains how this happens.
  2. Can every saved person pass this test in every situation? NO.  Most obviously every assembly of Believers written to in the NT (including any who read these letters today) are taught and discipled into living holy lives with varying degrees of success.  
  3. Is it impossible for an unsaved person to pass this test? NO.  Many followers of false religions “follow after holiness.”
Question 6 is therefore unreliable and invalid.
Question 7 reads;
  • True believers have the Holy Spirit (4:13; 5:10-11). This is an over-arching test summing up all the others. Is there evidence that the fruit of the Spirit is present in your life (Galatians 5:22-23)?
  1. Does this explicitly come from the Scriptures? NO. While it is true that Believers have the Holy Spirit, the author of the test leaves out very valuable information from Galatians 5. Gal 5:16 being the proposed solution to the problem stated in Gal 5:17. Paul’s exhortation is not that those who do not bare the fruits of the Spirit are not saved (or that they don't have the Spirit) – but that those who do not walk in the Spirit – though they LIVE in the Spirit – are being exhorted TO walk in the spirit. Gal 5:25. Most obviously if one believes they DO have the Spirit; Who is our guarantee of future resurrection. 2Cor 1:22, 5:5 and Eph 1:14 However, using our walk as a subjective test is not at all helpful. Because though we have the Spirit we don't always walk in the Spirit. Instead we ought to trust that the Spirit will bare witness to our spirit. Rom 8:16
  2. Can every saved person pass this test in every situation? NO. Those who, like the ones Paul was correcting in Galatians, are not walking in the Spirit will not be displaying the fruits of the Spirit.
  3. Is it impossible for an unsaved person to pass this test? NO. Many followers of false religions have these characteristics at times, some of them for their whole lives.
Question 7 is therefore unreliable and invalid.
The MacArthur test closes with the following paragraph:
In summary, one's assurance of salvation does not need to be based on a past decision or an experience. It should rest first of all on one's faith in the objective truth of God's Word, Jesus Christ, and the gospel. Secondly, it should rest on the reality of a changed life marked by obedience, a love for Christ and His righteousness, and a hatred for sin. Take heart if these things are true in your life, and trust God to continue to work out His salvation in your life.
If God cannot lie, if He is not like a man that He should lie and go back on His word, if He is faithful and just – then we ought to have assurance in His promise alone. There is nothing higher we can hang our assurance on. There is nothing lower worthy of our trust.

Faith alone in Christ alone; anything other than this gives only false assurance. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Testing The Test - Part 2

What do you see?

In Part 1 we introduced the topic and looked at the objective portion of the test of Salvation, that the MacArthur organization’s website suggests to readers. This test can be found at the Grace To You website.
A Note About Subjective Testing: That a test is “subjective” does not invalidate the test, but it does reduce reliability to the same degree as it is subjective. Subjectivity increases in direct relation to at least two factors which are relevant to our discussion; the relational closeness of the evaluator to the evaluated and the value of a result to the evaluator.  In our discussion the evaluator is examining his or her own self to determine if they indeed posses Eternal Salvation or are condemned to Eternal Wrath. The relationship couldn’t be closer or the result more important.
As we progress through the subjective tests I will use examples of how particular factors related to subjectivity can affect the results. I will not say that because the test is subjective it is invalid. In many cases I will however show how a particular person or people group could fail or pass the test because of a specific item of subjectivity that they possess.
The second portion of the MacAthur website test is acknowledged to be subjective, and is introduced this way:
Second is the subjective or experiential test of assurance in which you ask yourself, "Is my faith real?" The apostle John's purpose in writing the epistle of 1 John was to give true believers assurance of their salvation (1 John 5:13). In that small epistle John gives several marks to distinguish a true believer.
As I introduced in Part 1 the very first test of validity for these tests is for me to determine if they come explicitly from Scripture. So here we see that the question being addressed - “Is my faith real?” Then 1Jn 5:13 is cited as the reason the author will use the 1st Epistle of John as the basis for their test. Now the language used in the introduction paragraph is tricky. “Is my faith real?” is a question asked as though it matches the intent  of 1st John; which the article states as being “to give true believers assurance.” However we’ll see that this is not an accurate equation, or even an entirely accurate representation of what the Apostle John wrote.
1Jn 5:13 reads:
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Notice that these things are written to those who believe in the Name of the Son of God. This is written to people who believe, not to people who may or may not really believe. John goes on to state the purpose. “That you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the Name of the Son of God.” His purpose is to assure them, not to give them a test to see if they should have assurance.
You can find the Greek text examined on this page.   
He is telling those who believe that they have Eternal Life, not giving them a test to see IF they have Eternal Life. Clearly this matches the tender character of this whole chapter written to “my dear little children.” 
  1. Does this explicitly come from the Scriptures? NO.
  2. Can every saved person pass this test in every situation? NO.
  3. Is it impossible for an unsaved person to pass this test? NO.
Since it does not come explicitly from the Scriptures we can know that it is not a valid test. Not every saved person can “pass this test” (it’s not actually a test so I’m straining the language to meet the demands of the article). We know this because as the verse continues it is possible that truly saved people can stop believing. Also an unsaved person could potentially "pass" the test. For example an unsaved person may think that believing in the Jesus of the Mormons is the same as believing in the Name of the Son of God.  
The test question “Is my faith real” is therefore unreliable and invalid. So by testing the introduction to this subjective test we find a failure at the very start. 

Nonetheless I will continue examining each individual subjective test question the MacArthur article asks because their own validity is not necessarily excluded just because the reasoning behind using them is invalid.
Question 1 reads;
  • True believers walk in the light (1 John 1:6-7). The light here means both intellectual and moral truth. Ask, "Do I affirm the truths of Scripture, and desire to obey them?"
The question offers a definition of what it means to walk in the light as being “Do I affirm the truths of Scripture and desire to obey them?”
And 1Jn 1:6-7 reads as follows
6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
It is obvious through our first light reading that this passage does not bring up affirming the truths of Scripture and desiring to obey them. One can examine the deeper meanings of these words at these following links. Verse 6 and Verse 7.   
That being the case, John gives us an explanation of what it means to “walk in the light” himself; If we read the entire passage the meaning becomes most obvious.
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Hiding our sin, or claiming we have none is walking in darkness, or what we think is darkness. Such would have us calling God a liar for He has said that all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. So His word is not in us, which is what “His truth” is not in us means. This is Jn 8:31-32, and Jn 15:1-8 in action. It is about discipleship, maturity and fruitfulness not IF one is saved or not. 
Eternal Salvation is not in view here, but fellowship and usefulness is. If we walk in the light we have fellowship. If we walk in the light, confessing our sin, then we are “cleansed.” This doesn’t mean saved, it is a cleansing in the same way that articles used in the Temple had to be cleansed in order to be used. This is the same teaching that the Lord gave to His Disciples when He washed their feet. They have already been washed, now they must only be cleansed.
If you are cleansed you can be used by God and therefore be fruitful, and have fellowship. If you are not cleansed, then you cannot be.
Therefore, as with the introduction we see this test question fails immediately upon inspection, but I will ask all three questions for the sake of being consistent and complete.  
  1. Does this explicitly come from the Scriptures? NO.
  2. Can every saved person pass this test in every situation? NO. Believers who are in rebellion, or are fearful about their sin (such as the ones that John is writing to in this Epistle) are not able to pass the test IAW with either the MacArthur’s version or what the Apostle John wrote (if it could be construed as a test of Salvation). Saved people in 1Cor 15:1, also came to deny the Resurrection, which is what Paul was correcting them on. The saved people in Heb 5:12-14 would not have passed this test. Therefore the test is invalid.
  3. Is it impossible for an unsaved person to pass this test? NO. An unsaved but religious person, such as a Catholic, can say that they affirm the truths of Scripture (as they understand them) and desire to obey them. In fact every religion in the world has these tenants, so followers of any religion could pass this test as worded by MacArthur’s website.  If we read the passage the way it was written, (not the way the MacArthur article uses it) then clearly we see that it is about fellowship and usefulness, not about Eternal Salvation. Understood as it is written in the Scripture I can say that no unsaved person could pass it (as if it were a test of Salvation). In which case we could say that YES it is true that no unsaved person can pass the test of qualifying for fellowship and usefulness. But this “yes” does not help the validity of the test question.
Question 1 is therefore unreliable, and invalid. 

Question 2 reads:

  • True believers confess their sin (1:8-2:1) Confess here doesn't mean to recite every wrong that we have ever done. Rather, it means to agree with God about our sin. That means that true believers hate their sin; they don't love it. They acknowledge they are sinful, and yet they know they are forgiven.
  1. Does this explicitly come from the Scriptures? NO. The word “confess” is in the Present Active Subjunctive form. This means it’s something that the true believers that John is writing to may or may not do. The result if we do is being cleansed and this conditional statement is clearly seen even in the English. Confessing our sins is something we may or may not do and reap the results of or not. MacArthur would have us see that this is a mark of a true belief verses false belief. However, 1Jn2:1 (even cited by MacArthur) makes it clear that this is written to “My dear little children” saved true Believers.
  2. Can every saved person pass this test in every situation? NO. As the verse says itself; this is something true believers may or may not do at any given time. Peter would have failed this test as he played the hypocrite.  
  3. Is it impossible for an unsaved person to pass this test? NO. As I have witnessed to many people over the years, on the street, on the radio, in churches, in coffee shops, at work…. I have found there is a percentage of people who will admit their sin but who will not believe that God has been satisfied by Christ’s death burial and resurrection. These people agree with God, to a point, about their sin but have not faith in Jesus Christ.
Question 2 is therefore unreliable and invalid. 
The subjective portion of the MacArthur test of salvation isn't fairing very well so far. We'll see how the remaining questions stand up in Part 3. 
Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abram was assured by God's word and this was accounted as righteousness.