Home > Opinion > Foster, Preston > 2012 >
.
Cheap Grace
.
Submitted: Sep 5, 2012
By Preston Foster


 
Grace is the gospel.  For some, that seems to be a problem.  Some accuse those who promote salvation by grace through faith alone, as promoting “cheap grace.”
 
Cheap grace is, at best, an ironic term, as grace is, literally, the most expensive gift ever offered (it cost the life of the only Son of God). Cheap grace is, in fact, a derogatory phrase used to warn grace enthusiasts -- and more important, those who are unsure of the critical path to salvation -- against too close an embrace of grace.  More to the point, the term is employed to undercut grace itself, intended to make the notion of grace at once dangerous and inadequate.
 
Cheap grace refers to using grace as license to sin.  As we are sinners saved by grace through faith -- and not by any works of the law (Ephesians 2:8-9), “cheap grace” implies that, indeed, there are works that contribute to one’s earning salvation -- which is not grace at all.  Indeed, good works are a product of grace (Ephesians 2:10), not a condition for receiving it.  Grace begets good behavior (Galatians 5:16), not vice versa.    
 
The idea of cheap grace is also a diversion.  I have yet to meet anyone who espouses grace as their license to continue in purposeful sin or premeditated lawlessness (iniquity).  Sin enthusiasts don’t pause to find license to sin.  Neither have I met anyone who has completely stopped sinning.  We all NEED grace.  
 
The most insidious inference of cheap grace is that one would accept Christ as a vehicle to continue in purposeful sin.  Mere claiming Christ or accepting Him is not the same thing.  If Christ is in you, you are, by definition, different and better (Colossians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19).  Dependence on works assumes that the power to live free of sin is man-made, rather than a result of Christ living in you. 
 
The accusation of cheap grace is, really, a back-door justification for living by the law. The law is positioned as the primary guide for living (1 Timothy 1:7-10), ignoring the Spirit, and discounting the fact that Christ came to live on the earth as a man for the express purpose of keeping the law perfectly -- satisfying the requirements of the law, then was crucified as the Lamb of God, taking away the sins of the world -- for all time (Hebrews 10:10-12).
 
The accusation that grace is a cover for sinful desires serves as a pivot point that allows the supposed keepers of the law to pose as guardians of the faith while minimizing the grace provided by Christ on the cross.  It allows them to find comfort their works (or judge the works of others) and their uprightness -- believing that their salvation is at least partially earned.  As keepers of the Old Covenant, they reject the fact that New Covenant replaced the Old (2 Corinthians 3:13-15). They see the New Covenant directive of being led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18) as vague, inadequate, and soft on sin (Romans 6:14). Grace is put on trial.
 
Those of us who embrace the grace of the New Covenant (Hebrews 10:16-19) and those who hold to the law agree on at least one thing: one of the Covenants is better than the other (Hebrews 8:6-7; Galatians 5:3-4). 
 
The difference is eternal.
 

 


 

William Noel
2012-09-10 10:31 AM

Preston,

Welcome back!  I've been missing your thought-provoking and insightful postings.

Whenever I hear the term "cheap grace" I ask whether the person making the charge even understands grace at all.  Often I hear it used in disbelief that God's grace could reach someone battlung (you fill in the blank) sin and forgetting that it is because of grace that from the ultimate of imperfection toward God's perfection.  This is very much in-line with your point about those making the charge being focused on keeping the law to at least partially earn their salvation.  The irony of the situation is that the person still battling the condemned sin often has a closer relationship with God than their accuser.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-10 10:50 AM

Wasn't Martin Luther's concer re indulgences a pastoral concern about cheap grace?  Isn't believing in cheap grace something both liberals and conservatives can fall into?

Preston Foster
2012-09-10 2:30 PM

Thanks Timo and William.  It's good to be "back."

Stephen, in my opinion indulgences are not about grace, but works.  They are, essentially, payment for sin -- or permission to sin.  This is not grace, but a false work that presumes that men have something (other than their lives) that can pay the debt created by their sin -- and, also, that some other mediator has the power to accept the payment and grant the indulgence.

In my view, payment by men and grace are oxymoronic.

BTW (full disclosure), I consider myself to be a (solo scriptura) conservative. 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-10 9:17 PM

Preston I am not disagreeing with you. 

I believe Martin Luther's concerns about indulgences had both a 'liberal' and 'conservative' element if you will. 

As a conservative way of looking at it, indulgences are very much about works, as a payment for sin.  You see that attitude today in many Christians, who really don't quite get salvation by grace through faith alone.

On the other hand, as a liberal way of looking at it, Luther was concerned that indulgences allow grace to become 'cheap', because people don't take their sin seriously, and it doesn't result in a true attitude of repentence.  Rather, indulgences become like some sort of magic formular to do what you want without fear of punishment.  Luther was scared for his parishoners that this sort of attitude was dangerous.  You see this today in especially many of the Pentecostal ministries, who embrace a consumeristic Prosperity Gospel not all that far removed from indulgences.

Preston Foster
2012-09-11 5:10 PM

Stephen,
 
I understand your point (I think).  
However, I don't quite see the prosperity gospel folks as promoting cheap grace.  Some may be extending the concept of favor past the point of grace to correlate to Biblical promises (i.e., "open up the windows of heaven," or "pressed down, shaken together . . . ").  Still, those cases (to my understanding) do not reflect buying permission to sin.  Some may see them as buying favor, but, to me, the promises are more of a quid pro quo ("Return to me and I will return to you").  

Perhaps I misunderstand your point.

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-10 5:08 PM

If grace is free, why must certain, and specified "works" be included to receive salvation?  This is not the fruits of the spirit, but what could not be known
without someone instructing a convert who accepts grace, unless it is insufficient?
Most of the SDA FBs are added to grace.

Preston Foster
2012-09-11 5:18 PM

Elaine,

Many of the FBs have behavior-oriented features.  Do these features trump grace (with respect to salvation) or do they simply describe what Adventists believe about the role of an individual's behavior in the church's ministry?

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-11 5:34 PM

This rendition of what constitutes ‘Cheap Grace’ is an admirable attempt at redefining it.  The article doesn’t take into account however the reality that there are many who have a rather low estimate of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary and hence presumptuously continue living in sin whilst proclaiming a saved by Grace experience.  Rom 1:16 says that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  The gospel of Grace has the power (in Christ Jesus) to set us free from sin.  A proper understanding of justification and its counterpart sanctification would reveal how Grace really works (pardon the pun).   Grace epitomises the extent of God’s Love in that while we are sinful, Christ died for us Rom 5:8.  Presumptuous sinning, justifying disobedience, together with both legalism and the usual ‘once saved always saved’; do give good reason for the use of the term ‘cheap grace’.  In fact, the term cheap grace, contrary to what some may believe, magnifies the marvellous Grace of God rather than demean it.

Rom 3:31 states, do we make void the law?  Those who ‘cheapen’ the law seem to.  By the way, we are saved by works: but not by our ‘cheap’ self-righteous attempts - but by the priceless, matchless works of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  It is critical that we acknowledge the merit of what he has done for us in the context of such immeasurable Grace.  Rend your hearts and not your garments would be another good example that there is a difference, at least for some of us who have also been saved by Grace -  Joel 2:13.

Preston Foster
2012-09-13 9:16 PM

To my way of thinking, it is the conflation of sanctification with justification that cheapens grace.  Freedom from sin and the reality that one will stop sinning completely (and  permanently) are, to me, quite different things.

Freedom from sin, indeed, acknowledges Christ's work on the cross, atoning for our lawbreaking, fulfilling the law, and granting us grace.  We have, literally, been made free of sin (the noun, not neccessarily the verb).  

Living sin free is, of course, the goal.  But, if one is in Christ, it seems not to be the requirement.  In Christ, our sins will be purged and forgotten.  In Christ and by His work in us, our desire to sin is, over time, eliminated.

If we die in Christ prior to achieving sinlessness (again, to Elaine's point, who has achieved this?), we are saved by grace.

You may have missed it, but the article directly addressed the notion of claiming Christ while living presumptuously in sin.
It says:

"Mere claiming Christ or accepting Him is not the same thing.  If Christ is in you, you are, by definition, different and better (Colossians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19).  Dependence on works assumes that the power to live free of sin is man-made, rather than a result of Christ living in you." 

It is Christ that changes us.  His grace, not our works or even our desire to stop sinning, is where sanctification begins.

We are in violent agreement that it is the cross that provides our salvation.  However, like Elaine, I believe we are never "a little bit pregnant" with sin.  It is the blood of Jesus that saves us, and the righteous of Christ that The Father sees when He looks at those (sinners, saved by grace) who are in Christ.  


Elaine Nelson
2012-09-11 7:31 PM

Unless you know someone who has stopped sinning, we all continue living in sin; there is no in-between of just a little sin or the worst; it is all sinning.  Like pregnancy:  there is no such thing as "just a little bit pregnant."  Those who believe by some magic there will be sinless people before they die or Christ comes, have a theory that has never been proved yet.  No one has claimed to be sinless when they die, so why hypothesize that at some future unknown moment, there will suddenly be those who become sinless?

Andreas Bochmann
2012-09-14 1:57 PM

The term "cheap grace" was coined by Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer - who was executed just days before the Nazi regime in Germany was overcome, because he was part of the active resistance (amidst serious ethical struggles). "The cost of Discipleship" is a small book and Adventism at its best if you want. I highly recommend reading it for this debate...
Here just one quote:
“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost Of Discipleship

Preston Foster
2012-09-14 2:51 PM

Andereas,

Thank you for this information.

I agree with the definition given (". . . cheap grace we bestow on ourselves").  It is some parts of the description of this cheap grace is problematic for me.

How can the word "grace" and "requiring" logically go in the same sentence?  Grace is unearned.  The church does not grant grace as the church is not mediator for God (it is His bride). If the church is the arbiter of repentence, confession, and discipleship, then let us openly embrace a doctrine of works -- as our Catholic friends do.

Church discipline is necessary for organizational purposes and, also, to provide a framework of accountability that facilitates order.  But let us not confuse those functions matters with God's amazing grace.  Further, let us not let our organizational concerns skew our teaching of grace -- as it is presented in the Bible.  We have, mistakenly, required evidence of the fruits of the Spirit before ensuring that one has even received it. Again, it seems that sanctification and grace are, for the sake of church discipline, merged.

Andreas Bochmann
2012-09-14 7:43 PM

How can the word "grace" and "requiring" logically go in the same sentence?

I understand Bonhoeffer to speak against a complacent church. It is not an either or proposition "works or grace", not is it "grace plus a little work".  It's grace only. And because it is grace only, costly grace, as Bonhoeffer clearly points out, we cannot but preach repentance (being the recognition of our utter dependence on grace - i.e. the opposite of works). In other words: the emphasis of repentance is to underline grace, rather than adding a work to it.

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-14 4:22 PM

Cheap grace is, in fact, a derogatory phrase used to warn grace enthusiasts -- and more important, those who are unsure of the critical path to salvation -- against too close an embrace of grace.
-------
This line, among others, is a giveaway which indicates that either there is a misunderstanding of what others believe it to be or perhaps having another worldview of it entirely.  I might point out here that it is more of a condition (or spell perhaps to describe it better) rather than a derogatory tool of mass destruction hurled at God’s Grace.  The Laodicean Church is a good example of this cheap grace condition.  It is to presumptuously take Grace for granted and abuse it by claiming a profession of faith but denying the power thereof.   Although Christ knocks on the outside (offering real Grace and remedy), they claim to have need of nothing and that they know and have it all.  Grace (real grace) then offers the cheap grace enthusiasts’ the remedy for their maladies and calls for guess what?  Repentance. 

Theoretical Grace and experimental Grace are not the same.  The latter changes the heart of the sinner and is responsible for the new birth in Christ and is a pre-requisite in receiving the Holy Spirit in a full measure.  A changed life is evidence of real Grace.

Andreas Bochmann
2012-09-14 7:13 PM

@Preston Foster...

Indeed, Bonhoeffer at times sounds so Adventist in his terminology that we can become suspicious... That's why I pointed out he was a Lutheran and lived and died in Nazi Germany (i.e. had to deal with different struggles than we do).

The quote was just a quote and I can assure you, it is worth reading the whole chapter if not book out of which it comes. So I looked for a longer excerpt on the internet:
http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2010/06/dietrich-bonhoeffer-cheap-grace-vs-costly-grace/
apologies for the website - title ;-)

Bonhoeffer most certainly was a believer in grace, as a thorough reading of the passage will demonstrate.


Elaine Nelson
2012-09-14 7:46 PM

It is not surprising to find that when a well known Christian expresses thoughts similar to Adventism, there is the tendency to notice the congruence.  Not realizing that long before Adventists has such concepts, Christians have always had many ideas now in Adventism, except that they were much earlier.

Andreas Bochmann
2012-09-14 8:10 PM

Well, well, Elaine... ;-) ... I can live with this insight. And I can live with the fact that Bonhoeffer lived while Adventists were around already. One of his teachers in the US was Niebuhr - probably not a very "Adventist" influence. There are many things that impress me about Bonhoeffer (e.g. his bold preaching against Hitler and totalitarianism - when most Christians - including most Adventists where still singing his praises; his risking martyrdom without making self-denial a masochistic, self-centred exercise - enjoying a good cigar as well as rather jazzy gospel music; he believed in the end, but called his church to be active in this world, rather than hide and wait). Most of all ... he was indeed an "Agent of Grace" (for those who like movies ... this one is very authentic). And I thought, if the phrase "cheap grace" was discussed, the originator of that phrase should be heard.

Andreas Bochmann
2012-09-14 7:57 PM

Sorry to come again.... This quote from the chapter "Costly Grace" is not contained in my previous link... As a lecturer I certainly love that quote - but it may also help to clarify what Bonhoeffer tried to argue for in his polemic of cheap grace vs. costly grac.

“At the end of a life spent in the pursuit of knowledge Faust has to confess:
'I now see that we can nothing know.'

That is the answer to a sum, it is the outcome of a long experience. But as Kierkegaard observed, it is quite a different thing when a freshman comes up to the university and uses the same sentiment to justify his indolence. As the answer to a sum it is perfectly true, but as the initial data it is a piece of self-deception. For acquired knowledge cannot be divorced from the existence in which it is acquired. The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ. Such a man knows that the call to discipleship is a gift of grace, and that the call is inseparable from the grace. But those who try to use this grace as a dispensation from following Christ are simply deceiving themselves.”

Preston Foster
2012-09-15 9:06 AM

Andreas and 22oct1844,

Perhaps a little more about my worldview may help explain my conclusions (which, admittedly, redefines cheap grace in the present day context).

As stated in the article, I have not met people who claim freedom to sin as they please because they are Christians.  If they exist, I believe they are a statestically and influentially insignificant minority.  

What I have and do see, far more, are people who claim to know Christ and are, in fact, religious people (Adventists, in particular, but not exclusively) who know almost nothing about biblical New Covenant grace (2 Corinthians 3: 13-15).  Grace is, to them, something of a threat to their religion, which is largely defined by what the do or do not do (Galatians 4:17).  

Like the religious people of Paul's time, it is religious folks that I see cheapening grace -- and preaching a mixed "gospel" of "salvation by grace with works." These religious folks tend to "cheapen" grace, as it is viewed by them as not sufficient to their salvation, believing that their it is their behavior that will be rewarded and is the evidence of their of religiousity (Galatians 4:28-29).  Since grace is free of both works and merit, grace (in their view) minimizes their good works and their righteousness (Ephesians 2: 8-9).

Exactly.



Elaine Nelson
2012-09-15 1:35 PM

Grace is undermined when the Old Covenant law is given more emphasis than the freedom in Christ explained in the New Covenant.  I have found that many, maybe even most, Adventists are able to quote the OT on SDA doctrines as being the "cornerstones" of Adventism but are only vaguely familiar with the multiple examples given in Paul's letters about the great differences now under Christ and his covenant.

Doctrines have replaced grace; and that means works must be performed in order to merit salvation.  How many times has it been heard:  "He, or she would make such wonderful Adventists, but they cannot accept:  Sabbath; giving up meat; jewelry, or whatever the current emphasis.  Under this barrage, grace quietly slips away; it cannot be confined in such an environment.

Bill Garber
2012-09-17 9:34 PM

Thanks Preston, for bringing us back, always back to Grace.   I really like that about you!

Hope you don't mind if I add a few truisms regarding Grace.  Cheap Grace is not one.
  • Grace is not a possession, let alone an acquisition.
  • Grace is unrelated to a transaction of any kind.
  • Grace is God's deepest core.
  • Grace is not of ourselves.
  • Grace is seen by faith and only by imagining God, never in looking at each other.
  • Grace is defined by sin in that only sinners can embrace or be embraced by Grace.
  • Grace is unknown apart from knowing sin.
  • Grace is made real only for those judged convincingly and irredeemably unworthy.
  • Grace is unreal apart from judgement.
  • Grace is not a theological construct.
  • Grace is impervious to sin.
  • Grace is impervious to religion.
  • Grace is not conditional.
  • Grace is not dependent.
  • Grace is only seen when sin is seen.
Feel free to extend the list ... or I suppose share a reflection on one or more of the list entries.

Preston Foster
2012-09-17 10:36 PM

Thanks Bill!  I really like this list, particularly, "Grace is not a theological construct."  So many refer to grace as a "new theology."  Well, in a sense, they are right: it is the New Covenant ministry -- but the mercy seat was always over the law.

It is no coinsidence that the very last verse in the Bible is "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen."

Thanks again, Bill.

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-18 4:48 PM

@P Foster - I took your advice and read through again and found where the problem lies with some of your premise in my view.  This line:

"Some accuse those who promote salvation by grace through faith alone, as promoting “cheap grace."

Firstly, If this is the case then surely evidence of this should be widely available with some reliable proof that would verify this statement.  I think that this premise may actually be the result of insecure faith in God's Grace and an attempt to disguise the 'cheap grace' condition in denying the power of what real Grace offers i.e. - 1] power to overcome sin and 2] our sin being covered.  I have never heard a single sermon or read anywhere a statement which accuses proponents of grace by faith alone of 'promoting' cheap grace. 

It's those who misrepresent grace with the once saved always saved line and the soothsaying’s that God understands when we knowingly continue in wilful wrong doing whilst encouraging others to do so often following customized interpretation of scripture - which, as a result of such misrepresentation of grace, will not accept that grace has power to cleanse one from sin AND cover sin.  Enjoying the covering of sin is wonderful but experiencing the cleansing is too.  Those who downplay or deny the cleansing that grace also offers us will probably also fall in the cheap grace proponent category - and vice versa of course. 

So what I'm saying is that the covering that grace offers and the cleansing that grace brings should be appreciated and acknowledged together, without diminishing the value of Grace.  By upstaging one over the other, cheap grace comes to the fore.  This being no fault of Grace of course; but ours.


Elaine Nelson
2012-09-18 5:52 PM

"Grace has power to clean from sin and cover sin" is the secret to salvation?  Does that cover past sins?  Will sinners be free from all sin before saved?  How much "cleansing" is sufficient?  Does cleansing mean sinlessness?  Or simply walking on the right track?  Will all be sinless before being saved?

Preston Foster
2012-09-19 10:26 PM

22oct1844,

I resist blending the two, not because they don't belong together, but because, at least to me, they are sequential -- with grace coming first.  This is no small thing.  Grace and change are not coincidental.  Change is a product of grace.  Change is a result of gratitude to Christ for reconciling us with The Father and, also of our receiving the power of the Holy Spirit to change.

Still, we are likely not sin free (Romans 3:10-12).  We think sinful thoughts, even if we do not act on them.  At best, our righteousness is filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

We are saved by grace (through faith).  Good works are a manifestation of that salvation. I do appreciate that. Combining good works and grace for many in our culture can, mistakenly, make grace (in their minds) dependent on good works.  

The thief on the cross never lived to perform good works after he received grace.  For me, grace, made available by Christ's work on the cross, stands alone.

Tapiwa Mushaninga
2012-09-20 3:59 AM

Preston

the thief on the cross did one good thing, he reprooved the other guy! lol

Tapiwa Mushaninga
2012-09-20 3:57 AM

Cheap grace is the denial that God's grace can empower people to have complete victory over sin.

Preston Foster
2012-09-20 8:04 AM

The "other guy" had no power to give him salvation.  The thief's reproof was a testimony of his faith in Jesus -- which was the channel for receiving grace -- without works.

Regarding complete victory over sin, this was provided on the cross (sin, the noun) -- which is the foundation of grace.  Again, my personal observation is that I have yet to meet anyone who has stopped sinning completely.  Romans 3:10 validates that my observations are not unique.

Cheap grace, most often, is promoted by those who believe that what Christ did on the cross (giving us victory over sin --the noun) is insufficient for salvation.


Tapiwa Mushaninga
2012-09-20 8:38 AM

This is where we disagree. True doctrine is not derived by your observations but by faith in the word of God. Your concept of grace does not fit into the Great controversy motif and does not answer some of life's greatest questions. If all was finished at the cross what are we still doing here? why is there so much pain and suffering? If all was completed at the cross? Your gospel is the evengelical gospel of once saved almost always saved and I believe sincerely that it is an experience driven gospel as you alluded to having not seen anyone have complete victory over sin. Believing in total victory over sin is the gospel that requires faith! because it also demands a manifestation of that faith in Christlike works. We often feel overwhelmed when we view our lives in comparison to Christ's but he promised that his Grace is sufficient for us

finally what is your take on James 2 v 24

Preston Foster
2012-09-20 11:56 AM

Tapiwa,

Who has stopped sinning?  Is Romans 3:10 inaccurate?

The Great Controversy and anything else that is written about salvation must conform with the Bible, not vice versa.

Romans 4:6 speaks directly to the position I have taken.  Romans 4:4-13 provides the context of this biblical doctrine.

What was completed at the cross was the provision of salvation (our justification).  The cross was the victory over sin (Romans 3:24-27). I have faith that this victory has already occured (Romans 8:2-3). It could only be provided by Christ's perfect sacrifice and resurrection.  We cannot earn that, but as as Romans 4:5 says, "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousnesss."  Repentence (a change of mind and heart) is a result of accepting God's grace, not a pre-condition.  God's grace makes us whole, then we change (John 8:11, Romans 2:4).

My take on James 2:24 is as follows:

James 2:24 speaks to the good works that are done (by Abraham and, later, Rahab) that demonstrated their faith (James 2:21-22) --"faith wrought works."  It is faith that was the catalyst for their works -- and is how righteousness was imputed to them (Galatians 3:6-10, Galatians 3:18-19).  James was speaking to the Jews, specifically (Galatians 2:9) and was known to be somewhat hypocritical in his preaching, being intimidated by his law-focused, self-righteous Jewish bretheren (Galatians 2:12-13).  Paul said that Peter and James knew better (Galatians 2:16).

If works are the basis of salvation, how does one deal with Matthew 7: 22-23, Romans 3:19-20, Romans 3:27-28, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:14, Romans 6:20-22, Romans 5:1, Romans 4:6?  What works can we judge that we are not also guilty of (Romans 2:3)?

Paul was clear about the source of the gospel he preached: it came to him directly from Christ (Galatians 1:11-12).

I am highly confident of this position, based on the Bible (Galatians 3:21).

Preston Foster
2012-09-20 12:51 PM

P.S.  The last Bible reference provided above was intended to be Galatians 2:21 KJV.  

Tapiwa Mushaninga
2012-09-21 4:11 AM

Preston

I am not saying Works are the basis of salvation let us not delve into strawman arguments I could also say Yours is a psuedo antinomianistic look at the gospel but that also would be uncalled for.

So that we are clear are you saying complete victory over sin in this life is an impossibility through God's grace? Matt 1 v 21 is clear that Jesus also came to save us from sin not in it. HEb 12 v 14 is clear that holiness is a prerequisite. I John 2 v 6 is clear that we are  to live as Christ lived if we are abiding in him. MAtt 5 v 48 is both a command and a promise! Grace Mr Foster does not just cover forgiveness it is also empowerment as Titus 2 v 11-12 clearly shows. Romans 2 v 13 and James 2 v 24 support each other well.

I believe you are confusing works which are orchastrated by self with works that are wrought by the Spirit. I completely agree that works wrought by self are utterly useless in our salvation but the works of the Spirit are an intergral part of the salvation process.  Purification is mandatory for one to enter the kingdom of God as Titus 2 v 13 - 14 clearly shows.

Phillipians 2 v 12 - 13 tells us to "work" out our salvation but goes on to say it is God works in us to will and to "do". These "doings" are works wrought by his Grace through his Spirit and are an intergral part of savation as we must work it out.

Finally  I agree with 3/4 of what you said but to deny complete victory over sin is to deny 1 Cor 10 v 13 and to deny Col 1 v 27.         I know and appreciate that you have never seen anyone totally perfect but that is no reason to disbelieve God's word, Exercise faith like Noah who never saw it rain but believed God anyway and built an ark now thats faith!! Christ IN us not just Christ FOR us only is the hope of all glory and is the summation of righteousness by faith!

Stay blessed

Tapiwa Mushaninga


Preston Foster
2012-09-21 8:01 AM

Tapiwa,

Your reference to James 2:24 along with your belief that we must achieve and maintain (perfect) sinlessness led me to understand that works were, at least in part, an element of our salvation.  If I misunderstand you, I apologize.

Still, my (and Elaine's) question goes unanswered: Who has stopped sinning completely and permanently?  I do not believe in antinomialism; I believe Romans 3:10.  I am determined not to fool myself into believing I have attained perfection (1 John 1:8).  Our perfection, I believe, is only achieved by putting on the righteousness of Christ (Isaiah 61:10).  It is this righteousess that the Father will see when He examines the saved.  All of this points to Christ's perfect sacrifice on the cross for our sins, not to us.  Perfect people have no need of a savior.  Again, I believe good works are a manifestation of receiving grace, not a pre-requiste.  Still, our righteousness is filthy rags.  

Christ will purify us at His coming.  "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is," (1 John 3:2).  

Christ came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-16; Mark 2:17).  Grace does not give license to sin.  Those in Christ are not seeking to sin, but still do, per Romans 7:17-25.  Grace covers sin (Romans 8:1-2), and allows us to live without condemnation.

Peace & Blessings 

Tapiwa Mushaninga
2012-09-21 10:44 AM

Preston

You correctly said Christ came to save sinners but from what? Matt 1 v 21  makes it clear. Where I disagree with you iss your concept of overarching forgiveness. I also refute your notiont that a holy life is only attained at his coming ! My question to you is how can God guarantee that sin and rebellion do rise again without infringing on freedom of choice? If grace is only just forgiveness and covers sins why did he not continually forgive the devil. Christians will not continually sin until Jesus comes because Revelation is clear Let him who is holy be holy still and vice versa. Christ is not coming to make people Holy he is coming to take holy people home. your only rebuttal for my arguments is that have we seen a holy person? to which I replied that you must exercise the faith of Rev 14 V 12

I do not agree with your interpreatation of Rom 7 as the life of a repentant christian because at the end of the chapter he exclaims he is wretched and wants deliverance from the boy of death.

Rom 8 v 1-2 then says that there is no condemnation for those who WALK after the spirit and this is contrasted with the experience of romans 7. I am not a theologian but the bible was not written for theologians but for common people. Paul aslo says that God is able to sanctify wholly. If you believe that sin will always be a part of the christians life then what are people supposed to overcome? You believe poeple will be saved in sin I believe they will be saved from it!

Finally if sanctification is God's work why do you believe he is unable to do it completely?

happy sabbath

Tapiwa Mushaninga

Preston Foster
2012-09-21 1:43 PM

Tapiwa,

What I assert is that PERFECTION will be  obtained at His coming.  Holiness is not perfection, as "holy men of God spake as they were moved . . .," yet there is no record of any of them attaining perfection.  Again, what I assert (with biblical references already cited) is that our holiness and perfection is Christ's robe of righteousness.

We certainly disagree about Christ's overaching forgiveness.  If grace is not the unearned covering of sin, what is it?

I did not assert in my article or in later posts that grace will cover the willful sin of an uncommitted heart.  God forbid.  But Paul's public confession in Romans 7:17-25 speaks to his inability to stop sinning -- and his victory, in Christ, over its consequences.  Paul is specifically talking about his frustration with trying to live a sinless life AFTER his conversion.  He is, literally, writing the New Testement, and telling us that, in Christ, it is no longer him sinning, but the sin that dwells within him.  It is, AT THIS TIME, that Paul, in Christ, claims victory over the law of sin and death.  Grace is immediately available to the confessed sinner.  Again, it is gratitude for this grace that is the basis of change and santification.


I am a proponent of walking in the Spirit.  I have written other columns in this space to advance that notion.  http://www.atoday.org/article/797/columns/foster-preston/2011/what-holy-ghost

You say that people will be saved from sin.  But, still, you have not identified one such person who has stopped sinning completely and permanently.  The Bible is the story of sinners, saved by grace.  Sinners whose hearts were sealed by the Holy Spirit and, though they fall, they get up and walk without condemnation (Proverbs 24:16).  Righteousness, in grace, is measured by faith in Christ and the willingness to be wholly His. Satan's heart nor his will was in submission to Christ.  Still, God lingered with him Satan it was certain that his will was set against God.

You are talking about sanctification.  I am talking about grace.  Are you saying that perfection is a requirement for salvation?  The Bible says, time and again, that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ.  Please show me the the biblical map of the alternative route that requires our perfection (serious question).  

If we will attain perfection, why does grace exist?

cb25
2012-09-22 6:36 PM

Hebrews 12:23  "You have come......,to the spirits of just men made perfect,..." bold added

Angie Williams
2012-09-22 5:09 PM

Cheap Grace, a silent false doctrine = Once saved always saved = No need to focus on our sinful nature, through prayer, fasting, study in order to allow the Holy Spirit to change/perfect the inner man =  self idoltry = it's really all about me and what makes me happy..."after all God, you said you got me covered, right?

Not exactly!

1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

1 Cor 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts.

Ecc 12:13,14 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

"We can fool self some of the time, fool others all of the time, but fool God no time"

Grace is applied after conscientious "Steps to Christ" are applied in order to make Christ not only the Savior for your "sins", but to make Him Lord of your lifestyle = words, thoughts, actions: behavior = out with the old, in with a new person = santification process

Bill Garber
2012-09-22 7:55 PM

Angie and friends ... 

It seems that we are considering here what it means to be saved in the Biblical sense.  Biblegateway is a great tool because you can search the Bible in any of 100 versions and see every text that includes a given word or one of two more more words.

It is certainly faster than Strong's or Young's and turning pages.

If you search for 'saved' ... http://bg4.me/Ur1WjJ  is the link to the search in the KJV where you will find 104 verses that include the word 'saved' displayed.  If you do a simple search on the displayed texts you will find that there are zero texts that include the word 'saved' as well as the word 'law' ... There are just two texts that include the word 'saved' and the word 'works' ...

If our goal is personally to be saved in the Biblical sense, then it is pretty clear that law is not part of the process.  And if one looks at the two texts that include both the word 'saved' and the word 'works' it is clear that being 'saved' is expressly declared to be not by works.

There are five instances in which the word 'grace' is in the same verse as the word 'saved' and in each time being 'saved' is declared to have been by 'grace' ...

If there is good news here, it is that if Biblical salvation is by grace and not of ourselves ( Ephesians 2:8 ) , then being possibly mistaken, let alone uninformed about grace will in no way result in anyone missing out on Biblical salvation.  

This is by no means the last word on grace or salvation.  Hopefully it is helpful, however.

laffal
2012-09-22 8:57 PM

The grace of God is a free gift to all, based on the love / mercy of God alone.   The sinner's part is simply to receive the gift... period.
  • In the matchless gift of His Son, God has encircled the whole world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air which circulates around the globe. All who choose to breathe this life-giving atmosphere will live and grow up to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.  {SC 68.1} 
  • For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no man despise thee. (Titus 2:11-15 ASV)
The work / effect of the grace of God is His work, not ours... But not as the trespass, so also is the free gift. For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many. And not as through one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment came of one unto condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses unto justification. For if, by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, even Jesus Christ. So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life... And the law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly: that, as sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 5:15-17.20-21 ASV)


Preston Foster
2012-09-23 1:49 PM

There are at least three recurring misinterpretations about the ubiquity and effectiveness of grace:

 

1. Many believe (or fear) that grace precludes good works.  It does not.  As laffal points out, we are encouraged to be zealous in good works.  The point, however, is that grace -- being, by definition, UNMERITED, is not dependent on good works.

 

2. Grace does not preclude good works. Grace generates good works (Galatians 5:16).  Grace creates a sense of gratitude for the matchless gift that has been received, leading to good works (Galatians 5:22-23), done from a desire to keep the Royal Law (Galatians 5:14).

Good works, done out of a desire to earn salvation -- and without love, bear very bad fruit: a) resentment (Luke 15:29; Galatians 4:29), b) entitlement (Matthew 7:22), c) self-righteousness (Luke 18:11), d) hypocrisy (Galatians 2:12-13), and, most dangerously, e) a rejection of grace and an embrace of the law as the means of salvation (Galatians 5:3-4; John 9:28; John 1:17). 

 

The sequence is vital: grace, then good works.  Christ gave grace -- without condition, first (“. . . Neither do I condemn you”), then admonished her to “Go and sin no more.”  Depending on works minimizes Christ’s work on the cross, leading us to believe that His work needs ours to become sufficient (Galatians 2:21).


Tapiwa Mushaninga
2012-09-24 2:56 AM

Mr Preston

I think you are misunderstanding my position I am not saying that there is anything anyone can do to merit grace please disposess yourself from that notion. Where I disagree with you is what grace can achieve. You believe that grace can achieve total justification but partial santification this is where I think your version of grace becomes "cheap" I believe in total justification and total sanctification. there will be no character change at the second coming. Grace is sufficient to achieve a Christlike life just as Christ lived it this is where i think your version of grace is insufficient.

Christ is able to keep us from falling, a biblical concept you deny that and assert that sin is inevitable even in the christians life and you misapply Romans 7. Your hermeneuitc on that chapter is inconsistent with the rest of the bible. Tell me one sin from which Christ cannot give us the victory? just name one I am curious?! Overcoming is a prerequisite for heaven but only through his grace.

Kevin Riley
2012-09-24 9:21 AM

I am not sure the Bible knows anything about partial sanctification anymore than partial justification or partial salvation.  You are sanctified by God or you are not.  If you are not, then you are not 'partially sanctified', you are simply not sanctified.  Sanctification. like justification, is just another way of looking at salvation.  All of it is a free gift from God.  A Christian who sins is no more 'unsanctified' then s/he is unjustified or unsaved.  Grace covers us all in perfection until God gives us in full what he gave us in Christ at the cross.  Of course God can keep us from any sin - if we let him.  But, in all our stumbling, he covers us with his perfection.  We are all 'changed' at the second coming - we all become what we truely want to be.  If not, then we are all in trouble, because even the most saintly believer up to now has gone to his/her grave without gaining victory over every sin.  Perfection will always be God's gift to us, never our achievement.  Living for God should be our response to what we have, not an attempt to gain what we have been given.

Preston Foster
2012-09-24 10:22 AM

Tapiwa,

I am happy to address your requests.  But, in fairness, I have asked 3 times for you to identify one person who is sinfree.  So far, no luck.  Honestly, I don't expect any as, as the Bible points out, the perfect is a null set, per Romans 3:10.  Those who believe they have achieved perfection are deceiving themselves (1 John 1:8).  It is His grace that cleanses us.  It is His robe that makes us righteous.  The Bible does not require our perfection for salvation.  We are justified -- and saved, by Christ's perfect sacrifice, which reconciled us to the Father.

The notion of our own perfection is, respectfully, a dangerous notion that defines self-righteousness.  Why would we need Christ if we could keep the law perfectly ourselves?

Again, what is grace if it is not the unmerited covering of sin (not  a rhetorical question)?  If only those who have achieved perfection will be saved, why does grace exist and why would we be misled to embrace it? Yet, the Bible identifies grace as the primary vehicle of salvation -- and specifically without works (Ephesians 2:8). 

We have been delivered from sin (as a noun -- sin as defined as "the wages of sin is death . . .").  We have, by Christ's perfect sacrifice and grace, been delivered from the penalty of the law of sin and death.

You say I am misapplying Romans 7.  But Paul is speaking in the present tense about his frustration with not wanting to sin, yet he does.  Still, while he is still sinning (sin as a adverb), Paul claims victory (thru Christ) over sin (the noun) and death.  In the present tense, Paul says, there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ.  It says nothing about them having attained perfection.

Perfection is obtained (imputed).  Righteousness in imputed, not achieved (Romans 4:22-25). 

I have seen Christ remove sin from people.  The power of the Holy Spirit is strong and effective.  People stop smoking -- cold turkey, yet they struggle with lust.  People stop cursing (verbally), yet they think evil thoughts.  I could go on, but it is, I believe obvious to most who honestly examine themselves that, even on the road of sactification, perfection is a distant goal.  

On that road, grace allows us to be confident in Christ's provision of salvation.  Without it, we will live lives of frustration, fear, and guilt.  If we sincerely accept Christ and His grace, we live in a state of imputed righteousness, making us appear perfect to The Father.  This is what grace is.


Tapiwa Mushaninga
2012-09-24 11:25 AM

Preston

You belive that victory over sin is victory over its penalty and not its power. I believe Christ's righteousness can also be imparted by his grace as well. From your version of the gospel it is obvious you do not bellieve in the most fundamental teaching of adventism which is the investigative judgement. How will forgiveness work when Jesus leaves the most holy place. This is why desmond ford had an issue with the sanctuary message, it did not fit in with his sin inclusive gospel.

I believe yours is a half gospel which downplays works although you state is does not. Your version is inconsistent with the biblical consesus and actually raises more questions than it solves.

1. Why did Jesus not die for Lucifer?

2. What is God waiting for if all was completed at the cross?

3. what happens when probation closes, since sin is an inevitable part of the christisn?

4. How can God insure that a rebellion will never take place again without infringing on freedom of choice. Lucifer had a sinless nature but that did not stop him from sinning so how can God prove that humans in heaven will not be a high risk.

5. why is it that you need proof of someone sinless when Jesus did it with the resources that are also available to us? unless of course he took our humanity vicariously as some people say? Trust God and his word and lean not on your own understanding.

6. Are you also suggesting that Jesus had some advantage over us in the battle against sin? That would support satan's claims in the grest controversy

Finally the ultimate legalism is to believe that there can a change in the books of heaven without a corresponding change in the life of a person. If grace cannot make a person conquer every sin in a person's life, then it is not even "cheap" grace,  it is not grace at all!


P.s. please define what you mean by perfect because Jesus commanded us to perfect just like our heavenly father. Even you cannot spin this!! Grace can totally redeem from the power of sin and not just the penalties thereof!




Preston Foster
2012-09-24 11:31 AM

Tapiwa,

To be fair, I will be happy to respond to you set of questions, if you will simply answer my single one: Who has stopped sinning completely and permanently?

Let's not spin to a new set of issues while leaving the simple, primary questions unanswered.

Thanks.

Kevin Riley
2012-09-24 8:51 PM

The answer depends on which 'sanctuary  message' you are referring to.  It has not been a static doctrine. 

When probation closes, it is with God's pronouncement that we are what we have chosen to be.  If we stand perfect before God at that time, do you really believe it is becasue we have become perfect, or because he has made us perfect?  Will we not all need to be changed?

What does it mean to be perfect?  When taking a second shot at giving the same message, the Bible replaces 'perfect' with 'merciful'.  Could that perhaps be the most important elelment as far as God is concerned?

Bill Garber
2012-09-23 6:12 PM

Preston,

I thought of you wen I read Martin Zander this morning ... http://bit.ly/PztOxT  He doesn't use such authorative font size as you've chosen just above :) ... just the same, I think you'll agree, he does an admirable job of putting Grace in the context of sin, religion, and human experience ... as well as law and works and the stuff that usually enters the conversation about Grace.  Be aware, Martin's metaphors are a bit raw.

Martin agrees about the sequence point you make.

What I came to sense today is that Grace is effective at every state of human experience.  I used to think that Grace is a post-judgment experience of God.  Well, it is.  It is just that until then, we experience Grace by faith, if you will.  And even when our imagination of Grace is its only substance and evidence, Grace profoundly changes us.   

That said, our determiation to be changed absolutely gets in the way of Grace.  It is the old, what you resist persists, line.  Fortunately that is true of Grace as well as sin.




Preston Foster
2012-09-23 6:47 PM

Bill,

I ask you and our fellow contributors for grace in this matter.  I tried writing on my "Notes" app on my Mac (for editing and spelling purposes), but when I pasted it to AToday, my "voice" was over-amplified (not my intent).  My apologies to all.

Thanks so much for this resource.  I know I'll enjoy taking it in.


Keta-Val
2012-09-24 9:20 AM

New to this forum...lifelong to Adventism...it has been very interesting viewing the jousting going on...on a subject that is near-and-dear to any life-long Adventist...Law vs. Grace,(as well as to Protestantism, in general.)
 
Like most of you, I have grown up viewing them as hand-in-hand, but with a heavier weight given to Law...with Grace sort of thrown in as a "season" for those who couldn't quite make the "cut".  Life's trials have given me ample impetus to pursue a deeper understanding...and over the last year or so, I have grown to have a more personal relationship with Christ...more than I would ever have dreamed possible.  Through this, I have spent many hours in study, reading resources from many areas...not all Adventist.  I was so surprised to learn that, through this study, I have gained a better appreciation, and understanding of the Gift of Grace, given freely by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, to reconcile us to a Holy God, whose Love for us was so unimaginably great, that He would give His only Son...pure and free from sin, so that His original plan for us to dwell with Him, could be salvaged from satan's plan to destroy us, God's most precious creation.  What Love! What Mercy! What...Grace! This is the story of God's plan to save us...pure and simple...so that even the most unlearned of man might understand this concept, and accept His Freely Given, though unfathomably expensive, gift of Righteousness...by the expression of our Faith in Him, and acknowledgement of His existance as God, our Father!  

This is the story, and gift of salvation...whatever scriptural supports, texts, references, exogesis, etc., that we may become "distracted" with! One of the enemies' favorite, and most effective ploys! To get us lost in the trees...so that we cannot see the greater forest that surrounds! I am certain that this is so simple, as to be potentially insulting...it is not meant to be...rather...just a gentle nudge back toward the beginning proposition of Grace, freely given, and extended to us all...which could never be "Cheap", at so great a cost to our Savior.  It is fun to delve into the exercise of debate, but we must be careful that we are not deceived, by the great deceiver!

My study finds me in very close agreement with Mr. Foster...as it is the closest, I believe (and what I have been led to in my study), to what God originally intended for us, and what has gotten lost in the spendid "shuffle"of intellectual, theologic debate!

It is refreshing to see us considering, finally, that it is NOT anything that we DO...that can make us worthy to be saved...simply...God's Righteousness that covers our sins, and redeems us back to Him...and His Grace! 
All else will follow...in a truly repentant, committed, heart(mind), supported by His Mercy and Grace! ...man looketh upon the outside, God looketh upon the heart.(para 1Sam 16:7) Let us NOT make difficult, what God has made simple!

Be Blessed!

Preston Foster
2012-09-24 3:32 PM

Keta-Val,

Like you, I was raised in Adventism.  I am glad that I was.  But many of the verses that I am quoting as "proof" texts have, for years, been underlined in my Bible.  Apparently, I knew that they were important and pivotal.  Yet, I could not "hear" what the verses were saying, plainly, because it did not jive with what I had been taught about the law and about the difficult work of salvation (2 Corinthians 3:14-15) -- including my need to achieve perfection.

This led to my not being able to hear the gospel.  Neither did I see the Bible as "good news," given my knowledge of myself.  I saw the church as the vehicle of condemnation.  Thus, my relationship to it was rather dysfunctional.

Understanding grace, as it is presented in the Bible is, indeed, good news (2 Corinthians 3:16-17).  Like the prodigal son, The Father receives us and robes us in His righteousness (Luke 15:22), simply because we've headed toward Him and confessed (Luke 15:21).  He was seeking us all along.  Now, the challenge is to deal with my spiritual "good brothers" who seem to want me to pay a price -- and receive a reward for "staying home."

Preston Foster
2012-09-24 10:27 AM

"Eve blamed it on an Apple, too!!"

Classic, Timo.  :)

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-24 4:43 PM

Isn't it sad that each individual had to study for himself to discover what should have been the preeminent message of Adventism?  Grace, and not the Law.

Sadly, there are many who have not discovered it, or else so long indoctrination in the importance of the Law are unable to undo the shackles that still bind them to "perfect obedience" and some in the Last Generation Theology of Perfectionism.

Will it take another 100 years before Grace is THE message of Adventism?

Stephen Foster
2012-09-26 5:40 AM

I think you may be on to something here Elaine. A complete and proper understanding of grace may be the holdup.

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-24 6:31 PM

RE: Who has stopped sinning completely and permanently?

The question begs some attention as it asks the impossible, in that, by asking such a question firstly, one should at least know that only God can answer this, especially the first part ‘who has stopped sinning’.  Secondly, the ‘completely and permanently’ part of the question clearly doesn’t take into consideration that only God can Judge such a condition therefore making the entire question illogical and irrelevant especially in terms of what Grace is and how Grace works.  Grace is about the unmerited imputed and imparted righteousness of Christ.  (The term 'cheap grace' diminishes this by denying that Christ's imputed and imparted Righteousness has power to change our lives and enable us to walk in obedience to God by His Power and His Grace through the indwelling Spirit).  Sinning denotes our human condition and sinful nature. Only God knows the human heart and can pass judgement on this. 

One can also ask in return – (for example): "Who is Righteous completely and permanently?”  This too - only God knows.
 
I can say this though, that Jesus did not sin completely and permanently and as a result, His righteousness is imputed (and imparted) to us who believe in Him by faith and accept Him as our personal Saviour.  These are recipients of his Grace (or unmerited favour) by faith.  Though I feel the the question is illogical and has a twist to it by asking the wrong persons to answer what only God can answer, we can safely say that all those who enter the Kingdom of heaven and receive eternal life are those that completely and permanently do not sin.  I believe that this is a result of what His marvelous powerful Grace can do (and has done) for us by faith in Him who is able to keep us from falling and present us faultless before the Throne [Jude 1:24].

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-25 12:17 AM

Here's a well-known example of God calling Abraham to walk before him and be perfect or blameless [Gen 17:1].  Christ's perfect robe of Righteousness which is provided by His Grace is provided to those who repent and accept him as their Saviour.  Repentance is a vital part of God’s calling and a provision made possible by Grace.  John the Baptist, The Disciples and Jesus preached repentance.  Even after the cross repentance is still a vital part of salvation by Grace. 

The changed life is evidence of Grace in Christ Jesus.  The Lukewarm Church of [Rev 3:16] shows that even though Grace may abound, many have distorted it and made their own self-righteous 'increased with goods' model of which such a condition is totally unacceptable to God.  Here, to those in this lukewarm condition, God reveals there is no indwelling Christ as he is substituted by inferior or cheap self-righteousness so Christ knocks on the door calling them to respond favourably and accept His Robe (among other things) that His Grace offers us freely [Rev 3:19, 20].  The conquering is also part of this grace [Rev 3:21].  Cheap grace denies this and supports the self -righteous or the reckless position which God rejects.

laffal
2012-09-25 2:51 AM

The question could be asked, what did God mean when He asked Abram to "walk before me and be perfect / blameless"?  Up unto this point, God had given Abram His covenant at least three times (Genesis 12.13.15).   So what is God asking Abram to do in chap 17?  How many times had Abram failed to trust God and His covenant promise to him?  At least 3 recorded in Genesis (he lied twice to protect himself, along with Hagar).  There is only one way to walk perfect before God... by faith in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In Genesis 17, God gives Abram at least 8 promises of what He will do for Abram, including a name change to Abraham.  All God asked of Abraham was circumcision... the removal of the foreskin symbolized the removal of unbelief (Deuteronomy 10:16; Jeremiah 4:4) 

The grace of God can only be understood and experienced for what it is, when it is believed, and not questioned for what it is... The love / power of God freely given to all who would believe / recieve it for what it is... Grace

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-25 7:33 PM

1] The idea of cheap grace is not a diversion but rather a false substitute for real grace.  Take for example the teaching that when one accepts Christ then no matter what they do thereafter they can be assured of salvation (the once saved always saved assertion).  The article doesn’t address this at all yet this is quite a common teaching which has been labelled cheap grace because it contradicts the very purpose of Grace, among other things.  It is the opposite extreme of legalism.  Another example is the clergy who claim to forgive sins on behalf of God or sell some form of indulgence and call this grace.
2] Those who really promote salvation by grace alone are not being accused of promoting cheap grace.  It’s those who distort or limit grace to only a static powerless thing that do.
3] It is not a derogatory phrase used to warn grace enthusiasts or caution those against a too close embrace of grace.  On the contrary - it elevates and places a higher estimate of grace without limiting its power to both cleanse and change the sinner.  True Grace has no fear or hatred of God’s law and does not look at the law with disdain.  It appreciates the role of the law in bringing conviction and exposing our sinfulness and our desperate need for remedy thereby pointing us to Grace in Christ Jesus who can do exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine [Eph 3:20, 21].  Now that places Grace on a much higher estimate than just using grace to make void or attack the law (which is what cheap grace in my opinion vigorously presupposes).
4] Grace is not just limited to the manner or act of grace but also involves the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.
5] This simply isn’t true: “The accusation of cheap grace is, really, a back-door justification for living by the law.”   Why would those who uphold what grace offers want to justify living by the law? 
6] RE: “The accusation that grace is a cover for sinful desires” – No one is accusing grace let alone saying it is a cover for sinfulness.  It is those who despise the law and obedience to God who can’t handle the fact that Grace through Righteousness by Faith Christ writes the law of God in our hearts and brings us to obedience to God through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he asks do we make void the law?  Cheap grace does: it denies or makes excuse that the power of Grace can't bring us to obedience by the indwelling Christ [Gal 2:20], even subtly asserting that obedience to God through Christ Jesus by faith is sinful and works based.
7] The Matt 7:20 verse ‘by their fruits ye shall know them’ is not indicative of passing judgement but rather raises awareness with regards to those who don’t practice what they preach and is a good example of what cheap grace offers.

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-25 9:49 PM

When someone uses the term "cheap grace" you can be assured that there will be emphasis on behavior--the Law, that MUST be combined with grace to achieve the works that will demonstrate that you are safe to be saved.

There is no place for the one who is converted, like the thief on the cross with  time for behavior changes.  With "change" needed, when will there be sufficient change?  When can someone be assured of salvation, if their behavior is measured by conformity to the Law?

Bill Garber
2012-09-25 11:25 PM

22oct1844 and other friends ...

Grace isn't cheap.   It is free.
Sin isn't a behavior, it is a state of being.
God doesn't have grace, God is gracious.
Salvation isn't a transaction, it is a transformation.
Judgment doesn't assess who is eligible for salvation, judgment guarantees that everyone saved is saved by grace alone.
Even mere faith in God's grace is utterly transformative, what seeking transformation is futile.

Martin Zender may be a little raw for some and his sense of God's grace is as pure as it may be possible to be this side of the judgment.  Check him out if you are not timid ...   http://bit.ly/PztOxT  




Keta-Val
2012-09-26 5:58 AM

Beautiful!

Preston, I understand and empathize with your early experience with the church.  I had friends who experienced the same. Me...I held tightly to my little book of rules..."do's and don'ts" for how to get to heaven!  That was a security blanket.  It made me feel "certain" that there was a definitive way...if I just "colored within the lines"...of getting there!  I daresay this is how other legalists feel, and...and why they are so adamant, sometimes even combative...about any other possibilities! Yea...probabilities! It is Fear!  But...God did not give us a Spirit of Fear...but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind(2Tim 1:7. It is that fear...that of losing the handbook, the roadmap, that causes such angst. 

But...God's Plan frees us from all of that! I will attempt to encapsulize it...simply!

Praise God! I put down my "little black book" of laws, doctrines, etc., that our church, well-meaning that it was, gave us when we were baptized...with the 27-doctrines long ago, when it "changed", and I realized, it was made by man, who can add and subtract...for God NEVER changes, and admonishes against adding and subtracting from His Living Word!(Deu 4:2;12:32, Psalm119:160, Prov30:5-6, Rev22:18-19)  

The law helps us feel "safe", just as do the laws of the road...and indeed...were provided to keep us safe on the road of life, as we climb ever higher, and steeper on this narrow, and treacherous road toward heaven! Safe from the consequences of "sin", and "sinning"...noun and verb!  
In God's great Mercy,"His Presence"...which is with us today, and waiting for us in the many "tomorrows" of life...provided us the law, to prevent what He knew...and could already see...would be the consequence of succumbing to our sinful natures.  Since it is by our nature, we are prone, and destined to live in sin...were it NOT for grace...he provided us a "how to" book of successful living in Him...The Law. This was done in Love, not in exacting, harsh, condemnation...rather, much like we do for our children to prevent hurt, harm, or danger...because in our experience and wisdom, we can "foresee" and anticipate the harm a particular type of path would bring them. It seems harsh to our children, that cannot see...in their immaturity...what we, in love, are trying to prevent them from suffering.  This is analagous to God's Love and Law for us...in our spiritual immaturity.  He extends us Righteousness...paid for by His only Son's Precious Blood...so that we might be able to approach Him, and in our filthiness, be seen as He see's His Son...pure and holy!  In our acceptance, and appreciation for this unfathomable Gift, when the natural scales have been removed from our eyes, and the walls of our hearts/minds are softened by His Supernatural Holy Spirit, then transformation begins, and our desire to please Him grows within us, so that we are able turn from our wicked ways...more and more, taking on the character of Christ!  This is the work of the Holy Spirit/Christ, living within us! This is where our love for Him grows...sin becomes repugnant, and we want to please Him.  More and more...we want to be...like Jesus!

"Earthly pleasures vainly call me, I would be like Jesus!"

Even with this growing  desire, our "righteousness is as filthy rags" and we are not worthy, before our Holy Father...which we can't begin to understand...so in His Graciousness, His Grace which "doth even more abound"para(Romans 5:20), covers this deficit...and we are reconciled to God! Hallelujah!  

So...His Righteousness covers us, the Law protects us, His Grace & Mercy assist and reassure us that He forgives us, His Love...surrounds us and gives us Peace!  His Yoke?... is therefore, Easy...and His burdens are light! What more could we ask?!? Praise God! What a Wonderful, Awesome, Beautiful God...we are humbled, and privelaged to serve!

Therefore...It is Law and Grace! 

Transformation to the Character of Christ, brings about the desire to do His Will, accept His Nature of Inexplicable Love toward us, and in our pitiful human efforts, try to reciprocate...with all/little we have...our hearts(minds)...our love.  Inextricably interwoven is the Tapestry of God's Plan for us...Law and Grace by Faith...Transformation and the rewards thereof..fruits of The Spirit, Joy, Peace, Patience...etc.,and the Hope of Life Eternal! This is God's Plan for us!
Be Blessed!
(Bill, Loved Your "Succinct" explanation of Grace! It's an artform! ;-)

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-26 11:01 AM

Jesus was perfectly obedient to God’s Law (His Law) and as a result, we are saved by the merits of His works.  Jesus' life of obedience and his perfect sacrifice making atonement for our sins is really what gives Grace its value.  Without Messiah, there is no tangible grace for us.  Our grace is found in Him alone.  He is The Lawgiver; The Life Giver; The Forgiver; and The Law Keeper.  Christ our Righteousness.  Religious liberals get all defensive and display a phobia towards God’s law which is most often unnecessary especially when no-one is talking about salvation by our own works.  What are they so afraid of?  Are they afraid that Jesus may require that they give up some of their darling sins?  No need for fretting as Grace has the propensity to even get rid of those darling sins – if we’re willing to surrender our lives to Jesus, that is. Those who have been saved by Grace and have experienced the joy and forgiveness it brings together with the power that the indwelling Christ manifests in the deliverence and overcoming of sin and disobedience will understand this first hand as we continue to grow in His Grace. 

Some eagerly want the forgiveness and the covering of sins together with the declaration of righteousness; but they are unwilling to acknowledge the power of the works of Christ in the human heart which cannot be separated from the salvation that Grace offers and represents.  The article discusses ‘cheap grace’ and the meaning and use of this term which in my opinion is a rather distorted redefining of it and completely misrepresents what it really signifies and alludes to.  When issues regarding cheap grace are raised, it is immediately brushed off as legalistic and works related.   This may be true if one is talking about salvation by our own works; but in terms of salvation by the works of Christ - it most definitely is not legalism in any way.  It is Righteousness by Faith. 

Those who downplay Christ’s works of Righteousness and his atonement made for us on the cross by customising grace to suit their liberal culturally biased positions unavoidably attack and make void the law.  Grace and Law are both embodied in Christ our Righteousness and when we undermine either of them we cheapen the sacrifice made on Calvary thereby cheapening God’s Grace.

Preston Foster
2012-09-26 12:30 PM

To 22oct1844 and (regarding "grace and law") to Keta-Val,
 
We differ in that I see and know lots of folks who seek to justify living by the Old Covenant law and, also, see perfection in regard to that law as a requirement for salvation.  It is these folk that, in my opinion, cheapen grace (again, this does NOT advocate lawlessness, but is shared to contrast the power of grace and the Holy Spirit over law).  The law is upheld by these folks as the vehicle that guides our lives (as opposed to The Spirit).  Grace, (through faith) is cheapened by being declared insufficient, in itself, for salvation (Galatians 5:1-5).
 
To be clear, The Spirit does not lead us contrary to the law.  But there is a significant difference  between being led by the law and being led by the Spirit.  It is the law that is insufficient for righteousness (Galatians 3:21). The purpose of the law is to point out sin (Romans 7:8, Galatians 3:19, 1 Corinthians 15:56) and show us our need of a Savior. Living by the law leads us to self dependence and frustration, as the law has been kept perfectly by no one, saving Christ.  Time and again, we are counseled not to be led by the law, but by grace through faith and by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:7-11, 2 Corinthians 3:3, Galatians 3:12, Galatians 2:19, Galatians 2:21, Galatians 3:10, Galatians 4:21, 24-31, Romans 4:15-16, Romans 3: 20-22, Romans 3:27, Ephesians 2:8, Romans 1:17, Galatians 6:13).  There is no New Covenant biblical counsel recommending a mixture of the two. It is grace and His Spirit, not the law, that are COMPLETELY responsible for any manifestation of good works by us (2 Corinthians 9:8). 
 
The Spirit leads us to a life of love and service to our fellow man, producing attractive fruit (Galatians 5:22-24).  The law and dead works are spiritual formula; the spirit is spiritual meat (Hebrews 5:12-14). 
 
Grace does not attack the law.  God knew that we could not keep it (Hebrews 12:20). He bids us not to Mount Sinai (where the law was given), but to Mount Zion -- where grace abounds (Hebrews 12:23).  Grace sees the law as a means, not an end in itself (Hebrews 7:19, 28).  Under the New Covenant (Hebrews 7:12, 22, Hebrews 9:15), we are to be led by the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:3,6), to a holy freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1, Hebrews 10:15-17).
 
Again good works are a product of grace -- not of law (Hebrews 13:9).  We are not perfected by our efforts, but by the grace provided to us by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:21).
 
His grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

In love and peace.

Preston Foster
2012-09-26 12:45 PM

Correction: the second reference in paragraph 4 (in the above post) should be Hebrews 12:18-23.  Thanks much!

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-26 4:14 PM

"There is no New Covenant biblical counsel recommending a mixture of the two. It is grace and His Spirit, not the law, that are COMPLETELY responsible for any manifestation of good works by us

(2 Corinthians 9:8). 

Why then, do Adventists continually stress the keeping of the Law?  It is contradictory to your many NT verses explaining the relationship between grace and Law:  now that Grace has come, the Law is obsolete just as is a wife no longer under obligation to her husband:  it has been fulfilled by his death (Christ's).

Yet, the cognitive dissonance appears:  "Yes, we are saved by grace, but we must keep the Law."  I must have heard this at least once yearly,  and more in 87 years:  in SDA schools, in church, and in SS class.  It is completely and totally illogical to claim that Grace has come and the Law is no longer our guide; BUT, we must obey it as we sinning if we do not and sinner have no place in heaven. Perfect Catch-22! 


Preston Foster
2012-09-26 5:41 PM

Elaine,

It has been my experience that most of those who hold on to the law a their guide do so exclusively.  There is no competition between law and grace.  The gospel of grace has been hidden by the veil of the Old Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:14-17).  When it (grace) peaks out from behind the veil, it is diminshed  by some as being "cheap" -- meaning "insufficient."  

Keta-Val
2012-09-26 4:31 PM

Eggzactly! ;-)

If I implied that the importance of His Righteousness, which He freely gives, (though it was not freely attained)...and we accept through Faith... is diminished in anyway...that was not my intent! Au contraire...it is the Root of all...the completion of Salvation's Plan for man.

Grace is given to help us complete the race in order to benefit from His sacrifice! Obedience to "law" is a natural outgrowth of our Love to Him, like the angels in heaven...not a requirement for salvation...but expressed in an attempt to explain the proposed question of living a life that reflects change, and does not presume salvation without evidence of what is in the heart( 2Cor 3:3) if we are indeed transformed to the will of Christ, and thus, follow Him.  
Again...our righteousness(aka "works") are as filthy rags, and could never satisfy a Holy God, who does not know/abide sin.  It is His Mercy, and Grace, that provided an escape from our doomed condition...which plan was fashioned in the "cloud"with Jesus in consultation with God in heaven, in divine administration for a plan of redemption...meant only for Christ and God the Father. Lucifer was excluded, and thus began the display of the seeds of Covetousness and self-exhaltation... already in his heart...but allowed to fully develop, in God's Wisdom, so that ALL the universe might see his incorrigible evil, and rebellion, and thus the necessity to cast him down from heaven(Great Controversy, "Origin of Evil, Chapter 29).

You will see law of God mentioned many times in this chapter, and it is the basis for the ongoing Great Controversy, as satan declares God's Law to be unjust, and impossible to obey...thus the importance of Christ living a sinless life!  Christ says He came to magnify(make clear, or fulfill) the law, not to abolish the law. Matthew 5:17), and "If you love me, keep my commandments."John 14:15.

So...pretty clearly, the law is important to God, but...it is not prerequisite to salvation...rather... submission is an outgrowth of transformation thru the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and Christ, and our love for Him.  

His Righteousness, imparted (gifted) to us by His shed Blood... allows us to come "boldy"into the Presence of His Father, being clothed in His Righteousness...by faith...and is the foundation/cornerstone for everything else! 

It is truly His Grace only, that is our extender to God...compensating for the limitations in our humanity.

My legalism was in my early days of Adventism...during the "milk"phase...before I even knew there was something called "legalism".  I am now fully aware, and stand in Awe of His Mercy and His Grace! I eagerly accept His Sacrifice for me and His Grace, given to help me receive the full benefit of His Atonement.  
In love, I bow to Him, and, via the miracle of Grace, exhibit a changed life.

I truly believe we are saying the same thing, just expressed differently.  I don't disagree at all. I enthusiastically second your interpretation.  

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-26 11:20 PM

Which Law is being considered?  The Law of the Old Covenant, or the summation of the Law given by Christ that is love--which is the way we will be known as Christians?  The Jews were known for their Law--in the convenant God made with the Jews.

But love was never mentioned in that Law.  Jesus brought us a new covenant and in his death he satisfied the demands of the Law and no longer are our actions measured by a law but by love,  No wrongs can be done when there is love.

What law is superior to love?  This is why Christians were not given a specific law like the Jews, but the law of love.

laffal
2012-09-27 3:19 AM

Quite the contrary Miss Elaine...
  • "Do not bear a grudge against others, but settle your differences with them, so that you will not commit a sin because of them. Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. I am the LORD.  (Leviticus 19:17-18 GNB)
The basis of the Old Covenant is man attempting to please and be accepted by God thru a perfunctory observance of the law.

Bill Garber
2012-09-26 9:37 PM

Keta-Val and friends,

Obedience is not natural, ever.

Lawlessness is natural.

Lawlessness is God's ideal.

God doesn't value law.  

Law is temporary.  That measn there was a time and there will be a time when there is no law.  That time isn't the same for every person.

The purpose of law  is to reveal to us ourselves as we truly are.    

Judgment is the culmination of that revelation.  We are judged by our behavior as it is measure by the law.

Jesus has done away with law.  All law.  When we see Jesus, we have seen ourselves as we truly are and there is no further purpose for the law.  Galatians 3:24-25  Ephesians 2:15  

Embracing the law after we have by faith perceived God's grace is to make Christ unnecessary.  Galatians 5:4

Perceiving our salvation as utterly undeserved, as confirmed by the Judgement, and yet made real by God's grace is what transforms us in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.  We see through a glass darkly today.  

It is no wonder we cling to law.  Law seems to give us hope that we can take action in our own behalf.  

We cannot.  

Judgement spotlights the purity of our need and the efficacy of God's grace.

Faith is how we do not have to await the judgement to experience the transformative experience of God's grace in our own context.  That is why Faith is declared a gift of God as is grace.

Faith in God's grace does not in any way limit, let alone preempt, the full and eternal blessing that is the Judgment.  It is at the Judgment that our natures become truly lawless in the purest sense of the Creator's intention from the very beginning.

In the meantime, to claim that faith in God's grace somehow purifies our law keeping efforts is to still be looking through the glass darkly.  Of course, the term translated glass is not window (there was no window glass in NT times!) it is mirror.  And poor quality mirrors never give us a true sense of our selves.  For that, Judgment awaits.

Judgment identifes us as imbued with doubt, fear, uncertainty, and thus utterly untrusting toward God.  

The Judgment empowers God's grace to blindingly purify our trust of God.

... And yes, we will all live happily every after ... for real.

In the meantime, they know that we are Christians by our love, as that old 60's song goes ... 



Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-27 11:11 AM

"Jesus has done away with law.  All law."

Really? It depends on what you mean by 'law', 'all law' and 'done away with' exactly?

1. First of all, there is an implicit division in the Law. It is true the NT never expressly says the Torah is 3.  But neither does the NT used the word ‘Trinity’, and yet almost all Christians believe God is 3 in 1.
 
2. The OT itself recognised divisions of the Torah, especially recognising the priority of Moral aspects of the Law over ceremonial and civil aspects: 1 Sam. 15:22-33; Is. 1:11-17; Jer. 7:21-23; Mich. 6:8; Ps. 51:16-17; Hos. 6:6.  Thus, it is incorrect to say Christians were the first to see such a division between Moral and other aspects of the Law.
 
3. Jesus Himself recognised the division of Moral and other aspects of the Torah, quoting Mic in Matt 9:13; Matt 12:7; and Matt 23:23. Again, Jesus was not advocating anything new but expanded teachings of the OT.
 
4. Jesus Himself taught that the Law would not disappear (Mat 5:18-19).
 
5. To sum up something is not to replace it – it is actually expounds, it like a laser does to a light. Jesus never said the 2 Great Commandments did away with the Law, He said they were the ‘sum’ of the Law & Prophets (Matt 22:37-40).  Jesus fulfilled (e.g. ceremonial aspects) and expounded (e.g. moral aspects) of the Law. 
 
6. A large part of the confusion re this topic is because Paul means different things when he uses the word law (‘nomos’). In Romans nomos refers to the Pentateuch
(Rom 3:21), the entire OT (Rom 3:19), a principle (Rom 7:23), the Decalogue (Rom 7:7) and legalism (Gal 3:2). It is important to compare ‘oranges to oranges’.
 
7. God treated the 10 Commandments differently from the rest of the Torah. The Decalogue are Aphoric (general and universal) as a matter of Form Criticism, whilst the rest of the Torah are merely Causatic laws (specific, beginning with ‘if’ and ‘then’).  Moreover, example, God wrote with his own hand (Ex 31:18; Deut 5:22) with the tablets going in the ark (Ex 40:20-21); whereas, the rest of the laws were written by Moses (Deut 31:24-26).
 
8. The OT itself recognizes that the Moral aspects of the Law were applicable to all human beings, including foreigners in the surrounding nations, and not just Jews (Deut 4:5-8; Isa 5:4; Gen 9:5-7).  The Sabbath commandment was specifically affirmed as applying to foreigners (Ex 20:10; Isa 56:1-12; Isa 58:13-14; Isa 66:23; – and especially Isa 56:6).
 
9. The Law exposes sin – even today (Gal 3:22,24-4:1; Rom 7:7-13,19). 
 
10. Enoch and Noah walked with God – even though they had no Torah (Gen 5,6 and Heb 11).  Abraham was said to keep God’s decrees – even though he had no Torah (Gen 25:6).  Adam didn’t obey God, and introduced sin into the world (Rom 5:12) – even though he had no Torah.  What Law then existed?
 
11. The Bible doesn’t tell us the Law is bad; it tells us it is holy and its commands are holy and right and good (Rom. 7:7,12,13) and profitable to teach (2 Tim 3:16, keeping in mind the ‘scripture’ here is the OT).  The law (‘nomos’) Paul says is good and holy is the Decalogue, made clear in Rom 7:8 when Paul quotes ‘You must not covert’ (Ex 20:17).  How then can it be said that the Law has been done away with?
 
12. Paul categorically states that the Law hasn’t been abolished! (Rom 3:31; Gal 3:21).
 
13. The NT makes clear that Law and Gospel are not 2 separate dispensations or time periods.  Rather, people in the OT had the Gospel and were saved by Jesus’ blood through righteousness by faith and not works, although it was only promised through symbols (Gen 15:6; Hab 2:4; Gal 3:8; Rom 1:1-2 and Heb 4:2).
 
14. The OT itself says that under the new covenant the Law of the old covenant will not be abolished – just transformed into the hearts of human beings (Jer 31:33).  And what Law then is written on our hearts – it is obviously the Moral aspects of the Torah.  The onus is on others to prove otherwise.
 
15.  As to those who argue an OT precept has to be specifically named and reaffirmed in the NT to have any application is absurd.  For example, there is no provision in the NT reaffirming the OT moral command prohibiting cursing the deaf (Lev 19:4).  Does this mean we can curse deaf people – God forbid!  Likewise, it is absurd to suggest that the commandments against blasphemy or Sabbath-keeping, both of which are not much mentioned in the NT, are no longer binding because they are not explicitly reaffirmed. 
 
16. The Early Church in NT was dealing with circumcision, table practices and other Jewish ceremonial practices, which were barriers to Gentiles converting.  The NT was not concerned with Moral aspects of the Law, and where Paul found immortality, especially sexual immorality, he was quick to condemn it.  Blasphemy and Sabbath-keeping are not mentioned much in the NT because they no longer apply but precisely the opposite – because they were already much acceptable by the Gentile converts and thus no issue worthy of debate.  God-fearing Gentiles were already keeping the Sabbath before Paul preached his radical message against circumcision (Acts 13:42, 15:21, 17:1-4, 10-12, 16-17 and 18:4).
 
17. Those who deny any implicit division of the Torah between Moral and Jewish ceremonial aspects end up applying a de facto division anyway; otherwise, their view leads to absurdity.  The NT does explicitly reapply a number of Commandments (Eph 6:2; Jam 2:8-12).
 
18. Arguably the whole debate it rather pointless because both ‘sides’ ultimately rely on ‘natural law’ or the ‘Eden principle’. Jesus espoused in His discussion on divorce that Christians should live according to how it was ‘in the beginning’ (Matt 19:4,8). All human beings are ultimately judged by this natural law, even if they have never heard of God, Jesus or the Torah (Rom 2:14-16).
 
19. Whilst tradition is not convincing in itself, it is interesting to note that all major Christian denominations hold the orthodox division of the Torah into Moral, civil and ceremonial aspects.  The notion that the whole Torah was done away with at the cross is actually a relatively new idea attributed to John Darby in the 19th Century, and to various heretical Gnostic sects before it. 
 
20. However way you look at it, the Sabbath is part of the Moral law important to the worship of God.  As such, as applies today. Jesus never taught that Sabbath keeping was abolished; rather, He taught true Sabbath-keeping. 

Keta-Val
2012-09-27 8:38 AM

Good Morning All!

Perhaps the problem is that we have not defined "law"...the laws of the Old Testament...the ordinances of Ephesians 2:15, (which Bill mentioned above), were abolished at the cross...as Type(goats, lambs had now met Anti-Type(the Lamb of God), and these ordinances were no longer needed.  Christ had come, and fulfilled His Work, completed at the Cross...to reconcile man back to God, making them holy and acceptable to Christ, thru His Sacrifice of Shed, Sinless Blood...giving us His Righteousness!

The prophecy, and the plan of salvation, were now fulfilled. Therefore, there was no need for the "acting out" of his salvation's plan thru the laws of old.  Also, the laws God had given were misunderstood, and misapplied by priests and pharisees, and Israelites...so that they became impossible to keep, and were also  made the endpoint, rather than pointing us to Christ, and His Character. (Healing on the Sabbath, pulling the ox out of the ditch on Sabbath, etc.,) God came to magnify(clarify) the law, which was the 10 Commandments, originally given to give order, and Law to Lawless people...which, of course, leads to Chaos!  In our own Godless society, we have laws...to prevent...CHAOS! (Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, etc. )

In order to state that we are "no longer under moral law"[all laws], because flesh wants to do continually evil...which it does...is akin to saying we do not have to obey the moral code embodied in the 10 commandments, in our own societies, and we can just be extended grace by the magistrates...because we're "human", after all...and walk in the flesh.  We can all see clearly how long civilization would last! 

It is the same for God and His Kingdom(Mat5:17)...He expects that we will forsake the old man, and put on the new...now born of the Spirit, in being born again!( John3:3,6-8) Not existing only in the  flesh, but now in the Spirit, which is who we were originally intended to be...to reside with God and the heavenly hosts in heaven.
 
So, you are right Bill, we are born in the flesh...and of the flesh(natural), we can do nothing right, nor desire to do good...but it is, "Not I, but Christ who lives in me"(Gal 2:20), that is a Supernatural phenomenon, and now enables us to walk by His Spirit, not by our flesh...so that we can live holy lives...not perfect lives...but as Paul said, "That which I would do, I do not, and that which I would not do, I do."Rom7:15.

Here is were Grace comes in...for in his desire to do right, God looketh upoon his heart, and gives him Grace, and Mercy. He continues the work of trying to perfect his life, thru the indwelling of Christ. By "doing the next right thing"(advocated even by Alcoholics Anonymous), thus re-training himself to make choices to live a moral an upright life.
The prophets were considered holy men of God, (Acts 3:21;Ephesians 3:5;Rev 18:20;1Thess 2:10;Rev 20:6) They were not born holy of the flesh, but were common men, born again, living conformed to the will of Christ...thru...the Grace of God!

God expects the same of us...to accept Him in our lives, in our spirits(hearts/mind), and then He will work the work of Him in us(Phil 2:13)

As to being unable to live a good life, that is true in the flesh, but we are admonished to crucify, with Christ, our flesh, and inviting Him in, live in His Spirit, which empowers us to be like Him.  (1 Pet. 1:13-16) He warns us that no man will enter heaven, if He is not holy, (Mat 7:21;Rom2:13;which we will attain at the first resurrection and Judgement...but we must be developing His character, long before then!
(Rev22:11)

Otherwise, He may as well let Satan back in, and the whole great controversy between God and satan would have been for nought!(Rom14:17) Sin must be banished from existance, forevermore!  I am sure there will be exceptions, as the thief at the cross did not have time to live but a few more minutes, but Christ looked at His heart, and saw His acknowledgement of Him as His Saviour.  Those of us who acknowledge Him, yet go on to continue to "cherish our sins", and rely only on His Grace, yet change NOT the heart/mind, are sadly mistaken to believe we will inherit the Kingdom of God.(Mat 7:21;2Cor 6:17;Rom2:13;Luke 6:46;Mat 25:10-11)

Finally, Bill, you are also right, in that they will know we are Christians by our "Love"..."He who loves Me, will keep my Commandments...("Law"),(John 14:15;John14:21,23)  "This is the whole duty of man"(Ecc 12:13;Deut4;2,6:2;10:12;Psalm 111:10;Prov1:7) Love to God...FIRST and fourth...and love to man...the rest. (Mark 12:30;Mark 12:31) If then, you encapsulate all, and meld them down to their essence, it is, "Love", which is the lowest...and highest...common denominator. You can" do away"...dispense with the recitation of all...if you have love. (1Cor 13:1-13)...and lest ye be tempted to believe that somehow, He changed His mind, on these guidelines for life.(Mal3:6;Rev22:18-19;Prov30:5-6) Afterall...are the commandments unreasonable, or hard to keep?  God says no...(Mat11:28)and so does man's law.  It is man who confounds, and makes them difficult, beause of our willfullness. Confession of sin, repentance, and salvation's plan of Redemption, were provided to help us escape the fowlers' snare... the enemies' plan for our eternal destruction.

Excellent Refer Lessons:( http://www.truegospel.com/becomeholy.html;) (http://dailyexegesis.blogspot.com/2010/09/i-must-work-works-of-him-who-sent-me.html)

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-27 10:47 AM

Ok – let’s put this to the test.  Take the charismatic Sunday Churches (for example) who would readily lay claims very much in line with the speculation that this article posits even accusing others of salvation by works when that just isn’t the case all because these others have a broader perspective on Grace and Righteousness By Faith:  the Full Gospel if you please.  Avoiding any verses like ‘keep my commandments’ [John 14:15] or obeying God out of love [John 14:21], [John 14:23], among others, are big no-no areas for big on grace charismatic’s who use the usual bible texts warning against legalism and salvation by works which conservative Adventists have no qualms with.  They go big on NT grace, Holy Spirit Baptism, the ‘are you saved’ – ‘have you received the Holy Spirit?’ clichés, even citing bible verses as proof and proclaiming boldly how God’s law was done away with on the cross (including the Sabbath commandment) and how the OT is taboo, thereby inciting fear lest one be accused of being a legalist.   Verses like [Romans 3:31], [Matthew 5:17], [Romans 8:4], [Galatians 3:21], [Galatians 3:24], [Romans 7:7], are avoided cheap grace enthusiasts yet conservatives readily accept and believe [Romans 10:4], [Romans 7:1], [Acts 13:39], [Galatians 2:16], [Romans 3:20], [Galatians 3:11]. 

Then this so-called freedom in the spirit which they readily brag about in their talk of ‘moving (and shaking) in the spirit’ and being in the spiritual realm where the body is a separate entity from ‘a’ spirit which can even leave the body altogether and return after death (and we’re not talking in visions or dreams here), with their emphasis focused on gifts, more especially ‘tongues’ - of which it is no secret that they have made it a test of proof that one has received the Holy Spirit even to the extent that being ‘led by the spirit’ includes disobeying God and plain teachings of scripture [Isaiah 8:20], [Colossians 2:6], [Colossians 1:10].   (I’ve come across many who would readily say that now that they are ‘in the spirit’ their eating of pork, crabs, ducks, etc. is kosher and make remarks like ‘if you eat it and it stays down then it’s all good’ because I’m in the spirit now).   I’ll add here that it is a false accusation to accuse Adventists of teaching that we are saved by keeping the law or by our own works or what we eat.  They overlook the fact that the God of the OT is still the same God today [Hebrews 13:8].  Adventists have dealt with the issue of being saved by works way back in our formative years [Ephesians 2:8, 9] and held to Righteousness by Faith ever since.  ‘Twas grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home pretty much sums up our position quite well yet some would intentionally still want to misrepresent what we believe regarding grace.  Again, our works can’t save us – period. 

Some use Grace to support their deviation from Biblical principles and doctrines claiming it isn’t necessary to obey as grace is sufficient license to do as they please thereby disregarding the role grace plays in cleansing us from sin [Rom 6:6, 12], [1Cor 6:9, 10, 11].  Now make no mistake - they claim to be led by the holy spirit, just like the article supports; yet they trample, swop, chop and change so much of Bible truths that with all intents and purposes cheapens what grace really offers and can do in the human heart [Matthew 7:21, 22, 23].  If they are really holding to the truth about grace as similarly posited and supported by the many assertions made in the article and the comments, then why aren’t these Spirit led Holy Ghost filled children of God abiding by the word of God and holding to teachings that would bring Christianity into line with what the Bible teaches?  How can grace lead to such confusion and false doctrinal positions in churches where this version of grace is embraced even to the extent of disobedience?  Perhaps they place a lower estimate on grace without acknowledging it in the bigger picture of the Full Gospel.  The ‘cheap’ in the term ‘cheap grace’ is not calling Grace cheap (for Christ paid a high price) – but because of it being cheapened by disobedience and error.

Preston Foster
2012-09-27 9:58 PM

22oct1844,
 
“Ok – let’s put this to the test.  Take the charismatic Sunday Churches (for example) who would readily lay claims very much in line with the speculation that this article posits even accusing others of salvation by works when that just isn’t the case all because these others have a broader perspective on Grace and Righteousness By Faith:  the Full Gospel if you please.”
 
Isn’t this “Strawman 101?”  You associate generic “charismatic Sunday Churches” who, you say, might agree with some of the points in the article, then ask me to defend conclusions and practices attributed to them as simpatico with the article.  Why go there?  And why derisively dismiss their worship styles (“moving and shaking in the Spirit”) simply because it is not your culture?
 
Let’s deal with what has been offered with associated direct biblical support.
 
God did not change.  He did, however, change the way we interface with Him.  Emphatically so.  He removed the law as our guide and replaced it with the Spirit.  He removed the need for a mediator, as Jesus paid the curse of death that the law extracts from sinners and, now, allows us to come directly to Him, in Christ. (Hebrew 7:12). His blood, shed for us, is the new covenant itself (Luke 22:19-20).
 
There is specific Bible support for believing the Old Covenant decalogue has been replaced by the New Covenant law, written on our hearts (Exodus 34:27-28, 1 Kings 8:9,21, 2 Corinthians 3:3, 6-11 KJV, Hebrews 8:13 KJV).  
 
Matthew 5:17-18, if interpreted as it is literally, points to the specific conditions that will constitute the end of the law:
 
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
 
Then, after His crucifixion and resererection, Christ reminded his disciples that He had accomplished and fulfilled all that he intended, saying, 
 
“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”
 
These words are directly correlate directly to the conditions Christ specified in Matthew.  Christ had fulfilled all, meeting the “till” contingency of Matthew 5:18. The Bible continues:
 
“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
 
 
“Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?
 
“ Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.  We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
 
Romans 10:4 specifically states Christ is the end of the law to all that believe.  Can that not mean what is says? 
 
Is the law abolished?  No, it remains for those who do not accept Christ as their Lord and Savior -- along with its death penalty.   At the very least, for New Covenant believers, the Old Covenant law is “done away” (2 Corinthians 3:11, KJV)
 
But Christ said, “If ye love me, keep MY commandments.”  
 
Indeed.
 
Christ specified that He gave us a “new” commandment.  He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another,” (John 13:34).  Paul says, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”  This is the Royal Law, the New Covenant law, that, ironically, is resisted far more than the decalogue -- which does not concern the word “love” at all.  Love is Christ’s (“If ye love ME, keep MY commandments”) commandment.  Christ himself kept His Father’s commandments (the Old Covenant law of Exodus 34) -- which mankind was unable to do.
 
The hidden issue -- what causes Adventists not to embrace the New Covenant as it is written, is the Sabbath.    
 
Here is an excerpt for an earlier article on the New Covenant, called “The New Deal”:
 
For the sake of the Sabbath, we hold on to the law. However, there are plenty of “law-free” reasons to keep the Sabbath.  The most obvious reason is that keeping the Sabbath is good for you (Mark 2:27, Hebrews 4:1).  Second, as the Sabbath precedes the 10 Commandments (Genesis 2:2-3), its observance is not tied to the either the viability or obsolescence of the law.  Another nontrivial point: Jesus kept the Sabbath -- although he was continually at odds with the Pharisees about just what that meant (John 9:16 Mark 2: 24-28, Mark 3: 5-6, John 7: 19-24).  The New Testament specifies Christ’s intent for the continued observance of the 7th day Sabbath, even after His ascension (Hebrews 4: 4-10).  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the 7th day Sabbath is a constant reminder that the God, who created this earth in 6 days and rested on the seventh, is the only one worthy of worship (Revelation 14:7).  The Sabbath persists, without the need of laws engraved in stone.  So, Sabbath-keeping and the New Covenant are not a mixture of legalism and grace.
 
Perhaps, in this light and with the greater light of the Holy Spirit, the plain truth of the New Covenant can be seen for what it says.
 

Stephen Ferguson
2012-09-27 11:00 AM

2,000 years ago Matthew (likely on behalf of a mixed Jewish-Gentile 'moderate' Christian community), composed in Matt 5 a treatise comprising various sayings aimed at combating extremes of both Pharasaic legalism on the one hand and Proto-Gnostic antinomianism on the other hand.  Matt 5 doesn't entirely satisfy both views, and keen appear somewhat contradictory.  

Paul likewise tries to explain the paradigm of the New Covenant, similarly being raddically liberal at times and yet at other times extremely conservative.  Paul likewise makes conflicting and inconsistent uses of the term Law ('nomos'), sometimes meaning the whole Torah, sometimes Jewish ceremonial practices, sometimes the Oral Law and legalism, and sometimes the Decalogue - and in part reflecting the fact that Paul's own theology on the topic evolved.

The interaction between Law and faith wasn't entirely clear in the Apostles day - and there were various factions from conservative James, to moderate Peter and John, to liberal Paul (remembering the theology on the Law of James and Peter is just as legitimate as anything Paul has to say on the topic).

Funny enough, some 2,000 years later, we have the same factions (or their modern equivalents), having the same arguments.  Nothing new under the sun.  

Keta-Val
2012-09-28 2:20 AM

Is it not true, that the Holy Spirit was given to man on the day of Pentecost after the Crucifixion and Ascension of Jesus Christ? This was the fulfillment of the precedent prophesy of Him, for thousands of years.  Was the Holy Spirit not given to aid the disciples in their ministry...to sanctify them before they went out to Preach Jesus, and Him crucified?  Prior to that time, man only had The Law, but did not have the Holy Spirit.  

Without the Holy Spirit, man perverted The Law, misinterpreted, and misapplied it..."killing by the letter of the law"...stoning, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.  There was no love in the application of the law...just the law, in and of itself...which was the means...and the end.  This can still be seen today in ancient cultures that still apply the literal law, without aid of the Holy Spirit or mercy, and the "Letter of the Law Kills".  Sheria Law in Islamic cultures, even today, is a good example of this archaic type of law, harshly applied, and exacting, that governed everything in life, and is...seemingly... the end in and of itself, which must be obeyed at all costs!
                (http://www.ehow.com/about_4572297_what-sharia-law.html)
I  imagine pharisaical application of law, during a time period when man was still developing, would have looked similar to Sharia law.  This necessitated clarification of it's application, thru the Life of Christ...and finally...extinction,  after the fulfillment of the plan of Salvation, culminating in His prophesied sacrifice.

Jesus death on the cross marked a new period, a new gift of the Holy Spirit residing within, to convict our hearts and minds...our souls of the now completed life and teachings of Christ, and His example to us...to do good and show mercy, forgiveness in the application of moral law, and His Commandments. As such, it is part and parcel of the Gospel Message, and man's acceptance of it.  

Perhaps "Moving and shaking, speaking in tongues", is a literal(concrete) interpretation of 2 Peter 1:21, "Men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God", and is based on man's interpretation, religious culture and history.  If so, this in no way diminishes the absolute reality of the Holy Spirit, and it's indwelling in us.  
Literal interpretations aside, fruits of the Spirit are outward manifestations of the indwelling Holy Spirit..."By their fruits, ye shall know them" and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
 
It would seem to require quite an exclusive leap of interpretation, to take all the many scriptures, (both OT, and NT) that admonish us about God's Commandments and the penalty for a state of lawlessness, His warnings about the lawless, ("make no mistake, they will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven")(para) in the many scriptures heretofore mentioned...and spin them down to the one NEW commandment(John 13:34), ignoring the others.  It was NOTa replacement commandment, but a New Commandment. This suggests it is in ADDITION to the others...adjunctive.  This  commandment takes care of the problem of harsh, loveless application of law.  

The multiple NT scriptures refer to "Keep My commandments...plural...not singular.  The reference to Paul saying all the commandments are fulfilled in the one, as was stated before. The 10 could all meld down to their essence...love...to God and to man.   They are not replaced...but rather... the amalgamation of them creates increased strength of their individual purpose...with the whole(love) being greater than the sum of it's parts.

Finally, it is clever to excise the Sabbath from extinction,  by saying it pre-dated the 10 Commandments...and it did.  It is the commemoration of God's Creation Rest, as commanded by Him, from the beginning.  But then, murder and covetousness pre-dated the commandments as well...when Cain killed Abel out of jealousy, and was thus banished to the land of Nod.  Cain denied knowledge of Abel's whereabouts to God, when asked...suggesting he knew right from wrong, even without the 10 Commandments.  So does this also extricate the Commandment of murder, and covetousness from the 10 commandments...and so on for examples of other sin?

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-28 5:39 AM

1) RE: Keta-Val’s comment – “Prior to that time, man only had The Law, but did not have the Holy Spirit.”
1] 2 Peter 1:21 – the Holy Spirit always moves his prophets, that would include those in the OT.
2] Genesis 1:2 – the Spirit of God was there right at the beginning of Creation.
3] 1 Samuel 16:14 – the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul
4] Ezekiel 37:1 – Ezekiel too was led by the Spirit of the Lord
5] Judges 3:10 – even Othniel, Caleb’s younger brother received the Spirit of the Lord.
…too name a just a few references. 
 
2) When God said ‘do eat the fruit of this tree’ to Adam and Eve in [Genesis 2:16, 17], he set boundaries and therefore a law in place even indicating the consequences of breaking that law.  Remember, they were without sin at that time and were free to do other things but not that which was proscribed by God.  This was actually for their own good as can be seen in the results of what disobedience brings.
 
3) Righteousness by Faith is not Lawlessness [Matt 7:23], [Gal 3:21].  It is in actual fact obedience to God in Christ Jesus by His Grace.  Take this verse for example [1Cor 6:11] which clearly teaches that living in Christ and the Holy Spirit involves 1] being washed 2] being sanctified 3] being justified – and for some reason it isn’t even in any chronological order.  Grace just happens and obedience is the result (Christ’s obedience in us) whether the imputed Righteousness of Christ or His impart Righteousness – by Faith – it just happens.  All we have to do is believe and accept Him as Saviour … and Grace happens.

Preston Foster
2012-09-28 6:49 AM

Keta-Val,

Christ’s commandments were plural: two. Luke 10:26-27, “What is written in the Law?” he replied. How do you read it? He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” I have not distilled the law to one. Paul did that: Galatians 5:14 and Romans 13:10. Doing so does not imply lawlessness at all. It says that all the law is fulfilled in love. The law must be infused with and motivated by love. God is love (1 John 4:8). The Pharisees taught and kept the law -- then killed Christ. Clearly, knowing and keeping the Old Covenant law was not sufficient. Thus, the need for Christ’s commandments.

We cannot ignore the obvious meaning of the words “Old” and “New,” regarding the covenants. It takes no tortured or creative interpretation to understand what the bible is saying about the law and the covenants. It does, however, require a bit of creativity to believe that “Old” means “current.” The specificity of 2 Corinthians 3:3-17 lets us know that the Old Covenant was “transitory” (2 Corinthians 3:11 NIV) or “done away” (2 Corinthians 3:11 KJV). The New Covenant, the ministry of the Spirit, (2 Corinthians 3:8) is greater than the ministry of condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:9) which is “WRITTEN AND ENGRAVED IN STONE” (2 Corinthians 3:7 KJV). The New Covenant “remainth” and is “much more glorious” than the Old (2 Corinthians 3:11 KJV). It the lasting covenant.

Bill Garber
2012-09-28 10:32 AM

Preston and friends,

Love 'fulfilling' the law is just as reansonably to be paraphrased, Love eliminates the law.  The temptation remains, however, to paraphrase this way, Love is perfectly keeping the law.

Love is not perfectly keeping the law, in the sense of following all of the rules.  In the world of love, there are no rules.

There is a saying from a couple of generations before some of us, and a few more for a few more, that goes like this:  How ya going to keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Paris?

Same line of thinking here.  It is not that the farm is unknown, it is that the farm is not the place where one sets up housekeeping any longer.  It is not that the law is unknown, it is that one no longer sets up housekeeping according to the rules of housekeeping down on the farm.

Bring a bucket of water from the well to the kitchen every morning has been replaced with always present water at the sink.  House keeping in the city of grace requires no works of the law.  

When Jesus says, 'Keep my commandments' the paraphrase that is most helpful may be ... 'As you live your life, trust what I have told you and what I have promised you.'

The old covenant was between humans and God.  

Humans:  We agree to behave according to your rules if you will bless us for having done so.  

God:  Ok, if that is what you want.  Here are the rules.

The new covenant is between God and Humans.  

God: I promise to bless you because I love you.  

Humans:  What happened to the rules?

God:  That didn't work out so well.  

Humans:  You mean you are just going to bless us because you love us?

God:  That is what I said.  Just keep that in mind.

Humans:  Well, that sure changes everying!

God:  Exactly!  Oh, and you haven't seen anything yet.  You've just experienced my first coming.  Wait until I come the next time!


God's covenant is, of course, untouchable and unseeable apart from faith, which for the record Paul declares to be, like God's gracious promise, utterly a gift from God as well.

This is not easy for those of us who grew up thinking of ourselves as Old Testament Christians.  I remember a cousin who lived with our family while attending the SDA Seminary.  He was studying the New Testament.  I seriously wondered at the time, Why study the New Testament?  That sure seems like where Christianity went wrong with the law and all!  We need to really study the Old Testament so we can defend ourselves as the true keepers of the Law.

Then my family traveled to Europe and I saw Paris.  

But it wasn't that Paris.  

My Paris was shortly after graduating college reading every text in the Bible that included the word 'saved' using a concordence as my guide.  (It is a whole lot quicker and easier now by simply clicking here:  http://bg4.me/Ie9yho  and seeing the 104 verses printed to the screen from Genesis 47:25 to Revelation 21:4 ... )

Letting the Bible be your guide is the most empowering experience, rather than outsourcing the work to comments here, including this one.




 

Elaine Nelson
2012-09-28 12:06 PM

"Old Testament Christians" describes Adventism:  the consistent referral to those OT rules and Law that was temporary and only applied to the Israelites UNTIL Christ came.  By re-instituting much of Judaism, it was as if Christ had not come, that we were still living under the old covenant.  The NT explanation of the difference between the Old and New convenants could not be more clear:  the Old Covenant was engraved in letters on stone.  How can that be unclear or ambiguous?

The entire raison de etre for Christianity is the Resurrection; yet for Adventists
it has largely been ignored, as with all the letters addressed specifically to Christians--to return to the instructions to the Israelites for its doctrines.

Keta-Val
2012-09-28 2:49 PM

Good Day All!
First let me say, I so appreciate the insightful answers, and the time spent giving them!  Thank You!
I am glad this is being discussed openly, and thoughtfully! Praise God!  I am open to new ideas...supported by the Word of God...and the Spirit of Truth.  I know the Spirit leads...He leads in my life...and I'm sure He does in yours. God Bless our continued study together.

I guess I read the referred verses as love causes fulfillment of the Law (Gal5:14)...stated otherwise...that the indwelling of Love within the heart, will preclude you from hurting your neighbor, and thus, the principles embodied in the law, now are embodied in YOU, in your heart and mind...causing a change in your character...such that written law...followed only as a rulebook...without Love is as "sounding brass and tinkling symbols"...rings hollow. This is/ was the original purpose for the law...interpretation of the law...is love.  "Temporary" old covenants, I cannot believe, include the most basic of human rules of engagement.  I believe we are given the Gift of Grace...absolutely! And that it covers our deficiencies...absolutely! But that it is all we ever need, and we are now forgiven for everything we do...means that we can do no wrong...and there is no sin...because sin is transgression of...The Law! (Which we no longer have...so a circuitous argument) (1John 3:4);

But...everyone is not evolved to live by grace only...just take a look around...watch the news...are we to believe that we don't need God's laws of basic human decency, to survive? Everyone is not Christian...and does not subscribe to the concept of love, or grace...or even human decency.  Reality dictates, that there must be a overarching societal guideline, boundaries, to prevent anarchy, and chaos. 
Utopia is not yet!
Are we then to believe, that Christians alone are to receive grace instead of law, or are those who have not accepted Christ also to operate under grace, and thus have no laws either? Where does it begin and end?

Believe me...I have worked in an environment with others who haven't the faintest notion of Christ or Grace, nor do they desire to!  There are NO Christian societal mores there...sharks abide...and the water is full of blood...as a Christian, living in an "alien" country...it is likely to be YOUR blood.  

Without the law of the land, we would likely descend into a society more closely resembling the hell that the enemy desires for us.  I cannot believe that law is more a part of wicked man's boundarys for civilization, in his limited wisdom, than Gods', in His Infinate Wisdom. Are we also saying that when He wrote the 10 Commandments in Stone, with His own finger (which would seem symbolic for their permanency...{why not on papyrus?}), and then in Matthew5:18," For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."...that He then said "Oops!"??? 
We know He wasn't talking about the ceremonial laws, as they were fulfilled by His sacrificial crucifixion...and we know that heaven and earth have NOT passed away...yet.  So what law was He giving such permanency, and emphasis to...if ALL law has been done away with?  Are we saying that God is fallible? That He changes His mind? That He makes mistakes? Did He not know what man would do under law, from the foundations of the earth, at which time He knew you...and me? The supposition that is proposed, requires that you suspend all other notions of Who God Is...What He Is...does it not?  
While I understand, and accept...His Grace is sufficient for me...and stand in Awe of Him, and His Boundless Love...am I now to question His other God Like Qualities to make this life-without-law"fit"?  Suspend my belief in HIm as Omniscient? Believe that the bible is contradictory...or are we contradictory in our understanding of it?
I understand without law, there is no transgression of law, so it would have been made to point out sin to us, and make us aware of what was sin...but everything in me...says "No"to it is no longer necessary,(not the ceremonial laws, but the Decalogue) as heaven has not come yet! 
 I am one quickly to invoke, "Now we see thru a glass darkly, in dealing with things of faith, and of a spiritual nature.  However...there is a logic gap here, in the explanation...what is it?

 



Elaine Nelson
2012-09-28 3:40 PM

"I read the referred verses as love causes fulfillment of the Law (Gal5:14)..."

But that is not what is says:

"For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" 

The Law was fulfilled by Christ's life and death:  at the cross when he uttered:
"It is fulfilled." The Law was part of the Old Covenant made with the Israelites.
With His death, the Old Covenant of laws became obsolete and we are now living under a New Covenant which is not the same, but with grace offered.

Abiding by civil laws respects others and protects us.  The Law of God cannot be enforced in a civil government, but only in a theocracy; thus it was given to the Israelites who were living in a theocracy.  It cannot be applicable in civil governments today as there are no laws about adultery, sabbath, blasphemy, or coveting and laws without penalties are worthless.  The Old Covenant had penalties for breaking those laws, and most were executed by stoning. 

If one is living with the law and principle of loving your neighbor as yourself, why do you need such laws?  Laws are given for the unrighteous. Paul declares that those who do not know the Law (as in Judaism), when they do what is right.  Millions of people around the world, never having heard of Christ, instinctively live lives commaned by the Love your neighbor and the Golden Rule.     

Preston Foster
2012-09-28 7:49 PM

Keta-Val,

In short, 1 Timothy 1:5-11 best addresses who the law is, in the New Covenant, intended to correct.  It says:

"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:
 
6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
 
7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
 
8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
 
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
 
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
 
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust."

As Paul points out, for those in Christ, we are led by the Spirit and, thus, not UNDER the law.

I've used this example before.  I think it helps:

If I owe the utility company and don't have the money to pay, they will cut my lights off.  But Keta-Val, being gracious, sees by situation and goes down to the utility company and pays my bill in full.  I find out about this and say to the utility company, "I don't know Keta-Val and want to feel indebted to him for anything.  Take his payment off my bill!"  The utility company, honoring my free choice, does so.  They then ask for payment of the previously paid bill.

But I am still broke.

My lights are going off.

The bill had been paid -- thru no work of my own.  I refused to accept the free gift.  The without the gift, the debt was still owed.

 If I had accepted the gift, I would not have been indebted (under the law).  Because I chose not to accept the gift, the debt was owed -- and the lights went out.

This is analogous to our New Covenant relationship to the law.  Grace is the free gift payment of our debt -- without works.  Faith allows us to accept the gift.  If we do not accept the gift, we are indebted -- to the law.

Grace is free -- and powerful.
 

Keta-Val
2012-10-01 2:32 PM

Hallelujah!

Finally...this makes sense!
1 Timothy1:5-11 addresses my questions re: the lawlessness that exists, and the need for law...for those that are unrighteous! The purpose of the law is to have developed charity(love) out of a PURE heart, good conscience, unfeigned(genuine, pure) faith in your heart and mind, and character. These then, become your guideposts...the embodiment of the spiritual evolution of untamed humanity! This explanation of grace, and evolution of man, such that he no longer requires the law to keep him in check, as he has now learned the lesson of the law, "sin", THRU"his tutor"THE LAW, and now the purpose of the law, which was to teach and transfrom, has been embeded in his heart...the "training wheels" no longer required! Having thus learned to "ride"the bicycle of life, and knowing the rules of the road...nearly automatically choosing them, the occasions on which we fall, or fail, are covered by Grace...full and free, POWERFUL TO SAVE!
No condemnation for falling, as long as we get back up, and continue riding ON THE DIRECTED PATH with a pure heart, mind and soul! Amen!  If we get off the path, take a wrong turn...Grace then provides a new route, to get us to our original destination...Heaven!


Preston Foster
2012-10-01 3:19 PM

Praise the Lord for His love and mercy toward us!  Thanks for walking this path with me.  Let's continue to walk toward The Light -- and share it.

Keta-Val
2012-09-28 9:52 PM

Thank You, Elaine.

You're right.. by the letter.

It is what it says...but what does it mean?
(The following will contain several ref. sources, some excerpted here for convenience.)

The translation(what it means), multiply stated, supports what I earlier stated.  "Fulfilled" means it is summed up,( "in short", "in a word", "explained by") by one word, or "boiled down" to one word...Love.  It is "Love" for God and man that prevents you from killing your neighbor, stealing, committing adultery, from coveting, from offending God by placing other God's before Him, or worshipping other forms of a god, or disobeying His admonition to the Sabbath in commemoration of His Creation, etc... That is the sum of it.

"Teleos"is greek for finished, means "end of a purpose" or "project" or "purpose driven goal", and appears 31 times.  Jesus was saying He had "finished the goal" or "purpose for which He had been sent", the plan He and the Father had made to redeem man from sin. He had Victory over death, and sin. He was coming to fulfill or complete a purpose.."to fulfill, not to destroy"(Mat5:17)

The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."Gal 5:14  NIV
For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."NASB
For the whole law is summarized in a single statement: "You must love your neighbor as yourself."
ISV
For all of The Written Law is fulfilled in one saying, by this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
ARAMAIC BIBLE IN PLAIN ENGLISH
All of Moses' Teachings are summarized in a single statement, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."GOD'S WORD TRANSLATION
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
KJV

"Your Dictionary"
To fulfill: to carry out (something promised, desired, predicted, etc.); cause to be or happen(Your Dictionary, source)
So...KJV could then read, in synonymity..."For all the law is carried out in one word, love your neighbor as yourself."

This would seem to validate my premise, rather than oppose it.
Further Support:
"Casey's Critical Thinking"
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (Matthew 5:17) Some have suggested that by "fulfil," Jesus meant "abolish." Indeed, "abolish" is one meaning of "fulfil," but it is also the only meaning of "destroy." So if He had meant "abolish," He might as well have said, "I am not come to abolish, but to abolish." We can assume, therefore, that Jesus meant, "to develop the full potentialities of" when He said "fulfil."

"Many people, especially radical left-wing liberals, have no qualms about dragging in the oft used, yet misused, phrase “separation of Church and State.” 5 Not only is this phrase never found in the Constitution, but it also goes against the entire foundation of government and the total integration of Religion. While the Founding Fathers did not advocate the alliance of the Government with any specific denomination, they actively advocated the integration of God’s law and morals. It is impossible to have a government without such a standard – it goes against the definition of government."

 
Mosaic Theocracy and Shariah Law (http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/comp/cw06lawmosaicsharia.htm0
 U.S. Law is primarily based on Common Law, (uncodified, based on precedent), with some Roman based Civil Law(codified), and Mosaic Law...hence the carved rendition of Moses and the 10 Commandments in the Supreme Court, above the Chief Justice Head, and numerous other prominent places. (http://www.youshouldbuygold.com/2011/07/chapter-19-moses-owns-the-supreme-court/).
The reason the colonists left England, was to have freedom of religion, on which our system of justice is based.  We do not obey it as Religious Law, due to the separation of church and state, but that is where it has it's originated. All law is based in religion, of some kind, in all cultures.  It is not instinct, but is in place to counter our instinct, which is to sin, or satisfy self.

There are laws still on the books in some states re:adultery(philandry)still illegal in 26 states(largely ignored), fornication(there were laws in 16 states, now largely either ignored or struck down as unconstitutional), homosexuality(illegal in all states in 1995)., and Sabbath laws...yes..aka "Blue Laws"the first written in 1610 in the Virgina Colony..you get the jist...our laws were closely based on our judaio-christian background.

So, it is not the need of the Christian for law, who has accepted Christ and Grace, but for mankind, who has not. In all the above, the question remains, How do we respond to the necessary conclusion that God contradicts Himself, or is indecisive, or not Omniscient, if He changes, contradicts, or reverses Himself in His Word?  I don't think we can...for then He would not be God, as we Know Him to be.  The "smell" of truth, is "I am the way, the truth, and the light".John14:6), and that it therefore must be consistant with His character, and who He is...God.
 
Happy Sabbath, and God Bless!

 

Preston Foster
2012-09-29 8:29 PM

Keta-Val,
 
The way Jesus fulfilled (or “carried out”) his mission was very in direct relationship to the Old Covenant law.  Christ came to keep the law perfectly, as no man had, making him the only acceptable Lamb of God, capable to take away the sins of the world by paying the penalty demanded by that law: death.
 
Matthew 5:17-18 is a conditional statement.  It says that not one iota of the law will pass away -- until all is fulfilled.    In his farewell address to His disciples (Luke 24:44), after His death and resurrection, Christ tells them that all that was prophesied about Him in the law of Moses, from the prophets, and in the psalms has been accomplished (fulfilled or carried out).  Romans 10:4 says that Christ is the end of the law -- to all that believe.
 
 The law we live under in the New Covenant is the Law of Love (http://www.atoday.org/article/919/columns/foster-preston/2011/the-inescapable-law).  As your interpretation says, all the law is “carried out” or “accomplished” in love (Galatians 5:14).  The Old Covenant law remains for those who refuse to embrace Christ, His perfect sacrifice, and His free gift of grace.  That law still demands its wages for lawlessness: the death penalty.
 
Christ had to fulfill the Old Covenant law for it to satisfy the Father’s justice.  The law was given 1) to point out sin, and 2) to show us our need for a savior, as we are unable on our own to keep it, leading us to Christ.  Christ took our sins and the law to the cross.
 
Of course, this has always been problematic in traditional Adventist thought because we cling to the Old Covenant, in large part, to “protect” the Sabbath.  But again, the Sabbath both precedes the law, and continues without it.  Our real problem is that clinging to the law keeps us from being led by the Holy Spirit (http://www.atoday.org/article/797/columns/foster-preston/2011/what-holy-ghost).
 
Multiple passages, provided earlier, tell us that if we are in Christ and led by the Spirit, we are not under the law.
 
 The article, "Sabbath: Nailed to the Cross?” by William E. Richardson (former) Chair of the Religion Department at Andrews University, explains the role of the New Covenant law thusly:
 
"It is primarily the KJV translation of verse 14 ("handwriting of ordinances") that has led some to interpret the phrase as referring to the various Mosaic rituals and ceremonial "ordinances" that largely ceased to have relevance after Christ died on the cross. So if some law was nailed to the cross, it would have to be the ceremonial law, since the moral law was not made "void" by the cross (Rom. 3:31).
 
However, Paul rarely makes the neat division between the ceremonial law and the moral law that we are often quick to make. In fact, his references to the ceremonial laws are rare. When he does use the word "law" (nomos), he most frequently has in mind the moral law in general and often the Decalogue in particular. Of course, in our passage he doesn't use the word "law" at all, which is why we have to be so careful to reason from the context to understand his meaning.
 
In a strikingly similar passage in Ephesians 2:14, 15, Paul tells how Christ has brought peace, not just between Jew and Gentile, but between all humans and God, by nullifying the "law of commandments in decrees" (ton nomon ton entolon en dogmasin) (see New Jerusalem). Here the word "law" is linked with the word dogmasin, the same word translated "ordinances" in Colossians. The context of both Colossians and Ephesians indicates that something more than ceremonies was involved.
 
One thing is very clear: when Paul elsewhere refers to the impact of the cross for the Christian, he does not limit his reasoning to abolishing the ceremonial law. For Paul the most important thing that ended at the cross was the condemnation brought about by our sin. That condemnation arose out of a broken moral law. As he says in Romans 7:7, "if it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin" (RSV). In other words, it is the broken law that stands before us and condemns us, which is all the moral law can do for those who have broken it. But as Paul says in Romans 8:1 "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (RSV). Or, as in verse 3, "God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son . . . condemned sin in the flesh" (RSV).
 
To put it another way, the moral law could point out sin, but could not forgive it. So God had to intervene, or we would stand forever condemned by that law. At that point, the "principalities and powers" that Paul mentions in Colossians 2:15 would triumph over us. But now, as a result of the cross, that picture has changed, and the powers have been defeated. And that happened when the condemnation of the moral law was figuratively nailed to the cross. The NRSV smoothly translates it: "erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross." Thus He made "peace by the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20, RSV).
 
The moral law after the cross
 
This interpretation does not mean that the moral law itself did not survive the cross. It is one thing to say that the demands of the law have been met in Christ. It is quite another to say that the law has been abolished in Christ. Or to put it differently, the law serves at least two functions; as an objective description of God's character and expectations, it stands forever; as an unbending standard that condemns our failure to keep it and thus drives us to Christ, it has a temporary function. It is this last aspect that Paul has in mind when he uses the "nailed to the cross" figure."
 
The ministry of the Spirit is more glorious and more lasting than the ministry of death, written and engraved in stones (2 Corinthians 3:6-11 KJV)).  We are to be led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18) and keep the commandments to love ((1 John 3:23, 24,  2 John 5, 6).

The specific answer to your last question (re: did God change?) is found, at least in part, in Hebrews 8:7-11.  For my part, I don't think God changed; the plan of salvation was in place before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

Keta-Val
2012-10-01 10:23 PM

Thanks for your answers, Preston et al!  Appreciate the time consuming research efforts! God Bless!!! Iron sharpens iron!!! :-)

 

Tapiwa Mushaninga
2012-10-02 3:31 AM

Preston

I am beginning to doubt your interpretations. Matt 5 v 17-18 was fulfilled at the cross really! which part of heaven and earth have passed away?! Many call your version of grace which gives people comfort to live in sin cheap grace I simply call it a "licence to kill" Let me tell you why I think your version of grace is cheap, Yours is insufficient to give complete victory over sin, Yours is insufficient to redeem people from the power of sin so in essence yours does not deal with the sin problem it only deals with the penalty problem.

You did not even try to answer my questions because your version of grace has no answers. You asked me if there is a man I kow who was able to live perfectly, well there is Jesus our redeemer and example then there are those of Rev 14 v 12. Your version of grace also denies that verse  from being a reality. Christ can also impart righteousness. Your version of grace is a psuedo antinomianism albeit your claims to the contrary. Christ did not come to give sinners a pass, He came to make sinners saints! Go and sin no more I believe, He did not say you can now sin freely.

Stay blessed

Tapiwa Mushaninga

Bill Garber
2012-09-28 10:26 PM

Keta-Val and friends,

"But that it [grace] is all we ever need, and we are now forgiven for everything we do...means that we can do no wrong ... and there is no sin ..."

Not at all.  The key is this, Where sin abounds, that is, where sin continues to become ever more engulfing, grace much more engulfs us.  Romans 5:20  

One simply cannot out sin grace.

And that perception is what 'fulfills' the law ... that is, obliterates the law.  

As long as we think we can measure our words and steps and thereby personally fulfill the law, we are forever at work on our own behalf, and cannot possibly besome suffiently free of our burden to love, even ourselves, let our neighbor. 

Once we see by faith that we cannot outsin grace, we utterly recognize that everyone around us is like us, and we without so much as thinking of it, are truly free to love our neighbor as ourself.  

And we do!







Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-09-29 9:37 PM

RE: "Multiple passages, provided earlier, tell us that if we are in Christ and led by the Spirit, we are not under the law." [Emphasis mine]
----------
From what I have gathered here on this blog so far is that no one has claimed that we are still under the law or living in the OT Covenant (nor any other spin of this).  It is apparent that this is a natural assumption based on a misunderstanding of the position some of us take regarding what defines 'cheap grace'.  The same can be said of us assuming that others 'make void the law'.  It is also quite clear to me that our understanding of the way that the 'imputed' and 'imparted' Righteousness of Christ works in the context of Grace is where there may be differences for some and hence our different understanding of how Grace works.  Perhaps here is also a good example of how our personal experience with Grace and receiving salvation by faith in Christ influences our views on Grace.  I think we can at least agree that Righteousness by Faith isn't given the boot when we receive the Holy Spirit ‘when Grace abounds’.  But that's just my take on it. 

My reference to charismatic Sunday Churches was used purely as an example to make a point as the premise of this blog in my opinion is very similar to their reasoning for trampling on the Sabbath and other beliefs not supported by scripture.  My use of moving and shaking to describe some of their activities is warranted as they themselves encourage this although they also claim it is the Holy Spirit prompting them.  I was at a charismatic Sunday Church a few weeks back and during one of their episodes of 'tongues' one brother kept shouting (screaming) bubba-bubba-bubba-bubba continuously during this time.  There was no rolling on the floor however; and crying or 'falling down' in the spirit, which is not uncommon to find in these Holy Spirit accredited occurrences which are prevalent in many of these churches.  It has become an unofficial doctrine in most circles that 'tongues' is a sign that one has received the Holy Spirit.  I used this example to illustrate that claiming to receive the Holy Spirit alone isn't the sum total of Grace.  Grace has the power to save, change lives and bring us to obedience:  the latter of which I think you differ somewhat.  This boils down to our different understanding of the imputed and imparted Righteousness of Christ by Faith which I think really ‘works’.

Darrell Corbel
2012-09-29 9:54 PM

Posted by Tapiwa "I believe you are confusing works which are orchastrated by self with works that are wrought by the Spirit. I completely agree that works wrought by self are utterly useless in our salvation but the works of the Spirit are an intergral part of the salvation process.  Purification is mandatory for one to enter the kingdom of God as Titus 2 v 13 - 14 clearly shows."

 

The more I hear statements like this the more I realize what a loophole it is to get around texts that say, 'By no deeds of the law will any flesh be justified' and 'we are saved by grace, not by works lest any man should boast'. Can someone explain to me exactly how resisting sin in one case is 'my own works' but in another case is 'the works of the spirit'? In both cases it is I who is making an effort to resist temptation and turn from sin. How exactly does one define a 'good work' that is done by my own power and that of the Spirit?

 

So my unsaved friend chooses to not lust after a woman and that is his 'own works'? Frowned upon by heaven for meritorious purposes, but I, a saved person, also choose to resist lusting after a woman and such effort is considered 'Spirit led works' and is necessary for purity of character for perfection unto salvation?

This is a cop out. Paul was speaking on any efforts of our own whether saved or unsaved for it is our free will and choice whereby we fail or fall. The power of God in our lives do not magically make the same act of choosing to not lust automatically count for salvation because we have God in our life.


Tapiwa Mushaninga
2012-10-02 3:16 AM

Darrel

read Romans 2:13 and James 2 v 21 - 24 what say ye on these verses. I believe Christ said our righteousness should exceed that of the pharisees so what does that also mean?

Preston Foster
2012-09-30 12:52 PM

Timo, 

Last week I was in a group of Adventists that also included two people of other faiths.  One, in particular, had very little previous exposure to Adventists.  After an extended conversation on subjects and quotations from both Bible and other Adventists sources, the person who had little Adventist exposure said, "I literally don't know what you people are talking about and I am blind to what this (quote from an Adventist resource) is saying. So I am focusing on what the Bible is saying."

Like others, whom some may not appreciate, Adventists have a way of speaking in an unknown tongue -- which can be OK . . . if you realize you need an interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:5,13).

http://www.atoday.org/article/935/columns/foster-preston/2011/inside-adventist

Stephen Ferguson
2012-10-02 5:26 AM

If I travelled back in time 2,000 years, they were probably having this same discussion about faith and works. If a travelled forward in time 2,000 years, they will probably still be having this same discussion.

Stephen Ferguson
2012-10-02 5:29 AM

And if you read the NT, you get the strong impression the Apostles themselves didn’t quite get it, or at least had different views from each other.  Even Paul’s own theology on the subject appears to be contradictor and evolving, as illustrated by his very inconsistent and contradictory use of the term Law (‘nomos’).
 
What then makes anyone think we moderns can work it out?  And why are we perhaps so dogmatic about it, thinking we are right and others wrong? 

Elaine Nelson
2012-10-02 12:08 PM

We simply must get the theories right or all is lost!

Keta-Val
2012-10-02 4:28 PM

I believe Grace covers our attempts to "understand"(Prov 3:5) God's Will for our lives, just as it covers sin in the righteous heart, as long as we don't get lost in the "trees"....yea, even the branches, but have not love or tolerance, or hold too tightly to our own theories(Pharisaical?)...for then it becomes vain words "jangling"(1Tim 1:5-7)

It would seem that the theory is not as important as we make it...because" God looketh upon the heart", and we cannot know for sure who/what is "right." (Psalm 24:3-5)."Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation."
 
This is reassurance, that the beauty of Christ and His Kingdom, is simple...it is us that makes it difficult.  Can you imagine God's Kingdom being made of only those who are able to theorize or converse in the language of biblical theology?

Psalm 19:7-14...The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple...More to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold...sweeter also than honey, and the honey comb." God continue to bless our desire and effort to be like Him!


Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-10-02 6:05 PM

S Furguson makes reference to the 'conflict' between faith and works which to him and others is a raging battle going on since the NT times. (E.g. some feel/assert that Paul and James have conflicting views). Perhaps examples of these 'theological' conflicts may assist in explaining why they think this is so, especially to those of us who find no problem when relating to scriptures regarding faith and works; law and grace; justice and mercy; or the imputed and imparted Righteousness of Christ by faith. I think the perceived conflict occurs more because of perspective rather than any ‘theology’ when viewed in proper context.

P Foster, in his effort to define cheap grace (or redefine it), inadvertently makes the conflict between faith and works seem more apparent by rendering a 'Sunday Church' spin to it in order to bury 'cheap grace'. This worldview overlooks the many other verses which provide a balance between the two extremes and thereby give us a proper understanding (at least to me) of how Grace works. Unfortunately this can also create a dilemma if we ignore these verses or hold a bias.

The words of Jesus speak plainly regarding what the expected outcome of His sacrifice on Calvary will do in the hearts of sinners when they accept him as their personal Saviour.  My understanding is that Righteousness by Faith in Christ by His grace allows the sinner who believes (and repents) to personally experience God’s Grace first hand and receive transformation by His power.  [John 14:15, 21, 23; John 15:10; 1John 5:3; Matt 28:19, 20; Heb 5:9; Heb 11:8; Phil 2:12,13; Rom 6:14, 15, 16, 17, 18; Acts 5:32; 1John 2:4; Rev 12:17; Rev 14:12; Rom 3:21; Rom 2:13; Gal 2:20]

These verses easily above satisfy the traditional conservative worldview without inconsistency or contradiction whilst testing them with the 'cheap grace' model it will fall flat. On top of this the traditional conservative worldview of Grace would easily satisfy these verses too [Matt 7:21-23], [Gal 3:21; Rom 10:3-4; James 2:14, 17, 26]

Preston Foster
2012-10-02 10:15 PM

Tapiwa and 22oct1844,
 
Clearly, we disagree on what grace means.  I think means unmerited favor that, in Christ, covers our sins.  You and, apparently 22oct1844, believe it means the power to achieve perfection.  I believe our perfection is imputed and obtained by Christ putting His robe of righteousness over us.  You, as I understand it, believe our perfection is attained by God giving us the power to live sinless lives.  I believe that sanctification is a product of grace.  You believe that sanctification is a prerequisite to justification.  I believe victory over sin (the noun) was won at the cross.  You, as I understand it, believe the victory over sin (the verb) is achieved prior to and as a condition of our salvation.  You believe I am promoting antinomialism.  I believe you are promoting a non-biblical standard of perfection that makes salvation, no matter how much you may deny it, conditional on our works of the law.  I believe that, under the New Covenant, we are no longer under the Old Covenant law.  You believe that the law remains as standard that both believers and unbelievers will be judged.  You view my position as giving comfort to sinners (I plead guilty to that, though I do not, and grace does not give comfort to sin).  I believe you are promoting a false, works based path to salvation that cheapens the grace that Christ made available at the foot of the cross.
 
I stand by my interpretive skills, as they depend on what is written, not what I want it to say.
 
The verses (Matthew 5:17-18 KJV) are conditional.  Everything that proceeds the word "til" (until) is dependent on what follows. In other words, nothing will change (regarding the law) UNTIL all is fulfilled.  The passage does NOT say that heaven and earth WILL pass away WHEN all is fulfilled.  It says that no iota of the law will change -- UNTIL all is fulfilled.  Then, in Luke 24:44, Christ tells his disciples that, indeed, all has been fulfilled. That, along with the specificity of Romans 3:10, 2 Corinthians 3:6-11, and numerous other verses already cited, strengthen case that there is, in the New Covenant, a change in the law.
 
My position is based on the most conservative foundation available: sola scriptura -- the Bible and the Bible alone.
 
Tapiwa, I have sought to answer your questions, and have until you presented an extensive new set of diversions (re: the Investigative Judgment) and accusations, without addressing my one, simple question.  Thank you, for your response.  
 
I take from your response that Christ lived a perfect, sinless life.  On that we agree (happily).  I also glean from your response that righteousness is imputed to those in Christ.  I agree with that as well.  I simply ask you, why would righteousness be imputed if perfection has already been attained?
 
  Finally, regarding Revelation 14:12, I believe that verse refers to those alive at the time of the of the Second Coming, when those who keep the commandments of God are differentiated from those who receive the mark of the beast.  At that time, those who keep the commandments of God are identified by their fidelity to the Creator God, in contrast to an allegiance to the traditions of men (the image of or the mark of the beast). In my view, keeping in the commandments of God is, at that time, an identifier of those who are worshiping the true God (in contrast to the counterfeit).  It is only the true God who can save us by grace through faith.  We are saved, by grace through faith in Jesus, by this Creator God -- and not by our works of the law.
 
Still, I see, in that passage, no requirement of achieved perfection to the law as a condition for salvation.     I believe that all our righteousness is filthy rags and there is none righteous -- no not one.  That is why we need a Savior who provides salvation by grace for our filthy rags.

laffal
2012-10-03 2:00 AM

Preston,

I believe our perfection is imputed and obtained by Christ putting His robe of righteousness over us.  You, as I understand it, believe our perfection is attained by God giving us the power to live sinless lives.

Why can't both of these applications apply?  Your understanding is clear and Biblical, yet why can't perfection, living a sinless life, be the ultimate objective of the gospel / plan of salvation as evidence that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation...in which is revealed the righteousness of God...from faith to faith?

I am in total agreement with when it comes down to any / all subective criteria being set forth as the mean of one obtaining grace from God.  That's not a gift, it works.  And to follow that model only means you've fallen from grace.  But it is my understanding that every objective truth of the Bible, of which you are clear, consistent, and pointed, has a subjective feature in the experience of the follower of Christ.  You can't honestly apply all of the uses of perfection / maturity in the NT to what Christ accomplished in His birth, life, death, and resurrection. 

At some point the plan of salvation will come to an end... what will be the cause?  A rule of judgment by Christ based on time / tolerance / weariness?  Or when the saving grace of Christ is free to accomplish in the lives of His followers give His grace free reign to accomplish His perfect will?  (Hebrews 13:20.21) 

I do appreciate your attention to the root of the gospel... Christ and His righteousness, but at some point the fruit born on the branches must come to maturity, because Revelation 14 speaks of a time when two harvests will be ready for the reaping.  Those that refused the free grace of God and sought to work their way into His kingdom will themselves in the winepress.  And those who allowed the grace of God to reign in their lives unto righteousness will be welcomed into fellowship with Christ and His / our Father...

It can't be one way or another, there is room in the Bible for both... imputed and imparted righteouness... the gift of grace and the work of grace in all who believe.

Blessings my friend and peace

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-10-03 12:28 AM

RE: "Tapiwa and 22oct1844, Clearly, we disagree on what grace means.  I think means unmerited favor that, in Christ, covers our sins.  You and, apparently 22oct1844, believe it means the power to achieve perfection."
------------
On the contrary to what you allege we think grace means, you need to note that I wholeheartedly agree that Grace "means unmerited favor that, in Christ, covers our sins" which you somehow for some reason do not wish to acknowledge.  Worse still you are saying that we believe "it means the power to achieve perfection".  This is not the case for me.  I haven't said this as well; but since you brought it up I would gladly rephrase what you said and say "it means the power to receive perfection" in Christ of course (always in Christ by faith) - which is what Grace does when we are 'covered' by Christ's Righteousness - we are declared perfect through both the imputed and imparted Righteousness of Christ. 

Justification and Sanctification does this for us through Grace - after all how is the sinner transformed by this same 'unmerited covering' Grace?  Obedience to God in the context of Grace is not the works on man but rather the work of God dwelling in us by Grace - which to me is where we can make or break what constitutes 'cheap grace' - it is when we deny that obedience to God is possible and try to exclude obedience from the Grace package.  This is what I'm seeing here on this blog.

What cheap grace says is:  "We're all sinners so let's feel sorry for ourselves and accept the unmerited favour of God but don't expect obedience or a changed life because although I'm covered by Grace, it doesn't have the capacity to transform my life of sin to one that obeys God.  In this bigger picture as I see it, things like repentance, obedience, the indwelling Holy Spirit, justification (imputed righteousness), sanctification (imparted righteousness), being saved, covered, converted, confession, sin, righteousness, law written in our hearts and a host of other 'unsearchable riches' can be found by Faith in Christ.  [Jude 1:24; Eph 3:20, 21]

What I would concur however, is that we clearly have a different understanding of what constitutes 'cheap grace’.

Tapiwa Mushaninga
2012-10-03 2:29 AM

I agree whole heartedly with 22 oct 1844

Preston Foster
2012-10-03 8:04 AM

laffal,
 
I agree that sinlessness is an aspirational goal of all Christians (love is, I believe, consistent with Jesus' commandments, the primary goal).  What I resist is the notion that the attainment of this state and salvation are (biblically) connected.
 
My focus is on the grace and its salvific power.  We are saved by grace, not behavior.  Yes, grace changes behavior.  Accepting grace puts us on the road of sanctification.  Whether we attain the goal of perfection, salvation, to those in Christ, is assured -- because of the imputation of righteousness.  It is the lack of attained perfection that, I believe, makes this imputation neccessary. 
 
The fruit of the Spirit, I believe, manifests itself almost immediately: love, joy, peace, long-suffering can manifest themselves in the lives of those in Christ long before perfect behavior is achieved.  This fruit is a product of grace.  It is, I believe, not the means of salvation.
 
22oct1844, the conflation of the grace with behavior, in my opinion, creates doubt regarding the scope of grace, diluting what it has promised to provide: salvation.  Regarding salvation, it is the dependence on anything beside grace that, in my view, cheapens grace.  
 
No doubt, I wish to redefine “cheap grace.”  As the article says, I have yet to meet anyone who claims Christ as their license to sin (or to continue in disobedience).  Regarding salvation, I know and meet plenty of folks who claim “grace, but” (http://www.atoday.org/article/1142/columns/foster-preston/the-big-but).  If we are talking about salvation (which is my focus), it is grace through faith -- period (Ephesians 2:8).  Adding any other requirement, in my opinion, cheapens (e.g. dilutes) the power of grace (Romans 3:21-22).
 
I do not deny (and do rejoice in the fact) that accepting grace results in ever increasing obedience to God.  As I have said many times in this strand, obedience RESULTS from accepting grace.  I simply resist the notion (advanced by Tapiwa) that perfection of behavior is a biblical requirement for salvation.  Although you believe my question (“Who has stopped sinning completely and permanently?”) is a distraction, the reality of human imperfection confronts the theory of attained perfection.  In my view, it is why grace, itself, exists.
 

Preston Foster
2012-10-03 3:34 PM

I agree that sinlessness is an aspirational goal of all Christians (love is, I believe, consistent with Jesus' commandments, the primary goal).  What I resist is the notion that the attainment of this state and salvation are (biblically) connected.

Correction: the last sentence above should read ". . . that the attainment of that state is the biblical requirement for salvation."  

Thanks. 

Trevor Hammond [22oct1844]
2012-10-03 4:54 PM

I'm not sure where 'sinlessness' fits in but it isn't in the Bible from the nearly 20 English translations I checked.  There is one reference of this word which I found in some Anglican creed which refers to Jesus only.
 
The bible teaches righteousness by faith not sinlessness by faith.  I think there is a difference.
 
P Foster was the first to bring this word up when he said: "If we die in Christ prior to achieving sinlessness (again, to Elaine's point, who has achieved this?), we are saved by grace." [emphasis mine].   Then E Nelson mentions sinlessness too ("Does cleansing mean sinlessness?")  They both then assumed others who made even a remote reference to obedience were claiming sinlessness when they were referring to righteousness by faith in Christ and the obedience Grace imparts to us by faith in Christ. (T Onjukka also makes reference to it in this context).
 
It would seem that some tend to focus on sinlessness and trying to attain it or they accuse others of the same whilst others prefer to receive Righteousness by God's Grace.

Anonymous


You do not have sufficient permissions to post a comment.


Log In to Post a Comment. Log In | Register

Adventist Today Magazine is published quarterly by Adventist Today Foundation

Phone: 503-826-8600   |   Email: atoday@atoday.org   |   Web: atoday.org