Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"One thing you lack"

I have been thinking about the issue of obedience a little further after I wrote my earlier post "Obey or burn". I was wondering if there is an accepted 'limit' for obedience. How far can we obey? What would satisfy God? Or in other words, what would satisfy you or me? And what happens when I fail to obey? Am I rejected? Am I less loved? Am I out of fellowship with God? Does it affect the intimacy of my relationship with God?

If so, What is the remedy? Beat myself up more? Do the confession thing?

Would I be able to go upto "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)? Would I be able to reach there one day and call myself as matured and finally righteous?

It seems like God is heartless to raise the bar to such a height. Remember, the rich guy (Mark 10:17-25), who came claiming that he obeyed all the law? What did Jesus say to him? Did he say "well done my son, you finally made it"? No!

He said, "One thing you lack"! (Oops!) And then continued, "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Ouch!)

Jesus's response seems like very mean-spirited and cruel. This young guy was jumping (or he thought he was jumping) a 10 ft high bar, but now Jesus raised it to 75 ft. What was the result? He was disappointed! His face fell, it says. He went away sad.

Was Jesus heartless? Shouldn't have Jesus taken pride in seeing a young person who obeys his commandments since his childhood?

He seems to be heartless for those who try to earn or maintain his favor through anything they do. The statement by Apostle Mark, "Jesus looked at him and loved him" (v21) doubtlessly conveys the fact that He wanted the rich young man to see a gift which He came to offer. Unfortunately the young man didn't see the love in the eyes of Jesus because he was so busy presenting his self-righteousness.

A gift cannot be earned. If we strive for a gift, there is always going to be that "one thing you lack". With Jesus, you get everything you ever need. You are perfected and accepted in Him and then you lack nothing; so you may stop striving and may rest in Him. It's a beautiful thing, isn't it?

38 comments:

Ike said...

If we could condense the truth of the entire passage about the rich man into a single statement, it would be Luke 14:33, "So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give uo all his own possessions.

This rich young man left "not" because he heard the wrong message, not even because he didn't believe, but because he was unwilling to forsake what he loved most in this world and commit himself to Christ as Lord.

Modern evangelism is preoccupied with decisions, pitches, emotional manipulation, and even intimidation. Its message is filled with easy-believism and simplistic appeals. Unbelievers are told that if they invite Jesus into their hearts, accept Him as personal Savior, or believe the facts of the gospel, that is all there is to it. The aftermath is appalling failure, as seen in the lives of millions who have professed faith in Christ with no consequent impact on their behavior. Who knows how many people are deluded into believing they are saved when they are not?

theoldadam said...

The only acceptable limit for obedience is PERFECTION.

Nothing short will do.

We ought not worry about the worst things that we have done, or are doing...we ought worry about the best that our obedience can muster up...because it's not good enough either.

He's the only One who was ever, or will ever be good enough.

And that is ok, because He declares us righteous in Himself.

That is good enough for me!

Bino M. said...

Ike -

Your interpretation of the story of the rich young man is the familiar and widely accepted interpretation. I have heard many sermons based on that passage to encourage people to give up their possessions. They all draw the principle of "giving up your possessions in order to commit yourself to Jesus" from that passage.

What if that is a wrong interpretation?

"So therefore, no one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions."

If that is so, all genuine Christians should be homeless, hungry and even naked!

Jesus, all throughout his earthly ministry amplified the law, so that people will see their total depravity and their need for a Saviour. In this story, Jesus used law very effectively to achieve its purpose. What was it's purpose?

"Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God." - Romans 3:19

That is exactly what happened to the rich young man - he was silenced when Jesus raised the bar.

Sadly, this is the most important truth so many Christians miss out today. This is where the principle of 'rightly dividing' the word comes into picture.

Bino M. said...

Steve - Well said, my friend! Thanks!

Matthew Campbell said...

Ike,

The guy left because he thought he was righteous and wanted to know if there was anything left he needed to do to inherit eternal life and Jesus used the totality of the law to shut the mans mouth.

Many believe the young man was not saved. Oh, if he would have just sold all that he had! Then he would have been saved! But I believe (and this is purely speculation) that the reaction from the young guy was exactly what Jesus wanted: The Law shut his mouth and he stood condemned, without room to boast.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Matthew Campbell said...

And I just realized that I repeated what Bino said in his comment. :)

Ike said...

Bino,

My interpretation isn't giving up "richness" or my home or whatever....the question is...do you love the Lord more than anything else. That was the young rich mans problem. We either bow our knees to His Lordship in this life, or He will break them and make you bow in the next. He is Lord of the greatest saint as well as the worst sinner in hell. He is Lord of all.

Jamie said...

>We either bow our knees to His Lordship in this life, or He will break them and make you bow in the next.

WHAT??

That is a disgusting and revolting thought. That is MAN speaking not Abba.

And...the "obedience" that God required was fulfilled in Christ.

Done deal.

Great post, Bino!! :)

Ike said...

"WHAT??

That is a disgusting and revolting thought. That is MAN speaking not Abba"

Philippians 2:10-11, "so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."

Eventually this WILL be done by everyone in response to Christ's lorship, willingly and blessedly or unwillingly and painfully. He will get glory from His bride the Church and He will get glory from all those in hell.

Jamie...what you say is romantic but not what God's Word says.

John Fincher said...

Ike,

"Eventually this WILL be done by everyone in response to Christ's lordship, willingly and blessedly or unwillingly and painfully. He will get glory from His bride the Church and He will get glory from all those in hell."


WHERE in Philippians 2:10-11 does it mention any pain associated for those who acknowledge Christ's Lordship "unwillingly"?

Please don't add something to this discussion that's not in the Scripture you cite.

Peace :)

Matthew Campbell said...

I don't think breaking of knees will be necessary to cause everyone to bow to the Lord. John himself fell at his feet as a dead man.

While I agree, Ike that we are to have even a mentality of a martyr when it comes to confessing Jesus Christ is Lord, I think you subtly sneak works into the equation.

Its all about our clinging to the finished work of Jesus Christ in full confidence, firm, to the end. It has nothing to do with behavior, but everything to do with a genuine faith that believes even to death.

Ike said...

John...It's interesting that you say nothing about the comments that do not include Scripture but you call me on Phillipians.

Jesus said more about hell than all the prophets and writers of the Bible put together. Are you suggesting that hell is pain free? Are you suggesting that all the people in hell all of a sudden have a change of heart and they lovingly bow to Him as Lord? Whats your point?

These last two posts are about obedience...right? Jesus said that we are His friends IF we obey Him.

One last question...are you the John Fincher...the author?

Ike said...

Never mind...its John Fishner I was thinking about.

John Fincher said...

(Sorry for the length of this)

Brother Ike,
Here’s what’s going on:
1. Yours was the last comment that I read, and to be honest, I didn’t read them all.

2. This is a subject (punishment) that has been on my heart lately.

3. While you said no one used Scripture and I didn’t “call” them on it, you DID use Scripture. And, the specific one you cited did not mention punishment – that’s all.

4. You say “Jesus said more about hell than all the prophets and writers of the Bible put together”. Are you sure about that? Have you done the study yourself to back up that claim? I have – and that is simply not a true statement.

Here is a cursory study I've done on the WORD Hell in the NT after my former assoc pastor and I were talking about the teaching that we had heard that Jesus spoke more about Hell than Heaven, which, by the way, is simply NOT true:

There are 3 words directly translated as Hell in the NT. Hades, Gehenna, and Tartaros (1 time in 2 Peter 2:4). Can we include "outer darkness" (3 times - in Matthew only) and "the Lake of Fire" (4 times - in Revelation only)? Jesus used BOTH words (Hades and Gehenna), but are all translated “Hell”.

So if we are EXTREMELY liberal, we can say there are 31 distinct uses of words for the CONCEPT of Hell in the NT. And, not all were attributed directly to Jesus. Again, let's be liberal and say Jesus mentioned "Hell" 23 times (I'm excluding anything not in the Gospels, but including "outer darkness".)

So, Jesus "talked" about "Hell" 20 times. (I might be off by 2 or 3)

First glance at the word Heaven (I think we must include "Kingdom of" Heaven too), I see 144 translations of the word in English (I didn't exhaust the Greek like I did for the word Hell because I don't have the time right now). Again, JUST in the Gospels.

I don't know the exact number of times that it was Jesus who mentioned the word, but I think it's safe to say it's more than 20 - 23.

End

Since then, I’ve done some more study about this subject. Hades is the NT equivalent of Sheol in the OT. Of course, this is subjective, but most scholars think that that refers to the grave, not eternal punishment. So, if this is the case, we must take out even more references attributed to Jesus about Hell.

And lastly, your statement “Jesus said that we are His friends IF we obey Him” begs the question how could we EVER be His friend because NO ONE obeys ALL His commands! Do we? I certainly don’t.

And, NO, I’m just a lowly wanderer.

Peace to you!

John Fincher said...

BTW, "SHEOL" occurs 65 times in 63 verses in the OT. AV — grave 31, hell 31, pit 3

Jamie said...

Ike,

A God that stepped into time and wrapped Himself in flesh so that He could FINISH ALL THAT REDPEMPTION REQUIRED BECAUSE OF LOVE is not going to "break knees" in order to receive His glory & honor. Love NEVER fails and it will not fail even at the moment when time slips into eternity. Yes, all will bow but not by force. Your comment sounded a bit too much like Jonah in its uncharitable attitude!! HOW YOU UNDERESTIMATE God's love & the work of the cross! As if God needs us to keep the covenant between Father & Son! As if WE can add to God's Redemptive work! Grace is unmerited. Period. We don't pay it off after accepting it; we live from it! We live from this outrageous union life we now have with Christ...not WORK...REST. We trust in who God has made us: New Creations. That's it. We simply BELIEVE.

Jamie said...

Drat!!

Redemption.

:D

Ike said...

Bino...you will have to forgive me...I told you that I will not comment anymore....so let this be my last.


Jamie said: "A God that stepped into time and wrapped Himself in flesh so that He could FINISH ALL THAT REDPEMPTION REQUIRED BECAUSE OF LOVE is not going to "break knees" in order to receive His glory & honor."

Jamie, Romans 9:20-23 put's it like this:

" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—"

Those people who refuse the grace of God in this life, will become unwilling witnesses to the glory of God as His mercy shines even greater against the backdrop of His just wrath. Those who refuse God's grace in this life will remain in an unregenerate state of rebellion throughout all eternity. They never will haved received a new heart, nor will they ever be born again, and they will die and enter eternity, willingly, in their own rebellion and sin.

My use of the metaphor "Break Knee" was purposely strong. But the depravity, rebellion and sinfulness of the human heart is radically worse! We as sinner's have all sinned against and offended an infinitely holy God. The bible speaks of all mankind as being dead in sin (Eph 2:1-3). Under the wrath of God (Eph.2:3). In bondage to sin (John 8:34). No one seeks God, No one understand God, No one does good (Rom. 3:10-12). Fallen man cannot even come unto Jesus unless He enables them (John 6:65). And the god of this world blinds the minds of unbelievers (2Cor. 4:1-4).

Therefore, unbelievers (who will still be dead in sin and posses an unregenerate nature described above) will only confess Christ on that day unwillingly and with great regret. They have died in their rebellion and will now face eternity in that rebellion. Their confession of Christ as Lord will not be made with a renewed or regenerated heart.

And God's outrageous love, mercy and grace will shine even greater as we recognize that it is all by God's sheer grace that we are saved from experiencing the same fate! Believers will rejoice on that day and willing call Jesus Lord.

Jamie said: "As if WE can add to God's Redemptive work! Grace is unmerited. Period. We don't pay it off after accepting it; we live from it! We live from this outrageous union life we now have with Christ...not WORK...REST. We trust in who God has made us: New Creations. That's it. We simply BELIEVE."

Jamie, I agree with this statement!

Where we may differ is on the nature of saving faith (or belief). As James chapter 2 points out, that even demons believe in God and shutter. It is possible to "believe" in God and not be saved. James chapter 2:20 goes on to say: "faith without works is dead".

Jamie said...

The work I do is to believe. "Let it be to me according to Thy Word." I can produce no GOOD, ETERNAL thing through my own effort. And yet God can birth through me all that He wishes to bring forth and display in the world. The vessel only pours out the Living Water; it doesn't PRODUCE it. The branch only bears the fruit; Life flows from the ROOT and VINE. I don't PRODUCE works independently; the Spirit within me causes me to conceive and produce NATURALLY.

And how in the world can a New Creation that is seated in the heavenlies in Christ still be a "sinner"? THAT is a misnomer! I died. I now live by the life that is Christ in me. I am holy & righteous...I am the tabernacle of God Almighty. And anything that speaks against that is anti-Christ.

Bino M. said...

Ike - As I said in the email, you don't have to stop commenting. We all can learn from each other, even when we disagree... Disagreements usually don't bother me, because I am not here to convince. Like I said, if there is truth in what I (or you) say, it will find it's own way.

One thing I like to say, regarding your previous comment. I do not call Christians "sinners", though they sin. Because sin has no effect on a Christian's right standing with God. All sins were taken away at the cross.

God dwells in you. How can a holy God dwell in a sinner?

Bible says, "the soul that sins shall die". Is that true in a believer's life? Does he die (spiritually) when he sin? Absolutely no! It is an impossibility because Jesus took ALL those sins away at the cross.

Joel B. said...

Great conversation, all. :)

Eeeek... I love it when the Lord works His wonderful works in and through me, but if it's up to ME to CHANGE MY BEHAVIOR in order to belong to God, then I freely admit that I'M TOAST! I'm FRIED GREEN TOMATOES! I'm MINCED MEAT!

I'll even be serious. I'm forever burning in the Lake of Fire IF Ike's interpretations are true. Ike, you may as well be the one who puts the millstone around my neck. You are the one who has it all together, and is a true disciple, and will be saved because YOU have kept in line with all that is required, and I have not.

But thank GOD for G.R.A.C.E!!! God's RIDICULOUS Agape Captivating Everyone! Man alive, if ANYONE thinks they've done enough, or changed enough, or transformed enough, or kept themselves holy enough, and they want to stand in front of an absolutely Holy and Perfect God and say, "Look at Me!!!," I feel very sorry for them.

Ike said...

Joel wrote: "I'll even be serious. I'm forever burning in the Lake of Fire IF Ike's interpretations are true. Ike, you may as well be the one who puts the millstone around my neck. You are the one who has it all together, and is a true disciple, and will be saved because YOU have kept in line with all that is required, and I have not.

Jamie wrote: "The work I do is to believe."

MY COMMENT: Let me clarify my "interpretations" because there does seem to be some misunderstandings.

I believe that fallen, and unregenerate man is dead in his sins and under the wrath of God (Eph. 2:1-4). There is nothing mankind can do to earn or merit his own salvation nor does fallen man contribute anything to Christ finished cross work on our behalf. Before we are born again and resting in Christ, we are unable and unwilling to even make the first move towards Him (John 6:44, 65; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:3-4). It is with these biblical facts about our lost condition (as unbelievers) that I say the following:

The rescue of sinners is an absolutely free act of God's grace. We contribute absolutley nothing to God's miracle in creating a people for Himself, removing their sin, and clothing them in the righteousness of Christ. Even our repentance & faith (which is our response to Christ sacrificial love) are gifts that we receive from God. They are our God enabled response to His amazing love and grace. I like the term "sheer grace".

The gift of faith (or belief) that God gives His people is not a defective or dead faith. It is also not a mere intellectual knowledge or belief. But it will be an effectual and embracing faith that will manifest or show itself to be genuine by it's works of faith (James 2; Eph. 2:10). It will freely love, embrace and enjoy God. It will remain faithful to the end. It will confess and forsake known sin. It will continue on when it stumbles. It will follow Christ as both Lord & friend. It will strive to treasure Christ above all other lesser things.

Now this is certainly not perfection (and I never said it was), nor does it mean we "have it all together", but it will be the direction of the saints life as we rest in our Lord. It will be a progressive work of sanctification in the hearts of God's children (also a gift of grace). God not only forgives all our sin, but he also frees us from it's power by enabling us to follow Him and His word.

Now, may I suggest that this view is not only biblically balanced, but is radically more liberating and freeing than anything else I ever read? Since in my "interpretation", we contribute absolutely NOTHING to Christ's finished work on the cross for our behalf. Even our belief is not a "work" we can contribute. Our receiving and resting in Christ is a gift of His radically free, and unconditional grace. What God requires of us in His word....He freely gives and enables it in us...."He who began a good work in us...will finish it".......and all the glory goes to Him!!

centralityofthegospel said...

Religion, mans default mode, is if you obey you are accepted, the Gospel, the good news of Christ, says you are accepted, therefore you obey.

centralityofthegospel said...

Not that we always do it obey perfectly but we can approach life in the freedom of the Gospel, as opposed to the chains of the law.

Hebrews 7
18The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

http://centralityofthegospel.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/a-new-covenant/

centralityofthegospel said...

I am going to agree and disagree with Ike, maybe not his words entirely, but at some fundamental level I think we can agree on some things.

We live in a world of pain avoiders.... at the click of a mouse I get instant gratification.... instant knowledge. God does work to hone us and shape us and we avoid embracing this pain. God uses words of running a race as if we are 'in training' in scripture.

The good new is Christ is there, no matter what, saying you are secure because of what He did. Now lets move on this growth path together.

We have the good News of Jesus... Now in view of Gods Mercy, offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1-3).


The words man leaves behind is always the words IN VIEW OF GODS MERCY.... this is why the works of man become, almost by default, works of mans righteousness and not works of Christs' righteousness.

Obedience is not the main product of a Christian walk it is a by-product of a Christian walk. When we inevitably fail, we have the Gospel. Our failures and disobedience should always point us to a understand how we have a deeper need for a savior then even before our transgression took place.

Unfortunately, in this world, its easy to spot a villain when they twirl their mustaches, but its difficult to spot a villain when they camouflage themselves with good works. Because of the fall, we all need a savior and we are all villains.

Thanks to Christ for what He did.

In Christ,

centralityofthegospel said...

http://centralityofthegospel.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/in-the-gospel-god-reveals-jesus-as-an-object-of-confidence-to-sinners/

centralityofthegospel said...

Sorry for all the posts but this topic reminds me of serveral things I BLOG on too.

http://centralityofthegospel.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/learning-to-love-legalists-but-not-legalism/

centralityofthegospel said...

Sorry for all the posts but my brain has travelled the same roads as Bino.

http://centralityofthegospel.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/learning-to-love-legalists-but-not-legalism/

Joel B. said...

Ike,

I'll leave it at this for now. No matter how you have explained yourself in all the time I've known you, I've consistently had a disagreement with you as to how I've perceived your portrayal of all of this stuff that we're talking about here. In this last comment of yours, there are a few things I agree with but mostly I don't agree with you. I'm sure you know what points I'm talking about, so as I said, I'll just leave it at this for now.

Ike said...

(Part 1)

Centralityofthegospel said, " Religion, mans default mode, is if you obey you are accepted, the Gospel, the good news of Christ, says you are accepted, therefore you obey".

And I completely agree. This is because faith, by it's very God-created design, springs into obedient behavior as a result of the gospel. There is an inseparable link between faith and faithfulness throughout Scripture, particularly found in the book of Hebrews. For example: It was by faith that Abel offered to God a better sacrifice. It was by faith that Noah built an ark in order to save his family. It was by faith that Abraham obeyed God and went where God led. It was by faith that Rahab welcomed the spies. In every case, faith sprang into action. This is the same kind or quality of faith we clearly find in the book of James. Faith that is not accompanied by action is dead. And the Reformation motto still holds true: We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone."

Therefore we simply cannot reduce faith to a manageable human work. Jesus does not just do 99.99% of the work, but then leaves the most important parts of that work to remain ineffectual until we do our part in the process by believing. That's human merit and works creeping in unnoticed. And the result is that we tend to make our part in this process attainable, by reducing the meaning of faith to a mere intellectual knowledge, making "easy for us to receive life".

A more balanced biblical view is that Jesus is both the pioneer and perfector of our faith (Heb 12:2). Christ redemptive act is the objective basis of salvation, and our faith is the subjective means of salvation. But even here, faith is a gift of God's grace that He gives to his people (as opposed to a work that we do). We receive this living faith as a gift that enable us to rest in Christ finish redemptive work. From beginning to end, and all parts in between, the salvation and rescue of sinners is the work of God's grace alone. When God speaks life into spiritually dead people, they emerge from their tombs to spiritual life. And it will be a spiritual life that has been freed from the power of sin and equipped with the ability to love and obey God.

These are complex ideas for sure, and we (believers) are inclined as anyone to reduce complex ideas to simplistic formulas and rules that will ultimately impair our spiritual growth. We simply must account for and allow all the biblical data that pertains to salvation (and saving faith), without divorcing them or reducing them to our human standards. We must allow Scripture to define the kind of faith God requires, and then allow Scripture to show us the source of this God given faith.

Ike said...

(2)

Bino's original (and thought provoking) post asked these questions: "I was wondering if there is an accepted 'limit' for obedience. How far can we obey? What would satisfy God? Or in other words, what would satisfy you or me?"

We already know that Christ work on the cross satisfies God's justice for all who believe. That is the objective basis for our salvation and can never be added to, or improved upon. Given this established fact, Perhaps Bino is asking the wrong questions?

Allow me to suggest that because of Christ cross work on our behalf, God has already graced us (believers) with the ability to obey Him. He has already granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness. It is His will that we escape the corruptions and sins of this world and progress in holiness. Not as a means of attaining salvation, but as a necessary result of Christ redemptive work and the gift of saving faith that works to free us from the bondage to sin. The direction God is calling us to is holiness. For without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). Is this the direction of our lives? Are we being diligent in making our calling and election sure? Have we become partakers of the divine nature?

All these virtues listed in 2 Peter 1:3-10 (below) are the result of saving faith. Meditate on these two Scripture passages. I believe they will provide us some insight into our conversation.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2Peter 1:3-10).

For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. (1 Thess. 4:2-8)

Joel B. said...

I have a few comments about Hebrews 11 and James that I think tie into this blog post. My words here aren't a response to (for or against) anything Ike or anyone else has said about these things, but are my own consistently held thoughts that I'm bringing in, as a result of James and Hebrews 11 simply having been mentioned.

The individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11 are examples, to me, of people who simply believed God, and the things they did were simply a natural result of that. They weren't trying to prove their faith to be genuine. It simply was, and so it showed. They weren't following any sermons on how to live lives of faith. They weren't reading James (haha) and asking themselves, "how can I show my faith to be genuine?" They weren't following biblical principles for works and obedience. They simply acted naturally based upon what they already believed.

I think James' own words, "you say you have faith, but I'll show you my faith by what I do," are not words that were ever to help a person with dead faith (an empty proclamation of faith) to actually start doing works to prove what they proclaim. That would be futile to speak to a dead person and say, "Show me 'life,'" thinking that it would actually result in a show of genuine life. Rather I think James was simply making the valid point that not everyone who says they have faith actually has faith. Faith that is alive will naturally show.

It's those "dead" people, who think that they are alive (by what they do), to whom Jesus would say, "one thing you lack, go sell all you have and give to the poor." Jesus' point to the "dead" rich young ruler was different that James' point to the already-alive Christians who had dead faith-proclaiming people among them.

Had Jesus spoken in person with the individual people mentioned in Hebrews 11, I don't think His words to them would have been, "one thing you lack, go sell all you have and give to the poor." They don't appear to be dead people who were trying to question God about what they need to DO in order to be obedience or to inherit eternal life. These were people who already had faith that was "alive," and it showed in what they did.

Their "works of faith" were not "works of the law" and were not done to prove their faith to be genuine. They were actions that were simply naturally lived out as a result of what they believed.

centralityofthegospel said...

Ike, I believe, struggles with many of the same things that many of us do. The power of the Gospel is not just for our justification, its also for our sanctification. There is power on the Gospel for all Christian growth and in a way there is unity in out justification and our sanctification.

When Paul approached Peter with acting wrongly in Galatians he said "He was not acting line with the truth of the Gospel".

John Piper in a sermon once said never, never, never, never, never, never, never, think of the Gospel as a way to get saved and then think you have to do something else to get strong.

Paul, did a good job discussing a profound relationship that Man has with God through Jesus Christ that does not have a dependency on Man and his works. A focus on mans works inevitably leads to pride.

James, on the other hand discusses the practical applications of a "moving, not dead" faith in Jesus Christ that is the desired output of all men that have an active faith in Christ.

Once again, obedience, is a by-product of a faith in Christ and not the product of the Christian walk. Even though we will continue to sin, we strive for obedience, IN VIEW OF GODS MERCY for us on the cross. We do so out of the relationship and acceptance we get from Christs' death on the cross.

Hebrews uses strong words about the law. It says the law is useless and weak (Heb 7:18)and that the New Covenant of Christ is what gives life to the Christian walk.

Joel made some really good points. Ike was right on about Jesus being the author and perfector of our faith.

In a nutshell, I am an anti-moralism guy. Not becuase I want to sin and not because I want to not be moral. I want to have biblical virtue. But the parable of the Prodigal son and many teachings on the pharisees tell us that our religion, moralism, and so called biblical virtue can be just as self serving as our worldly sin. Its a bad spot to be in for any kind of growth when you think your basically "ok" and not as bad as those very dirty sinners. Biblical virture and moralism was a power play for the pharisees and many Christians use this same technique today.

In an attempt to be honest with myself I want to expose both the relgious, moralism idols in my life and my worldly idols.

The good news, the gospel, says that Jesus died for me, giving me hope, and I know he is the author and perfecter of my faith.

centralityofthegospel said...

I am looking for some help on this BLOG topic:

http://centralityofthegospel.wordpress.com/2009/07/19/online-discernment-ministries-and-their-mixed-up-truth/

Jamie said...

Just a quick thought...this is REALLY GOOD stuff happening here. Just stop for one moment and regard the beauty of each individual's expression as they attempt to articulate their identity in Christ and what that means to them. As I read each comment, I find myself praying that we each keep ourselves open to the ongoing revelation of Christ to us...that we continue to grow in our knowledge of his mercy, love, & grace.

Hey guys!! You are beautiful. I just really, really wanted you to know that.

Bino M. said...

Hi all -

Jamie just said what I wanted to say :). I have been reading all these comments over the week-end and even today. Some of them I re-read. You all make great points and I am learning from all these.

centralityofthegospel, Welcome to this blog! We all appreciate your insights here.

Again, thank you all for taking time to read and share. I like this kind of open forums where we talk things out. We don't have to agree always, which I think is fine.

I am still thinking about the issue of obedience :) And I think I will ponder on it in the coming days. One thing which came to my mind today is that, when we are truly obeying, we wouldn't know we are doing it. It's not out of a 'make-it-happen' attitude.
If we get hold of the "Vine and branch" metaphor, that tells us how it happens in a natural way. Anyways, I still have room to grow in all these areas.

Blessings!

Crown of Beauty said...

Obedience has become a major theme in my Christian journey, and I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate what you wrote on this post.

The story of the rich young ruler is what led me to the foot of Jesus in 1973.

Thank you.

Bino M. said...

Crown of Beauty - I am glad it helped. Praise God!