Tuesday, February 28, 2006

If we were more like Christ!

"It is enough for the disciple that he
be like his master." - Matthew 10:25

When our Lord was on earth, what was the
treatment he received? Were his claims
acknowledged, his instructions followed,
and his perfections worshiped, by those whom
he came to bless? No; "He was despised
and rejected of men." Outside the camp was
his place; cross-bearing was his occupation.

Did the world yield him solace and rest?
"Foxes have holes, and the birds of the
air have nests; but the Son of man has no
where to lay his head." This inhospitable
world afforded him no shelter: it cast him
out and crucified him.

If you are a follower of Jesus, and
maintain a consistent, Christ-like walk
and conversation, you must expect
the same treatment from the world.

They will treat you as they treated the Savior-
they will despise you. Do not dream not that
worldlings will admire you, or that the more
holy and the more Christ-like you are, the
more peaceably people will act towards you.

They prized not the polished gem, how
should they value the jewel in the rough?

"If they have called the Master of the house
Beelzebub, how much more shall they call
those of his household?"

If we were more like Christ, we would
be more hated by his enemies!

It is a sad dishonor to a child of God to be
the world's favorite. It is a very ill omen to
hear a wicked world clap its hands and shout,
"Well done" to the Christian man. When the
unrighteous give him their approbation, he
should begin to look to his character, and
wonder whether he has not been doing wrong.

Let us be true to our Master, and have
no friendship with a blind and base world
which scorns and rejects him. Far be it
from us to seek a crown of honor where
our Lord found a coronet of thorns!


Blog Note for I.E. Users

For some reason the blog is having "issues" with displaying correctly. If you're reading this in IE, you will notice that the whole page is mostly green as opposed a green "frame" with white behind all of my posts. I'm trying to figure out what the problem is so that I can get it fixed. The blog does show up correctly in FireFox, though.... It's very confusing.

By the way, Firefox is a great browser. I actually like it better than IE in a lot of ways. If you want to check it out, click here.

Monday, February 27, 2006

My 3 Minute Testimonial

A week ago Sunday (2/19/06), Pastor Bruce asked if a few of the men of our church (me included) if we would be willing to share a testimony during our Communion service. He also told us that we didn’t need to tell our conversion story, but we could testify about what God has been doing in our lives.

Well, after much turmoil and heart searching, I want to tell you what the Lord has burdened me with that He had me share with my church.

I want to testify today about the Word of God. When I look back over the last few years of my life I can see the hand of God moving in my life and directing me toward His Word.

I want to talk about what the Word is. In 2 Peter 1 we see that, “no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Timothy 3 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

For those of you who are familiar with the Sunday School class that I teach or the blog that I have, you will not be surprised to see me go to the book of Jude for one of the 2 main verses that the Lord has used in my life. Jude 3 says, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” Jude then goes on to write about how false teachers have come in so that they can distort the Word. In 1 Peter 3, Peter is writing a letter dealing with the reality of false teachers and what they will do when he says, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you….” Also, in 2 Peter 2:1, Peter writes, “But false prophets also arose among the people just as there will also be false teachers among you who will secretly introduce destructive heresies….”

So here’s what we have: Peter and Jude (among many other writers) have told us to know what the Lord has said because of the reality and surety of false teachers. False teachers will distort what the Word says and draw away disciples for themselves as well as deceive people. Satan has always used this trick, and he has used it with those who would or should know the Word of the Lord.

In Genesis 3, we see Satan, the serpent, deceive Eve and help bring about the fall of mankind. Satan began his deception with the words, “Has God indeed said….” Satan called into question and caused Eve to doubt the words which God had spoken to them. After many years of practice he tried this method again, and we can see the story in Luke 4. Satan tried to make Christ stumble and fall by twisting scripture and taking it out of context and distorting it to accomplish his desires. Christ was not fooled and rebuked the devil with scripture properly understood and interpreted.

This is a great example of the devil’s tactics against people who have heard or know the Word of God, but this second example is also the great example for us to know how not to be deceived. The key is to know the Word. And the only way that we can know the Word is to study it, love it, and live for it.

Now – what did the Word cost? Well, primarily, it cost the Son of God His very life to give, complete, and fulfill. It is the same Word that the prophets were ridiculed and killed for – John the Baptist was beheaded. It is the same Word that eleven of the twelve apostles, were killed for. It is the same Word that because the early Christians believed it and were unwilling to waver on that they were murdered, torn apart by wild animals, and used for human torches. It is the same Word that the reformers were persecuted for, burned at the stake because of, and hunted on account of. All of this because they were not willing to compromise on the Word. It is for this same Word that many Christians in China, Africa, and many other places are today being killed, having their livelihood ripped away form them, and are being persecuted by the authorities of their country for even possessing a copy of the Word.

This is the same Word that cost me $30.

The Bible is very clear that Christians, those people who have repented and placed their trust in Christ and Him alone, will not be judged for their sins and condemned to hell. We will be judged according to our works, and how these works aligned with the foundation that is Christ. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul tells us that our works will be judged by fire, and the works that are not pleasing will be burnt up.

How many times does the Word of God get relegated to a second or third priority behind mind numbing TV, meaningless conversation about things that really do not matter, or anything else? How will God judge me when He sees all of the times that I disregarded this expensive, or priceless, Word that He gave to me? I have no excuse as to why I am so lazy and uncommitted to knowing it, and living it, and loving it? Do you?

How can we defend the faith to those who question us, how can we contend for the faith with those who try to distort it, or how can we value the Word of God if we do not know it. And the only way for us to know it is for us to read and study it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Excerpt from "Rahab's Faith"

Many have a 'dead faith' which will ruin their soul.

The faith that will save you is a faith which sanctifies.

"Ah!" says the drunkard, "I like the gospel, sir;
I believe in Christ" then he will go over to the
Blue Lion tonight, and get drunk.
Sir, that is not the believing in Christ that is of any use.
Sir, you speak falsely; you do not truly believe in Christ.

That faith which saves the soul is a real faith,
and a real faith sanctifies men!

You cannot have faith, and yet live in sin.

To believe is to be holy.
The two things must go together.

That faith is a dead faith, a corrupt faith,
which lives in sin that grace may abound.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

2 Peter 2:1 (part 2)

Building off of 2 Peter 2:1 (part 1), I think that it is the right understanding to see "Master" as referring to God. Many wiser men who are better at exegesis than I am have singled out Jesus as the specificly mentioned "Master." I am not going to dispute that Master is referring to the 2nd Person of the Trinity because I think that the contextual clues as well as what we know of Jesus and His role in the Godhead do not exclude Him being the "Master" in question. So if Christ is the "Master" then the correct understanding this passage hinges on the word "bought" and what it means.

When looking at the word used for "bought" (agorazo), I found that everywhere that this word is used in the New Testament it implies that the person not only purchased something, but owned and or possessed it. Every time. This is a big point, in my opinion. Such a large point that it colors the entire understanding of this text. Let me show you what I mean:

  • Matt 13:44 - the man "buys" the field containing the treasure
  • Matt 13:46 - the mearchant sold everything and "bought" the pearl of great price
  • Matt 14:15 - the disciples urge Jesus to send away the crowd to "buy" food for themselves
  • Matt 21:12 - Jesus drove all out of the temple who were "buying" and selling
  • Matt 25;9,10 - the wise virgins tell the foolish ones to go "buy" lamp oil
  • Matt 27:7 - the cheif priests & elders "bought" the field to bury Judas
  • Mark 6:36,37 - Matt 14:15 and Luke 9:13
  • Mark 11:15 - same as Matt 21:12
  • Mark 15:46 - Joseph "bought" linen to wrap Jesus' body in
  • Mark 16:1 - the women "bought" spices to annoint Jesus' body with
  • Luke 9:13 - same as Matt 14:15; Mark 6:36,37; and John 6:5
  • Luke 14:18,19 - one man "bought" land and another "bought" oxen that they need to examine
  • Luke 17:28 - the time of the coming of the kingdom of God is compared Lot's day where "buying" and selling were going on
  • Luke 22:36 - sell your coat to "buy" a sword just before Jesus is betrayed
  • John 4:8 - disciples had gone to "buy" food
  • John 6:5 - same as Matt 14:15; Mark 6:36,37; and Luke 9:13
  • John 13:29 - disciples guessing that Jesus had instructed Judas to "buy" feast supplies
  • 1 Cor 6:20 - flee immorailty because we were "bought" with the price, so glorify God
  • 1 Cor 7:23 - you were "bought" with a price (by Christ), do not become slaves of men
  • 1 Cor 7:30 - "buy" as though do not possess
  • 2 Peter 2:1 - deny the master who "bought them
  • Rev 3:18 - "buy" from Me (Christ) gold refined by fire
  • Rev 5:9 - the Lamb "purchased" for God with His blood men from every tribe, tongue, and people, and nation
  • Rev 13:17 - no one can "buy" or sell without the mark of the beast
  • Rev 14:3,4 - the 144,000 who had been "purchased" from the earth
  • Rev 18:11 - merchants mourn because no one "buys" their goods
Now, with the exception of 2 Peter 2:1 (because we are working on this passage), every single verse implies or states directly that what was purchased or bought was then owned or posessed by the one doing the buying. I believe that this word for buying or purchasing (agorazo) has the direct understanding of being owned, and you can see it most clearly in 1 Cor 7:30 where Paul says, "those who buy, as though they did not possess...." Now (you may ask), why is this such a big deal? Simply this...the wrong and correct interpretation of this passage rests (in my humble opinion) in correctly understanding this word.

Wrong Interpretations:
Wrong Interpretation #1: These false teachers were saved (bought) by Christ (the Master), but they forsook the truth and fell away. They lost their salvation.
  • What is "right" about this interpretation: This interpretation consistently interprets this passage in that the understanding of "bought" means purchased and possessed by Christ, the Master. They are interpreting this as a description of the false teacher's salvation - being saved by Christ through his substitutionary sacrifice on the cross (2 Cor 5:21).
  • hat is wrong with this interpretation: If this interpretation is the correct one, it must be reconciled with a vast quantity of scriptures teaching that once you are saved by God, you cannot lose it, you will not be lost. (see John 6:37-39 and John 10:27-30 for a few of the BIG eternal security passages)
Wrong Interpretation #2: These false teacher’s sins were paid for (bought) Christ (the Master), and that they did not accept Christ’s forgiveness, so in this sense they denied or rejected the Master who paid for their sins, and because of this rejection, they are then lost.
  • What is “right” about this interpretation: This particular interpretation of this passage is used to argue for general atonement i (or unlimited atonement) and in doing so, it is consistent with this theology.
  • What is wrong with this interpretation: The main reason that this interpretation is incorrect is for a similar, but yet distinctly different, reason as the previous interpretation is. While this interpretation rightly rejects the incorrect assertion that you can lose your salvation, they miss the clear implication in this verse of the fact that whatever was bought by the Master is owned or possessed by Him.
Wrong interpretation conclusion:

Basically, if we understand that bought has a direct implication of ownership or possession, then both of these above interpretations cannot be correct.

Possible Correct Interpretation: The false teachers are rejecting the salvation offered by Christ (Master) who created and sustains (bought) them. We know that God created all things, and that all things are His (Exodus 9:29;19:5; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalms 50:10,12; 1 Corinthians 10:26; Colossians 1:16). So, since we understand that God exerts His power and is in control over thevery air that we breathe, and the lungs that work to breathe it (or to give out and not to breathe it), So, if we understand bought/ownership in the creative and not redemptive sense in this passage, this makes sense would be true of these false teachers.

Possible problems: The biggest problem that I can see with this understanding is that it might be seen as too much of a stretch. I don’t think that this is the case, but I am willing to concede the point that it is definitely not the first understanding that most readers would have.

Correct Interpretation: The false teachers give lip service to God and claim that they have been redeemed (bought) by Christ (Master), but their actions, teachings, and lifestyle deny this and show that they are indeed false teachers who made false claims of salvation. This seems to me to be the most plain and simple and correct understanding of the text. The context has already called them out as false prophets, so it is not any stretch to see that their claim to have been bought by Christ is a lie. And we know that it is a lie because of the points that I’ve been a-hammerin’ on throughout this whole article – once you’re saved...truly saved, you cannot ever lose that salvation.

Conclusion: This is a very difficult passage of scripture. I am firmly convinced that the ways to interpret this passage labeled above as incorrect are, in fact, incorrect. I am convinced that the correct interpretations are plausable, but I (even now) do not know or would not say that this one specific interpretation of this passage is exactly what it means, to the exclusion of any others.

That being said, we must always be careful to not force ideas on a passage of scripture, even if that idea seems to be what the rest of scripture says. We know that God cannot lie, He cannot say that you cannot lose your salvation and then say later that you can lose it. So we must be diligent to understand the scripture as it is intended as opposed as the theologically expedient understanding of it.

i General Atonement is a view that is best understood when contrasted to Limited Atonement (otherwise known as Particular Redemption). The theology of General Atonement is basically that when Christ died on the cross, he paid for all of the sins of all people of all time. In order to be saved, a sinner must repent of his sins and place his faith and trust solely in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. Both understandings of the atonement agree on this process. The disagreement comes into play when dealing with the purpose or scope of the work on the cross. General Atonement states that when Christ died on the cross, he paid for all of the sins of all people of all time. This gives all people the same opportunity, ability, or possibility of receiving the forgiveness of their sins. And since this theology rejects a consistent rendering of Unconditional Election, this work didn’t actually save anyone specifically and not save anyone else specifically, it only saves those who freely believe.

This is a response, or opposite position to the Calvinist position of Limited Atonement which states that since God has Unconditionally Elected all who would believe, that the purpose of the cross was to completely pay for the sins of the elect. This position says that when Christ died on the cross, he paid for all of the sins of all elect of all time. This secures the forgiveness of their sins in an actual and not possible way. The same idea that was discussed in 2 Peter 2:1 of “bought” is consistent in this theology: payment for = ownership of.

This article is not designed to attack or defend either General or Limited Atonement. It’s only purpose is solely to attempt to interpret 2 Peter 2:1 as it is intended to be interpreted, and not to have an interpretation “forced” onto it that, even though it may be theologically and biblically consistent, is not intended by the author.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"Unbelievers stumbling; Believers rejoicing"

There are some who stumble at Christ because of his holiness.

He is too strict for them; they would like to be Christians,
but they cannot renounce their sensual pleasures; they
would like to be washed in his blood, but they desire still
to roll in the mire of sin.

Willing enough the mass of men would be to receive Christ,
if, after receiving him, they might continue in their drunkenness,
their wantonness, and self-indulgence. But Christ lays the axe
at the root of the tree; he tells them that these things must be
given up, for “because of these things the wrath of God comes
upon the children of disobedience,” and “without holiness no
man can see the Lord.”

Human nature kicks at this.

“What! May I not enjoy one darling lust? May I not indulge
myself at least now and then in these things? Must I altogether
forsake my old habits and my old ways? Must I be made a
new creature in Christ Jesus?”

These are terms too hard, conditions too severe, and so the
human heart goes back to the flesh pots of Egypt, and clings
to the garlic and the onions of the old estate of bondage, and
will not be set free even though a greater than Moses lifts up
the rod to part the sea, and promises to give to them a Canaan
flowing with milk and honey.

Christ offends men because his gospel is intolerant of sin.

Monday, February 20, 2006

2 Peter 2:1 (part 1)

For those of you who know me, you will know that I have a desire and (I believe) a calling into some kind of ministry. This ministry that I'm being called into has not been defined, and so I don't know whether I will be a pastor, missionary, or a devoted teacher and student while being a member of the secular work force. Now, regardless of what role God has me play, all of them are similar in that I will be responsible for accurately understanding and communicating the truth of God's word. The Bible, and the truth and the message contained in it's pages and meaning, has become an ever growing passion of mine which has thrown me into studying passages or ideas that I had not studied in depth before.

Ok, so knowing my mentality, we've been working through 2nd Peter in Sunday School, and I was scheduled to teach in chapter 2. When I was preparing for the lesson, I was met with this following verse:

"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves." 2 Peter 2:1 (NASB)

This is a huge verse, and a difficult one (in my opinion) to correctly interpret. Now, focusing mainly on the phrase "even denying the Master who bought them" at first reading, you may come out with one of the following interpretations:

  • People can lose their salvation - these false prophets were bought by Christ (the master) but denied Him and are then condemned.
  • These guys were not saved, since you cannot lose your salvation - Christ died to pay for all people's sins, even false prophets, but people go to hell because we reject His forgiveness.
  • I like cheese (this possible interpretation is for you postmodern people).

Well, when interpreting any passage of scripture, we need to be aware of a few things and follow a few rules. I am not going to go into the rules of interpretation (grammatical , historical, authorial intent, etc) but I will make a mention of our presuppositions. The
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary gives this definition to the word "presupposition", "to require as an antecedent in logic or fact" which basically means that a presupposition is something that you know or think you know before you read or are confronted with something, and this fact or conclusion influences how you interpret what you're reading. The thing that we need to do is not let our presupposition force an understanding onto a Biblical text that is not what the author intended.

Quick Lesson:

Example - If you look at Colossians 1:15 where Christ is described as the "firstborn of, all creation" with the understanding of a Mormon, for example, that Jesus Christ is not eternal and that He came into being when He previously was not a living being, you would say, "Ah HA! This is proof that Jesus is not eternal or the same as the Father - even the apostle Paul knew this." This is one of the passages that Mormon's will use to promote their heretical view of Jesus. However, if one reads Colossians 1:15 in light of the rest of it's context as well as the rest of scripture and understanding what it meant to be a "firstborn" in the time that this book was written, you would be able to see that Paul is not (nor does he ever) denying the eternality of Christ, but he is asserting that Christ has power over all creation and that he carries all of the authority, power, and He is seen the same as His Father.

Explanation - The Mormon forces the text to "say" what they want it to say because they are convinced by the book of Mormon that Jesus was a created being, brother of Lucifer. But, when we (or they) examine the text for what it is trying to say and not what we may want it or expect it to say, we see exactly what the writer intended to communicate about Jesus. Wow, what a difference a presupposition can make!

Back to 2 Peter 2:

I have been wrestling with this passage for many weeks (for many reasons that I won't go into now), and so I really wanted to hammer through this one to find out what this verse means. So, first of all, I think that the main things to look at in order to understand this verse are the words "Master" and "bought" because everything else revolves around who the Master is and what he bought.

It appears that "Master" is referring to God. A false teacher would deny the truth about God in his theology - subtly, most likely, but he would deny God none the less. Maybe a better way would be that in their teaching, these false teachers would teach about a god of their own understanding that differs from the revealed God of scripture. False teachers in the Old Testament taught false things about God, but were able to sound and look like actual teachers of the Law. Just look at some of Jesus' scathing condemnations of the Pharisees and Scribes in Matthew 23:13 and following (especially in verse 15) and how this sheds a light on how they might have had the appearance of godly men, but were really whitewashed tombs - they looked good and clean on the outside, but on the inside were filled with dead men's bones (Matt 23:27).

Click here to read Part 2.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Quote of the Day from A.W. Pink

Repentance is the hand releasing those filthy objects
it had previously clung to so tenaciously.
Faith is extending an empty hand to God to receive His gift of grace.

Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin.
Faith is receiving a sinner's Savior.

Repentance is a revulsion of the filth and pollution of sin.
Faith is a seeking of cleansing therefrom.

Repentance is the sinner covering his mouth and crying,
"Unclean, unclean!"

Faith is the leper coming to Christ and saying,
"Lord, if You will, You can make me clean."

The above quote is from A.W. Pink, "Salvation From the Penalty of Sin" and can be found here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Reflections on my weekend with John MacArthur

Now, this title may seem like my weekend was spent in close personal contact with Dr. John MacArthur (listen to his daily radio broadcast by clicking here) when in reality I was at a conference where he was the speaker. A few weeks ago, I spent my Friday evening and Saturday afternoon listening to him teaching from the bible about 3 different things:

  1. The Truth of the Scriptures
  2. The Truth of the Gospel
  3. The Truth of the Church
I cannot tell you how impactful the teaching was on during all of these times. I was having a conversation with a few friends of mine who also attended this event and we marveled at the clarity that Dr. MacArthur was able to apply to every topic that he encountered. Now, I know that most good pastors attempt to do this during their teaching ministry and some are better at it than others. For instance, I visited many churches in the area where I currently live and one of the reasons that I chose to attend Ambassador Baptist Church was because Pastor Bruce Henry is a pastor who is gifted at speaking the truth clearly and unapologetically.

It was not only Dr. MacArthur's ability to be clarifying blunt (my own catch phrase), but it was the fact that I had the benefit of all 40 years of his studying the Word to be packaged into the 6 hours of teaching - that was outstanding.

I could blab on and on for a long time about what was taught during this conference, but that would be mundane. So, I will recommend something that I don't normally (and will try to do with infrequency) do - buy the DVD. There is a DVD of both days of the conference. The DVD for both days costs $30. The teaching and preaching is good and encouraging, and I recommend it fully. In order to get the DVD, just click here to order online or you can call the number at the bottom of the order form.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Is Turning from Sin Legalism?

First of all, let me define legalism. Legalism (especially when relating to salvation) is adding anything to the process of salvation other than faith (Eph 2:8,9). Period.

I found an article on CrossWalk.com entitled
that has a very powerful point. In the third paragraph of this article, the author, Hank Lindstrom, writes, “Satan, the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33), has delighted in this misuse of the word repentance.” Mr. Lindstrom clarifies what his issue is with this statement, “To insist upon a repentance that in any sense includes a demand for a change of conduct either toward God or man is to add an element of works or human effort to faith.” So, to sum up what I believe is Mr. Lindstrom’s point is, if we stress that one must repent (turn away from the sins in your life) in order that you may be saved, this is heresy because it is a “works righteous” salvation.

Quick Sidebar:
To be fair, Mr. Lindstrom does not call this heresy in his article, but that is what I would call a theoloty that actually required me to work out my salvation because it was up to me.

Back to the Article at issue:
Mr. Lindstrom goes to great lengths in order to show both how our understanding of the biblical word “repent” is incorrect, and if one applies this understanding of repentance to an evangelistic presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ we are becoming “tools of the devil to add works to salvation in a subtle way by misuse of repentance.”

Those of you who know me and have read much of what I have written about may be as shocked as I was concerning this article. Am I distorting the gospel and making a mockery of Christ’s death on the cross and saying that I need to do something that Christ didn’t or couldn’t do in order to affect my actual salvation?

In his article, Mr. Lindstrom extensively quotes Scofiled, Ryrie, and Lindsee in their commentaries concerning the actual meaning of repent as being a “change of mind” from the Greek word (metanoia) that is translated into repent. I am not a Greek scholar, and so I will not try to go head to head with C.I. Scofield or Charles Ryrie in that arena, but I would like to look at the issue and the argument in total.

A Red Haring:

Mr. Lindstrom begins his article this way, “’ Repent of Sin.’ This often-quoted phrase ‘repent of sin’ does not even occur in the Bible.” First of all, he is right. This phrase doesn't appear in the Bible. The next question is this - does the fact that this exact phrase doesn't occur Bible diminish the reality that this phrase communicates a biblical principal. Do you disagree with me? Is it absolutely necessary that our doctrinal understanding and the way we are to communicate the gospel and theology be verbatim from any given Bible translation?

If your answer is "yes" to that question, then I have another problem. How are we to express our understanding of the Godhead, or Trinity? The word "Trinity" does not appear in the Bible, nor does the phrase "three in one." So, do we discount Trinitarian theology? Do we say that because the Bible does not express itself in this way using this word that it is incorrect? I think that it would be foolish to do so.

The Answer:

The answer to both of the issues - neither "repent of sin" or "Trinity" appear in the Bible - is to search the scriptures to best understand what the Bible is communicating about these subjects. If we read and search the scriptures, we will come to understand that God has expressed Himself as 3 individual, eternal, co-equal persons that are fully God.

Also, if Mr. Lindstrom is correct, then how does one ever figure out what James is talking about in chapter 2? The argument that James develops is concluded in James 2:26, "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." (NASB) James is not saying that we are saved when we "do" things, but it is the "doing" of things that is the outpouring and overflowing and result of a new creation. He makes it clear that even the demons believe that God is one - I think that the implication is that the demons and Satan know the absolute truth about God that is possible for angelic beings to know. The demons that were in the demon possessed man in the synagogue reacted this way to Jesus when he showed up, "'Let us alone! What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are-- the Holy One of God!'" (Luke 4:34 NASB). Not only do the demons know that God is one (cited above), but this demon knows that Jesus is the Holy One of God - you had better know that they knew who He was better than anyone else did at that time (including his followers). This isn't the only example of demons saying truth with conviction (terror) in their voices. Just look at Matthew 8:29 when Jesus casts the demons out of the two demon-possessed men, and see where the demons actually refer to him as the Son of God. Again, look at Mark 5:7 where Jesus encounters another demon possessed man who refers to Him again as "Son of the Most High God" for further proof of what the demons believe and shudder about.

James is saying that just "believing" that something is true when it doesn't make any impact on the actions that you do is dead. Basically it is this - if the actions don't follow our faith, it shows that our belief was not genuine in the first place.

It is a dangerous road to travel to espouse what Mr. Lindsdtrom does when he equates the working of the Spirit toward outward changes and actions in a believer following his conversion as proof positive that this person is a true believer with legalism and adding "works" to salvation.

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson