17 Comments

  1. Chas

    Heidi, in response to your later reply of 7-16-19 at 9:48 AM, just a couple of things, then I’ll stop since I don’t think the owners of this site intended it to be an in-depth discussion forum.

    Re: James; There is so much nonsense taught about James that I’m sure James himself would be infuriated by it if he knew about it (and I don’t think he does). It must be kept in mind that James was writing to a group of believers who possessed eternal life already. James is not presenting the Way of Salvation; he is admonishing believers to display their faith practically by doing good deeds, particularly by supporting the poor believers among them. In no way does James connect justification before God to how well they do that. James speaks of their justification before men–other people— not of their ultimate justification before God, which has already been assured by their believing in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as their only hope. The proof of this is obvious when we notice that when James mentions Abraham being justified, he counts it as happening when Abraham attempted to offer up Isaac. Paul also refers to Abraham’s justification, but because Paul refers to Abraham’s justification before God, Paul notes that it happened when Abraham first believed God, which happened long before Isaac was conceived (Gen. 15:6). So we can see that while Paul looks at Abraham’s justification from God’s point of view, James has man’s view in mind. But man’s view can see only what is visible, a person’s actions, so James exhorts his readers to practical works so that their faith will not be “dead”–useless–in this world, and so they will be justified in the sight of men. Nowhere does James even suggest that such actions are needed to justify anyone before God. Nor does James state that such actions will be automatic or inevitable for believers. That’s why James was exhorting them in the first place.

    Re: “Fruits”, when Jesus said “you will know them by their fruits” He was speaking in the context of recognizing false prophets, not “discerning the body of Christ”, especially in the sense of deciding who is a Christian and who isn’t. Actually, you answered your own question when you said:

    I guess we ultimately leave that up to God who alone sees the heart.

    Indeed we do. Or at least we’re supposed to.

    Re: 1st John, John speaks of the conditions of fellowship with God, not of the conditions of possessing eternal life. You said:

    It says in 1 John that if we love him we obey his commandments.

    You’re referring to 1st John 2:3, am I right? Interpreting that, you said;

    It is simply meaning that if we belong to Him, we walk in accordance with the divine will.

    That’s how a Calvinist might look at it. But “belonging to Him” happens when we believe the Gospel, not when we obey commandments. Belonging to God carries no guarantee that we will walk in accordance with the Divine will. As I’ve already said, we must choose to walk in the Spirit, it is not automatic or inevitable. Belonging to God is not the same as loving God or having close fellowship with God, and fellowship is what John deals with in his letters. Like James, John is writing to believers–those who already belong to God–not to unbelievers.

    Re: H.A. Ironside, he could be very inconsistent in his gospel presentation. His idea that repentance is a “non-meritorious work” reveals a serious and fundamental lack of comprehension of what repentance in salvation is. Because of his inconsistencies I no longer consult his work.

    Lastly, you said:

    The Bible has no contradictions in it, but what I believe is that the problem lies in people taking something and then either defining it wrongly, taking it out of context, and then constructing a false system of belief out of it.

    Amen! I agree completely! That is what has happened with LS, the popular interpretation of James and John, and many other issues scrambled by Calvinists, Arminians, LS-ers and so many others who teach errors upheld and taught by so many of the brightest “stars” of evangelical Christendom. The confusion and outright bondage which has resulted from these deeply embedded errors continue to choke the Church, and there are precious few believers willing to point out these errors.

  2. Chas

    The article above is so packed with irony, it is chilling.

    Turn from “self” you say? You betcha! Such a turning is certainly needed in Christendom. But the most popular “self-something” practiced by many evangelicals isn’t self-love or self-gratification, but self-righteousness. It has infected and corrupted the very “gospel” taught so confidently and reverently by so many supposedly “uncompromising scholars” to so many congregations; the “you must repent of your sins to be saved” false gospel of lordship salvation (LS). Everywhere, people are being assaulted with the idea that they must “turn from their sins”–whether it be homosexuality, fornication (The sexual sins are so easy to pick on, aren’t they?) or whatever–in order to receive eternal life. As a result, we have people who aren’t even believers but are attempting to become disciples. They haven’t believed in the sacrifice of Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sin, and so have never received eternal life as a FREE gift, which is the only way that God offers it. Not being spiritually alive, these churchgoers wonder why they don’t grow spiritually, and after constant failure some eventually give up. Others may achieve some superficial “improvement” in their life, but their heart is unchanged because they remain spiritually dead. Their self-righteousness grows as they look down on others as “not real Christians” because a real Christian would never commit the sins that they manage to avoid.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not claiming that we are free to define sin according to our own standards. Homosexuality and fornication certainly are sins which should not be tolerated. So are gluttony, covetousness, sloth, idolatry and other sins which aren’t so regularly included in the “Signs of a True Christian” checklist of sins you cannot commit and still be a Christian. But one of the reasons these very sins are being written off as sin by some teachers is the attempt to find some escape from the impossible standard of LS, the demand for an unregenerate person to do something that only a regenerate person can do; turn from of sin. Only a person who has given up all hope in self–commitment, dedication, “turning from sin”–and simply rests in what Christ did for him (or her) on the cross receives forgiveness of sins and the eternal life that goes with it. Then and only then is discipleship possible for that person (though not guaranteed, or necessary to keep eternal life).

    The aberrations of compromising liberalism, contemplative mysticism, NAR take-over-the-world nonsense, experience-based “spirituality” and other varieties of error which are rightly condemned in the article above are as much symptoms as they are causes of further error. They are the desperate efforts of people to find some kind of tangible indication that they “really are saved” because “there’s been a real change” to prove it, and they’ve had it drummed into their skulls that such a change is needed to verify their faith. Others redefine sin to a standard they can meet with a little “sincere” effort. All of these stem from the fundamental error of self-salvation; the universal tendency of prideful humans to add some requirement besides simple belief to the Gospel of Free Grace. Until the proper definition of repentance in salvation is taught–that it is a turning from self-salvation, not from sin–there will continue to be compromises by people determined to make themselves “worthy” of God’s free gift of eternal life. The supposed need to “repent of sins” to any degree in order to receive eternal life is one more “way which seems right to a man” that is really just another “way of death”. The results of that way of death are all around us, right there in the professing church.

    • Heidi Lavoie

      How true, the Green Letters by Myles J. Stanford teach this. We cannot improve on the old man, old nature. Jesus did not die so we could reform the old sinful nature. We are to reckon the old man dead, we are to reckon that we are dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Grace is really FREE, but there are ways that people try to pervert it, and both extremes are legalistic, whether antinomianism or outright legalism. Repentance is, however, INHERENT in a true salvation. Works flow from true salvation.. Anything done in self effort in the true believers life will be burned up in the day when rewards are given at the judgment seat of Christ, as wood hay and stubble, but the person will be saved. It is interesting to note that the Puritans had terrible experiences on their death beds because they adhered to legalistic Calvinism, and so were never sure if they had actually “done enough” to show/prove that they had “persevered” and so were really saved. When we have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that we are saved, that is all we need. We rest in Jesus Christ alone and in His FINISHED work on the cross. There is a standing and a state for the true believer, we are already in perfect standing before when saved because we have the righteousness of Christ, and our actual experience may be far below that standing, which is being brought into the highest position in Christ Jesus by his grace alone through faith alone. False religions always put it upside down, we have to somehow work our way to be better, and somehow gain merit and approval from God. This is the religion of Antichrist, it says we can do it, we can build up the kingdom of God on earth. It is the strong delusion.
      I do wish people would get this through their thick sculls, as you say!

      • Chas

        Heidi, I agree that repentance is necessary for salvation. But my point is that repentance is falsely defined by many–if not most–teachers today as “turning from sin”, “being sorry for sin”, or “being willing to turn from sin” etc. Again, the word “repent” comes from the Greek word which means “to change one’s mind”, and that’s all it means in and of itself. The object of repentance–what one’s mind is changed about–is always determined by the context of whatever passage uses the word. But most evangelical teaching (by people such as John MacArthur and others) assumes the word means “a turning from sin”, which is false. In salvation, repentance means to stop trusting to any degree in gaining eternal life through religion, rituals, obedience to God’s laws or turning from sin either before or after salvation.

        Let me clarify what I mean by “lordship salvation”:

        Lordship “salvation” (LS) is the unsupportable and unbiblical belief that the performance of good works, the promise of good works, or the evidence of good works MUST or ALWAYS WILL accompany faith in Christ in order to establish or provide evidence that such faith has resulted in eternal life.

        The more subtle form of that error–a “soft LS” if you will–is just as destructive as the overt form. It is the idea that good works will ALWAYS flow from “genuine salvation.” I do agree that salvation is necessary before any led-by-the-Spirit good works are possible. But that is not to say that such good works will be automatic or inevitable for the believer. The notion that works are guaranteed in any sense leads to a lack of assurance in the believer and to “fruit inspecting” by people relying on their falsely high perception of their own spiritual walk as a gauge. God has indeed prepared good works, “that we should walk in them,” but walking in these works still involves a choice for the believer, just as salvation did. The failure to make the right choice about sin or service does not indicate that a person is not saved, no matter how consistently the person fails. There is only one sure way to know that one is saved. Paul’s statement about the Holy Spirit’s witness to us (Ro. 8:16) does not mean that we are to rely on a subjective “inner witness” for the assurance of our salvation. We are to rely only on the one objective source of assurance; the Word of God, specifically, the promise of God to give eternal life to anyone who believes in the sacrifice of Christ (John 3:16).

        To a great degree, the errors decried in the Randles article above originate with people looking to anything but the promise of God for their assurance of salvation. They look to works in their lives, some “life change”, the manifestation of some supernatural gift or phenomenon, iow something about themselves to indicate that their faith is “real”, that they are a “true believer” (there is no other kind of believer, btw), that they really are saved. This is true of “hard LS” (you must turn from sin to be saved) and “soft LS” (you WILL have some kind of positive life change if you really are saved). Other would-be disciples try to make Christianity “doable” by editing the commandments, and so instead of experience-based Christianity we get the dumbed-down Decalogue. The cause of these errors is the same; looking to self instead of relying on the promise of God. One key misunderstanding which leads to the cause is simple; misinterpreting “repentance” in salvation. The Way of Salvation gets lost in it all because that simple word is misrepresented and misunderstood.

        • Heidi Lavoie

          Yes, and self was the problem in the Garden of Eden, Eve wanted to do it her way, not God’s.
          That was the whole problem.
          But your point about a “non-meritorious work” being an oxymoron. The Bible states, “our work is to believe”. Is the word “work” here stated figuratively then? We co-operate with God in receiving our free gift by receiving it. Is that a “work”? The Calvinist says it is. The Calvinist makes the lost person out to be completely unable to see, hear, believe, repent, at all. Because the Calvinist is afraid that if a person has to even to simply believe , receive, then that is “doing something” and one can then lay claim to having done something toward meriting their own salvation! But no one can say they merit something just because they receive it! Therefore, the Calvinist insists that God must first regenerate the person and only then can they exercise faith in God. It descends into absurdity. We can not earn it at all, a gift cannot be earned. That is simple to understand. But I have to receive it. In receiving it, am I doing something? By believing, am I doing something? By doing the works God has before prepared for me, are those works “non-meritorious”? They don’t do a thing toward keeping me saved. I know that. But God gives us rewards for doing those works he gave us to do, when we get to Heaven! Ok. are we trying so hard to prove something here that we are actually splitting hairs or missing it completely by trying so hard to define it correctly? (which Calvinists and all other works based religions have done)
          What do we do with the book of James? I always took that to show us simply this “what is a real salvation, and what isn’t”. I agree totally with your point that for each believer it will look different, how the walk is actually walked. We can do NOT ONE SINGLE WORK for God that was something HE prepared for us to do and still be saved– and when we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, all the works we did in our own self effort, will be burned up, but the person themself, saved. The Bible also tells us we shall know the tree by its fruit. So as believers, how are we to discern the body of Christ if we absolutely cannot judge it by the fruit in a person’s life, if good or bad? I guess we ultimately leave that up to God who alone sees the heart.
          It says in 1 John that if we love him we obey his commandments. I know this is not referring to the decalogue. It is simply meaning that if we belong to Him, we walk in accordance with the divine will. And this is all by His grace and His grace alone. First to be saved, and then to walk and live out the saved life. All by grace and only by his grace and HE KEEPS US to the end by HIs grace also. I am not trying to argue with you, just bring out some things I have been pondering.
          The Eunuch was told by Phillip that if he wanted to be baptized, he could, “if he believed with all his heart”. But isn’t the heart deceitful so much so that “who can know it”?
          The Bible has no contradictions in it, but what I believe is that the problem lies in people taking something and then either defining it wrongly, taking it out of context, and then constructing a false system of belief out of it.
          It says also, “labour to enter into rest”. I believe that was Paul’s struggle, until he came to see it. Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Thanks be to God.
          In all these different directions I have taken today in my thoughts and trying (in my own self effort??) to thrash this all out, I was brought again and again to the same place.
          Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I believe I have found the answer to my “laboring to enter into that rest.”

        • Heidi Lavoie

          I just re-read your comment. Repentance means “a changing of the mind” . Yes, that is what Ironside taught. And that is correct.

    • Heidi Lavoie

      Also, a thought on repentance, Harry Ironside has an excellent book, “Unless You Repent”. He states that repentance is a non-meritorious work. He was wrongly accused to preaching works salvation or Lordship salvation. His book is excellent. Also Dave Hunt has also at times been accused of teaching Lordship salvation, which he absolutely does not.
      God does command “all men everywhere to repent”. People need to see their need and that means they need to see they are sinners in need of a Savior before they can receive the grace that our Lord freely bestows upon all them that receive Him. That is highly offensive to most these days, indeed this is a time when the new spirituality is even denying that sin even exists. Pride is at the root of all the errors we are discussing here. Repentance is inherent in a real salvation. I think of a situation I once heard of, a stripper who claims she received Christ and was saved but insisted that she could continue to “strip for Jesus” in order to save other strippers.
      It would be difficult to be able to honestly say this person was truly saved. False profession, profession that tries to improve the old sinful nature in self effort, legalists, antinomianists, it all misses the mark. We are only saved by our Lord and Savior’s finished work on the cross, to try to add anything to that is an insult to God.

      • Chas

        Heidi, please see my response to your first response to me above re: “repentance” in salvation.

        Re: The biblical understanding of “repentance” is scarce these days. First of all, a “work” in the context of justification is meritorious by definition. When Paul wrote “to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness” (Ro. 4:5) he was using the term “work” in a meritorious context. “Non-meritorious work” is a blatant oxymoron. Biblical repentance in salvation is not a work at all, in fact it is a turning from works. Sadly the invention of such nonsensical ideas by scholars who should know better is common in evangelical circles when the subject of repentance comes up. . . .

        Many self-described “Faith Alone” teachers have helped to uphold the very doctrine they claim to reject–Lordship Salvation–by failing to teach clearly a proper understanding of repentance in justification, and/or refusing to confront those who teach LS. Some apparently think LS is a peripheral issue. It is not. It is central and fundamental.

        I agree with your statement below as far as it goes:

        “People need to see their need and that means they need to see they are sinners in need of a Savior before they can receive the grace that our Lord freely bestows upon all them that receive Him.”

        Yes, seeing one’s need for a savior is needed. But seeing one’s need for a savior is vastly different than turning from any and all self-help. Many will see their need for the Savior. They believe that Jesus is necessary. But they may not believe the fact that Jesus is sufficient, and that any promise to “turn from sins” now or later as a requirement to receive the free gift of eternal life will cause the offer to be withdrawn. What the sinner must turn from is the idea that he must do anything in addition to simply receiving Christ’s free gift by believing in His sacrifice on the cross. The sinner must come to Christ with empty hands; no promises. Otherwise, eternal life isn’t a FREE gift. . . . so few . . . are willing to confront the issue of what repentance in salvation really is, head-on, is it any wonder there is so much failure and confusion in Christendom?

        • Heidi Lavoie

          Ok, so repentance is falsely defined. Got it.
          Thank you so much, I have been wrestling with these very things for a long time.
          But, if one comes to Christ and believes, that means making a choice. Is that a work? It grants us no merit, but we must choose. Man was given a free will and he must choose in the first place whether he will believe or not.

        • Heidi Lavoie

          In other words could one not say, “I believed, I chose Christ, therefore I was saved, by something I did?

        • Chas

          Heidi, the thread chain doesn’t seem to go deep enough for me to reply to your last reply of 7-16-19 directly, so I hope you see this out-of-order message.

          Re: your question of whether choosing to believe in Christ is a “work”; no, it is not. When we believe in Christ for salvation, we are accepting a gift (eternal life) which is offered to us without charge. That is why “turning from sin”–which IS a work–is not required (or allowed) for justification. Turning from sin is a valid part of discipleship (practical sanctification).

          Repentance in salvation can be seen this way:

          Faith is the hand that accepts salvation through Jesus Christ. Repentance is the hand that rejects salvation by any other means.

          Also, a gift that is received without charge cannot be forfeited by a failure to pay later on. We never have to reimburse God for His free gift by “having a changed life” to any degree.

          In a sense we are “doing something without doing anything meritorious” by choosing to believe (rely on) Christ’s sacrifice for us. But merely accepting a free gift is not a “work” in the biblical sense. There is no merit on our part. When we believe in Christ by accepting His free gift we are acknowledging His merit, which is infinite. We are saying in effect, “God is True.”

          I hope this helps.

  3. Heidi Lavoie

    I was in a small group Bible study in the year 2002 at a Christian and Missionary church in my town. The youth pastor’s wife was in this group and there were some older long time Christians present as well. The topic of self esteem came up and I mentioned that Christians are not to esteem self but die to self. I could literally feel the atmosphere turn icy at that moment and I felt like I was an old out-dated irrelevant relic from the past for saying that. The pastor’s wife immediately countered my comment with a torrent of politically correct psycho-babble. I found out later she was an avid fan of Oprah Winfrey.

    • Donna

      I totally understand where you are coming from. My mother and I also went to a small home group where the closer you quoted scripture and not the ~feeling~ topics, you were suddenly a black sheep. They didn’t kick us out or were openly rude….but you got this ‘humoured’ here they go again with scripture look. And as soon as you were finished they carried on with their topic as if you never spoke at all.

      Obviously we ended up leaving. 🙁

  4. Elizabeth Bennett

    This reminds me again about the time this yr. when I happened to hear Joel O.’s wife say to a huge crowd, We are not here to glorify God; we are here to glorify ourselves. I could not believe that she actually said such a thing. I was not watching the program but was channel surfing. Public schools for many yrs. have taught teachers to promote the child’s self-esteem. As a result children were not really punished when sent to the Principal for bad behavior. Some Christians have said that you do not have to repent before accepting Christ. I argued that you do have to admit you are a sinner and need to repent and turn away from your sin. A humble and contrite heart God will not reject.

  5. Heidi Lavoie

    This brings to mind a comment by Dave Hunt in a you tube entitled, “Seducing Spirits and Doctrines of Devils”, He calls psychology “Satan’s master stroke of genius”.
    This is the poison that really undergirded the apostasy which we see today in the churches.
    Also, the point made in this article about “worship of a sports team” hits home with me. So many men, and not just men but women too, in our culture worship sports. I see it in my own household, and it is very detrimental and “corrosive” to the soul as expressed in this article.
    I was reading the Bible about how Solomon’s heart was taken away by all the pagan wives he took. His heart did not remain perfect toward God anymore by the end of his life. And then I flipped over to the epistles and saw the admonition to believers to guard against falling from their own steadfastness. These are certainly days in which we need to yield ourselves to God consciously and daily. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about growth in the believer’s life, but we must yield to Him. A good study on this is “The Green Letters” by Miles J. Stanford. Bless God, he tirelessly works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure and keeps His own to the end!

    • Ruth Allan

      I love the talk Dave Hunt does where he takes apart psychology – masterly – and utterly right.
      Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

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