Mr. Carnal Confidence

STUDIES ON SAVING FAITH – A. W. Pink

Part IV

DIALOGUE 1

Mr. Carnal Confidence


Mr. Carnal Confidence: “Good morning, Mr. Editor, I wish to have a talk with you about those articles on ‘Assurance’ which you published in last year’s Studies.” The Writer: “Be seated, please. First of all, may we courteously but frankly inform you that our time is already fully occupied in seeking to minister unto God’s dear children, yet we are never too busy to do all in our power to help a needy soul.” Carnal Confidence: “O, I am not seeking help; my purpose in calling is to point out some things in your articles where I am quite sure you erred.” The Writer: “It is written, dear friend, ‘If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know’ (1 Cor. 8:2), therefore I trust that God will ever give me grace to willingly consider and weigh the views of others, and receive through them anything He may have for me. Yet, on the other hand, I am not prepared to debate with any man upon Divine things.”

Mr. Carnal Confidence: “Well, I am quite sure that I am right, and you are wrong, and I feel it my duty to tell you so.” The Writer: “Very good, I am ready to listen unto what you have to say, only reminding you again that I cannot enter into a debate with you, for the things of God are too holy to argue about; though a friendly discussion, in the right spirit, may prove mutually helpful. Before beginning, shall we seek the help of the Holy Spirit, that He may graciously subdue the flesh in each of us, guide our conversation so that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts may be ‘acceptable’ in God’s sight (Ps. 19:14); remembering that for every idle word each of us will yet have to give an account.”

Mr. Carnal Confidence: “I consider that in your articles you have made a very difficult and complicated matter out of what is really very simple. According to your ideas a person has to go to a lot of trouble in order to discover whether or not he is saved, whereas if a man believes God’s Word he may be sure in a moment.” The Writer: “But are all those who believe God’s Word really saved? Did not the Jews of Christ’s day believe implicitly in the Divine authorship of the O. T.? Do not Russelites (“Jehovah’s Witnesses” – Ed.) and others today insist loudly upon their faith in the Divine inspiration of the Bible? Does not the Devil himself believe the same?” Mr. Carnal Confidence: “That is not what I meant; my meaning is that, if I rest upon some verse of Holy writ as God’s promise to me, then I know He cannot disappoint me.” The Writer: “That is just the same in principle: does not the Romanist rest with full confidence upon that declaration of Christ’s ‘this is my body’? Saving faith is not faith in the authenticity of any verse of Scripture, but rather faith in the Person of Him who gave us the Scriptures, faith in the Christ who is made known in the Scriptures.”

Mr. Carnal Confidence: “Yes, I know that, and I do believe in God and in His Son, and I know that I am saved because He says so.” The Writer: “Where in Scripture does God say that you are saved?” Mr. Carnal Confidence: “In John 5:24, in Acts 16:31, and many other places.” The Writer: “Let us turn to these passages, please. In John 5:24 the Lord Jesus describes one who has ‘passed from death unto life.’ He tells us two things about that individual, which serve to identify him. First, ‘he that heareth my word.’ That is definite enough. But of course it means far more than simply listening to His Word with the outward ear.” Mr. Carnal Confidence: “Ah, right there you want to mystify what is simple, and perplex souls with what is quite clear.” The Writer: “Pardon me, you are mistaken. I only wish to rightly understand the words God has used, and to do this it is necessary to carefully compare Scripture with Scripture and discover how each word is used by the Spirit.” Mr. Carnal Confidence: “I object; that may be all right for you, but common people do not have the leisure for deep study: God knew this, and has written His word in plain language that ordinary folk can understand: ‘Hear’ means ‘hear,’ and that is all there is to it.”

The Writer: “I believe you are quite sincere in what you have said, and you have expressed the view which a great many hold today; but, if you will allow me to say so, it is a very defective one. God places no premium upon laziness. God has so ordered things that nothing is obtained without diligence and industry. Much work and care has to be devoted to a garden if anything is obtained from it. The same holds good every where else: what time and trouble is required to keep our bodies in working order! Can, then, the eternal concerns of our souls be more lightly dismissed, or more easily secured? Has not God bidden us ‘Buy the truth’ (Prov. 23:23)? Has He not plainly told us ‘If thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then thou shalt understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God’ (Prov. 2:3-5)?”

The Writer: “Mark how the Israelites were fed of old in the wilderness: Exodus 16. God did not provide them with baken loaves of bread ready to eat. No, instead, He gave the manna from heaven, which was ‘a small round thing’ (v. 14). Work and patience were called for in order to ‘gather’ (v. 17) it. Note too ‘when the sun waxed hot, it melted’(v. 21), so that they had to get up early to secure it! Moreover, the manna would not keep: ‘let no man leave of it till the morning’: it ‘bred worms and stank’ (vv. 19, 20) if they tried to preserve it for another day. Then, after it had been gathered, the manna had to be ‘ground in mills or beaten in a mortar’ and baked in pans and made into cakes (Num. 11:8). All of this typified the fact that if a soul is to eat the Bread of life, he must devote himself in earnest, and, as Christ says, ‘Labour . . . for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life’” (John 6:27).

The Writer: “Thus it is in connection with the obtaining of a right understanding of any verse of Scripture: pains have to be taken with it, patience has to be exercised, and prayerful study engaged in. Returning to John 5:24: the one who has passed from death unto life, says Christ, is ‘he that heareth My word.’ Let us turn then to other passages where this term is found: ‘they are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words’ (Jer. 11:10); ‘because ye have not heard my words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ etc. (Jer. 25:8, 9); and see 35:17; Zechariah 1:4; Matthew 7:24; John 10:27. In all of these verses, and in many others which might be given, to ‘hear’ means to heed what God says, to act upon it, to obey Him. So he who ‘hears’ the voice of Christ heeds His command to turn away from all that is opposed to God and become in subjection to Him.”

Mr. Carnal Confidence: “Well, let us turn to Acts 16:31, that is simple enough. There is no room allowed there for any quibbling. God says ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved’: God says that to me; I have believed on Christ, and so I must be saved.” Writer: “Not so fast, dear friend. How can you prove God says that to you?

Those words were spoken under unusual circumstances, and to a particular individual. That individual had been brought to the end of himself; he was deeply convicted of his sins; he was in terrible anguish of soul; he had taken his place in the dust, for we are told that he ‘came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas’ (Acts 16:29). Now is it fair to take the words of the apostles to such a man and apply them indiscriminately to anybody? Are we justified in ignoring the whole setting of that verse, wrenching it from its context, and giving it to those who have not any of the characteristics which marked the Philippian jailor?”

Mr. Carnal Confidence: “I refuse to allow you to browbeat me, and move me from the simplicity of the Gospel. John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ Now I have believed on the Son, and therefore am fully assured that I possess eternal life.” Writer: “Are you aware of the fact that in this same Gospel of John we are told ‘Many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them’ (John 2:23, 24)? There were many who ‘believed’ in Christ who were not saved by Him: see John 8:30 and note verse 59! John 12:42, 43! There is a believing in Christ which saves, and there is a believing in Him which does not save; and therefore it behooves every sincere and earnest soul to diligently examine his ‘faith’ by Scripture and ascertain which kind it is. There is too much at stake to take anything for granted. Where eternal destiny is involved surely no trouble can be too great for us to make sure.”

Mr. Carnal Confidence: “I am sure, and no man can make me doubt.” Writer: “Is your faith purifying your heart (Acts 15:9)? Is it evidenced by those works which God requires (James 2:17)? Is it causing you to overcome the world (1 John 5:4)?” Mr. Carnal Confidence: “O I don’t claim to be perfect, but I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” Writer: “We did not ask if you were perfect; but have you been made a new creature in Christ, have old things passed away, and all things become new (2 Cor. 5:17)? Are you treading the path of obedience? For God’s Word says, ‘He that saith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him’ (1 John 2:4).”

Mr. Carnal Confidence: “I am not occupied with myself, but with Christ; I am not concerned about my walk, but with what He did for poor sinners.” Writer: “To be ‘occupied with Christ’ is rather a vague expression. Are you occupied with His authority, have you surrendered to His Lordship, have you taken His yoke upon you, are you following the example which He has left His people? Christ cannot be divided: He is not only Priest to be trusted, but is also Prophet to be heeded, and King to be subject unto. Before He can be truly ‘received,’ the heart must be emptied of all those idols which stand in competition with Him. It is not the adulation of our lips, but the affection of our souls, which He requires; it is not an intellectual assent, but the heart’s surrender to Him which saves.”

Mr. Carnal Confidence: “You are departing from the simplicity of the Gospel; you are making additions unto its one and only stipulation. There is nothing that God requires from the sinner except that he believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Writer: “You are mistaken. The Lord Jesus said, ‘Repent ye, and believe the Gospel’ (Mark 1:15).” Mr. Carnal Confidence: “That was before the Cross, but in this dispensation repentance is not demanded.” Writer: “Then according to your ideas God has changed the plan of salvation. But you err. After the Cross, Christ charged His disciples, ‘That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations’ (Luke 24:47). If we turn to the book of Acts we find that the apostles preached repentance in this dispensation. On the day of Pentecost, Peter bade the convicted Jews to ‘repent’ (2:38). Reviewing his ministry at Ephesus Paul declared that he had testified both to the Jews and also to the Greeks ‘repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Acts 20:21); while in 17:30 we are told that God ‘now commandeth all men every where to repent.’”

Mr. Carnal Confidence: “Then do you insist that if a person has not repented, he is still unsaved?” Writer: “Christ Himself says so: ‘Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish’ (Luke 13:5). So too if a man has not been converted, he is yet unsaved: ‘Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out’ (Acts 3:19). There must be a right-about-face: there must be a turning from Satan unto God, from the world unto Christ, from sin unto holiness. Where that has not taken place, all the believing in the world will not save one. Christ saves none who is still in love with sin; but He is ready to save those who are sick of sin, who long to be cleansed from its loathsome foulness, who yearn to be delivered from its tyrannizing power. Christ came here to save His people from their sins.”

Mr. Carnal Confidence: “You talk to me as though I were the helpless slave of strong drink or some other appetite, but I want you to know I was never the victim of any such thing.” Writer: “There are other lusts in fallen man besides those which break forth in gross outward sins: such as pride, covetousness, selfishness, self-righteousness; and unless they be mortified, they will take a man to Hell as surely as will profanity, immorality, or murder. Nor is it enough to mortify these inordinate affections: the fruit of the Spirit, the graces of godliness, must also be brought forth in the heart and life; for it is written, ‘follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Heb. 12:14). And therefore it is a pressing duty for each of us to heed the Divine exhortation ‘Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?’ (2 Cor. 13:5).

“Notice very carefully, dear friend, that the one point pressed upon the Corinthians was ‘that Jesus Christ is in you,’ and not their trusting that He died for them. Just as the Christian can only discover that his name was written in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world, by discerning that God has written His laws in his heart (Heb. 10:16), so I can ascertain that Christ died for me only by making sure that He now lives in me. And it is obvious that if the Holy One indwells me that His presence must have wrought a radical change both in character and in conduct. This, above everything else, is what we sought to make clear and emphasized in our articles on ‘Assurance,’ namely the imperative necessity of our making sure that the Lord Jesus occupies the throne of our hearts, has the supreme place in our affections, and regulates the details of our lives. Unless this be the case with us, then our profession is vain, and all our talk of trusting in Christ’s finished work is but idle words.”

Mr. Carnal Confidence: “I consider all you have said to be but the language of a Pharisee. You are occupied with your own fancied goodness and delighting in your own worthless righteousness.” Writer: “Pardon me, but I rather rejoice in what Christ’s Spirit has wrought in me, and pray that He will carry forward that work of grace to the glory of His name. But we must bring our discussion to a close. I would respectfully urge you to attend unto that exhortation addressed to all professing Christians, ‘Give diligence to make your calling and election sure’ (2 Pet. 1:10). Mr. Carnal Confidence: “I shall do nothing of the sort: I hate the very word ‘election.’ I know that I am saved, though I do not measure up to the impossible standard you want to erect.” Writer: “Fare thee well; may it please the Lord to open your blind eyes, reveal to you His holiness, and bring you to His feet in godly fear and trembling.”

Pink’s complete book on Saving Faith available on-line here: http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Saving_Faith/saving_faith.htm


59 thoughts on “Mr. Carnal Confidence

  1. //“Are you aware of the fact that in this same Gospel of John we are told ‘Many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them’ (John 2:23, 24)? There were many who ‘believed’ in Christ who were not saved by Him: see John 8:30 and note verse 59! John 12:42, 43! There is a believing in Christ which saves, and there is a believing in Him which does not save//

    This is quite a leap.

    The author is assuming his position in John 2 and John 12. Rather than proving his position, these passages flatly contradict it. In one instance, people believed in Jesus but still weren’t trustworthy. In another instance, people believed in Jesus but still valued the praise of men above the praise of God. Why should we assume that either group of sinners remained unsaved? On the contrary, I would say that these sinners’ belief only proves that faith does not equal good works.

    Regarding John 8, I think the author is just misinterpreting the narrative. Jesus is speaking to a whole crowd of people, SOME of which start to believe in him (evidenced by the words “To those who believed on him, he said…”). Most likely, the OTHER ones who don’t believe in him are the ones who keep arguing with him and try to stone him. Otherwise, the passage would indeed teach that believers attempted to murder Jesus. But that wouldn’t make much sense, and given that the text specifically says that only some of them believed, I don’t think such an interpretation is warranted.

    And I guess I could take the time to address all his other verses, too, but that would seem like a waste of time when John 2 and John 12 already disprove the entire thesis.

  2. Drew,

    What, then, about the demons who believe? They believe – have mental comprehension of fact – yet are condemned. They do not have saving faith – that belief IN the Lord Jesus, opposed to simple belief about Him.

    Pink is not of the view that saints never sin. The letter above is to show a “carnal Christian” that being carnal is a sign of God’s judgment, not of being redeemed. One who is born again will have evidence thereof – that is the point of the letter.

    Nobody who is saved (which is an act of God) can be “unsaved” at a later point. Man cannot foil God nor undo what He has done. Born again by God (John 1:12 & 13) is eternal security.

  3. James 2:19–You believe God is One–you do well! Even the demons believe, and tremble.

    *The demons believe God exists
    *The demons believe that Jesus was the Son of God
    *The demons believe that Jesus lived a sinless life, died on the cross, and rose again three days later
    *The demons believe that Jesus will return one day to judge the living and the dead
    *The demons believe that the Scriptures are the inerrant, infallible, perfect word of God
    *The demons know more Scripture than most people who sit in a church every Sunday morning

    And since the demons believe all these things, they too are saved.

    Right?

  4. Jesus didn’t die for demons, so any discussion about what exactly they believe is sort of irrelevant.

    Hebrews 2:14-16
    Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.

  5. Jesus didn’t die for demons, so any discussion about what exactly they believe is sort of irrelevant.

    Not really. In fact, that is exactly the point James was making. He was telling these folks who claimed to have faith (but showed no evidence of such faith) that their faith was no different than the faith the demons had (hence, “even the demons believe”). They knew all the facts, but it made no difference–without anything to show as evidence of their faith, they were no better off than the demons. As James said, “can that faith save him?” (James 2:14). The answer is, obviously, “No.”

  6. James was making the point that believing but disobedient Christians are acting like the devil. See, e.g., Matthew 16:23. The “sav[ing]” that James refers to means salvation from Christ’s discipline, which he referenced immediately prior, in James 2:12.

    “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom” (James 2:12). When James says to act as those who will be judged, he doesn’t mean that his readers should speak and act like unbelievers. Rather, he is saying that even though they are Christians, they will still be judged as Christians, and that they need to act like it (see also James 3:1). Faith without obedience will not save them from such judgment. Whether James is specifically referring to some distribution of rewards after death, or to judgment on this earth, I’m not 100% sure. But it seems pretty obvious from the context that he does not mean hell.

    As with John 2 and John 12, James 2 pretty clearly proves my point that faith and works are not the same thing, because demons evidently have faith without works. And James never qualifies their faith, by calling it “head faith” or “false faith” or any other derrogatory terms. But James says that we shouldn’t be like them.

  7. James was making the point that believing but disobedient Christians are acting like the devil.

    Where does James say anything about “acting like the devil?” Now you appear to be the one who’s reading into the text!

    What James is saying is that anyone who claims to have faith, but does not show it, has the same faith as the demons. Because in the very next verse after the one you quoted, James says “judgment is without mercy to those who do not show mercy” (James 2:13). What kind of “judgment without mercy” is James talking about here? And why would he then go into contrasting saving faith from demonic faith?

  8. Because some faith saves and demonic faith does not. But the question which I already expounded on, and which you have ignored, is “Saves from what?” When Peter started to drown and said, “Lord, save me!” he didn’t mean to save him from hell. You always have to look at the context before jumping to conclusions about soteriology.

  9. Drew,
    You wrote:
    „Otherwise, the passage would indeed teach that believers attempted to murder Jesus.”

    John 8:30-33
    “As he spake these words, MANY BELIEVED on him.
    Then SAID JESUS TO THOSE JEWS WHICH BELIEVED ON HIM, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
    And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
    THEY ANSWERED HIM, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?”

    Those who believed, with them Jesus argued and they tried to kill him. It is written in the Book.

    They believed on him, but …
    THEY DID NOT KNOW THE TRUTH. But He said: “I’m the way, the truth and the life…”, so they did not know Him.
    They were not made free, THEY WERE STILL IN BONDAGE TO SIN. They were servants of sin.

    They were not saved from sin, they were not in Christ, THEY WERE NOT TRUE BELIEVERS.

    They believed on him …. as whom?
    Like today, many believe on him as their savior from poverty, loneliness, sickness …
    But: “thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall SAVE his people FROM THEIR SINS.”

    I guess, it may be helpful if You could take more time to read all his verses.

    Be blessed through the Word.

  10. @Fourpointer
    If you want to accuse me of “continuing in sin,” go ahead. But the truth is, you don’t really know anything about me. In any case, the clear implication of that verse is that it is possible for Christians to go on sinning while grace will yet abound.

    @Tomek

    I don’t generally interpret “many” to mean “all.” Do you? But I do interpret “put their faith on him” to mean that yes, “many” of them did get saved while he was talking.

  11. So would you say then, with James that there is a ‘faith’ that does not save one from being judged by God as a sinner? After all, how many people claim to ‘believe in Christ yet continue in their sinful lifestyle? Do you believe a person can be saved and yet continue in unrepentant, willful sin?

  12. Saved from hell, yes; saved from whatever James is talking about, no. You’re confusing the two, when James makes it pretty obvious that he is not talking about hell, but rather is talking about the judgment of Christians who will be judged by the law of freedom. But you apparently aren’t reading my comments very closely, because I’ve already stated that at least once.

    And if you were to suggest that all your recent sins were non-“willful,” I would say you were lying.

  13. Salvation in Christ saves us by the grace of God from the wrath of God, which Christ suffered under for the sins of the elect. All those in hell are under the wrath of God for eternity, attempting in futility to pay for their own sins. So we are saved by God from God.

  14. So it’s enough just to say you ‘believe’ even while one lives in a homosexual lifestyle and murders and rapes and commits all kinds of barbarism. So then all those exhortations about repenting from sin in the NT are just kinda suggestions and ‘good ideas’. God is OK with you not hating your old sins. Read 1st John and see if that’s true.

  15. Well said, Manfred.

    I once read that fallen man’s true problem isn’t sin per se, rather man’s true problem is God’s holiness. I thought that was a rather astute observation. God’s wrath against sin can be rightly thought of as the unavoidable consequence of His infinitely majestic and perfectly pure holiness.

    So we are saved by God from God.

    As it must be if anyone were to be saved, for who can deliver himself out of the hands of the eternally and infinitely omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent One true and living God? Who can oppose Him who dwells in unapproachable light? Who can call his Maker to account asking Him, “what doest Thou?”

    In Christ,
    CD

  16. @Fourpointer
    You are attacking a straw man, as I never said that God condones the activities you listed. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that God will still hold Christians accountable if they don’t behave correctly. See, e.g., 1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:5-11; Revelation 2:23.

    Also, you should cite smaller passages than an entire book, because I don’t know what you’re referring to in 1 John. I do know, however, that 1 John 5:1 says that whoever believes in Jesus as the Christ is born of God, and that 5:13 says we should have assurance of salvation.

  17. I did not say God condones those things. I asked if you thought a person could still be saved even though they continued to live a lifestyle that was filled with those things. For example:

    Suppose I am a serial killer. I beat, rape, and mutilate my victims before I kill them. I don’t feel one iota of guilt about what I do; in fact I don’t even think that what I do is sinful. But I believe in Jesus and I believe that He died for my sins.

    Yes or no–is that person saved?

  18. FP: Your example is extreme and patently bizarre; a shame because I think you have something to say. I have a better idea; why don’t we discuss a true story?

    John Newton, author of the song Amazing Grace became a born-again Christian in 1748; however, he continued his profession as a slave trader for almost five years after that. He documented the inhumanity of transporting the Africans across the Atlantic to sell them as property, with all the inhumane conditions and deaths that were noted with all the compassion of noting that the car had a flat tire.

    He did eventually repent of his actions and became a strong advocate of abolitionism, but for the first five years, the question remains: Yes or no – was that person saved?

  19. 072591,

    It may be an extreme and bizarre example, but if a person is going to say “All you have to do is believe” and “Don’t we all sin every day” and so on and so forth, then one must logically some to the conclusion that such a person as I described can indeed consider themselves “saved.” Because by saying “all you have to do is believe”, you are teaching that one does not have to repent of sin–no matter how heinous or barbarous–and they can live whatever kind of lifestyle they want and still think that if they died while living that lifestyle would be accepted into Heaven by God–just because they “believe in Jesus”.

    1st John 1:6–“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

  20. FP:

    Because it is an extreme and bizarre example, it is a bad one. My example, on the other hand, is a true story and a legitimate question. Now, for the first five years that Newton was professing to be a Christian, he was a slave trader personally witnessing the inhumanity of his work and felt no pangs of guilt. Was he truly a Christian at the time?

  21. 072591, When God first saved me, I immediately left my homosexual lifestyle. However, I did not forsake my sin of smoking until two years later. At this present hour, I struggle with sin; but, I live a life of continual repentance. My point is this, the more grievous sins I forsook when God saved me {sexual immorality, drunkedness}, the less grievous are still being revealed to me. To say that one can live in sin, willfully knowing his/her sins and yet cleave to them is unbiblical.
    The difference between a true born from above believer and a false convert is simply this…we live a life that is characterized by daily repentance and a forsaking of sin. Will we ever be completely free? Not until the day our Lord takes us home. As to whether Newton was truly saved when he was active in slave trading, only God knows. Believers can and do fall into sin, BUT, God will not allow you to stay there.
    I think the better question concerning Newton is this; did Newton stay in this sin?

  22. Back in 2000–before I got saved–someone asked me where I would go when I died. I told them I’d go to Heaven because I believed Jesus died for my sins. Fact of the matter was, I was still living a lifestyle full of pornography, adultery, drunkenness, hatred toward others, greed, using the name Jesus Christ as a swear word, and many other vices I won’t even mention–but I would have told you I was going to Heaven when I died because I believed in Jesus!!

    That is exactly the point of my example. If one says that all you have to do is “believe”, then where does one draw the line as far as there being any sins that would disqualify one from Heaven so long as they “believe”? If an easy-believer does that, then they are contradicting themselves because they are saying that the degree or magnitude of one’s sin can keep one out of Heaven–even though the person “believes”. Thus, if the easy-believer takes such a position, they are then saying that it’s not always enough to just “believe”.

    Romans 6:15-16–What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

  23. Easy-believism, a product of the “Free Grace” movement, is a cancer in the church. These folk are so rightly allergic to works-based salvation that they teach one can be saved and unchanged – unless discipled be the church. The biblical God, as noted above, changes those whom He saves!

    One who continues in sin with no remorse, no self-loathing, no repentance, no cries for mercy – such a one should never be assured that he is redeemed by Christ. One who is growing in hatred for sin and love for righteousness, he has reason that his belief is genuine.

  24. One who continues in sin with no remorse, no self-loathing, no repentance, no cries for mercy – such a one should never be assured that he is redeemed by Christ. One who is growing in hatred for sin and love for righteousness, he has reason that his belief is genuine.

    Amen! Well said!

  25. @Fourpointer, theoretically yes someone could be saved (from hell) and yet do all those things you mentioned. Of course, I don’t know of anyone like that. I do think that the Bible indicates King Saul was probably saved, and he came somewhat close. But I think God tends to physically kill believers before they get to the point you described, or else to rehabilitate them. Realistically, even unsaved people generally have trouble getting away with repeated murder, so it is hard to see why a Christian would be able to accomplish such a feat if God is watching over and disciplining him.

    You cited 1 John 1:6, but I don’t think “fellowship with God” is referring to being saved. Fellowship with God refers to any choice you make where you choose the moral action. 1 John 1:5 says that in God there is no darkness AT ALL. Hence, I think that any time we walk in darkness AT ALL, we are not walking in fellowship with God.

    @Manfred

    //One who is growing in hatred for sin and love for righteousness, he has reason that his belief is genuine.//

    Jesus didn’t people to question whether their belief was “genuine.” See John 9:35-39; John 11:21-27. When Martha said, “Yes, I believe,” Jesus did not answer, “Are you sure? Don’t get too confident. Better examine your lifestyle!”

  26. I wouldn’t have expected any different answer. But the apostle Paul told us to examine our lifestyle.

    2nd Corinthians 13:5–Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.

    And I will simply end with these words, also from the apostle.

    1st Corinthians 6:9-10–Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

  27. So are you seriously saying that if someone is covetous then he is not saved, or if someone is a “reviler,” which I am guessing basically means a “jerk”?

    In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul is referring to the regenerated spiritual nature. Elsewhere, he specifically declares that (sinful) “flesh and blood” do not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:49-50). If you read 1 Corinthians, you can see that the Corinthian recipients have obviously participated in some of the sins Paul listed, but Paul nonetheless calls them “sanctified” in 1 Corinthians 6:11. He says that the Corinthians “were” those things, even though some of them are obviously still engaging in such sins. Paul is contrasting these deeply flawed Corinthians believers, who nonetheless will “judge angels” and inherit the kingdom — and thus are capable of arbitrating disputes — with the “wicked” unbelieving judges who are currently hearing their lawsuits.

    2 Corinthians 13:5 specifically does not say to examine lifestyle. In fact, the key question in 2 Corinthians 13:5 does not seem to be sin, but rather whether the recipients are willing to recognize the apostolic authority of Paul.

    If you were to tell someone to get saved, how would you do it? Would you tell him to stop his covetousness and quit being a jerk? Or would you just tell him to believe in Jesus?

  28. Drew,

    When you yank a text from its context and care not what other relevant portions of Scripture say about the topic, you are in danger of believing a lie.

  29. I would tell them they need to believe on Christ–AND to repent of their sins. Kinda like what Peter told the crowd in Acts 3:19–“Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out!” Oh, wait, my bad. Peter wasn’t telling them they needed to repent of their sins. He was telling them to repent of “making bad decisions” or some such nonsense, right?

    On the other hand I feel that you would tell them something like, “Nah, you can keep on getting drunk, participating in orgies, watching pornography, killing people, practicing homosexuality, committing adultery, worshipping false gods, and stealing. Just so long as you believe! God will look past all that!”

  30. //Oh, wait, my bad. Peter wasn’t telling them they needed to repent of their sins. He was telling them to repent of “making bad decisions” or some such nonsense, right?//

    When he told them to “repent and be converted,” he was probably just telling them to repent of their prior non-conversion. “Repent” is a pretty generic word that on its own, simply means to change one’s mind. Hence, when God repented in Jonah 3:10, it does not mean that God determined to stop sinning. You have to examine the context to figure out exactly what any specific “repentance” is referring to.

    But anyway, when you say that we must “repent of our sins” (a phrase which doesn’t even occur in the Bible) to be saved, what do you even mean by that? Do you mean that we must stop sinning to be saved? Or do we just need to work up the willpower to *want* to stop sinning? Or do we just need to sincerely promise to stop sinning? Or what?

  31. Drew,
    Christ said ‘repent or perish’ (my paraphrase of Luke 13:3); His first ‘sermon’ was ‘repent for the kingdom of God is near’ – Matt.4:17
    Also, read Ezekiel 18:30, 32; Acts 17:30, 26:20. Then go to Isaiah 55:7.
    If you believe you can live like a devil, sinning against a holy God and die and enter His kingdom, you are deceived. “Whoever does not forsake all he has cannot be my disciple.” -Luke 14:33
    The doctrine of repentance is all but void in most churches today, but it is a key doctrine found throughout God’s word. Repentance MUST be granted by God (2 Tim.2:25), for all of salvation is of the Lord, from start to finish.
    Lyn

  32. I can’t see where the argument is, not if we belong to him, and if we belong to him we should keep his commandments!

    Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
    Gal 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
    Gal 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

    1Co 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
    1Co 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
    Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
    Gal 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
    Gal 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
    Gal 5:26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

    1Co 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
    1Co 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
    1Co 6:13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

    Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
    Mat 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
    Mat 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
    Mat 25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
    Mat 25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
    Mat 25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
    Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    Jas 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
    Jas 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

    Joh 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

    1Jn 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
    1Jn 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
    1Jn 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

  33. I have excellent interpretations for all the passages you listed, and your verse spamming does not mean much to me. And I would even tell you my interpretations if I thought either of you was actually paying attention. But since you posted 1 Corinthians 6 even after I already addressed it, and since you just posted some verses about “repentance” right after I explained what the Greek word means, I am guessing that you are not paying attention.

    To really get to the heart of the matter: I think it’s funny that you call yourself “Unworthy1,” when you evidently consider yourself innocent of strife, provocation, vain glory, lasciviousness, uncleanness, envy, and disobedience to Jesus’s commands. It sounds like you really have your act together. Just think, maybe if you had been born a couple thousand years earlier, you could have been our savior and saved Jesus a whole lot of trouble.

  34. Drew,
    I for one really appreciate your posts and have paid very close attention to what you are saying. Thanks for your persistence. I am listening.

  35. Drew, it is unfortunate you have resorted to making false accusations and turning this into a childish fight.
    It is time to move on, may,the Lord be gracious and merciful to you.

  36. Drew your ability to interpret why I have posted these verses is uncanny. What is really out of the can though is how you would degrade Gods word into spamming when it is what our Lord gave us to live by. What I was paying attention to was the fact that there is a quarrel. And you seem to be the center of it being the one taking up for the sin that is in us. You seem to be coveting over it. Have you not grown to see that the enemy has bombarded us with sin to point where Peter tells us where it comes from and shows how that someone is a roaring lion looking to devour. I have seen many argue for sin in their lives and it has always led to one thing. And that is falling away. Our Lord died for sin man. Why would you make a stand for it. We must roust it out from our lives and counter it at every corner. Why because it is still part of us. But how do we have the victory over it? None other than by the Spirit. And what does Paul tell us, now if any man have not the Spirit he is none of his. But then on the other hand; Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
    Rom 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
    So I really don’t see the argument unless your argument is to continue to live in sin. Then that is something you have yet to deal with and may God open your eyes to who you are and truly lead you to his cross.

  37. But anyway, when you say that we must “repent of our sins” (a phrase which doesn’t even occur in the Bible) to be saved, what do you even mean by that?

    Repent. Turn away from. Do not seek to keep living in sin. And when we do sin, we mourn over that sin (“Blessed are those who mourn”). We seek to live righteously in Christ (“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness”).

    As far as the whole “That phrase isn’t even in the Bible” (Well, neither is the word ‘Trinity’, but that’s another story). Actually, you are mistaken there–although is is not phrased in exactly those words.

    *Matthew 9:12–“I came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance
    That sounds pretty clear.

    Then we have–
    *John 5:14–“Go forth and sin no more

    *John 8:11–“Go forth and sin no more
    Here we have Jesus twice telling someone to repent of their sins.

    The apostles also taught the same thing:
    *Colossians 3:5-7–“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.”

    *Romans 6:1-2–What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

    *Romans 6:12-13–Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

    *Romans 6:15-16–What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

    *Ephesians 4:28–Let him who stole steal no longer.

    *1st Peter 4:1-4–Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.

    *Ephesians 4:22-24put off…the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

    *1st Peter 1:16–Be holy, even as he is holy.

    (Oh, sorry about all that “Bible Spam”)

    So I guess these were all just “Guidelines for Living a Happy Life”, and not warnings to turn away from sin and hate it for what it really is.

    If you cannot see from these passages that Paul, Peter, Christ all taught repentance from sin, then I’m afraid this conversation is over.

  38. I certainly agree that we should stop sinning, and that those three men absolutely taught we should stop sinning. And yes, the verses you just listed show that. But I disagree that cessation from sin is necessary for salvation. And I also disagree that “repentance” should generally be interpreted to mean a turning from all sin.

    //As far as the whole “That phrase isn’t even in the Bible” (Well, neither is the word ‘Trinity’, but that’s another story). Actually, you are mistaken there–although is is not phrased in exactly those words. . . . That sounds pretty clear.//

    No, not clear. Again, “repentance” simply means to change your mind. Sinners need to change their mind about who Christ is in order to be saved from hell. That kind of mental change may be what Matthew 9:12 is referring to. On the other hand, you may be correct and Matthew 9:12 may indeed be referring to a change of heart leading to a reduction in sin. I oppose sin, and I could accept either interpretation. But the fact that you’re automatically assuming the latter interpretation just illustrates that you are reading your preconceptions into the language.

    People in Mark 1:15 are to repent of unbelief. People in Acts 17:30 are to repent of pagan ignorance. By contrast, saved believers in Revelation 2:5 are to repent of their lack of zeal. Saved believers in Revelation 3:19 are to repent of their lukewarmness. In Luke 17:3, a sinning saved brother needs to repent of his particular sin (note: not ALL sin) after being rebuked for that sin. The word “repentance” means “to change,” with an emphasis on change within the mind and/or heart. It may mean to change from doing some particular sin, or it may just mean to change and recognize Jesus as the Savior (as in Mark 1:15). The context must determine.

    //Repent. Turn away from. Do not seek to keep living in sin. And when we do sin, we mourn over that sin (“Blessed are those who mourn”). We seek to live righteously in Christ (“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness”).//

    If we have to turn away from all sin (or all non-minor sin) to get saved, and mourn over all sin to stay saved, I’m having a pretty hard time understanding how your soteriology differs from Roman Catholicism. The Catholics would say that to get saved, you must believe in Jesus AND turn away from your non-minor (mortal) sins. And then if you do sin, they teach that you must mourn over that sin to help stay saved or if the sin was mortal, to regain salvation.

    You mentioned living a happy life, and living a happy life is indeed one decent reason to stop sinning (in fact, a reason listed repeatedly in Proverbs). Another good reason is to avoid God’s discipline, or to gain eternal rewards in heaven, or to serve as a better witness to unbelievers. Another reason is because you are simply grateful to God for having saved you. Just because God does not threaten believers with hell does not make his commands “suggestions.”

  39. Well, now you say that repentance from sin is not necessary for salvation. But just a little while back, Fourpointer admitted that to get people saved, he would command people to believe in Jesus AND “repent” (which he apparently defined as cessation from all or certain sins, or something to that effect). And even Mr. Pink, the author of the blog post, specifically argued that believing in Jesus is not enough to be saved. So forgive my skepticism.

    “All of this typified the fact that if a soul is to eat the Bread of life, he must devote himself in earnest. . . .” — A. W. Pink

    ”There must be a right-about-face: there must be a turning from Satan unto God, from the world unto Christ, from sin unto holiness. Where that has not taken place, all the believing in the world will not save one.” — A. W. Pink

    And anyway, I disagree that repentance from all sin is a necessary result (a required evidence) of salvation. The Bible shows plenty examples of believers who sinned, and sinned badly. For just a few examples, consider: 1) Samson, 2) Solomon, and 3) The sinner in 1 Corinthians 5.

  40. Drew,
    Except that I have impression that you do not understand my point (February 25, 2011), I learn much thanks to your exchange of thoughts with others and verification of arguments (of all involved persons) against the Bible.
    But I have one more question (very important for me personally) for you and anybody who can give practically useful biblical answer:
    Why you call someone you brother in Christ? And when you will stop doing this? For what reason? Is there any possibility to have really strong reasons to believe that someone is saved by God from his sins? On what basis?

  41. Drew,
    I have been following this dialogue earnestly, reading and re-reading comments. I agree with you wholeheartedly that the arguments offered in opposition to your comments were sounding more and more like Roman Catholicism. And indeed, at times lately, I’ve found that Calvinists can be among the most oppressive and intolerant of all believers. It seems that the general tendency is to categorize sin into 2 categories— one group being the ones that you must turn from in order to show proof of your salvation, and the other being the sins that we all do regularly, like complaining, etc… and which we may or may not be sorry for, but nonetheless don’t make our faith invalid. And in categorizing sin in this way, the sinners connected with such sins are categorized accordingly. Having been taught Arminian ideas for much of my adult life, I bring these to the table unwittingly when I read scriptures on judgement, punishment, and so on, and it causes some amount of confusion in my mind. But very careful study has relieved much of that confusion, as the clouds of arminianism are swept away. Your comments have been helpful, and confirmed some of my own conclusions.

  42. FWIW Kaydee I’ve been following the meta carefully as well, and IMHO it seems that our worthy interlocutors may be talking past one another just a bit. Here’s my take, Drew seems to be focusing on initial justification whereas FP, Manfred, and Lyn seem to be focusing on sanctification. Both justification and sanctification are soteriologically inseparable components of what is more generically called “salvation” or “being saved”, but when careful distinctions aren’t made in our discourse on the topic the lines can become blurred, and confusion, bad theology, and/or just plain old poor communication often aren’t far behind.

    I know FP, Manfred and Lyn well enough to state without hesitation that they fully affirm a sound and Biblical soteriology, but I don’t know Drew, so I can only reach conclusions about his theology from the comments he’s left here thus far. Of course I try to read a professing believer’s comments charitably, which is why I’m giving Drew the benefit of the doubt that he’s not espousing some sort of concept of easy-believism that basically asserts all that’s involved in (or at least the minimum requirement of) Biblical salvation (justification, sanctification, final glorification) is a bare mental assent to the truth claims of Scripture – and that’s it – no inward or outward change of any kind is to be expected, nor is it necessary, for any form of professed Christian belief/salvation to be considered genuine.

    Here’s an extreme example; there are those who would hold that if a random guy (or gal) were driving down the road searching the radio channels for his/her favorite music/talking head/whatever, and he/she stumbled across a “radio preacher” who was proclaiming the Biblical Gospel, (men are fallen rebel sinners who abide under the wrath and curse of God, God mercifully paid the penalty for sin in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ His Son, Jesus proved His claims and God openly affirmed Him by His resurrection from the dead, and God offers undeserving rebel sinners forgiveness and restoration by trusting in Christ as their substitute, mediator, Savior and Lord); and upon hearing that message our random guy/gal thought to himself/herself, “yeah, I believe that”, and then switched the channel and lived out the rest of his/her life just as he/she had lived prior to “believing” what he/she had heard about Christ…with no inward or outward change of any kind…there are those who would say that person was truly saved, and is a Christian.

    I don’t know what Drew would say about this example, although I’m pretty sure he’ll tell us! :0)

    Kaydee I’m sorry that you feel that Calvinists can be among the most oppressive and intolerant of all believers. If we follow our own theology – which is nothing more or less than the plain teachings of Scripture – then of all people we Reformed/Calvinistic believers ought to be the most amazed and humbled people on the planet. In the final analysis not everyone who claims to be a Christian really is a Christian whatever their theological badging or stripes, and this includes many who profess to hold to Reformed/Calvinistic theology. The Biblical witness is clear – there are goats and tares among the sheep and wheat, and there is a Judas among the twelve.

    In Christ,
    CD

  43. CD,
    You’ve come to the rescue again! I understand what you say in differentiating between initial justification and sanctification. It is a thing that has made a huge difference in my own understanding, being a “newbie” Calvinist. By the way, I hesitate to identify myself as such, even in my own congregation, as I continue to discover that Calviists have left a very bad taste in the mouths of many of my comrades. I have wondered at this, and have been running into issues like the one on this thread, which is why I have paid such close attention, not to mention the implications this issue has for my own life. I also know very well that there are tares and wheat, sheep and goats, but that it is not for us to decide who is whom.
    CD, the gray area for me is that I believe that scripture makes it plain that as justification is through grace alone, sanctification is by grace alone as well. Posts like this one, and articles such as the one by Pink, seem to lay an enormous burden of proof on the believer that is oppressive in my opinion, and seem to stray away from sanctification by grace. I will stand on the fact that it is only the righteousness of Christ imputed to me, (not infused in me) that affords me salvation from God’s wrath, and that the only merit my good works will obtain is that I will have a lovely wedding garment and crown to wear at the marriage feast of the Lamb. My motivation for living a righteous life is not because I fear the flames of Hell, or that God will send me there after all, but because I want all the blessings from God I am able to get, whether now or in the hereafter.
    Drew, I am wondering if you acknowledge a difference between mental assent and saving faith?

  44. Much good conversation! I do not call myself a Calvinist – there are too many things about John Calvin that give me concern PLUS the Bible tells me (and all the saints) to not be a disciple of any man – but follow Christ. I affirm the Truth of the 5 points of Calvinism – and the 5 solas of the Reformation, from which the TULIP sprung.

    Kaydee – I’ve seen a general trend: Reformed/Calvinist folk can drift into cold legalism. Arminian/Dispensationalists can drift into warm antinomianism. All who profess Christ must deliberately focus on Him and humbly submit to the revealed Word of God, knowing none of us have it all together.

    Hence the 5 solas of the Reformation:

    Scripture Alone
    By Christ’s Work Alone we are saved
    Salvation is by Grace Alone
    Justification is by Faith Alone
    And all is done For the Glory of God Alone

  45. //Is there any possibility to have really strong reasons to believe that someone is saved by God from his sins? On what basis?//

    If someone confesses that Jesus is his Savior, and then explains the gospel well enough to where I can be reasonably sure that he isn’t a Catholic or Mormon or some other cultist who is simply mis-using biblical terminology, then I assume he is saved. And I base that on 1 John 5:10-12, where saving faith is defined as the acceptance of certain doctrines, called God’s “testimony.” Granted, even a verbal confession is itself a good work, so I guess I am basing my judgment on a good work, but not on an entire lifestyle of good works.

    //Drew, I am wondering if you acknowledge a difference between mental assent and saving faith?//

    No. And to “think with assent” was actually Augustine’s definition of faith, from what I recall.

    @Tomek

    I think that Jesus was talking to a big group of people in John 8, and that some (“many”) of them got saved, but that the unsaved bulk of the group continued arguing with him, and ultimately tried to kill him. When the Bible says “They answered him” in v. 33, it’s referring to the mob as a whole, not to the believing people specifically. In 8:46, Jesus specifically asks them (the bulk of the group) why they don’t believe him. And then the text says that “the Jews” (v. 48, 57) try to kill him.

    If the text specifically says that “many” believed in Jesus, but then Jesus says about a minute later that people don’t believe him, I think the best interpretation is that some believed in him but the majority did not.

    @Coram Deo

    I think I’ve made it rather clear that I do believe in Easy Believism. I do think justification is easy — although of course many people do have a hard time believing. And yes, I think that anyone who heard the gospel on the radio and believed it would be saved. In fact, I would certainly hope that you yourself would agree!

    In practice, I do think that God tends to discipline his children in such a way that some level of sanctification can be expected. (Or in the absence of sanctification, the believer might instead lead a short and/or miserable life, and then get sanctified in heaven.) So yes, the idea that the radio listener would live his entire lifestyle exactly the same way as he would otherwise, seems pretty unrealistic. But the believers’ discipline and change aren’t such a hard-and-fast (or quick!) thing that we can look at a person’s works and determine his salvation.

    And I definitely don’t think the change will necessarily be substantial enough for us to say that every believer “Perseveres,” as TULIP teaches. The Bible teaches that King Saul became a “new man,” received a “new heart,” prophesied, and received the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t “persevere” in any real sense. Neither did Gideon or King Solomon persevere, even though one of them had “faith” according to Hebrews 11 and the other wrote 2-3 books of the Bible via the Holy Spirit. Sometimes saved people do meet poor ends, as with the clear examples of Ananias and Sephira or the dead churchmembers in 1 Corinthians 11. 1 Corinthians 11:32 and Hebrews 12:8 even say that these poor ends are actually the evidence of salvation, not the evidence of damnation.

    Even though I would normally expect some level of sanctification from a believer, I am not going to make up any of my own artificial criteria for judging someone’s salvation by works, when the Bible itself shows us such wide variance among believers. So yes, theoretically I say that the believing radio listener might not change AT ALL — even though I wouldn’t really expect that outcome.

  46. Drew – the demons have mental assent; not saving faith. The difference between the two is that saving faith – a gift from God – always results in a changed life, whereas many profess Christ with nothing more than intellectual knowledge according to Earthly wisdom. Easy believism is the same false position as mental assent.

  47. Thanks Drew.

    Your view seems to make the narrow way quite broad indeed, in fact overly broad in my opinion.

    Would it be fair to say that from your viewpoint that the Metropolitan Community Churches and their professing Christian congregants ought to be considered as brothers and sisters in Christ? These churches are homosexual affirming, and hold that one can simultaneously be a Christian and a practicing, active homosexual. They claim to believe in Christ and the Bible, and they teach that the historic understandings of Biblical condemnation of homosexuality are gross misinterpretations of Scripture which have been
    employed by hateful, divisive, homophobic, false Christians to bash those who are different than them.

    What say you?

    In Christ,
    CD

  48. My apologies, i have corrected my last comment. Repentance is necessary and is commanded by God throughout His word as I’ve already stated ( see Acts 17:30 for one example). What is key to understanding all this is that all of salvation is of the Lord…justification, sanctification, repentance, faith, salvation: man cannot produce any of these.
    Yes, believers do fall into sin, like David, for example. However, God did not leave David there, His Spirit brought David to true repentance, as Psalm 51 clearly states.

  49. OK. Drew is saying that mental assent equals saving faith as long as that mental assent is unto a proper, Biblical message of the gospel. That mental assent must include the realization that Jesus died for MY sins. If one does not acknowledge ones’ sinfulness and need of a Savior, then his mental assent is to no avail. “Saving faith is defined as the acceptance of certain doctrines…” That would include the doctrine of total depravity?
    Drew, so what you are saying, then, is that simply believing is adequate, providing that one’s belief is in accord with the gospel message as presented in the Bible?

  50. @Coram Deo, I personally am a postmillennialist and interpret the “few find” the “narrow way” passages to be referring to Jesus’s time, when most of the Jews refused to believe. The path is still narrow even today, but due to the spread of the gospel, many more have found the way than back then. In Revelation, believers make up “a great multitude.”

    Regarding gay believers, yes I do think they can be saved. I just would not want to associate with them because the Bible says not to. God will deal with them.

    @Kaydee, I think the essential gospel doctrines are probably laid out rather generally in 1 John 5:10-12. We must recognize 1) That God has given us eternal life, and 2) that the eternal life is the work of God’s son, Jesus. Many groups today deny the eternality of “eternal life,” and think you can lose it. Other groups deny that salvation is a gift from God. Other groups believe in heaven of some kind, but deny that we get there through Jesus. And then finally, there are people who do believe in eternal security, and who do believe that salvation is through Jesus, and who do believe that salvation is comes by God’s grace, but they nonetheless doubt whether God has actually given eternal life to THEM personally. Arguably, these people aren’t saved, either.

  51. Thanks again Drew,

    My question wasn’t whether or not homosexuals can be saved, Jesus came to seek and save the lost, but whether or not someone who claims to be a Christian, and lives as a practicing, active, open homosexual is a person who you would personally validate as a brother or sister in Christ. You seem to equivocate a bit stating that they can be saved, but that you would not want to associate with them because the Bible says not to. But the Scriptures are clear that we are to love and fellowship with the saints, the Body of Christ. See, the problem with the Metropolitan Community Churches and their professing Christian congregants is that such people by their chosen lifestyle (open, active, practicing homosexuality) give evidence that they are not actually true believers in Christ, but rather that they are deceived, or deceivers, or possibly both. Such people should be told the truth in love that their profession of faith is not in keeping with the Biblical witness of a follower of Christ, and that they ought to cry out to God for mercy and freedom from their bondage to sin.

    True saving faith in Christ is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9), as such true saving faith always results in a radical change in trajectory in the redeemed heart from spiritual death to spiritual life (1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 2:3-7), as believers are conformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) by the inner working of the Holy Spirit which brings forth the fruit of the Spirit from their redeemed hearts (Gal. 5:16-26) to the praise of God (Matt. 5:16). This is why it’s called being “born-again” (a.k.a. regeneration, the new birth). This is not merely a moral reformation, but an actual, miraculous, supernatural work of God whereby He makes the born-again believer a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17), and God is faithful to continue this work until final glorification (Phil. 1:6).

    Because this is a work of God and not of man, God gets all the glory, and redeemed man gets the amazingly dumbfounding and humbling privilege of being in a right, restored spiritual relationship with the Triune One true and living God, the infinite Creator and Judge of the universe. The unspeakably immense condescension of our great and glorious God in this work demands a response from the redeemed. When God shows up He always evokes a response in His creatures, either one of terror and dread, or one of praise and adoration – and sometimes both.

    In several of your comments you’ve seemed to insinuate that your interloctors are insisting upon something akin to sinless perfection in order for someone to qualify as being considered a Christian. Nothing could be further from the truth. True Christians sin, miserably and frequently, but the difference in a true Christian and a false professor is that a true Christian will grieve over and hate his sin and cry out to God confessing his transgressions in humble repentance (1 John 2:1), whereas false professors have no such compunction about sin, and their only struggles are along the lines of fearing what people might think of them if they were found out, or else anxiety over the consequences they might face for their sins if they are caught. In other words unbelievers love their sins, and believers hate their sins.

    Here’s the thing, Christ’s command and example was to make disciples (Matt. 28:16-20). There is simply no such thing as a true Christian who is not a follower of Christ. That’s an oxymoron. The very title “Christian” denotes a Christ-follower. Those who do not follow the Great Shepherd are not His sheep, and should take no comfort in belonging to Him.

    I don’t say this lightly, but to me the view you’ve expressed of what it means to be a Christian is sub-Biblical at best, and at worst it constitutes another Gospel altogether (Gal. 1:8-9). This is profoundly disturbing to me. In fact the type of Christianity you’ve generally described in this meta is quite unheard of in the annals of history until the last hundred years or so when Charles Finney and Lewis Sperry Chafer (among others) began introducing novel pew-filling techniques and strange doctrines into the church.

    Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, to the praise and glory of God alone…but true saving faith is never alone, and in the long run true saving faith is never separate from faithfulness (James 2:14-26).

    In closing if I’m wrong then at worst I’m possibly giving true, born-again believers pause to examine themselves in the light of God’s Word to see if they are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5), however if you’re wrong then you’re guilty of encouraging deceived false professors in their presumption, and failing to confront them with the Scriptures that show their lives don’t bear the marks of a true Christian, thereby offering them aid and comfort on their way to hell. Think about that.

    In Christ,
    CD

  52. Hebrews 11 says that to please God, we need to believe that God will reward us. So if you are causing people to doubt their salvation, they will doubt their heavenly rewards and will thus be unable to please God effectively. If they doubt that their treasure is actually in heaven, their heart will not be in heaven, either. And of course, presenting a confusing gospel to unbelievers will probably result in less converts, because faith comes through hearing. And on the far end of the spectrum, if someone gets so confused that he (like A.W. Pink) actually starts telling people to turn from their sins to get saved, that is basically just encouraging faith in human works, which probably will not even result in salvation. So if we want to decide things based on a cost-benefit analysis, like you discussed, your side has some problems, too.

    I know that you aren’t teaching sinless perfection. I am. I am saying that our spiritual identity as Christians is absolutely perfect, as described by 1 John 3:9. Our regenerated, perfect spirit is what the “new creation” refers to. However, this perfect heavenly identity must still battle with the sinful flesh, as described in Romans 7:21-23 and Galatians 5:17.

    I was not trying to equivocate in my last post. I was saying that homosexual Christians might indeed already be saved, depending on their beliefs. But I wonder why you would only single out the sin of homosexuality. For example, Paul specifically says that the covetous will not inherit the kingdom. Leftist politics is basically the embodiment of covetousness, and 90+% of African-American Christians support Leftist politicians. If Paul were referring to our earthly righteousness, then the vast majority of black Christians would be going to hell for their unrepentant covetousness. And I do not mean just to pick on blacks; obviously other segments of Christianity have their own sinful proclivities. The point is that our flesh is sinful.

    You stated that unbelievers will love their sin and believers will hate their sin. But Matthew 27:3 teaches that Judas actually hated his sin. And even though you cited 1 John 2:1 to say that all believers will hate their sins, the verse does not actually say anything close to that (And I don’t think any other verses do, either).

    I disagree that Philippians 1:6 teaches Perseverance of the Saints. The Philippians had sent Paul some money to support his missionary work, and this donation was the “good work” that God would bring to completion, i.e. use effectively for evangelism. I already showed from the examples of Gideon, Samson, Saul, Solomon, Ananias and Sephira, etc. that believers do not necessarily persevere.

    Finally, it is not true that easy-believism is anti-historical. Augustine actually described a couple variants of easy-believism in his “City of God,” Chapters 20-21, although he disagreed with them. As for someone who explicitly agreed with easy-believism, I would reference Rhodon (2nd Century), who was cited in Book V of Eusebius’s Church History:

    “For the old man Apelles entered into conversation with us, and was convicted of uttering many false opinions. . . . For he declared that those who had rested their hope on the Crucified One would be saved, provided only they were found living in the practice of good works.”

  53. Drew,

    Believers have treasure in heaven, but false professors don’t, and they should not be misled into thinking there’s anything awaiting them after death except for God’s eternal wrath and condemnation lest they flee to Christ for forgiveness and reconciliation to the Triune One true and living God.

    I frankly have no idea why you think God through Apostle Paul would be causing Christians to doubt their faith when He commands us through Paul to examine ourselves in the light of Scripture (2 Cor. 13:5). God only commands that which is for His people’s good, and for His glory (Rom. 8:28). True Christians can rest assured that even when things are perplexing and certainly don’t seem to be for our good, nevertheless God’s Word is sure, and His faithfuless to those in Christ is everlasting. It’s loving to confront people – all people – with their sin, and call them to seek pardon from Christ (repent), while on the other hand it’s unloving (and derelict) to wink at sin and refuse to deal with it in a Biblical manner. In fact this is among the roles and responsibilities of the individual Christian believer, as well as the corporate church.

    Consistent repentance, just like prayer, study of the Word, evangelism, giving, serving, etc. is among the marks of the true Christian.

    And what “confusing Gospel” are you talking about? The Gospel is crystal clear, it’s man’s sinful spiritual hard-heartedness and pride that distorts God’s message of reconciliation in Christ, yet He always opens the hearts of those for whom He died (John 6:37-40; 10:27), even when they were His enemies (Rom. 5:8).

    There will be no more, or no fewer “converts” that God has predestined from the before foundations of the world (Eph. 1:4; Rev. 13:8). He is fully able to do all His holy will (Psalm 115:3; Matt. 19:26), and His Word will not return to Him void, but will accomplish all His purpose (Isa. 55:11). In the Parable of the Sower the seed is the Word, and the sower is the Son of Man (Matt. 13:3-23), and He never fails in His perfect work of seeking and saving His lost sheep (John 6:37) for whom He laid down His life and purchased with His blood (Mark 10:45; Acts 20:28). Christians enjoy the wonderful privilege of playing a role in this great salvation drama, but we are merely the human instruments He has graciously chosen to faithfully proclaim His Word, and rightly receive, and administer His sacraments.

    No one here is denying the true Christian’s spiritual perfection in Christ; Christians don’t become any more righteous in God’s eyes than they are at the moment of conversion because Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to the believer at the moment of justification; he or she is declared righteous before God on the grounds of Christ’s righteousness (Gal. 2:15). Yet true Christians are delivered from the power and penalty of sin in this life, and we are delivered from the presence of sin in the life to come.

    In this life Christians are at war with the remaining sins in their earthly members, and they are commanded to struggle against the lusts of the flesh which still remain (Rom. 7) through the power of Him who is in us, which is greater than he who is in the world (Phil 4:13; 1 John 4:4).

    The reason I singled out the sin of homosexuality is because it’s one of the few blatant errors remaining within the professing church that true Christians ought to recognize as obvious sin, but nevertheless there are entire churches built on the premise that one can be a true Christian, while remaining an active, open, practicing homosexual. Clearly by living out a depraved lifestyle such people give ample evidence that they are not true Christians, but you apparently don’t recognize this.

    Clearly any sinner is a candidate for salvation, but the Scriptures make it clear that a true born-again Christian will not continue in a life-pattern of sinful rebellion against the dear Savior Who bled and died for him. No, he will seek to honor and obey and glorify Him sincerely, albeit imperfectly.

    Matthew 27:3 doesn’t teach that Judas hated his sin, it merely states that he felt remorse for what happened to Jesus as a direct result of his backroom deal with the Pharisees. If Judas had been repentant then he would have gone to Christ, confessed his crime and sought forgiveness, but instead he piled sin upon sin and murdered himself, yet another form of his high treason against God, and still more evidence of his status as a false disciple.

    I cited 1 John 2:1 because John says that true Christians have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

    “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”

    True believers are to love what God loves, and hate what God hates (Psalm 119:104). God hates sin.

    You said: I disagree that Philippians 1:6 teaches Perseverance of the Saints. The Philippians had sent Paul some money to support his missionary work, and this donation was the “good work” that God would bring to completion, i.e. use effectively for evangelism.

    LOL! That’s an interesting interpretation!

    3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

    I guess that’s been the longest ongoing collection ever since the good work [God] began in them will be brought to completion at the day of Jesus Christ!

    Actually, your disagreement aside, Philippians 1:6 teaches God’s faithful perseverence with His saints, and His preservation of His people to the end of their earthly lives, and into eternity.

    You said: I already showed from the examples of Gideon, Samson, Saul, Solomon, Ananias and Sephira, etc. that believers do not necessarily persevere.

    None of God’s sheep will be finally lost, no not one (John 6:37-40). If any were to truly and finally “fall away” [i.e. ultimately turn from/repudiate the faith] it would only serve as evidence that they were never true believers at all, but were only false professors. Salvation is all of grace, and all of the Lord.

    Specific citations from Augustine might be helpful, but a casual reference to two chapters in his magnum opus is a bit less so. Lastly I think your snippet from Eusebius proves either less, or else more, than you’d like since Appelles is noted as a heretic (“convicted of uttering many false opinions”), and he also insisted good works were to be joined with faith in Christ for hope of salvation.

    In Christ,
    CD

  54. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul is asking whether the readers accept his apostolic authority. It really doesn’t have anything to do with checking yourself for good deeds. I think people who are relying on “turning away from sin” for their salvation ought to check themselves to see whether they’re in the faith. The issue is one of doctrine.

    //If any were to truly and finally “fall away” [i.e. ultimately turn from/repudiate the faith] it would only serve as evidence that they were never true believers at all, but were only false professors. Salvation is all of grace, and all of the Lord.//

    Well, we aren’t discussing whether true Christians can ever lose their faith, or repudiate Christ. We are discussing whether true Christians will necessarily refrain from unrepentant sin. In the case of the homosexuals, you called them unsaved because of their gross, unrepentant sin. But like the homosexuals, the men I listed from the Bible engaged in some pretty bad sins, and the scripture never indicates that any of them repented before death.

    //Appelles is noted as a heretic (“convicted of uttering many false opinions”), and he also insisted good works were to be joined with faith in Christ for hope of salvation.//

    The narrator, Rhodon, declares “false” the opinion that works will necessarily accompany salvation. I’m citing Rhodon (and presumably Eusebius, who quotes him) as my historical counterpart, not Appelles.

    //I guess that’s been the longest ongoing collection ever since the good work [God] began in them will be brought to completion at the day of Jesus Christ!//

    They were specifically supporting Paul’s ministry, and Paul has been getting people saved for 2000 years. And even if it weren’t Paul, evangelism in general is the gift that keeps on giving.

    //Specific citations from Augustine might be helpful, but a casual reference to two chapters in his magnum opus is a bit less so.//

    Admittedly, I should have included a Book # for you. The “chapters” are actually only a few paragraphs:

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf102.iv.XXI.19.html

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf102.iv.XXI.20.html

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf102.iv.XXI.21.html

    //There will be no more, or no fewer “converts” that God has predestined from the before foundations of the world (Eph. 1:4; Rev. 13:8).//

    If someone preaches a false gospel, I can absolutely guarantee you that the preacher will get fewer regenerated, saved converts than if that same preached had preached the true gospel. Presumably, he won’t get ANY.

    Speaking of which, A. W. Pink is telling people to stop sinning in order to get saved, and saying that all the believing in the world will make no difference. That is not the gospel. Simply appealing to a fatalistic Calvinist perspective cannot diminish his crime.

  55. Drew said: In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul is asking whether the readers accept his apostolic authority. It really doesn’t have anything to do with checking yourself for good deeds. I think people who are relying on “turning away from sin” for their salvation ought to check themselves to see whether they’re in the faith. The issue is one of doctrine.

    Your exegesis of this text is only partially correct. As mentioned, the fruit of the Spirit is one Biblical evidence among others that offer assurance that a professing believer is a true Christain. Certainly there are therapuetic/moralists who might outwardly appear to do many “good works”, but are nevertheless false professors. The Corinthians had one or more Judaizers among them spreading false doctrine, by which some were being led astray. God through Paul commands his readers (then and now) to examine the reality of their professed faith if they are found to be toying with novel/false doctrine while spurning the sound words of Scripture. God’s people hear His voice and humble themselves before Him.

    Well, we aren’t discussing whether true Christians can ever lose their faith, or repudiate Christ. We are discussing whether true Christians will necessarily refrain from unrepentant sin. In the case of the homosexuals, you called them unsaved because of their gross, unrepentant sin. But like the homosexuals, the men I listed from the Bible engaged in some pretty bad sins, and the scripture never indicates that any of them repented before death.

    Drew, the Bible makes it very clear that a pattern of repentence and contrition for sin are the marks of saving faith. For example the Psalms are filled with this imagery. Just because the Bible doesn’t record every instance of every individual’s act of repentance doesn’t suddenly allow for you to arrive at the novel conclusion that this pattern doesn’t hold. Engaging in “some pretty bad sins” and living out a life of wanton rebellion against God’s commands are quite different, I hope you can see that.

    The narrator, Rhodon, declares “false” the opinion that works will necessarily accompany salvation. I’m citing Rhodon (and presumably Eusebius, who quotes him) as my historical counterpart, not Appelles.

    Works-based salvation has always been rejected by the true church. Who here has once “insisted good works were to be joined with faith in Christ for hope of salvation.”? No one. What has been asserted is the Scriptural teaching that saving faith in Christ will always bear the marks of a redeemed life, among which the fruit of the Spirit is one. Rome insists what Appelles insists. The church stands on Sola Fide, but true saving faith never stands alone, there is a false presumption of “faith” so-called that is merely outward and fleshy which damns (Matt. 7:23).

    If someone preaches a false gospel, I can absolutely guarantee you that the preacher will get fewer regenerated, saved converts than if that same preached had preached the true gospel. Presumably, he won’t get ANY.

    I’m against a false Gospel as it is an abomination, but God will save all His people from the ends of the earth.

    Speaking of which, A. W. Pink is telling people to stop sinning in order to get saved, and saying that all the believing in the world will make no difference. That is not the gospel. Simply appealing to a fatalistic Calvinist perspective cannot diminish his crime.

    That’s a pretty strong accusation. Where does Pink say that exactly? And what is a “fatalistic Calvinistic perspective”?

    Anyway back to the point, a false profession of faith based on an emotional experience, or a shallow intellectual assent to a few bits of Biblical truth has created vastly more false converts than any of the cults, probably than all of the cults combined. Sadly many of today’s so-called churches are brimming with goats and tares who regularly and happily come to have their ears tickled and their consciences soothed by many so-called preachers who are more than happy to service their clientele for pay, and tell them that everything is just fine. Even more sadly such people may rarely, if ever, be confronted with the truth of the Gospel, and the entire counsel of God and be challenged to examine their shallow, empty professions of “faith” in the light of Scripture, and unfortunately many will be cast into outer darkness at the last day (Matt. 7:22-27; Luke 6:46). This is why it’s loving to call people to true saving faith in Christ, that they might know the truth, and the truth will set them free.

    In Christ,
    CD

    There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” – Luke 13:1-5

    Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” – Luke 15:10

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