Thursday, May 21, 2009

Come Unto Me, All Ye That Labor

The following is a response to an article entitled, "Keeping the Commandments and Enduring to the End" which quoted Matthew 11:28-30 after teaching that a person must "retain the remission of sins" by persistent obedience to the law and commandments of God. It cried for an answer.

Hi Ben, my name is Eli. I have a few comments about your article.

You quoted Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

When Jesus said this, the last thing in His mind was the L.D.S. plan of salvation. In fact, the gospel of Mormonism is not easy... it is impossible, giving no rest to those who follow it. Jesus really meant, "Come unto me and I will give you rest." However, in Mormonism, coming unto Jesus means work, work, work.

When a person comes to Jesus in Mormonism, they must come by a strict requirement of repentance and obedience; a person must be worthy to come to Jesus. Even the definition of faith in L.D.S. doctrine is: "Having such trust in Christ that we obey whatever he commands. There is no faith where there is no obedience." (Gospel Principles, p.118) Spencer Kimball said, "Faith involves doing everything we can." (Faith Precedes the Miracle, p.205) "We have to work at it." (ibid.) No rest here.

In Mormonism, a person must be worthy to be baptized. Repentance precedes all the blessings in the L.D.S. religion. Nothing comes for nothing, as you yourself have written. Joseph Smith taught: "All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins . . . shall be received by baptism into his church." (D&C Section 20:37) What is repentance? As taught by Smith himself and the L.D.S. Church, repentance is only repentance if there is a complete forsaking of sin. "By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them." (D&C 58:42-43) I know that you know this.

There is nothing easy about Mormonism. The opposite is true: Mormonism is impossible. The Jesus of Mormonism speaks with a soft, kind voice but asks for the impossible. He lays heavy burdens on men's shoulders which they are not able to carry.

And no Mormon can make an excuse, such as, "He knows I will fail." "He only asks me to try." "He knows I'm only human." The late President Spencer W. Kimball said concerning these excuses: "There is one crucial test of repentance. This is the abandonment of the sin... The saving power does not extend to him who merely wants to change his life... Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin... To 'try' is weak. To 'do the best I can' is not strong. We must do better than we can." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 163-165)

Kimball is not being untrue to Mormon Scripture. 1 Nephi 3:7 removes any excuse from people who say what the Lord asks is too hard, too difficult: "For I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." Therefore, whatever God commands He expects you to do, and you have no excuse for not doing it. Your best IS obedience. All that you can do IS all that God commands.

So the Mormon gospel isn't good news for sinners. Grace comes at a cost. Forgiveness requires work. The atonement cannot be received without repentance: "We accept Christ's atonement by repenting of our sins..." (Gospel Principles, p. 75) If you don't repent of all your sins, which even the Mormon Jesus said, "won't be easy, but it will be possible", then you haven't received the atonement and you are still lost and will perish in your sins.

Ben, have you repented of all your sins? If not, you have not accepted the atonement, your baptism is disqualified, and you will perish.

There is no excuse you can give, because the only reason you don't obey is because you don't exercise your free agency to obey, showing that you really have no faith, or real intent. As a Mormon, doesn't that concern you?

I've never met a Mormon who has repented. Mormons are trying to repent, but repentance isn't repentance until it's repentance. All Mormons are striving, not resting. The Jesus of Mormonism gives men a heavy yoke of labor which they continually fail to bear.

But the true Jesus of the Bible actually meant what He said when He said:

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

The true gospel of Jesus Christ liberates us from striving to earn the impossible. Christ actually frees us from our own work and labors. "For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works." (Hebrews 4:10) The good news of the gospel is that because we could not do any work for God (for all our righteousnesses are filthy rags in God's sight, Isaiah 64:6), Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross so that we could be fully forgiven and accepted by God through His shed blood and that alone. The New Testament teaches us that God promises eternal life freely to all those who simply receive Christ by faith. The moment a sinner believes on Christ alone, and ceases working, they are considered 100% righteous before God:

"Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted unto righteousness." (Romans 4:4-5)

Wow! That is rest! Christians have rested in the finished work of Christ for them and have to do no works at all for their justification (being made righteous before God). Now they are free to serve God with thanksgiving and joy, not for hire! They are fully forgiven by the blood of Jesus (Colossians 1:13-14). "Having forgiven you all trespasses." (Colossians 2:13) None of their sins are anymore counted against them (Romans 4:6-8)! Eternal life is theirs! No separation from Heavenly Father!

That is how much God truly loves. Consider this example: Suppose you have a house that is entirely unpainted. The house represents your righteousness, and to the extend that it is painted is the extend that you are righteous. God doesn't "love" you insofar that He gives you a paint brush and a paint-can so that you can get to work painting your house (as in Mormonism). He loves you so much that He paints the whole house for you! For Mormons, the atonement of Christ is a means to WORK. But for Christians, the atonement of Christ is a means to REST, just as the Bible says.

Ben, Mormonism does not offer rest. The forgiveness of your sins is solely dependent on your personal obedience day by day, as you yourself have written. You have to work to "retain" the forgiveness of sins! The true rest Jesus gives is final because it does not depend on our works but upon Christ alone. The righteousness that He gives by virtue of Himself is steadfast and unchanging. The day you come to Jesus is the day you will understand His rest.

Ben, I pray that you would become overwhelmed with the heavy burden of Mormonism, realize that you are a vile sinner who disobeys God, that you would cry out to the real Jesus for deliverance from hopeless striving, and come to understand that it is only through the shed blood of Christ alone that you can be right with God.

Sincerely yours,
With loving concern,
-Eli

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is off subject of your post.

I have a mormon boss. However, he is like no mormon I have come across. And I've met my fair share, I grew up mormon and my family is still strong in their beliefs. He is mormon yet very scientific in his thinking. And yet he backs up his scientific thinking with evidence from founders of the mormon church, particularly Joseph Smith.

He is fascinating to listen to, and I know I need to be careful of what i take in. I take in what he says but the parts I don't agree on I don't know how to refute. To be honest some things he brings up have good evidence behind them and I really don't know what to believe because being a new christian I haven't heard much of where to stand and the evidence behind why to stand there.

Anyway, I guess my question is this, are you yourself or someone you know knowledgeable of science (particularly anthropology, that's what he studied in school) yet grounded in the bible?

To give you a taste of what he is like this is his website: newtheorum.com

Eli said...

Hi Anon,

Being smart doesn't always make you right, in fact, you could have a genius mind and use it for a false and faulty cause. God has made foolish the wisdom of the world.

Mormons have come up with different ways to try and prove the historicity of Mormonism, but the cold hard facts remain that there is no proof whatsoever for what they claim. The Book of Mormon has countless scientific and historic errors in it; just do a search on Google because much has been written. There is plenty of materials out there for study.

If you want to study the history of the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, I recommend "No Man Knows My History" by Fawn Brodie. It is full of newspaper clippings from those days and family and friends involved. Quite shocking. The Mormon Church has a habit of retelling history the way they like to see it.

You could also watch a DVD called "DNA and the Book of Mormon" which disproves genetically that native Americans descended from the Jews, an absurd claim Mormons hold.

You can visit Utah Lighthouse Ministry www.utlm.org for top quality information on the origin of the Book of Mormon and the many changes it has seen in the last two-hundred years as well as other important LDS documents.

I encourage you to research Mormon theology as well, and you will be blown away by what you find. The average Mormon doesn't know what Mormonism really is, as their members are wisely encouraged not to study these things. Mormonism teaches that God was once a man, a sinner who was exalted, and that we too can become Gods. The believe that God lives on a planet called Kolob. They believe that Jesus is the brother of Satan. Think I'm making this up? Check it out for yourself. Mormon theology is entirely antithetical to the teaching of the Bible.

But the best thing for you to do as a new Christian is study the Bible, so that whenever something false comes up you'll know the truth from the error. John 8:3-32

God bless you,
-Eli

Micah and Katie said...

Loved the post braw! This year has been really special for me and discovering this important truth that God loves me so much that I can come to him before I am perfect. The verses are just popping out and now I'm not just like: "oh that's fluffy grace", the knowledge (bible memorization) that God isn't down on me all the time (rom 8) is actually helping me sin less!!! I'm like: "If God loves me this much, and I feel so full of Joy knowing that, why would I leave this for some crummy sin?". It's still tough of course and temptations abound, but really this truth is changing my life. I'm thinking that a lot of Christians are actually suffering from mormonistic theology, or maybe it's just built into us that when we fell guilty we think God must hate us. I don't know. NE-who, thanks for the post! Miss you dude! Micah

Eli said...

AMEN, brother! You put it so well! "The knowledge that God isn't down on me all the time is actually helping me sin less!!! I'm like: "If God loves me this much, and I feel so full of joy knowing that, why would I leave this for some crummy sin?!" Amen, Micah! That sums it up perfectly! Far from the accusation that people will sin worse by free grace, it actually is the greatest cause of victory! Romans 6:14.

Praise God. That is such a huge encouragement to hear you write this. It is so true that even many Christians are stuck toying with Mormon-like theology and are not living in the full blessing of the gospel (Eph. 1:3). It is often the "womb of error" that births the greatest revelations, I mean, being around Mormonism births the wonderful revelations of the true gospel.

Our natures are built legalistically, that's the natural man. We need the Spirit to enlighten our understanding so that we can live in the Spirit: which is living by the truths of God's grace in Christ.

MIss you too, Micah! Love you, brother!
-Eli

Jon said...

Best post in a while, Eli.

Chris Morris said...

Hi Eli. Thank you for this exhortation to cling to the finished work of the cross.

In part, I can, from experience, agree with you when you say, "The day you come to Jesus is the day you will understand His rest."

ricky earle said...

Great biblical truths brother Eli, I pray you are well in Utah!

Jesse Morrell said...

God offers us rest from the burden of sin. He doesn't offer us rest in sin, He offers us rest in holiness. The way of the transgressor is hard. I was so weary in my sin. I was a "worker" of iniquity. But Jesus saved me from my work. Jesus set me free from the burden of being a worker of iniquity.

Eli said...

So, Jesse, have you stopped sinning?

Jesse Morrell said...

As a general rule, I obey God. I do not usually sin. I make the daily choice not to sin.

You should spend more of your time attacking sin, not holiness. God has a problem with disobedience, not obedience.

Jesse Morrell said...

God does not offer us rest in sin. God offers us rest from sin. God does not offer us rest from holiness. God offers us rest in holiness.

I like what Wesley and Barnes said about Matthew 11:28:

"...rest from the guilt of sin by justification, and from the power of sin by sanctification." John Wesley

"There can be no doubt, however, that he meant here chiefly to address the poor, lost, ruined sinner: the man “burdened” with a consciousness of his transgressions, trembling at his danger, and seeking deliverance. For such there is relief. Christ tells them to come to him, to believe in him, and to trust him, and him only, for salvation. Doing this, he will give them rest - rest from their sins, from the alarms of conscience, from the terrors of the law, and from the fears of eternal death." Albert Barnes

Eli said...

As a general rule? That doesn't make the cut. The law requires perfect obedience or else it is not obedience at all. You have failed. You're just like the rest of us: unrighteous. The only difference is, you've fooled yourself into thinking your really righteous, a holy warrior of some kind, when all along you are self-righteous and deceived, and don't even know what you're talking about. Harsh? It must be.

Eli said...

John Gill on Matthew 11:28:

"Meaning, not these who are labouring in the service of sin and Satan, are laden with iniquity, and insensible of it: these are not weary of sin, nor burdened with it; not do they want or desire any rest for their souls; but such who groan, being burdened with the guilt of sin upon their consciences, and are pressed down with the unsupportable yoke of the law, and the load of human traditions; and have been labouring till they are weary, in order to obtain peace of conscience, and rest for their souls, by the observance of these things, but in vain. These are encouraged to come to him, lay down their burdens at his feet, look to, and lay hold by faith on his person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; when they should enjoy that true spiritual consolation, which could never be attained to by the works of the law."

Beautiful.

Chris Morris said...

Eli, thanks again for this reminder. I met you at UCLA in 2006, and it seems like you have learned a lot since then (I'm not implying you were immature before!). It is encouraging to see the Spirit working in and changing a fellow Christian. Keep resting in Him!

Jesse Morrell said...

Eli,

Of course I have sinned, and of course the law requires perfect obedience all of the time. We cannot be justified by our works because we have sinned in the past. But we can be justified by grace and mercy through Jesus Christ if we turn away from our sins.

Jesse Morrell said...

Justification by Works: A man is brought before a court accused of a crime. After providing evidence that he had not committed the crime, the court justifies him.

Justification by Grace: A man is brought before a court accused of a crime. Evidence is brought forth that he is guilty of the crime and deserves punishment. But He does not receive what He deserves, His punishment is set aside, He is pardoned.

God mercifully pardons (justifies by His grace) those who turn from their sins and trust in Jesus Christ.

Eli said...

So Jesse, have you turned away from your sins? What do you mean by that?

The Bible teaches justification BY FAITH, something you seem to know nothing about. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace." (Rom. 4:16) It isn't by turning away from your sins to get grace, that's an oxymoron. "And if by grace, then it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace." (Rom. 11:6)

God does not overlook sin, as you suggest. He caused His Son to die for our sins and to bear the punishment for our iniquity. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor. 5:21) It is only in this way that God can be just and justify the ungodly.

But according to your own view your lost, because you've never forsaken your sins, so therefore you aren't forgiven. However you try to explain it, it has to do with your working to save your own skin.

Anonymous said...

Praise God! The scriptures have shut Jesse's mouth. Pray that the scriptures also open his eyes.

A. W. Tozer said...

"Fundamental Christianity in our times is deeply influenced by that ancient enemy of righteousness, Antinomianism. The creed of the Antinomian is easily stated: We are saved by faith alone; works have no place in salvation; conduct is works, and is therefore of no importance. What we do cannot matter as long as we believe rightly. The divorce ... Read Morebetween creed and conduct is absolute and final. The question of sin is settled by the Cross; conduct is outside the circle of faith and cannot come between the believer and God. Such in brief, is the teaching of the Antinomian. And so fully has it permeated the Fundamental element in modern Christianity that it is accepted by the religious masses as the very truth of God. Antinomianism is the doctrine of grace carried by uncorrected logic to the point of absurdity. It takes the teaching of justification by faith and twists it into deformity." A. W. Tozer

Bible said...

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and TURN from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will FORGIVE their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

“Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions, so iniquity shall not be your ruin… Cast away from you all of your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die… For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves and live ye” (Ezekiel 18:30-32).

“wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved” (Jeremiah 4:14).

“Let the wicked FORSAKE his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and FORSAKETH them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

“REPENT therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be FORGIVEN thee” (Acts 8:22).

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent…. For the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38).

“Repent, ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3:19).

“Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).

“repentance to salvation…” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Eli said...

Very simple: Tozer is wrong.

And for the Scriptures you posted, you misunderstand them. Let me post a few which contradict your interpretation of them:


Rom 3:19 "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Rom 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Rom 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Rom 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Romans 3:19-28)

Rom 4:2 "For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
Rom 4:3 For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Rom 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Rom 4:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Rom 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." (Romans 4:2-8)

Rom 5:17 "For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Rom 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." (Romans 5:17-19)

Rom 10:3 "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Rom 10:5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
Rom 10:6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Rom 10:7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
Rom 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Rom 10:11 For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." (Romans 10:3-11)

"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." (Romans 11:6)

Eli said...

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Galatians 2:16)

Gal 3:6 "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
Gal 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Gal 3:8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
Gal 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Gal 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Gal 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
Gal 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them." (Galatians 3:6-12)

Gal 3:17 "And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
Gal 3:18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
Gal 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
Gal 3:20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
Gal 3:21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
Gal 3:22 But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
Gal 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
Gal 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
Gal 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:17-26)

Gal 5:2 "Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
Gal 5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Gal 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." (Galatians 5:2-5)

Chris Morris said...

Username 'Bible' might be misunderstanding Tozer. I have read Tozer and I think he believes that justification was attained 100% on the Cross. That quote might be saying that what Christians do actually does matter, possibly opposing the belief that if you believe the right things, you can do whatever they wanted. The answer is technically 'yes,' since your works don't affect your salvation status. But realistically, why would someone who has been set free from sin choose to live knee-deep in it?

I'm thinking we aren't understanding exactly what Tozer was saying. What do you all think?

Eli said...

Hi Chris,

True, and many preachers rightfully confront the abuses of the gospel which turn the grace of God into a license to sin. If Tozer meant it on that ground then I would be in full agreement with him. However, having read Tozer before, I've read things of his that I do disagree with that come dangerously close to, if not actually, error. I believe the word 'Antinomianism' is wrongly used by many, and that it is all those who would preach that men must obey the law to be saved (moral/ethical/ceremonial - there is only one law) are the real antinomians. I'm not necessarily saying Tozer is doing that, but he might be, and I know many who are.

I do agree with your comment, brother. Thank you for bringing in some clarification.

Love in Christ,
-Eli

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Anonymous said...

Eli,

Explain these verses for me:

“Let the wicked FORSAKE his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and FORSAKETH them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

“REPENT therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be FORGIVEN thee” (Acts 8:22).

Is it justification by works to say that a sinner must forsake wickedness to be pardoned by mercy? Or is it justification by works of the law to say that a sinner must repent of their wickedness in order to be forgiven? Because that is what these passages are saying.

You do not understand these passages because you do not understand the writings of Paul.

You interpret Paul in such a way that you make him contradict the rest of the Bible. Any interpretation of Paul, that contradicts the rest of the Scriptures, must be false.

Eli said...

Are you saying that there is no distinction between the old and the new covenants? That whatever the Old Testament says must also apply in the New Testament?

According to the Bible:

"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them, saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 31:31-32)

The new covenant is not according to the old one, which they broke. Israel did not keep the commandments of God (and neither do you), but God has made a new covenant that is not dependent on man's obedience to the law. Jesus' death establishes the new covenant for all those who believe. "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matt. 26:28)

I do not misunderstand Paul at all. There is no contradiction. I am crucified with Christ and so I no longer live. The law's demands are fulfilled in Christ: everything from its imperatives to its punishments, and so nothing is made void. Praise God for His salvation, that I, a sinner, could be accepted before God by His redemptive grace!

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that people got saved in the Old Testament by works, but people are saved in the New Testament by faith? Are you a dispensationalist? Paul said that Abraham was justified by faith. Therefore people are saved in both the Old and New Testament in the same way. Therefore passages that talk about the need to forsake sin in order to have mercy and pardon in the Old Testament also apply for the New Testament.

But even if only those in the Old Testmant were required to forsake their sin, and were therefore according to you saved by their works, what about this passage in the New Testament?

“REPENT therefore of this THY WICKEDNESS, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be FORGIVEN thee” (Acts 8:22).

He is told to repent of his sins in order to be forgiven. Was this salvation by works?

Anonymous said...

If your view was truly Biblical, you should be able to support it with other Scriptures, outside of the writings of Paul, but this you cannot do.

The Apostle Peter said that Paul’s writings would be twisted and were “hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).

The ministry of the Apostle Paul was specifically to call Gentiles to repentance. “But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all of the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20).

Eli said...

Dear Anonymous,

My friend, in all due respect, you haven't the slightest idea what Dispensationalism is, and for you to accuse me of being a Dispensationalist reveals your downright ignorance of the issues we are talking about. Your accusation is completely uninformed. Please try and understand before you accuse people of things. Though you may not believe me, I say that in love.

I am not a Dispensationalist. I believe in the gospel of the grace of God as revealed in the Scriptures of the apostles and the prophets. But one thing God says about his gospel, it is a "mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints" (Col. 1:26; also Rom. 16:25, 1 Cor. 2:7, Eph. 3:1-12) and as it is something that is hidden by God, it must also be something that is revealed by God through the Holy Spirit. "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14 in the context of the whole chapter). I do not claim to be wiser or smarter than anyone, but I can say only that the Lord has revealed His gospel to me, as He must reveal it to every person who will be saved (Matt. 16:17, 1 Cor. 2:12).

The gospel is a hidden mystery to the natural man. Everyone born into this world is a natural man. "Ye must be born again." (John 3:7) A Jew is born a natural man, though a Jew who reads the Old Testament sees that commands of God that he is under obligation to follow. All the law is summed up in loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself. The natural man sees that and understands that. There is no mystery there. He knows by his God-given conscience that that is what he is under obligation to do. And so he goes about doing it. He goes about establishing himself under the law. Natural men understand only this far. There life is bound by the natural law written on the heart, which tells them: If you do good you will be accepted. If you do wrong you will be rejected. This is how they understand life and live.

And such an understanding is not contrary to the old covenant. As you have rightly pointed out, the Bible makes demands upon our moral actions. This is where you are, Anonymous. You are a natural man. You see law in both the Old and the New Testament. You cannot but see law, for you are natural man. You are living by that basic instinct God gave you. But the spiritual reality is, you do not see. You are blind. You think that everything is okay. You do not realize that you are on your way to hell. You do not realize that all your righteousnesses are filthy rags. You do not realize that "they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (compare Rom. 8:8 and 7:4-6). You think that you are doing well, but you are lost. This was the condition of Paul before he was born again. He was natural man, though he was a religious man and thought he was keeping all the commandments (Phil. 3:3-9). It took the revelation of God to show to Paul what a miserable sinner he was who needed to be saved by grace (1 Tim. 1:14-16).

Eli said...

Your interpretation of Scripture misses the whole point. You are blind. Men must be saved by grace or they will never be saved at all. The covenant of works has thoroughly condemned all flesh - the whole world is guilty before God... no man living will be justified in the sight of God... there is none righteous, no not one! That includes men from every age and from every race. Men must be saved by grace - that is, they must be saved from the wrath of God which comes upon all those who break the law! They must be saved from the law, for under the law they will always fall short (Gal. 3:10-13, Rom. 3:19-22, 7:4,6, 8:1-4). We are delivered from the law by Christ's death, Who took our place and died in our stead that the demands of the law would be fulfilled in all those who believe. This is an incredible mystery that is absolute foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18-31).

I believe that men have always and ever been saved by GRACE, whether before Christ or after. Since the days of Adam, men believed the PROMISE that Messiah would come and save them from sin and death. They looked forward by faith and were justified. The law was ADDED 430 years after the PROMISE was given but it in no way disannuls the promise (Gal. 3:17) - it rather points and provokes us UNTO the PROMISE! "Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (Gal. 3:21-24) No man can be saved but by faith in what Jesus Christ did. From Abraham to John, we are all justified by FAITH! They looked forward to the cross; we look back to it.

So I am not a Dispensationalist, nor am I an Antinomian. I believe in one way of salvation for all men, and that way of salvation is the only way that truly upholds and magnifies the law of God without violating it in any way or making it void. The ironic thing is, all those who seek to be justified by the law actually kick it in the dirt and make it void (Rom. 2:23-25), and cause the cross of Christ to be made of none effect (Gal. 2:21, 5:2).

Anonymous, may God reveal to you how vile you are, how you are ignorantly disgracing God and His law with your presumptuous self-righteousness, and may God open your eyes to the most amazing mystery in the whole wide world, the mystery of the gospel of the grace of God.

God bless you,
-Eli

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that we are saved by grace. There is no doubt that we cannot be justified by the law, because we have all violated the law. The law can only condemn violators, it can never justify them. If violators are justified at all, it is only by grace and mercy. None of this is being questioned.

The question is whether or not God's grace is conditional upon repentance. It seems from many passages that God only justifies by His grace those who repent and believe. Forsaking sin comes before the forgiveness of sin. Forgiveness is by grace and mercy, but this is conditional upon both repentance and faith. The grace and mercy of God, made available by the cross of Christ, is received through repenting of sin and believing the Gospel.

Again, can you explain to me this verse?

“REPENT therefore of this THY WICKEDNESS, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be FORGIVEN thee” (Acts 8:22).

Your silence seems to indicate that you can't make this verse fit into your theology.

Can you explain it or should I say, "Praise God! The scriptures have shut Eli's mouth. Pray that the scriptures also open his eyes."

Chris Morris said...

Isn't there a chance that the Bible doesn't clearly explain the order and inner-workings of salvation in a single verse?

One says you must believe and repent, the other says you must believe.

Is it possible to truly believe without repenting? No. It's the same as explained in James. Faith without works is dead. If you don't have works, you have a dead faith. Your faith can't save you because it's not live. We are justified only by faith, but live faith is judged as such partially on the basis of evidence of that faith (works). If this is the case, then it doesn't necessarily mean repentance is technically required, though it will occur in every case of true belief.

Alan4JC said...

Anonymous, the only problem is the fact that you would interpret repent as "stop all you sins" and of course no one is arguing against the fact that one turns from sin to Christ. It is just your idea that you have to take an inventory of your life to see if you are worthy to receive grace, ie stopping all your sins before God will hear your cry. When you were in court and saw the mercy of God working at some point you said to God I am wretched please save me. You did not say I am wretched and I have stopped all my sins God so now I am worthy to be saved. Don't let your current doctrinal error ruin the testimony of the power of God in your life to save. Stop taking glory from God!

Eli said...

We are not disputing whether repentance must precede forgiveness. That is evident from many places in Scripture. For example: "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47) So there is no use in challenging me on the ground that I do not believe in repentance or that repentance is necessary. You can site Scriptures that state this and I will heartily agree. The issue is with our definition of repentance. We mean something different when we use the term. (I would also say that we mean something different when we use the terms "grace", "justify", "law" and "saved", etc.)

When we look at the case of Simon in Acts 8, we must note what the text is actually saying. I do not believe Simon was a Christian, even after he was baptized. This is evident not only by his behavior but by Peter's words to him in verses 20-23. Simon's heart was not right with God. However, the text specifically identifies his sin as trying to purchase the gift of God with money (v.20). He actually thought that a spiritual gift from heaven could be purchased with commodities on earth! This has traditionally been called the sin of 'Simony'. Peter rebukes him for this wicked thought, and states that he has no part nor lot in this matter. Anyone who thinks that God's gifts can be bought or received any way other than grace has no part with God. God will not accept a token - it would undermine His very purpose to be gracious! For then it would cease to be a GIFT.

"Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee." (v.22) What is "this thy wickedness"? It is specific. Peter is not telling Simon to abandon all known sin and proceed to keep the commandments of God. The apostle is telling Simon to repent of the wicked thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money. His behavior betrayed the fact that his heart was not right with God, that he was not saved, and that he needed to seek God for forgiveness - this particular sin included. That he needed forgiveness in an overall general sense, Peter reveals by saying: "I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." (v.23)

This passage no more teaches that men must stop all their sins to be saved than Genesis 1:26 teaches that there are many gods. It is actually a warning against anyone who would attempt to barter with God for spiritual gifts... and ironically, this applies to the similar scenario of offering to God one's moral commodities to earn the gift of eternal life. You cannot purchase the forgiveness of sins! That is the wicked thought that men must repent of! For it is by the blood of Jesus Christ alone that He has purchased for us eternal redemption, and we dare not add to it or take away from what He alone has already done. "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Heb. 9:12)

It would be nice if you could answer some of my questions sometimes, and the Scripture verses that I site. This is something you rarely do.

I also would challenge you to exposit whole books of the Bible and not just cherry-pick a single verses here and a single verse there out of context.

Anonymous said...

The Scriptures you posted are very simple. We cannot earn our salvation. Nothing we do can ever merit justification. We cannot be justified because we deserve it. We are justified by grace, unmerited favor.

When a sinner turns from their sins and turns to Christ, they still deserve hell. They do not deserve to be justified, because they have sinned. They do not deserve to go to heaven, they still deserve to go to hell. That is why those who repent of their sins and trust in Christ are justified by grace. God shows unmerited favor to those who change their mind about sinning and trust with all of their heart in the atonement of Jesus Christ.

We cannot "work" for salvation. If we could work for it, it would be a wage instead of grace. We do not have to go to work for salvation, in order to earn it or deserve it. Salvation is not a wage. Salvation is grace. There is no work that we need to do to be saved. We simply need to repent (a change of mind) and have faith (trust in Christ). Neither a change of mind (repentance) nor trusting in Christ (faith) are works, and neither of them earn or merit justification.