What to do when you don’t have a good biblical argument?

30 09 2009


Recently I was “corresponding” with a man who goes by the handle “fractal fire” on You Tube.  The subject was a video called “Stop sinning and walk holy! by a false teacher named “Open Air Preacher.”

I’ve implored both Fractal and OAP to provide more than assertions for their position of “sinless Christianity” but they refuse.

The following is what Fractal Fires believes is a solid response to the proper interpretation of John 15:6; the vine and the branches.

JESUS said, ‘go, and sin no more’
and again, ‘Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.’
Again, my MASTER said, ‘ Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.’
You don’t take Jesus seriously, so I am not upset that you don’t take me seriously either, lol.
Romans 8 says nothing about Paul’s inability to stop sinning. Your mouth is a toilet of sin! Your brain runs with satanic diarrhea!
Sin is your master because you sin.

As you can see; there is nothing of substance there; only insults and proof texting.

As a contrast I’d like to offer a solid interpretation of John 15; the vine and the branches from Dr. John MacArthur:

The fifteenth chapter of John is one of the most important chapters in all the Bible. However it is at the same time a very difficult chapter because of some interpretive problems. This classic chapter contains one of the most meaningful allegories in the Bible. It is another one of those great “I am” passages recorded by John that points to the deity of Jesus Christ. The foundational principles for living the Christian life–abiding in Christ and bearing fruit–are recorded in this chapter and elucidated in the New Testament epistles.

A. Presenting the Problem

We’re going to begin with a basic interpretation of the various features of this allegory of a vine, its branches, and the one who cares for the vine. The key to the passage is the identification of the branches. There are two groups of branches in the passage: ones that bear fruit (vv. 2, 8), and ones that do not (vv. 2, 6). The branches that bear fruit are obviously Christians. The branches that do not bear fruit are not easily identified. Are they Christians or non-Christians? If they are Christians, why are they thrown into the fire and burned? Does that mean Christians can lose their salvation and perish, or that they are chastised for not bearing fruit? I believe the Word of God clearly identifies the fruitless branches, as we will see when we compare other passages with John 15.

B. Setting the Scene

1. The context

The events recorded in John 15 takes place on the night before the death of Jesus while He is speaking with His disciples. The context of the passage might cause us to wonder why Jesus used this allegory. I believe the thoughts of Jesus on that night involved what was happening among the group of disciples that He was with. There was a drama going on that night among the eleven men who sat with Him. The whole fourteenth chapter records that Christ spent His time comforting His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion. He knew He was going to be separated from the Father when He died the next day. Jesus also was aware that Judas, who had already been dismissed from the room, was plotting His betrayal. Jesus was thinking about all the characters involved in that final night’s drama: the eleven disciples and the Father, who loved Him; and Judas, who did not. Consequently, I believe that the key to understanding the allegory in John 15 is related to the characters in the drama. Since Jesus claims to be the vine, and identifies the vinedresser as the Father, it is reasonable to conclude that the branches that bear fruit would be the eleven true disciples and the branches that do not bear fruit refer to Judas and any others who were never true disciples to begin with.

2. The cleansing

In John 13:10, Jesus said, “He that is washed needeth not except to wash his feet.” Once you’ve been spiritually cleansed, or saved, you need only a little foot-washing periodically–a reference to the continuing forgiveness of God. You don’t need to take the major bath of salvation again. Jesus then told His disciples, “Ye are clean, but not all of you. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean” (vv. 10-11). Jesus was well aware of a distinction among His own disciples regarding their salvation: the contrast between Judas and the eleven. I believe that contrast is carried into the fifteenth chapter, where Jesus talks about the two kinds of branches. All the disciples had contact with Jesus for roughly the same amount of time. Although Judas appeared to have been a believer and even had the privileged responsibility of maintaining the funds for the disciples, he was a branch that never bore fruit. God finally removed him from the vine to experience the eternal burning of hell.

3. The controversy

Some people would conclude that Judas lost his salvation, and that if any Christian fails to bear fruit, he also will lose his salvation. However, John 10:28 says, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” The Word of God is absolutely clear about the security of salvation. In John 6:37, Jesus said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.” In chapter 17, He told the Father, “Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition” (v. 12). Those statements reveal that Jesus was not talking about a true believer who stops bearing fruit and loses his salvation. Rather, he is talking about a Judas-type of believer who is superficially attached to the vine, but never receives spiritual nourishment from it. Judas had a superficial relationship with Jesus, but he willingly walked away from that relationship and into the judicial condemnation of God. It seems natural that the allegory of the vine and the branches would come out of Christ’s intimate talk with the eleven disciples who believed in Him.

4. The contrast

In the upper room, Jesus talked with the disciples about branches that do not bear fruit and are taken away and burned, referring to men like Judas. There are people today who similarly stand in close connection with Jesus Christ, but are apostates and doomed to an eternal hell. They may attend church and go through some religious exercises, thinking that their superficial connection to Jesus Christ is sufficient for salvation. But they are not legitimate believers. On the other hand, the eleven disciples and all like them who truly abide in Christ show the reality of their faith by the fruit they bear. That contrast between true and false disciples is common in the gospel of John.

I. THE VINE (v. 1a)

“I am the true vine”

In speaking to the eleven remaining disciples in the upper room, Jesus chose the metaphor of a vine because of its manifold significance. A vine planted in the ground speaks of the humility of One who came in the form of a man planted in the earth. The figure of a vine pictures an intimate union with branches that are totally dependent upon it. A vine is a classic illustration for showing fruit-bearing as evidence of spiritual productivity.

A. Its Illustration in the Old Testament

Israel was identified as God’s vine in the Old Testament. God was “the husbandman” (John 15:1; KJV) who operated through His people. He cared for Israel, cutting off branches that were not bearing fruit. Although faith was necessary for salvation, just being Jewish brought great blessing. Isaiah 5:1-7 illustrates that: “Now will I sing to my well-beloved [God] a song of my beloved touching his vineyard [Israel]. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill. And he dug it, and gathered out the stones, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress in it; and he looked for it to bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, between me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Why, when I looked for it to bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now, I tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be eaten up; break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. And I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned, nor digged, but there shall come up briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.” Israel forfeited God’s blessing by its failure to bear fruit. The nation even experienced God’s judgment by being taken captive by other nations for having failed to bear fruit.

The vine had become so much a symbol of Israel that it appeared on coins minted during the Maccabean period, which was between been the Old and New Testaments. During the time of Christ, Herod’s Temple had a tremendous vine on it overlaid with gold that some have estimated was worth $12,000,000. Israel had always been God’s vine, but it had become unproductive, so a new vine was established.

B. Its Realization in the New Testament

No longer would a man receive blessing through a covenant relationship to Israel, but through the new vine, who is Christ. With the coming of the New Covenant established by Christ, a man would have to be intimately connected to Jesus Christ to receive spiritual life and bear fruit.

The word “true” (Gk. alethinos) is used here in the sense of “eternal,” “heavenly,” or “divine,” a common usage in Scripture. (That means Christ is the perfect heavenly reality of which Israel was a prophetic picture in the Old Testament.) Israel was a type of God’s messianic servant and Jesus Christ was the fulfillment (Isa. 41:8-9; 53:11). Hebrews 8:2 speaks of “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man,” showing the contrast between an earthly picture and the spiritual reality. The Lord has planted Christ as the perfect vine. All that could possibly be symbolized in a vine comes to fulfillment in Christ. Perhaps that is why Paul said in Colossians 2:7 that Christians are “rooted and built up in him.”

Christ is the true vine in the sense that He is “the true Light” (John 1:9). There have been many times when God revealed His truth before, but Christ is its perfect revelation. All that could be conceived in the concept of spiritual light is realized in Christ. He is the highest essence of spiritual light, as opposed to physical light and to believers, who are lights in the world (Matt. 5:14). Similarly, Jesus called Himself the “true bread” (John 6:35). The physical sustenance of the Israelites by the manna in the desert (v. 31) was a type of Christ. So all that the metaphor of a vine could possibly claim of spiritual value is true of Jesus Christ.

What is your vine?

It’s amazing how many people who claim to be Christians have other vines in their lives from which they seek their resources. I have tried to determine if there are any other vines than Christ in my life. Ask yourself, “How many things do I attach myself to for my well being? Some people think their vine is their bank account, education, sexual relationships, popularity, skills, connections, possessions, or social relationships. Some people even think the church is their vine. They attach themselves to a system of religion. But their vine should be Jesus Christ, not the church. Merely attending a church is not necessarily evidence of a vine- branch relationship. In fact, it can be a parasitic relationship–          sometimes people are like parasites because they attend church only for what it will do for them. You as a branch must grow with Christ as your vine. Not even a Bible-study group or a church can be a substitute for Jesus Christ as your sustenance for living.

Israel was the vine of the Old Testament, but Christ is the vine in the New Testament. Israel, however, was usually referred to as a degenerate vine. By a marvelous contrast, Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). He is a vine that will never wither–the kind of vine I want to be attached to.


“My Father is the vinedresser.”

A. The Analogy of a Farmer

The vinedresser was the one who cared for the vines in a vineyard. As a farmer, he was responsible to cut off the branches that bore no fruit because they tended to sap the energy from the fruit- bearing branches. That increased the productivity of the other branches. The vinedresser also constantly pruned the branches that could bear fruit to enable the vine to concentrate its energy on maturing so that it could bear more fruit. Verse 2 says the Father as the vinedresser purges the vine “that it may bring forth more fruit.” Verse 8 tells us He wants the branches to “bear much fruit.” The one who cared for the vine chopped off the branches that bore no fruit and threw them away. The vine’s soft wood made it useless–it couldn’t even be burned as firewood. Therefore, the branches of the vine were thrown away and consumed in a bonfire.

B. The Application to the Father

1. His work of punishing

The Father “taketh away” the branches that fail to bear fruit. Verse 2 doesn’t say He fixes them up; it says He cuts them off. Verse 6 says that those branches are gathered, thrown into a pile, and burned. The Father deals with them with finality. Now if that refers to a Christian, we’ve got some problems. I believe that the fruitless branches refer to people who profess to have a relationship to Jesus Christ–who apparently are in the vine as a follower of Christ–but are like Judas and have never been saved. That is obvious because they never bear spiritual fruit. At a certain point in the Father’s timing, the fruitless branches are cut off for the life and health of the vine and the other branches. Professing Christians who aren’t really saved and therefore don’t bear fruit will be cast away and burned in an act of divine punishment.

2. His work of pruning

The second work of the Father in verse 2 is to purge “every branch that beareth fruit.” That phrase refers to the true Christian. The Father has some work to do on Christians also. But it’s not a final work; it’s the continuing work of purging. The word purge means “to cleanse” or “to prune” in the context of the allegory of a vine. The Father purges or prunes a branch that bears fruit (a Christian) so that it might bear more fruit (become spiritually mature).


The branches on the vine grow rapidly. They must be tended to carefully, which requires drastic pruning on a regular basis. To have a fruitful vine, a vinedresser must cut off the fruitless branches for the sake of the vine’s health and productivity. He must also carefully prune away all the shoots and other things that gather on the fruit-bearing branches that tend to sap the strength of the vine. Jesus said that some of His followers are like branches who bear fruit but need to be pruned. Others are like branches that don’t bear fruit and are ultimately eliminated by being cast them into a fire.

A. The Professing Branches (v. 2a)

“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away.”

1. The lacking requirement

I believe a fruitless branch cannot represent a Christian because there is fruit in every Christian’s life. With some Christians you’ve got to look a long time to find a couple of lingering grapes, but there will be fruit in their lives. The       essence of new life in Christ is its productivity.

a) Ephesians 2:10–“We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” The fruit of salvation is good works.

b) James 2:17, 22–“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead” (v. 17). A life that has no evidence of fruitful works does not have an active faith. Legitimate saving faith is productive, even if it’s only in a minimal sense. Verse 22 says, “Seest thou how faith wrought with [Abraham’s] works, and by works was faith made perfect?” That doesn’t mean you’re saved by works; it means your works are the end product or evidence of salvation.

c) Matthew 7:16-17, 20–“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit …. Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.” The attitudes and actions of a person reveal whether an individual is a believer or not. There is no such thing as a believer who doesn’t bring forth some good fruit.

d)Matthew 12:33–“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit.”

e) Matthew 3:7-8–“When [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth, therefore, fruits befitting repentance”–that is, fruits that are connected with salvation.

f) Romans 6:20-22–“When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things of which ye are now ashamed?” (v. 21). The implied answer is none, because they weren’t saved. And fruit they had was the fruit of sin. The contrast comes in verse 22: “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” Every believer has everlasting life, which is the culmination of a righteous life. Therefore, people who don’t bear fruit cannot be believers.

2. The limited relationship

There are two words in verse 2 that seem to contradict what I’ve just said: “in me.” That sounds like the people who don’t bear fruit are Christians because of their association with Christ. But I don’t think they are, and a few scriptural illustrations will show why.

a) Luke 8:18–“Take heed, therefore, how ye hear; for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and to whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.” Some relationships to Christ are in appearance only.

b) Romans 11:20–Paul pictured Israel as an olive tree. However some of the branches of that tree weren’t saved. God broke off the branches that weren’t connected to the tree and deriving their life from it. Verse 20 says, “Because of unbelief they were broken off.” The branches in the vine of John 15 present the same analogy.

c) 1 John 2:19–“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” An individual can apparently seem connected to Jesus Christ, but, in fact, not be connected at all.

The apostle Paul warns against being superficially attached to Christ. If you come to church merely out of a superficial allegiance to Jesus Christ, heed Paul’s warning: “Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove yourselves. Know ye not yourselves how Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are discredited?” (2 Cor. 13:5). He exhorts us to check our lives to make sure our salvation is real. It’s a stern warning!

Were the branches to be burned once believers?

Jesus is talking about two kinds of branches: the branches that are true disciples, and the Judas branches–ones that hang around Him with a facade of faith. The latter appear to believe because they are superficially attached. When the Father removes them, they are never able to come back. People who say the branches that are burned refer to Christians, put themselves in a very difficult position. The burning of the branches would seem to imply that if you lost your salvation, you could never get it back again. People who believe that support it with Hebrews 6:6, which says it’s impossible “to renew [those who have fallen away] again unto repentance.” However, people who hold to such a position often think they can be saved more than once. But according to every passage that talks about falling away, there is no chance to come back in faith. Actually, those passages refer to apostates who superficially attach themselves to Christ, yet who were never real to begin with.

B. The Possessing Branches (vv. 2b-3)

1. The intention of pruning (v. 2b)

“Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

Every believer in Christ gets purged because “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb. 12:6). If you can look at your problems as a divine procedure for becoming more fruitful, you might even be tempted to pray for trouble! (I haven’t started doing that, but I could!) The Greek word translated “purgeth” (kathairo) means “to clean.” Although it was used in only one other place in the New Testament, extra-biblical Greek literature used it to refer to cleansing corn (separating the corn from the waste material), and cleansing the soil of weeds before planting a crop. Using that word, the first century Jewish philosopher    Philo said the superfluous shoots that grow on plants are a great injury to the genuine shoots, which the vinedresser cleanses (kathairo) by pruning.

In the case of spiritual pruning, the Father removes things like sin or worldly distractions that would hinder our fruit- bearing because He wants us to operate at maximum capacity. Suffering is one of the best methods of purging. It has a way of cleaning out the life whose growth has been stunted. Although spiritual pruning can be painful and may not seem to be necessary from our perspective, the Father knows what He is doing. His valuable lessons of suffering can identify what is not necessary in our lives and needs to be removed. The Father’s pruning may take the form of sickness, hardship, loss of material goods, slander and persecution, loss of loved ones, grief in relationships, or war. God ordained troubles to prune off the things in our lives that drain away our energy and rob us of our capacity to bear fruit. But it is wonderful to know that the Father cares that we bear much fruit. Don’t think God is up in heaven snapping a big whip and saying, “Bear fruit, or I’ll get you!” No. He is carefully helping us to bear fruit. Aren’t you glad that God is involved in your life for that purpose? Do you look at your trials like that, or do you fall into lapses of self-pity, fear, or complaining? But if you realize that God desires to increase your productivity, then the pruning process can be a joyful experience.

Hebrews 12 says, “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?… For they verily for a few days chasteneth us after their own pleasure, but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (vv. 7, 10). We are purged by God that we might partake of His holiness. The divine pruning knife may hurt a little bit, but it is worth it.

2. The instrument of pruning (v. 3)

“Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”

What is the Father’s knife?  Although He may use things like suffering in the purging process, I think the divine pruning instrument is the Word of God. Jesus told the disciples that they were spiritually purged, or cleansed, through “the word.” Affliction is only the handle of the knife where God gets His grip. Have you ever noticed how much more sensitive you are to the Word of God when you’re in trouble? The Spirit of God applies Scripture to your heart in adversity. Trouble opens our eyes to receive the divine surgery performed by the Word. A trial puts pressure on us and helps us to develop spiritual muscles, but the Word is “the two-edged sword” that does the cutting (Heb. 4:12). Spurgeon, the great nineteenth century English preacher, said this: “It is the Word that prunes the Christian, it is the truth that purges him, the Scripture made living and powerful by the Holy Spirit–effectually cleanses the Christian. Affliction is the handle of the knife– affliction is the grindstone that sharpens the Word–affliction is the dresser that removes our soft garments and lays bear the diseased flesh, so that the surgeon’s knife may get at it– affliction merely makes us ready to feel the Word–but the true pruner is the Word, in the hand of the Great Vinedresser.” (MOODY: WE CAN’T DOCUMENT THIS.)

When Jesus told those disciples who were the true branches that they had been cleansed through the Word, He was indicating that their initial salvation came through the Word. Similarly, their continual pruning would be done by the Word as well. When you’re being afflicted you focus more on the Word and see how it applies to you. As you experience affliction, the Word cuts away hindrances to your spiritual growth.

Are you aware of the Father’s purpose in pruning you? Do you know what’s going on in your life when you have trouble? God’s purpose in pruning is so you will bear more fruit. Are you a fruit-bearing branch–a real believer? Or are you superficially just hanging on to Christ? If so, you’re in great danger of hell because some day the Father will remove you. I hope you know your only source of life is the true Vine, which is Jesus Christ.

And speaking of God…

25 09 2009

A brother and I were discussing a passage of scripture this week and we were just marveling at God’s mercy and love toward us. That got me to thinking about what God’s attributes are. As I was trying to articulate them, I remembered the Westminster Confession. I’m grateful to attend a church that is “Confessional” which is to say we “confess” (that we agree with) the Westminster confession of faith. It’s a document that was commissioned by the English parliament during the English Civil War (1642-1649) and used in the American Colonies.

The Westminster Confession was adopted by the delegates of the Congregational Churches of New England in 1648. It was their common declaration of faith. I’m thankful that God gave us these great men of faith who penned this particular document.

With that mini-history lesson finished; I’ll get right to the text of the confession itself. (I’ve deleted the scripture references; there were pages of them just for this section.)

From the Westminster Confession:

Chapter II

Of God, and of the Holy Trinity

  1. There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions;  immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
  1. God has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things; and has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleases. In His sight all things are open and manifest, His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.

And to that I shout a hearty Soli Deo Gloria!

Time to play “Spot the Heretic”

23 09 2009

So once again we’re here to play the game: “Spot the Heretic!”

Come with me as we meet our players….

On the left we have; Michael Markley! He calls himself “Open Air Preacher”

He’s a heresy spewing itinerant preacher who claims to have stopped sinning. He’s even made a video about it that you’ll see below! It’s titled “how to stop sinning and walk holy.”

Let’s hear it for Open Air Prrrreacher!!

On the right we have Paul, formerly of Tarsus! He was converted by none other than Jesus himself…knocked off his feet, and blinded!’

He’s the author of a few letters you might have heard of: Romans, Colossians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Timothy, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Titus.

Let’s hear it for Paaauuuullllll….!

So here is how we play the game; we present the statements of the players and let you; the reader decide just who is the heretic and who is “rightly dividing the word of God!”

Here we go:

Now…that was pretty good…but Paul has yet to go…

Paul…what do you have to say about a Christian’s ability to stop sinning?

But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 7:8–8:1, ESV)

Ok! Paul, that was very authoritative…and I see you got that out of the word of God…nicely done.

So..who’s it gonna be?

Open Air Preacher who claims to have overcome sin, or Paul who battles sin daily and does what he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do what he knows he should?

You make the call…

Christian-Mormon Debate…part 3 of 3

19 09 2009

Christian-Mormon Debate…part 2 of 3

19 09 2009

Christian-Mormon Debate…part 1 of 3

19 09 2009

From Shawn McCraney over at  Born again Mormon…he speaks with an LDS member about various issues. I don’t want to give too much away but this speaks volumes about the LDS mindset.

The Empty Hand of Faith

16 09 2009

This is the text from a tract I got over at AOmin. I thought that it was so well written that I’d share it with you. Even if you are already saved, these are words that are important to remember.

The Empty Hand of Faith

“Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness . . . For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants.”

—Romans 4:4-5, 16

“That I may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”

—Philippians 3:9

“Faith is chosen by God to be the receiver of salvation, because it does not pretend to create salvation, nor to help in it, but it is content humbly to receive it. Faith is the tongue that begs pardon, the hand which receives it, and the eye which sees it; but it is not the price which buys it. Faith never makes herself her own plea, she rests all her argument upon the blood of Christ. She becomes a good servant to bring the riches of the Lord Jesus to the soul, because she acknowledges whence she drew them, and owns that grace alone entrusted her with them.”

—Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace

The single most amazing truth about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is this: it is all of grace. It is the work of God, not of man. It is the story of a powerful Savior who redeems His people, and He does so completely. It is about a sovereign God, a perfect Savior, and an accomplished redemption.

In the above quoted Scripture we hear the very message of life itself. We first hear about our inability: if we think we can “work” to gain something from God, we do not understand how truly lost we are. The one who works receives only his wages, not righteousness. But to the one who does not come to God with any idea of merit or earning, but instead trusts in the God who justifies the ungodly, that kind of faith is reckoned to him as righteousness. It is a faith that comes with empty hand, claiming nothing for itself, but seeking its all in Christ. This empty-handed faith is the kind of faith that results in a right standing with God.

Next we hear about God’s ability: since faith comes with empty hand, it finds in the grace of God all that it could ever need or want. God’s grace is powerful, and it brings full salvation to the soul of the person who despairs of anything other than free, unmerited grace. Grace cannot clasp the hand that carries within it ideas of merit, or good works, or any other kind of human addition to grace. “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6). God’s wondrous grace cannot be mixed with human merit. The hand that holds onto its own alleged goodness, or attempts to sneak in a merit here, a good work there, will not find the open hand of God’s grace. Only the empty hand fits into the powerful hand of grace. Only the person who finds in Christ his all-in-all will, in so finding, be made right with God. This is why the Scriptures say it is by faith so that it might be in accordance with grace: in God’s wisdom, he excludes man’s boasting by making salvation all of grace.

Finally, we see the certainty of salvation: because God saves by His all-powerful and undeserved mercy and grace, the promise of salvation is “guaranteed” or made firm and unmovable to everyone who extends that empty but believing hand to His all powerful and sovereign grace. If salvation was in the least bit dependent upon the sinner, the promise could never be thought of as firm and unmovable. But since faith brings no idea of self-worth with it, and since grace is by definition free and unmerited, then salvation itself is wholly the work of God (1 Corinthians 1:30-31), and hence it is certain, firm and can be “guaranteed.” Only salvation that is God’s work in its totality can fit this description.

My friend, do you have the kind of righteousness that Paul spoke of in Philippians 3:9, cited above? Or do you have a standing before God that is based upon what you do, rather than upon what Christ has done in your place? Can you understand why a true Christian cannot help but stand in wonder at these words: “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not impute to him” (Romans 4:8)? Have your sins been imputed to Christ, and His righteousness imputed to you by faith? Do you know what it means to have Christ not merely as Savior in name, but in fact, so that your entire trust is in Him and in nothing you can ever do? Can you honestly say you trust Him with your eternal destiny, and fully believe He carried your sins on the cross, and has given His righteousness to you, so that you can stand before the holy God? It is my prayer that if you cannot claim Christ in this way, you will give consideration to these truths, and God will be merciful toward you so as to grant you true faith to embrace His gospel. May God richly bless you as you seek His truth.

Remember this; or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is the channel of salvation as to forget the grace which is the fountain and source even of faith itself. Faith is the work of God’s grace in us. . .”No man comes to me,” says Jesus, “except the Father who sent me draws him.” So that faith, which is coming to Christ, is the result of divine drawing. Grace is the first and last moving cause of salvation; and faith, essential as it is, is only an important part of the machinery which grace employs. We are saved “through faith,” but salvation is “by grace.” Sound forth those words as with the archangel’s trumpet: “By grace are you saved.” What glad tidings for the undeserving!

—Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace