Identifying False Prophets (continued)
Untwisting a popular deception regarding faith and grace. (Aug 99)
1. One of the readers of www.onesalt.com sent me a letter in which he cited the following three paragraphs by an unspecified author. Who that particular author was isn't really important, because you've probably heard similar arguments being made by various TV preachers and perhaps even by your own preacher. These are the arguments that we shall examine in this article:
"Faith is a word with many meanings. It can mean faithfulness (Matthew 24:45). It can mean absolute trust, as shown by some of the people who came to Jesus for healing (Luke 7:2-10). It can mean confident hope (Hebrews 11:1). Or, as James points out, it can even mean a barren belief that does not result in good works (James 2:14-26). What does Paul mean when, in Romans, he speaks of saving faith?"
"We must be careful to understand faith as Paul uses the word, because he ties faith so closely to salvation. It is NOT something we must do in order to earn salvation-if that were true, then faith would be just one more work, and Paul clearly states that human works can never save us (Galatians 2:16). Instead, faith is a gift God gives us BECAUSE he is saving us (Ephesians 2:8). It is God's grace, not our faith, that saves us. In his mercy, however, when he saves us he gives us faith-a relationship with his Son that helps us become like him. Through the faith he gives us, he carries us from death into life (John 5:24)."
"Even in the Old Testament times grace, not works, was the basis of salvation. As Hebrews points out, "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (10:4). God intended for his people to look beyond the animal sacrifices to him, but all too often they, instead, put their confidence in fulfilling the requirements of the Law-that is, performing the required sacrifices. When Jesus triumphed over death, he cancelled the charges against us and opened the way to the Father (Colossians 2:12-15). Because he is merciful, he offers us faith. How tragic if we turn faith into a work and try to develop it on our own! We can never come to God through our own faith, any more that his Old Testament people could come through their own sacrifices. Instead, we must accept his gracious offer with thanksgiving and allow him to plant the seed of faith within us."
2. That sounds pretty convincing, doesn't it? The author has included several scriptural references to support those arguments. But then, as illustrated by the temptations of Jesus during his 40 days in the wilderness, "even the Devil can quote the scriptures." Furthermore, the authors' logic appears to be impeccable. But is it? Let's see what the New Testament REALLY says about these issues by taking a closer look at that author's arguments--one sentence at a time:
THE AUTHOR'S FIRST PARAGRAPH
2a. "Faith is a word with many meanings."
[That's true. According to www.dictionary.com, Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines the noun "faith" as follows:
1) Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting solely and implicitly on his authority and veracity; reliance on testimony.
2) The assent of the mind to the statement or proposition of another, on the ground of the manifest truth of what he utters; firm and earnest belief, on probable evidence of any kind, especially in regard to important moral truth. "Faith, that is, fidelity, -- the fealty of the finite will and understanding to the reason." --Coleridge.
3) (Theology) (a) The belief in the historic truthfulness of the Scripture narrative, and the supernatural origin of its teachings, sometimes called historical and speculative faith. (b) The belief in the facts and truth of the Scriptures, with a practical love of them; especially, that confiding and affectionate belief in the person and work of Christ, which affects the character and life, and makes a man a true Christian, -- called a practical, evangelical, or saving faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please him [God]." -Hebrews 9: 6. "The faith of the gospel is that emotion of the mind which is called ``trust'' or ``confidence'' exercised toward the moral character of God, and particularly of the Savior." --Dr. T. Dwight. "Faith is an affectionate, practical confidence in the "testimony of God." --J. Hawes.
4) That which is believed on any subject, whether in science, politics, or religion; especially (Theology), a system of religious belief of any kind; as, the Jewish or Mohammedan faith; and especially, the system of truth taught by Christ; as, the Christian faith; also, the creed or belief of a Christian society or church. "Which to believe of her, must be a faith that reason without miracle could never plant in me." --Shak. Now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. -- Galatians 1:23
5) Fidelity to one's promises, or allegiance to duty, or to a person honored and beloved; loyalty. "Children in whom is no faith." --Deuteronomy: 27:20. "Whose failing, while her faith to me remains, I should conceal." --Milton.
6) Word or honor pledged; promise given; fidelity; as, he violated his faith. "For you alone I broke me faith with injured Palamon." --Dryden.
7) Credibility or truth. [R.] "The faith of the foregoing narrative." --Mitford. Act of faith. See Auto-da-f['e]. Breach of faith, Confession of faith, etc. See under Breach, Confession, etc. Faith cure, a method or practice of treating diseases by prayer and the exercise of faith in God. In good faith, with perfect sincerity.
2b. "It can mean faithfulness (Matthew 24:45)"
Matthew 24:45 (NKJ), Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season?
[True. This corresponds to the "allegiance to duty" definition described in paragraph 2a.5) above.]
2c. "It can mean absolute trust, as shown by some of the people who came to Jesus for healing. (Luke 7:2-10)"
Luke 7:2-10 (NKJ), And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear to him, was sick and ready to die. So when he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to Him, pleading with Him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they begged Him earnestly, saying that the one for whom He should do this was deserving, "for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue." Then Jesus went with them. And when He was already not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying to Him, "Lord, do not trouble Yourself, for I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. "Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. "For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, "I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!" And those who were sent, returning to the house, found the servant well who had been sick.
[True. This corresponds to the "what is declared by another" definition of faith described in paragraph 2a.1) above and to the "firm and earnest belief" definition described in parapgraph 2a.2).]
2d. "It can mean confident hope. (Hebrews 11:1)"
Hebrews 11:1 (NKJ), Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
[True. This corresponds to the "firm and earnest belief" definition of faith described in paragraph 2a.2) and also to some extent the "belief in the facts and truth of the Scriptures" definition described in paragraph 2a.3).]
2e. "Or, as James points out, it can even mean a barren belief that does not result in good works. (James 2:14-26)"
James 2:14-26 (NKJ), What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-- and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
[Here is where the author begins to depart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a common propaganda tactic to start one's arguments which statements that are unquestionably true in order to get the audience into a "Yes, I agree" frame of mind before the deceptions begin. Here, the author contends that faith can mean "barren belief", which is misleading. It fact, that misleading definiton of "faith" is precisely the kind of deception that James was ridiculing in the reference which the author cited above (if the above translation had put the word "faith" within quotation marks, it would have more accurately portrayed the point that James was obviously attempting to make). If you seek and follow the truth relative to God's two most fundamental commandments (i.e., Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJ), " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."), then you will naturally end up doing good works for and with others whenever you reasonably can. You will also find that you are REALLY putting your faith in those two commandments rather than in national flags, H-bombs, or any of the other satanically inspired substitutes for God that have been devised by mankind over the past two thousand years. In effect, James is pointing out that such "barren belief" doesn't really qualify as being a true faith in God. Such "barren belief" doesn't really fit any of Webster's unabridged definitions of faith either. Those who claim to have "faith" in God and in the teachings of Jesus Christ while ignoring God's commandment to love their neighbors as themselves are in fact lying!]
2f. "What does Paul mean when, in Romans, he speaks of saving faith?"
[The author ends his first paragraph with a rhetorical question regarding the teaching of St. Paul. He doesn't really answer that question, but I will. By way of background, we must first consider how St. Paul himself viewed his own teachings:
1 Corinthians 9:13-23 (NKJ), Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void. For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
So, by attempting to "become all things to all men", St. Paul admits here that he had a tendency to overplay some points and to underplay others, depending on the background and values of the particular audience he was addressing. To get a truly balanced view of St. Paul's teachings, one needs to consider St. Paul's teachings as a whole, not just his teachings to any one particular audience. You'll see what I mean.]
THE AUTHOR'S SECOND PARAGRAPH
2g. "We must be careful to understand faith as Paul uses the word, because he ties faith so closely to salvation."
[OK. Here is where that author's "logic" begins to falter. He admits that St. Paul closely tied faith to salvation, but then he proceeds to quote excerpts from St. Paul's writings in an attempt to show that faith is NOT a prerequisite for God's salvation.]
2h. It [faith] is NOT something we must do in order to earn salvation--if that were true, then faith would be just one more work, and Paul clearly states that human works can never save us (Galatians 2:16)"
Galatians 2:16 (NKJ): ...knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
[Once again, the author is misleading his audience. For one thing, he has falsely expanded St. Paul's references to "works of the law" to mean "human works" in general. He has also taken St. Paul's words out of context in order to imply something quite different from the point that St. Paul was making. Let's reexamine the above cited quotation within the context in which it was made.
Galatians 2:14-21 (NKJ), But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain."
So, whereas the author contends that putting one's faith in God (including His commandment of love our neighbors as ourselves) is NOT a prerequisite for God's salvation, in this portion of Galatians, St Paul is clearly saying that it IS the putting one's faith in God, and in Christ, and in the teachings of Jesus Christ ("that we may be justified by faith in Christ") that enables us to partake in God's salvation. Simply following a set of man-made rules or "laws" is not enough, because as the Pharisees demonstrated, even if they did follow all those rules, they could still ignore God's commandment to love their neighbors and themselves and engage in ungodly activities such "devouring widows' houses" as Jesus mentioned in Matthew 23:14. So rather than supporting that author's contention that faith in God is not a prerequisite for salvation, St Paul is REALLY saying that faith in God IS a prerequisite, and he backs that up with one of the strongest expressions of faith that can be found anywhere in the Bible, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Like Jesus, St. Paul considered faith in God's guiding principles of truth and love to be the basis for everything he taught.]
2i. "Instead, faith is a gift God gives us BECAUSE he is saving us. (Ephesians 2:8)"
Ephesians 2:8 (NKJ), For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,).
[Now the author raises the issue of "grace." Let's take a minute to see how Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines the noun "grace."
1) The exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; disposition to benefit or serve another; favor bestowed or privilege conferred. "To bow and sue for grace with suppliant knee." --Milton.
2) (Theological) The divine favor toward man; the mercy of God, as distinguished from His justice; also, any benefits His mercy imparts; divine love or pardon; a state of acceptance with God; enjoyment of the divine favor. "And if by grace, then is it no more of works. -- Romans 6:6 "My grace is sufficient for thee." --2 Corinthians 12:9. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." --Romans 5: 20. "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand. --Romans 5:2
3) (Law) (a) The prerogative of mercy exercised by the executive, as pardon. (b) The same prerogative when exercised in the form of equitable relief through chancery.
4) Fortune; luck; -- used commonly with hard or sorry when it means misfortune. [Obs.] --Chaucer.
5) Inherent excellence; any endowment or characteristic fitted to win favor or confer pleasure or benefit. "He is complete in feature and in mind. With all good grace to grace a gentleman." --Shak. "I have formerly given the general character of Mr. Addison's style and manner as natural and unaffected, easy and polite, and full of those graces which a flowery imagination diffuses over writing." --Blair.
Let's also examine the context of the author's quote from Ephesians.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (NKJ), And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
So, as you can see from the context, it's clear that St. Paul's audience in this case was a group of people who had already put their faith in God, Jesus, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. St. Paul was praising them for their faithfulness, but he evidently didn't want his praise to make them so proud of themselves that they would stray from God's guidance. So he makes it clear that God's salvation is in fact a gift to those who follow His will. There was no way that any of them (or even St. Paul) could possibly justify such a gift based on their past conduct alone, because none of them were perfect. St Paul makes this point even clearer in:
Romans 3:19-28 (NKJ), Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
But author of those three paragraphs contends that:
2j. "It is God's grace, not our faith, that saves us."
[WOW! That one is a real WHOPPER! That author is "putting the cart before the horse", so to speak. Of course without God's grace we couldn't possibly be saved. It's a given; it's an offer from God that anyone can accept at any time. But the fact that God is making such an offer does NOT necessarily mean that we will all be automatically be saved! There are many who have not been partakers God's salvation and many others who probably won't be. What determines the difference? Well, as St. Paul concluded above, "a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (i.e. by faith in God, Christ, and in Jesus' teachings regarding the need to seek and follow God's two most fundamental commandments). It appears that this author is attempting to convince his audience that they don't need to concern themselves with putting their faith in God's guiding principles of truth and love.]
2k. "In his mercy, however, when he saves us he gives us faith--a relationship with his Son that helps us become like him."
[Now this author has become HIGHLY misleading! God created all of us with a "free will." We have to decide for ourselves to become like Jesus. This is the commitment symbolized by the sacrament of baptism (i.e. to purge the less-than-godly values from our hearts and minds by seeking and following His criteria of truth and love). As Jesus says in Revelation 3:20 (NKJ), "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."
It's true that the more we seek and follow God's two most fundamental commandments, the stronger our faith in those two commandments (and all that they represent) grows. So in that respect, our growing faith may be viewed as being "given to us" by God. But none of that will happen in one doesn't first make a commitment to seek and follow the truths one can perceive by following God's two most fundamental commandments.]
2l. Through the faith he gives us, he carries us from death into life. (John 5:24)"
John 5:24 (NKJ), "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."
[Let's examine further the context of that quote from the John.
John 5:15-32 (NJV), The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working." Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true."
So Jesus himself made it clear that he was seeking and following the will of God in much the same way as a son would follow the will of his father. Jesus' statement that "the hour is coming, AND NOW IS, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live..." appears to me to indicate that he was talking allegorically at that point. But if you prefer to interpret such statements "literally", it really makes no difference, as long as you follow God's will by following His two most fundamental commandments.]
THE AUTHOR'S THIRD PARAGRAPH
2m. Even in the Old Testament times grace, not works, was the basis of salvation.
[Most of the Levite priests described in the Old Testament would no doubt have disagreed with that statement. After all, they made their living by promising people that they could "save" themselves by offering animal sacrifices. In Genesis, the story of Abraham's demonstrated willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, shows that grace follows a demonstration of faith, not the other way around. Note that the author doesn't cite any Old Testament references to substantiate the above claim.]
2n. As Hebrews points out, "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" (Hebrews 10:4).
[That's true, but let's examine the context of that quote from Hebrews:
Hebrews 10:1-10 (NKJ), For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you had no pleasure. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come-- in the volume of the book it is written of Me-- to do Your will, O God.' " Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
With the invention of money, ancient priests no longer needed to rely on rituals involving animal sacrifices in order to make a living. For the Judeans, at least, such practices came to an end (for most practical purposes) in 70 AD when the Romans responded to a Jewish uprising by sacking Jerusalem and leveling Herod's Temple. After that, the Judean religious leaders who survived had to re-define what it meant to be a "Jew." Thus was born what later became known as "rabbinical Judaism" which incorporated some of Jesus' teachings without acknowledging that Jesus was the Christ or Messiah predicted by various Old Testament authors.]
So, continuing with that author's discourse,
2o. "God intended for his people to look beyond the animal sacrifices to him, but all too often they, instead, put their confidence in fulfilling the requirements of the Law--that is, performing the required sacrifices."
[OK. Let's see how that statement reads when we substitute "religious rituals" for lieu of animal sacrifices. "God intended for his people to look beyond religious rituals, but all too often they, instead, put their confidence in fulfilling the requirements of the Law--that is, performing religious rituals." Hey! What do you know? The basic idea behind that statement still rings true in today's world!]
2p. "When Jesus triumphed over death, he cancelled the charges against us and opened the way to the Father. (Colossians 2:12-15)"
Colossians 2:12-15 (NKJ), ...buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.).
[OK, but let's look at the context of this quotation as well.
Colossians 2:8-23 (NKJ), Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations--"Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
So St. Paul started out by warning his audience not to be fooled by those who used the "basic principles of the world" (i.e. "worldly criteria") rather than God's two most fundamental commandments, which were the basis for Christ's entire ministry on earth. Allegorically, the cross represents the intersection of God's guiding principles of truth and love. So just as Christ sacrificed his body on that cross, we are expected to sacrifice our own ungodly or worldly values and assumptions to that intersection of truth and love. By doing so, we become part of the "body of Christ" and in are in effect "living with" Jesus and God in our hearts and minds. In this way, we become partakers of God's salvation and eternal life.]
Then that authors says,
2q. "Because he is merciful, he offers us faith."
[Wrong! Because we put our faith in his guidance, God offers us grace and forgiveness. Once again, the author is attempting to con his audience into believing that the "cart goes before the horse."]
2r. "How tragic if we turn faith into a work and try to develop it on our own!"
[Now that author is clearly showing his satanic orientation. Evidently, like Satan, he doesn't want his audience to seek and follow the truth relative to God's two most fundamental commandments. If they were to do so, Satan would no longer have any influence over their thoughts and actions. Instead, he is attempting to convince his audience that faith in God's is a "freebie" that they can get without having to do much of anything. According to him, it would be "tragic" if one were to attempt to "develop" ones faith in God by seeking and following His guiding principles of truth and love. The truth is that such efforts would only be "tragic" for Satan, and perhaps some of his followers.]
2s. "We can never come to God through our own faith, any more that his Old Testament people could come through their own sacrifices."
[There you have it folks--a lesson from a course that can be appropriately entitled "Satanism 101." That lesson clearly serves the interests of Satan, not God. In paragraph 2h above, and again in paragraph 2r, the author implies that it is wrong to view faith as if it were merely "a work." But here he is boldly EQUATES faith with "works". Well, so much for this author's "impeccable logic." ]
2t. "Instead, we must accept his gracious offer with thanksgiving and allow him to plant the seed of faith within us."
[So now that author is implying that we should go on with our worldly lives and hope that some day God will plant a "seed of faith within us." Why would such an author go to this much trouble to satanically deceive his audience in this way? Perhaps it's because such ideological tactics have proven to be fairly profitable over the years. Apparently, there are many out there who are happy to send money to those who help them feel good by teaching an intellectual "something for nothing" kind of religion. In some ways, it's like the practices of those ancient religious leaders who taught that animal sacrifices were required for forgiveness of sins--except in today's world people send in checks rather than oxen.
And why would this author be so concerned about denigrating the importance of putting one's faith in God and the teachings of Jesus Christ? The answer to that is quite simple, actually. Anyone who DOES have faith in God's two most fundamental commandments and who thereby views that author's arguments from the point of view of those two commandments (as I have done in this article) can easily recognize that this author does not represent God at all, even if he does quote the scriptures here and there.]
3. Go back and re-read those three paragraphs at the beginning of this article. You'll see what I mean.
4. As I have pointed out in previous articles on www.onesalt.com, these are not mere "theological issues." Efforts by that author and others to divert peoples' attention AWAY from following God's two most fundamental commandments while falsely claiming to represent God have been ideologically contributing to the killing of MILLIONS of men, women, and children EACH YEAR (i.e. their lies are literally KILLING people by the millions)! As Jesus said in Matthew 15:11, it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth that defiles a man.
(one grain of salt)
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Last modified on Friday, May 03, 2002