1st Corinthians 1:17b through the end of the chapter.

Dear Chris,

next part.

Your comments on my answer to the question of how do I understand 1:17b.

Before I start, let me give an overview of where I will be going.

I will seek to answer your points and questions, and raise some up for you.

If I miss anything, or if I am unclear, I will be glad to work those things out.

It seems to me that you have missed the flow of the Apostle’s thinking, even though you certainly did not miss him in many places. But it only takes one wrong step to head down the wrong path.

So my goal is to seek to explain where I see that misstep was. And I see it as not understanding that Paul is taking the Corinthians back to their Christian beginnings, to show them how they started and then he will build on that to show them how they should be living.

Now that idea, how we are to live out Jesus in our lives should start every day with the Gospel. So When you see sanctification in 1:18 through 2, you are right. Sanctification always starts and has its base the Gospel. For it is in the Gospel we learn how bankrupt we are, how we deserve nothing from God but condemnation, and yet how blessed we are by His love and mercy.

These truths bring us to both humility and joy with the result that we desire to walk in the Spirit.

Unless necessary I will only be quoting your replies to me.

You replied to me:

<<< I will wait to discuss chapter two when we get there. But think about this—I agree that Paul is talking about his preaching in 1:17 (that he doesn’t use the wisdom of men to preach the Gospel) and that since he didn’t use the wisdom of the world to preach to them–their faith rests on the Gospel (2:5). If 1:17 is about Paul’s preaching (not by the wisdom of men), by your own words then the parallel passage’s usage of the wisdom of men refers to what Paul did not preach and therefore not the hearers way of understanding. So I agree with you here. If this so, 2:5 is already cleared—which was the impetus of starting this study. To put it another way, I am not seeing you draw out of the passage the assumptions you are making about the individual has no part in relating to God—not in justification or in sanctification. Sanctification is the whole point of this letter. Why would a key aspect—maybe the summary of Paul’s opening and foundational points be about something else? >>>

Not so fast my friend.

You are not seeing it for at least one reason: I only gave you an overview. As to now, there are questions I have asked, and points I have made that you have not addressed.

Likewise we see two different ways Paul is talking about the usage of worldly wisdom. One way is in speech directed at others to persuade them. The other way it is used is in making decisions based on input received.

We read then:

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

And here we see the two ways. Communication requires a speaker and a listener. In the section of 1:17b through the end of 2, Paul is putting forth two types of people. The one type uses worldly wisdom to both speak and to listen. Or to teach and to learn. Or to persuade and decide. Paul declares he is not like those types speakers, or teachers, or persuaders for he doesn’t use that type of wisdom. But his audience, those he preaches to, in a sense, lives by that type of wisdom. That is how they listen, and learn, and grasp concepts. They do so by worldly wisdom. Except of course those God has called.

So Paul is not taking for granted what the Corinthians understand of his apostolic way, or at least he is reminding them, as we read in chapter 2: “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.” Most people are followers, as it stands to reason that it so. So within the Corinthian church, there were those who led like minded or weak minded people to embrace their own worldly wise understanding, and cling solely to Paul or Peter or Apollos. These men lead the others by speaking to them in a worldly wise way. And the followers decide to follow them by using their worldly wise way of discernment.

But be assured that Paul has both of these users of worldly wisdom in mind as he seeks to correct God’s people. Now why is that? Because both speakers and listeners were using worldly wisdom to live out church life. Now who is it that hears Paul preach and thinks the Gospel foolishness? Those whose are unsaved and thus those whose wisdom is worldly. To go back to the definition previously established: “This so-called wisdom views life from the limited viewpoint of this world rather than from heaven’s vantage point.”

Now Christians like you and I can slip into such thinking. That is why this letter is valuable to every believer. It tells us that we weren’t saved by that kind of preaching OR choosing, so we are wrong to walk in that kind of wisdom.

In every church or group there will be false teachers who are a step up in the ways of worldly wisdom and they use their persuasive powers to lead astray others who are not trained to think critically.

And right after 2:5 who does Paul immediately refer to:

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory…”

Paul immediately, even as he did in 1:17-18, juxtaposes his preaching on salvation with listeners who use worldly wisdom to interpret life.

How then can I say this except bluntly? The Word is telling us that there are people that hear the Gospel without the wisdom to properly grasp its significance. And that truth is in direct opposition, or better yet, is directly opposed by the doctrine of prevenient grace.

So the question looms large. If we start with PG, how do these unsaved, unbelievers, decide on whether to have faith in God or not, since the wisdom they possess is worldly?

I can’t prove a negative. But since my doctrine says that men don’t choose faith, but choose God because of faith, I have an answer on how unsaved unbelievers decide on whether they choose to follow Jesus as Lord or not. It depends on whether God has shown Himself to them or not, or whether or not they have experience the shining of God’s glory in the face of Jesus into their innermost being or not. With that understanding, I can ask why should we boast only on the Lord? And the answer is, that we boast only on the Lord because it is because of Him [and no other additional reason] that we are in Christ and saved in Him.

I can only imagine what hoops you might seek to jump through to make a way for PG enabled free choice to make the difference. But no matter how small you seek to make the difference be, the difference will always exist. You don’t deny that, and in fact you embrace that. And specifically that difference is that man apart from God but also in conjunction with God has to make the difference in his own destiny.

Now choice implies responsibility. Responsibility in making right choices implies wisdom. And in our passage from 1:17b through chapter 2, Paul is contrasting two types of wisdom: God’s versus the world’s. In this passage, when the world decides or chooses, they proclaim the Gospel foolishness and reject it, even killing the Gospel Man. But when speaking of Godly wisdom, the Word says God chooses. He chooses some over others, And that those He chooses or calls [synonymous in this passage] they are a people of faith who have Jesus as their wisdom.

And from this very base or foundation, that begun with their salvation, Paul moves on ahead to teach that people to reject the idea that they should be using worldly wisdom to live by since that is not how they were birthed. But because they were birthed by God who chose them and has given them Christ as their power and wisdom, so then should they walk in that way.

You:

<<< Up to this point I agree with what you say—not that I think Paul is exclusively talking about justification. But even in sanctification, what you said above is applicable.

So you agree that God is doing the choosing and God is doing the calling? And this applies to sanctification as well? Since you are going to go verse by verse, I will wait until then to dispute you on this.

You:

<< Paul does not say “that it is zero part man, but all God.” I really hope you don’t keep inserting your conclusion at every step of this process. Look at it this way. Paul says specific things. But in this passage he does not say what you said he said. You are inserting a theological position on the passage. One aspect, as is borne out in my discussion later on, is that this section is not a flat out description of the conversion experience. So unless you are saying here that not just in justification but also in sanctification that there is ‘zero part man’ “but all God’ than your analysis is off kilter on that point as well. If salvation includes all of justification, sanctification, and glorification, are you saying man has no part at all in any of it? Maybe you should begin by proving the passage here is limited to justification—see my notes below. >>>.

Isn’t your conclusion that Paul is talking about sanctification in 1:18 through 2:5? And yet you inserted your conclusion before you went through the verses. It seems a little hypocritical of you then to complain. From my vantage point you are inserting a theological position on the passage. And furthermore you are imposing your understanding of the passage onto my position. So since you are saying later on that this passage speaks to sanctification as well, then my analysis is off kilter since sanctification includes part man.

I do not mind correcting you on my position because that means I get to witness again to the truth God has laid on my heart. But you seem to get bent out of shape over such things when done to you, such things as you just did to me.

This passage is NOT talking about sanctification. There, that was easy (-:.

<<< I really did not follow your thoughts on how you understand 1:17b. I think my question was too vague, sorry. Let me spell out what I am looking for—and in doing so I can hopefully relay my understanding of your position and you can correct my thoughts where they have gone astray. It seems like the last paragraph on the parable of the sower/seeds is disjointed. So could you rewrite it with a little more clarity?.

Here I will quote that paragraph, and then try to make it clear.

+++++++++From a different writer, we can see this played out. In the parable of the soils, some received the word with gladness but fell away, the weeds and thorns choking out the life. There the cross of Christ, the word heard and received as made void. There wasn’t the power of God unto salvation. Many people ‘try’ Jesus and church, but fall away. They have a form of godliness, but not the power. But how is it that we have the power? How is it that we produce fruit? We have the power. We grasp the Gospel in our understanding, that it is not about our strength, but His, so we learn to lean on Him. It is not about how we think should be done, but about how God wants them done, so we turn to the Word and the Spirit. It is not about how good we are, but that we find our worth in Him and in His love for us.  ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In the parable of the soils, some received the Word with gladness, but the seed of life in them was overcome by the cares and concerns of the world. The question is why? In many people’s lives, they try church but they lose their commitment. What they have is not as strong as what the world has. And the world wins. Now we could say that they lost because they freely choose to lose, but that is not what the Scripture is saying. Who chooses cares and concerns or weeds and thorns over joy and peace? Not a person with wisdom, true wisdom that is. So this goes back to salvation and how it comes about. Does one believe because of their own choice or because they experienced God? Or if one has experienced God is he not enough to be of more value to a person than the cares and concerns of life? My answer is that those who experience God value Him above life. He is just that wonderful and awesome. And those who ‘try’ God can not value Him properly at all, and their human efforts to live for God will always fail.

Please understand that I am not judging anyone who chooses God. For all Christians chose to serve God. And all that experience Him value Him above life. But such esteem is both present and complete and yet grown into [sanctification]. God continues to heal us of our brokenness which resides in our minds and hearts and bodies. Our body being healed on that Day. What I am talking about is not the doctrinal disagreement between us but that which unites us in His Body. We have experienced God and continue to experience Him via the Spirit. Thus we highly value Him. We ascribe Him worthy of all glory.

But when those who ‘accept’ Jesus do so with worldly wisdom it renders the power of the cross void. They have no power unto salvation. They look back at their ‘Christian’ days and basically see the message as foolishness: “Been There, Tried That, Didn’t Work.” The seed never produced fruit because the ground of their life remained where it was before: walking in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. [Eph. 4]

And that is the condition of each person in the world UNLESS and UNTIL God shines His glory into their heart and saves them.

This is how I see you seeing this. The Gospel is preached and many people hear it. Most of them do not fully grasp its implications for it is not a plausible answer to the way they see life. For the Greeks the message of the cross seems like foolish talk, its value is hidden in darkness for Satan holds them captive; so they dismiss it. But for those God has chosen, he turns the light on and they see it for what it really is—and since they see it for what it really is they accept it, trust it—trust God—they believe and are justified. .

Well almost. Thanks for trying to get me right. You have the order wrong. Trust [faith] precedes acceptance. Acceptance is faith in action [believing]. It is a logical order, not a temporal order. I would say that faith and believing and accepting and justification happen basically simultaneously. To speak of it in a pictorial way, we might look at 2nd Cor. 4 to aid us: And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

So pictorially and thus using a series of pictures to show logical order.

1] Man is blind to the truth of the Gospel. He can’t see its glory. Or God’s.

2.] God shines Christ into the eyes of His heart.

3.] Man sees the glory of God in Jesus.

4.] Man has faith. [God has shown Himself trustworthy and man’s great need and His love for man in that need]

5.] Man in his belief believes by choosing: by accepting Jesus as Lord and confessing and repenting. God justifies.

Why does man believe? Because of his faith.

Why does man have faith? Because of God’s light shining.

Why is man justified? Because he believes.

For the unbeliever, the one perishing:

1.] He is blind to the glory of the Gospel.

2.] He rejects it.

Why does man reject the Gospel? Because he doesn’t believe it is valuable to him. He sees no glory for himself in it.

Why not? Because he is blind to its truths, its glory , and to the glory of God.

And while I am at it…

Why does man need the Gospel? Because he has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

Why does man sin? Because he chooses to act selfishly.

Why is man condemned? Because he sins, choosing to do wrong when he knows what is right.

In this sense, the cross of Christ is effective just as God designed it to be. Those who reject it do so because God has not chosen them—and those who accept it do so because God has chosen them. So whether the message of the cross is rejected or accepted—it is effective in its purpose (to push away the non-elect who think it foolish and to bring in the elect who now see it as the power of God). .

Here you swing and miss big. You confuse and mix things. Man is in a state of condemnation because he has chosen to do what he knows is wrong. That condemnation has nothing to do with the cross. Those who never hear the Gospel stand condemned for their sins. The purpose of the cross is never condemnation. Neither is condemnation ever the purpose of mercy. John 3 tells us: For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Unsaved man is already judged, before the cross, and even if the cross comes into their life.

If this is so—and this is what Paul believed, why would he ever make such a statement that if he, Paul, used cleverness of speech, or in other words, worldly wisdom, in trying to convert the elect, the cross of Christ would be make void? How is it made void if those who are chosen are saved and those who think it foolishness, the unchosen, reject it? Or in other words, sorry this is so long, what difference does it make how Paul preached it? Why is how he preached it—and we are defining this as initial salvation stuff and not the whole range of salvation coverage—make any difference to that internal revelation the elect person gets from God (who gives the grace and faith and the person perforce responds appropriately)? .

Let me break this down by question and/or point.

If this is so—and this is what Paul believed, why would he ever make such a statement that if he, Paul, used cleverness of speech, or in other words, worldly wisdom, in trying to convert the elect, the cross of Christ would be make void?.

For two reasons, at least. One is that false teachers and people using false Gospels use clever speech to seek to persuade men to trust in false gospels. The second is to give them and us an understanding of why the guy who was in the pew next to us stopped coming. It gives us information about the nature of salvation. The Gospel doesn’t appeal to the worldly wisdom a man has, but cleverness of speech does. But when the speaker gussies up the Gospel message with cleverness of speech and worldly wisdom, he changes the truth of it into a lie.

How is it made void if those who are chosen are saved and those who think it foolishness, the unchosen, reject it?.

Because the world sees how ineffective this so called Gospel [which they can’t discern from the true Gospel] is. And it fills up the churches with unbelievers masking as believers. Thus there is no power in that type of speech to save. So while the orator might use some of the same language, he is not preaching the Gospel.

It is made void in that situation. God will make it clear to those he is saving at the right time.

Or in other words, sorry this is so long, what difference does it make how Paul preached it? Why is how he preached it—and we are defining this as initial salvation stuff and not the whole range of salvation coverage—make any difference to that internal revelation the elect person gets from God (who gives the grace and faith and the person perforce responds appropriately)? ..

The grace that brings faith only comes when the Gospel is preached, not when it is improperly preached. The elect to be saved needs a sound word in order to ground his faith in the reality of his understanding.

And yes he responds perforce because he desires Jesus above all else. Another way of saying that is that since he believes in His heart in Jesus, he most willingly responds by confessing Him as Lord.

In my understanding, if what is taught is based on worldly wisdom, whether it is about justification or sanctification, it will have an insufficient base to make true changes in the life of the believer (since this whole letter is about sanctification). The changes we need are not based on our strength or being conformed to the world system (its wisdom). See Rom 12:1-2. We need to rely on the unworldly wisdom of our God and Savior choosing the cross as the method of our change—we too must die to ourselves (living sacrifices) to be transformed and serve God properly. We should treat others better than ourselves just as Christ Jesus modeled by leaving heaven and dying on the cross. Phil.2:1ff. To live a life of sacrifice by meeting the needs of others even at the expense of our own needs (love) is foolishness to the world. More to the point of 1 Cor.1-4, we should not boast about connections to “wise” leaders as the expense of other believers because we miss the whole point of holy loving living—as revealed in the rest of the letters to the Corinthians..

To break it down.

In my understanding, if what is taught is based on worldly wisdom, whether it is about justification or sanctification, it will have an insufficient base to make true changes in the life of the believer (since this whole letter is about sanctification). .

If the whole letter is about sanctification, then why did you mention justification at all? Of course the purpose of the letter is about sanctification, but there is two types of sanctification. One is the setting apart from the world and the other is the learning to be set apart from the world. The first deals with salvation and justification – being born again. The second deals with learning to walk as jesus did -being conformed to Him.

The second precedes the first. Paul begins in the beginning to show how the walk started and thus its base. From there he shows us how to keep walking in that same way.

More to the point of 1 Cor.1-4, we should not boast about connections to “wise” leaders as the expense of other believers because we miss the whole point of holy loving living—as revealed in the rest of the letters to the Corinthians...

Well that is in there, to be sure. But if that is all you see, you are missing a lot.

<<< Sorry if I was unclear. I was feeding off an earlier question about the difference between knowledge and wisdom which you answered just fine. But in responding to what you have written above, there is a mixed bag of reactions. Looking at verse 18ff, many times Paul is talking about the content of what is being shared—whether it is worldly wisdom or whether it is the foolishness of preaching the cross. There is an aspect of what/how the message is shared—not necessarily the way kind of wisdom the hearer possesses. .

If the problem at the Corinthian church was just a three vocal people claiming to be of Paul or Peter or Apollos, then Paul wouldn’t have used the term “divisions.” Nor would he have any need to bother even speaking of what/how of what the three divisive leaders were saying. In fact he would be writing a whole different letter. So what was happening? There were vocal people using worldly wisdom speech to divide the people AND then there was the people using worldly wisdom understanding choosing which vocal leader to follow. Leaders and followers using worldly wisdom. Regressing back to their pre-salvation ways.

What worldly wisdom does is sit in judgment on the Word of God. Leaders without followers aren’t leaders. Talking and listening is implied. Just like in the world then and today. If no one listens to a divisive soul, no division happens. So v. 17 which speaks about preaching is followed by v.18 which speaks about the hearers reaction. Vs. 4-5 in 2 speak about preaching, and then Paul speaks about a reaction to the Gospel. 1:21 speaks about the foolishness of the message. But is it really foolishness? No that is the understanding of the hearers. V.23 speaks to preaching and the next verse to the understanding of what was preached.

v.17 Paul preached the Gospel (content-the cross of Christ)

not in cleverness of speech -or the wisdom of men- (this could refer to content or style of preaching) [nothing to do with how the hearers used their “wisdom” to “get” it..

Not in 17b

18the Word of the cross (content-the Gospel) is to those perishing—foolishness. This means it does not make sense when evaluating the Gospel of Jesus being crucified with the cultural wisdom—It is not plausible to the person on the street—it makes no sense to them..

Yeah. But you just said: “There is an aspect of what/how the message is shared—not necessarily the way kind of wisdom the hearer possesses.

So why is it not plausible to them? Because of the wisdom they possess. Why are you contradicting yourself?

But to those being saved—the revelation of the Gospel—the preaching of the cross—is the power of God. Note how this lines up well with Rom.1:16. Paul says there that the Gospel, the good news about Jesus’ death and resurrection, IS the power of God for salvation. And note, salvation means more than just justification (for certainly if Paul wanted to limit our thinking to just justification here [Rom.1:16] he would have just said justification, a word he uses later in his letter to Romans). Note the tense in 1 Cor.1:18—to those being saved. Salvation here is not about justification. Being saved actually indicates sanctification (we were saved=justification, will be saved=glorification). I don’t think Paul made such stark delineations anyway—it was all one big ongoing event=salvation..

Or, and, or also, being could refer to the process of justification whereby one hears and grasps the truth and responds. But rather being saved refers to the process of salvation where first we are born again in the spirit, and as we live out our lives, we are renewed in our mind and then at resurrection our mind renewal is completed and our body is made new. Or it could mean that at justification we are saved from the penalty of sin, and as we grow in grace, we are being saved from the power of sin which completes at glorification. But however one looks at it, the word used for “being saved” means what the word in Romans 1;16 means. And it is speaking of the whole deal from justification to glorification.

Which brings up what Paul is meaning here of his use of the term Gospel, and the word of the cross. There is nothing here limiting his speech to referring exclusively to justification. The Gospel is not limited to justification and then no longer in play when we move on to sanctification. The Gospel is applicable to the ongoing Christian life—right through glorification and the New Jerusalem..

What an unjustified leap. Need I remind you of what you just said?

18the Word of the cross (content-the Gospel) is to those perishing—foolishness. This means it does not make sense when evaluating the Gospel of Jesus being crucified with the cultural wisdom—It is not plausible to the person on the street—it makes no sense to them..

Paul limits his own speech by the context. The word of the cross is foolishness to those perishing. Which by your own words indicates that those perishing are unbelievers. Thus he sets forth a contrast in how the world hears the Gospel and how those being saved hear the Gospel. That you arbitrarily assume that “being saved” must include sanctification speaks to your bias. In this verse, Paul is speaking about justification from sins. Every time I sin and repent, I look to the cross. And so have I heard the testimony of others doing the same. In the cross is the power to overcome sin and to be freed from its control. It reminds us that we are justified despite the evidence of our weakness.

Again, Paul is talking to believers about a problem of disunity in their fellowship. Even mentioning baptism is not sufficient to limit this passage to the justification event. Paul preached and his preaching was more than just justification. The use of baptism is significant because a) the Corinthians made baptism a doctrinal issue—which is not borne out later in the letter—so unlikely; or b) those following Apollos or Cephas were baptized by that leader–maybe. More

13

than likely it is c) Paul’s use here is to point the believers to the person to whom they were baptized in—in the name or authority of Christ Jesus—as his followers—not Paul’s disciple or Peter’s or Apollos’. .

The evidence is baptism. The evidence is in 2:1. The evidence is in the contrast that is blatant in verse 18 and is carried on throughout the rest of the chapter. What you are doing is spinning it to conform to your system.

But how easily you forget to mention your s outright or defend it from the charge levied by me against it, for I said that this verse ALONE is enough to chuck the idea of PG.

So I will remind you again of your own words:

the Word of the cross (content-the Gospel) is to those perishing—foolishness. This means it does not make sense when evaluating the Gospel of Jesus being crucified with the cultural wisdom—It is not plausible to the person on the street—it makes no sense to them.

And since it makes no sense to them, how can they from the heart choose to embrace it as life giving? And why would they repent over what they consider as implausible? Think. Pray. Trust the Spirit. You are not making sense at all.

If the person in the street, in evaluating the Gospel, thinks it is implausible and foolish, how can he be saved? The church has witnessed the Gospel to him so the Word is present. What’s missing? Walk me through it. Now if you had said the person on the street knows the Gospel as true and just doesn’t want it, that would be your doctrine, but your doctrine not just matching up with the Word.

The problem it seems is that you don’t understand revelation. Its not like God speaks to us and we are in any way cognizant of it. So then we can’t just choose to apply worldly wisdom to it. We hear the Gospel message and we either believe it or we don’t. We reject it if it seems foolish to us. And when a person does so, it shows that God has not revealed His Son in them. Paul knew what the Christian ‘sect’ believed and persecuted them for it. It was foolishness to him. He thought he knew better. But when he had an experience with Jesus, boom, he was a believer.

Now most of us don’t get knocked to the ground and made blind. But then most of us aren’t seeking to kill believers and living when the church just started either.

Likewise grace. The natural man has no idea of grace. God, in His grace, might be bringing the person through a personal hell in order to prepare the man’s soul for the Seed, but the man curses God in his troubles.

    1. God will destroy the wisdom of the wise. This is not referring to the common man—so therefore it is the respected philosopher, the orator, the one commanding influence because he has rhetorical skills. Wisdom isn’t knowledge as we have established. Worldly wisdom isn’t common sense—it is the wisdom the James passage you referred to as from the carnal aspect of man, the world system, and the demonic. (See 1 John 2:15-17.).

Oh, no common man has wisdom? He has not gome through any trying experiences in life and gained insight.? The orator has followers who buy into the wisdom proffered. Each person is either following another or just does whatever they think is right. Elitists tend to trump elitism. Its like an ego trip.

But once again I will remind you of your own words:

he Word of the cross (content-the Gospel) is to those perishing—foolishness. This means it does not make sense when evaluating the Gospel of Jesus being crucified with the cultural wisdom—It is not plausible to the person on the street—it makes no sense to them..

It sure seems like you are saying that the person on the street, which I just referred to as the common man, evaluates the Gospel with his own cultural wisdom.

Rather, “the wise” in v.19 refers to those who think they are wise and able to evaluate spiritual things. And when he gets to that Day, they will think that they have done much for God in His name but will find out that God never knew them.

Thus the ‘wise’ here refers to all those who set themselves up against God.

    1. How has God made foolish the wisdom of the world? By introducing his wisdom which is true wisdom, wisdom that leads to right living because one is in right relationship with God. The wisdom of the world doesn’t lead to God or right living..

okay. Also okay to v.21.

v.22-24 The preaching of the Gospel is a message about Christ—who is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

.

Notice here the separation between two types of people, the called and those not called. Why did you leave that out? Does that idea not fit into your system?

This is further evidence that these verses, from 1;17b through the end of 2 are speaking about justification/salvation.

To whom is Christ the power and wisdom of God, but only to the called. What then of the rest? Those not called? The cross is a place of stumbling, rock of offense, and foolishness.

We read of that more in detail in 1st Peter 2:4-10. There the Word echoes much of what is written in our passage. It speaks of those who reject Jesus and tells of those who are chosen, that we a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. That once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God; we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.

Peter quotes much of that from the OT and I think Paul had the same Scriptures in mind when later in this chapter he speaks of God chossing us.

But what does this tell us? It tells us that not all receive such mercy. And that is right in line with these three verses, 22-24. How can a person be saved without the mercy of God? How can he freely choose God if the Gospel is foolishness to him? The answer to both is, he can’t.

v.25-28 This further shows that Paul does not have the individual in mind—for he contrasts the believers lot in life to those who are wise, or mighty, and noble. God’s focus is on things the worldly wise folks look down on. Jesus said blessed are the poor, blessed are the meek, blessed are the mourners, blessed are those who hunger and thirst, who are persecuted… .

Simple asserting something does not make it true. But again, despite your own objections, you get back to the contrast in these verses between the saved and the unsaved. Where is sanctification in this passage? No where supported by you. Wanting something to be true and whether it is true or not are two different things.

Verse 25 lets us know that the ‘wise” men are less wise than the foolishness of God. Or they are not really wise at all. Thus there is no need to mark off those who are wiser in foolishness from others who are less wise in foolishness as you did in verse 19. 5th graders and 1st graders are so far in knowledge of Astrophysics than a rocket scientist, that speaking of their relative differences is hubris.

Notice again how simply ignore the idea of God choosing. Inconvenient of God to stick that in there? Is God choosing individuals here? Yup. He doesn’t choose groups when He is saving. So you asserting that this is not about individuals is without ground. In this case, the first readers of this letter each saw themselves in these words. And as we look ahead to other readers, like you and I, we can also see ourselves, individually in these words. It also is instructive for evangelism. [there I go bringing up the lost] because those despised by the world are more likely to be saved by God.

v.29-31 Who where is one’s boast? In their own ability to be clever? In their accumulated wealth of wisdom? In their strength to overcome sin? No their boast in the Lord, the one who is truly wise, truly strong, truly pure—righteous and holy. These verses do not speak to the issue of prevenient grace or irresistible grace. The nearest is this—that the word of the cross, the Gospel message, when shared—is the POWER of God for salvation (all three aspects) to those who not reject it based on human wisdom. .

Here you just run off the rails. The actual words used by Paul and thus God tell us that because God has chosen we have no boast.

Others, like you, say we have chosen God. That is a boast.

Paul adds on to that idea that we have no boast because God has chosen by telling us that it is by His doing we are in Christ Jesus. Not our choosing or our doing, but by God’s choosing and by God’s doing. Now we are in Christ Jesus by faith. So how is that God’s choosing and doing? Because we have faith by His choosing and doing and not by our choosing and doing. And because it is God, His choosing and His doing that we are chosen and in Christ Jesus, we are not to say that it is because we chose God, because that is contrary to the truth. We can say, to paraphrase 1st John, that we chose God because He first chose us.

All you have is assertions. You don’t even have a cohesive argument. So your summary above is just flat out wrong. You also have jumped from justification issues in your verse by verse commentary to sanctification and back to justification. Is your summary above about sanctification? Uh, no.

But you go on…

It seems to me you have to make a jump from justification to sanctification without anything Paul wrote in the end of chapter one and the beginning of chapter two to allow you to make that jump. If Paul is talking about living out the faith in chapter one (which makes sense to me since they are already believers) then this you wrote:.

What a jump I MADE? Maybe you should reread your own words and get back to me and tell me that yes indeed you have ants in your pants. (-:

Actually it is quite hard to figure out anything you are trying to say, as you keep contradicting yourself.

So let me reiterate my position. Paul is speaking not of sanctification in these verses, 17B through the end of 2, but of the contrast between unbelievers and believers and why some are justified and others reject the Gospel. That is a consistent thread that ties all these verses together. And since you bring up the beginning of chapter 2, let me point out to you what seems quite obvious:

Chapter 2 verse 1 speaks of when Paul came to the Corinthians. Now when he came to them, they were unsaved. And Paul was determined to know nothing among them but the Gospel truth that Jesus is indeed the Messiah and that He was crucified. Now as you know, paul didn’t write in chapters and verses. And his thoughts flow nicely as he tells the Corinthians that God chose them and they are in Jesus because of God’s doing alone [for their boast is only to be in Him], and that his Gospel message to them was simple as compared to the high and lofty speeches most persuaders and orators would give, and he did this so that their fairh could rest on God and His power and not on the wisdom of men.

Flow, nice and steady. Logical. No leaping required.

See, your conclusion is the same as mine. This passage is really about living in the power of the cross, recognizing God’s way as best and leaving our ego behind. You do recognize that there is .

Again you err. We agree that the main purpose of the LETTER is living in the power of the cross. But the passage under consideration is not yet there. It is the groundwork for the purpose. Paul takes them back to their conversion and explains to them the differences between what they were, a people of worldly wisdom and how they got saved, by God’s choice and God’s doing by His own wisdom, so that he can proceed on solid footing on why what he is going to tell them is true. In other words, he is not just telling them, ‘live this way’ but he is first telling them both WHY and HOW they are different than the way of living they were used to.

Your arguments were completely disjointed and inconsistent.

Give up the system and let the Word guide you into truth.

Your servant for Christ’ sake,

mike

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1st Cor. 2, against Prevenient Grace

Since I have already went over the first four verses, I’ll pick up after them:

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,

Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

The first thing that sticks out is the idea that none of the rulers of that age knew the wisdom that was not of that age. They must have not received PG. Maybe AT only has PG starting in the NT? How then did anyone get saved before then? Maybe they were especially blinded? But the crowds cried for the crucifixion as well. So either God withholds PG from some people or maybe there just isn’t such a universal thing as PG.

Beyond that, there is two types of wisdom involved here [a continuation from chapter 1 where there was the wisdom of men and the greater wisdom of Jesus as our wisdom from God]. And though the wisdom of men is not directly mentioned in these verses, we know it is in mind due to the context. Or we could ask why they crucified Jesus? It was because, in their own minds, they thought it was the wise thing to do. Thus they did not have the wisdom not of this age but only earthly wisdom.

So what does it mean that Paul, in preaching Jesus crucified, is speaking a hidden wisdom? The words are plain enough. Unbelievers can speak the exact Gospel. Paul, in another place, rejoices when unbelievers speak the Gospel, because he is delighted that the truth is being spoken. Thus it is not the words themselves that make one wise just by hearing them. The hidden wisdom comes from the interaction of the Spirit in the understanding of the hearer, even as we read in 1st Thess. 1:

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…

We see here the contrast. Implied is that the Gospel comes to some in word only. But to believers it comes also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction. Now this word in NASB translated >conviction< is the word plerophoria, Strong’s #G4136 and means: full assurance, most certain confidence. Full assurance and most certain confidence in what or who? Faith in Jesus is a full assurance and a complete confidence in Him. And we also know that earlier in 1st Cor. 1 that those being saved see that Gospel word with >power<! That is because it comes to them in that way. Those still perishing do not see the power in the word of the Gospel, nor do they have a sure assurance and a most certain confidence in Jesus. Rather they hear the word and consider it foolishness.

Continuing on in 1st Cor. 2:

For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

What we see here is that the Spirit enlightens a person so that the spiritual ideas behind the words is revealed. The one coming to Christ, the one who was blind and formerly thought the Gospel was foolishness, is enlightened and knows the hidden wisdom of God. It is hidden to those who are blind. For though they can hear the words, they can not accept the ideas put forth by those words as truth because they are blind to those truths.

It is the wisdom from above the Spirit brings to the understanding that replaces the worldly wisdom that is blind to the Gospel. So when God reveals His glory in the face of Jesus, it is a salvific event. Every. Time. It is not the creative power of man that decides his own destiny, but the creative power of God that rescues the man from his fallenness and brokenness and his bondage to sin, and translates the person from the dominion of darkness into the Kingdom of light, the everlasting Kingdom of the Son.

For simply giving or enabling a person to choose God does not release them from their bondage to sin, and from their fallen understanding, and from their hardened heart.

Ephesians 4 tells us:

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

What the person needs is grace that overcomes all these problems: a futile mind, a darkened understanding, the ignorance [of spiritual wisdom], the hardness of their heart, and the callousness of heart that sees nothing wrong is selfish sinful acts.

But if a grace overcomes these things, it is also a grace that saves the person, for by grace are you saved! But obviously PG does not overcome all of this as many still choose the path of selfishness and darkness with a hardened heart.

The chapter ends:

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Here we link back to the beginning of this section, where Paul tells us in chapter 1:18 that the words of the cross are foolishness to those who are perishing. Now if PG is true, these verses are void of meaning. Paul is not allowing for everyone to be >spiritual<, as if all had some PG that wipes out their worldly thinking, else all would get saved since all get PG, for not all have the mind of Christ. Rather as we have seen the contrasts not only in these chapters but in various places, that there are those who think the things of the Spirit, which includes the words of the cross, that they are but foolishness.

And these, who are blinded by the god of this world, whose understandings are darkened, whose ignorance and hardheartedness is keeping them out of life with God, CANNOT accept the words of the cross as truth for he cannot understand the wisdom from above.

Why not? Because God chooses that which is not to nullify that which is, so that no man can boast before Him. God doesn’t want to share the credit with anyone for the saving of a soul. So the wisdom is hidden and as it is revealed by the Spirit, that person knows what God has done for them and what He has freely given him. The rest consider the Gospel foolishness. And they remain justly condemned for their willful transgressions of what they knew was righteous and good. All are under Law. Only those God saves are under mercy.

I finish with these words:

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

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faith and works

Chris,

Two men of near equal financial circumstance each give 100$ to the church. Is it faith?

One man gives *because* he trusts God with his life and seeks to be obedient to the Spirit. The other man gives because he is expected to give that amount due to his income.

The first man gives  because of his faith in God. His giving isn’t his faith, but his faith is his reason for obedience. His obedience isn’t his faith, but his faith is the reason he is giving.

When we make righteous choices, they are righteous because we make them in faith, trusting God. Because of our faith, we choose righteously. Faith then is the reason not only behind WHY we choose to act righteously, but also what makes the action righteous before God.

The other man [from above] gives the same $100. But he does not give it by faith. His act is not righteous before God. maybe he thinks God will bless him because he gave his tithe. maybe he thinks God will accept him because of it, and the other things he does for the church, and for his neighbors. And on Judgment day he will ask God, saying “Lord, Lord, did I not do all these things in your name?”

Now the first man, a man who has faith in God, runs into some financial difficulty, and decides to disobey the Spirit and stop giving to the Lord, for a bit. I’ve done that. I haven’t always trusted God with my finances. i haven’t always walked in my faith. The Bible says that whatever is not of faith is sin. I’ve sinned. But I never did not have faith. I simply failed to walk in it. It is easy to look back and say I *simply* failed to walk in it, because at the time I had to make choices, “simple” was not a word i would have used to describe my situation. But it is in looking back and seeing that is indeed what I should’ve done: i should’ve trusted the Lord. simple as that. Sometimes we make life out to be very complicated, when really what we need to do is to look to Jesus. i know, I’ve done that. I’ve been there. And honestly, i am sure i will be there again.

But thanks to our long interaction on the subject of our disagreement, i looked to the Word, and past the learned and helpful writers on both sides who love the Lord. that is because they, for the most part, sought to defend their system, and make what seemed to me, crazy things. One C told ne that the church down the road was “the free will baptists, and we were the not free will baptists.” So each side staked out its territory and its verses and entrenched in. But I wanted answers. So i searched God’s Word.

And in God’s Word, I found this simple truth: faith leads to choice. Not once did i find that choice leads to faith, not once. I looked at the OT passage where the people are told to “choose today whom you will serve.” Go look it up. Find out WHY they chose Jehovah.

I found out that choice leads to righteous acts, to serving. But the WHY of every righteous choice was faith. Even acts God wanted people to do, and they did, even these were not righteous unless they chose them by faith. And even the acts they did that God wanted them to do, that they did not do by faith, God came down hard on judgment. The brothers selling Joseph.  Moses hitting the rock. The Assyrians invading Israel. Jerusalem crucifying His Son. To name but a few.

Who among them did not have free will? They all had free will. How funny the Calvinists to fight against free will! And yet what they did wrong and wrongly God meant for good. And their free will was never harmed. What should this tell us? That God moves and gets His will accomplished despite allowing men to have free will. So why do they strive so hard to deny it? Because they are defending a system. They see their system as the best way of expressing truth, but they have been in it so deep, they only see their system as truth, and they lose sight of some true things.

And that, my dear brother, is what you are doing. You have bought into a system that is not properly supported by the Word of God. Oh it is not completely wrong for it remains in the pale of orthodoxy. But it is wrong as a whole just as Calvinism is wrong as a whole. And the natural passage of academia is to put too much emphasis on their own learning abilities, and their own exalted understandings, instead of simply trusting God more than those.

So faith is what we have. it is the reason we choose [if we choose righteously]. But without righteous choice at all, there is no faith. that is because faith is based NOT on the creativeness of man, but on the power of the Creator. In 2nd Cor. 4. we read:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

For God [the Creator], who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone [created] in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

And the contrast is PLAIN. Those who are in darkness are those who are perishing. they are those who are blind to the truth of the Gospel. Or as Ephesians 4 tells us:

So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Here we are told that those entrapped behind the gates of death walk in the futility of their mind, and they are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. It is these that are blind to the Gospel truth and are perishing that have no hope in this world UNLESS God by His Word and by His Church prevail for them against the gates of death. But even then, we know that the victory is God’s, who speaks His Word into their hearts and into their understandings and gives [graces] them with His glory in the face of Jesus.

We know that 2nd Cor. 4:3-6 teaches us, even as the Word teaches us in many places, that there is basically two types of people in the world: those being saved and those perishing. And this passage, among others, including Matthew 16, shows us a contrast between the two. And the Word always shows us that the difference is in the mercy of God, not the strength of wisdom in the people.

kindest Christian regards,

mike

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Matthew 16 discussion follow up

Dear Chris,

It is not unfair that I have said that you make the person’s will or assent or choice that base or foundation. You said: “Ahh. Humans have creative choice. They decide to go right or left. Alternative they have no choice. ” And you said that their belief is their assent. The question of why assent or not to assent, you leave in the creative choice of the person. That choice [or not] becomes [if they believe] the base or foundation of their faith. Why does one believe? I say because God reveals truth to them. You say because they assent to head knowledge.

But it is unfair for you to say I put the base or foundation on the person for their belief. It is unfair because I have already and several times in this series of posts clearly emphasized God’s initial action with human response as a response. A respinse can be a foundation. Your qualification that the will of man plays a part is accurate. It is the statement made next that is irresponsible

The part about God’s initiative, in the Word, by the Spirit, with the witness (of love) by the Church and man being enabled by such to make a free response (yea or nay) is classical Armenian theology.

But not without the person’s response . They must repent and believe in the truth and not let the cares of this world or the shallow thinking push out the truth .

if obedience is a choice of the will, is not disobedience also a choice of the will?

if a man acts based on revelation by following that truth, why would you call that using his own wisdom and understanding? what if his wisdom and understanding, in a particular area, is modified by God’s wisdom? THIS IS TRUTH says GOD. Yes, I agree, then man has to act (choose–make a choice) on that basis. and sometimes man makes the wrong choice. That is why you and I knowing truth still sin.

The above are quotes from you and I from our discussion.

What I said then, and see no reason to change it, is that we see different foundations for faith.

So while it is quite true that classical Armenianism has God initiate action, the foundation for faith in that theory is what you pointed out: man’s response is the foundation. Since man has creative choice, his assent to head knowledge si the basis or the foundation, or the beginning of his faith.

It seems strange that you would go there after I quoted 1st Cor. 2:

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

That man must weigh the evidence and choose, to go left or right, But after saying that and other similar things, you asked:

if a man acts based on revelation by following that truth, why would you call that using his own wisdom and understanding? what if his wisdom and understanding, in a particular area, is modified by God’s wisdom? THIS IS TRUTH says GOD. Yes, I agree, then man has to act (choose–make a choice) on that basis. and sometimes man makes the wrong choice. That is why you and I knowing truth still sin.”

There is three wrongs things in your paragraph that I want to point out.

One. Here is the scenario you set up: God initiates action by giving man revelation. But man has to judge for himself whether he should act positively on it or not. And yet you ask: “if a man acts based on revelation by following that truth, why would you call that using his own wisdom and understanding?

If the man has to judge and choose to accept or reject, whose wisdom and understanding is he using BUT HIS OWN? Certainly if he used God’s wisdom and understanding, he would choose God EVERY time.

So what is happening here? You, on the one hand, want to avoid the charge I leveled at you by saying the man is not using his own wisdom and understanding because he is deciding his fate on revelation God has given him. But on the other hand, are seeking to defend the need for man to have the freedom to do what -to be able to use his own free will in deciding his fate. What you did there was double talk, plain and simple, and whether you realized it or not.

There is simply no escape from the plain words you are using. The basis for you for the foundation of faith [to believe or not] is the man’s own wisdom and understanding. For you, and for classical Armenianism, the faith of the man rests on the man’s own wisdom or if he doesn’t have sufficient wisdom to choose God, he perishes.

Two. “Yes, I agree, then man has to act (choose–make a choice) on that basis. and sometimes man makes the wrong choice. That is why you and I knowing truth still sin.” It seems that you see no difference between obedience and faith as if faith in God is but an obedience. Of course such a view follows the one I just pointed out. Thus it could be said, that you understand that salvation comes about by obedience since faith is just the same and in fact is obedience.

Now you jumped on me for not reading Armenian literature, but you were quite wrong in doing that. It is just that the literature you look to for answers falls short. In fact, most Calvinistic literature falls short as well. That is because they write not to defend truth or to understand truth but to defend their own versions of truth. One must look hard and long to find writers who will bother to touch on the truths of these subjects.

There is a major difference between Law and Gospel. Between obedience and faith. That is why I [as you said I was being patient] allowed you to question me. Certainly if I was wrong in some place, you would have found it out. But I said nothing wrong, save some typos and a miscommunicated thought which I later corrected. That is because Christians everywhere and for the most part hold the exact same views as I do as to the things you asked of me. You probably hold to my answers as well. But holding to those things and incorporating them into one’s theology are two different things. If one is defending a system like Calvinism or the other, system prerogatives take precedence over common sense.

Biblically speaking we read in Hebrews 11 that it is by faith we understand. It is by faith, we obey. By faith we hope. By faith we choose. By faith we perform acts of righteousness. By faith we are made strong in our weaknesses. By faith we live. And by faith we die.

In 2nd Cor. 4 we read:

But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.

Thus it in the spirit of faith, we choose to speak and confess Jesus as Lord.

And as already mentioned, this faith has its basis or its rest on the foundation of the power of God. And not the wisdom of any man or men or even ourselves.

Third. Since this discussion started with Matthew 16, let me end there.

You did so well in grasping the truths of the passage. The church overcoming the gates of death, through the Word. But when it came to reconcile those things with theology, you balked. Again you became two handed. For in one hand you were quite willing to sing the praises of the Church and the Word in rescuing those trapped in the bonds of death. But on the other hand, you ended up praising the enslaved ones because the Word and Church were powerless to overcome what they really needed, a change in their wills. That final piece you leave in the hands of the lost.

So why does the Church and the Word praised for prevailing over the gates of Hades, when more are left in there than brought out? When their ‘prevailing’ is but a delivery of information to the prisoner? Information that only frees the prisoner if he assents to it?

And what you can not show is the victory over the brokenness sin has wreaked on the mind that binds the prisoner in the first place and thus necessitates the Church and the Word to assault hades and bring out the captive though its gates.

Finally, my dear brother, this disagreement we have is not about me. I know we have always competed, chess and basketball and all, but in this matter, I am not competing against you. My goal is to serve you as a brother in the Lord with humility and gentleness. Its not about me being right and you wrong. I know that in my theological understanding that in every place I am right it is only by the grace and mercy of God. And in every place I am wrong it because of my sin, my selfishness, and my brokenness. And as far as I know, this matter is not one of our individual destinies, but as one as teachers being held to higher standards we should seek to be as true to His Word as possible as we pass the faith down to those younger.

Your servant in Christ,

mike

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Walking in Victory, a response, finishing xhapter 7

Chapter 7 continues under the heading: A RADICAL, EXTREME PASSAGE
that would be Romans 7:1-6
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.


Now as usual, i have a problem with what DM is saying, though I think his direction or thrust is good.
First, he sees the Law as the Mosaic Law.  The Mosaic Law as a unit is not binding on anyone anymore. It was given to OT Jews but it passed away by no later than the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. That isn’t to say that many points within the Mosaic Law are not applicable to all people in all times and all places, for they are. But as a unit, as a whole , as given in the OT, in the Pentateuch, it is no longer binding on even the Jewish people.

That aside, i am very glad DM makes the point that the Law of God has no *legal* force on Christians. We died to it in Christ. That means it can no longer be used to condemn us for sin.

Now DM also quotes from 2nd Cor. 3 and there it is talking about the Mosaic law. But it is refering to an actual event that took place back then with Moses. And the truth is that God’s Law, in any form brings death because we are not perfect, and we always fail to keep standards.
Now as we go though the rest of this chapter, i don’t think DM’s mis-take on the Law is going to affect the good things he will say.

WHY THE LAW? DEFINING SIN

In this section, we agree completely.
Law is there to show us our sin.  And that as Christians we should view the law in a non-legalistic way.
The Law is a mirror to show us how where we fall short.

WHY THE LAW? PROVOKING SIN

DM and i agree that the Law provokes sin in unbelievers. But we disagree that it provokes sin in believers simply because we have a sin nature. If one focuses on the Law and tries to live by it to gain right standing before God, than yes, the Law will possibly provoke sin in believers. But what I think it does promote in believers who focus on the Law for acceptance  from God is a roller coaster life of sin and repentance, as well as the swing of emotions that correspond.  It views God as a hard taskmaster instead of a loving father, and as one who is never pleased because we  mess up so much.  It hinders spiritual growth because it keeps its adherents always fighting sin just to maintain an acceptable relationship with God.

YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING

In this section, DM and and my differences on whether a Christian has a sin nature manifest themselves.  He says that God has the Law provoke sin in Christians so we will not rely on our own abilities or strengths to follow God. He says that because we have a sin nature, we are all thrilled on some level to violate the Law.

I couldn’t object more. Sin can be thrilling at times, but I never recall desiring sin just to stick it to the Boss. And it is in his teaching here that will cause the most problems [so far] for those who listen to him. One thing it does is give us an excuse for sin. For pastor says i have a sin nature and its thrilling to break God’s law. And i am not to focus on Law keeping to grow in Christ for that would be legalistic.  ouch.

The line of truth is subtle but i think clear. And it starts with the right base: we no longer have a sin nature for we are new creatures in Christ: we are no longer mere men. Then as born again, Spirit-dwelt beings we have, or should have and be taught, an attitude of the goodness of God and His Law.  We are no longer rebels against God, who find perverse joy in sinful ways, but children who love and have experienced His love.  Sinning can lead to more sinning but for Christians it does stop. God allows us to sin, for one reason, to make the contrast between what we still are, and what glory we one day will have, greater, so as to draw us from our sin, to show us we do not need to debase ourselves, to show us that He loves no matter what, and yes, to teach us to lean on Him for our spiritual growth. For the struggle is in our minds, to rework our understandings so that we no longer depend on the world or ourselves, but wholly on God.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

In this section, DM and I understand the passage differently. I won’t say he is wrong but i do think he is. if i didn’t think i was right, i would change(-:

Certainly this part of Romans 7 seems ambiguous and different interpretations are realized. 
Romans 7:7-11 [and i am quoting up to verse 13]:

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.

Before i get into his view, i am going to put mine forth.

i am what some call an Age of Accountability [AoA] believer. That means I do not see condemnation falling on any person until the reach a certain maturity level [only known by God and different for each person] where in grasping right and wrong, they deliberately choose wrong. So though i am a 5 point C, i do not hold to Adamic condemnation like a FH person. Accountability happens when we knowingly and willingly sin and hurt another, God be our judge. This means that the aborted, the new born, and the young child, as well as though mentally incapacitated from birth are not under condemnation if they die young. But rather, if they do not die young, they will sin the first chance they get, and in fact do sin in an unaccountable way before that.

i am not going to give all my arguments here. But i am going to explain my interp if these verses:

As young’uns, we learn rights and wrongs, and we know that something is wrong because we are told so. We also experience others wronging us. These happenings in our lives bring us to a point where we recognize in some way that there is a law or a rule over us, even if we could not normally articulate the idea. So though we have coveted in the past, there comes a point where we ‘just know’ that coveting is wrong, and we didn’t care and coveted anyhow. The sin nature in us rose up and slew us [we became condemned] because we were at the point were alw was real to us in an accountable way. We willingly chose to sin and became justly condemned before God. And our nature was revealed at that point, that we are now a sinner.

Now as I go through DM’s take on these verses, I will be asking questions of irregularities that seem so to me.

In his first paragraph after quoting the relevant passage, he says that Paul would never say we were alive before conversion. I think we were alive [as opposed to being dead in our trespasses and sins] before we first sinned in an accountable way. He thinks being alive refers to that first period right after conversion when we felt the joy of the Lord.
Paul never uses that word zao, in the Greek, Strong’s #2198, to simply mean euphoria, at least not in Romans.
But DM fails to explain what the negative word ‘died’ means. Are we now dead in joy after that initial period?  And even stronger than ‘died’ is the word ‘killed’. How now are we killed by sin, after e are saved.  It is like he cherry picked one word and ran with that idea, ignoring the context around it.

Love to hear from you what you think this passage means.

He goes on to speak of the time period after we come down from that great salvation joy [to the time we died and were killed?] as a dangerous time, for shock and confusion, and even doubt, as well as the full horror of the power of our sin nature dawns on us.

Really?
I mean really?
Here is one observation.
Many times in churches across the land, an easy believism Gospel is preached that results in a great number of pseudo conversions where the people soon fall away. They have assumed the ID of a Christian without the power for godliness. They are not saved, nor born again, nor made new by Jesus, and so they try to live a good moral Christian life by their own power and strength and of course fail. They only know Law and they do not know grace. They have not received mercy so their repentance is worldly and temporal. But people, many in my own Southern Baptist Convention, like the numbers and the facade of spiritual victory that counting these baptized people give them.

So any church that even allows a hint of the idea that one can be saved without having Jesus as Lord will be full of this type of ‘convert’. And in need of these not so wise words of wisdom, for unsaved people will just give up or become legalistic or just fake it.

He says that what we are doing is denying our deficiency before the Law of God.

Those that think that way have not even heard the true Gospel which states that we are ever deficient in holiness before God and His Law, and that Jesus Christ died and rose to take our place, receive our punishment, and to die so that we deficient ones might have peace with God. And this Gospel is not just to evangelize but also for the saints to remind us of our place in Christ and how he fills our great needs.

He says that as young Christians we think we are doing well when we avoid sin but rather we are doing well when we admit sin. But it is not an either/or thing: we should be avoiding sin and admitting it when we fail to avoid it.

The rest of Romans 7 is too much to add in right now. Let me know if and when you would like to get into it. maybe he covers it in his chapter 8. Which is next.

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Walking in Victory, chapter 7 introduction

FH: Federal Headship

DM: Dennis McCallum, pastor and author of the book Walking in Victory, which i am responding to in this series of posts.

Chapter 7: LAW SCHOOL

Just to reiterate, I like the main thrust of the book.
DM says that “this is not a magical state of mind that precludes failure. Rather, this mindset is the backdrop for the dramatic but gradual measures God will take in our spiritual growth.”
Very true, but i wouldn’t put God in a box. The measures are gradual most of the time for most people, but I wouldn’t say that God couldn’t move us in leaps and bounds.
With that note of basic agreement stated, let me ‘pile on’ in my argument against his position on headship.
The very next sentence says, “We have an inherited nature tending toward sin…”
Now to inherit something material, like Sharon inherited the Cullman house [partially] can be understood in a FH way. The will decreed that she be one of the inheritors of this property. But when we speak of nonmaterial things being inherited, especially ‘nature’, we are not speaking of the FH way but of the natural way. Most Christendom I do grant, would not blink nary an eye at any of the FH beliefs stated in this book. The teach these things at seminaries if they teach anything on the subject at all. There are some theologians [I know of only western theologians, but there might be others] who know and speak of the differences. But the overwhelming tide doesn’t even know anything but FH exists. [as far as I know]
But truth is truth. If we were created anew at conception, then either [a] God created us with a sin nature [so then it is not inherited from Adam by nature] or [b] the pure spirit God created got tainted when it was put into our naturally derived body of sin. The latter idea is gnostic in that it makes the human body the source of sin. Sin is then a disease, in the DNA. But if that is true, than what is the purpose of God declaring Adam our Head? No one disputes [if they believe the human race started in the Garden] that Adam is the physical Head of the whole human race. Even the body of Jesus came from Adam [Romans 9:1-4] Thus Adam doesn’t need to be our Federal Head to taint us with sin ridden bodies.
So that puts us back at choice [a].  It is still not an ‘inherited’ sin nature, but rather an inherited condemnation, decreed by God and reckoned to all of Adam’s progeny. FH can be used to explain inherited condemnation, BUT not used to explain inherited sinfulness. I of course, as does DM, reject inherited condemnation.
I am not trying to point DM in a bad light, for as i said, it is what is taught just about everywhere. My pastor was taught the same things.
The rest of that sentence is spot on, although i would have changed the word, “autonomy”, to simply ‘free will’, or actually left it out altogether. My position is that the freedom our wills has is God given and not to be confused with the negative things he mentions along with it, like sin, pride, and years of trusting our sin nature.
We don’t have autonomy even if we the freedom to choose among choices, which of course we have. But that is a different subject.
His next sentence read: “That means fundamental change won’t come easily.
As an adjective, fundamental means: forming a necessary base or core; of central importance.
I guess there are ways that what he is saying ^could^ be right. But I think he is talking about our sin nature that needs changed fundamentally.
The nature of a person is not the same as their mindset. If they seek to change their mindset, it does not change the nature. Otherwise, living godly in Christ Jesus could be done by even those not born again.  Is this statement true: by choosing to think differently I can fundamentally change my sin nature? Yes, it would not be easy, it would take time, sure. But can one do it?
If I gave you a set of directions, telling you to take two steps right, three steps left, and so forth, and at the end was the buried object you are looking for, but i started you out at the wrong position, would you find it using my directions? Nope.
There is a fundamental flaw in DM’s instructions. He assumes we have sin nature. Now by the mercy and grace of God, I think many people could find victory in Jesus by using this book, prayer, and the Word of God. But wrong teaching leads to more wrong teaching [see the idea of FH]. Eventually it leads some far astray.
The reality is we, as Christians, have already been fundamentally changed -we have been born again from above. We have new hearts and new spirits and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Our challenge is not to change fundamentally in our nature, God has already done that when we got saved, even as our identity changed from of Adam to of Christ. Identity speaks of ‘of’, while nature speaks of ‘in’.  We are in Christ because we are made a new [Ephesians 2:9-10], created anew in Christ Jesus. We are not fundamentally split in our beings, one part still in Adam [nature] while the other part [identity] of Christ.
Rather, our challenge is to be renewed in our minds after godliness. [Romans 12:1-3] Now I think that this book is after that very goal, so I think this book can help people reach that goal, but it also promotes errors, hence my objections.
Now, many C’s have the same errors because they are of FH. But I can see why DM, and others who think like him, can also see born again Christians “giving up”. And why those who sit under such teaching even consider the possibility, because it is preached as real. Certainly all agree that those who claim themselves Christian but were never born again give up. But if you are told and taught that you still have a sin nature, and that you need to continue to stand against your very nature, you very well could end up exactly like the legalists and the fakers DM is encouraging us not to be.
Rather, if you are taught the truth, that IF you are of Christ, you will prevail, but that growth and peace are the result of your willful obedience and walking in faith, that even when you fall into a season of sin, you know that God is merciful, that He is still there, that you are still His, and if you doubt that, get up again from where you have fallen. But even more, and i am sure you have experienced this very thing: that it is God who comes to you, one in sin, who tenderly calls you back to the glorious cross, to His blood, to His love and mercy, so it is by His strength of will that we regain our strength of will to walk again in repentance.
It is there, in that place and time, where I have turned my back on Him, spat again into His face, where over and over His love fills me, my wayward heart is broken away from the worldly chains i am seeking to embrace, and i am renewed. Whose heart is so cold that God cannot melt it, whose will so stubborn, that God cannot tenderly draw it? Whose sin is so evil that God shudders away? No one. Not a single person.
Chapter 7 LAW SCHOOL introduction done.

next email begins the section: A RADICAL, EXTREME PASSAGE

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A response to “Victory in Jesus” finishing chapter 6

I’ve made my arguments for the eternal victory all true believers have in Jesus. Nothing like that was my goal when i started this study, but I was responding to DM, and what he wrote. So now, like before, i will point out where i think he is in error, but  not belabor the point.

The rest of chapter 6…
under the heading: FREEDOM AND LAW   
Well right off he hits BOTH my major objections, go figure. Let me show you the inconsistency in what he is saying. I know it doesn’t prove anything in and of itself, but it is right there.
He sees choice in Romans 6:14
For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
.
For the born again believer, this verse speaks truths: [a] sin shall not be master over you, [b] you are not under law, [c] you are under grace. There is no “choice” spelled out for us in that verse. We can foolishly try to escape the truths in that verse, but there is no choice there.
And then he says that the issue is where he began the study: “doing versus being”.  If i take the identity of another, say I play the rich person while on vacation, does that make me a rich person? I may act that way as long as the money is there, but then vaca is up and back to the old grind. Yet DM has us taking on the identity of a child of the Holy one while we still have the nature of sin.  We do because of who. We may ‘act’ a part for a time, but in the end, we are who we are, and we do those things that correspond to our nature. [Unless of course our nature changes].
He continues: “If you seek victory over sin merely by focusing on your behavior, you are under a performance perspective that amounts to legalism.”  Yes, i agree.
He adds that legalism thinkers think that changing what we do means changing what we are.
Yeah, where did I miss it? According to DM we still have our sin nature. If we don’t exercise faith in our identity we will be faking it or maybe giving up.
Now i am not disputing the thrust of his argument here for it corresponds to exactly what I have been saying: that we are new in Christ, and our perspective in acting is to relearn how to live godly because at our core we are godly. In other words to live out what and who we are: God’s saved children changed from what and who we were to what and who we are now. We are to be holy and righteous, because our Father is, our Savior is, our indwelling Spirit is, and we can. We are of God. We are no longer mere men.
But as i have said, though he has made fundamental errors at the foundational level, what he is saying here is true.
INDIRECT CHANGE
I agree with what he is saying in this section. A God focused mind keeps one from living legalistically while still living righteously.
HOW IT WORKS
Agree.
 I would add that in grappling with sin, i begin to have glimpses of why i sin. Many times my sin is not done to hurt others or even to be selfish, but as a way of coping with fear or stress or other negative thinking/feelings. Sinfulness, not just ours, but also our parents and the world we grew up in and are in have distorted our thinking, have blinded us to realities and lead us down paths of foolishness. Overcoming many of these things can be a long process. If we have the wrong attitude about God or ourselves, our understanding can remain distorted, our results frustrating.
But as we read His Word and grasp its truths, we can apply them to ourselves and our lives and fruit will happen.
“BEING” APPLIED TO “DOING”
In this section he quotes Romans 6:17-19.
He says that in the past we were slaves of sin but God has made us slaves of righteousness.
100% agree.
But need I mention such talk is contradictory to [a] the idea that Christians still have a sin nature, and [b] we will give up if we are not living right, for they are.
But what he is saying right here is spot on. because now of who and what we are, we should walk that way. Since we are born again, we should seek to walk in newness of life. And that we are to change our ways from the criminal sinners we once were through God’s transforming love. Exactly Right.
Now think on this thing:
If we can not change our lives by our doing right in ourselves, how is it we can change our lives in the doing of wrong?
For our actions do not change our position. Our position has already been changed: God made us slaves of righteousness! That we don’t always walk in that upright ‘condition’ but stumble in sin, at times, does not change our position, which DM regularity speaks of Ephesians 2 where we are seated in the Heavenlies in Christ Jesus.
DM correctly tells us that if we act right because of God’s already given blessing, then  we are functioning properly under grace. But if we think we need to act to gain His blessing, we are functioning as if under Law.
THE BIG PICTURE
DM finishes the chapter well. We are to rest in Jesus for we have His “finished work” already done for us. We now have to walk in it.
Chapter 7 is next.

 

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