Who gets to decide what is “real” love?

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We’ve had great ongoing discussion on Doctrine as “God”: C.J. Mahaney and Apathy of Celebrity Peers.  I’m right in the middle of a new post, but it’s taking a bit more time. When I just saw Wesley post this comment, he asks such an important question because this seems to be one of the key issues in many of our stories.

Let me see if I can cut to the chase of over 130 comments.  We have been discussing doctrine at great length.  I originally said (and still believe) that a lot of these guys who spiritually abuse are so focused on the “correct doctrine” that it becomes an idol.  When it becomes an idol and making people conform to their idea of “correct doctrine,” it becomes abusive when they miss the real issues that are happening right in front of them.  We’ve heard the story of a toddler who was forced to reconcile with his/her sexual perpetrator.  To the outside world, this is unfathomable.  But for some of these men whose primary concern (idol) was doctrine, this was the right action to take.Wesley Roy took some issue with my ideas (and hey, that’s fine by me and very welcome here):

I don’t think that SGM’s problem is doctrine or an over emphasis on doctrine. As a matter of fact, I don’t think it is possible to overemphasize doctrine. Jesus emphasized doctrine for His entire ministry while living among us.

I liked Craig Vick’s remarks on the meaning of doctrine:

Technically, ‘doctrine’ simply means teaching. It has come to mean, however, a body of beliefs that distinguishes one church or denomination from another. Put another way, doctrine identifies my team. In many discussions about the good or evil of doctrine those who are “pro” doctrine tend to mean teaching and those who are “anti” tend to mean the whole way of thinking that results in Christian teams.

Craig went on to add his opinion that the problem is arrogance:

For myself, I think the real problem is arrogance. When we think we see things from God’s point of view (which is impossible because we’re finite) we’re arrogant. We fall into being quick to speak and unable to listen. We become fools and even do outrageously stupid and hurtful things like forcing a three year old to forgive an abuser.

There were so many good comments in this thread.  Here’s a passionate one I liked from Eric Fry:

Here’s a clue: I don’t want anything to do with the idolatry of the Bible and doctrine that claims to be the only authoritative interpretation. You can go and be “right” all you want; I’ll go and love people to the best of my ability, even when it may disagree with your doctrine.

Here is Wesley’s comment today that struck me.

Being one of those “so called experts” (I feel the innate love) I am having a little problem here. These answers seem quite subjective. So I am having trouble understanding how I am to explain to someone that they are not being loving? I am having trouble understanding what makes someone’s innate knowledge of love right and someone else’s innate knowledge of love wrong? I have a question. Since SGM’s guys say they are demonstrating love and many say they are not, how do we determine who is incorrect objectively? We would all agree that declaring someone is doing something wrong and when they ask, “Why do you say that” one responds “Because I feel you are” is a poor explanation.

So anyone have an objective answer?

Any takers?  This is a great question.  As you know my former pastor has a blog against Meaghan and me in which he posts articles and videos trying to prove his point.  He talks about shunning as an act of love.  He’s hoping that by shunning people, they (we) will be forced to see the sin in their (our)  lives and will repent.   He believes this is loving and the right thing to do.  He thinks this is loving, too:

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How much do you want to bet this “ministry effort” will include a megaphone and video equipment to record the event?  How much do you want to bet that it gets uploaded to one of his websites showing the right way to evangelize to pregnant mothers?  Is this loving?  He thinks he’s doing it the right way.  He’ll probably use it as a teaching tool to model to the Christian community the “right way” to “minister” to moms who have unplanned/unwanted pregnancies.

Sovereign Grace Ministries pastors think they handled abuse cases the right way.  They didn’t want to let the civil authorities interfere with them as spiritual leaders doing God’s work because God’s ways are better than anything the government or civil authorities has to offer.

Isn’t this all the same mentality?

So, back to Wesley’s question – – – who is right?  Who is being truly loving?  Who gets to judge and why?

84 comments on “Who gets to decide what is “real” love?

  1. That certainly is a good question. I think that some of the difficulty with it is that different people do have different ideas of what love looks like. Love isn’t necessarily always pretty. For example, if your spouse were to commit a heinous crime, let’s say molestation of a child, and you knew about it, I believe the loving thing would be to turn them in to the police. To the spouse, it may not seem loving because you are turning against them, but I believe it is loving because you are protecting the innocent, the child that was abused and the potential future child that the spouse could abuse later.

    I think probably the best ways to determine what love is by looking at Jesus’ life, and remembering 1 Corinthians 13. Is what you are doing protecting, encouraging, and uplifting of the innocent, defenseless, or hurting? Is it just and right? Is it holy? If so, it is much more likely than not, loving.

    Going back to Wesley’s question of an objective standard (since just saying to look at 1 Corinthians is still a bit subjective), I would say that we could use a combination of Jesus’ life as example and the law. Before you go and say that I am legalist, let me explain what I mean. God gave the law because of transgressions (Galatians 3:19). In other words, people were sinning, breaking God’s moral code, and were in need of an arrow to point them in the direction of a Savior (the one who was promised to Abraham, who would be Jesus). Even though we are no longer “under the law” if we are in Christ, the law is still a picture of God’s character and standards, and still useful for teaching and correcting (2 Timothy 3:16). (It should be remembered that some of the laws given in the old testament were culturally specific to the Jewish people at that time.)

    Jesus is our ultimate example of how to walk in love and grace, but that doesn’t mean the law is no longer useful.

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  2. JA, you point them to objective principles and examples in the Scripture of how God deals with or leads people to deal with similar situations. Now if one denies the existence of the law as a revelation of God’s moral character for all ages then you have a problem because they will claim to be doing what is right in their eyes and your only rebuttal would be, “Well it doesn’t look right to me”.

    Thank God for His revelation of His unchanging moral character in Scripture that provides us with objective principles of love, justice, etc.

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  3. Well, it seems that objectively we have some very definite evidence of love that we can identify it with: patience, kindness, not overbearing, etc., just taken from 1 Cor 13, along with the definitive examples set by God in giving His Son (John 3:16), adopting people into His family (1 John 3:1), etc. So we do have a very objective source by which to determine what love is, and even what it looks like. However, our “love measuring” instruments are often wrong, out of calibration, and damaged: in other words, subjectively, we have trouble recognizing love between ourselves, and when we see it expressed among others. We’re obviously not totally lost in this, for we are expected to discern love, and practice it; but it can be tough to do that, esp. when the “love” comes packaged in control, manipulation, power-plays, etc., often handed to us by people we would otherwise hope to trust in (such as parents, pastors, teachers, coaches, etc.) But we have to trust that God is able to communicate in and through the human heart (1 John 3:19-20).

    So, in reference to the religious leader who, despite claiming to be engaged in “loving” acts and speech–gives a person the creeps; such a person needs to be asked about his/her behavior, and given a chance to understand that such behavior is not being perceived as loving.

    After that, there are really only a couple of ways it can go: the leader either receives the input or not. If he/she does, then there is the marvelous opportunity for change and growth, and increasingly effectiveness in ministry.

    If he/she does not receive the input, and even becomes adversarial towards the person who expressed the concern, then that person (who gave the input) needs to LEAVE, with family and friends in tow. “My sheep hear My voice,” said the Shepherd, and the principle is true for His under-shepherds–those whom God has led to be under his/her care will internally recognize the voice of their pastor as being the one they would like to follow and share their lives with.

    So, what I’m saying (in my usual, long way), is that if a person doesn’t hear a loving, caring, sacrificial voice in someone they are expected to “follow” or listen to for direction, counsel, etc, then they shouldn’t go through the motions of being a part of such leader’s group. We’re responsible to apply our best understanding of the objective evidences of love IN CONCERT with our own, Spirit-led, subjective intuitions of it–and trust God to speak to us through both. He’s able to lead us through both, too, I think. You’re not held responsible to be right about the “love” demonstrated by religious leaders, but you are responsible to be honest about your perceptions of those leaders, and to be sure that you do not enable or support them with a troubled conscience. The violation of the conscience is one of the first areas an abusive leader assaults in the human soul. (That’s what got me into such trouble with my own dark church…)

    I know I say this a lot, but it’s true: As long as the footsteps of those coming IN the front door are louder than the footsteps of those going OUT the back door, bad leaders won’t do anything to change their behavior.

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  4. The First Mention of Love in the KJV of the Bible:

    Genesis 22:2
    And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

    To me, it looks like Abraham knew what love was before anyone ever telling him what love is. God acknowledges that Abraham loves Isaac.

    Since Abraham was before the law, how is it that he didn’t need a definition of love, whether subjective or objective.

    Are we to say that Abraham didn’t have a clue about love? And are we to ask, Who is Abraham to teach love to anyone, what does he know?

    Do we really need a law to tell us HOW TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR?

    Isn’t there something missing, however, in that statement?

    Let’s see if anyone can see what is missing:

    Love your neighbor.

    What is missing?

    Answer:
    AS YOURSELF.

    How do you love yourself?

    Wesley needs the Law of Moses to tell him how to love himself? Hmmm.

    So, the ultimate question therein is:

    How do you love yourself?

    Where in the law of Moses will you find that one, Wesley?

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  5. And isn’t there this one, which is universal, and not just in Christianity?

    Treat others how you would want to be treated.

    To us KJV folks,

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    Why do we need objective stuff, Wesley? You aren’t getting all lawyerish (Pharisee) on us, now are you?

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  6. This is so good, Ken:

    You’re not held responsible to be right about the “love” demonstrated by religious leaders, but you are responsible to be honest about your perceptions of those leaders, and to be sure that you do not enable or support them with a troubled conscience. The violation of the conscience is one of the first areas an abusive leader assaults in the human soul.

    In thinking back on my experience, my gut knew the very first day and I did not follow my gut – – – well, I was steeped in patriarchy, so it’s not like my voice would have mattered anyway. But then after a time, the violation of conscience came. When Hannah left home, I was awakened from my lethargy.

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  7. @Julie Anne: What a severe mercy it is, that those events do awaken the conscience (in my case, the conscience of a coward). I just apologized to another person today who was injured (in the abusive church I was in) by my unwillingness to speak up and do something with what my conscience was telling me. What grace God gives!

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  8. Ken – – It’s hard to close the door to that painful time, isn’t it? It never really leaves. But how good of you to connect with that person and make things right – – it’s one more step in the healing process, showing love and grace. Yea, good for you!

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  9. There is nothing in the Bible to support the practice of shunning people and it most surely is not an act of love.

    Convicting people of their sin is the Holy Spirit’s job, not ours. When people go about crushing other people’s spirits with their heavy-handed tactics, the damage goes beyond the obvious but I wouldn’t want to be telling the third Person of the Holy Trinity how to do His job (or, worse, that He’s not doing His job or not doing so correctly.)

    I would suggest some refreshment on the Love verses such as John 21:15, Matthew 5:43, Galations 5:22, 1 Cor. 13, and 1 John 4:18.

    We are Christians, little Christs, whose story began with God so loved the world….and ends up with love one another for God IS *love*.

    Against love, there is no law with love there are no limitations.

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  10. Gut feelings, perception….all sounds kind of subjective. Hard for me to understand why one person’s gut feeling or perception trumps another’s.

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  11. Is this even a question? Forrest Gump, of course!

    “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”

    We cannot summarily dismiss the world’s understanding of love as all warped and always wrong. At least Jesus does not. From his statement, I can deduce that the world has some intrinsic understanding of what true love is which they are entitled to use this to see whether we are his true disciples or not.

    Children were drawn to Jesus. They saw love in him. Unrepentant sinners such as prostitutes and tax collectors were drawn to Jesus as well. Did that happen after they all went through a fundamentalist seminar on what “biblical love” is? I don’t think so.

    On a related note, I recall hearing new Christians’ testimonies in my college Bible study group. Nearly all of them had a story with something along the line of “When I met this wonderful group of Christians from this group, I saw for the first time in my life true love.” Found out later that all testimonies went through a rigorous vetting process before going public. Yeah, 18 year olds don’t talk like that unless they are coached to do so.

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  12. Wesley: Your comment left me with an “ouch” response. It feels like you just dissed my “gut feelings” comment, yet I understand what you are saying. I’m not sure how to respond because I believe Ken is right – there is a level of analyzing a situation that goes beyond logic. We cannot dismiss that the Holy Spirit may be nudging our heart in a certain direction.

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  13. I think Wesley and I both are being very misunderstood when we are talking about the role of the law. I THINK Wesley would agree with me on what all I am saying here, but he can chime in if he has a slightly different understanding. I apologize up front, because this will be a much longer comment, but needs to be I think to more fully explain these concepts. I will break it up in a few separate comments.
    We love, know what love is, because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). This sentiment that God first loved us doesn’t really begin with Christ’s sacrifice. It began back in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 3:15 says, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” This is typically seen as one of the prophecies concerning Christ. Even at this very early period in human history, God had a plan for redemption in place. God was already showing his love for us.
    Our understanding of what this love really looks like hasn’t always been the same, however. God has revealed himself to mankind progressively throughout history. I believe it is indeed correct to say that Abraham was capable of loving before the law was given. At this point in history, tradition and stories of God were oral. We do not know what all God communicated with man in the early histories, but I think it would be safe to assume, given that Abraham and some others had faith in the one true God, that they did have some sort of picture of the nature of God and his love for us, passed down to them orally from the descendents of Adam and Eve. It continued this way until the time of Moses.
    One may ask, “if people already knew what love was, what God’s love was, why was the law given?” We find that answer in Galatians 3:19-22. “Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”
    The law was given because of transgressions. The people did not fully understand God, his standards, and what it meant to really love. So God revealed more of himself to his people. They would have a fuller (though still not complete) picture of Him. The law was to be a moral compass and aide for the God’s people, giving them instruction, teaching them. The law was given by God, so it must be good. It is good in the sense that it is a bigger piece of the picture of God’s nature. We can see God’s thoughts on the sanctity and value of human life, marriage, justice, and purity, all of which show his love. The Law shows us the extent of our imperfection and the absolute need we have of a savior.

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  14. We see also though, that righteousness cannot come from the law. This law is a standard that we cannot live up to. At this point, we still have not seen the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham. This law is neither opposed to that promise, nor is it a fulfillment of it. The law is a mere shadow of the promise.
    God revealed himself not just with a shadow of his love, but with love itself in coming to earth in Jesus. Though God had revealed more of himself and what love was to his people through the law, mankind still did not really grasp it. Christ came to show us the meaning of this love. Christ exemplified the law by exemplifying love. He said after all that the whole law can be summed up in two commands: love God and love people (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus got it. The Pharisees did not.
    Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-20. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
    Christ came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. Christ fulfilled the Prophets by fulfilling all that was foretold about him. He fulfilled the Law by exemplifying love. The Law has not been abolished though. Why hasn’t it been abolished? It hasn’t been abolished because it is still a part of the picture that God has revealed to us about himself, and it is still useful for teaching and instruction. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” We can still learn from the Law. We can see example of how we should love one another. We can see examples of what God considers moral and immoral. God said in the Law that we shouldn’t commit adultery, murder, lie, or steal. These things haven’t gone away simply because the Law has been fulfilled. These things are still immoral. So if the Law hasn’t been abolished, how is it that we are not under the Law?

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  15. We are not under the Law because we are under grace if we place our faith in Christ Jesus. What does it mean then to not be under the Law? One of the first things that we should remember is that a significant portion of the Law given was culturally specific to the ancient Jews. They were meant to show that the Jews were God’s chosen people, setting them apart from all others. As such, these laws do not apply to all people and in all places. Many laws also had to do with dietary and health restrictions. God gave these laws in order to help the ancient Jews stay healthy and deal with illness. For example, there are various laws dictating what you should do if you come down with a skin condition, depending on the nature of the skin condition. Remember, this was long before advanced medical practices. We can see God’s love even in this. He cared even about the gross details of their lives. Many of these laws, when broken required a small sacrifice to atone for. In general, more grievous offenses, required larger sacrifices. Some laws, such as adultery, were punishable by death. Keeping all of these laws, requiring all of these sacrifices, having such severe punishments in some cases, is a great burden to bear.
    God knew we could not bear this burden, so he sent Christ to bear it for us, giving us his load to bear instead. Jesus said in Matthew 11:30, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Under grace, we are no longer bound to make sacrifices. Christ made the sacrifice for us, once for all (Hebrews 10:10). No longer are we bound to the punishments of the law. Instead, if we repent, placing our faith in Christ, he gives us mercy. Under the Law, the woman caught in adultery could have been stoned, but Jesus showed grace. Christ fulfilled the law so that we don’t have to. He showed us grace and mercy, and in return asks for our faith. He also commanded us to show the same grace and mercy extended to us to others, even our enemies.

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  16. When we place our faith in Christ, God gives us a new nature. He sees us as righteous because Christ was righteous for us. The Holy Spirit continues to work in us to conform us more and more to the image of Christ. This does not happen immediately because, although we have been given a new nature, we still live with our fallen nature as well. These natures are opposed to one another. Sometimes we decide to follow our fallen nature. If we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ, however, then we will, out of our love for him, seek to exemplify love like Jesus exemplified love. We seek to do good works, not because it bolsters our own standing before God, but because it glorifies God before others. We were created to do good works. God expects it of us. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God does not expect us to be perfect, he does not expect us to follow the law, but he does expect us to follow Him. When we do mess up and sin, he is willing and able to show us grace and mercy, as he has done and continues to do every day.
    I believe where a lot of abuse occurs is when pastors and leaders fail in extending grace and mercy toward those in the church. They look to the Law, add to the law their own standards, and then expect those in the church to follow those standards. They do not see the “Law” as a part of the picture God has revealed of himself. They do not see it as a guide for how to love others. They see it as a standard we must live by in order to please God. They don’t use the law to admonish the church, they use it to shame the church. They don’t show mercy, they show judgment. They are not following the law, they are abusing it. They don’t understand the Law like the Pharisees didn’t understand the Law.
    For those who have suffered spiritual abuse because of legalism and a pastor that didn’t understand the law, I am sorry. That is truly tragic. In recovering from that abuse, however, it isn’t wise to say that it was the Law that was the problem. No, it was the abuse of the Law. It was the absence of grace and forgetting that we are not under the Law. Teaching from and using the Law as a guide to learn and understand God’s character isn’t the problem. Burdening people with the Law is the problem. I hope this better explains it.

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  17. @ JA,

    I can’t really speak for Wesley, but I THINK I may know what he is trying to say in regards to the “gut feeling.” I don’t think he is saying that the gut feeling should be dismissed. As you pointed out, it very well could be the Holy Spirit trying to tell you or show you something. I think that the point is to not go on a gut instinct alone. What is it that you believe the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you? Investigate it, see what scripture says, maybe see what another trusted Christian says.

    In the case of you and what you dealt with at your church, the Holy Spirit was nudging you that what was going on wasn’t right. You didn’t leave it up to only a feeling however. After all, the leaders of that church also felt, and believed (falsely) that the Holy Spirit was telling them that what they were doing was right. You did the right thing. You could see, based on examples in the scriptures in addition to your feeling, that you were indeed in the right, and they were in the wrong.

    The difference is that you were following the Holy Spirit. Your church leaders were following their heart. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

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  18. JoeJoe I agree with you 100%. You nailed it with your conclusion:

    JoeJoe
    MAY 10, 2013 @ 7:45 AM
    I believe where a lot of abuse occurs is when pastors and leaders fail in extending grace and mercy toward those in the church. They look to the Law, add to the law their own standards, and then expect those in the church to follow those standards. They do not see the “Law” as a part of the picture God has revealed of himself. They do not see it as a guide for how to love others. They see it as a standard we must live by in order to please God. They don’t use the law to admonish the church, they use it to shame the church. They don’t show mercy, they show judgment. They are not following the law, they are abusing it. They don’t understand the Law like the Pharisees didn’t understand the Law.
    For those who have suffered spiritual abuse because of legalism and a pastor that didn’t understand the law, I am sorry. That is truly tragic. In recovering from that abuse, however, it isn’t wise to say that it was the Law that was the problem. No, it was the abuse of the Law. It was the absence of grace and forgetting that we are not under the Law. Teaching from and using the Law as a guide to learn and understand God’s character isn’t the problem. Burdening people with the Law is the problem. I hope this better explains it.

    It has been my observation that as people when we are hurt by something or someone we usually swing to the extreme in the other direction. I understand that reaction but I have a gut feeling it is not the most productive response but it is the most natural response.

    JA, I was not dissing your gut feeling. I understand fully what you are saying. I agree that the Holy Spirit directs us in this way but I believe this direction will be in accord with God’s revelation of His desire for our lives found in the entirety of Scripture. I am sure you see the irony in telling someone “my gut feeling is that your gut feeling is wrong based on my gut feeling” . I think “your failure to report this child being molested to the civil authorities is a violation of God’s clear directive in Scripture on several levels” and then referencing the Scriptural examples of people being brought to civil authorities for moral violations and the Scriptural directives to submit to the authority of the civil rulers because God has established them would be much more effective or at least put the offending parties in a totally indefensible position.

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  19. On a related note, I recall hearing new Christians’ testimonies in my college Bible study group. Nearly all of them had a story with something along the line of “When I met this wonderful group of Christians from this group, I saw for the first time in my life true love.”

    True Love or True Love-Bombing?

    “Nothing can describe
    The feeling of Great Joy
    That I found at ECKANCAR…”
    — cassette tape of “weird stuff” from Kooks Magazine

    Found out later that all testimonies went through a rigorous vetting process before going public. Yeah, 18 year olds don’t talk like that unless they are coached to do so.

    Just like a Reality Show produced and edited by a Ministry of Propaganda.

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  20. That would be a good term for it, love-bombing. We should always strive to show love toward others, including those who are not Christians. To draw others in with “acts of kindness” and proclaim that that is true love is deceptive though. Chapmaned has been saying that Abraham knew what love was before the law was given. While I disagree with the conclusions he was drawing from this, I do agree with that premise. In the same vein, non-Christians, I believe, can give and express love. We are all made in the image of God. We all bear his fingerprint. Even while still in our sin, bear some of the attributes of God. There are many non-Christian parents out there that love their children dearly. They strive to raise them well, protect them, show them healthy affection, and send them out into the world. I would argue that that is indeed true love. I think the disconnect is that they are, for whatever reason, not seeing that God has the same, but more perfect, kind of love for them; or they reject it. That truly is sad.

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  21. Good grief! Let’s not get theologically constipated here! Just do the right thing, and trust that God will show you what that ‘right thing’ is. If He doesn’t, than He’s not much of a Father, is He?

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  22. Ken – – the word picture is right on: theologically constipated. Wow, you nailed it. And the rest is equally is good. If God can’t speak into our lives like a Father, than what is he? sooooo good.

    Wesley – – – I just want to sign my name under Ken’s 10:27 post. Please let his words speak for me.

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  23. We should let the Father show us the right thing, and just do the right thing. I think what we are really trying to get at is two-fold, discerning what the right thing is, and discerning if it really is the Holy Spirit that is speaking to us. We do a great disservice to ourselves if we only go by what we think we are feeling is right. We have to be careful. Our own hearts and minds can deceive us, as well as spirits that mascarade as the Holy Spirit.

    Let me give a brief example. My wife was severely spiritually abused by her family over the last several years. They did things that most normal people could see weren’t right. The Holy Spirit told us they weren’t right. The Bible told us they weren’t right. Other Christians told us they weren’t right. Non-Christians even told us they weren’t right.

    Guess what though? They believed that they were right. Know how they believed that? They all claime that they, “felt a peace about their actions given to them by the Holy Spirit.” They would back this up by using their interpretation of Scripture.

    So, we have two groups on opposing sides that both say they have the peace of the Holy Spirit to tell them that they are following God. If all we are going by is a “feeling” and we do not test it, then how can we say who is truly following the Holy Spirit?

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  24. JoeJoe has nailed it again. The problem is that everyone claims to be led of the Spirit. So how do we know who is being led by the Spirit and who isn’t?

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  25. Wesley asks: So how do we know who is being led by the Spirit and who isn’t?

    Let’s look at the fruit. In the SGM cases, show me the fruit of the church leaders’ actions. Did the victims move on in their recovery? Were they healed? Were they shown the grace of Jesus and did they have hope? I think the clear answer to that is NO. Many of those survivors went in a downward spiral in their personal faith, emotionally, relationally. Were the families brought together and given hope in the process? No. Were scriptural mandates followed (Rom 13:1)? No.

    I know of a sex abuse case in which a sexual abuse victim and family were shunned by their church (no talk rule), they sold their home at a loss, moved to a new area and no longer go to church. Good fruit? No – stinkin’ rotten!

    In the case of street evangelizing with a megaphone and video recording equipment, I’d really like to see that fruit. When people left after conversing with street evangelists, were they drawn to Christ or repulsed by Christ?

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  26. JA-

    I believe we are in agreement. I said we have to test the spirit. You tested the spirit by looking at the fruit. You compared the actions that you saw to what you know love is supposed to look like. You know what love is supposed to look like because of Christ’s example in the Bible.

    Even still, we do have to be careful about saying that something is unloving because it does not “feel” loving. For example, when you discipline your child (we’ll just say you ground them for a weekend for breaking a rule). Let’s also say that the child’s perception is that they were breaking the rule because they feel the rule is unfair (we will assume that the rule is indeed fair). When you ground that child, how good do they feel? Remember that they think the rule is unfair and thus also the punishment is unfair (when they actually ARE fair). Would they say that they feel loved at that time? I would be surprised if they said they did. Was the act of disciplining them loving or not? If you go only by the feeling of the one being disciplined, then no. But we both know that’s not true.

    Now, in general, most of the time, should love make us feel good? Certainly! Is not feeling good about anothers actions a possible sign that they aren’t being loving? Absolutely! Those in leadership at your former church, the ones that shunned the sex abuse victim, the street evangelist blasting people, none of them were showing love. Those involved weren’t being loved, so they didn’t feel good about it. But it doesn’t follow that if you don’t feel good about it that it isn’t love.

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  27. JoeJoe and Wesley,

    I notice a Lack of discernment in your postings.

    It seems to me that Jesus could be standing right in front of you, and you have to ask, “How do I recognize and know if it is really Jesus standing in front of me?”

    While your intentions are good, I believe you exhibit a lack of discernment, knowledge and most important, faith.

    When you both quote scripture, the explanations with the quote just don’t match.

    If both of you, who are religious, don’t know what love looks like or feels like (gut feeling) without looking at the law, or something in writing to define it, then I really feel sorry for you. Love is by nature. It’s natural.

    JoeJoe’s, your explanation about children being punished was a bad example of a child’s gut feeling of a perceived unfair rule.

    God promised eternal life to those who have faith alone, without law. Is that fair or unfair? It seems to me that you WANT the law, which is not of faith.

    You said that we know love by Christ’s example, but people know love even without Christs example…publicans love those who love them, they just don’t love their enemies. You imply that the law compliments grace. Not a chance.

    Wesley, you keep on looking at the law for measure of your righteousness.

    Are you both lacking faith, and discernment?

    2 Timothy 3:7
    Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

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  28. Who decides what real love is? It’s so simple that most people can never realize what love might be. The recipient of your love decides what real love is. Doctrines, theologies, and philosophies will never trump that.

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  29. Eric: I keep mulling over this: Who decides what real love is? It’s so simple that most people can never realize what love might be. The recipient of your love decides what real love is.

    When I first read it, it agreed with me and I said YES!! Now, after thinking, I’m not sure if it’s that simple. I wish it was. I guess I’m basing it on the very long road of the SGM victim’s families. Many of them stayed years and years after the abuse incident. Eventually they got out and realized it wasn’t real love. But I guess I’m saying that sometimes people don’t know what real love is because they’ve been so injured by false love. Does that make sense?

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  30. Thought 1: It is sad that, nearly two thousand years after the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Pentecost, organized “Christian” religion has been so ineffective as to have left us with a very real need to investigate and attempt to discover the meaning of true love. More bad fruit evidencing more bad trees.

    Thought 2: If I am understanding, some on this thread have been emphasizing an objective understanding based on Scripture, the example of Jesus and so on. Others have emphasized a more intuitive, subjective, approach involving what has been and is being done in us in terms of the new heart and nature we have been given–except that sin in us is not yet fully dead. Rom. 7:10. Overall there appears to have been a seeking after balance. My own opinion is that love is one of those things we cannot really even begin to understand, exhibit, demonstrate, live in or perform until it has become a practiced part of our lives, much as with language, music or engaging in a trade or profession. This very much involves the intuitive, subjective aspect of knowing, but it also very much requires the enlightenment and restraint of the objective, head knowledge, forms of knowing that are available to us. Perhaps we have been over-influenced by the Enlightenment’s emphasis on reason, so that we are prone to discount the intuitive, subjective aspect of knowing, while at the same time tending to think that the acquisition of mere head knowledge is sufficient.

    Thought 3: Because of our limitations, because we see through a glass darkly, because the Son of God is not yet fully formed in us, we require community. Just as in marriage we find ourselves being combined to grind the rough edges off one another, so also in the larger Christian community, iron sharpens iron. Though there is much more to it, the grinding and sharpening sometimes take the form of learning to recognize, confess, repent of and mend the damage done by the sin we commit against others. Sometimes it takes the form of learning to forgive without enabling the other’s sin.

    Thought 4: God, being love, gets to decide what true love is–not pastors, not elders, not overseers, not congregants, not anybody else, but only God. While we may profitably speak to one another, and while it may at times be necessary to impose appropriate restraint to protect one person from being harmed by another, only God is the final authority. What we are granted is the privilege of discovering, together, the meaning of, and means by which, love may be practiced.

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  31. Correction: The last sentence in my previous post could be better worded, “What we are granted is the privilege of discovering, together, the meaning of love and means by which it may be practiced.”

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  32. I used to listen to all the diverse definitions of “love” and it used to be quite a yoke, but it has become very simple for me: Boundaries! And so I just started living that way. I honestly do not know when or how it exactly started, as it was, to be sure, a combination of everything in my life. I have also become aware that, sometimes, you have to leave someone you really love behind, because you know they will cause unmentionable harm. It’s hard to explain, but let me tell you about a scene in a movie I saw once, I don’t even remember the name of. It was about the Jews fleeing from Nazis. They were in the sewers of France (Those sewers are not like what you might imagine. They are really sophisticated and clean). It was a small group of about 12 to 15 people. One lady was carrying an infant. At one point, the baby started to whimper. The people gave her not so favorable looks and then they looked over at their leader. He, in turn, looked over at the woman and she pressed the baby closer into her, and the baby stopped, so they went on (the nuance was that the baby was hungry. But, ofcourse, they have no food and she probably no milk to nurse her baby). Farther down the path, the baby really started to cry. The leader just looked at the woman again. She looked back at him and then down, while she pressed her baby hard into her chest and smothered it. That had a very deep impact on me. Very, very deep. And, I pondered on that for a long time, and still think on that now. I learned then that loving is, by no means, easy nor always popular. You do what is really needed, if it hurts like ….., and so I also learned about courage. But, not everyone agrees with another, and I am past endless rationalizing (it wastes my time and precious energy) and so I just am a stickler on “boundaries”, as don’t want to be intruded upon, and I know I can’t force anyone to do what I want them to or, even, that they really should. Sometimes, I have found, it takes a pushing back really hard when people want to insist I take it their way. And, yes, that has, and is, now, involving pastors. So many, I think, are not really called but play a pretend and want everyone else to pretend with them. It’s like another movie (you must now think that I am a movie nut, which is the furthest from the truth), regardless of who you like as actors or actresses, and that is the, “The Truman Story”. Boy, people can be relentless with their baloney, and that makes you have to push back really hard sometimes. You know, like someone insisting on breaking into you front door. Would you let them?

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  33. Wesley: The law does not provide us with objective principles of love, justice, etc. To show us “what is broken” does not show us “what is whole”. It only hints the latter. It is the exercise of love that shows us what is whole and it is Christ who is the returned our ability to love back to us.

    JoeJoe, Wesley: you wrote, respectively: “the law is still a picture of God’s character and standards…” and “the law as a revelation of God’s moral character for all ages…” This is not so. The law was merely a tool used by God to show our brokenness. God is far beyond the law.

    Of course, God’s standard is not to do other than the most loving thing because God is Love—THAT is His/Her character. And in the abundance of that love, Christ’s life/death/life restored us to the position of sons/daughters of Love. And the Holy Spirit shows us how it works in our daily lives. The law was made moot by Love, returning us to the lawless Love that was Eden before the fall.

    Many Christians fear that love can’t be understood unless we understand the law. I disagree. We know what it is to love each other because we see how we thrive when we do. Destruction and brokenness occur when we don’t love; that is the law of God written on our hearts (and not only in our hearts but running throughout creation). That is why atheists and agnostics feel disgust over the abuse at SGM just as any sensible believer does.

    Last, in earlier thread, I think Chapman and Amos make some good points about the title of pastor/leader/reverend. The glory of our faith is that the greatest-of-all became the least-of-all so that we all might live. Any who would lead in the name of Christ must be servant. It is also simply true that power is a potent temptation to corruption in the human heart, and we are called to make straight paths for our lame feet.

    In light of that, we can see that an aura of illegitimate power has slowly accrued to the titles of church leadership. In order to get back to the original meaning of “minister” (to attend to the wants and needs of others; servant) and “pastor” (shepherd; to provide the needs of sheep), I suggest that we adopt any of the following contemporary terms: church housekeeper, gardener, waiter, janitor, grunt, or tailor. 🙂

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  34. Ken, 🙂 thank you for, “Good grief! Let’s not get theologically constipated here! Just do the right thing, and trust that God will show you what that ‘right thing’ is. If He doesn’t, than He’s not much of a Father, is He?”. Short, to the point, easy to understand and so true. It sure makes for a life of (personal) freedom.

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  35. Hmmm…..I haven’t read all the commnts, so someone may have already said this, but….

    The first thing that came to mind for me was what Jesus said when asked to define ‘loving your neighbor.’ He had just finished telling the crowd that the greatest comndmentss were to love God and to love their neighbor as themselves. Someone piped up and asked, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ Jesus’ answer was to tell the parabal of the Good Samaritan and ask them who they thought was being a neighbor to the man who had been injured.

    I think the answer is as simple as that.

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  36. I believe I am still be pretty misunderstood by some commenters, but I think sometimes we get to a point where we end up going around and around in circles. I’m sorry about my comment length sometimes. That goes back to my personality and how I go about thinking through things. Please let me just say this.

    We live under and are saved by grace alone though faith. There is no need to keep any law. We know what love is because God is love. He has showed humanity what love is from the beginning, and humanity has passed that on since then, even though we don’t always get it right. When I say that the Law is a part (not whole) of the picture of God’s character, I mean that we for example see God’s value of human life and dignity by through his commands to not murder and to treat others with respect and fairness. We see his holiness through his commands to have no other God’s but him and to not take his name in vain. We see his love of marriage and family through his commands to not commit adultery and to honor our parents. We see his care and interest in even the disgusting parts of our humanity by his instructions on how to take care of things like skin conditions (whether or not they are scaly and pussy…seriously, gross).

    The whole Bible, Law included, is the story and history of man, God, and God’s love for man.

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  37. JoeJoe

    You write @ MAY 13, 2013 @ 5:57 AM….
    “We see his holiness through his commands to have no other God’s but him
    and to not take his name in vain.“

    Ex 20:7
    Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain;
    for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

    Was wondering….
    What does it mean to “you” to “Take His Name in Vain?”

    Because – I used to think – “Taking His Name in Vain” – meant saying – “G… D…. it,” or some such thing. Using God’s Name as a curse word. But – Today – I think it has to do with someone “Wanting to be like God.” Or, at least God Like. And taking for themselves – the names and “Titles” of God — In Vain.

    Because, one day, I do a little word study for – Name – and – Vain. 😉
    I check out Strongs Concordance and the Dictionary.

    Name – In Strongs – #8034 = shem –
    1 – a definite and *conspicuous position… – (conspicuous=standing out, clearly visible)
    2 – an *appellation… (a name or “Title”)
    3 – by implication honor, authority, character.

    Vain – In Strongs = #7723 = shav’ –
    1 – in the sense of *desolating; – (desolate = bleak and dismal emptiness)
    2 – evil (as *destructive), – (*destructive = causing great and irreparable harm)
    3 – figuratively *idolatry – ( *idolatry = worship, admiration, reverence for something)
    4 – uselessness (as deceptive,)
    5 – *vain – ( *vain = having an excessively high opinion of one’s, abilities, or worth)
    6 – *vanity – (*vanity = pride in or admiration of one’s own achievements)

    And here are 3 – “Names” – “Titles” – of God, you can find in the Bible…

    Shepherd – Leader – Reverend —- Aren’t these *names* “Titles” of the LORD thy God?

    1 – Shepherd – God/Jesus is called – Shepherd
    The Lord is my *shepherd.* Psalm 23:1.
    …returned unto the *Shepherd* and Bishop of your souls. 1 Pet 2:25.
    …they shall Hear MY Voice; and there shall be …and “ONE” *shepherd.* John 10:27

    2 – Leader – God/Jesus is called – Leader
    And do NOT be called *leaders;* for “ONE” is your *Leader,* that is, Christ.
    Mat 23:10 NASB.
    God exalted him at his right hand as *Leader* and Savior…
    Acts 5:31 ESV

    4 – Reverend – God/Jesus is called – Reverend
    …holy and **reverend** is his *name. Psalm 111:9 KJV — (*name. = shem)

    Hmmm? What about – Todays – Shepherds – Leaders – Reverends – ?
    Aren’t these *Names* “Titles” of the LORD thy God?

    Are they taking “God’s Name” — And taking that Name – in Vain? Oy Vey!!! 😦

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  38. Amos,

    I don’t really want to get into another discussion on the use of the word pastor or how you think nobody can meet the qualifications of pastor. Simply put, I believe you are wrong, and a continued discussion will get us nowhere (at least for the time being).

    Furthermore, what somebody believes “taking God’s name in vain” means has no real bearing on my comment. That misses the point entirely. No matter what somebody believes that to mean, my point is still the same. God commanded not to take his name in vain. God commanded to have no other God’s before him. One thing we can learn from these commands is that God is holy and righteously jealous. It is a part of the picture that helps God has given us to help explaing his character to us.

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  39. patrice

    Enjoyed your comment…
    “The glory of our faith is that the greatest-of-all became the least-of-all so that we all might live. Any who would lead in the name of Christ must be servant. It is also simply true that power is a potent temptation to corruption in the human heart, and we are called to make straight paths for our lame feet.

    In light of that, we can see that an aura of illegitimate power has slowly accrued to the titles of church leadership.”

    “the greatest-of-all became the least-of-all so that we all might live.”
    “power is a potent temptation to corruption in the human heart”
    “an aura of illegitimate power has slowly accrued to the titles of church leadership”

    Sounds to me like that info is “Spiritually Discerned.” 😉

    1 Cor 2:14
    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:
    for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them,
    because they are spiritually discerned.

    Yes – Jesus, as Man, humbled Himself, made Himself of NO reputation…
    And took on the form of a “Servant.” Phil 2:7-8

    But – “Titles” give you a “Reputation” whether you want it or NOT.

    And – IMO – Along with the “Title/Position” pastor/leader/reverend – comes…
    Power – Profit – Prestige – Glory – Honor – Recognition – Reputation
    ALL those things Jesus spoke against and warned us about.
    ALL those things that become “Idols” of the heart. Ezek 14:1-11.

    To me – “Titles” – are a trap.
    A trap – For the one with the “Title.”
    A trap – For the one who wants that “Title.”
    A trap – For the one who wants to follow that “Title.”

    Because, that “Title” shepherd/leader, when assigned to a mere fallible human,
    cause you to your eyes off Jesus – The “ONE” shepherd. – And put them on a Human.

    Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person,
    neither let me give *flattering titles unto man.*
    For I know *NOT to give flattering titles;*
    in so doing my maker would soon take me away.
    Job 32:21-22 KJV

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  40. patrice

    Although I do like the “Titles” you would assign. 😉 😉 😉

    “I suggest that we adopt any of the following contemporary terms: church housekeeper, gardener, waiter, janitor, grunt, or tailor.” 😉

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  41. Ken – – the word picture is right on: theologically constipated.

    Especially if you’ve seen the facial expressions on some of these guys preaching away. Last time I was straining that hard, I must have given myself a dozen new diverticuli.

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  42. Furthermore, what somebody believes “taking God’s name in vain” means has no real bearing on my comment.

    Especially when the original Jewish definition of the term was more like “doing what is evil and claiming God’s inspiration or sanction for it.”

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  43. HUG-

    That is true. The idea was not really related to vanity or just using his name in a profane way. Prophets, priests, and other believers of various gods would call on the name of their god to perform various acts of evil, or would ascribe their god to as having caused, influenced, or inspired some act of evil. I can’t remember exactly how I heard it described, but that is basically the gist of it. The true God didn’t want any of that.

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  44. JoeJoe: It is odd how we say almost the same things but there is a little shift that ends up making a big difference.

    You wrote: “I mean that we for example see God’s value of human life and dignity by through his commands to not murder and to treat others with respect and fairness….”

    I don’t see that God values human life through law but through his immense love in sending Christ. I see God’s holiness/greatness/centrality when I look at the world He/She made (oh my, how astonishingly grand!) I see God’s desire for a relationship with me when I see how people thrive in relationships and I realize that I am incomplete until I also have such with Him/Her.

    I think God uses the law only to show us our sin, that’s all. We are precious creatures who fell into a hole out of which we couldn’t climb and Law pointed out how deep that hole was. God came along and pulled us out. Once out of that hole, the law carries no more meaning—none. Law was there only to point out condemnation and there is no condemnation in Christ and I am now in him. To continue with the law in any form (including to use it to define anything at all) is to maintain its burden. Please don’t! It’s cold heavy harsh.

    Outside of that hole, I am delighted to be with God and all that He/She made, including myself. My joy is so broad and my gratitude is so deep because I am revived! restored! to myself and everything around me, and most of all, to the greatest most unfathomable person evah, God. I explore and encourage and nurture from this bounty of delight and gratitude. And when I fall from that place of grace, it is not the law that turns me back, but the cracks I cause in the loving relationship itself, which I feel so keenly that I dive back in.

    Amos: Every job has a label that defines it: teacher, engineer, cashier, plumber, etc. Take banker, for eg, a label that has become corrupted by a large number of top-level fraudilicious people. The same has occurred to minister/pastor/preacher/reverend.

    So, what terms better describe their jobs? Because there still are good banker-types out there; pastor-types too. They need some kind of label.

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  45. patrice

    “You write…
    “So, what terms better describe their jobs? Because there still are good banker-types out there; pastor-types too. They need some kind of label.”

    How about the “Label” “Servant?” Doesn’t that describe one of His Disciples?

    Seems, in the Bible, NOT one of His Disciples called themself – pastor/leader.
    Jesus even taught His Disciples NOT to be called “Leader.”

    Mat 23:10-12 NASB – New American Standard Bible.
    Do NOT be called leaders; for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
    But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
    Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
    and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

    The Message – Mat 23:10-12.
    And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them.
    There is only “ONE” Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.
    **Do you want to stand out? – Then step down. – Be a servant.**
    If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you.
    But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    Jesus instructed **His disciples** NOT to be called **leaders** and NONE did.
    ALL of His Disciples called themselves “Servants.”

    Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
    Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,
    Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
    Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God,
    Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God
    2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant

    If Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to call themselves “leaders?”
    And a believer calls them self “leader?”
    And allows others to call them “Leader?”

    Are they one of “His Disciples?”

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Voice – One Fold – One Shepherd – One Leader

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

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  46. patrice

    And I really appreciate your explanation on “The Law.”

    “I think God uses the law only to show us our sin, that’s all. We are precious creatures who fell into a hole out of which we couldn’t climb and Law pointed out how deep that hole was. God came along and pulled us out. Once out of that hole, the law carries no more meaning—none.”

    1 – We are delivered from the law. Rom 7:6
    2 – We are – Dead to the law. Rom 7:4
    3 – We are – Not under the law. Rom 7:2
    4 – We are – Free from the law. Rom 8:2
    5 – The law worketh wrath. Rom 4:15
    6 – We are – Redeemed from the curse of the law. Gal 3:13
    7 – We are – No longer under a schoolmaster. ( The law.) Gal. 3:25
    8 – The law is NOT made for a rightous man. 1 Tim 1:9
    9 – By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified. Rom 3:19
    10- The law is NOT of faith. Gal 3:12

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  47. Patrice,

    I have said before that the purpose of the law was to point out how far we miss the mark, how desperately we need a Savior, a relationship with God. I have said that the Law imparts no righteousness. Following the law does not make us any more righteous or justified than anybody else. That comes by grace through faith in Christ alone.

    And I do see God’s character in the ways you describe. Can you honestly tell me though that when you read a command such as “Thou shall not murder” you see NO evidence of God’s love for human life at all? I am NOT saying that we ONLY see God’s love for human life in this command. But this command is one of many things that does teach us that God loves human life. That is what I am trying to get at. The law still serves the purpose of showing us how much we need a Savior, but can you NOT see something of God’s love for us in the laws that he gave? That’s not about following the Law or trying to live by the Law, it’s about learning about God, seeing the whole of the scriptures as God’s testament of love for us. God gave the Law. If the Law is actually “bad” as you and Amos seem to be implying, then you believe that God gave something bad?

    The way you are describing it sounds to me like you think we shouldn’t even read the Law or know about it or learn from it. If that’s the case, why is it even still considered Scripture. Even Jesus said the Law would not pass away and that he did not come to abolish the law. He came to fulfill it. Thanks to his sacrifice, we no longer have to worry about following all of the rules and regulations. If we are under grace, we are not judged according to the Law, we are judged according to Christ’s sacrifice, the ultimate expression of love. If we have placed our faith in Him, then we are judged innocent. If we have not placed our faith in Him, then we are judged by the law that we follow, and that law, whether it is “the Law” or any other law, we are always found guilty, because there is no way that we can keep the Law or any law.

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  48. Sorry. This line: “I am NOT saying that we ONLY see God’s love for human life in this command.” should have been written as “I am NOT saying that the ONLY way we see God’s love for human life is in this command.”

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  49. JoeJoe, So how far did Abraham miss the mark, if the purpose was to show Abraham how far he missed the mark, he missed the memo. He didn’t get introduced to the law at all.

    I have always wondered where the definition of sin “miss the mark” came from. It isn’t in the Bible.

    According to Romans 5:20, the purpose of the law was for sin to increase, not to show a “miss the mark”.

    Why didn’t Abraham get the memo about the Law?

    Ed

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  50. JoeJoe, you misquote Matthew 5:17-18. The Law that Jesus did not come to abolish is prophesy of himself, not the “Old Testament”. He did abolish the Old Testament. You forgot the word “Prophets”, and that puts “The Law and the Prophets” in a totally different meaning that the one that you present. The Law being discussed in Matthew 5:17-18 is the Torah and there is prophesy of Jesus in the Torah. Jesus did not “fulfill” the Ten Commandments”. He fulfilled prophesy of himself…and before he died, he said, “It is finished”, thereby signalling that all has been fulfilled. He did what he came to do.

    And, when Jesus mentions adultery and murder in the Sermon on the Mount, he stated that you have committed adultery when you look upon a woman with lust, and you have murdered when you hate your brother. He said that so that no one could say, “Well, at least I have never committed adultery or murdered.” He was basically saying to people, “Yes, you have.”

    Context is key.

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  51. Chapmaned,

    I still wonder why you think God would give something to man for the sole purpose of man sinning more. You are essentially saying that God wanted man to sin more. That says that by giving the Law, God essentially tempted man to sin. Why would God want us to sin more? Why would God want us to love less? Why would God want us to turn our back on Him and follow our own ways more? That seems to go pretty strongly against all the verses about living pure and holy lives.

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  52. And, when Jesus mentions adultery and murder in the Sermon on the Mount, he stated that you have committed adultery when you look upon a woman with lust, and you have murdered when you hate your brother. He said that so that no one could say, “Well, at least I have never committed adultery or murdered.” He was basically saying to people, “Yes, you have.”

    This is true. The Jews were merely trying to follow the letter of the Law. Jesus was trying to show them that they still weren’t following the spirit of the Law, which was to love God and love people (the two greatest commandments, the summation of the Law). This is how Jesus fulfilled the Law (he did fulfill the prophecies as well of course). Jesus followed the spirit of the Law in the way no body else could. He loved people perfectly. For thousands of years, people thought the idea of the Law was to follow it to the letter. They missed it completely though. Jesus said that the entire idea is to love God and love people.

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  53. JoeJoe,

    How can you ask the following to me:
    “I still wonder why you think God would give something to man for the sole purpose of man sinning more. You are essentially saying that God wanted man to sin more.”

    That is exactly what I am saying:

    Romans 5:20 (KJV)
    Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

    I already covered that with you. Did you not read it?

    Romans 5:20 (NIVr)
    The law was given so that sin would increase. But where sin increased, God’s grace increased even more.

    Look up the word “abound” in the Strong’s Concordance. There are 3 uses of the word “abound”. Look up all three.

    The definition of the Greek word used for the KJV abound is the same word used in the NIVr.

    I rest my case.

    Like

  54. JoeJoe

    Sorry for NOT explaining myself properly.

    You write @ MAY 15, 2013 @ 7:06 AM…
    “If the Law is actually “bad” as you and Amos seem to be implying,
    then you believe that God gave something bad?”

    I never want to say, or imply, that “the Law” is bad.
    That is NOT what I see in the Bible…

    —————-

    Rom 6:15
    What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law,
    but under grace? God forbid.

    Rom 7:7
    What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid.
    Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law:
    for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

    Gal 3:21
    Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid:
    for if there had been a law given which could have given life,
    verily righteousness should have been by the law.

    —————–

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **their shepherds** have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    I’m Blest… I’ve returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of my soul…

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

    Like

  55. JoeJoe,

    You said:
    “This is true. The Jews were merely trying to follow the letter of the Law. Jesus was trying to show them that they still weren’t following the spirit of the Law, which was to love God and love people (the two greatest commandments, the summation of the Law). ”

    There is no such thing as “spirit of the law” in the “letter of the law”.

    Romans 7:6
    But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

    When “The Law and/or The Prophets” is spoken about, it isn’t discussing The Ten Commandments. Again, Jesus did not come to “fulfill” the Ten Commandments.

    You seemed to have bypassed that Abraham did not get the memo in regards to the law. If I am a son of Abraham (Abraham is the father of many, and I am included as his son), and Isaac is also his son, and the law was not introduced to him either, then I have nothing to do with the law.

    Our problem is, is that we know the law, and that confuses us to attempt to conform ourselves based on the law. We don’t conform jack didley squat. God does, without the law. But we keep going back to the law. STOP!

    You keep saying that you know that the law does not save, does not gain us righteousness, etc., etc. You quote scripture perfectly, but your explanation is double speak.

    Ed

    Like

  56. chapmaned24

    You write…
    “We don’t conform jack didley squat.”

    And – “jack didley squat” – is found where in the Bible??? 😉 😉 😉

    Like

  57. A Amos Love

    Hmmmm…Well, let’s see.

    Jack – We have an FM Radio station called Jack FM. They play what they want, or, in other words, they don’t conform to a law.

    Neither did Bo Didley (Famous blues Guitar player). But the proper spelling is Diddley.

    And, squat. A bending of the knee…worship? But that is actually both knees.

    Hey, I tried. LOL.

    Ed

    Like

  58. I still ask, “Why would God seek to have us sin more?” The Bible is filled with verses and examples of how God wants us to live holy and pure lives, examples of what sin is and that we should not do those things because they are not holy, pure, and loving. To say in one sentence that God wants us to be pure and in the next that he wants us to sin more by giving the law is a contradiction and goes against the character attributed to God by the scriptures. If your interpreation disagrees with the character of God, then your interpretation MUST be wrong, because God’s character does not change.

    Galatians 3:19 says, “Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.”

    Sin existed prior to the law being given (God reprimanded Cain for the murder of Abel. When God saw Cain’s anger he said in Genesis 4:7, “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door.”)

    The law was given BECAUSE of transgressions. Sin existed, but adding the law gave an objective standard to more clearly define sin. It imparted the knowledge that they were indeed sinning.” Ignorance of the law is not an excuse to break the law. God gave the law to help with the ignorance part. In other words, to show us just how much we “miss the mark.” Jesus took things a step further by pointing out that we miss the mark not only by breaking those commands, but by the attitude of our hearts as well. In other words, it’s even worse than we initially thought!

    Christ died, freeing us from the Law. Now, in a sense, we still follow some of the same things that are in the Law such as not murdering or commiting adultery. We do not follow them BECAUSE they are law, though, we follow them because they do not show love.

    Like

  59. Are you dismissing Romans 5:20? You shouldn’t do that. But, you should ask the tough questions and to the research yourself. Then you will discover the answers.

    I see you dismissing Romans 5:20, Deuteronomy 1:39, and the NAME of that tree in the Garden, AND Romans chapter 7 where Paul indicates that before HE KNEW the law, that sin was dead. Sin was only alive once he KNEW the law. That means that there was once a time in his life that he did NOT know what sin was. He did NOT know Good and Evil.

    There was once a time that Adam and Eve did not know good and evil. But are we to say that they did NOT sin BEFORE eating of that tree? YES, THEY DID SIN BEFORE EATING OF THAT TREE.

    But they had no knowledge of sin UNTIL eating of that tree.

    God did NOT sit them down and go over good and evil with Adam and Eve after he formed them.

    Ask the tough questions…but do your own research. You learn more that way. It sticks in your mind better.

    Do not dismiss Romans 5:20 while quoting the rest that you quote.

    Ed

    Like

  60. Ed Chapman

    That was pretty good – much better then I could hopr for

    “Hey, I tried.”

    Yeah – That’s what most of Christian-dumb says about “Keeping the Law.”

    Hey, I tried to keep it.

    Like

  61. JoeJoe,

    You said:
    “Now, in a sense, we still follow some of the same things that are in the Law such as not murdering or commiting adultery.”

    My question to you is this:
    Why do you still follow some of the same things that are in the law, such as not murdering or committing adultery?

    Why, I ask?

    There is only 2 laws under the new test.
    1. Love God and
    2. Love people

    If you are following those two alone, there is no need to follow anything else.

    When you love people, you can’t sin, you can’t commit adultery, and you can’t murder.

    So why are you still attempting to follow those two commandments of not committing adultery and not committing murder?

    Are you getting it yet?

    Ed

    Like

  62. As to following “thou shall not commit adultery or murder,” you didn’t finish reading my paragraph. I said I follow those commands because they (murder and adultery) are not loving acts. I am following the law of love, not the Law. It just so happens that they are also commands in the Law. So in a SENSE, we are following those commands, but really we are following the commands to love God and love people.

    I also keep being told to not ignore Romans 5:20. I’m not. I’m reading it in context with Galatians along with what I know of God’s character and that he wants us to conform to his character, that He does not want us to sin. Even though we are under grace and we are legally justified, no longer identified as a sinner, we still do things that are displeasing to God. God does not want us to sin.

    I can see however, that like many disagreements, that these conversations usually end up at a point where no further discussion (for the time being) gets anybody anywhere. I think we are at or nearing that point. We agree that Christ’s sacrifice set us free from the Law. We disagree on what we believe the purpose of the Law is. For now at least, I am going to set aside this particular discussion, engaging though it may be.

    If you would like a better explanation than what I am giving, however, please feel free to read the following article. At least then you may have a better understanding of what I am trying to explain, even if you still don’t agree. Good day.

    http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Gal/Understanding-Law

    Like

  63. JoeJoe,

    I don’t like commentaries, as they are opinions of someone else. What your opinion is, which is not influenced by anyone else’s is the most important commentary. You keep discussing the “character” of God. The law does not show the character of God at all. It shows the character of man.

    Galatians 3:12
    And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

    Notice (in the KJV) the word “DOETH”. That is OBEYING the law (works). The man that obeys the law, lives in sin, because he breaks the law. That is what that is saying.

    In order to be holy and pure, throw the law in the garbage. When you do that, there is no sin. Sin is dead. The law is dead. There is no law in heaven. Why? Because there is only love, and love never ends.

    You said that God does not want us to sin?

    Did you happen to read 1 John 3:9? You cannot sin if you are not under the law. Cannot, not should not.

    You can only sin if you voluntarily place yourself under the law.

    I can say that we are not saying the same thing, and yes, you are dismissing Romans 5:20.

    Yes, God wanted sin to increase, so that GRACE would mean something.

    Luther may have been wrong in many things, but this…Luther understood, and the Catholics cringe at what Luther said, when he said to “SIN BOLDLY”.

    Ed

    Like

  64. JoeJoe, I am fascinated. I would be delighted to spend some good time talking with you in heaven someday.

    No, I don’t find love in OT law. I will give you this: now that I know God (the little bit I do), I see that He/She reluctantly leaned down to spell out those laws to provide clarity about our brokenness and need for help. I’m fairly certain God didn’t want to do it–thus your recent discussion re Abraham etc. But once accomplished, its purpose was done.

    I’ve always thought that when parents say to their kids, “I punish you because I love you”, it is merely a way for them to feel better about a distressful situation. Certainly the child doesn’t find love in it, and to conflate love with punishment is a dangerous path for the human mind.

    Of course, occasionally it is impossible to get a kid’s attention until brought up short, but once the attention is obtained, the exercise is finished. If a child grows up and focuses on those punishments, meditating on them to try to bring clarity to his current relationships, I would question both his spiritual and mental health. Because he’s way past those distressful moments of childhood. Because he’s now grown-up and deeply in love.

    It is peculiar that the burden of the law is so heavy because they are actually minimal standards. Now that I know love-with-God, a far lighter burden, I have much higher standards than the law. Now, when my relationship goes awry, I don’t pull out the law to find my answer but track down the loss of love to find my way back. It is love that makes the burden light and it is love that raises the standards higher.

    Law remains for those who still need to be convicted of their own failings/incapacity. Like the folks at SGM ministries. But except for that particular use, if I were a pastor, I’d not teach from the law but would teach from the necessities of a loving relationship with God/self/others. Perhaps I’d occasionally bring up parts of the law, to remind us of those minimal standards that we left behind. But compared to the standards I now have, OT law is like velveeta on ritz.

    “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself. On these two laws hang all the law and the prophets.” Emphasizing OT law rather than this Order of Love is a source of tremendous ongoing grief/guilt in the Christian life.

    I apologize for the length, Julie Anne.

    Like

  65. JoeJoe,

    One last thing, now that you bowed out for a bit.

    You said:
    “We agree that Christ’s sacrifice set us free from the Law.”

    My question to you is this:

    What did Christ set Abraham free from?

    Ed

    Like

  66. Ed,

    Though you did not put the question to me, you ask “What did Christ set Abraham free from? I suggest the answer is that, though Abraham was justified by faith, Jesus set him free from death. I submit that this answer is consistent, for example, with the following from KJV:

    (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. Romans 5:13-14.

    For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Rom. 8:2.

    It seems to me that what is true of Abraham is also true as to those of us who are not descendants of those who received the Law at Sinai/Horeb. I am inclined to think that I was never subject to the Law, though I must still look to Jesus to be set free from death. Of course, there are those who would still attempt to make us subject to the Law–including especially the Law of tithing, albeit in a twisted form serving the selfish interests of those who would place us in such bondage.

    Like

  67. Gary, you are absolutely correct.

    But, let me add more to the explanation that you gave. I am not taking away from what you said, but expounding on it.

    Sin is the separation of God from man. That separation is known as death.

    However, in regards to Abraham, the only separation that he had as a result of sin that is NOT imputed was after he died in the flesh. He went to Abraham’s Bosom.

    When Jesus died, sin (death) no longer reigned for Abraham, and he was set free from Abraham’s Bosom to be in the presence of God, without anything separating him from God (sin, which is death). That was Abraham’s “born again” date.

    Your answer was exactly what I was getting at with JoeJoe.

    Thanks, Gary.

    Ed

    Like

  68. Ed Chapman – Gary W – patrice

    Enjoyed reading your comments on, about, “The Law.”

    Was wondering about that infamous word – “Sanctification.”

    I was taught this mytical – “Sanctification” is the process, where we sin less and less…
    And become betterer and betterer…

    But, now I also see verses that say – I have been sanctified…

    Heb 10:10
    By the which will *we are sanctified* through the offering
    of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

    Heb 10:14
    For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

    Do you guys have any thoughts?

    How do you folks explain???

    Sanctification? – Sanctified?

    Like

  69. A Amos Love

    I notice that you are using the KJV, and so I did a little research using the Strong’s Concordance, and it appears that past tense use (sanctified) and present tense use (sanctification) are both used.

    Sanctified (Past tense)
    Once we are saved (past tense), we ARE pure, holy, without blame, without spot or blemish, etc. That is sanctified. Our entrance to heaven is not hindered. I believe that is what Hebrews 10 is discussing. The blood of Jesus Christ sanctified us.

    Sanctification (present tense)
    However, living out our Christian life on earth is a process. That process is not us changing us. It is the Holy Spirit changing us. The Holy Spirit is in charge of our sanctification process of walking the talk, and walking the walk.

    That is how I perceive it.

    Ed

    Like

  70. Ed – Thanks

    That’s kinda how I understood sanctification – change – Becoming more Christ-Like.
    “Bad” things become less and less. And Amos becomes “Gooderer and Gooderer.”
    And Yes – It is the work of the Holy Spirit. – 1 Pet 1:2 KJV – 2 Thes 2:1

    But – The focus is on Amos
    And – The focus is NOT on Jesus…

    Then, I noticed something recently, in Romans 8:29 KJV…
    A verse which I thought kinda went with, or explained “Sanctification.” – The process.

    Rom 8:29 KJV
    For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate
    “to be” conformed to the image of his Son,

    “to be” is in italics – “to be” is NOT in the original. It was added… Hmmm?

    See, I always thought – one day – In the future – Thru Trials, Mistakes, Sins, ALL things, working together for good – Amos is “to be” conformed – to the image of his Son. BUT – NOT Now – NOT Today…

    And the focus is on Amos…

    So I’m wondering – How do I start from the beginning and re-think “sanctification?”
    Stongs says – “Santification” – comes from “Sanctify”
    Sanctify means…To make holy, consecrate.
    Consecrate means – “To declare or set apart as sacred:”
    Hmmm? God declares and sets apart as sacred?” – Or – Amos becomes “Gooderer?”

    **Santification – is Strongs #38 – hagiasmos – From #37 – hagiazo
    In the KJV it’s translated – holiness 5 times, sanctification 5 times; – And it means…
    #38 – purification, i.e. (the state) purity; concretely a purifier:– holiness, sanctification.

    Thayers Greek-English Lexicon has Sanctification – #38 – hagiamos as…
    1) consecration, purification – 2) the effect of consecration
    Consecrate means – “To declare or set apart as sacred:”

    **Sanctify – is Strongs – #37 – hagiazo – to make holy, i.e.
    (ceremonially) purify or consecrate; (mentally) to venerate:– hallow, be holy, sanctify.

    Thayers Greek-English Lexicon has Sanctify – #37 – hagiazo as…
    1) to render or acknowledge, or “to be” venerable or hallow
    2) to separate from profane things and dedicate to God
    2a) consecrate things to God
    2b) dedicate people to God
    3) to purify…

    So, could, “santification” be more about being “Set Apart” and “Made Pure” by Jesus.
    And – NOT about Amos becoming – “Gooderer and Gooderer?”

    Heb 10:14
    For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are “sanctified.”

    And “sanctified” is also Strongs #37 – hagiazo – To make Holy – Purify. 😉

    Any thoughts? Anyone?

    Like

  71. A Amos Love

    You hit the nail on the head:

    2 B or no 2 B

    That is what Bugs Bunny said when he was looking for apartment 2 B.

    Anyway, enough of my bad jokes.

    That is what I have been saying for a long time in regards to this Calvinist thought process that they are predestined. The “to be” is the key.

    Christians, as a whole are “to be”. It is the subject of the “to be” that was predestined. It has nothing to do with an individual predestined “to be” saved. It is the already saved to be conformed.

    I also see that in the Calvinist favorite verse:

    Ephesians 1:4
    According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

    Key words here are “that we”.

    Calvinists were NOT chosen in him before the foundation of the world, as the Calvinists want us to believe.

    Holy and without blame before him in love is what was chosen. Christians, as a whole, are holy and without blame as soon as they become a Christian.

    The Calvinist reads something totally different here.

    As you know, the italics were added for clarification of a sentence that, when translated from Greek to English, makes sense to the English language speaking individual.

    I mean, it would not make any sense to read Romans 8:29 like this:

    “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate confomed to the image of his Son…”

    That is a fragment.

    Inserting “to be”, based on many factors, is the right thing “to do”.

    But, even when it is without the 2 B, the word conformed is the subject of predestinate.

    Ed

    Like

  72. Ed

    That’s my question – And thought – Maybe we can read Romans 8:29 like this..
    “he also did predestinate conformed to the image of his Son…”

    Aren’t we made in His Image? – From the beginning?

    —————-

    Gen 1:26-27
    And God said, Let us *make man in our image,* after our likeness:
    So God created man *in his own image,* in the image of God created he him…

    Gen 5:1
    … In the day that God created man, *in the likeness of God* made he him;

    Gen 9:6
    …for *in the image of God made he man.*

    Jas 3:9
    …curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

    ———–

    If we are “Made In His Image?” – “after His likeness?” – From the biginning?

    What is the Image we are “to be” conformed into? That we are NOT? – Now?

    Like

  73. Ed

    And, I also like to look at different English Versions of the bible… 😉 😉 😉

    Rom 8:29 BBE — Bible in Basic English Version
    Because those of whom he had knowledge before they came into existence,
    were marked out by him to be made like his Son…

    Rom 8:29 – 1599 Geneva Bible
    For those which he knew before,
    he also predestinated to be made like to the image of his Son…

    Rom 8:29 – GOD’S WORD Translation
    This is true because he already knew his people
    and had already appointed them to have the same form as the image of his Son…

    Rom 8:29 – J.B. Phillips New Testament
    God, in his foreknowledge,
    chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son…

    Rom 8:29 – Names of God Bible
    This is true because he already knew his people
    and had already appointed them to have the same form as the image of his Son.

    Rom 8:29 – New Century Version
    God knew them before he made the world, and he chose them to be like his Son…

    Rom 8:29 – New Life Version
    God knew from the beginning who would put their trust in Him.
    So He chose them and made them to be like His Son.

    Rom 8:29 – Worldwide English (New Testament)
    He knew all along that he would choose them.
    He chose them to be made like his Son.

    Rom 8:29 – Wycliffe Bible
    For those that he knew before [For why and whom he knew before],
    he before-ordained by grace to be made like to the image of his Son…

    Rom 8:29 – Young’s Literal Translation
    because whom He did foreknow,
    He also did fore-appoint, conformed to the image of His Son…

    Rom 8:29 Wes —- I think from Wesley
    For whom he foreknew, he also predestinated,
    conformable to the image of his Son…

    Rom 8:29 Wey —- I think from Weymouth
    For those whom He has known beforehand
    He has also pre-destined to bear the likeness of His Son…

    Rom 8:29 Mur
    And he knew them, previously;
    and he sealed them with the likeness of the image of his Son…

    Rom 8:29 Easy-to-Read Version
    God knew them before he made the world.
    And he decided that they would be like his Son…

    Like

  74. Hey Amos and Ed,

    Thought I’d go ahead and chime in again briefly. Hope ya’ll don’t mind. 😉

    Sidenote first: Just in case it wasn’t clear, I do want to say that even though we aren’t in total agreement on some things, from what little I do know based on what you guys have said, it does sound to me like you guys are strong advocates for living by grace, and based on my limited knowledge of you, I do count you as brothers in Christ who are trying to follow Him the best that you can. And as I’m sure many Christians have said to one other before, I wouldn’t be surprised if we meet in heaven one day and are able to talk about all the things that each of us got wrong that we thought were right. Thank goodness for God’s mercy is all I can say about that. I just wanted you to know that.

    OK, as to the question of Abraham and what he was set free from. Perhaps I didn’t word one thing I said very well. I said that Christ set us free from the Law. While I think this is true, this is not what he ultimately set us free from. What Abraham was ultimately set free from, what we today are ultimately set free from, indeed what everybody who places their faith in Christ is set free from, is eternal seperation from God. In other words, I agree with you that he (and we) are set free from death. I think that what truly seperates us from God and a relationship with Him, is essentialy our pride. It is our nature, will, and desire to believe we know what is best for our lives and to be prideful enough in that to follow our own way. In our fallen nature, we are at emnity with God, and thus have no relationship with him, and because we follow our own paths, we follow those paths straight to hell. When we sin, I think it would be ok to say that those sins are the evidence of us following our own path. When we place our faith in Christ, by grace God sets us on a new path, a path of life. So I think it would be safe to say that God saves us from death, and he saves us from ourselves.

    As for sanctification, I have generally thought of it as us being conformed to the image of Christ by the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. I believe we are justified once. That is a work that was completed with Christ’s death on the cross. I think we are declared as justified when we place our faith in Christ. To say that justification is an ongoing process I think would essentially equate justification to our actions, which would be works based, and not grace based. I don’t think that is what you are saying, however. Thus, I don’t think justification and sanctification can be said to be the same thing.

    The way I see it, justification is kind of a legal term. In the eyes of God, by His grace we are declared to be holy, pure, and righteous if we place our faith in Christ. He doesn’t see as sinners or “people of the world.” Not all of our actions actually ARE pure, holy, and righteous, however, even after placing our faith in Christ. Even after coming to faith in Christ, Christians still at times lie, or lust after somebody, lash out in anger whether verbally or physically, and so on and so forth. I think we can all agree that those actions would not be considered loving or righteous. The person may still not be declared as a sinner, but they still don’t always do the right thing. Now, is saying, “we sin less and less due to the work of the Holy Spirit leading us” a good definition of sanctification? Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t know if I really like that definition. From all that I’ve heard and read, it seems to make sense to me that santification is a process and that that COULD be how it world.

    Amos, you mentioned a definition though of santification also being defined as consecration, or being set apart. In this way, I can see how what you are saying of sanctification could be correct. God has declared us as holy (justification) and has set us apart from the world and judgement as holy (sanctification). I think that could be a valid way to look at it, and one that I’m not sure I had really thought of before.

    Like

  75. JoeJoe,

    Thanks brother for the kind words, and yes, absolutely I consider you a brother in Christ, just as I do Wesley. I have no ill-will against either of you. And, I also think you further clarified your thoughts a whole lot better in your latest comment. I couldn’t find anything that I could debate.

    Amos A Love

    Dude, I think you went a little overboard in your multiple English Translations…lol.

    But I get the point. However, Jesus is the Lamb of God without spot, Holy and Pure, and that is what we are being conformed to…that image. Sin got in our way, in our life…in our lifestyle, in our thoughts, and actions.

    Even tho we are considered to be Holy and Pure, as we are saved, we are not holy and pure in our flesh.

    Paul said that he does what he doesn’t want to do. He wants to do good, but evil is right there with him. There is a battle. We know the law, and we try to live by grace. Abraham didn’t know the law, so he didn’t have the same problems that Paul did.

    Ed

    Like

  76. JoeJoe

    And I also thank you for the kind words.

    I also go along with you when you write…
    “What Abraham was ultimately set free from, what we today are ultimately set free from, indeed what everybody who places their faith in Christ is set free from, is eternal separation from God. In other words, I agree with you that he (and we) are set free from death.”

    Now, as far as Justification and Sanctification, and how they work, or work together, or mean, I’m open to suggestions. I’ve been questioning “Sanctification” and what I was taught, “Doctrines of men,” “Traditions of Men,” for a few years now.

    I kinda understand “Justification” “Justified” meaning – We are “Justified” by faith. Rom 5:1. We are “Justified” by His Blood. Rom 5:9. Nothing we can do but “Believe.”

    As you said…
    “In the eyes of God, by His grace we are declared to be holy, pure, and righteous
    if we place our faith in Christ.”

    So, for “Justification” – Jesus gets ALL the Glory – Jesus has the Preeminence.

    Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church:
    who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;
    that in all things “HE” might have the preeminence.

    But, the way “Sanctification” has been taught – It’s a process – And…
    “We” supply some kind of effort – Then “We” get some of the Glory – Hmmm?

    Isn’t Jesus supposed to get “ALL the Glory?

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  77. JoeJoe – Ed

    This is pretty close to how I’ve heard “Sanctification” taught – That I now question.

    http://carm.org/justification-and-sanctification

    “Sanctification is the process of being set apart for God’s work and being conformed to the image of Christ. This conforming to Christ **involves the work of the person.** But it is still God working in the believer to produce **more of a godly character and life** in the person who has already been justified (Phil. 2:13). Sanctification is not instantaneous because it is not the work of God alone. The justified person is actively involved in submitting to God’s will, resisting sin, seeking holiness, and **working to be more godly** (Gal. 5:22-23). Significantly, sanctification has no bearing on justification. That is, even if we don’t live a perfect life, we are still justified.”

    Where – In The Bible – Does it say – “Sanctification is the process?” Where does it say…
    “Sanctification is the process… being conformed to the image of Christ?”

    And – The Bible does NOT say, as this writer says, “conformed to the image of Christ.” In the Bible – it says – “to be conformed to the image of his Son.” And Jesus was both “Son of Man” and “Son of God.” Which “Image” have we been conformed to? 1 – Jesus, as God? Or, 2 – Jesus, as Man?

    I NO longer believe this “Sanctification” – This “Sanctification” sounds like “The Law.” Heavy weights laid on shoulders by “The Religious Leaders.” This “Sanctification” is about me, Amos, **working to be more godly.**

    NOPE – Tried that – “submitting to God’s will, resisting sin, seeking holiness” – Praying more – Reading the Bible more – Fasting more – But – It did NOT work. 😦

    I still looked like Amos. – And, I was back to living under “the Law.”
    It’s a New Law – Have to resist sin – Sin less – become more godly. But – it’s “Still Law.”
    And, I wind up looking at me – and NOT looking at Jesus…

    As soon as Amos says, or thinks…
    I’m sinning less – I’m a better person – looking more like Jesus – I have “A Law”…
    And – When I think I’m obeying this Law – I’ve “Fallen from Grace.” Gal 5:3-4

    A simple rule of thumb for me to know where I’m living – under law – or under grace.

    1 – When I Focus on **self** – I’m living under the law.
    2 – When I Focus on **Jesus** – I’m living under grace.

    1 – When I Focus on **self** – I’m living under the law.
    What is “Amos“ doing? – Good or evil. – Resisting sin – Submitting to God — etc.
    And, I’m eating from that forbidden Tree – The knowledge of Good and Evil.

    2 – When I Focus on **Jesus** – I’m living under grace.
    What is “ Jesus “ doing? – Loving – Forgiving – Showing Mercy – Laying down His Life – Justifying – Sanctifying

    My thinking is becoming… Like John the Baptist…

    He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

    “Christian Growth” is forgetting about ourselves. NOT focusing on ourselves.

    But – Focusing on Jesus – The author and finisher of our faith.

    Because, “We” can NOT do it right. Ever…
    And, as soon as we think “we’ve done it right” – We have “Fallen from Grace.”

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  78. A Amos Love,

    I agree with the majority of what you state, however, sanctification is a PROCESS…of God’s work. In a relationship, it does take 2. It’s a God and I relationship. We are to submit (relax, or as some say, “let go and let God) to the Holy Spirit. That is our job of obedience. And, we are to read our bible. How else to we get to know God if we don’t read, study, comprehend, meditate, get to know, etc. The relationship can’t be one way. Repenting means to change your way of thinking. The thinking is our part. We are to pray more. In a relationship, you are supposed to talk to God. We are supposed to “do” God’s will. We are not to be hearers only of the word, but doers of the word. But, what is God’s will for YOU? It may be different for each Christian. Relationship. Obedience is not what some preach that it is.

    Sanctification is not a past tense word. The word itself indicates a state of, or progression. That is not our work, but the work of the Holy Spirit, but we must submit to the Holy Spirit and let the Holy Spirit do his thing. Sanctification is for our flesh, not our spirit. That is the way that I see it.

    I heard one preacher say that when he first became a Christian, he did not want to stop drinking. He didn’t even want to want to stop drinking. He didn’t even want to want to want to stop drinking. But he did, over time, but it wasn’t him that did it, it was God.

    Then we can say, “look at what God has done, he took the desire away”.

    Obedience to the law to stop drinking, or obedience to faith that God will take the desire away by way of sanctifying the flesh?

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  79. Sanctification, according to Millard Erickson, is “a process by which one’s moral condition is brought into conformity with one’s legal status before God. It is a continuation of what was begun in regeneration, when a newness of life was conferred upon and instilled within the believer. In particular, sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s applying to the life of the believer the work done by Jesus Christ.”

    Justification is instantaneous, while sanctification is a process, over a lifetime of walking with Christ. “Justification is an objective work effecting our standing before God, our relationship to him, while sanctification is a subjective work affecting our inner person.”

    “Sanctification is a supernatural work; it is something done by God, not something we do ourselves. … [It] is the work of the Holy Spirit. … While sanctification is exclusively of God, that is, its power rests entirely on his holiness, the believer is constantly exhorted to work and to grow in the matters pertaining to salvation. … Paul urges both practice of virtues and avoidance of evils. … So while sanctification is God’s work, the believer has a role as well, entailing both removal of sinfulness and development of holiness.”

    Erickson provides a good visual for us to grasp this idea: “It has been observed that no one has ever reached the North Star by sailing or flying toward it. That does not change the fact, however, that it is still the mark toward which we press, our measure of “northernness.”

    It is comforting to know that the Christian life is not lived out in the believer’s own strength but in the power and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus demonstrated that he was motivated and walked in the anointing of the Holy Spirit. This Jesus has poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit so that God’s people can have all that they need in order to please God, to live for him, and to rest in the assurance that Christ is with and for them.

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  80. Barbara – Ed – JoeJoe

    Been rummaging around the internet – trying to understand “Sanctification.”
    “Justification” – “Sanctification” – Wow – These big words make my brain hurt. 😉

    Barbara quotes – Millard Erickson, “Sanctification is a process by which ones moral condition is brought into conformity with ones legal status before God. It is a continuation of what was begun in regeneration, when a newness of life.”

    I hear that as…
    “My Legal Status” before God is “Justified” – Being justified freely by his grace. Rom 3:24 – Just As If I’d Never Sinned – I’m declared righteous. My sin is gone and God “Remembers my sin NO more.

    But – This “Sanctification” by Ericson says now “my moral condition” is NOT righteous, NOT innocent, NOT acceptable, and I am to “Change.” Becoming more like “My Legal Status,” – Righteous – Innocent.

    Amos, by the Holy Spirit, will sin less and less, getting “Gooderer and Gooderer,” to match his “Legal Status” – Only Amos will NEVER have his “Moral Condition” match-up with his “Legal Status.” – Ever – NEVER – But – Amos has to aim for it. And, once again, the focus is on Amos. NOT on Jesus.

    Well, which is it?
    Is Amos, righteous before God? – Innocent? – Guiltless? – “My Legal Status?”

    Or, is Amos, NOT righteous? NOT innocent? – NOT Guiltless? “My Moral Condition?”

    If this is “Sanctification?” – Improving “My Moral Condition?”
    What good is “Justification?” – “My Legal Status?”

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  81. Barbara – Ed – JoeJoe

    And one nice thing about Christian-dumb – there is always…
    Another opinion to consider… 😉

    Here is – Gerhard Forde, former Professor of Theology at Luther Seminary.
    Gerhard seems to be the opposite of Millard Erickson – Gerhard Forde says…

    “For the most part **we make the mistake** of equating sanctification
    with what we might call the moral life.”

    “The moral life is the result of the old being‟s struggle
    to climb to the heights of the law.”

    “Sanctification… It is a matter of getting used to justification.”

    “Our sanctification consists merely in being shaped by, getting used to, justification.”

    “That is why total sanctification and justification are in essence the same thing.”

    http://pastormattrichard.webs.com/Forde_Sanctifcation.pdf

    “SANCTIFICATION, IF IT IS TO BE SPOKEN OF AS SOMETHING other than justification is perhaps best defined as the art of getting used to the unconditional justification wrought by the grace of God for Jesus‟ sake…”

    “Sanctification is thus simply the art of getting used to justification. It is not something added to justification. It is not the final defense against a justification too liberally granted. It is the justified life.”

    “For the most part we make the mistake of equating sanctification with what we might call the moral life. As old beings we get nervous when we hear about justification by grace alone, faith alone, and worry that it will lead to moral laxity. So we say we have to “add” sanctification too, or we have to get on to what is really important, living the “sanctified life.” And by that we usually mean living morally.”

    “Now, living morally is indeed an important, wise and good thing. There is no need to knock it. But it should NOT be equated with sanctification, being made holy. The moral life is the business of the old being in this world. The Reformers called it “civil righteousness.” Sanctification is the result of the dying of the old and the rising of the new. The moral life is the result of the old being‟s struggle to climb to the heights of the law.”

    Heb 10:14
    For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are “sanctified.”

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