Fervently Love One Another

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. (NASB, 1 Peter 1:22-23)

Please do not misunderstand my intention here. This is not meant to be an essay about warm, fuzzy love or the mushy sentiment the world advertises as true love. This is not about abandoning truth and all that is doctrinally sound. This is not going to be a post about compromising theological precision for the sake of a common unity that comes with superficial love and approval of sinful words and deeds. My intent is to turn our attention, as believers, to a broader understanding of what Peter tells suffering Christians scattered in various places.

Before I begin, my desire is to encourage believers to follow the many commands in Scripture which require us to “walk wisely” (Eph. 5:15, Matt. 10:16, Rom. 16:19). All of us should examine what we are being taught with a healthy, rigorous intellect when it comes to following the Bereans’ example (Mark 12:30, Acts 17:11). We, in the church, often become dazzled and mesmerized by ear-tickling sermons about love which has a tendency to puff us up and feed the inner nature of man, particularly if these sermons are centered on our perceived inherent worth and value apart from Jesus Christ.

A focus on love

I hope I have added the necessary discernment and wisdom disclaimers appropriately, because the remaining word count in this brief commentary focuses on God’s wonderful, amazing love and an exhortation to fulfill the greatest person-to-person command. Galatians 5:14 puts it this way: “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’” Did we catch that—the whole Law is fulfilled!? That’s pretty serious. So how do we start to understand and fulfill this Royal Law command? (James 1:22, 2:8)

The absolute truth about God is that He is love. He is grace, mercy and forgiveness. He is eternally kind and compassionate, perfectly cohesive with His all-encompassing truthful essence and justice. These attributes are not in conflict with each other, but complement each other beautifully and flawlessly. He, in the person of Jesus Christ, is perfectly submissive and obedient. He is humble and meek and lowly.

So why is it, at times, the Church appears to diminish these characteristics and markers of true discipleship for the rally cry of truth? If the church in Ephesus was condemned for elevating doctrinal truth over leaving their first love (Eph. 1:15, Rev. 2:4-5), should we not all tremble at the mere thought of our local church lampstand being removed as well for the same snares? The fact is that truth and love live together in seamless cooperation when patterned according to I Peter 1:22-23.

For me, it starts with recognizing my deficiencies in the past. I have not always held to the Christian standard of these four simple, yet powerful words: “fervently love one another.” The word “fervently” in the original Greek is an adverb which means “earnestly” or “intensely.” As an adverb, it would have more to do with being stretched out, earnest, resolute, and tense or taut.

This fervent love is not something passive. This kind of fervency mentioned here has every idea of actively, daily, and constantly engaging the mind and heart to pursue love for one another. The phrase embodies full, unreserved, actionable love, grace, mercy and forgiveness, molded like the kind of agape love Christ has for us. The Bible is clear. He commands His children to act according to their pedigree.

This is not a call to check our wits at the door and become so innocent and naïve that we are dazzled by anything that is glittery. This is a call to the local church to come back to its “first love” and recapture a warm, affectionate love for one another as described in Ephesians 1:15.

Wise living is not only about discerning the false, but it is also acting in concert and harmony with what the Scriptures call for in Christian relationships. It is not the “straining out a gnat” hyper-criticism that Jesus condemns in Matthew 23. The standard for “loving one another” is wrapped in humility, mercy, patience, long-suffering grace and a host of other biblical principles. We are commanded to be “fervent,” and later, fervent love covers not just one sin but a multitude. A multitude carries the idea of “a great number” or “the whole number.” Just as the communicable attributes of God’s love and justice are being dispensed in perfect harmony, so our joyful slavery should display a Christ-like image when we love and submit to one another out of a holy fear for our Master.

Jesus gave a “new command” to love one another and it is, in fact, the ultimate mark of His true disciples (John 13:34-35) which is really an extension of an old commandment we had from the beginning. (1 John 2:7-11). Christ is the supreme example of this type of servanthood (Phil. 2:5-8).

Biblically speaking, there are a dozen or so different analogies that God uses to describe our life here on earth. Military terms might be the most well-known. It is no mistake that while we are soldiers marching and warring, it should not be against each other, but against sin: rebellion, unsubmissiveness, disobedience, pride, anger, arrogance; and militarily standing firm against outside and inside attacks of demonic agendas. If we keep this in mind, we could “put off” many of the sins that tempt us when trying to live amidst the troops. Within the “boastful pride of life” arena, we can find it far too easy to cross the line into devouring one another. (1 John 2:16, Gal. 5:15)

Dr. Rick Holland posted this as his status update a few weeks ago on Facebook: “Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy (James 2:13). Praying to be a man without accusations against anyone.” I hope the triteness of the medium does not detract from the poignancy of the post. The essence of brotherly love is filtering through mercy and grace while using discernment as we advance and grow together.

So let us march on following King Jesus our Lord and Savior, denying ourselves, daily picking up our cross, and following Him (Luke 9:23). The only true way to obediently follow Christ and be conformed to His image is to trust Him with every aspect of our lives, including godly displays of sincere and fervent love for the brethren. 1 Peter 1:22-23 is clear: all those born of imperishable seed will have a truthful and purified, imperishable love for everyone who follows Jesus Christ.

[node:bio/skjnoble body]

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Joshua Caucutt's picture

Why should we submit and be obedient to Christ?

formerly known as Coach C

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

So many reasons. Near the top: He is our Lord.
Rom.10.9

And there are only two choices.
Rom.6:16

Joshua Caucutt's picture

Why wouldn't you say "because our salvation depends on it"?

formerly known as Coach C

Joshua Caucutt's picture

Sorry, that was a bit of a loaded question - should we say that obedience is necessary for salvation? The article was an outstanding presentation about love, submission, discipleship and obedience . . . but seems to stop short of pulling the trigger on the question of "why?"

formerly known as Coach C

DavidO's picture

Josh wrote:
Why should we submit and be obedient to Christ?

Because we love Him.

Anne Sokol's picture

all those things you mentioned--love, submission, discipleship, obedience--simply flow out of the inherent nature of our salvation. We do attain them gradually and always imperfectly in this life. But it's the way we were saved--Christ doing all those things for us and somehow then in us as He lives in us--so it's the way we will naturally develop, however imperfectly.

Joshua Caucutt's picture

What if we do not obey? Will He save us?

formerly known as Coach C

Anne Sokol's picture

If He gives you the ability to obey the command to believe the gospel, He will save you.

Joshua Caucutt's picture

So a lack of obedience = unsaved?

Is this something that should be a part of an initial gospel presentation?

formerly known as Coach C

Anne Sokol's picture

is the lack of obedience to believe the gospel, it does not concern any work. Read John through several times. Jesus says repeatedly to obey His commands--and that's the command, to believe.

Joshua Caucutt's picture

Are you saying that there is only one real command and everything is else is more or less optional in order to avoid damnation?

formerly known as Coach C

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Curious thread.
The gospel declares that all who believe are justified by faith. A host of passages reveal what else happens in that moment. We are reborn, adopted, united with Christ, Spirit indwelled.
And there is a fundamental change from being hostile to God to owning Him as Lord.

For the believer, obedience to Christ brings the joy of knowing we are pleasing Him... and that's more than reason enough. Yet, there's more because blessings flow from obedience as well.

So there is a single obedient act (of repentance and faith) that brings us into a new life of obedience. But once we're living that life--it's debatable whether it's more accurate to say we are continually changed because we are obedient or obedient because we are continually changed.

Edit: but our position as children of God who are delivered from sin's penalty is contingent only on faith and not on obedience. This is the clear teaching of the NT and the consistent affirmation of protestants since the Reformation.

Tt 3:5 NKJV 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,
Eph 2:8–9 NKJV 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

(Item 8 in our http://sharperiron.org/doctrinal-statement ] doctrinal statement states this as well)

Anne Sokol's picture

Joshua Caucutt wrote:
Are you saying that there is only one real command and everything is else is more or less optional in order to avoid damnation?
All we can do is believe, and only that by the gift of God. All the other commands, Jesus had to fulfill for us; there is no way we can fulfill them. So all the other "optional" commands are not really optional. They are fulfilled for us by faith in Him who fulfilled them. In the believing, all the obedience of Christ becomes the believer's, and all the damnation for his sins was suffered by Christ.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I would certainly not put it as Anne has.
Logically if Christ has done all the obedience for us, we have nothing at all to do.... and nothing we do is obedience. This leads to antinomianism.

Rather, we are credited with the righteousness of Christ ("his faith is accounted for righteousness" is the Romans expression), and as He transforms us into His image, our obedience follows. The NT is full imperatives addressed to Christians because there is actual obedience our Lord expects from us... and our obedience is distinct from His, though it is only possible because of His.

Joshua Caucutt's picture

So, let me apply these thoughts in a couple of areas

2 Peter 1:10,11 seems to argue against the idea of "belief alone": "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you." Who are the instructions, imperatives - if you will - for?

To take things a step further - On what basis do we then discipline, put out, declare bound in sin a man who persists in disobedience? If he must only believe and the Holy Spirit is solely responsible for obedience, shouldn't we then put the blame on the Holy Spirit? Or do we assume that his disobedience indicates that this man is unsaved?

One more passage: Paul seems to assume that a lack of faithfulness to obey is an indication of a lack of salvation in I Timothy 5:8 "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

Paul does not seem to say or imply that a man who does not provide for his household is still saved as long as he believes.

I agree that without regeneration and the indwelling of the HS, there is no chance of obedience, but even with those in place, we must still obey - not simply out of gratitude and not simply as a fruit, but because He is our Lord, it is our obligation and as stated in Luke 14, we cannot be His disciples without denying ourselves and discipleship comes with a cost that must be weight prior to salvation.

Justification is a work of God alone, but He dictates the basis on which that justification will be applied. This is a truth that has been diminished in American evangelicalism, IMHO.

formerly known as Coach C

Anne Sokol's picture

I was paraphrasing http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/web/cclib-2.html Martin Luther , a father of protestant theology:

Quote:
Then comes in that other part of Scripture, the promises of God, which declare the glory of God, and say, "If you wish to fulfil the law, and, as the law requires, not to covet, lo! believe in Christ, in whom are promised to you grace, justification, peace, and liberty." All these things you shall have, if you believe, and shall be without them if you do not believe. For what is impossible for you by all the works of the law, which are many and yet useless, you shall fulfil in an easy and summary way through faith, because God the Father has made everything to depend on faith, so that whosoever has it has all things, and he who has it not has nothing. "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all" (Rom. xi. 32). Thus the promises of God give that which the precepts exact, and fulfil what the law commands; so that all is of God alone, both the precepts and their fulfilment. He alone commands; He alone also fulfils. Hence the promises of God belong to the New Testament; nay, are the New Testament.

wkessel1's picture

It is not that the "other" commands are optional, but if you are seeking to obey the two commandments that Christ gave - Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself, you will find your actions will line up with other commandments as well. If we love God we will obey his commands and do things like seeking diligently to add the virtues of 2 Peter 1 to our lives, for example. If we are loving our neighbors and thinking of them before our selves we will find obeying the "other" commands fall right in with that thinking. Any of this is, as Aaron pointed out only possible because of His working in our lives and His changing us into the image of Christ.

God gave Israel very specific rules of how to fulfill these two commands in the law of Moses. He has been more general with the NT believer, but the core principals of loving God and loving others are still there.

The question that I find helpful for me, is am I, by God's grace, seeking to have the mind of Christ in my daily life? He certainaly gave us a very vivid example of following these two commandments day in and day out.

Anne Sokol's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I would certainly not put it as Anne has.
Logically if Christ has done all the obedience for us, we have nothing at all to do.... and nothing we do is obedience. This leads to antinomianism.

Rather, we are credited with the righteousness of Christ ("his faith is accounted for righteousness" is the Romans expression), and as He transforms us into His image, our obedience follows. The NT is full imperatives addressed to Christians because there is actual obedience our Lord expects from us... and our obedience is distinct from His, though it is only possible because of His.


Joshua is asking if we have to obey in order not to be damned and to be saved. There is one requirement for that--to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the only *obedience* that saves us. I think you agree with that. I don't see how we can make it conditional on our obedience after salvation.

Baptist Confession of Faith wrote:
They are not justified because God reckons as their righteousness either their faith, their believing, or any other act of evangelical obedience. They are justified wholly and solely because God imputes to them Christ's righteousness. He imputes to them Christ's active obedience to the whole law and His passive obedience in death. They receive Christ's righteousness by faith, and rest on Him. They do not possess or produce this faith themselves, it is the gift of God.

skjnoble's picture

Hi Joshua, I'm sorry for my absence. I wanted to catch up with you when I could treat your original question with some thought and time. I misunderstood your previous question in Post #2, so I lobbed something out in Post # 4. I should have taken more time in thinking it through. It's a good one. Why didn't I address the "why" in the article?

There are a number of reasons: 1) In truth, I feel like there is an implied answer to the "why" question as there is in all of Christ's commands. Why do we love? Why do we serve? Why do we forgive? Not only because Christ commands us to, but because His true disciples have a desire to in a consistent, growing, enduring pattern. (I John 5:3, For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.) Rom. 8:28-29 clearly states that every single circumstance is used in a believer's life to conform us to Christ's image--even our lack of obedience=sin. 2) The original intent of this article was more of a description/examination of love and what the bible has to say. It was not intended to be philosophical or psychological--why are we here? Why do we do what we do, etc. 3) Answering "why" seemed somewhat redundant considering the only people who would be interested in reading all of the way to the end are most likely those who have an interest in loving one another as Christ calls us to love, whether to learn or critique what I have to say. Anyone who doesn't know why we should love would most likely not be interested in an article of how we should love. (As an aside, I definitely appreciate your interest!) Smile 4) I also appreciate the thought and will examine future articles based on your question. It is a thoughtful one.

#9, I'll be honest Josh. I don't believe that obedience is necessary for salvation. For many of the reasons mentioned here. In fact, I would hold to the truth that we actually cannot obey until we are regenerated. (Is. 64:6, Rom. 3) Hopefully that speaks to your #9 post. Is obedience an indication or fruit of salvation or knowing Christ. I would believe the bible says it is. (I John 2:3)

#11, I believe that a lack of obedience ought to be a part of every gospel presentation. Matt. 7 is clear. Many think they are followers of Christ, when in fact, they are not. But for anyone who professes or claims the name of Jesus Christ, if they profess the tenants of the Christian/biblical faith, we exhibit much grace, mercy, and forgiveness as they/we grow in Christ. Matt. 7 is also clear, we will know them by their fruits and that, I believe, takes a lot of time, patience and investment in lives--just like when a tree is growing. I'm thankful for people who have/continue to do that for me when I stumble.

I won't respond beyond those posts because I'm a little dense in following the logical thought progression and then subsequently how to answer them. But I don't want to seem uninterested, if someone wants to reword things so I can hopefully grasp a bit of what is being asked. Plus, I feel like I'd be interrupting a flow of conversation that isn't necessarily directed at me.

I hope this gives you more of an inside scoop into what I was working through as I wrote this article.

Blessings! Kim Smile

Joshua Caucutt's picture

Kim, I think that you and I are on the same page.

Anne, how is your statement different from "easy-believism" and how do you reconcile it with James 2:24 "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."?

Btw, I would cite Calvin as the "father of modern protestantism", not so much Luther. You can pretty much find a Luther quote to back up anything . . . a little like Spurgeon.

Aaron - in reference to #14 two ideas: 1) Scripture cites at least three different time when Abraham was "justified" or "found righteous". It was not a one-time event. 2) Throughout the OT, the Greek word "pistos" is rendered "faithfulness" while throughout the NT the same word has been rendered "faith" in the vast majority of circumstances. I think that the book of James is almost a direct refutation of this mistake, but what if we insert the word "faithfulness" in a few key verses?

My point is this, when reading the NT, we must be careful to determine the context of the word "law". Sometimes it refers to the Mosaic Law and other times to the law of the Spirit, the law of Christ, etc. To get back to the original topic - the sincerest form of love is obedience. Just as Abraham would have been never justified if he had not left Ur, fathered Isaac, offered Isaac, submitted to circumcision, etc., we will not be justified if we do not submit to the demands of the New Covenant. THIS is what distinguishes our faith (or faithfulness) from the intellectual belief exhibited by demons.

formerly known as Coach C

nbanuchi's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
The gospel declares that all who believe are justified by faith. A host of passages reveal what else happens in that moment. We are reborn, adopted, united with Christ, Spirit indwelled. And there is a fundamental change from being hostile to God to owning Him as Lord.
Are you then affirming that regeneration occurs not before but after one believes and repents?

Joshua Caucutt's picture

No - regeneration is a work of the Spirit that happens early - this is just off the top of my head and so many of these things happen at once, but the critical ones to this discussion are IMO:

election - regeneration - conversion - justification - indwelling

Conversion happens when a person hears the truth of the Gospel and responds in the affirmative. A presentation of the Gospel that leaves out or diminishes the need to fully submit to Christ as Lord is a Gospel that will result in false professions IMHO.

No one will choose God without the regenerating work of the Spirit and there are instances of regeneration happening in the womb.

The HS cannot indwell a person who has not been justified, but justification cannot happen until the person repents and submits to Christ.

A few pertinent passages that I think are overlooked in modern popular Christianity:

John 3:21, 36: "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." and "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

The Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe [obey ] all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Romans 6:22: "But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life."

Romans has several instances of the phrase "obedience of faith"

Titus 2:11-14 "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." In modern usage, "grace" doesn't instruct us to do anything . . .

Belief and faith were synonymous with "obedience", "submission" and "slavery" in the understanding of the apostles. Almost every NT book, especially Jude, the Johannine Epistles, Titus and the Timothy's emphasizes that the true Gospel included the agreement to a complete life change and that people needed to understand this up front.

formerly known as Coach C

skjnoble's picture

I agree. We're very, very close and bear with me as I try to understand what you're saying. I don't want to put words into your mouth. I think we've basically said the same things.

The only clarification I want to make is to find out if we're agreeing on the term "justification" or "to justify." If we're talking vindication, then we would agree. But if we're talking that our works/obedience justify us regarding our legal standing before God or how God views us, then I would disagree. What would you say? I hope I'm not being obtuse, and please let me know if I am. You've brought up some great points that are making me think. I appreciate it.

Kim Smile

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Anne Sokol wrote:

Joshua is asking if we have to obey in order not to be damned and to be saved. There is one requirement for that--to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the only *obedience* that saves us. I think you agree with that. I don't see how we can make it conditional on our obedience after salvation.

Yes, I'd certainly agree with that.

Let's be sure we don't breed unnecessary confusion here.
Works have absolutely no role in securing or retaining our status as children of God.

James does not use "justify" in the same sense that Paul does. There are a couple of possibilities for what he means by the term, but I believe he something sort of like vindicated. That is, an outward demonstration of the genuineness of your claims.

Peter's teaching regarding making your calling and election sure has to do with something very similar. Since obedience is characteristic of the regenerate, one makes his regeneration "sure" by obedience in a couple senses: a. He demonstrates to himself that he is truly born again and/or b. He demonstrates the same to whoever else is observing. A professing Christian who does not have an increasingly obedient life to show for it, has reason to wonder if he has truly passed over from death to life.

But none of these passages teach that a believer's standing with God is any way affected by obedience. This is established once for all by his union with Christ through faith alone.
Quite simply, this is the gospel.

nbanuchi wrote:
Aaron Blumer wrote:
The gospel declares that all who believe are justified by faith. A host of passages reveal what else happens in that moment. We are reborn, adopted, united with Christ, Spirit indwelled. And there is a fundamental change from being hostile to God to owning Him as Lord.
Are you then affirming that regeneration occurs not before but after one believes and repents?

We might be getting a bit off topic here but my view on that is that regeneration and faith do not occur before or after each other in any meaningful sense ("logically" or chronologically). A "dead" person cannot believe, but a sinner cannot be alive without believing. So while I don't see how they can be simultaneous, I also don't see how one can come before the other. I'm quite happy to leave that in the "mysteries that are really not my problem" file. Smile

nbanuchi's picture

Aaron,

Thank for your input about regeneration. I apologize for being off topic, I just needed to know your view on it.

Okay, but now I got another question that Aaron or anyone else can tale a stab at.

Aaron, you said,

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Works have absolutely no role in securing or retaining our status as children of God.

(At the risk of sounding like a Pelagian) Here's my questions (and if it's off topic, just let me know and you needen't provide a response; it's no problem and I won't take it personal).

Can faith or love (since the latter is the topic) be defined without using words like "good works" or "obedience"?

If obedience is required for exercising genuine faith, doesn't that make obedience necessary for salvation?

Can obedience be contemplated outrside of merit or is obedience necessarily connected with meriting?

Does thed Bible, especially in the the NT, make a distinction between works of merit and works that do not denote merit?

skjnoble's picture

Hello. I'll take a stab at this, though I would never think I could hold a candle to others here on this board. Particularly, to try and speak for our esteemed Editor-in Chief.

If obedience is required for exercising genuine faith, doesn't that make obedience necessary for salvation?

I might take issue with this, although it would be a splitting hairs issue, so maybe one not worth mentioning. You can let me know if this is the case. Unless I'm reading your statement incorrectly, I would hold to the understanding in Scripture, that (our/human) obedience is not a requirement of exercising anything in the way of salvation--I'm so thankful for that. I would cite that Eph. 2:8-10 helps me with this. Four things I glean from those verses: 1) salvation has nothing to do with us ("not of ourselves"), 2) it has everything to do with God ("the gift of God"), 3) not any work, which I would consider our obedience a "work" ("not as a result of works"), 4) we were prepared us for such obedience ("which God prepared beforehand"). All of this making God the subject and us the direct object.

Again, I think obedience is an indicator, not a catalyst.

The second observation is the use of the word "merit." Depending on what you mean here, does merit mean "getting us closer to God or favor with God" when we "obey" before or in order to receive salvation/regeneration? Does God show favor or warm His heart to us because He sees our trying/good works/something valuable/etc. and it "merits" favor from Him? I think no. Rom. 9:16, I believe, can speak to that.

After being saved, would/could merit be equated with rewards. I believe it can/does. Matt. 5:12, Matt. 6:3-4.

I hope I'm directly answering your question(s).

Kim Smile

Joshua Caucutt's picture

I think that we all agree on one point

That a person who possesses true, saving faith will obey. The issue that I'm sense a bit of discomfort with is in forming a consistent system that also affirms the "curse" side of the covenant, namely, that a person who does not obey is potentially demonstrating a lack of faith.

Most of us on this thread (from what I can gather) are personally committed to obedience in our daily lives. The problem is that commitment does not come out in our presentation of the Gospel. So, some of us have been spiritually born of the Spirit and possess the desire to submit and obey, but when it comes time to verbally communicate that aspect of the Gospel, we shy away for fear of sounding "Catholic". In essence, my view is that many in evangelicalism live the true Gospel, but preach/teach a gospel that ends up being anti-nomian.

The whole New Testament emphasizes the need for repentance (turning away) and ongoing obedience - not as a means of merit, we cannot merit or earn justification - but as a part of our reasonable service or obligation. We commit to being faithful to our responsibility in the covenant. This is exactly the same as the marriage covenant - none of us believe that we "earn" the love of our spouse, but we do commit to behave in accordance with our marriage vows toward our spouse. The OT believers did not earn justification either - but they still were required to be faithful to the covenant.

Let me illustrate: baptism does not earn salvation, none of us would say that it does. However, a person who refuses baptism is thereby indicating a lack of submission and a lack of salvation. We could go through all of the commands in the NT and make that statement - back to the point of the article - love for God and love for the brethren does not earn salvation, however a lack of love that is based in truth can indicate a lack of salvation.

All through Scripture, we have examples of disciples who fell away and their falling away was tied to their deeds and ultimately belief. Their deeds showed that their true belief did not lie in submitting to the demands of their Lord. We are told that we will be saved if we "persevere", Paul kept his body "under subjection" so that he would not face damnation, Demas, Crescens and even Titus "fell away" (2 Tim 4:10). Look at how many times various followers and disciples of Christ were faced with a demand placed on them by Christ and they "forsook" following Him. These people counted the cost and found it to be too great. "No man having put his hand to the plow and turning back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven."

My only point in my original question was to see if Kim would "close the loop" so to speak. Love is certainly a command of Christ and his true disciples will be faithful (not perfect) to that command - on the flip side - one who is not faithful to that command will not inherit eternal life.

The Gospel is a covenant with volitional responsibilities and commitments on both sides. Any presentation that boils the way to God down to simply intellectual knowledge for fear of instituting a works-based salvation runs the risk of being a false Gospel IMO. Christ, Paul, Peter, John and James constantly warned against preaching a Gospel that requires nothing.

We've gone far afield here . . . I didn't intend to hijack the original article. Aaron, if you think we should start a new thread, I'm game.

formerly known as Coach C

Anne Sokol's picture

Joshua wrote:
Anne, how is your statement different from "easy-believism" and how do you reconcile it with James 2:24 "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."?
It's not *easy* believism to believe that each one of us can do absolutely nothing to earn favor before God. God takes years and years of our lives to teach us this; even after we're saved, we have to peel off the vestiges of recognizing and hoping in our own goodness. Martin Luther understood the main problem of mankind; he wrote to our most pressing need. Anything noteworthy to God is done by Christ; He does graciously acknowledge our works after our salvation, to the extent that He sees Himself in them. We certainly have nothing to contribut to God. It is Him in us. (And, it is for our good that we obey.)

Do I strive to serve God? Maybe it would be better to take the emphasis off I. His Spirit strives in me, teaches me, enables me, and I struggle with His help to bring my flesh under so I can be more and more completely devoted to him. Thank you, God.

I may be explaining that imperfectly--it's a bit of Jonathan Edwards mixed in there Wink

Joshua wrote:
The Gospel is a covenant with volitional responsibilities and commitments on both sides. Any presentation that boils the way to God down to simply intellectual knowledge for fear of instituting a works-based salvation runs the risk of being a false Gospel IMO. Christ, Paul, Peter, John and James constantly warned against preaching a Gospel that requires nothing.
The gospel is a covenant between the Godhead, not between us and God.

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