Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mistaken Perception

Mistaken Perception

When Jesus used righteous indignation to clean out the temple and presented anger at what the Jews had made of His “Father’s house” (John 2), some people think He should have never gotten angry and especially shouldn’t have expressed such anger in public, and that John should not have used a public media to circulate this behavior in public. But, that is a perception that is quite mistaken. There are appropriate times to deal firmly and with anger even in public. “Be angry and sin not” (Eph.4:28) shows that not all anger is sinful of itself. Sometimes it is wrong NOT to get angry.

When Paul wrote his rebuking letter to the church at Corinth, and he had good reason to rebuke them and call them spiritual babes, there are some today who seem to think that such behavior in Christians is out of place and should not be aired publicly. He wrote because he loved their souls and hoped that they would take the rebuke in the right manner. Some perceive that it is never appropriate to write on publicly accessible media things that expose error that otherwise have a free reign in that media. Some think that such a letter as Paul wrote to Corinth and Galatia should be handled only in private. God guided Paul to write these letters and approved the passion of Paul’s rebuke. God also approved of Paul’s open rebuke of Peter. Perception that such should never be done publicly is not correct, else Paul should have only dealt privately with Peter and Barnabas and should not have written about it. See Galatians 2. Some would perceive that to be poor behavior and very “unloving”, while the truth is that Jesus and Paul’s actions were displays of real love.

Sometimes perception is very mistaken. Looking at the externals of these events is not pleasant, and sometimes we get mistakenly angry at people who express anger for ANY reason including those who really have justifiable reason to rebuke firmly and publicly. All anger and all words of rebuke and correction are not wrong. There are times when it is right and calculated. As Paul wrote the rebuking words of the first letter to the Corinthians he was aware that they could be childish and choose to take it in the wrong way. God was not embarrassed about making this case public. Paul was not mean, and he was not being a bully, and he was very concerned with how some might chose to perceive of this letter. But, he was right. He was glad that they chose to take his words in the right way and with godly sorrow chose the way of correction and repentance. See 2 Corinthians 7.

We live in a time of a very misinformed culture and many very misinformed churches filled with people who are not truly yoked to Jesus and thereby learning from Him, else they would have their senses exercised to discern the place for the firmer side of love that possesses and expresses righteous indignation at sin and hardened hearts. There are times to be sensitive and gentle and compassionate, and there are proper times to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather EXPOSE them”(Eph.5:11). There are times to rebuke “before all”(Gal.2) and to “mark those who teach contrary to the doctrine” we learned from the inspired apostles (Rom.16:17). There are times when the sin is public that the rebuke or exposure needs to have the same venues and avenues to be heard as the error gets. We need to choose those times carefully, and measure it with righteousness, fairness, and love. But, we do not need to become so sensitive that we allow error to have free reign in public media, and try to make modern public rebuke sinful or to posit that public correction of error is wrong. That would be placing a standard on modern teaching that would, by necessary inference, make Jesus and Paul into sinners who pushed people around in sinful ways. That is simply a perception that is mistaken.

Instead of being so unapproving of those who correct public error in the same medium that the error is pushed publicly, I would like to see those who believe it is wrong to ever do this, to show that their way of not ever correcting wrong is better. I have never seen the superiority of the way of letting public error go unchallenged and uncorrected. There are many times when going private HAS been done by this writer, and still the teacher of error kept right on publicly teaching their error. When all private effort has been ignored and the teaching of error continues on public media, then it is only right to use the same medium to expose the error. It would be wrong not to. Any other perception is simply mistaken because it makes Jesus and Paul sinners. -Terry W. Benton

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What is included in faith?


When I ask certain change agents, who have swallowed the modern doctrine of salvation by faith alone, what is included in their “faith alone” things get strangely quiet. Since Muslims have “faith” will their faith save them? We get an answer then that it is a certain faith in a certain person, named Jesus. So, they qualify the faith that saves as “faith in Jesus” by pulling in other verses, and rightly so. So, now we need to explore this a little further. Since it matters about the content of faith, can we be saved by believing in a Jesus that the apostles did not present? Remember, Paul was afraid that some brethren had been taught “another Jesus” (2 Cor.11:3-4). What if people are unwittingly taught “another Jesus” and they believe in that Jesus? Will their faith in THAT Jesus be the means of their salvation? Now the issue of faith in Jesus must be explored a little further because faith in the wrong Jesus will not give us real salvation. It may deceive us into a false assurance. We cannot afford to be believing the wrong Jesus and entertain a false assurance.

What are the necessary ingredients of saving faith?


So, now we explore a little further about the content of saving faith. It has to believe the right Jesus and have knowledge of the right Jesus. Does it have to be a faith in the Jesus who came in the flesh? Reading 1 John we find that some were teaching a Jesus who only appeared to be in the flesh but was not actually come in the flesh. What if we believed in a Jesus that we sincerely believe only appeared to be in the flesh but really wasn’t? Do we have enough of the right Jesus to save us? No, John said that a person believing such “is not of God”(1 John 4:2,3). So, we have to know enough about the right Jesus to be able to confess that He HAS come in the flesh. So, the right ingredients of faith has to be in place before one can have fellowship with God.

Now, there are other facts to believe regarding Jesus that are essential to believe before salvation occurs (1 Cor.15:1-6). So, let me pose a question right here. If belief requires knowledge, then it requires the work of hearing the evidence and considering it. Would the belief in Jesus include a knowledge of our sins and why we need Jesus? And, I think we can safely say that belief in Jesus would have to include conviction of our sins and of our need for what Jesus’ death was all about. So, it is safe to say that belief includes “conviction of sins” and “godly sorrow”. Would anyone say that you can be saved by faith before there is godly sorrow for sin? Now, godly sorrow is not a synonym for “faith”, is it? Yet, in all honesty, we cannot say a person has saving faith that does not have godly sorrow as a necessary ingredient of saving faith.

This leads me to another question about what all else might be necessary ingredients of saving faith. If a person has godly sorrow but has not yet repented, does his faith contain all the necessary ingredients to save him? We really need to know also if the Lord might require believing His requirement of repentance is essential to salvation. IS THAT POSSIBLE? Could it be possible that saving faith MUST have the essential ingredients of godly sorrow AND repentance? Can one really “believe” in Jesus who commanded repentance, and not repent? Or, does true faith require repentance before one is “accounted righteous”? Jesus said “except you repent, you will all likewise perish”(Luke 13:3). Can a person really “believe” in Jesus and be saved before they have decided to leave a life of sin and turn to God? Since repentance is a change of the mind and will, can a person possess saving “faith” before they change their mind and will about sin and God? If not, then repentance is an essential ingredient of the kind of faith that connects us to salvation.

Now, if a person can see that godly sorrow and repentance are indeed necessary ingredients to saving faith, then it should be easy to see why Peter told the sin-convicted Jews on Pentecost to “repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins”(Acts 2:37-38). Here, we can see that repentance is a necessary ingredient of “faith in Jesus Christ”. In other words, a person who believes in Jesus must possess these necessary ingredients of saving faith.

Remember, faith in Jesus without believing specifically that he “came in the flesh” does not possess the necessary ingredients of the faith that saves. The faith that saves has to have the right ingredients. Faith without believing what Jesus said about repentance is not the faith that possesses the necessary ingredients of saving faith. But, now we see also that baptism is the point in faith where a person buries the old sinful man with Jesus (Rom.6:3-5) and has faith that God will operate to cut away sins (Col.2:12; Acts 2:38; 22:16). This is the point in faith where a person becomes “united together with Christ”(Rom.6:4-5). Do you believe this just as Paul did? Or, do you believe “another Jesus” (2 Cor.11:3-4) that does not teach this?

So, it should be easy to see that scriptural baptism is “for remission of sins” and to “wash away sins” because in being “united together with Christ in baptism”(Rom.6:4-5) we then make the connection with His blood that becomes applied to our account at this moment in saving faith. Thus, repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus are also necessary and essential ingredients of “faith in Jesus”. This is why Paul said that “you are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. For (because) as many of you as were baptized INTO Christ have put on Christ”(Gal.3:26-27). This is the point of entering into relationship with God. This is the moment and the ingredient in faith where the connection to the blood is exchanged in the divine books. The question is whether you really believe Jesus in these matters. Can you truly believe in Jesus without the necessary ingredients that HE says is the moment of unity with Him? Did the Lord promise remission of sins without these necessary ingredients? Or, did some people who did not believe Jesus’ words make that promise in spite of what Jesus said?

Remember, if “another Jesus” is teaching that one is saved before and without repentance, you cannot afford to believe that Jesus or that preacher. The right Jesus said, “He that believes AND is baptized shall be saved”(Mark 16:16). Do you believe what He said? If not, how can you claim to believe in Him? You cannot afford to get this wrong. Believe the scriptures. Let the scriptures correct your views and your faith. It DOES matter what the ingredients are in your faith. –Terry W. Benton