How can we earn what we already have?

This is the second half of the parable of the prodigal son. I believe it illustrates one of the ways prosperity doctrine misleads people.

Luke 15:25-31
25″Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.

26″And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be.

27″And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’

28″But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.

29″But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;

30but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your (K)wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’

31″And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.

(NASB)

Most evangelical and Pentecostal churches are agreed on the doctrine of salvation through Jesus by faith alone. They both typically preach that salvation is by faith in Jesus, and is unmeritted, coming to us as a result of God’s grace. Not at all by any works we might do.

In the area of earthly rewards after salvation, though, prosperity doctrine teachers seem to tell us that we are rewarded now by God according to our works here and now – give now, and you will receive back materially 10 or 100-fold (eventually); or behave this way, and the heavens will be open to you. Even faith becomes a work – if you don’t have enough you don’t receive, so its somehow your fault you don’t have whatever it is you are praying for yet. People may even have trouble loving a God who they are taught makes it challenging to earn his blessing, or who takes 25 years to hear them, despite their giving so much.

Fortunately many individuals seem to filter out some of the extremes of this teaching, but nonetheless it is strongly promoted, particularly in the area of financial blessing.

It seems to me that the Bible teaches that God will look after us and we don’t have to ‘earn’ His favour or blessing – look at the parable of the prodigal son for example. The father loved his wayward son enough to accept him back after he’d squandered and wasted his inheritance, but the other son had not realised that he also had an inheritance. The second son, who stayed home, had thought he had to work to deserve his inheritance. But it was his already – he just had not realised it, or the extent of His father’s love for Him. He could have had that young goat if he’d wanted it – it was already his – but he’d mistakenly thought he needed to earn it from his father. Likewise we don’t need to try to earn what we cannot possibly earn and which we already have – through Christ alone.

If a works mentality is taught towards earning God’s blessing, there is also a risk for creating a climate for resentment like that of the older son, when someone who has done a lot less to ‘earn’ favour seems to be blessed beyond those who have spent years doing all the right things.

So to me, apart from taking advantage of the vulnerable by teaching that the key to solving their financial problems is to give their money to the church, prosperity doctrine teaches a works mentality not required of us. It can blind people to the realisation that God already loves them enough to bless them and look after them – they do not have to give money or vast amounts of time to ‘sacred’ activities in order earn anything. They will do these things anyway if in their relationship with God, they feel they are called to do so or want to. Giving whatever it is then springs from their heart, as they already know God loves them and cares for them, and out of that they care for others too.


81 thoughts on “How can we earn what we already have?

  1. I understand what you are saying in that some people think giving is works related, and miss the faith and trust components, but there are things which the Word says which tell us that God is indeed happy to reward us for giving in this earth.

    Jesus said, “Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down and shaken together will men give into your bosom.” He is obviously talking about now in this earth.

    Many of the concepts taught on giving and receiving pertain to seed-time and harvest. God promised that at=s long as the earth turns there will be seasons.

    No farmer sows a crop without an expectation of a harvest. the harvest is always expected to be greater than the seed sown. The epistles talk about being patient to receive the harvest.

    Farmers plan for a yield. That is wisdom.

    The concept is that the Lord gives the seed, we nurture the ground, water it, sow the seed and harvest the yield, but it is God who gives the increase. He is the seed-giver. We are the planters, waterers and harvesters. That has been the truth since the beginning of time, and will continue until God calls ‘Time!’

    No one argues with this concept as being from God and therefore godly. We all eat the produce of the land still, even if we are not as connected to the land as people were in the days when Jesus walked the earth. Sowing and reaping is yet with us. It is still God’s idea. He is still the one who gives the seed, which is the increase. We depend on him as much as we depend on good seasons, and the continuation of seasons which he promised.

    The New Testament often uses the analogy of farming in the area of giving, because there is a seed-time and harvest in all these things.

    We can expect to give for a harvest, just as a farmer expects a crop as he sows.

  2. Hi,

    I know this will come as a big shock, but I have to agree with Facelift….at least some of what he says…

    The only thing that I would have to add is from 2Corinthians 9:7;

    7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

    I’ve always understood this verse to go against the whole “give and God’s gonna bless you” teaching that permeates throughout the Body of Christ….if we’re giving to get then we aren’t really being cheerful givers now are we?

    Phil

  3. I enjoyed the book “A Tale of Two Sons” by John Macarthur ( Facelift, he’s here to stay!), just when you think you really understand the older son’s attitude, there is another side to the story – this is a good overview, a fascinating study of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and scribes to whom Jesus was addressing.

    Most people today are somewhat familiar with the parable of the prodigal son, found in Luke 15:11-32. Even those who know next to nothing about the Bible know something about this tale. Its themes and its language are deeply ingrained in our spiritual and literary traditions.

    Shakespeare, for instance, borrowed plot points and motifs from the parable of the prodigal son and adapted them in The Merchant of Venice and Henry IV. The Bard also alluded to this parable repeatedly in his other dramas. Arthur Sullivan used the exact words of the biblical text as the basis of an oratorio titled The Prodigal Son, Sergei Prokofiev cast the plot in ballet form, and Benjamin Britten turned the story into an opera. At the opposite end of the musical spectrum, country singer Hank Williams recorded a song called “The Prodigal Son,” comparing the prodigal’s homecoming to the joys of heaven. The world’s great art museums are well stocked with works featuring scenes from the prodigal son’s experience, including famous drawings and paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Dürer, and many others.

    Contemporary language is likewise full of words and imagery borrowed from the familiar parable. It is fairly common to hear a wayward child referred to as “a prodigal son” (or daughter). People also sometimes speak of “killing the fatted calf” (a metaphor for extravagant celebration) or “riotous living” (a dissolute or profligate lifestyle). You may have heard or read those allusions without recognizing their source. They are borrowed directly from the King James version of this best known of Jesus’ parables.

    A Story to Remember
    The parable of the prodigal son is one of several memorable parables recorded only in Luke’s Gospel. It stands out as the choicest of these parables for many reasons.

    Of all Jesus’ parables, this one is the most richly detailed, powerfully dramatic, and intensely personal. It’s full of emotion-ranging from sadness, to triumph, to a sense of shock, and finally to an unsettling wish for more closure. The characters are familiar, so it’s easy for people to identify with the prodigal, to feel the father’s grief, and yet still (in some degree) sympathize with the elder brother-all at the same time.

    The story is memorable on many levels, not the least of which is the gritty imagery Jesus invokes. The description of the prodigal as so desperately hungry he was willing to eat husks scavenged from swine food, for instance, graphically depicts his youthful dissolution in a way that was unspeakably revolting to His Jewish audience.

    Another thing that makes this tale unforgettable is the poignancy demonstrated in the father’s response when his lost son returns. The father’s rejoicing was rich with tender compassion. The younger son, who had left heedless and insolent, shattering his father’s hopes for him, came back an utterly broken man. Heartbroken and no doubt deeply wounded by his younger son’s foolish rebellion, the father nevertheless expressed pure joy, unmingled with any hint of bitterness, when his wayward son came dragging home. Who would not be moved by that kind of love?

    Yet the elder son in the parable was not the least bit moved by his father’s love. His steely-hearted resentment over the father’s mercy to his brother contrasts starkly with the dominant theme of Luke 15, which is the great joy in heaven over the return of the lost. The central message of the parable, then, is an urgent and sobering entreaty to hard-hearted listeners whose attitudes exactly mirrored the elder brother’s. The parable of the prodigal son is not a warm and fuzzy feel-good message, but it is a powerful wake-up call with a very earnest warning.

    That point must not be lost in our understanding and appreciation of this beloved parable. Unfortunately, the lesson of the elder brother is often overlooked in many of the popular retellings. And yet it is, after all, the main reason Jesus told the parable.

    The Central Lesson of the Prodigal Son
    The picturesque descriptions in the parable are not provided to add multiple layers of meaning; they are cultural details that help us understand the story in the context of first-century agrarian village life. By understanding the context, the main point of the story comes to light.

    This parable spreads itself across twenty-two verses in this pivotal chapter in Luke’s Gospel. With so much lavish coloring, dramatic pathos, and fine detail carefully woven into this word picture, it seems clear that the vividness of the parable is deliberately designed to highlight the parable’s central meaning. We’re expected to notice and make good sense of the personalities and plot turns in this amazing story.

    Indeed, the context of Luke 15, with its theme of heavenly joy over earthly repentance, makes perfect sense of all the major features of the parable. The prodigal represents a typical sinner who comes to repentance. The father’s patience, love, generosity, and delight over the son’s return are clear and perfect emblems of divine grace. The prodigal’s heart change is a picture of what true repentance should look like. And the elder brother’s cold indifference-the real focal point of the story, as it turns out-is a vivid representation of the same evil hypocrisy Jesus was confronting in the hearts of the hostile scribes and Pharisees to whom He told the parable in the first place (Luke 15:2). They bitterly resented the sinners and tax collectors who drew near to Jesus (v. 1), and they tried to paper over their fleshly indignation with religious pretense. But their attitudes betrayed their unbelief and self-centeredness. Jesus’ parable ripped the mask off their hypocrisy.

    This, then, is the central and culminating lesson of the parable: Jesus is pointing out the stark contrast between God’s own delight in the redemption of sinners and the Pharisees’ inflexible hostility toward those same sinners. Keeping that lesson fixed firmly in view, we can legitimately draw from the larger story (as Jesus unfolds it) several profound lessons about grace, forgiveness, repentance, and the heart of God toward sinners. Those elements are all so conspicuous in the parable that almost everyone should be able to recognize them.

    Seeing Ourselves in the Parable
    There’s a good reason this short story pulls at the heartstrings of so many hearers. We recognize ourselves in it. The parable reminds us of the most painful aspects of the human condition, and those who take an honest look will recognize themselves.

    For believers, the Prodigal Son is a humbling reminder of who we are and how much we owe to divine grace.

    For those who are conscious of their own guilt but are still unrepentant, the Prodigal’s life is a searing reminder of the wages of sin, the duty of the sinner to repent, and the goodness of God that accompanies authentic repentance.

    For sinners coming to repentance, the father’s eager welcome and costly generosity are reminders that God’s grace and goodness are inexhaustible.

    For heedless unbelievers (especially those like the scribes and Pharisees, who use external righteousness as a mask for unrighteous hearts), the elder brother is a reminder that neither a show of religion nor the pretense of respectability is a valid substitute for redemption.

    For all of us, the elder brother’s attitude is a powerful warning, showing how easily and how subtly unbelief can masquerade as faithfulness.

    Regardless of which of those categories you fall into, my prayer for you as you listen to the series or read the book is that the Lord will use it to minister grace to your heart. If you are a believer, may you bask in the Father’s joy over the salvation of the lost. May you gain a new appreciation for the beauty and the glory of God’s plan of redemption. And may you also be encouraged and better equipped to participate in the work of spreading the gospel.

    May listeners and readers who, like the Prodigal, have come to the end of themselves be motivated to abandon the husks of this world. And above all, may this message sound a reveille in the hearts of any who need to be awakened to the awful reality of their own sin and the glorious promise of redemption in Christ.

    Adapted from A Tale of Two Sons, © 2008 by John MacArthur.

  4. To clarify, I did not say we are not to give. Rather, I am suggesting that when we give, it does not make God love us any more, or earn blessing – we have already inherited his blessing and already have his infinite love.

    1 Cor 3:21-22
    21So then (AI)let no one boast in men For (AJ)all things belong to you,

    22(AK)whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or (AL)life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you.

    I think this verse and the prodigal son parable show that God blesses us immensely and freely in this life, when we know Him. The older son did not really know his father. If we have a financial problem, we can just ask Him for help. He will help us to get through whatever it is, which may or may not happen in the form we first desire it. But we don’t have to do some kind of work to earn his answer.

    I agree that the older son demonstrates a religious attitude – partly a result of not understanding the nature of his father. He couldn’t share his father’s love and joy for his younger brother, and he couldn’t fully enjoy his father’s love for him – yet his father loved him no less.

    In response to the comments though:

    Phil – for some reason we all find ourselves agreeing with Facelift at times! Strange as it may seem at other times. 🙂 (S&P – maybe its the sweets inside the pinyata!)

    Facelift – the verse you chose to quote is often quoted in prosperity sermons. In context:

    Luke 6:37-38
    37″Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    It seems to me that this is primarily talking about the measure of grace that we show towards others being the measure of grace that we receive.

    God gives to us in all things freely – we are to give in kind. Perhaps because the older son did not know how to freely receive, he could not freely give.

    Matt 10:8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[b]drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

  5. I don’t think God has a problem with expectancy. I agree that the motives behind giving shouldn’t be selfish, but faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. Without faith it is impossible to please God, so those who come to him must believe that he is and that he a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

    Now the primary reward for seeking God is relationship, in that he will draw near to us as we draw near to him, but we are told that the just shall live by their faith, which impresses on us that our life should be a life of faith, including believing God for things we have not yet seen.

    Having an expectancy for a harvest, then, is a faith project, but it requires a faith act. If there is to be a harvest there must be seed sown. No seed sown equals no possibility of a harvest.

    In that God tells us that he is the Giver of seed and the One who brings increase, we can know that any project which involves seed, sowing and harvest includes God, since he alone can give the increase, which is both our seed and our harvest, making it an act of faith in him. It is also saying that we acknowledge his involvement in our lives and well-being. It is a proactive form of diligently seeking him.

    James told us that faith without corresponding actions is dead. If we are in faith about anything we need to be moving towards the very thing we expect of God’s promises.

    The story of the Prodigal tells us this also, in that both sons had to coe to the realisation, in different ways, that te giver of their prosperity was the father, and not their own abilities, and that everything he had was already theirs.

    But what they had didn’t come without action. the prosperity of the father’s house was acquired through effort, through seed-time ad harvest principles, over a period of time, probably predating the birth of the sons. He prepared an inheritance for them through godly principles. His wealth was always theirs as soon as they came into his family through birth. His and their blood put them in covenant with him. All he had was theirs through covenant. That is what e ld both of them, albeit trough separate incidents.

    And so it is with us in covenant with the Father, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. So yes, when we seek first his righteousness (enter into covenant) and his kingdom (the realm of his covenant) all things are added unto us. But God has set in motion natural laws which govern increase, the laws of sowing and reaping, seed-time and harvest.

    For this reason, it is a perfectly correct thing to be a cheerful giver, knowing that we are sowing into a coming harvest authored by God himself, and not a grudging giver who has not realised the potential of the seed sown, or the principles God has entrusted us with.

  6. I hope I am not appearing to devalue the seed sown. Of course we aren’t just to sit back and do nothing all our lives! Its just a matter of recognising that what we do doesn’t ‘earn’ God’s favour, since we already have it. He didn’t give us our inheritance for us to do nothing with it. Stewardship is one of the most ancient concepts in the Bible, after all.

    Also, work is a gift from God. Its one of the things we are made to do. God will give us results for our labour. But we don’t have to worry about whether we are doing enough ‘good works’ at church etc for God to bless our business for example. We don’t have to worry that if we aren’t religious enough, we won’t receive his blessing on our efforts in a variety of areas.

    Eccl 11:6
    6 Sow your seed in the morning,
    and at evening let not your hands be idle,
    for you do not know which will succeed,
    whether this or that,
    or whether both will do equally well.

    There is no law that guarantees success every time. There can even be blessing brought about by or through something that initially looks like a failure. The chance of ‘failure’ does not mean we shouldn’t ‘sow seed’. Clearly we are meant to. Sometimes, the blessing is in the doing as much as the result:

    Eccl 5:19
    19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God.

  7. By the way, I believe that when we are walking with God, He gives us the faith we need for whatever work we are doing. Again, its not a matter of us working hard to acquire the faith by ‘positive thinking’. We receive the faith as we abide in Him – freely. We don’t work for a free gift. (I don’t view seeking God or abiding in Him as work.)

  8. When my 4 year old son won’t share his toys with his 2 year old sister I really don’t like it and it makes me not want to buy him new toys in a hurry. When he does share I do like it.

    But there is no way in the world he can manipulate me into buying him a new toy by sharing with his sister. FaceLift seem to think he can.

    Just because he does not share with his sister does not mean I am not going to provide his food. He does not have to please me to have me provide for him. He does not have to because I love him.

    Whether he shares his toys or not I still love him and the degree of love does not change one bit.

  9. If a Christian brother came up to me and asked me to give him money because ‘God loves a cheerful giver’, I will cheerfully give him the bird.

    I will give to my Christian brother out of compassion if they need some financial help or ask. I also give because I want to, not because someone is telling me to give to them. It’s called freedom of choice and not cheap manipulation as what we hear most Sundays. Whenever anyone justifies you giving to them through scripture, we should (I believe) ignore them. So here’s another look at this parable through th eyes of the cross:

    As representatives of Christ, we share the Father’s heart. We FEEL his compassion. May I remind people here that now we are found, we are like the Father figure in this parable also (but more-so like Christ).

    We have to respect our brothers- (Christian or not), that choose to live a life for their own greed and desires. When they don’t know where to go and fear to return because they are worried about how they may be received by us, we should all be ready to run out and share what we have with them. Take them in; let them know they are loved; willing to walk with them again and see them restored where they are no longer troubled or burdened. This is the father heart that we all now have.

    Another look at the parable: Some scholars believe that the wayward son represented the Gentile and the son that remained but had no relationship with His father was the Jew. It was the Father who showed favour to the wayward and ushered him home where he was restored and enjoyed ‘a great feast’.

    I’ve heard just too many WTF teachings that take so many scriptures out of context.
    One of my favourite twisties is “Consider the ant…” in proverbs. Another is the famous “I know your works” and another obscure scripture: Acts 28:1-6 where Paul was gathering firewood and got bitten by an asp- go figure!

  10. By the way, let me bust a misconception with this ‘giving’ relationship we have with God. He doesn’t give to us because of ‘our faith’, he gives to us because that’s who He is: Jehovah Hireh- our provider.

  11. Totally agree, S&P. The older son didn’t share his father’s heart, and couldn’t enjoy the feast. He didn’t really understand his Father. He didn’t understand he’d freely received, and was unable to freely give.

    Here’s another question – is the love of God represented by fire in the Bible, and if so what does it then mean when a man’s work is tested by fire? (Maybe I’ll do a fresh post on this one.) Signing off now – need to sleep!

  12. How on earth did you come to that conclusion from what I wrote, Heretic, and why pick on what I said? I think you must be on some other plain of reason.

    What has faith to do with manipulation? Can you answer that? Because my Bible makes it clear that God is impressed with faith, and doesn’t consider it to be manipulation, but an integral part of our walk wit God, and, indeed, worship of God.

    You cannot please God without faith.

    Do you think God knows the difference between faith, presumption and manipulation?

    Do you presume that all faith is equated with manipulation?

    Is a farmer manipulating God when he sows seed expecting a crop, or is he acknowledging God as the One who brings increase, the One who provides seed? Is he, in fact, being obedient to God by sowing for a crop?

    Are you calling farmers childish for doing exactly what they are instructed to do with a portion of their seed? ‘Bread for the eater and seed for the sower’. Have you noticed the context of that scripture? Does it not appear in 2 Corinthians 9, right in the middle of instruction on correct giving of finances?

    So, in your argument, you make God’s word into an example of manipulation if we obey what it says.

    ‘So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.’

    This isn’t an example of how to manipulate God, but how to please God. It tells us how he is involved in our giving, in our sowing, in our harvest, in our present and future. He gives the seed. He gives the increase. He is involved. We honour him by receiving the seed, and sowing a portion towards a future harvest, which he will provide because we trust that his word is true.

    You confuse pleasing God with appeasement.

    Hopefully, when your four year old is a 24 year old he will be able to work on his own harvest, because you have shown him how to go about seed-time and harvest, and not rely on yours. Then you will continue your love for him.

  13. To me, faith doesn’t ‘make’ something happen – it is a knowing of something as if it was already in existence. We might not have received it yet, but God has given us the knowledge of it as if we have already received it. Its not a manipulative thing, but part of our relationship with Him. We don’t ‘make’ faith, we receive it.

  14. FL: “Because my Bible makes it clear that God is impressed with faith”

    You can impress God with your faith can you? That is soooo like my little boy thinking he impresses me when he does a poo in the potty.

    You can’t impress God FaceLift. That is just silly.

  15. Can you say at faith doesn’t make something happen?

    The Word certainly does make things happen, and it is called the Word of faith, which we preach. We are saved by grace through faith, but faith can only come when the Word is preached. Salvation comes when we believe, and when we confess what we believe. Without faith no one is saved.

    Faith is indeed received. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. God’s own Word makes things out of nothing. “God calls those things which be not as though they were’. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God. Mary’s faith caught the Word and it was. “According to your word be it done unto me”. Faith is the good ground where the Seed, the Word, is germinated and nurtured. According to Jesus, unbelief, the cares of the world, fear of persecution and lack of commitment smother the Word, destroy the Seed. Faith causes it to take.

    Faith, you say, doesn’t make things happen. Yet, Jesus says, “Woman your faith has made you whole!” “According to your faith be it unto you!” “Oh woman, great is your faith, let it be to you as you desire!” “Arise and go your way; your faith has made you well!” “Receive your sight; your faith has made you whole!” “Your faith has saved you, go in peace!” faith makes things happen. Faith in God. Faith in his name. Faith in his Word.

    “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you!” Who will say? We will say. How? If we have faith. Conditional.

    Peter says, “His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”

    Faith in the name of Jesus made the lame man walk.

    Now, ask yourself. Did God know this man of Israel was lame before he received healing? Of course. What was it that changed things? According to Peter it was the name of Jesus through faith in the name that made the man walk.

    Faith is important, and God is impressed with faith. Faith was accredited to Abraham as righteousness, and so it is with all who follow his faith.

    Faith grabs God’s attention:

    ‘When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”‘

  16. Heretic, if you’re not impressed with your little boy achieving a milestone in his life, even if it is in potty training, you need a reality check! And you need to loosen up. Affirmation. “Well done!” “Good boy!” “Daddy is so pleased with you!” “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!”

    ‘For without faith it is impossible to please him!” Hebrews 11:6b.

  17. “By faith, Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before hs translation he had this testimony, THAT HE PLEASED GOD.’ Hebrews 11:5

    Faith caused Abel to receive righteousness.

    Faith caused Abraham to be accredited with righteousness.

    Faith caused Noah to become the heir of righteousness.

    Faith caused Sara to receive strength to conceive seed when it was impossible.

    Faith caused Abraham to receive the promises of God.

    Faith caused Moses to be brought into Pharaoh’s household.

    Faith caused Israel to pass through the Red Sea.

    Faith caused you to be saved.

    Yes, coupled with God’s grace, but his grace is towards the whole world, and not all are saved, only those who receive through faith in Christ.

    Faith changes things.

  18. Facelift. I heard your lovely rant. It stunk. You do not know what you talk about.
    I’d like to see your faith heal you. I would like to see your faith save you. Then you’d have something to brag about with the other Word Faith movement. You really need to ask yourself this question- if we are saved by grace through faith, are we allowed to boast that our faith has saved us?

    Do your own research on faith and seriously, press into God and spend quality time learning to hear his voice. When God actually speaks to you and makes your spirit being react to something and you obey Him, thats faith. He’s more faithful to you then you will ever be to him. The most dangerous word in Pentecostal land is ‘for’. We CANNOT do anything ‘for’ God. He chooses us and tells us to do things when He wants. He will FAITHFULLY use us, we can’t faithfully do things for Him if He never asked us to do it to begin with. So He initiates something through us and He finishes His work through us- healing, prophecy, salvation, teaching, signs and wonders, etc.

    It’s not my faith I go ‘everybody glorify the power of my faith that lives in me!’. It’s ‘look what our faithful God did! WOOHOO!!!’.

  19. Peter says, “His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”

    Faith in the name of Jesus made the lame man walk.

    Now, ask yourself. Did God know this man of Israel was lame before he received healing? Of course. What was it that changed things? According to Peter it was the name of Jesus through faith in the name that made the man walk.

    Faith is important, and God is impressed with faith. Faith was accredited to Abraham as righteousness, and so it is with all who follow his faith.

    Faith grabs God’s attention:

    ‘When Jesus heard these things, He marveled at him, and turned around and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”‘

    FaceLift says:
    “By faith, Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before hs translation he had this testimony, THAT HE PLEASED GOD.’ Hebrews 11:5
    Faith caused Abel to receive righteousness.
    Faith caused Abraham to be accredited with righteousness.
    Faith caused Noah to become the heir of righteousness.
    Faith caused Sara to receive strength to conceive seed when it was impossible.
    Faith caused Abraham to receive the promises of God.
    Faith caused Moses to be brought into Pharaoh’s household.
    Faith caused Israel to pass through the Red Sea.
    Faith caused you to be saved.
    Yes, coupled with God’s grace, but his grace is towards the whole world, and not all are saved, only those who receive through faith in Christ.
    Faith changes things.”

    And who turned up first? A faithful God.
    Do you forget that Abraham and Sara doubted, and that’s how Ishmael came to be? Moses doubted. I can just imagine Moses as a baby, declaring with his hands raised in the air to God “THIS IS MY FAITH! I WANT TO BE A PRINCE NOW!”. On all these occasions, God showed up and chose these people. He did great things through them but it was never their faith that gave them their destiny, it was God and how he chose to reveal himself to them. He had a relationship with them not some faith formula.

    BTW. It was not my faith that saved me. God saved me. He showed up before I even knew what faith was. And I’m glad it wasn’t my faith that saved me, otherwise I’d have no problem living an incredible religious life- and it nearly was until he reminded me of my first love.

    God changes things.

  20. In this life we are taught to be faithful to others. We are disciplined to be reliable. Trustworthy. Loyal. Companionable… And how we all dream to be such.

    We come to God expecting that we can be the same towards Him. We can be faithful and treat him better then we do other human beings. This is a nice lie.

    FaceLift. I encourage you to surrender any chance of you ever being faithful to God. You can’t. The Apostle Peter tried and failed. Tried and failed. Tried and failed again. Eventually he learnt to rely on God’s faithfulness and not his own. He finally understood how faithful Jesus was toward him. He stopped relying on himself!

    He saw that what he had to offer mankind was fruitless until He discovered the fruitfulness of God. Peter didn’t wait for the lame man to believe in God, he commanded the man to rise up and walk and sure enough- the lame was healed! This ‘faith’ goes beyond our own concept of faith. It’s His faith in us!

    Just as the mystery as when two people wed one knows what the other is thinking, so is it the case with our relationship with God. Someone else is doing the thinking or the prompting for us. We act on his tuition and there we see things happen.

  21. Hey, folks, chill out, I’ve only quoted scripture. Never have I ‘bragged’ that ‘my’ faith has done anything. It is faith in God which brings about change, bu only becase change is available to those who have faith in him and his will to bring about change through his Word, his Spirit and his promises.

    I gave examples of scripture and s&p says it stinks. Heretic goes ballistic and thinks I act like his 4 year old.

    S&P, it was Moses’ parent’s faith which placed him in the river. God credits them with this in Hebrews 11:23.

    Really, why don’t you carefully and prayerfully read Hebrews 11, which is where I quoted from, where the faith of those named caused God’s will, promises and, yes, faithfulness to be realised?

    ‘By faith, Abel’, ‘by faith, Abraham’, ‘by faith, Enoch’, ‘by faith Noah’, ‘by faith, Sara’, ‘by faith, Abraham’ again, and again, by faith, Isaac’, ‘by faith, Jacob’, ‘by faith, Joseph’, ‘by faith, Moses’, by faith, Israel’, ‘by faith Rahab’, etc., etc,.

    Whose faith is the writer talking about? Their faith, s&p. ‘The just shall live by HIS faith’ Habbakuk 2:4. Yes, his own faith. And this is quoted by Paul on numerous occasions Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, including Hebrews 10:38 as a prelude to Hebrews 11, the faith chapter.

    Jesus said in Mark 11:22, ‘have faith in God.” Whose faith is that? Jesus rebuked his disciples several times, saying “Where is your faith!”

    I quoted several scriptures where Jesus said to someone “your faith” has ‘made’ you whole, or saved you. Go find them and read them for yourself. Is Jesus lying?

    Peter told the people surrounding the man who as healed at the Gate Beautiful that it was ‘the name through faith in the name’ that made the man whole. Yes, the name of Jesus, but, also, yes, someone’s faith in the name. You study this for yourself. See if you can come to any other conclusion but that Peter’s faith, and maybe even the man’ faith, was important to the man receiving his healing. That is exactly what Peter is trying to get through to his accusers, and now you stand with the doubters and say that Peter’s doctrine stinks because his own faith means nothing, or the lame man’s faith was pointless!!

    Of course, only God can heal like this. Only the name of Jesus can save us or heal us. It’s God’s grace which comes first, because it reveals his will, and his promises. It’s God’s love which comes before anything. But faith is also important to this. Because without faith you can’t receive his promises, and without faith you can’t please God.

    Only God can change us supernaturally, but when we believe we take part in his desire and will to bring about necessary eternal change. The glory is all his. We can’t take any glory, or make any claims on our own ability or even our own faith, because we are completely dependent on God’s will to heal, or save, but once we know that it is his will to save or heal or deliver us, then faith rises in us and we are positioned to receive.

    The great lesson of Abraham and Sarah is that despite human weaknss frailties, God comes through with his promises. It wasn’t Abraham’s doubts which brought about a son, but his faith. We all have moments of doubt. We all make mistakes, but don’t make a false doctrine out of our errors. It is faith which changes things. Abraham and Sarah, along the way, also had faith at the appropriate time, and she bore a son, even though it was impossible. They waited years for this promise, but it came to pass at the most impossible time, when he was old and impotent and she was old and barren, and passed bearing age, even. That is the lesson, not the fact of errors, or mistakes along the way, but of what actually caused things to go right.

    Don’t shroud me in your own doubts by telling me I can’t be faithful to God. “The things you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also’, 2 Tim. 2:2.

    Your doctrine on faith is flawed, ad you are using your own error to accuse me. That is why I have a problem with so called ‘discerners’. Often their own doctrine is so far removed from truth, you wonder how they are saved, let alone able to critique others.

  22. Well, its good to see that despite last weeks brief hiatus discussing this blog’s future, things are getting back to normal. (Biff, BAM! – so to speak.)

  23. 29″But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; ”

    Very interesting!–So heres a guy ‘slaving-away in the field of faith under God’….yet..hmm,

    “and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;”

    –he expects to get a ‘special honour’ from God Himself—[but God didnt ‘give’ it!]

    “30but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your (K)wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’

    –Hmm, all too natural to resent a wasteful relative!-especially on his own pleasures and craziness!—-Interesting to see that the guy FEARED further loss by the renewed presence of his brother!-AND resentment of his Fathers apparent attitude, without judgement & condemnation, toward this brother.

    31″And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.”

    -SO, the guy, [who in hebrew culture gets to inherit the lions share anyway]-could have taken from [God], whenever he wanted, from his righteous work, that he shares in.

    “32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

    The clincher- the WE HAD to celebrate!-because its all about DEATH & LIFE, and being welcomed back into relationship.

    -The real problem is the ‘Big brothers’ misunderstanding of his own positional identity:

    1-He doesnt share his Fathers unconditional love for his sons
    2-He thinks ‘this is all there is’=this [field of religious labour & property], and feared LOSS.
    3-he didnt realise he could enjoy himself quite rightly from what work he shares in already.
    4-He expected the father to honour him especially, just for ‘being there’ in his place, and for his obedience.
    5-He judges his brother ; refusing him any honour and further opportunity.

    SO…

    “If a works mentality is taught towards earning God’s blessing, there is also a risk for creating a climate for resentment like that of the older son, when someone who has done a lot less to ‘earn’ favour seems to be blessed beyond those who have spent years doing all the right things.”

    Perfectly Right!

    This ‘Works mentality” is the precise culprit in the Parable, and this Thread-line; and I feel fair comparison is made with ‘Prosperity-doctrines’ that wish to appear to manipulate Gods identity, and falsely condition our view of it.

    It appears to me from the story that God wishes to share his completely beautiful and super-abundant identity directly with us,

    -though its sickening to see a ‘third-party’ trying ‘to take a cut’ in between; the presumption being that they are ‘arbiters’ of Gods will and identity toward us, and then calculating and telling us the sums required to support all the ‘Religious machinery’ that they wish to run.

    We must ask ourselves, WHO on earth would want to manufacture huge numbers of the ‘big-brothers’ we see above, by leading their minds to think thus?

    …And like the Parable above, we HAVE to celebrate Life over Death; the welcoming back into identity of our wayward people!

    Now, I dig what youre all saying above, so lets peek back into the parable…

    17″When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. ”

    -Its quite clear from the context that the boy realised that there was more to be had in returning to “Heaven and Father”–quite interesting that he felt he had sinned against the way of heaven itself!

    -Its about a repentant return to a right relationship; conservatively the point of Luke 15.

    Can you see the Master trying to let those Pharisees present at the gathering see themselves acting as such ‘an arbiter’, and maker of such ‘big-brothers’,- and modifying their attitude toward the many”sinners” present?

    Z.

  24. Does anyone really believe we are merely passengers in this? Passive passengers in fact.

    Are you saying we have no part to play in salvation, healing, deliverance, change?

    Why then do WE have to repent? Why do WE have to confess Jesus?

    If, as you seem to be saying, God puts his faith in us and then we have faith to be saved, why hasn’t he just put faith in the entire population of the world so we can all go to be with him through the resurrection and the end of all begins? Why will there have to be a a judgement seat for the deeds of the unrepentant?

    Are you preaching a neo-Calvinistic predestinated world, where no one has a choice in whether they are saved or not, where everyone who will be saved has already had their number called out in heaven? Why then should we be called to preach the gospel? Why did Paul say that no on can be saved without the gospel, preachers, and those who are sent to preach? Surely all God has to do is put faith in everyone and they will automatically be saved.

    I put it to you that it is indeed our faith which saves us through his grace. Grace gives. Faith receives. Grace comes first, but it is faith which causes us to be made righteous, not because of any works we have done, but because of what Christ did at Calvary.

    In fact, the parable of the prodigal has little to do with ‘prosperity’ teaching, at all. It is the story of God’s consistent love towards his people, and his readiness to forgive, restore and renew.

    If there is anything to do with prosperity in it, it is that all God has is available to us, as RP hinted, but this is certainly not a parable we can use to convict ‘prosperity’ teachers. The elder son was envious because of the attention his brother received. He did not hear a prosperity message, unless you consider the younger son’s restoration as prosperity being bestowed on a repentant sinner. He saw the power of forgiveness and love in action, and was jealous.

  25. “If there is anything to do with prosperity in it, it is that all God has is available to us, as RP hinted…”

    Facelift, you get my point. I believe this parable tells us that all God has is available to us already, when we become His children, because He loves us, not because we can do anything to earn it. What we do is abide in Him, as it is in relationship with Him that we understand his love for us and know that we don’t need to work to earn his love or blessing.

    Zeppelin, you understood.

    The link with prosperity doctrine is that prosperity doctrine teaches that we do things to ‘earn’ God’s blessing. For example, miracle offerings where people give in order to hope for their prayers to be answered are an extreme of this. That is the way in which this parable links to prosperity doctrine in my view. But this parable also links to any works based earning of God’s love or blessing, not solely prosperity doctrine.

    None of that means we don’t do good work of all sorts in God. We do that which he has prepared in advance for us to do. When we abide in Him, we serve Him in all sorts of ways. But we are probably happier doing it when we know we don’t have to earn anything and do it realising that we have been totally blessed, and so we do likewise.

  26. Thankyou Ravingpente,

    Good & subtle thought my friend; youve really put your finger on something here that has been used to hurt alot of people-evidently for an extremely long time.

    Z

    Facelift, its all about ‘works for Gods blessing’-I dont feel any of us have issue with Faith for gods blessing-its quite plain to see in the parable.

  27. Z – I wish I could claim original thought – but I have actually heard the part about the older son and his lack of understanding taught. I find it convincing. I’ve been dwelling on this for some time, and it changes much.

  28. FL:

    Are you saying we have no part to play in salvation, healing, deliverance, change?

    Why then do WE have to repent? Why do WE have to confess Jesus?

    God as Father is always reaching out to us and all mankind. In his love he is always seeking to save us from our flesh – our living death – to his life. Initially to be born again and then to be conformed to the nature of Christ. He wants relationship, he wants to be our abba father and having relationship with him is the life he is bringing us to.

    The essence of the part we play is to let him have the relationship with us.

    Yes we have to repent because repent just means to “return” to him because if we continue to run from him he respects our free will and does not seem to force himself on us.

    But repentence is not some magic work that saves us, or some hoop God makes us jump through to make him want to do it or some judicial manouvre that gets around some legal backlog that somehow prevents God from being able to have the relationship he wants. We have to stop running away and return to him because we have to let him have a relationship with us.

    Yes we have to confess him because to deny him is to disassociate ourselves from him and again he respects our will and lets us go.

    FL:

    I put it to you that it is indeed our faith which saves us through his grace. Grace gives. Faith receives.

    I am sure you know Eph2:8-9 ” 8For (A)by grace you have been saved (B)through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is (C)the gift of God;not as a result of works, so that (Y)no one may boast.”

    It seems clear that salvation contains none of our works.

    “Faith receives”? You said it yourself. Faith is the evidence, the substantiating of things not seen, and it is the gift of God. It is God’s spiritual vision in us. It is not a work we do.

    It is not a receiving thing but a perceiving thing. It is not us making something happen but us seeing what God is doing.

    Jesus did not make anything happen. He just did what he saw his Father doing. We must be the same and that is our work.

  29. So then, when our faith is tested, is it our faith, or God’s faith in us? Is the trying of our faith really the trying of his faith?

    The free gift of God is salvation, also named as eternal life (Rm.6:23), and named as righteousness (Rm.5:16), through Jesus Christ. It comes through grace. It is received by faith, not by works. The use of faith here distinguishes between works and belief. It is not by the works of the law, but by the hearing of faith.

    Faith comes, is received, by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ, ‘this word of faith which we preach’. Faith comes as a result of the preached Word. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

    Rom. 4:16: ‘Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace’, which again distinguishes between the law and faith. the subject is justification, whether Abraham was justified by works, or by faith. Well you know that Abraham believed, and it was counted to him for righteousness.

    ‘And for us also’, he goes on (24), ‘to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead’.

    “Therefore being justified by faith” (5:1), we have peace with God, etc.. “By whom we also have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand” (5:2). Glorious Word of God!!

    So what was it that gained Abraham a son, and heir, and the natural seed who led to the spiritual Seed, and then to become the father of many nations?

    “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness (4:20-22).

    So he overcame unbelief with faith. He was strong in faith. It says he hoped against hope. He did not consider the hopelessness of his situation, being dead to procreation, and his wife’s deadness of womb. He considered God’s promise. He had faith. This faith God counted to him as righteousness. So whose faith was it? It was Abraham’s faith.

    “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, IF WE BELIEVE on him that raised up Jesus…”(4:23-24).

    “This only will I learn of you, “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith”” (Gal.3:2). “He that ministers the Spirit to you, and works miracles among you, does he do it by he works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know therefore that those who are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Gal.3:5-7). Amazing Word of God!!

    And the trial is the trial of YOUR faith, brother, according to Peter (1:7), but it is ‘much more precious than gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, lt it be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom, having not seen, yet you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of YOUR faith, even the salvation of your soul’.

    Awesome God!

  30. I know where you are coming from with your view on faith. We all have ‘faith’. I suppose what I’m trying to focus on here is natural faith, while to me it looks like you are looking at a manufactured faith. I think someone else brought that up on this thread.
    That’s why I was so hyped about what you had written previously. Hebrews 11 weirdly enough also supports my argument too.

    You gave me Heb 11:23 to look at Moses parents. I’m sure they knew exactly that he was going to float straight into Pharoah’s household; become a prince of Egypt and later redeem the Hebrews from Egypt. Oddly enough, the reason why Moses mother didn’t drown him as the king ordered was because he was ‘beautiful’. What faith is this? Probably a natural and unknown faith to her at the time.

    I’d encourage you to read the amplified bible on that FaceLift on Hebrews 11. It tends to reveal the ‘natural’ faith that one has in God when one gets to know him well or not.

    “‘By faith, Abel’, ‘by faith, Abraham’, ‘by faith, Enoch’, ‘by faith Noah’, ‘by faith, Sara’, ‘by faith, Abraham’ again, and again, by faith, Isaac’, ‘by faith, Jacob’, ‘by faith, Joseph’, ‘by faith, Moses’, by faith, Israel’, ‘by faith Rahab’, etc., etc,.

    Whose faith is the writer talking about? Their faith, s&p.”

    Umm… No. Those verses were about the substance of ‘faith’, not ‘their faith’. Big difference. It’s ‘by faith’ not ‘by their faith‘. Each illustration helps us see the substance of faith in action and how it seems to function or works. We say ‘by’, but as you see in the amp, some thing or some one triggered them to respond through faith. Faith is indeed a mystery to this day. We see this same ‘faith’ illustration used in the book of James- relating between the great Jewish Father patriarch Abraham to a pagan prostitute, Rahab to bring out the mysterious substance known as faith. These illustrations point out to me that ‘faith’ was a natural response or something other in these matters. It was never manufactured.

    “Jesus said in Mark 11:22, ‘have faith in God.” Whose faith is that? Jesus rebuked his disciples several times, saying “Where is your faith!””
    I quoted several scriptures where Jesus said to someone “your faith” has ‘made’ you whole, or saved you. Go find them and read them for yourself. Is Jesus lying?

    No. But they were different to that of the Gentile. Jews were saved by their faith because through the Law they were bound by God. They were in contract with God. If a Jew sinned, God would turn his back. If they returned to God, God would bless them. This was the Law. They failed their faith test, but God hasn’t. He gave them Jesus as He promised, yet they failed to believe in Him as their Messiah. Through His faith, He will restore Israel.

    That is why it is so important to understand biblical context. When we see supposed Gentiles (they may have been proselytes) receiving healing from Jesus, we were seeing the crumbs going to the Gentiles. If anything, God was giving the Gentiles the faith to receive healing to let the Jews know prophetically that the Gentile wanted to know Him more then His own sacred household. He openly bragged about ‘their’ faith in exposing how much unbelief was in His own nation. It was their unbelief that crucified Christ. It’s through Christs faithfulness that Israel will be restored.

    There is more for me to answer hear, but I’ll have to answer another time.

    FaceLift:
    “Of course, only God can heal like this. Only the name of Jesus can save us or heal us. It’s God’s grace which comes first, because it reveals his will, and his promises. It’s God’s love which comes before anything. But faith is also important to this. Because without faith you can’t receive his promises, and without faith you can’t please God.”

    So this is the cruncher. You just said without faith you can’t receive.
    So what comes first: God’s grace or our faith? This is the crux of CCC error.

    “Don’t shroud me in your own doubts by telling me I can’t be faithful to God.”
    OK. You got me wrong. I think it’s wonderful to be ‘faithful’ to God. It’s beautiful and also beautifully tragic. I wish that person ‘good luck’. But have you ever wondered what would happen if you stopped trying? Fortunately I did. I still feel bad when I do wrong. But I can honestly say I have seen him more evident in my life then ever before because I have stopped ‘trying’ to be faithful. When I was trying to be ‘faithful’ to my creator he just gave me a vision of myself picking up dirt and trying to rub it into his feet. Surely you have seen and heard Geoff Bullock’s testimony FaceLift. Check it out and see if you can hear his fantastic song ‘Until We See The Cross’.

    God met me in that same place. So to has he with some of my other friends and family. As a close and beautiful, humble friend of mine said: “When I was at my worst, God was at His best. And that was when I realised how broken I was. Now I know how I desperately need His grace and faith.”

    Frankly. When I stopped trying, it scared me for a while. Then I started feeling at peace and then I started finding myself being thankful of Him, naturally. He gave me revelation after revelation about how he is more faithful to me then I will ever be to Him. So I was openly grateful to Him, naturally.
    No more strivings. No more devotions, commitment, tithing, disciplined bible readings, etc. If I feel troubled I ask Him what’s wrong and He tells me. I fix it or he helps me fix it or He does it. Generally there’s something to learn.

    I think the problem we’re facing FaceLift is that we are not clear what we mean by the word ‘faith’. Whenever I see the word ‘by faith’, I tend to see it as being more religious.

    I will try to answer more of your post when I get the time.

  31. ‘Very good craftsmanship above my friends; ‘

    Im extremely impressed that you’ve identified the question of ‘the quality of faith’ itself specks&planks; this bears the most careful attention by all, in each original context:

    “You gave me Heb 11:23 to look at Moses parents. I’m sure they knew exactly that he was going to float straight into Pharoah’s household and become a prince of Egypt to later believe he was to redeem them from Egypt. Oddly enough, the reason why Moses mother didn’t drown him as the king ordered was because he was ‘beautiful’. What faith is this? Probably a natural and unknown faith to her at the time.”

    -The most we could speculate above is that Moses’ mother had ‘faith’ enough to ‘see’ her baby son rescued by God and brought up as an Egyptian…, but God did much more….

    I am a very absent-minded person myself living in a rather stressed and burdened environment, so that I found it very hard to even RETAIN these issues in my mind as I went about my day yesterday, much as I tried.- This is interesting in itself as we look at the practical application of what we’re learning here.

    “No more strivings. No more devotions, commitment, tithing, disciplined bible readings, etc. If I feel troubled I ask Him what’s wrong and He tells me. I fix it or he helps me fix it or He does it. Generally there’s something to learn.”

    -We most of us have been through endless regimes [-theres a word, heretic!] of ‘religious exercise’ as above, extending over many years, and I for one am coming to believe that such things were almost a ‘fashion’ or set of methodologies that affected a couple of generations, and need to be developed as we move forward with faith into the future;

    -Yet the ‘faith’ itself remains the same as that of the ancients!

    We are almost ‘infinitely weak’ in comparison with the Father, so I rather glory in his strength.

    best wishes from

    Z

  32. Well, you know, teddy, I’ve started to read and appreciate Calvin. The thing is, there is a thrust in some of the arguments here which says God puts his faith in us and our own faith has nothing to do with the transaction of grace.

    Yet it is God’s grace which draws our faith. “It is of faith that it might be by grace” Rom.4:16. No on can be saved unless God draws him first. t is te love and grace and mercy of God which draws us to him. We love him because he first loved us. He sent his only begotten Son to pay the price of our sin. His work was pre-emptive. He began the process. He forgave. he declared peace. he said from te vry beginning that the Seed of the woman would overcome the seed of the serpent. We know that before time the Lamb of God was prepared to be slain on our behalf.

    In this light all things are predestined according to his purposes. We are all predestined to be saved, to be born again, to become Christ-like. However not all accept this predetermined offer of a free pardon. There are many who have rejected, and will reject, Christ. They reject their predetermined position in Christ. They choose death over life.

    God doesn’t violate our will, in the end. He doesn’t put his faith in us so that we can believe. He puts grace before us so that faith might revive us and so tat we can enter into his predetermined plan for our eternal destiny.

    It is most certainly our faith which receives the free gift of salvation, otherwise how could it be a gift? If he gives something, then our part is to either receive the gift or reject it. The only way to receive it as a gift is by faith, and not his faith, but our faith.

    If it is his faith which receives salvation it is no longer a gift but an obligation enforced by his own will, and our will has no part in the transaction. The worship of receiving, then, is negated, and he worships himself on our behalf.

    We can receive his faith in us. Jesus says, “Have faith in God”. The margin of the AV gives it as “Have the faith of God”. To have is a to acquire, possess, or receive. But it still requires that we interact with God and have faith of our own; a conversion process which adopts his faith as our faith, and manifests itself as a mutual faith transaction. But he doesn’t force his faith on us or into us so that we have no part to play in our own salvation. Otherwise how do we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling?

    S&p, faith is not as complex as you make out. Faith is faith. You either believe somethng or you don’t. According to Romans 10, this faith is of the heart, not of the mind, or mental assent.

    I never once mentioned or implied a manufactured faith, or a separate human faith, or spiritual faith. I only ever discussed the faith required to receive the free gift of salvation. The faith required to have righteousness accredited to us. The faith necessary for the free gift of eternal life. The faith which comes by hearing, and hearing the Word of Christ, which is the Word of faith, the gospel which we preach. The received good news which changes our heart attitude towards God.

  33. The sons of God are born through his Spirit-

    “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” Jn3.

    Z

    Isnt it interesting that the sons of the Devil are born from his own ‘seed’ also?….

    “Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “(U)The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
    25″But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed [a]tares among the wheat, and went away.

    26″But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also.

    27″The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’

    28″And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’

    29″But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.

    30’Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but (V)gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”

    Perhaps I go too far, but if the good seed produces a crop, then the tares are useless, and born of the ‘seed’ of Gods enemy.

    Then, this ‘seed’ is the teaching that leads to people who are useless for God, I wonder.

    Notice that this activity takes place in ‘The Kingdom’!

    Z.

  34. FaceLift:
    “God doesn’t violate our will, in the end. He doesn’t put his faith in us so that we can believe.”
    He doesn’t violate, but thank God he intervenes for us! Here. By your own confession, you have just said I am not saved and you are not saved. The only reason why I’m saved is because God intervened. He came to a fallen to mankind. He came to me.

    I hadn’t a clue that God existed until He told me I can have a relationship with him. Later on I learnt about certain doctrines and grew appreciating what He did for me.
    If you know the faith that has been given to you, you’d act on it.

    Eph 2:8-9
    For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    It’s ‘through’ the faith or His faithfulness that we are saved by God. Not ‘by’ our faith’. It’s the Holy Spirit that convicts us and the Holy Spirit that makes us believe. Is not one of His fruits faithfulness? So it is He that gives us the faith to believe.

    He puts grace before us so that his faith might revive us and so that we can enter into his predetermined plan for our eternal destiny. My father woke up believing in God, only when Frank Houston layed hands on him to receive the faith to believe. God gave my father the faith to believe. I’m met others who have a similar testimony.

    “It is most certainly our faith which receives the free gift of salvation, otherwise how could it be a gift? If he gives something, then our part is to either receive the gift or reject it. The only way to receive it as a gift is by faith, and not his faith, but our faith.”

    As to my father, He woke up not knowing what it was that He had received, except the fact that He knew He could not deny that Jesus is Lord. He didn’t know what was given to him.

    This substance that is given to us that makes us believe- that is called faith. God gave it to us, God built it into us and God activates it through His Holy Spirit.
    That is why Paul says:

    Rom 10:8
    …”The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming

    “S&p, faith is not as complex as you make out. Faith is faith. You either believe something or you don’t. According to Romans 10, this faith is of the heart, not of the mind, or mental assent.”

    It sure isn’t complicated, but teachings on faith have made it more complicated then it really is. This emphasis on ‘your faith’ is a load of crock. Learn to rely on the faith He has given us and put His faith into action and no one can keep you down. It’s a reverse mindset- where we are not leaning on our understanding. Keep asking him, ‘What do you want me to do in this circumstance’, and you will have a conversation with him. He authorises. You act on His faith and he reveals his glory through you so that all glory can go to him. He loves sharing who he is with individuals in the Body of Christ.

    Forgive me if it takes a while to explain what I’m talking about. I’m not the best with words some times.

    I hope you get what I am now saying FaceLift. Is this any clearer?
    One more thing:

    James 1:16-18
    Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

  35. s&p:”This substance that is given to us that makes us believe- that is called faith. God gave it to us, God built it into us and God activates it through His Holy Spirit.
    That is why Paul says”

    Tend towards a differnt line on this one. With faith we perceive the substance but we can still choose to reject (suppress) the faith (which is truth) in unrighteousness. Rom 8:5-6

    5For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on (L)the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, (M)the things of the Spirit.

    6(N)For the mind set on the flesh is (O)death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,

    7because the mind set on the flesh is (P)hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so

    There is the flesh and the spirit and the mind determines which way to go. People beleive what they want to believe despite sight and faith.

  36. I’m not wanting to split hairs with you, s&p, but your understanding isn’t accurate to scripture or fact, even though I’m sure you are saved.

    The only instance of God personally appearing to someone who was subsequently saved was Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, and even then it was Christ who appeared to him, and he still had to believe and repent.

    But Jesus doesn’t generally appear to people for them to be saved, neither does the Father, although I’ve heard testimonies of people who have seen Jesus and subsequently repented, gone to church and been saved.

    Jesus said it was expedient that he go so that the Holy Spirit could come into the earth, and indeed the Holy Spirit does convince us of sin, righteousness and judgement, but that is still not putting faith in us, it is convincing us of our need of salvation. We still have to respond to that need. What he offers us is the grace of God which provides free pardon for those who respond to the offer. The way we receive that free pardon is by believing, by faith, our faith.

    No one receives faith by the laying on of hands. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. Faith comes as a result of the gospel being preached. Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. He doesn’t preach the gospel in the earth any more. He has commissioned and sent his disciples to preach the gospel to all the world. The Holy Spirit doesn’t preach the gospel, he confirms the preached Word with signs following, but it is the saints who preach the gospel.

    Faith comes as a result of the preaching by the saints of God who are sent into the world to preach. “How shall they be saved without a preacher?”

    s&p,
    ‘By your own confession, you have just said I am not saved and you are not saved.’

    How so? I have told you clearly how we are saved. It could not be clearer. We are saved by grace through faith.

    You want God to have done everything in this covenant, but a covenant requires the agreement and co-operation of all participating parties. God hasn’t forced anything on us. He hasn’t forced his faith into us to save us. We were saved of our own free will. He has activated faith in us through grace by the preaching of the Word.

    Yes our birth is through the Word of truth, and it is the Word of truth which comes alive in us when we accept the good news that he has forgiven us and paid the price of our sin. But it s our faith which receives his grace.

  37. Faith is the substance. It is the evidence. It is the full assurance of what we hope for.

    Faith is if the heart, not the mind. The mind has to be renewed even after we are saved.

    The Word of faith is near you, even in your heart and in your mouth.

    If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart we will be saved.

    For with the heart a man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses unto salvation.

  38. A friend of mine compiled this. It’s a compilation of scripture that talks about the faith that is given to us. That being the faith of Christ:

    THE FAITH OF JESUS

    Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
    Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

    Rom 1:12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
    Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
    Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
    Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
    Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
    Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
    Eph 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
    Php 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 1Ti 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
    1Ti 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
    Jas 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
    Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

  39. Heretic. I’ve thought about what you have said:

    “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on (L)the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, (M)the things of the Spirit.
    For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
    because the mind set on the flesh is (P)hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so”

    For some reason, I saw this scripture with new eyes.
    These verses make something really obvious to me which I have seen before and I have talked to others about. For the sake of not de-railing the thread, can I encourage you to research soulpower. It’s kind of New Age/occult which has sadly infiltrated the church as well. You’ve probably heard me refer to it on Signposts before. But I think this is what Paul is talking about. In honesty, I’ve never seen the verse in the context of ‘soulpower’, but I think this is what it may be addressing.

    Here’s some info about it but not allot:
    http://ajtony.wordpress.com/christian-teachings/the-latent-power-of-the-soul-part-ii/

    Look up the earlier article on this. Talk to someone who knows and practices soulpower to understand the danger of it, (preferrably New Age, Occult, Wicca, etc). I e-mailed someone in the New Age movement who gladly shared with me the power and supposed strength of soul power. It’s all about having faith in yourself, your flesh and dead soul; relying on nothing else, not even spirits or angels.

    FaceLift:
    “The Word of faith is near you, even in your heart and in your mouth.
    If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart we will be saved.
    For with the heart a man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses unto salvation.”

    I agree with this FaceLift. We both seem to agree with the scripture we keep giving eachother but to no avail. I’m still yet to see what you see wrong with my views (have I got a plank or what!?!), while to me, I see your understanding of faith works-based.

    Can you please best describe or give your definition what faith is, where it comes from, what it does, reveal some characteristics of it and offer some examples to prove what you mean? Otherwise we’re both arguing cheese is cheese without knowing one supports cheddar, the other beaufort.

    Hmm… I might nick to the kitchen now and get a cheese and wine.

  40. OK, s&p, so now I see better where you’re coming from. And I had thought of Gal.2.20, where Paul talks about living his life by the faith of Christ, and how the whole thing is so wonderful, in that. yes, we do connect in with Jesus’ faith, through and of Jesus’ faith. don’t disagree with this at all. In fact it’s very encouraging.

    Of course, the free gift, as I’ve said before can’t be faith, but being saved, or entering eternal life, or having righteousness accredited.

    Giving it more consideration, ‘Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ’. So again the faith which comes into our hearts is generated by the Word, who is God, also called the Seed. In natural terms, the Seed, or the Word entered Mary’s womb, she conceived, and Jesus was born.

    However, our faith is linked to Abraham’s faith on many occasions in the Epistles. Now Abraham could not have had the faith of Christ. What he had was the Word of God, in the Promise God made, that he would be ther father of many nations, and, in fact, a son by Sarah. This was the Word or Promise that he believed, and it was counted to him as righteousness.

    Again, it could be said that the Word of God spoken by God as a Promise, caused faith to rise in Abraham’s heart, but it has to be said that Abraham yet had faith of his own to receive the Promise and believe.

    And so with us. As you revealed here:

    Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

    So, we are justified ‘by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed’. This is wonderful, because it says the faith of Jesus Christ, through faith in Jesus Christ causes us to be justified. From there on, being justified, I am saved, I am accepted in the beloved, I am ‘in’ Christ, and therefore in his faith, as well as in my faith. I fI am ‘in’ Christ I can live by his faith. I can live according to the measure of faith. am in covenant. I am in his Body. I am set. But there is still a necessity to remain in faith on my part.

    This must be so because it is possible for me to lose my faith, but Jesus will never lose faith, because ‘he is faithful who promised’. I can lose my faith to the extent that I can draw back into perdition.

    That’s why Hebrews 10 & 11 discuss faith. ‘The just shall live by [his] faith’, and not draw back. ‘But we are not of those who draw back to destruction, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, for by it [faith] the patriarchs obtained a good report’.

    So he tells us in ch.10 to ‘hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).

    But, now, if I put on the new man [Christ], and lean on his faith, living a crucified life, i will not draw back.

    So, yes, faith comes from God in the sense that the Word of God enters my heart and causes my faith to come alive to him and his promises. But there is no way that God overrules my decision to receive the Word or reject the Word preached.

  41. SOOO,…

    It appears we ‘Cant earn what we already have’, eh!?, and the Story of the Prodigal Son is a simple illustration of this!

    Good news; Amen.

    Z.

  42. Wow! Yeah. We agree on something. WOW! That’s rare and that’s awesome.

    “However, our faith is linked to Abraham’s faith on many occasions in the Epistles.”

    Yes. God came to Abraham the same way He came to us.

    “Now Abraham could not have had the faith of Christ.”
    Who do you think fellowshipped with Abraham and who is God? Christ was definitely alive and active in the Old Testament. Have you ever looked at Christophanies- specifically on the topic of ‘The Angel Of The Lord’?

    “What he had was the Word of God, in the Promise God made, that he would be ther father of many nations, and, in fact, a son by Sarah. This was the Word or Promise that he believed, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

    He indeed had the Word of God: in His loins! o_0
    But once again, who was speaking to Him, when Abraham doubted, who gave him the faith to cling to the Promise?

    “Again, it could be said that the Word of God spoken by God as a Promise, caused faith to rise in Abraham’s heart, but it has to be said that Abraham yet had faith of his own to receive the Promise and believe.”
    Remember, God came to Abraham. He spoke and gave Abraham a promise. Why did He choose the son of an idol worshipper? God worked on Abraham’s faith. Anyone can say yes without fully knowing one’s intentions. We are talking about an invisible faith here.

    Just how a wife can think for her husband or a husband can be sensitive to his wifes thoughts and feelings, so too (and eventually) we can also know God that well, that we can predict how He will support and help us. He gives us the faith. We share his thoughts. We are at one with our creator. It’s officially ‘His’ faith but he shares it with us and he allows us to call it ‘our faith’- because he gave it to us. He gives a gift, we call it our own. He says ‘I give you my son’. We say ‘He is OUR saviour’. He shares His glory which we can now call OUR glory. He shares His spiritual authority with us which He allows us to call ‘our spiritual authority’.

    He gives His word. It’s now OUR word.
    He gives His promise. It’s now OUR promise.
    It would have taken Abraham a while to trust God fully as we see in his relationship with God. Obviously Abraham had that ‘husband-wife’ faith with God. It was naturally built into him by now.

    Like I say, I’m a Nazi for truth and a Luther for grace. Thanks for blessing me FaceLift with your thoughts and opinions. Even though I may get angry with you sometime (and may blow my cool), I don’t want you to ever think that I hate you mate. I actually really enjoy your persona. We’re all odd and I enjoy your quirks and your various views. Even on this topic I’ve learnt allot from you.

    Cheers!
    S&P

  43. You’ll have to let me know, then, s&p, why God hasn’t put faith in everyone? Why doesn’t everyone believe? I was under the impression that God is no respecter of persons.

    Why do we have to preach the gospel?

    If God puts faith in us, and it is his faith, it must be adequate to understand who he is without the preaching of the Word.

    Why did Jesus have to come at all? Surely God could have put faith into Adam and Adam would never have sinned.

    Etc., etc.

  44. I’m not being facetious about the previous comments. I’ve had occasion to preach to many people over time and I have seen conversions, and how people’s lives light up when they receive the Word preached.

    But I’ve also seen the tragedy of the hardness of some people’s hearts. They resist the gospel, they resist Christ, and they resist God with everything they’ve got.

    Isn’t God’s faith strong enough for these people?

  45. teddy, thanks, but…

    Instead of plucking out lengthy essays on links, could you pull out the main points of the argument you’re establishing from these links? It would help.

  46. I do not believe Facelift is being facetious. The questions he raises are exactly the questions that one would ask if one’s view about us having to provide the faith is being challenged by the one that God always gives us the faith.

    I’d like to look at this more completely, but don’t have the time right now. (I will reread this thread and attempt to look at this more closely later.)

    However, one of the points about this parable, is that it is very human for people to have the view of the older son, that somehow, in some fashion, one works or earns our inheritance in Christ. We are brought up with that in everyday life – the idea that people deserve what they have because they earn it. (Even though when we look around, its pretty clear that life does not always work that way.) To us, this is fairness. But is it love?

    To see that God does things differently, that He loves us so much that we have our inheritance already, when we become His children, is not natural to us. It is this point that this parable illustrates.

    I am not saying here that people don’t ever do something to earn things, and receive a reward as a result of their work. But in God, we have our inheritance – all of it – through the relationship with our Father that we are enabled to have in Christ. We may do all sorts of things as a result of that relationship. We have faith as a result of that relationship; a result of the revelation of the nature of God – and yes, that does come about as a result of reading and hearing his Word, and also the result of His work in our lives. But we don’t have to earn things from God the way we would from an employer, for example.

  47. FL: “Instead of plucking out lengthy essays on links, could you pull out the main points of the argument you’re establishing from these links? It would help.”

    FWIW Teddy I tend to read what you say rather than what you cut and paste. I tend to scan cut/pastes for your contribution and read that if there is one.

  48. Facelift says – “But I’ve also seen the tragedy of the hardness of some people’s hearts. They resist the gospel, they resist Christ and they resist God with everything they’ve got”

    The lengthy excellent article is on free will. Something to consider.

  49. S&P: “Look up the earlier article on this [soul power]”

    Can’t say I am very interested in soul power sorry S&P. Just in the scripture and what it says.

  50. Heretic, I spend quite a bit of time researching certain subjects because of the lack of foundational teaching at church. These articles express more clearly than I can what I’m trying to say.

    Certain sites have been crucial to where we are headed in the future and I probably will continue to cut and paste.

    If that’s a problem then I will just “lurk”!

    Besides that perhaps Facelift has a certain bias to anything I paste or say because I am unashamedly reformed.

  51. Oh Teddy – I don’t think I could stand being ‘reformed’ in the environment you are in.

    At my church, it would not have been an issue, some years ago, and a ‘reformed’ person may have quite liked it in some ways, but times have changed.

    I find the reformed teachers interesting, and they have some very good points to make. Yet despite agreeing with them in some things, I also feel they can be a bit severe in their own way. Some could tend to a different type of legalism. I know that would not be their intention, but they do emphasise a judicial approach so strongly that it concerns me in a different way from what concerns me about many of the popular Pente things.

    This is something I am examining at the moment. It will probably take some months for me to work things through. You’ll see some of my search here on the blog as my learning evolves. Its been great having the input of different people, including the reformed links you’ve contributed, which I have often read. They have an important place in the various directions the gospel is taking at the moment.

    I do enjoy hearing your own views, too.

    I am very interested in the issues raised by the conflict between the two approaches. There are more approaches out there though, than those two alone. Some of these others also have worthwhile insight into scripture.

  52. RP – the environment we have been avoiding lately! I understand where you are coming from if you consider “reformed theology” severe.

    My perceptions tend to come from a more contemporary influence i.e. Francis Schaeffer, John Piper, John Macarthur (there’s that man again!), Mark Driscoll (who has called himself “Charismatic with a seatbelt”). When I first started reading their work I was mad as hell at them and didn’t want to be confronted with sound doctrine as opposed to what we were hearing week after week, year after year.

    I’d read and enjoyed Schaeffer’s books for years (something not encouraged at CCC)and for the life of me cannot understand how far away we travelled from the truth. Schaeffer sounded a clear warning to the church way back in the 80’s with “A Christian Manifesto”.

    Way off topic now – sorry.

  53. “You’ll have to let me know, then, s&p, why God hasn’t put faith in everyone? Why doesn’t everyone believe? I was under the impression that God is no respecter of persons.”

    Well He has put faith in everyone. Why do people believe in the supernatural? Why do people believe in the world being a better place? Why do people believe love is the answer? Why do people believe in hope and freedom? Why do people believe in justice? Why do people believe that the world is going to end? And finally, why can’t they seem to fix their own problems? Everyone seems to have an idea of who God is. And God himself prompts them, an undying dissatisfaction until they come to finally know him.

    People who say they don’t believe in God actually do. They go to extreme lengths to distance themselves from Him, the same way the prophet Jonah did. They know God but are scared of Him. They don’t like seeing people who say they represent Him. So God is definitely lurking around unbelievers. He is among them.

    Their have been supernatural salvations in the Arab world where Arabs in their sleep, have dreamt of Jesus and awoken up believing or seeking who this ‘Jesus’ is. I don’t know one person who I have met in the streets who hasn’t heard of Jesus or God. Unfortunately, misconceptions through others have led those who ‘like’ God astray. On Saturday night, I met a man who is saved; who knows God is in His life but hasn’t yet associated himself as being Christian or knowing Jesus intimately. The testimony He was giving me and my mates proved that God had saved his life on numerous occasions. It was a real eye opener for me. So God’s faith is definitely among the Gentile. He lets the sun shine on the good and the bad, the rain on the believing and the unbelieving, his blessings on those who receive and those that don’t know they can receive and those that are open to receive.

    Unfortunately many have fallen into deception along the way. Oddly enough, when the church doesn’t do her job, God still leads people to him. Ian McCormack found salvation on His way out for this world. As He was dying, God came to Him and saved him. I also had a mate commit suicide. I beat myself up for ages because I falsely believed that he went to hell. The last time I met him, he was open to receive God and I panicked and held the gospel message to him (I was young and ignorant). After his death, God spoke to me about him. He reminded me who saves the weak, the poor, the stray sheep. I cried tears of relief. So in people’s dying moments God does come to them and saves. Same thing happened to my grandmother.

    FaceLift says:
    “Why do we have to preach the gospel?”
    Because God wants to share his glory with us. We can put our feet up and let him save the whole word if we want- which I would openly refuse anyone do. But the fact that He has set us apart for His glory should indicate to us that He wants to use us. Why? Because that’s who He is! He’s relational and likes to share Himself with His creation. He likes being glorified when people that choose to live in His fullness point straight to Himself. It means more to Him that His people show the rest of humanity His sovereignty, grace, mercy, love and faithfulness. And when we has does use people like you and me to move in the supernatural, we’re spurred to wait on Him to move again, rejoicing in His ways. He loves this! He loves it when we all respond to Him.

    “If God puts faith in us, and it is his faith, it must be adequate to understand who he is without the preaching of the Word.” I’ve kind of answered this already.

    “Why did Jesus have to come at all? Surely God could have put faith into Adam and Adam would never have sinned.” This is going to be hard to talk about. If you e-mail at specks_and_planks@hotmail.com, I can pass on a great article on faith and doubt and how we operate with them.

    FaceLift:
    “I’m not being facetious about the previous comments. I’ve had occasion to preach to many people over time and I have seen conversions, and how people’s lives light up when they receive the Word preached.”

    “But I’ve also seen the tragedy of the hardness of some people’s hearts. They resist the gospel, they resist Christ, and they resist God with everything they’ve got.
    Isn’t God’s faith strong enough for these people?”
    Wow! That’s great that God uses you to lead people to salvation!Once again, if I can e-mail you that article I have, it should clarify a few issues on some misconceptions on faith and doubt and how they operate in people’s life.

  54. FL: “You’ll have to let me know, then, s&p, why God hasn’t put faith in everyone?”

    Faith is spiritual site. If I remember the greek tense correctly it is the “substantiating” of things not seen. With faith you see the truth of what really is (as Ridcully might say).

    Like eyesight the fact that you have it does not mean that you use it to look. Or probably it does not mean that you look in the correct place. In the boat in the the storm Jesus says “where is your faith” (luke 8:25). For me this is the definining question, not what is faith, or how big is faith but where is your faith. We all have faith or we cannot be saved. The question is what are we doing with it – where are we putting it. For me this means that when I am in a difficult or confusing spot I try to perceive where in the situation my faith is strong and I attempt to proceed to examime the faith I have from that starting position.

    With eyesight we tend to see only a portion of what is there in that we interpret what we see according to our world-view or theology. Many studies have shown that we filter the information we see.

    Paul says in Romans that God has put sufficient faith in all of mankind to know that he is God but some suppress the obvious truth in unrighteousness. We all have sufficient faith – the question is whether we want to draw near to God with what we have. When we respond to the faith we have to seek God he strengthens our faith – that is he gives more to those that have.

    When a person tries to manufacture faith to believe a lie nothing good will happen.

  55. I must add, Teddy, that I particularly enjoyed the youTube clip you contributed, ‘Allow Me to Reintroduce the Christ’. Also, I enjoyed questions relating to what gospel is actually being preached at times!

  56. Well, Heretic, we walk by faith and not by sight. We experience God through the Spirit, not through the senses.

    Faith is the ‘substance’ of things hopd for. Substance is ‘hupostasis’, the undergirding, the support system for what we hope for. We hope for eternal life. Faith confirms it. It is the reality of the dream.

    The context is continuing on, and not drawing back. The concept covers all spiritual interaction with God’s Word and promises. God’s will is established. His will and his Word must be one. His Word has gone out. The onus is on us. God’s grace draws our faith, through the preaching of the Word, and our covenant is sealed.

    In that we continue in, surely it is or faith which is on the line, not God’s. If it were God’s faith and not ours on the line, then there would be no chance of drawing back, or is God double-minded? Or, worse, does God doubt? Does he invest us with doubt as well as faith. So therefore it is not our doubt which causes us to stumble, but God’s doubt. Hmmm!
    _______________________________

    teddy, I am interested in hearing what you have to say, but I comment on the fly, and generally don’t have the time to read through all the passages you put or others up. A summary would help.

    DeWaat, who is a cessationist, and therefore has a completely different point of view on spiritual things, and how the Holy Spirit relates to us today, makes some assumptions about will and grace.

    First he works hard to demonstrate, and then move on to his point, that we do not have a free-will. His claim is that there is no Biblical reference to free-will so therefore it annot be demonstrated.

    Yet the Bible talks about God’s will. It tells us that a leper came to Jesus in his humanity and said he could heal him if it was his will. Jesus said “I will’.

    Jesus asked the Father if it was possible to avoid the cross, and find another ‘cup’, but then he said, ‘Nevertheless, not my will by yours be done’.

    The will is defined by choice and decisions.

    God told Israel, and, in so doing, I believe he told all people, to choose between life and death, good and evil, blesssing and cursing. His will was for us to choose life. Choice is an act of the will.

    Are you agreeing with DeWaat that this is not our will being challenged?

    And, if we don’t have a free-will, what has obedience to do with anything? Obedience is greater than sacrifice, so how do we obey without a will to obey?

    He claims three different wills in man – Adam & Eve, the unregenerate, and the regenerate. So, by his own standards, where is the Biblical evidence of three types of will? Surely this is as assumed as the free-will.

    Then, again, how can the regenerate fall, or draw back to perdition. If the will of the regenerate is indeed the infusion of God’s will, is God’s will in us susceptible to failure? Why do we have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?

  57. “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit – Showing That Spiritual Gifts are Not for New Revelations and Have not Ceased ” (Issue 47 Critical Issues Commentary)”

    “The gifts of the Holy Spirit are to benefit the body of Christ this is often repeated in the passages that talk about them. Many people who believe in the gifts engage in practices that do more harm than good to the body. This shows that their teaching and practice are not Biblical; but this does not prove that the gifts have ceased. Many people seriously misunderstand what our greatest needs are. They assume that our need is secret information, new revelations, predictions of the future, or perhaps a raucous “worship” experience. All of these actually serve to hurt the body of Christ. What we need is to be conformed to the image of Christ.”

    Besides reading his articles, I often listen to him preach and Bob Dewaay is NOT a cessationist.

  58. OK I stand corrected on the cessationist issue. Apologies. What does he mean when he says that many people who believe in the gifts engage in practices that do more harm than good?

    What do you say about his claims on the free-will of man?

  59. Sorry I’ll get back to that question FL. I just watched Four Corners and I’m more than a bit distracted.

  60. I read through the article on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and found it enjoyable, and would agree with what he says.

    I’m not sure I agree with the concept of God organising our will, though.

    I agree wit the idea of the total sovereignty of God, which is an area we should explore, but I believe that includes his will for us to have a free-will, the fact that he has established, or finalised an settled, his Word, his will for all subjects, and that we are, in essence, made subject to our own decision to receive his Word, or receive Christ, or reject him.

    This has consequences, since his will includes a necessity for holiness in the lives of all the subjects of his kingdom.

    Of course, at the end of time we will be judged for the way we exercised our will, an will enter into his will for all people, and the free-will of he sinner will be countermanded by an excursion into eternal separation, which may prove, in the end, to be completely against their will – hence torment.

    The human mind is confronted with many paradoxical positions in the Word. Deciphering them is often very interesting and leads to differences of opinion, which is why we have to be able to discuss these things without being overbearing in our position, which isn’t always easy, ad is why sometimes I take the position of those who are too easily criticised.

  61. “FL” “The human mind is confronted with many paradoxical positions in the Word. Deciphering them is often very interesting and leads to differences of opinion, which is why we have to be able to discuss these things without being overbearing in our position, which isn’t always easy, ad is why sometimes I take the position of those who are too easily criticised.”

    Even if they are frauds who devour widows’ houses.

  62. Dear Heretic. You’re consistent in your elasticity. Loose the bands and come back to where we are.

    You take things to default extremes and never find agreement, which makes you as guilty as those you criticise. When have I defended frauds who devour widows houses?

    I’m discussing the perplexing issue of faith and how it comes, for which you have no convincing arguments, so you irrelevantly direct us back to some extreme position from where it takes an age of already debated discussion to come back to the centre. Where are you?

  63. FaceLift says:

    Dear Heretic. You’re consistent in your elasticity. Loose the bands and come back to where we are.

    I like the use of “Dear”. I am pleased that Zeppelin has had an influence on you.

    You take things to default extremes and never find agreement,

    Funny I feel like I find agreement with some.

    which makes you as guilty as those you criticise.

    I am, of course, just as guilty as those I criticise – that is kind of the point of the cross

    When have I defended frauds who devour widows houses?

    All the time I recall. Without naming names I have seen people losing their houses and/or coming close due to tithing and related theology and with my own eyes I have seen you defend the very people who teach the lies that caused the pain. This might be abstract theology for you but for others the damage is quite real.

    I’m discussing the perplexing issue of faith and how it comes, for which you have no convincing arguments,

    I guess we are both in the same boat there

    so you irrelevantly direct us back to some extreme position from where it takes an age of already debated discussion to come back to the centre. Where are you?

    Actually in this case, when you say “sometimes I take the position of those who are too easily criticised” you are congratulating yourself for again supporting the powerful and strong. It is, of course, your right to do this and my right to comment on it.

  64. Yep, and you remain a Heretic! Sceptic would be better but it’s probably already taken!

    OK, so it’s established that no matter where I go in a discussion you’re going to take it out to the fringes or wings of your discontent, and dismantle anything said, mess up any impression made by others on my thinking, anyway, and send us back around the circle once again.

    Not much point in continuing on that basis, really, is there?

    I used ‘dear’ because I meant it. You refused it because you wanted to. It derails your default position.

  65. I mean it when I say ‘dear’ too!-

    [ although in context, it can often sound quite ironic, which is also very useful, because it does not sit easily next to unkindness-]

    I really meant it when I say ‘we are born by the Holy Spirit’-this is exactly what Jesus said, and the very origin of the ‘faith’ you are all speaking of above, in my belief.

    ‘Faith comes by hearing’ indeed; so it is when those arabs or whoever see Jesus or a being pointing to Jesus in a dream, and so, “we are chosen”, just as the scripture says.

    This is not a random process, but a deliberate one by the will of the Father, and I honestly dare not dwell much farther in speculating ‘why’ some and not others.

    [Yet S&P, you are so right in alluding we all have “eternity in our hearts” , just as the scripture says, and although you may not have explicitly said that!]

    Im curious about the ‘drift’ away from the original Topic as illustrated, but I hope it has blessed you all,

    Z.

  66. FaceLift said:
    “Well, Heretic, we walk by faith and not by sight. We experience God through the Spirit, not through the senses. ”

    “So that is why we need to look at the house we want and ‘visualise’ what we want, desire it, ask for it, then start claiming and believing we have it! Of course that’s not sight! That’s err… The substance of faith… I think… No wait… That’s my faith! My faith won’t let me down? Oh my faith failed me? Then I might need to buy another of Phil Pringles books to figure out how I can get MORE faith! Then I’ll be able to get what I want… It’s a shame Heretic and S&P have no convincing arguments about the truly perplexing issues of faith that I know about… What little faith they have! If only that understood then they might live more prosperous and faith-filled life!”

  67. Good observation above S&P!-

    God is a ‘Unity’ [one-ness]- so then, how and why should his Children be divided, Spirit from Sense?-complete nonsense, in the cosmological sense, but very common in Christendom.

    [Facelift, do please check out James Thwaites’ works.]’-Truth & Life go together!’

    Z.

  68. I was quoting scripture:

    ‘We walk by faith and not by sight’ – 2 Cor.5:7.

    God is not a sense, or a mind.

    ‘God is a Spirit, and those that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth’ – John 4:24.

    Faith is of the Spirit, not of the senses.

    Do please check out Galatians 3:1-9!

  69. Phew Facelift-your Theology pongs!:-…..even the ‘title’ is a giveaway to the theme:

    Galatians 3

    Faith or Observance of the Law

    1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
    6Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a] 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[b] 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”-

    -oh dear, all very complicated, and missing the point to boot!

    and here is your own quotation;

    “God is a Spirit, and those that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth’ – John 4:24.”

    …So brother, what then is TRUTH, if not ‘physical reality’?

    How then is physical reality understood if not by the senses?- surely you are not some Medieval person who deems the ‘senses’ evil?!

    “Faith is of the Spirit, not of the senses.” is strictly mistaken; for ‘faith is BOTH of the Spirit and the Senses”, as Jn4:24 so explicitly says.

    Have a Good-Night in Gods peace,

    Z.

  70. facelift:
    “I was quoting scripture:
    ‘We walk by faith and not by sight’ – 2 Cor.5:7.”

    And I will too:
    We walk by faith and not by sight – 2 Cor.5:7

    I think you and me both have a slight different understanding of this scripture. I’ve been trying to figure out where you have been coming from with your views on faith. I encourage you to research ‘soul power’ and know the difference between man-made manufactured faith (reliance on self) and the natural in-built gift of faith of God in us. We gain access to His faith by abiding and living in His awareness of His Spirit in us.

    facelift:
    “God is not a sense, or a mind.”
    Hmm… He just has feelings for all of us. And he openly tells us that he has thoughts, ways, plans, schemes, etc. He can show his wrath, love, grace and reveal his grief, glory, joy before us or in us. He came as Christ, who was emotional, thoughtful, relatable, tactful and human. He feels for us, mourns for us, cries and weeps for us. Laughs with us. Comforts us. Forgives us. Yet we offend Him.

    Hmm… You’re right. God is not sense, or a mind. But He is is sensual and does have a mind of His own.

    facelift:
    “God is a Spirit, and those that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth’ – John 4:24.
    Faith is of the Spirit, not of the senses. ”

    You also forget that Faith came in the man of Jesus Christ. That which is in Christ is also in us. He was perfect Man and God. So if Christ made the claim ‘you have little faith’, he’s addressing the abundance of doubt in us. His faith is in us already. All we need to pray is the prayer of the father before Jesus “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”.

    I’ll do another post on faith just below. Feel free to pass it on to friends or stick it on your wall at home. It’s on my door.

  71. Gal 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
    Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

    Rom 1:12 That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
    Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
    Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
    Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
    Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
    Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

    Eph 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
    Php 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
    1Ti 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
    1Ti 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    Jas 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

    Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

  72. s&p,
    “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

    I don’t know if it’s correct to quote this an acceptable state of faith. Our example is Abraham, not this man.

    A good example would be the centurion Jesus encountered, who had greater faith than anyone Jesus met in Israel, and so his servant was healed according ot the centurion’s faith.

    But this man had little faith, and was not born again, nor could he have been. His level of faith was almost none existent before Jesus persuaded him to trust in him, and even then he says, by his own admission, he struggled, but it was still his faith which Jesus encouraged. We shouldn’t use this man as an example of faith, unless to find out how to increase our own faith, nor is it the example of the faith required to access God’s promises.

    We look to the patriarchs who, ‘by faith and patience inherit the promises’ – Heb.6:12.

    Surely if it was God’s faith the man required Jesus could have called it down into him, and he would not have needed anything else.

    Similarly, Jesus cajoled his disciples for their lack of faith. He wasn’t excusing them for having little faith, or making an analytical assessment for our interest. He expressed disaproval. If you read the gospels in context you will see that he commended those who did have faith and rebuked those who didn’t.

    Surely, again, if he had only asked God to give them faith he would not have cause to have either rebuke or affirm their faith.

    You can’t make scripture mean what you are claiming. That is the stuff of cultism.

    s&p,
    ‘So if Christ made the claim ‘you have little faith’, he’s addressing the abundance of doubt in us.’

    No he’s not. he’s addressing this individual’s state, and working with him to build his faith up, and not be in doubt. He’s working with this man’s level of faith. If he could simply impregnate him with God’s faith, why tell the man to stay in faith?

    But why research ‘soul power’? Tell me more. That also sounds like something out of Unitarianism, or Christian Science.

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