mercredi 31 mai 2017

Is Good Works Against Heaven and Eternal Life?

"Do we inherit Eternal life and heaven because of our works or because of having faith in Jesus."

This question was asked in one of the WhatsApp group I happen to be in. This question has the singular weakness to present a false choice to those who are asked to answer them. As I remarked in the WhatsApp group, the question although interesting to provoke a discussion, it is nevertheless based on a false dichotomy. Before I answer the question directly, some clarification is needed given the faulty assumption that oppose deeds and faith.

Clarifying the Concept

The attitude of the New Testament is not to make an unintelligible separation between our action and our faith, as if we were asked to choose and show our loyalty between our actions or our faith. Rather, the New Testament always strive to keep a balance by reminding us about contexts and the necessity of a collaboration between our faith and our actions. 

This is clearly seen in the writings of St. James who took pains to point out that faith and deeds are not in a perpetual war as some would like us to believe. There three verses found in the second chapter of the epistle of James says it all:
"But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds." James 2.18 NIV
"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?" James 2.14 NIV
 "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead."James 2.26 NIV
It is clear that from the perspective of St. James, there is no good that can come from making an arbitrary distinction between faith and action. Such as endeavor is theologically futile just as it is practically fruitless.

The Kingdom of God

Now back to the question related with the inheritance of the kingdom or as some presume by calling it Heaven. To reflect on it from a sound biblical foundation, I'd like to share a text which is suggestive of how the early Christian community thought of it, which is still how the majority of the Christian today think of it. The text is found in epistle of St. Peter which give the direction for proper reasoning in light of what we read above in James 2:14,18,26.
"Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For IF you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." - 2 Peter1:10-11 
In this passage of St. Peter, we are informed that the believers should do something in order to receive a rich welcome into the Eternal Kingdom of our Lord. Just like St. James, St. Peter doesn't see the necessity to separate a life of faith with a life of actions (deeds) as these the verses above demonstrates through sentences such as these: a) make every effort, b) if you do these things. These are statement of actions. St. Peter not only link but also condition the plain entrance into the Kingdom of the Lord to these series of actions as the word "IF" in the verses suggest.

We also see that St. John do not make an arbitrary separation between actions and the experience of receiving the kingdom in his book of Revelation in chapter 3 verse 21,
"To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne." NIV
St. John expressly says that the inheritance into the reign of Christ is meritorious, which means based on the believer's life of victory. This explicit reasoning from St. John is repeated over and over in the book of revelation. It is clear that St. John saw no problem that a life of faith should be expressed through actions and deeds of an overcomers - "The person who conquers will inherit these things. I will be his God, and he will be my son" - Rev 21:7 (also see Revelation 2:7; 2:26-27). 

Eternal Life

As for Eternal life, the New Testament use that word in different way with regard to the life of the believer. However, I will start by restricting its possible diverse meaning by singling it to one mean. I will restrict it to Jesus definition of the word, "Eternal life" as the knowing relationship with the Father in John 17:3,
"Eternal life is to know you, the only true God, and to know Jesus Christ, the one you sent." - John17:3  CEV
"And this is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent—Jesus the Messiah." - John17:3  ISV
The Lord Jesus therefore define Eternal Life as the knowledge of God (the Father and the Son). If we use this definition with relative consistency we discover some interesting biblical revelation. For one, we can find out that St. John reminded his audience that they already have that knowledge form of relationship with the Father and the Son called "Eternal life" in 1John5.13,
"I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." - 1 John 5:13 ISV
Hence for St. John, the believers who were recipient of his letters had the 'Eternal life' or had 'that knowledge/relationship with the Father and the Son'. In order word, they were in a relationship with God, for knowing someone indicate having a relationship with that person.

Another New Testament writer, St. Jude told believers that the relationship with the Father "Eternal life" is something we can be led into just like any other relationships. 
"keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life." - Jude 1:21 ESV 
So as believers keep their eyes focused on Jesus' mercy (or grace), the believers are lead into Eternal Life. Here St. Jude seem to suggest that this relationship with the Father is something that we are continuously led into. Which makes sense, since all relationship are not static and continuous. We are always invited to know the person more and more or this relationship will be disrupted and we become estranged to each other (no more relationship).

All these were just to show in an indirect way how active participation is required for anyone who is in a relationship and want to keep this relationship alive and enduring. It is true for our human relationship, it is equally true with our divine relationship. Allow me now to respond to the question of Eternal Life and its relationship with deeds in a more direct way now. 

St. Paul told his audience that this relationship with the Father called "Eternal life" is unmistakably linked with a believers good actions in Roman 2:6-7,
"God 'will repay each person according to what they have done.' To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life." Romans 2:6-7 NIV
St. Paul unmistakably said that God do avail the provision of the knowledge (relationship) of God aka 'Eternal Life' to those who search for Him by doing good. Here we see St. Paul who understand the primacy of faith over the works of the Mosaic Law with regard to divine justification, nevertheless recognizing that actions are not per se in opposition to faith but that action such as doing good are an inescapable in our experience of true faith that lead is to the reception of 'Eternal Life' just as St. Jude and St. James recognized.

mardi 2 mai 2017

Holy Spirit controversy?

Long time ago, I responded to an email request about a discussion that arose on the popular discussion about the meaning of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I was younger and more aggressive, allowing little patience to statements that I considered misguided. I hope I have changed over time by being more patient now. In any case, I was surprised to read this old piece and see that my views have barely changed over the years as I keep learning about the Christian faith. I hope you enjoy this read of a zealous young man.
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Hello J.C friends*,

A friends of mine has sent me a long email from a friend/ acquaintance of her that kind of mocked the current teaching and doctrinal standings on baptism of the Holy Spirit and many other things. Well, I share my views in brief of that letter and I thought sharing that with you too. Hope you like it. If you disagree with me, it is ok. You have the right to disagree with me. :)

Have a nice weekend in Jesus' name.
Eric G.
H.R.Mod.
P.S: Jeunnesse Chretiènne (JC)*
...
Hello dear xxxxxx,

Thank you for sharing with me the letter of your friend. Reading it has just reinforced in me the necessity of writing my new book, 'BETRAYAL - The consequences of forsaking the teaching ministry'.

 It is just shocking and astonishing what people can write and say. And all this while they really think they even know or understand what they are talking about. It is sad.

Bon, i came late and as you can imagine i am a bit sleepy hence i can't go through a point by point refutation, correction and clarification of the biblical doctrine that he abused. However let me just touch few points here and there and i am sure that you can find the remaining one's or if there are some specifics you want me to deal with - please let me know i'll be delighted to respond to them when I'll be fully awake. :)

Let start with the first point.

I. He is right when he said we need the holy Spirit to live the Christian life. That is quite correct. This is pretty much all i can wholly agree with him with few exception here and there though.

II. " 1. Being born again and 2. Being baptized in the holy spirit. Now most church say this, but when you study the scriptures, you find out this is not what the bible says. And those who put it this way,are the ones who are seeking more power all the time from God. They're are the ones who are praying and fasting and crying for power. Because they have their Theology mixed up.In no where in the scriptures, does it make the baptism of the holy spirit a 2nd experience!"

Well, let me correct this. After Jesus resurrection and before the Jewish feast of the Pentecost, Jesus gave the Spirit to the disciples by breathing to them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" John 20:22. So according to the account in the gospel of john the disciples received the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them. This was the first experience. However, before Jesus left the disciples in order to be assumed in Heaven, he said to them, 

Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit ...  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on youand you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:4-5, 8. 

If you look at this portion of Acts 1, Jesus is no longer talking about receiving the Holy Spirit, for that was already done in John 20:22, but he is talking about receiving the promise of the Father. What is the promise of the Father? The baptismal with the Holy Spirit in few days. But is the baptism with the Holy Spirit? It is the reception of power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Not the reception of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22) but the reception of Power (Acts 1:8).

(NB: I emphasis this distinction now because later on i'll use verses where this distinction is not recognized by the author of Acts. Matter of fact it will become clear that 'receiving the Holy Spirit' may mean more than one thing. It may mean receiving Jesus' spirit as at the conversion, or it may mean receiving the power).  

Is the distinction I am making real or just artificial? Maybe the book of Luke can shade some lights, " I am going to send you what my Father has promisedbut stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24: 49. Again what was the promise of the father? The clothing with power! Again, the purpose of the promised of the Father, also called the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5), is the reception of power or the clothing with power.

 On Pentecost day, which is believed to have been after 10 days after Jesus' ascension to heaven -which reminds us what Jesus said, 'in few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit ...' (Acts 1:5) - it was reported in Acts 2:4 that the disciples, " All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.". Here we see that the word baptized with the Holy Spirit is not used but rather the word filled with the Holy Spirit. This context suggest that the two words are a description of the same even. Which event? The event of the reception of power. In this situation, the first power that was manifested was their experiences with the speaking in other tongues to the amazement of those who heard them (Acts 2:12).

The story of the disciple denies the assertion that, "no where in the scriptures, does it make the baptism of the holy spirit a 2nd experience!". On the contrary, it was well a different experience with the Holy Spirit than the one they had when Jesus breathed on them. The book of revelation speaks of the seven spirit of God (Rev 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6), which can well mean that the Spirit can manifest itself in more than one way on earth. Matter of fact, even Jesus experienced the presence of the Spirit on him differently twice. 

Here is an example, 

1. "Jesus, full of the Holy Spiritleft the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness," (Luke 4:1) and 

2. " Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside" (Luke 4:14). 

An attentive read will realize that when Jesus was baptized on the Jordan river he received the Holy Spirit and he was full of the Holy Spirit (verse 1). However when he left his 40 days of fasting and temptation victoriously, he had then the power of the Spirit (verse 14). 

Is there other text that can help us understand this distinction? Yes, there are. Philip preach to the Samaritan (Acts 8). They believed the message Philip was preaching. They got baptized with water (Acts 8:12). However they received the power (here again the Tongues as the primary manifestation) through the laying of hands of Peter and James (Acts 8: 15-18) when they came from Jerusalem to witness the fact that the Samaritans had already received the word of God and converted. It is clear here that their conversion (via Philip) was different from their experience of the new power (via Peter and James). Certainly they received the Holy Spirit at their conversion when Philip brought them to the obedience of the Gospel. So in one sense they received the Holy Spirit for without the Spirit there can not be a new birth and a regeneration. But in another sense they had not yet received the Holy Spirit for they still had no power yet.

Remember the biblical illustration of the seven Spirit of God. This may mean a diversity in the way the Spirit manifest himself. When Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit as a counselor in John 14 he used a masculine pronoun as if he was a person. But when Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1 he used a neutral pronoun as if he talked about a thing (the power). The Jehovah witness prefer the Acts 1 usage of the Holy Spirit when they discuss about him. In a sense they are right. In another sense they are wrong. They are right when they emphasize his power, but wrong when they ignore his personality. We can't apply just one criteria especially when the context prevent us to do that. Because the same word is used doesn't mean that it is talking about the same thing. The context will teach us to recognize what is going on here/there.

III. "The baptism of the holy spirit is actually what is meant by the NEW BIRTH. Now for several people,this will completely kick their theology and they'll be like: oooohh what am I hearing??? And you found out all the people who say this never really studied the subject concerning the Holy Spirit."

I have already shown that this is an non careful way to read the scripture. Actually these verses in Acts 8 will show that this is not true:

"12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptizedboth men and women. 
13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of Godthey sent Peter and John to Samaria. 
15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit,16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them;they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."

The Samaritans were new believers for the accepted the word of God (verse 14-15) but the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them yet! This is a biblical example that shows that this really happened, and i see no reason why it can't happen again in our century. The context inform us that the Holy Spirit they had not yet received is in fact the power of the Holy Spirit, for when they received the Holy Spirit there were a visible things that was happening to the people as witnessed by even Simon when the disciple placed their hands on them (verse 18).

And in the incident of the disciples in Ephesus that Paul met, contrary to what we were told, the reason Paul might have asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" in Acts 19:2, when the disciples said to him, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." it is because It appears that during the Christian baptism the name of the Holy Spirit is pronounce as recorded in Matthew 28:19 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," So even if they never heard of a teaching on the Holy Spirit, at least we know they should have heard at least once in their lives that there is such a thing or such a person as the Holy Spirit on the day of their baptism if their baptism followed Jesus model and teaching. So saying they 'never even heard of the Holy Spirit' was really astonishing. Hence Paul wondered what kind of baptism did they receive?

However this is not even the most troubling aspect of this story. The aspect that is really revealing is the fact that Paul asked this question when he first met these disciples for the first time, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" (Acts 19:2) -- It is as if Paul is assuming that it is even possible for someone to believe without receiving the Holy Spirit at the same time. We have to grant this point when reading the text, otherwise this would have made Paul question nonsensical if that was not possible in any case to believe and not receive the Holy Spirit! So we also have to learn from this apostolic experience to assume that we can meet with Christians who have not yet received the Holy Spirit. 

And here again, the expression is used not with regards to receiving the Holy Spirit as part of the conversion but receiving it as part of the power that was promised. The context show that they received the ability to prophesy (verse 6) when they received the Holy Spirit indicating by this that Paul meant by receiving the Holy Spirit - the experience of receiving some power as promised by the Father - namely the baptism of the Holy Spirit (remember the discussion on Acts1 above). 

The rest of his discussion is at best tangential to this issue of the timing of the baptism of the Holy Spirit when he converts or at worst irrelevant to the issue. All this shows is that your friends confuses things and do not understand the elementary issues of Christian doctrines, particularly this one, 

"Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.And this we will[a] do if God permits." (Hebrews 6:1-3)

Notice that the point 3 in the elementary principles is the doctrine of baptisms (in plural). The New Testament speaks of different form of baptisms namely, a. water baptism (Acts 8: 36-37), b. baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5), c. baptism in body (1 Corinthians 12:13), d. baptism of suffering (Luke 12:50), e. baptism of fire (Matthew 3:11). Your friends seem to have a real hard time to distinguish between some of them. And this is just the elementary stuffs of Christian principles. How can you expect him to have a developed theology on systematic theology? Impossible. It is clear by his writing that he is just a novice thinker of biblical doctrines who hasn't taken the time sharpen his views notwithstanding his self-congratulating pose. He is just thinking higher about himself than he should have. He still have a long way to go before he start presenting a mature pneumatology or even a coherent soteriology.

But at least he is trying to think out of the box. Pas mal. I am curious to read what he is going to send you again. :)

I hope my small reaction will help you frame the debate in a more fruitful context with him.

GBU

mardi 25 avril 2017

Conversation on Justification: Test The Spirit - Part 5


This is my final response in my conversation with A on the different type of justifications as found in the Bible. You can check the previous conversation here, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

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Hi A,

It was a pleasure to interact with you on these important matter in order to do justice to the whole counsel of God and not only part of it. Since you are not a teacher of the word of God as you pointed out, I would like to encourage you if you may allow me to advise on these two key points that has helped me in my walk with God when I first started:

A) To look for teachers of the word,

1) that demonstrate an alignment with Acts 20:27 which says,

"car je vous ai annoncé tout le conseil de Dieu, sans en rien cacher." -Acts 20:27

"For I did not keep back from declaring to you all the counsel of God." - Act 20:27   

It is important that those who teaches you show that they are comfortable with all the counsel of God and not only part of it and do not avoid discussing thoroughly and contextually other part of the scriptures they find enervating to their theologies.

2) that understand precision when they deal with textual biblical subjects

"Do your best to present yourself to God as an approved worker who has nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of truth with precision." - 2Timothy 2:15  

It is important that the one who teaches you do not substitute the words in the scriptures with their own words in order to avoid the clear biblical remarks because they happen to dislike what the scriptures say.


B) to be a good student and learner of the word of God

1) Verify whatever they teach you regardless of your personal appreciation of them 

"These people were more receptive than those in Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive the message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if those things were so." - Acts 17:11   

The story of the believers of Berea have become quite legendary, so pardon me to re-emphasize it again. The Bereans were noble and receptive people with regards to the word of God because though they were receiving the word of God (the message) with willingness from the Apostle Paul, they nevertheless verified and carefully examined if what St. Paul was teaching them was true scripturally. I see a level of Berean in you, that although you received my message that day, you wanted to know more about the truthfulness of what I thought afterward. I encourage you to not stop there but go the full mile and embrace the scripture whole heartedly by avoiding any temptation to edit the word but to agree with it. 

2) Test your teachers 

"Dear friends, stop believing every spirit. Instead, test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." - 1John 4:1   

Always test those who teach even if you happen to be a fan of that person. Verify and if what he says is clearly contrary to the word of God then you know he is leading you in error. If you hear a teacher say, "man is justified by faith ALONE" then you know that he is in error in that particular belief because the bible clearly and unambiguously say that "man is justified by actions and not by faith alone" in James 2:24. Test and never be satisfied unless you have the truth, for God's word is the truth and not man or preachers fiery sermons or clever illustrations which are poor substitute to biblical truth.

Stick to the truth and you will never be manipulated by crowd or well polished or well spoken public speakers or charismatic figures.

I hope we will meet again one of these days. :)

If 'L' invites me again, I shall be sharing few biblical teaching in the month of May and I hope if you are there you will be able to test me again to see if what I say is found in the scriptures. On my side I will endeavor to stick to the word of God (Scriptures) all the way through my many teachings.

Have a pleasant and bless weekend A. and my greetings to your spouse for me.

Conversation on Justification: To believe or Not to believe - Part 4

This is the fourth (4th) exchange we had on the Justification exchange. You can check here Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.



....

Hello A,

I hope you had started a good weekend despite the grey sky above us. 

Allow me to go right into your remarks if you allow me to be this candid.

1) You objected by saying, "we agree on many points but not on this one "a person is justified through actions and not through faith alone".

It is interesting that what you do not agree with is an exact replica expression from the Bible itself. For it is written in the holy scriptures that, "You observe that a person is justified through actions and not through faith alone.James 2:24.

It is pretty clear to me that it is not with me only that you disagreeing but with St. James a biblical writer.

2) You remarked, "you say that  passage  is written in the bible like that  but that is not what it means to me when I consider the context. the same way I can read a passage that says: "do not kill," but by reading other verses I see that killing animals for food is not bad"

I appreciate that you are trying to read the scripture by trying to see what it means to you, but this is not the proper way of reading the scripture or any literally device for that matter. It is important to understand what it meant for the writer of the text in order to avoid to incorrectly interpret the text. Let me give an example which you kindly provided, "Do not kill" Exodus20:13. 
It has been know for long that word used in Hebrew for "Kill" means killing man or murdering.

Here is how the Esword, Hebrew and Greek Dictionary puts it: "râtsach (raw-tsakh'): A primitive root; properly to dash in pieces, that is, kill (a human being), especially to murder: - put to death, kill, (man-) slay (-er), murder (-er)."

Allow me to quote this: "There are two different Hebrew words (ratsakh, mut) and two Greek words (phoneuo, apokteino) for “murder” and “killing.” One means 1) “to put to death,” and the other means 2) “to murder.” The latter one is the one prohibited by the Ten Commandments, not the former." - by Michael Morton. (source: https://www.gotquestions.org/you-shall-not-murder.html)

Why is this very important to know what the author or the original language mean? In order to avoid the difficulties in which you were getting your example into when you tried to read Exodus 20.13 as a generic word for 'any killing' instead of reading it as the original author was using it as 'killing human or murdering'.

And one last point, it is not me who said the passage is written in the bible, I provided the text that shows that passage is indeed written in Bible and says, "You observe that a person is justified through actions and not through faith alone.James 2:24

3) You preemptively complained that, "for me  it is not "editing" the word  as you said in the audience of one"

Among the definition we have of "edit" from the "Merriam Webster" Dictionary, it is rendered as "to make changes". I do not think that saying that you are editing the texts of the scripture would be incorrect since you have yourself provided a good example of that in your last email, see for your self:

Bible: "you observe that a person is justified through actions and not through faith alone"
Astrida: "let me give you a practical example of what i mean on being justified by faith alone"

It is crystal clear for any observer that when the Bible says not by faith alone, you have given yourself the prerogative to say by faith alone. This, my Dear Astrida, is what we call editing the scriptures.

4) You said, "my healing is justifying  my faith in Jesus , but  I do not see from your explanation how getting healed in that case can be taken alone. to justify what?"

I understand why you are not seeing my explanation on how works justifies faith, the reason is simple. I have not said it once. Actually I meant to ask you, where do you read that actions "JUSTIFIES" faith? 
I also need to point out that you may be confusing, 1) the actions made with faith (example, healing proclamation) and 2) the result of that actions made by faith (the experience of healing). Point two is a whole different topic on itself, allow me to refocus the conversation on point 1 only for the time being given that we have an obvious disagreement on your side in accepting the biblical text as St. James wrote it.

5) You also said, "I take that verse in context of what is written in previous verses and conclude that belief that I have."

Since we started you spoke about the context of verse 24 but you never provided any. So since it is the weekend, I wanted to be nice and provide it for our mutual benefice.

Jas 2:20  But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead
Jas 2:21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 
Jas 2:22  Do you see how faith worked with his works, and from the works faith was made complete

The context of verse 24 that you are editing mentioned couple of information and none of them seems to support your point of view of, "being justified by faith alone".

6) Finally, "I understand well our point of difference now."

I hope you can allow me some level of amusement, but I couldn't help chuckle when I read this comment. Let's state the major difference so far as this correspondence has gone,

My remarks: "The clear message of the scripture is that justification is neither by actions alone nor by faith alone, but a simultaneous expression of both actions and faith"

'A' remarks "let me give you a practical example of what i mean on being justified by faith alone"

The Standard"you observe that a person is justified through actions and not through faith alone" (Bible)


My final words would be, we need to respond positively to the scriptures instead of editing it. This is doubling urgent when one happens to hold the office of a teacher, "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more severely than others." - James 3:1  

I understand why the justification by faith alone is attractive to many even though the very words 'justification by faith alone' is totally absent from the Bible itself, I had my own wrestling with this very topic 20 years ago and It took me almost a decade to come to term with my resistance to the scripture with regard to this topic despite the enormous pressure to the contrary around me and the many books I was reading which didn't help my compliance to the scripture teaching on this issue. In the end, we have to be honest with the text and I agree it is a difficult thing to do but it must be done if we want to align our theology with that of the first Christian community. I have not yet reach perfect understanding of scriptures but what I now know I hold dearly!

Have a please weekend in Jesus' name.
....
The last post on my response is found on Part 5.

Conversation on Justification: Source of Justification - Part 3

This is the third part of the email exchange I had on Biblical Justification. You can check here Part1 and Part 2.


...


Hi A,

Greetings. Allow me to make it short this time and in only 4 points.

1) You said, "it is true that you differentiate two forms of righteousness but you also separate them as if  the (second) do not depend on the first one."

The fact that they are differentiated show that they are separate items otherwise there is no point to differentiate that which is one and the same. The word, "differentiate" necessitate for a matter of fact that we are talking about two separate approaches. However the separation that I pointed out were not presented as if the secondary righteousness was independent of the first one. Two things can be separate while being interdepend to each other or one dependent of the other. 

The secondary righteousness (iustificatio pii) is dependent on the first one (iustificatio impii) as I pointed out that the first one comes in justifying the ungodly (Roman 4:5) while the secondary righteousness is credited to believers as they practice righteousness (1John3:7). The secondary one can not be experienced unless the first one has been experienced a-priory, because the secondary one is for the little children (Believers), which means after they have converted by receiving their initial righteousness from Christ.

And in my last correspondence, I used the very same scripture of Philippians 1:18 that you share to point out that the source of both level of righteous is the same, it comes from Jesus Christ himself as the word "through" indicates: "being filled with the fruits of righteousness through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." -- Philippians 1:18 and more importantly to note the secondary justification is on the same level the first one because it is said that the one who practice righteousness is righteous JUST LIKE Jesus is righteous. It is not an inferior level/position of righteousness.

They are separate level of righteousness, one depend to the other in chronological order and both dependent of the same source which is Jesus Christ. 


2) You said, "in my understanding I think the one you call secondary righteousness is a fruit or a result  of the first. is that what you mean as well?"

You are in a sense correct when you said that the secondary righteousness is a result of our initial position / primary justification as righteous people. But to be more biblical, it is better to say that our secondary righteousness is related to our practices of righteousness as the verb to be "is" expresses it clearly; for it is written in 1 John 3:7 -- 

"Little children, don't let anyone deceive you. The person who practices righteousness is righteousjust as the Messiah is righteous" - 1john3.7

3) You said, "You observe that a person is justified through actions and not through faith alone. this is a conclusion of what was said before"

I am glad that you agree now that "a person is justified through actions and not through faith alone", which is the correct biblical position on justification 'with regard to the secondary righteousness'. You got me worried a bit earlier when you said, "I think he [Abraham] was not justified by his actions, but his actions was justifying his faith in God." It was clearly and obviously a non-biblical statement. I am glad that we are now on the same page with St. James, on the biblical fact that "a person is justified through actions and not through faith alone" James 2:24.

The clear message of the scripture is that justification is neither by actions alone nor by faith alone, but a simultaneous expression of both actions and faith. This is the basic argument for our 'secondary justification positioning before God' if you allow me to use a theological phraseology.

4) You finally commented, "there is no way you can prove that you have faith if you don't act out of that  faith.

I have no objection to this. I totally agree.

Thank you again for the email.
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The next reaction is found in Part 4.