Obedience and Christian Living
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By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8 NKJV)

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36 NASB)

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Romans 2:13 NIV 1984)1

Obedience is not just an Old Covenant concept. It is an essential element of the New Covenant as well. A saving faith is a faith that is demonstrated in obedience, as the example of Abraham so powerfully illustrates.

It has been said that “It takes money to make money.” The same can be said of obedience as it pertains to the Christian walk: It takes obedience to become obedient. We need to choose to obey the call of God that we might be given the power to obey Him in all things.

Salvation is not something that just happens. We don’t make salvation happen. God does. God has made salvation available to all, but we must choose to accept it.

Man’s natural tendency is to want to take credit for earning salvation by good works. We know that this is not how salvation works, but in our desire to avoid saying that we do anything to earn salvation, we sometimes take ourselves out of the picture regarding our part in living a Christian life.

When we discuss obedience, we’re not throwing out faith. We’re just focusing on another very practical aspect of salvation.

Imagine the following scenario:

You are adrift on a raft, headed to a waterfall. Someone comes by in a helicopter to rescue you. They throw down a rope ladder and tell you to grab a hold of it, climb up and hang on. You can obey them, or disobey them of your own volition. If you disobey, you will most certainly die. If you obey them partially (you grab hold, but don’t climb up; you grab hold and climb up, but let go before the helicopter gets to land; etc), you will also die. So obedience is very much a key to your being saved from the water.

Now, no one in their right mind, upon being placed safely on the dry land, would ever consider making the claim that they had saved themselves simply because they held on as instructed. And it is quite impossible imagining a place where the work of holding on is deemed more important than the work of flying the helicopter, finding the victim, dropping down the ladder, and flying back safely to dry land. At the same time, one cannot deny that obedience was important for the person being saved, and that a lack of it would have undermined the salvation of the victim (i.e. led to destruction).

When we exercise our faith in God – the faith that God has given us to begin with – it becomes strengthened. Likewise, as we obey God, we are sanctified (ongoing process) and enabled to render even more obedience which is essential for our character building.

God gives us a new heart – one that loves Him and desires to serve Him – but our characters are built over time, rather than handed to us outright. Character is nothing more than a solid collection of habits which are built by a solid collection of actions, which are built by a solid collection of thoughts. We need habits of obedience (among other things) to be fitted for heaven. And it all starts by obeying God.

We submit to God… God empowers us to do His will… we continue to obey… He empowers us to do more of His will… and so on and so forth. (Philippians 2:13) Without God’s saving grace, we have only our useless self-righteousness, but our obedience is crucial. We must choose to obey.

Obedience cannot be removed from the equation.
Love cannot be removed from the equation.
The grace of God cannot be removed from the equation.
Faith in Jesus cannot be removed from the equation.
The Faith OF Jesus cannot be removed from the equation.
Repentance cannot be removed from the equation.
Various other things that I have not mentioned cannot be removed from the equation of our salvation.

We need God to be able to obey AND we need to obey God to be within His will. We can quibble about the exact sequence all we want, but given that the topic of salvation will be an eternal study for us, we need to accept that it’s an inherently complex subject, and a lot more interconnected than we often make it out to be.

The Bible shows us both sides of obedience because both sides are true. We need God before we can obey, and we must choose to obey to receive the power to obey.

Let us press towards the mark…

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16 KJV)

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Obedience and Christian Living — 34 Comments

  1. Thank you, Andrew, for as clear an explanation of this matter as I think I have ever seen. Glory be to God for giving you understanding, clarity of thought, and a heart to share His truth with others.

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  2. Yes well said! I think of my own track record of Bible study and prayer in my life. It wasn't desireable at first and I couldn't keep it up for very long (duration wise), but as time went on and God helped me stick with it, new habits formed and were pleasing to me. Sure there are still rough spots here and there in my morning meetings w/ Him, but I can see where He has brought me from.
    The same is true in commandment keeping. I was raised Adventist, and so I was always taught the commandments were essential. Later as a youth, I was taught that I should start obeying them to get better at obeying them. That was key in my development, and I thank the Lord for whichever youth leader that was that said that...:)
    It is the same in most any skill in life too. Riding a bike, ice skating, cooking, but we are given so much of an advantage because we have Someone who has mastered the commandments personally tutoring and training us along the Way. :)

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  3. That is just great writing Andrew, thank you so much! The only area that I would stress greater importance is the idea that obedience, true obedience must come, from its core, from a heart of love. That is were your example of the person choosing to grab the ladder and be pulled out of the raft breaks down. In that example the motivating factor was self-preservation. The person in the raft did not KNOW the pilot and therefore could not have LOVED the pilot. For Jesus to be the pilot in our lives we must first KNOW Him, and when we truely know Him we will LOVE Him. Out of this heart of love that He has given us will grow obedience, true obedience...even to the point of death (both figurative as in death of our sinful nature and/or literal physical death). May the Lord bless us as we seek to know Him more in our daily walk. Happy Sabbath!

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    • Thanks for your response, K. Eggers
       
      As you have noted, every analogy has its limits, but in this case, I was focusing on "involvement" and not "motivation". Not because I think that the motivation question is unimportant, of course, but because I think the involvement question is less understood or accepted.
       
      Have a blessed day.

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      • I definately agree w/ you that a persons involvement is critical and less understood, especially for the new Christian. As a lifelong SDA I remember growing up and having obedience preached as if it were the key to salvation in our churches. It took me many years to realize that I could not obey as I tried to keep the law and be that perfect Christian. It was only as I began to know Jesus and develope a love relationship w/ Him that obedience became natural. Like you said, we can quibble about the exact sequence all we want, but to me it MUST start w/ love and obedience will follow. I appreciate you Andrew and your insights!

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  4. I really like the helicopter rescue analogy. It well illustrates how helpless we are to save ourselves while, at the same time, we need to actively choose to accept the salvation Christ offers, and that acceptance includes grabbing and "holding on."

    As K. Eggers pointed out, like most analogies, this one isn't perfect. Christ draws us through His love, and this love awakens a love response in us. Furthermore, even the "holding on" isn't solely by our own effort. He gives us the strength to hold on.

    Andrew used a financial analogy to demonstrate that we need to act on faith in order for it to grow. I also like to think of the way our muscles grow. God creates us with muscles, and we must exercise them in order for them to grow. In the same way, God has given to each of us a "measure of faith" (Rom 12:3), and as we exercise this faith, it will grow.

    I often think of the three Hebrew young men who were faithful in the "little things" (diet, for example) so that they were prepared for the life-and-death test when they were faced with the fiery furnace. What an experience that must have been! The Son of God Himself walked with them in the fire! But they would have missed out on that experience, if not eternal life, if they had not acted on faith.

    From prophecy we know we have a "fiery furnace" experience ahead of us. May we each exercise our faith now in the "little things" so it will be strong enough to face the life-and-death test.

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    • To me the helicopter analogy is not at all imperfect in the sense that K. Eggers makes it out to be. (Which is by no means the same as saying that K. Eggers's point of view is not valid, so please do not misunderstand me!)

      My point is this: Who is to be the focus for our love when the helicopter is arriving? Did the helicopter pilot create the helicopter? Did the helicopter builders create the raw materials they used for building the helicopter? Did the designers of the helicopter create the natural laws that have to be very precisely obeyed and conformed to in order for the helicopter to be able to be functional and safe? Isn't it because of our love for the Creator, the God of all true knowledge, who is our One and only Savior, that we are able to recognize who our real Savior is and who is truly behind that helicopter being sent our way?

      We may have no idea of who that helicopter pilot is. Nor do we likely know the builders or the maintenance personnel that are responsible for that helicopter. Yet, when we truly know our Maker we know that He is the One that designed and created each one of those living beings, and none other. Just as He gives us the power to hang on to the ladder, so also He is the one and only source out of whom the skills and know how of each of the above men springs...

      It is exceedingly important to recognize upon whom we are to focus our love, and to recognize exactly who is worthy of our trust!

      It is only all too easy to misdirect our thanksgiving and our trust such that we do not recognize the true source behind it all, and such that we begin to make Man, and the things created by men, the object for our love and for our trust... And thus to begin leaving the real time God, the Maker of the Universe, out of the picture.

      Or isn't that true?

      Praise the Lord of Hosts! Selah! Consider it!

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  5. Good morning all :)
    I have a couple questions that I am confused about....
    1) The Bible verse John 3:36 in my bible says that "whoever rejects the Son will not see life" NIV it does not say obey. In Jesus time the people were very particular to obey, but did not want to humble themselves to admit that they needed a Savior. Jesus said to Peter, If you do not let me wash your feet you will have no part with me.
    2) The faith that Abraham demonstrated was a faith in God's ability to keep His word that He would have seed as vast as the stars. His obedience was not about the law because the law says "Do not kill". It was about trusting God to provide an atonement.

    True love to God will bring great gratitude....love, joy and peace that passes understanding. This produces a heart to follow in Jesus footsteps. We cannot fulfill the sermon on the mount until we are blessed with the knowledge of our spiritual poverty.

    As Paul said, I did this and this and this.... But I count it all loss for the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Only Faith that works by love purifies the soul. Otherwise it is called morality... Morality is great just like obeying the law of gravity, but it is not a relationship with God. Whatsoever is not of Faith is sin.

    PS I know from experience, I was the happiest cultural SDA until age 21 and married another SDA who was different than I was... then I could not keep that culture the way I wanted. In the depths of frustration I met Jesus.... I realized that my happy cultural life style was very inward centered trying to live a certain way...Now I know that self is the greatest battle to fight and Jesus is the only one I can follow and trust to complete that work in me....
    thanks for your time. :)

    PS again.. not to be picky, but the huge deal about the food for the Hebrews was that it was offered to idols and these Hebrews were loyal to the God of creation. Later in Daniel he talks about eating other food. Food is important, but the point was loyalty to God. Jesus stated that it is not what goes into a person's mouth that defiles, but what comes out... Diet is important as a health law and was kept on the outside of the ark, but is not the same law as the moral law.

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    • Thank you, Penny, for raising such good questions. If I recall correctly, John 3:36 has been somewhat of a translation problem, perhaps primarily because the best word to be used in translating this verse seems to be "contemns." (That's with a "t.") While the King James translators sometimes used this word in translating the Old Testament, they inexplicably seem to have missed the opportunity to use it here in the New. Modern translators into English seemingly find it necessary to avoid the word, probably because it is no longer commonly used or understood, but they seem to find it extraordinarily difficult to replace! Think of the noun "contempt." To contemn the Son of God is basically to say, "I don't need to listen to Him." In my view, disobedience will inevitably follow, but to scorn to listen is nearer the root of the problem.
      *
      Your second question is concerning Abraham. Please remember Galatians points out that the law of ten commandments, per se, was given to Israel well after Abraham's time. To Abraham, when he knew God's voice speaking to him, whatever God said to do was His law -- at least as far as Abraham was concerned. I believe it was a test of both loyalty and obedience.
      *
      I perceive a similar either/or in your final question. Was it because the food was offered to idols that it was refused, or was it because it was unclean meat and contained the blood? How about both? Perhaps either problem would have been sufficient to move Daniel and his friends to avoid eating the king's food.
      *
      Maybe sometimes we make things too complicated in our attempts to oversimplify them down to our human level of understanding. Are we really so wise and prudent? Perhaps, as babes, we need not manage to understand everything -- just trust, love, and obey. Understanding so often follows the decision to yield obedience!

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    • Hi Penny,
      Thank you for sharing your story of conversion from cultural Adventism. :)

      I believe you also clarified quite nicely the relationship between faith and works.

      Could you also please share whether as a heart-converted Adventist you now obey more or less than as a "cultural Adventist"? In other words, what is the effect of a relationship with Jesus on our level of obedience?

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      • Thanks Inge and R.G.,
        I have been living in the middle of nowhere in the midwest for 20 years and appreciate contact with others.

        R.G. I hear what you are saying about trust, love, obey...but I obeyed my father without one thought and then my first husband. This left me with three little girls and long hours at work and home. I obeyed and honored my father. He said I must obey him. If I thought about disobeying him I felt terribly guilty and would go back to compliance... lator in life I turned my life over to God in the depths of dispair and chose to only follow what I new God asked me to do. I am afraid of being that vulnerable again....

        Inge, :)
        Thanks for your comments and patience. To answer your question. I probably don't appear to be as obedient as I used to be. That is because things are harder now because I have to pray about everything and the answer is never the same. My focus now is on reaching out to others, serving and bringing people into a relationship with Jesus. I have been to bars, football games, with people who are mentally ill, homeless, dangerous, gang kids etc. Sometimes I do not have time to eat the perfect food, sleep or have the perfect life.... but I love being used by God to share His love with others. I study the bible with people, showing them God's love.... and this changes their whole lives. I promise I never use any compulsion or set up a standard to be followed, but, for example, one lady started keeping the sabbath from sundown to sundown, eating vegetarian, and thanking God at the same time that she had found His grace. I promise I did not even talk to her about any of these things except grace. She is so in love with Jesus. I am protective of my baby christians that they can grow naturally in their relationship with Christ and have faith that works from love.
        Weird difference...
        (i ran to Caseys during church once to buy 6 bags of ice to cool down the baptistry that was boiling so the pastor could baptize this little lady that was so excited about getting baptized, the ice bags were floating all over in the tank :)).

        Some things that I did not know before are.... not doing things in the "flesh", dying to self, and humility. As a cultural Adventist spiritual pride crept in and separated me from others and God's love. After conversion I realized every church has its own forms of spiritual pride, it is human nature.

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        • Thank you, Penny, for your very trusting, childlike response. I hear what you are saying. Isn't it marvelous the way our heavenly Father meets us where we are and gently leads us on! I love the stories of how God is using you to bless others. May you too be blessed in every way!

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      • @ Penny: Thank you so much for sharing with us how God is leading you.

        It seems to me that now you are more obedient to God and less obedient to the traditions of humans. And that's exactly the kind of obedience Jesus is looking for. :)

        Indeed, such obedience sometimes looks "less obedient" to those who only have an outward compliance with God's commandments. It may even look like you are breaking God's commandments. But that's exactly what Christ's life on this earth looked like.

        May you keep praying and listening to the "different" answers God gives you. :)

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    • Thanks Penny,

      When God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, that was an indication that God was being acknowledged as having a clear title to that man, Abram. Abram had accepted God’s offer of being a Son of God and one among the Family of God, one among the “church of God.”

      When Jesus was given his original Hebrew name, Yeshua, as per the angel Gabriel, the messenger of God, then he too was being claimed, by God, and by his parents, as a son of God. Yes, at a later time he was even called the ‘firstborn son’ (Matt 1:25; Luke 2:7,) ‘the firstborn among many brethren’ (Rom 8:25,) and ‘the firstborn of every creature’ (Col 1:15.) That is, just the same as Jacob, renamed by God as Israel, was, accordingly, later called “my firstborn” (Exodus 4:22.)

      If you do your own word study of the Hebrew words translated “firstborn” you may recognize that a better translation would be “a foremost son.” That is, as in “the foremost of the harvest.” “The cream of the crop.”

      If, when reading John 3:36 you substitute KJV’s word ‘Son’ with ‘sonship,’ and if, in so doing, you think of that word as applicable to yourself and to your own relationship to our Father in Heaven, I believe you are quite likely to perceive something of great value that you just might not have perceived theretofore. That is, in terms of you yourself being a true Son or Daughter of God. There is a lot of power in that concept. Jesus died upon the cross in consequence of standing up for that concept. A lot of persecution throughout history has been brought upon mankind by means of such ones as are not willing to accept that wonderful blessing for themselves, and who are not willing to allow anyone else to receive such a blessing either. Remember Cain and Abel!

      Jesus was and is our pattern, our example. Jesus was and is the one in whose footsteps we are each to follow. He is our big brother who is talking to each one of us and who is guiding each of us along the Way towards Heaven, towards the Kingdom of God. Jesus is the one who is guiding each of his own towards a reality in the here and now where our rightful relationship, as Sons and Daughters of God, is becoming ever more of that which it was designed to be from the very beginning. He is the one leading each of us step by step towards a reality where each our membership in the Family of God is being ever more recognized and respected… That is, recognized and respected first of all by each ourselves. That is, by me for me, by you for you… And then, as a consequence of each our claims of identity before one another, we will be likewise recognized and respected also by one another, and by our society at large…

      . . . . . . .

      Yes, God is talking to each of us. He is the one guiding each one, who is attentive to His voice, along the Way. That still small voice is very real once one begins to listen for it and to obey. His voice reminds us of things we’ve been taught before. As Jesus taught per John 14:26 “the Comforter… shall… bring all things to your remembrance…”

      Each situation may be quite different from the one before. But the principles of God remain exactly the same and may be correctly applied in each new setting. We certainly do need that wisdom and that guidance that only the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is giving us from moment to moment. Without it we will constantly be doing the wrong thing at the wrong time and God’s eternal and unchanging principles will be misapplied most all the time. But the principles and laws of our Creator are dependable and do not ever change – and they need not be misapplied!

      And yes, the Ten Commandments, as such, in that format, were not given until that time of the Exodus at Sinai. Nevertheless, the principles of those Ten Commandments had been given to Adam and Eve from the very beginning… In a different format yes, but still the same. For instance, consider Genesis 1:28! Look at that verse as a definition of the boundaries for the trusteeship granted unto each one among men. How many of the Ten Commandments can you begin to distinguish within those few words? If then, to top that off, you add to that whatever differences you can distinguish between the instructions given the Sons and Daughters of God, that is, per Genesis 1:29, and between that which was to characterize the beasts per Genesis 1:30, What will you begin to perceive in terms of what constitutes an important Mark, or characteristic, of One vs. the Mark of Another?

      Consider it! Selah!

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  6. "Salvation is not something that just happens. We don’t make salvation happen. God does. God has made salvation available to all, but we must choose to accept it."

    Then we make it happen. Because salvation is provisional and if we ignore or reject the provision, we are simply not saved.

    Salvation is not one sided as is often implied or claimed by many. God does His part, and we do ours.

    To claim we do nothing and God does everything is not biblical. Our part is not to merit heaven. None the less, it is essential and demands our cooperation.

    "Faith alone" only applies the what Jesus has done and what we can not do. Namely, die for our sins and obey in our behalf to merit the favor of God.

    This in no way means we need not obey the law to be saved. We are saved to a responsible freedom, not an irresponsible freedom. And we are not saved until we accept this responsible freedom and act accordingly.

    To appeal to the sovereignty of God and claim since God knows everything, we need not obey to be saved is the wrong use of the sovereignty of God.

    The purpose of the gospel is to stimulate and encourage people to accept the moral accountability God offers us in His word. Not to tell us we need not do it to be saved since God knows everything.

    Jesus is our Substitute and Surety. But He is also our representative. He represents a true believer who accepts the moral imperatives of the bible and keeps His Father's commandments just as He did. And unless we do this, we are not saved.

    And when the church on earth reflects this moral and responsible freedom God has offered in the person of His Son, He will come and take us home.

    So, we are not "saved by faith alone" as it is explained by many in the world today. We are saved by faith and works as is clearly stated in the bible.

    Bill Sorensen

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    • Bill Sorensen said: Then we make it happen.
       
      Hi Bill. There's a specific reason that I used the analogy of the helicopter rescue: to avoid the conclusion that we make anything happen.
       
      Yes, I accept that a gift must be received for it to have true effectiveness, but that is still a world away from "making it happen."
       
      God has made it happen in a corporate sense. We either cooperate with Him, making it happen for us on a personal level, or we reject Him and are lost. We don't "make it happen."
       
      Minimizing our role in the plan of salvation is bad, but so is overstating our role. As I already indicated, trying to ignore the necessity of obedience is not true to the gospel, but neither is this idea that we make salvation happen.
       
      Without the correct balance of faith and works, of submission to God and our exercise of the will, we will simply be playing with bad theology.
       
      We only make things happen in Jesus, for without a connection to the vine, we can do nothing.

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      • Thank you Andrew! I find all your words above very valuable indeed! Thanks!

        Re your very last four words above "we can do nothing..." Well, to make those words true to my understanding and experience I would have to add a few more words:

        "We can do nothing of lasting value..."

        Or isn't it true that we can do many bad things?: We can eat of the forbidden fruit, We can break anyone and all of the Ten Commandments, We can hurt one another in many and untold ways... That is, without "Jesus... without a connection to the vine...?"

        And isn't it true that one of the beauties of God's Ten Commandments is that the nature of each and all of those commandments is in terms of NOT doing? That is, in terms of "Thou shalt not..."

        Doing a lot of "Thou shalt nots..." at the very same time is not all that hard, is it? It does not require all that much work, does it?

        Accordingly, One can become exceedingly powerful, as in the Power of God, by "doing" a lot of "nothing..."

        To put it slightly differently: Only "in Jesus..." and only with a true "connection to the vine can we do nothing!"

        Consider it! Selah!

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        • Andy, I think I can agree with the general idea you have but when it comes to the statement by Jesus, "without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5 NKJV) I tend to think Jesus is stating an absolute. He could have qualified that statement by saying that we can do nothing good but He didn't do that.

          The fact that He upholds all things (Heb 1:3) should tell us that we actually can't move a muscle without His power. To me it is Obvious that what He was saying was that we are dependent on Him 100% for everything.

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        • Yes Tyler, I absolutely agree with you. Reviewing Jesus' words:

          John 15:5 KJV "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

          Well, my above words could be [mis]understood as saying almost the very opposite to Jesus' words above.

          Yet, considering the powerful force inherent in habits and tradition, it is certainly true also that it will require a lot of powerful teaching by Christ alone for any of us to be able to break our bad habits. For any of us to be willing to discontinue following the masses. For any of us to discontinue our traditional idolatrous feast keeping. For any of us to truly get the point of and to obey any of the Ten "Thou shalt nots..."

          Without Christ we cannot do any of those nothings as we should!

          Sometimes I find it very helpful to carefully consider similarities and differences... such as the above...

          Peace and Blessings,

          Andy ©

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  7. When is your name written in the Lamb's book of life?

    You make it happen when you accept Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord of your life.

    It does not happen, until "you make it happen."

    Bill Sorensen

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    • I am a sinner, saved by grace. Jesus makes it happen for me. He rescues me. I do not rescue myself.

      Clearly you see it otherwise, and you are certainly entitled to, but I think I've been very clear about what I see the Bible teaching on this point.

      Obviously, God does not design to save us against our will, but you're apparently willing to bring "cooperation with God" to a whole other level where you feel comfortable referring to it as "you making it happen."

      I'm not. You may see this as me saying that I don't think I have any role to play, but if you've carefully read through the post I made, you should be able to conclude that this is not what I am saying.

      I am a sinner, saved by grace. Jesus makes it happen for me. He rescues me. I do not rescue myself. And the life that I now live, I live through the faith of the Son of God...

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    • You're very welcome, Penny, and I thank you for being willing to share your experience.
       
      While God clearly has standards that He has set, it is of vital importance that we keep in line with what He wants us to do each moment of each day. Obedience to God can sometimes look like something else to others (ask Abraham on Mount Moriah), but if we are abiding in Him, He will take care of the situation for us.
       
      May God richly bless you as you continue to serve Him.

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      • An Excellent Response to my message to trust and obey of a couple weeks ago. What does trust mean? I trust my Heavenly Father will allow me someday to have a face to face talk, sitting at the feet of Jesus. Isn't that simple faith? Yes, since I totally rely on the blood of Jesus. Bill says, that we are saved by faith and good works. We ARE NOT saved by good works. Rather good works is a reflection of our relationship with Christ. I once was sitting at the HP terminal at Pacific Union College teaching myself a little basic programing. One of my best friends was looking over my shoulder and said, I don't see you have taught yourself the goodness, and power of a loop. Maybe Christ threw in the loop of faith and good works we find ourselves as Seventh-day-Adventist in. After all He said, I have not come to abolish the moral law, I have come to write it on your hearts, thus fulfilling it. What is the good news of our loop? Christ has the power to bring us together on faith and works. Through the Holy Spirit he reminds us that good works is a reflection of our relationship with Christ. The Holy Spirit turns us to John 10, which reminds us that Jesus is the door and through that door and that door only we are given salvation. Yes Bill we do expend energy to walk or run through it. And we do expend energy(good works) after we walk through. Where does that energy come from? The same God that gave his Son to die on the cross for you and me. To keep you in the loop Andrew, when we speak of righteousness by faith, I do believe possibly that Bill was just trying to remind us that faith without works is dead. As I was reading Galatians this week I couldn't help but think that James was talking about the very thing that Paul was in Galatians 6 and 5:26, putting all of Bill's comments together I would hope he believes that the moral law is NOT to be a burden, loading our yolk, but the weight of an imprint written on our heart's as a barometer of our love for Christ.

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  8. Andrew,
    I wonder if any study was done to the sets of Christians Jesus is referring to in Matthew 7:21? Not the ones that are doing God’s will, but the ones who are doing God’s projects and programs? I have seen my zealous baptized “Christians” busy with church programs and projects, but have little regards to obeying God’s law because they are too legalistic. They prefer to show love and spreading the love of Jesus, but abhor some of His laws. They forgot that Jesus said if you “love” me keep my commandment.

    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)

    Another version puts it like this:
    “Knowing the correct password—saying 'Master, Master,' for instance— isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, 'Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' And do you know what I am going to say? 'You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.” Matthew 7:21-23 (MSG)

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    • Hi Carlton,
       
      It is important to love God supremely, for those who don't will certainly not enter the kingdom. It is also important to obey God completely, for those who don't will ultimately not enter the kingdom.
       
      Some people begin their journey with God from love, and must learn all the ways in which they have to surrender and obey. Others begin their journey knowing only obedience and must learn how to do so from love.
       
      God is exceedingly merciful to us all, in that He guides us into all truth as we submit ourselves to Him. As we submit to Him, and cooperate with Him in our Christian growth, He will sanctify us and straighten out those rough edges and unbalanced personalities.

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  9. Carlfrost,

    Thank you for sharing this view. There is a saying that goes, "You can't fool and fool." And Paul says, "Not many wise....."

    It would seem that at least to some extent, this was Lucifer's problem. The paradox baffled him. And he was resolved to solve it. His brilliant mind finally concluded that you can not harmonize justice and mercy in any viable way. It is either one or the other.

    So, if you loan a person a dollar and they can't pay you back, and then you forgive the debt, where is the justice in this scenario? In fact, there isn't any.

    Just so, from our perspective, how is it just for God to forgive? It is not. Even if Jesus pays our debt, where is the justice from our perspective? There isn't any.

    And human genious may try to figure it out, but never will. While it is essential and even imperative for a human sinner to repent and return to loyalty to God by obeying His law, this will never pay the debt, will it?

    So, we as Christians by pass the idea of justice being satisfied by any thing we can do to pay the debt, and accept what God has done in His Son by "faith alone".

    And if we return to loyalty to God, and repent and obey His law, He will impute the death of Christ and His obedience to us just as if we had done it ourselves. And so God treats us "just as if we had merited heaven" ourselves, even when we have not.

    And Lucifer says, "Hey, you can't do that and still be just." And God says "Yes I can" and we as Christians agree with God. So, Paul says, "God....calleth things which be not as though they were." Rom. 4:17

    We see a certain sense of justice in the atonement, but not really. Not as far as we are concerned anyway.

    The simple minded accept it and are glad, while the brilliant scholars try to reason out just how it can all be "fair" and satisfy the human need to "know" exactly how it works.

    Do you know why it works? Because we believe it works and act accordingly. That is, we return to loyalty to God and simply give thanks for the plan that only God could devise to save us from sin and damnation.

    Yes, many will come in Jesus name and claim salvation. But since they did not think it was necessary to return to loyalty to God and keep His law to be saved, Jesus will simply say, "I never knew you."

    And this will be the majority of those professing the Christian faith.

    Bill Sorensen

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  10. "putting all of Bill’s comments together I would hope he believes that the moral law is NOT to be a burden,..."

    Whether we like it or not, "the flesh lusteth against the spirit....and visa versa..."

    So, let me state my major concern about some, if not much of modern Adventism. It became popular a few decades ago for some scholars to claim "it is easy to be saved, and hard to be lost." And I think this theory has made considerable inroads into the Adventist mind of today.

    So much so, that when the idea of "duty" is stated as a part of love and the law, more than a few do all they can to re-explain love in a context that denies the concept of duty and love being related.

    It is either stated or implied that if you obey God from any sense of duty, you just have not really known and believed the gospel. And if you really believe the gospel, you are raised above the idea of duty to some state of doing God's will simply because you want to and never because you have to.

    Having practiced Christanity for several decades, I utterly deny that any such experience is available in this life and if it is, we can simply cancel the concept of "cross bearing" as a viable aspect of being a Christian.

    So, to claim "it is easy to be saved, and hard to be lost" is not how I read the bible concerning the past believers, present believers, or any future experience this side of the second coming. And since I hold this opinion by reading the bible and confirmed by my own experience, I also believe that it would serve the antichrist movement in the world very well and advance the final deception of Universalism where according to this doctrine, everyone is saved at last.

    Hopefully, in sharing my personal view on this matter, it will also help clarify my insistence that we a justified by keeping the law of God, and if not, then we can all join the Universalistic movement since we can be saved whether we obey or not. And of course, I think Paul's teaching has been wrested from its biblical context, for it is Paul who has stated clearly, "The doers of the law shall be justified." Rom. 2:13. And he is certainly not talking about the ceremonial law in this verse.

    Hope all of you have a great new year.

    Christian regards,
    Bill Sorensen

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    • Dear Bill,
      *
      Thank you for sharing your beliefs and experience. Please allow me to add just a little of mine.
      *
      You said:
      *
      "It became popular a few decades ago for some scholars to claim 'it is easy to be saved, and hard to be lost.' And I think this theory has made considerable inroads into the Adventist mind of today."
      *
      I feel that you have raised an interesting point of concern. Proverbs 15:13 does say that the way of the unfaithful is hard. Also, we understand that one must persistently beat back the waves of God's love and mercy in order to be lost. However, I truly fear that the perversity of human nature may indeed make this all too easy for us to do. Since none of us is finally saved or lost as of yet, I figure we'll just have to take Jesus' word for it. He called the way to life a narrow path, headed by a gate hard to squeeze through. On the other hand, the way to destruction is wide and easy to travel on. I feel that you have raised a legitimate concern here, Bill, although my sense is that it is our human pride and imaginary independence that make salvation harder for us to receive.
      *
      Again, you spoke in opposition to this idea:
      *
      "And if you really believe the gospel, you are raised above the idea of duty to some state of doing God’s will simply because you want to and never because you have to."
      *
      In my experience, Bill, I have found this question a little easier to handle than that. I believe it is a matter of taking God at His word. In Jesus' directive (in John 3) that we must be born again, I perceive an implied promise. Again, I find Hebrews 8:10 (quoting Jeremiah 31:33), makes explicit God's promise to write His law on our hearts. Thus, Jesus makes eternal life a matter of knowing God.
      *
      "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." John 17:3 (NKJV)
      *
      I have found, in my experience, that my own efforts in obeying God's law have been futile. However, when I have fully trusted in God, not placing myself under the dominance of law, but under the power of grace, then I have found freedom from the dominion of sin, and a genuine love for God's law springing up in my heart.
      *
      "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." Romans 6:14 (NKJV)

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      • Thank you R.G. for your presentation. I have only one minor suggestion concerning what you said in one of your paragraphs.

        You said, "He called the way to life a narrow path, headed by a gate hard to squeeze through." The verse in the New King James Version is, "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Mat 7:14 NKJV). The gate is indeed narrow but I think the emphasis here is on the phrase, "few who find it." The difficulty with that gate is that it is hard to find, not get through in this world of many voices and signs leading in other directions. The path, on the other hand, is difficult because staying in the middle of the path is not too easy when the devil is constantly trying to get us off in one of the ditches.

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        • I agree, Tyler. Jesus did say that there are few who find it. Why should the gate's being narrow exclude so many from finding it? I think that there may be a clue in Matthew 11:25, 26. I believe the wise and prudent (i.e. the self-sufficient) cannot find God, while the poor in spirit are found by Him.

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        • R.G I think there may be many answers to the question.

          I just take a little different approach to understanding that verse. To me what excludes is our understanding of the salvation process. The wide path provides a lot of maneuvering such that people believe that many paths lead to heaven while there is in fact only one path and one process that does.

          If we don't understand that process correctly then we won't get there no matter how sincere we are.

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  11. R.G. White said.....

    "I have found, in my experience, that my own efforts in obeying God’s law have been futile."

    My reply is this, I don't seperate my own efforts to keep the law from the grace of God. I can only assume you mean "your own efforts" apart from Christ.

    Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."

    And no one is more dynamic in explaining his Christian experience as anything but a bed of Roses. To fight and struggle and beat back his carnal desires I believe is expressed by him as typical of any viable Christian experience. And he is simply echoing what all true believers have expressed down through the ages.

    And I also want to affirm that for every true believer there is a joy and peace and happiness in doing God's will. Also, we find some parts of our experience easy and done without any conflict. And I would also suggest this is a more immature experience rather than a mature one. It doesn't take much faith when all is well and going our way. Dynamic faith is demonstrated by Jesus as He confronts the cross in what seems like a possible failure and no certain victory.

    If we present the Christian experience is to somehow transcend the difficulties of life and the cross, I think we have missed bible sanctification and substituted a counterfeit that is well pleasing to the carnal mind and reflects at least to some degree the spirituality of modern Adventism.

    And if this is true, and I think it is, are we really preparing people for the time of trouble, or for the impersonation of Christ by Satan? And finally, how you view bible sanctification will influence the way you view the whole of biblical teaching.

    Thank you for your comment Mr. White.

    Bill Sorensen

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    • Thank you, Bill, for the input. In response to my words, you said:
      *
      "My reply is this, I don’t seperate my own efforts to keep the law from the grace of God. I can only assume you mean 'your own efforts' apart from Christ."
      *
      I find this a very interesting thought. You see, I don't separate my efforts from God's grace either -- in theory, at least. However, as a practical matter, I find that things are far more subtle than one might imagine. I perceive that if one (no matter how unintentionally) entertains the slightest degree of self-confidence, then to just that extent his or her efforts do in fact become separated from the grace of God, regardless of one's beliefs or intentions.
      *
      In my view, this is where the supreme importance of emphasis and attitude come in. This is the reason why I find it crucially important to keep at the forefront the following statement by Paul in Romans 3:20.
      *
      "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight..."
      *
      I understand what James said about being justified by works, and not by faith only. He was doubtless making a vitally important point. However, I feel it is imperative that (with the help of the Holy Spirit) I understand James in such a way as to agree with Paul. When I do this, I find that the meaning of James' statement is heavily dependent on the immediate context -- making it a potentially very dangerous text, if not used with sufficient care. By contrast, I see Paul's statement as unequivocal.
      *
      May God bless those who put all of their trust in Him, and place no confidence in the flesh.

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