Sunday, January 1, 2017

Theophany Chapter 1

I questioned whether or not to post this before Christmas, I decided to delay the actual publish date until after the New Year. This is going to be a challenging post for those of you that have a different biblical interpretation than I do.

Saying that, it's not my goal to say whether or not someone is saved. Only God knows whether you've accepted Christ into your heart. Only God knows whether or not your intentions are in his will, and not your own.

Chapter 1 - know your no's

What prompted this post, and particularly chapter of this series was a debate with a Calvinist.

As you can see from my simple graphic above, there is a simple line of faith and works, between Roman Catholicism and Mainline Protestantism. (Evangelicals) Where things get interesting is when you get off the rails to the Faith side or off the rails to the works side, your biblical interpretation depends more and more out of quoting single passages to support the structure of your theology.

In this particular case, the Calvinist belief is that having faith in God is in itself a work, and there is absolutely NOTHING you can do to be saved. The ecumenical problem with this, is everyone who's not a Calvinist instantly becomes a Heretic. (In fact the deeper you dive into these fringe religions the more similar in structure and behavior they become.) All of this false gospel relies on a faulty and incomplete view of the New and Old testament. In the case of the over achievers, the Mormons, for example, they take the book of James literally to mean you have to work your way to heaven. This of course, isn't based upon the entire letter of James, if they read the entire letter they would see that James was talking about our faith and God's gift of grace, changing our behavior and producing good works. (thus, faith without works is dead.)

For the Calvinist they take ONE verse to hold up their entire ideology. Ephesians 2:8;

for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (ASV - Courtesy Bible.com)

Their interpretation of this one verse is that faith and works are the same, that even believing is a bridge too far. One has to ask, does the rest of the chapter, let alone the bible back this up?

Not at all. Look at the next verse;

not of works, that no man should glory.
The next verse completes the sentence fragment started in the first verse. It is clear Paul was talking to Jews who felt, "works" were necessary to be saved, and Paul was stating that OUR faith in God was all that was necessary to receive the gift of grace. Notice there are three concepts that are repeated throughout the new testament.

Faith, Grace, and Works.

Two of those things are things we have control over. One of those we have no control over. One would have to ask a Calvinist, "If Paul felt faith and works were the same, why would he mention both and instead not just state works?" or ask James why he clearly delineated the two. "Faith without works is dead."

The other serious problem here is one that crosses all denominations. The works the apostles spoke of weren't good deeds, it was our ability, (and inability) to meet the standards of the Jewish law given to man by God, through Moses. a reading of the letters makes it crystal clear that is what every author and every letter was talking about when it was discussing those three topics.

When Paul was talking about our inability to do "good works" in the book of Ephesians, he was speaking of our inability to keep the law. When he was talking about our total inability to be saved by our works, he wasn't including our faith, our gift of love back toward God. Faith isn't works, not even Christ believed that. He also didn't preach a false gospel of limited atonement.

John 3:16 (which the Calvinists inform me has been mistranslated. it's too bad their wrong. Every translation agrees on three key concepts, as do the oldest manuscripts.)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through him.
Mormon's should pay attention here as well. they also get this one wrong. What are the concepts?

1) God loved the world. Not the limited atonement, not the "elect", the WORLD. Notice in the next verse it talks about God saving the world through the Son, that ALL who believe in him shall be saved THROUGH him.
2) Jesus was God's only begotten son. There is no pre-existence or spirit children Mormon's.
3) Whosoever also disproves election. It's not limiting the grace of God. it's also placing the onus of belief ON YOU, not on God granting you faith, so he can then grant you grace.

Where does all this contextual madness leave us? Sometimes it's better to walk away from a debate. If someone isn't bringing out the grace of God within you, just say no and walk away.
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