Saturday, January 07, 2006

Politically Correct Reformism

Having only been in the blog world for a couple of months now, I am still new to the whole concept. However, I have noticed in my wanderings among the Christian blog sites, a very heated discussion that has consumed many keystroke and comment entries.

Somehow I feel like I have stumbled straight into the good ole’ boys club of Evangelical Christendom. What I mean is that it seems there are two disparate opinions or views on scripture, and two much divided camps.

It seems to me that one is labelled with one of two different distinctions; either that of Calvinist or Armenian. While this may be a general statement, it is my observation that if one that does not hold tightly to all 5 points of the TULIP doctrine, the same may be considered as treading upon dangerous ground doctrinally. Further it seems to me that certain well known preachers have become figure heads for these polar sides, and are used frequently to state a point.

I am not attempting to promote one side or the other, or to further drive a wedge between them; but rather my desire is to seek common ground, not on the merit of man’s doctrines but solely upon the Word of God. To that end, I would like to dissect this argument a bit in order to find the point of contention, and ultimately the areas of agreement. Sometimes we can labour an issue to such degree that it gets blown completely out of proportion. Of course, I am in no way attempting to negate or diminish the importance of doctrine or truth. God’s Word is unchanging and as such, its truth has the same relevance today as it did thousands of years ago.

I must also confess that I have not read much from either John Macarthur or John Piper. Neither have I read any of Zane Hodges or such Free Grace authors. So, my premise and foundation will simply be scripture. I believe that scripture itself gives us the best reference for interpreting the meaning of Bible passages.

The Crux of the Matter

The doctrine in question, it seems, is the means of salvation. How are we saved? Is it by grace alone through faith alone, or are there requirements that precede faith such as works; and are works necessary to prove saving faith?

I have also noticed that the saying “birds of a feather flock together” seems to ring quite true as well in the theological realm. It seems we would rather promote the teaching of our favourite pastor, preacher, or bible commentator than placing our stand solely upon the Word of God. Why must we filter all of our understanding of doctrine and scripture through the lens of any man’s fallible and inherently slanted take on truth?

Now don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe in the exhortation and teaching other men of God can provide, but my foundation must be the inspired Word alone. Just like the Bereans, we must diligently search the scriptures when any person teaches us doctrine.

The Big Issue

Okay, can we take each point separately so that we do not confuse the issue with sideline traps and rabbit trails?

How are we saved? Is it by faith alone?

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph. :8-9

Now tell me, do you actually need a commentator to understand those verses? Praise God He has made the way of salvation easy enough for a child to understand. These verses put the onus of salvation clearly in the hands of God; He is the one presenting the gift of faith. Further, we read that works have no part in this transaction, lest any man should boast and take some of the glory for himself.

Now where does this faith come from? Is it something I worked up, or decided to believe?

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom. 10:17

In this verse, the Greek for “word” is Rhema, which is different from the other Greek word Logos. Rhema is the instant spoken word, the living word, and the convicting word. It is by the Rhema of God that we receive faith to believe unto salvation. It is also the same Rhema that we are to live and walk by. Consider the following verses in the context of Rhema vs. Logos (being the written word).

But the Rhema of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the Rhema which by the gospel is preached unto you.
1 Pet. 1:25

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Rhema of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
Heb. 11:3

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the Rhema of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Heb. 1:3

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Rhema of God.:
Eph. 6:17

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the water by the Rhema,
Eph. 5:26

For I have given unto them the Rhemas which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
John 17:8

Just a Few Thoughts

This is just a brief sampling of the usage of Rhema in the New Testament. What strikes me as fairly obvious is that our God is a speaking God. Isn’t that what the Old Testament prophets mocked the heathen for; that their idols could not speak or move? Scripture tells us that God spoke all things into existence. The faith that we received as a gift came to us through God speaking it into us. This was not an audible voice, but rather God moving through His written word (logos) enlivening our understanding. We then became receivers of His grace and resurrection life. Christ has become the life giving Spirit imparting His Divine life into all who receive Him as saviour.

Is this not the essence of Salvation, the new birth into Christ and His Spirit indwelling our spirit? Would you not agree that this is entirely God’s doing? There is nothing we could have done, or could ever do to merit His grace.

Please let me know your thoughts, I hope to continue along this line as we seek to find oneness in Christ.

8 comments:

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Jim, thanks for visiting my blog.

Some good thoughts here.
Salvation by faith in Christ alone is at the heart of the Gospel.

The problem of both Arminianism and Calvinism is that they water this down by making perserverance a condition of salvation. If I am only truly saved if I continue in the faith, how can I be sure I am truly saved?

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

Jim said...

Thanks for visiting here Matthew, I do appreciate your sincerity for the truth of the Word.

Assurance of salvation is a cornerstone truth every believer in Christ must have nailed down once and for all. If not, we can struggle with doubt and fear our entire life, and become ineffective for the Kingdom of God.

Grace and peace brother,

Jim

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Thanks. Yes, I quite agree. Please keep up your blog.

Rose~ said...

This was a really great post! Just right ... and yes, I totally agree that this is what the Bible teaches!
We can't have faith if we don't hear the Word.
God speaks, thank God.

Jim said...

Praise God for His Word, it is our ultimate authority and also our means of salvation. His Words become Spirit and Life to us, as the prophet says, Your words were found and I did eat them, and they became the joy and rejoicing of my heart.

Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your level headed comments in the blog world.

Jim

Nate said...

Jim,

This is my first time here, but I must say two thumbs up!!

PEACE,

NATE

Jim said...

Hey Nate, first of all; welcome here.

I appreciate your warm words.

I will try to stop by and check out your site soon. If you ever want to add your thoughts, please feel free to come on over and help contribute to making this a spiritual discussion.

God bless,
Jim

Antonio said...

Jim, thanks for your heart. i look forward to a beneficial relationship together.

Grace to you brother,

Antonio