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"Right now for homework I am trying to answer the question, "What does it mean when Paul says in Philippians...'to live is Christ and to die is gain?'" I mean, I do not feel as if I have ever really known this full reality moment by moment."
This is to say that for Paul living means proclaiming and spreading the gospel of Christ Jesus and strengthing the brethen, thus living is to continue in Christ. But to die is gain because we dont yet know the great wealth of being in the presence of our Saviour 24 hours a day 7 days a week completely engulfed in His glory. So for Paul to die was to gain eternal Life and Christ Jesus. I don't know if your question was literal or not, but I too agree this reality hasn't yet fully set in for me as well.
| 2010/8/18 8:07||Profile|
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I believe it was Mr. Bailey here whom I heard say in a teaching the other day, "Just because you believe in justification by faith does not make you justified by faith."
I asked my pastor a couple weeks ago if we as the church today are not responsible for the weakness of faith in people when we regularly teach and promote the idea from pulpits worldwide that the highest virtue in Christianity is...listening to sermons. It is the end all. We think we are righteous because we go hear a preacher. We think that gathering more information about the bible makes us right before God. We feel we have done our weekly duties...
It is promoted that understanding is in itself an 'endish' virtue. When really understanding is only for the purpose in scripture of application.
It is subtle, and hardly perceptible, but is that the truth or no?
| 2010/8/18 8:10||Profile|
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Ron's: Their lives so often put ours to shame and yet they 'did not receive the promise'
NOT IN THIS LIFE.
I often think of this passage when these questions come to mind:
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:22, 23)
This seems to imply that the departed 'just men' (and women I'm sure) have been made 'perfect' (τετελειωμένων). This root is used of Christ in Hebrews 5:9 and also in 7;19, 10:14, etc.). It seems to me that God somehow perfected that which was lacking upon their departure.
Robert Wurtz II
| 2010/8/18 8:13||Profile|
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I'm with you so far Philologos. While the New Testament doesn't really focus on "heaven", it does focus on the coming judgment, "the great separation" if you will: sheep/goats, everlasting punishment/eternal life, lake of fire/new heaven and earth. Would it also be accurate to say that the NT focuses on New Covenant life, and only teaches justification by necessity?
So the question is still: if justification is plainly distinct to regeneration/Spirit (="Christ's" Romans 8:9?), which I think at least you and I and Robert, and a few others firmly believe, then what is the fate of those who never enter the New Covenant? Does being in the New Covenant have eternal sheep/goat implications? Again, is this possible, or is the act of regeneration NOW chronologically linked to justification so that no such distinction is made, except for theologic discussions?
| 2010/8/18 9:24||Profile|
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by BeYeDoers on 2010/8/18 11:24:18 writes:
"So the question is still: if justification is plainly distinct to regeneration/Spirit (="Christ's" Romans 8:9?),"
At the risk of acquiring a reputation for pedantry...
seriously I just wanted to underline what you have written here...
when we say distinct from we DO NOT mean separate from. The old theologians used to say of the Trinity that we must not confound the persons nor separate the substance. God's 'gospel of glory' has many aspects that we may 'distinguish' for the purposes of thinking things through, just as we may 'distinguish' the members of the Trinity but we must we careful not to put things into absolutley watertight compartments in these things.
I am aware that I haven't answered all your questions, and the most difficult are yet to come, but I wanted to give opportunity for 'dialogue'.
BeYeDoers on 2010/8/18 11:24:18 writes:
"Again, is this possible, or is the act of regeneration NOW chronologically linked to justification so that no such distinction is made, except for theologic discussions?"
There is an evangelical bishop over here who is causing some waves by suggesting that justification is tied inseparably to receiving the Spirit. I do not hold that view although I partly understand why he says it.
Let me start another hare coursing...
Who is the Bible written for? It is actually a 'covenant' document and was written for the benefit of those already 'in covenant' with God. John's gospel, for example, is not written as an evangelistic tract but to strengthen the faith of those who already believe. Paul's epistles, in the main, are written to situations that were well known to him. He was not writing a 'thesis' but expounding LIFE to those who had already begun to experience it.
I am not saying we should not use the Bible with unbelievers but I do think we should be very aware of the audience for which a particular letter is written. One of the dilemmas of modern evangelicalism is that we no longer quote the Bible we quote texts. Ask an evangelical what John 3:16 says and he will tell you. Ask him what John 3:14,15 say and often he hasn't a clue... and yet we cannot understand John 3:16 without reading and understanding John 3:14 & 15 which actually gives us a definitive example of what John means by 'believing'.
BeYeDoers on 2010/8/18 11:24:18 writes:
"Would it also be accurate to say that the NT focuses on New Covenant life, and only teaches justification by necessity?"
I don't think it would be strictly accurate although I think you are on the right track. Rom 1-4 lays the foundation of justification by faith but that is not the whole of Romans by any means. Paul bases Rom 5 onwards on the established foundation of justification by faith, so it is absolutely necessary that we get that foundation right but as Paul says frequently in Romans 5.. there is 'much more'.
| 2010/8/18 10:25||Profile|
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distinct does not mean separate from, but this still leaves the door open for a chronological gap between the two (justification and regeneration), and in my understanding we see this gap all throughout Acts, in some cases this represents a significant amount of time in between. First with the apostles, then the Samaritans, then Paul, then the Ephesians. Cornelius is the only exception, and I'm not convinced he wasn't justified already at the beginning of chapter 10, so he too might fit the pattern. In some of Paul's epistles, Galatians and 1 Corinthians come to mind, he states that they all have the Spirit, they had "begun" in the Spirit, they were all New Covenant people. There is never an exhortation to become regenerate, or to receive the Spirit. But then again, I can see Paul asking them the same question he asked the Ephesians (did you receive the Spirit when you believed?), or he witnessed them receiving the Spirit, and that is how he knew they had Him when he wrote to them.
So, "Gap theory" 2nd edition? :-) And what are the implications?
| 2010/8/18 10:51||Profile|
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Hi Ron,just got to see your question.........
"If it is 'dead in the water' it raises the question as to what 'covenant' many are really living in."
Very interesting question. Does the dead covenant still exist? Hmmmm :) Is the old man still alive? If he is dead, then what raises its ugly head? What does it really mean to "reckon,' something to be true? I have pondered all these questions over the years. I had a six month debate one time with a pastor friend of mine, Southern Baptist, lover of the Word, passionate man. It was definately iron sharpening iron. His premise was that Paul, in Romans 7 , was speaking from his present experience. I argued that he wrote it from the persepective of his pharisitical days. Yet as the years wore on and I lived out my Christianity, I saw that my old pastor friend may have been on to something, at least as far as Christians were concerned. It seemed to me that it was vital that Christians had to journey through Romans 7 in order to arrive at Romans 8. To truly understand and live in the freedom of Romans 8, one had to neccecarily come to the conclusion, after being a Christian mind you, of "Oh wretched man that I am."
I guess what I am trying to say badly is, that at least on the perception side, one is being a free man and a slave all at the same time, in one's mind. Reality is, that if you are genuinly born of Christ, then of course you are a freeman because as we know, "He whom the Son sets free is free indeed." Yet one has to "see," this. One has to recognize this, one has to " reckon ," this and until one does, he can be a free man living in a cell that has been opened but that he percieves to still be shut. So the slavery is very real, while at the same time it does not exist. I believe that is what is going on with the Old Covenant and many Christians. One has to know the depths of the wretchedness of self-effort, self-righteousness
in order to truly understand and walk in the freedom that we actually walk in. The tragedy is that people take up camp in Romans 7 and actually rejoice in Romans 7 because it gives them some kind of justification for not living the victorious Christian life. So the answer? Its dead and gone, but only in reality, in the perception of many Christians it is alive and well :) ........brother Frank
(seems to be a most unsatisfactory answer:)
| 2010/8/18 11:39|
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Frank: "Does the dead covenant still exist?"
No, it doesn't. Andrew Murray in The Two Covenants does seem to say that there are two stages in the development of the Christian walk, and that trying to live on the basis of the Old Covenant is a work preparatory to entering into the New Covenant.
I don't accept that the Old Covenant is still in effect, but by and large the principle of "law" is something that many Christians try to live by, and so what Murray says is applicable just the same.
Paul teaches that as long as a man is in the flesh he is under "law."
"But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under (the) law" (Gal. 5.18). (There is no definite article there in the Greek: "...ye are not under law").
| 2010/8/18 12:38||Profile|
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BeYeDoers wrote: "If Abra/ha/m was justified outside of covenant, it seems to follow that we are as well. Not that they aren't chronologically linked, but they are independent events. People in all ages have always been justified be faith, regardless of covenant. However, the pattern of scripture seems to be that in fact, they are separate chronologically. Furthermore, distinct to the new covenant is this idea of a new Spirit within us (regeneration). Romans 8 tells us that if we do not have the Spirit, we are not Christ's. But nobody before Pentecost "had" the Spirit (He was "with" them, but not "in" them). Justification does not make us "Christ's", nor does it place us in the new covenant."
This is surely where some of the most difficult questions come up.
For, what does this say of the countless Christians who know they are justified, but don't have a clear witness that they have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?Many have experienced their Passover. But not their Pentecost. Yet it's at Pentecost that the Spirit is given. So then, if as Romans says, "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Rom. 8.9), where does this put these?
Looking at it historically, I know there were smatterings of the pentecostal experience here and there throughout church history. But in a major way this feast was restored in the early years of the 20th century, and multitudes entered into and received "the baptism." It was vehemently resisted by many, and some denominations still take a strong doctrinal stand against it. Are such, then, even part of the body of "Christ"? For "by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (1 Cor. 12.13).
Just what is a Christian? Just who is, in truth, a member of the Body of Christ? (These words get used so loosely, it seems to me: "Christian," "body of Christ...") Just who is in New Covenant relationship with God through Christ? Just when does the New Covenant begin to come into effect?
Serious questions... and I pray that anyone reading this will not let it be something that overthrows or undermines their faith, but rather that it will become something that provokes to a deeper seeking. There is much Truth yet before us that our Great Shepherd desires to lead us into!
| 2010/8/18 13:15||Profile|
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Hi AD, looks like we are both saying the same thing, you just said it better than me :) .........brother Frank
| 2010/8/18 13:38|