Is this a passive process?
No it is present participle. The perfected a finished act when received by faith.
You are looking at the perfect illustration of Justification and sanctification in Heb.10. We are reckoned pefect in Christ when we individually receive by faith His finished perfect gift. We are set apart for “being made holy”…process. Never complete here.
What do the “overcometh” verses mean in Revelation?
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations…
Have a 1 pm appt.
We are overcoming the devil sin and death through faith in Christ. It’s a matter of degree. It’s also an awareness that by the deeds of the law shall no one be justified. The journey is building character.
When he appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is…
I find this to be as good an illustration as any I know:
As a young man (or lady), you might see another who catches your eye. You go out of your way to do nice things for that person, hoping that they might like you. Or they will develop a liking or love for you. We used to call that courtship.
When you suddenly realize that the person of your affection loves you, your mindset changes. You no longer do good things for that person hoping they will like you. Now you do good things for that person because they love you.
Because you love someone, and that love is reciprocated does not mean that you will always do good things for that person. Or more specifically do the things that person likes. We forget, other things get priority, we do things our own way… But it doesn’t mean we have stopped loving them, or they have stopped loving us. Sometimes we need to refresh the relationship.
Our relationship to the Law is best summed up with this question - Do we (try to) keep the law hoping God will love us, or do we (try to) keep the law because we love God?
The “hook” you get into is that when oneself and the others around us don’t perfectly obey the law it is because we dont love God/Christ as we ought .
So the degree of my love becomes another form of slavery. In beholding Him we are changed and those we love. We live life and dont become preoccupied with what we feel makes them happy.
Salvation – The Questions
It seems we often conflate, confuse, combine & contort the following questions:
1) What is salvation (or ultimate existence)?
2) What must I do/think/believe to become saved?
3) What action/attitude/state will exist because I am saved?
4) What must I do so you know I am saved?
5) What must YOU do so I know you are saved?
These are all separate questions which may (almost always) have separate answers.
When they are conflated, confused, combined or contorted, we get all mixed up in how we answer these questions for ourselves and about others. We think we’re addressing one question while actually thinking of and responding to a different one. Mixing up the questions mixes up the answers, both internally and externally.
It goes without saying (or maybe not) – Every individual has limitations in perception and processing of information. Those limitations (or capabilities) will affect, to a large extent, the ingestion of that information and its effective utilization in creating an internal world (concept) that is similar to the external (or invisible) realities. Our internal mental uniqueness is often overlooked.
Question #1 will be answered by the ultimate sources of information or wisdom that one chooses.
Question #2 is typically answered from within the ultimate sources. Our response to that information is based on our own personal perceptions of the value and expediency of Answer#1.
Question #3 is about the effect on one’s life when that internal, invisible choice is embraced as a reality.
Question #4 is about YOUR expectations of ME and is most often based on YOUR understanding of YOUR answers to Q#1 & Q#2.
Question #5 is about MY expectations of OTHERS and is most often based on MY understanding of MY answers to Q#1 & Q#2.
The justification & willingness to treat each of these questions separately, as distinct (though not unconnected) aspects of our beliefs in the ultimate reality of life (religion, if you will) is that it helps us to clarify what we actually think and believe. Despite it being beneficial to discuss or treat these questions separately, in the wholeness of life, our answers interplay with each other in a constant mesh of pushing, pulling, resisting and joining in a combined system of creating life (and afterlife) affirming ideas and actions and most often expecting such of others.
However - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (or expect of others what you expect of yourself) can have disastrous results depending on what perception (or misperception) we have of right & wrong or the way we ought to be.
(I apologize for the length of my post - but I feel it is necessary to create context.)
Salvation – How & Why
There are many perceptions of salvation. There are extensively constructed systems of perception and there are perceptions that are uncritically embraced. Many people choose a little here and a little there of what others believe without evaluating whether those bits-n-pieces actually fit together.
In thinking about the variety of definitions & means that people perceive about salvation, I think the following generalizations are helpful in understanding why people say or believe what they do about salvation. Many will alternate back and forth between these perceptions of God’s ‘ultimate character traits’ to answer specific religious issues they confront. Of course, my characterization of their beliefs is also generalized and necessarily summarized (without writing 20 pages of notes). There will definitely be additional thoughts and choices as a result of their perception of God.
Still, these generalizations remain useful because the choices most people make in understanding or explaining their belief about salvation (and other religious topics) will fall into (in a prominent way) one of these categories for their perception of God’s ultimate character trait.
Those who believe God’s SOVEREIGNTY is His ultimate character trait:
…. Believe salvation is a matter of Pre-Destination. God’s sovereignty allows Him to create
…. people already determined to be saved & lost. We should not question God’s decisions
…. and must play our part according to His choice.
Those who believe God’s JUSTICE is His ultimate character trait:
…. Believe that His law is supremely important and the keeping of it is the basis of
…. salvation. They also believe we cannot keep His law but that Christ makes His obedience
…. available as a substitute for their own. Because the law is supreme, God judges people, and
…. grants their salvation, based on their faithful keeping of His laws or their claim of Christ’s
…. righteousness in place of their own.
Those who believe God’s MERCY is His ultimate character trait:
…. Believe His law was eliminated at the Cross because people could not obey. If there is no
…. law, obedience is not required nor the basis of salvation. He has forgiven everyone and will
…. even give people a second chance to be saved after they see others being rewarded.
Those who believe God’s LOVE is His ultimate character trait:
…. Believe God has done everything possible to demonstrate the destructiveness of evil
…. as well as the blessings of His way of life (including the law) in an attempt to convince
…. as many as possible to choose to live with Him. Individuals will choose for themselves
…. whether to be in a committed relationship with Christ for eternity or reject Him and that
…. eternal relationship. In the end, God will allow their destiny according to that choice.
Everyone has their own perception of God’s character (and therefore, His ultimate character trait) that they embrace. Many people do not think about or even acknowledge that their perceptions of salvation are based on their perception of God’s ultimate character trait. Still, that factor plays a major role in what beliefs and actions that people embrace and what they reject…
When we interact and discuss with others, this should cause us to listen more carefully to what they say and doing so will help us better understand what they mean by their expressed concepts. It can help us decide whether their understanding of God is in alignment with our understanding of Him. We can then decide how we will relate their perceptions of Him (and their understanding of His requirements) to our own lives.
Being exposed to other perceptions of God can be very helpful in creating cosmic and terrestrial questions for us to answer and that will allow us to clarify our own perceptions. Christian discussion should always be respectful and kind, reflecting the love of God, no matter how intensely we hold our beliefs. ‘A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.’ Coercive attacks may garner withdrawal of your opponent but will not make brothers & sisters & friends in Christ.
(I apologize for the length of my post - but I feel it is necessary to create context.)
My wife knows I love her, even when I forget to do what she asks, even when I forget our anniversary or her birthday😨. She knows not because of what I do or don’t do (that helps) but because I tell her everyday. The difference between earthly relationships and heavenly relationships is that the heavenly one doesn’t fade, even if we don’t tell Christ we love Him, He still loves us.
God demonstrated His love for is in that while we were YET sinners Christ died for is. Much more having been justified by His blood we shall be saved from God’s wrath in Him.
That’s good news and a wonderful gift, I’d say.
Thanks Pat for sticking to the reality of redemption through Christ. No yes but of a mangeled reading of Daniel and Revrlation that has created compliance committees.
Thanks Tom. That IS Christianity…without Him just another form of religious spirituality.
How about the idea that it was faith in the Messiah itself that was the goal that the law was pointing to all along? This was the faith that brought the circumcised and the uncircumcised together in unity and in love around the same table in Christ. In Chapter 4, Paul shows that it was the same type of faith that Abraham had before he was circumcised that God counted as the appropriate response to his gracious covenant. This was truly the fulfillment of the Torah that Paul had seen through his preaching of the gospel. It was not a call by faith to bring people back under the letter of the Law, the very demand that divided Jew from Gentile.
In fact, in Romans 7, Paul makes it clear that those who had lived under the administration of the Law, had died to it, so that they might serve in the new way of the Spirit. IOW, the time of the Law as covenant/contract was over, as people came to God through Christ and his Spirit ( Galatians also makes this clear). This was how God now formed and determined his community. It was this Spirit filled community, that lived in love, that was the fulfillment, the righteousness, and goal of what the law had pointed to as a shadow.
As Paul wrote later wrote in Romans 10, “Christ is the goal of the Law/Torah for righteousness for everyone (Jew and Gentile) who believes.” Only Christ, through the power of his Spirit, could form a new creation of former enemies, now gathered in faith and love around him…something that a return to the Law and its letter could never do.
Maybe a bit of a different take.
I appreciate your views and comments. Having gone to RTS, what I appreciate about Reformed “Covenant Theology” is it’s non-dispensational view. I appreciate it’s continuity in the covenant promises and fulfillments. It always affirms JBF “alone” while recognizing the “instruction of grace” as found in law. How do we determine who is Justified? How do we determine who is being led of the Spirit? How do we determine who is at the table in community? Is it not in considering all of God’s instruction?
I have also read N,T, Wright and his “new” views on Paul. But he says it is not so much how one becomes a Christian but is he/she in the covenant community? So, How can you tell? How does one enter except by "JBF ‘alone’ " as did our father of Jew & Gentile Abraham?
So, I suggest the judge of true community fellowship remains…OT & NT divine instruction. Recognizing always, that by the deeds of law no one shall be Justified. "Love, nor “compassion” justifies but by believing in Grace in Christ, Justified and reckoned righteous through faith alone in Christ Justifies. Other things can be evidences but not the means. “Evidences can be copied and mimicked by plastic words.”
Thanks for your input.
Thanks, Pat. I would say that how one is determined to be part of the community of faith is contained right in the letters of Paul. The fruit of the Spirit is the visible mark of the love that Paul says is the fulfillment of the Law. This is in keeping with Jesus’s own statement that his disciples would be identified by their love for one another.
That is not to say that there is no instruction from the scriptures. We see the prohibitions on idol worship, and sexual immorality as well as other instructions from the Hebrew scriptures reiterated in the NT. But, it seems that we also see the self giving love of Christ held out to the community as the benchmark for ethical and relational instruction more than the Law is, at least in the Pauline letters.
I would also say that the other visible signs of belonging were baptism as the entrance sign, and participation in the Lord’s supper. The latter was the individual’s and the communities’ way of not only openly remembering Jesus’s death, but of publicly saying to God that they were still his covenant people. And, this was truly a sign of the community, all sharing together in the one loaf and the one cup, that were to signify their oneness in Christ.
Ultimately, I think this was symbolic of what truly being part of the people of God was and is about, and is to look like. Jesus and the Spirit opened up a new way of being fully human, that transcended blood, soil, tribe, gender, social, and even former religious barriers. The unity of Jew and Gentile was no addendum to the gospel, or to justification by faith. It was the entire reason that Paul pounded it home in Galatians and Romans. Jews and Gentiles were accepted in the same way and on the same basis before God, totally separate from the distinction of the Law, through faith in/joining up with the Messiah and his community. They were the new creation/new humanity of God, united in Christ in the midst of a broken and divided world. This was evidence enough of the gospel and its power.
I would say that in this broken and fiercely divided world in which we now live, where blood, tribe and soil are again ruling the day, this unifying message and power of the gospel is needed more than ever. To me, this is more prescient and in keeping with what Paul was driving at in the first century, than the reformational concern with individual salvation and how to be individually put right with God, that was the focus in the 16th-17th centuries, and of today’s western evangelical gospel.
Paul’s concern was for true community. Justification was tied to community, as it first appeared in Galatians over the division at the fellowship table in Antioch. And the gospel is the power to not only reclaim individual lives, but to build true human community through the power of the Spirit, that is united in the love of Christ.
Thanks for your thoughts as always, Pat…
Thanks Frank. I am referring primarily to how the community solves disputes that threaten the church.
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