It’s Always Been About God’s Faithfulness to Us

My brother used to work in the IT department for a software company. One day he got a notification from a lady in customer service who could not get her email to function. My brother calls her over the phone to ask all sorts of typical IT questions. This lady, who already had started out annoyed, became more and more frustrated. Finally, my brother told her to log onto her work account so he can remotely take over her computer to fix it.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11366
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Wow Kevin, quite a mix of thoughts and concepts you are throwing here but I’ll try to stick to the main ideas I think you are trying to get across, which are works vs. faith or legalistic vs. grace, which, of course are so misunderstood theses days, including in grad school.
I will admit to thinking that your analogy of “email vs. internet” doesn’t exactly jump at one. The email version of connectivity with God (asynchronous) is the only one we have, since we cut the cord with God, we even pulled the modem connection off the wall and destroyed the mobile towers – it is no wonder we are having trouble. The covenant faithfulness on the part of God is unquestionable, but a covenant is an agreement made between two parties at least, it is not just one way, as you are portraying it.
The “internet” connection (synchronous) is the one with have with the Holy Spirit and He is the one that gifts us the faith we need to have, and that is how we replace our email-only situation, We pray to the Father and He and His son come to abide in us in the form of the Holy Spirit who comforts us…
The allegory of the courtroom you referenced is completely flawed as described by you, you exclude the part where the judge provides his own son in payment, He is 100% involved and vested in the absolution, and where or how do you get that it “is not trinitarian”? Where is the Holy Spirit in all this? He is right with Jesus, He is also called “the Spirit of Jesus”. He is right with the Father and Son since the beginning of time (Proverbs 8) – that is why Jesus told the Apostles that when He came, He would not speak of Himself but only speak of Jesus. His role is to sanctify us, the Apostles spoke of these things but since we are talking about Paul I will just mention Rom 15:16.

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A covenant can be one sided. The original covenant God made with Abram (Genesis 12) was one sided. God promised to make Abram a great nation. What did God ask in return? Nothing, nada…
We are more used to a two sided covenant where we have to give something to get something.

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Robert,
You are conveniently forgetting the one common element in covenants with God, human faith. Gen_12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
Gen_12:4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him
Abram had faith, and because he had faith, he obeyed.

Making Abram a great nation was not contingent on him doing anything. “Going” and “becoming a great nation” were not linked. In subsequent covenants there was an element of “If you do this, then this”, but it was absent from the first.

Human kind likes to be in control. It is why we seek to define and “box” God, definitively saying what They can and can’t do. A one sided covenant removes any control we have. Abram could have resisted, but he could not proactively make it happen - we can read what happened when he tried.

Our salvation is the same, we can resist but we can’t proactively make it happen.

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How do you prove this from Scriptures?

Doesn’t the absence of stated conditions prove that? Just head west young man was the only condition.

Your logic is not clear, “just head West” was the condition of the covenant. Abram already knew his wife was barren, so in faith he believed God would create a miracle, and in faith he obeyed.
“Gen 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.
Gen 12:2 And I will make of you a great nation,…”

This is rather explicit dont you think? and this concept is further confirmed in Gen Chapter 15 where the covenant is formalized.

Of course you realize that Abraham’s covenant was a promise. It was interrupted by a legal two sided covenant which I might add the people demanded, not God’s plan. Though it did provide a way to demonstrate clearly our preference for the power of a king, just like the nations around us. It also demonstrated our inability to keep the law. Christ returned us to the unconditional promise. It had to be that way. Israel’s example should have convinced everyone of the folly of legalism, sadly it did not. It didn’t take the fledgling religion very long to corrupt the simple Gospel and to go back to the authoritarian principles of legalism. Sadly that corruption of the simple Gospel continues to confuse.

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At the time of the first covenant Abram was still relatively young. He had not parted ways with Lot. His wife was quite beautiful, to the extent he feared he would be killed by the Egyptians because of her beauty. He may have known, but unlikely, that she was barren otherwise he would have questoned God how it would be possible.

He questioned God when the promise was repeated. So much so that God performed a “blood” ceremony to prove to Abraham (as he became known as) just how serious They were. Read Genesis 15:9-20 in a modern translation to see exactly what God did. The jist of the ceremony is that a smoking pot and flaming torch passed down a trench filled with the blood of animals that had been cut in two. The impact of that is that God was saying, if We don’t keep our promise to you, you can do to us likewise as has been done to these animals whose blood we are walking through. God gave Abraham permission to ditch, destroy, desecrate God, if They did not keep Their promise.

@robelle
Making Abram a great nation was not contingent on him doing anything. “Going” and “becoming a great nation” were not linked. In subsequent covenants there was an element of “If you do this, then this”, but it was absent from the first.”

@forgeahead
Doesn’t the absence of stated conditions prove that? Just head west young man was the only condition.

Sorry guys, but you are both backpedaling and diffusing without scriptural truth to support your claims of a one-side covenant and avoid acknowledging what is plain and simple read from Gen 12:1,2.

​ The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. Genesis 12:1-3 NIV

No conditions. The promises made following this are conditional on actions taken by Abram/Abraham. They are a contrast to this first one sided covenant.

Two things are abundantly clear, Abram didn’t question God either about “How is this possible, my wife is barren”, or about his side of the covenant, “What do I need to do?” If someone came to you and said, “I will give your great, great, great grand children the state of Texas.” The first thought in your mind - how is that possible, what do I need to do? None of that is evident in the exchange as recorded, but is present in with other promises on the same topic.

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Is faith itself a work? Or is it the faith of Jesus that saves not our own? What is victory over sin? Is it learning new habits or if we can’t, is it the fault of divinity?
Do we change quickly or is it a journey with the constant awareness of the Holy Spirit?

What do we consider works? Is it practicing good health habits and fighting against bad ones? Is it being disciplined or generous? Does it mean going against our feelings of the moment (flesh)? These should not be considered works for salvation; they are works for a better lifestyle. However, so many see them as religious. I don’t think this is the case. The gross sins mentioned in the Bible can’t be compared with these. What we consider sins today apparently were not in the biblical culture and God “winked” at them. Today multiple wives in a Christian culture would be adultery.

I would suggest Christian morals have evolved and there is room to grow. I see righteousness by faith as Jesus’ faith. Our faith can’t save us. See 1 Cor. where faith is secondary to love. Jesus expressed the greatest example of love. Each commandment is based on love. Sabbath keeping is based on Jesus love for us by providing rest from salvation works. It symbolizes His faith, works, death and resurrection. It is not a means of salvation or even a sign of salvation.
s it possible that justification was given before birth (at the foundation of the world) and our names written in the book of life until such a time we may reject Jesus’ love? It is described as being taken out, but never being put in at some time when we “accept” Christ. Those who don’t know him can’t accept or have faith in Him, but they can reject His Love in their culture.

Robert, you continue to inject your own opinions of what you are reading without any biblical text confirmation for them, neither from the verses themselves nor any reference elsewhere in Scripture. To arrive at this forcefully twisted logic you are not-so-cleverly removing the word “and” between two sentences. The word “and” as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows:

“used as a function word to indicate connection or addition especially of items within the same class or type— used to join sentence elements of the same grammatical rank or function.”

All Bible translators, regardless of manuscript source, thought the two sentences are connected and contextual (ASV, Darby, DRB, ESB, KJV, MKJV, Douay, Etc.) just to mention a few, since they all include the word “and”. I am not going to guess why you removed it.

I suspect this article may pose problems for us a Seventh Day Adventists who place so much emphasis on law and law keeping tbat we may not even understand the concept of the marvellous or scandalous grace of God.

We are conditioned in our church to do and to be so many things that we may not be able to appreciate the simple gospel. Here are some examples:

  1. We must keep the law- interpreted as the ten commandments
  2. We must keep the Sabbath of the Lord, f we dont we will not make it to heaven.
  3. We must appear before God as spotless, without sin or wrinkle, in the time that Jesus leaves Heaven and comes to the earth since there is no mediator for us at that time.
  4. We must pass the investigative judgment. If we dont , we are lost.
  5. In the investigative judgment, we must confess any and every known sin- if not we will be lost.
    And the list goes on.

The prevailing attitude in Adventism, is one of perfection- perfect law keeping, a perfect life, perfect obedience etc which runs very counter to what Paul teaches- that we are saved by grace through faith and not law… If we can understand the love of God and the grace of God, it will help us to rely more on Him and His grace, rather than ourselves to live a holy life , in order tom please God. Legalism and the grace of God never work together, pretty much as faith and law keeping do cannot work together, We must learn to rely on the grace of God and faith in Jesus, rather than our own attempts to do and to keep this or that. Salvation has always been by grace through faith, never a question of trying to obey a law, or perfect rendering obedience to any law.
Thanks.

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George, before making the above comment, did you read the NIV translation, or did you assume I removed the word “and”? The word “and” is not present in all translations, which indicates there is debate among translators as to whether the statements are connected. Newer translations tend to leave it out (NIV, NET).

Even if “and” is present it does not make God’s promise conditional. The NET translation has “then” which indicates a following action but does not necessarily bind them into an “if/then” conditional pair.

I most certainly did, and I also took a big leap here and guessed you are more than ten years old, and therefore you must have learned your Bible from reading any one of the versions I mentioned previously. I am presuming this because I knew you were quoting from the ISV and that is how many years it has been since the ISV has been available online, but it wasn’t even printed until 2019. I am sure you know, the ISV version is unique in its’ “literal” translation method and that it made quite a splash when it first became available. I mean, just look at what it does to Gen 3:1,2

ASV
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden?
Gen 3:2 And the woman said unto the serpent, Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat:

ISV
Gen 3:1 Now the Shining One was more clever than any animal of the field that the LORD God had made. It asked the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You are not to eat from any tree of the garden’?”
Gen 3:2 “We may eat from the trees of the garden,” the woman answered the serpent,

My own opinion at the moment since I am not a Hebrew scholar, is to trust the majority of translations that have been available for the last 500 years+ instead of jumping in this new ISV wagon, especially when is being used to prove an agenda. I am going to try to copy and paste Hebrew font below and hope the variations of the same word “wa” are clear.

וְאֶֽעֶשְׂךָ֙ - wə-’e-‘eś-ḵā - And I will make you
וַאֲבָ֣רֶכְךָ֔ - wa-’ă-ḇā-reḵ-ḵā, - and I will bless you
וַאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה - wa-’ă-ḡad-də-lāh - and make great

Andrew, you are correct in that this article poses problems to those who don’t understand how grace and faith work together. I note that further in your post you say: “Legalism and the grace of God never work together , pretty much as faith and law keeping do cannot work together ” And again you are correct in the first part of your statement but completely wrong on the second portion (highlighted) - It is faith that makes us “want to keep the law”, even as we are not perfect and even as we are not able to perfectly keep the law, and this credited to us by Grace.

Again, you start off well but end up confusing the effect of faith with works. This is what the Galatians were doing:
Gal 3:2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith ?
Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
G al 3:5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith
Gal 3:6 just as Abraham “ believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

The part that most people miss is that true faith and true belief are active, not passive, they imply “doing” - Did Abraham believe and did nothing or did he believe and left his country and family?

We should ask ourselves: what is righteous and righteousness? Your Law of God is righteous. Was Abraham or his faith perfect? We both know he wasn’t, just look at what happened with Hagar, but his belief (and action) was counted to him as righteousness. Grace makes up the difference, it is the miracle mentioned in Gal 3:5. Those who deny that faith can and does convert us into people that act differently are denying and opposing the power and role of the Holy Spirit. - sad

Similar examples that exemplify the difference between faith-in-action vs works:
Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain
Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household
Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

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Pose a problem indeed, that’s why I wrote it :stuck_out_tongue:

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