Saturday, July 18, 2009

Justification, Forgiveness, and Disfellowship

I was out with the missionaries the other night to see an Evangelical minister. The missionaries presented a message about the apostasy, but the Minister became a little contentious over his mistaken understanding that he is automatically and unconditionally saved and guaranteed eternal life at the moment of accepting Christ. We couldn't stay to contend the issue but I re-read the New Testament to list the many places where the Apostles teach that salvation is conditional upon our continued good works and enduring to the end.

1 Cor 5:9-13 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person
1Tim5: 19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses .20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
Titus 3: 10 A man that is an heretik after the first and second admonition reject;

How does this scripture fit in with the Evangelical concept of compete forgiveness?LDS teach that Justification is a forgiveness and the inputation of Christs righteousness to the believer. But we also believe that Christ will empower us and expects us to forsake certain sins to enjoy fellowship with the Saints. In fact, according to Paul, members who commit certain sins should be disfellowshipped and/or excommunicated. The LDS definition of Justification by grace in Romans is not irreversible and unconditional forgiveness. Justification means aquittal from the law, it means a judgement of "not proven". Justification is not by works but by grace alone by faith in Christ. God makes the first move. Christs grace is imputed upon the believer and the believer can enjoy the indwelling of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. The more willing and receptive the believer is in submitting to the Holy Spirit the more the Holy Spirit will empower that person to turn away and forsake sin. Ultimately by the end of the Millennium, the Holy Spirit will empower the believer to forsake all sin. The process of Sanctification will have been completed. The believer will then be brought before God for the final judgement. Christ will confess the name of the believer and that He has paid the price of all past sin and recommend that the believer inherit eternal life because the believer has allowed Christ to compete the work of Sanctification within them.

1 Cor 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

if Justification is complete forgiveness and automatic unconditional eternal life, why would Paul tell the Saints at Corinth to "examine themselves" and not partake of the sacrament "unworthily". Knowing these saints had already confessed Christ, what more must they do each week to demonstrate worthiness to partake the Lords Supper?

2 Cor 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
2 Cor 6:1We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

What labor is Paul talking about here. Why would Paul be talking to the Saints about a labor that yet had to be done to be accepted by Christ at the judgement day if all this was already done at the moment of Justification? The labor is Sanctification. How could believers receive the grace of Christ in vain?

2 Cor 13: 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Why would Paul invite believers at Corinth to examine themselves whether they be in the faith, and prove it. Why would Paul seem to say that Christs Spirit would not be with them in sin? Are not believers unconditionally forgiven of all past and future sin?

Gal 5: 19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, forniccation, uncleaness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies. Evyings, murders, drunkeness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal 4 But let every man prove his own work . . . 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Seems Paul is saying that if you truely are saved your works will manifest it, and if you are not saved, the works of the flesh in you will manifest that you are not saved and never were.

Eph 4:24-32 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.25 Wherefore putting away lying speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:27 Neither give place to the devil. righteousness and true holiness.28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his give hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth . . . 30 And greive not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Many dont like the Miracle of Forgiveness becasuse Pres Kimball says it is expected that we forsake sin. But, here we seem to have Paul saying that the believer is expected to "put away lying" and forsake stealing and "put away" wrath and anger.How does a saved person "greive the Holy Spirit"?

Eph 5: 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedient.7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.. . . 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkenss, but rather reprovethem.
Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Some here at CARM claim that Justification means a total, permenant, and unconditional forgiveness and automatic eternal life.That may be true if the person was really Justified, but Paul says that fornicaiton should not be named even once among the saints at Ephesus. And that they should avoid foolish talking and jesting "loud laugher" and not just avoided but reproved.Could it be that those who teach the CARM and Evangelical doctrine preach "vain words." According to Paul you cant have the indwelling of the Spirit while drunk.

1 Tim 6: 17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
2 Tim 2: 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessels unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

Why is Paul sayig the rich need to be rich in good works as to lay up in store that they "may lay hold on eternal life". This language does not seem to reflect the certainty of eternal life of many evangelicals who claim eternal life is automatic and unconditionally given at the moment of Justification. Paul says the better a man allows Christ to purge his sins from him and sanctifyy him, the better he will be for tthe masters use and prepared unto every good work.

Titus 1: 15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

It seems Paul says that although you can profess to know and accept Christ with your words, that you can just as easily deny Christ and reject Him by your works which will manifest that you were never justified.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;14 Who gave himself or us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, an purify people,zealous of good works. unto himself a peculiar.

Paul encouages Titus to deny and forsake all ungodliness and live godly so that he could have a "hope" or assurance in faith, and "might" be redeemed by Christ. This jsut doesnt sound like the unconditional automatic eternal life of the Evangelical.

Titus 3: 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3: 14 And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

Paul says we are initially rescued and justified and "saved" by the grace alone of Christ and not our righteousness. But I dont think this "hope" of eternal life is the unconditional, irreversible automatic kind of process the Evangelicals describe.It seems that Paul is concerned that the Saints not be unfruitful. Since Christ said of the gentiles that there would be both bad and good invited to the marriage supper and that only those wearing the wedding garment would be accepted. God said that there would be sheep and goats, wheat and tares, unwise virgins, and lukewarmers in the church, that it was the good works and fruit that would be a manifestation that that person was in the grace of Christ. Remember that John says in Revelations that the white clothing was the "rightousness of the saints" or the good works of the saints not necessarily absolute sinlessness since we are all sinners.

Gal. 6: 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
2 Tim. 4: 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith

Remember the parable of the workers in the field. The ones that worked one hour received the same reward as the workers who worked through the heat of the day. The important thing was that they were all found working when the Lord of the vineyard arrived.

Heb 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

What is this that Hebrews is saying about giving earnest heed, and a warning about not letting our obedience slip and about our disobedience being recompenced upon us. Hebrews seems to be saying that disobedience puts our "escape" and "great salvation" into jeapardy.

Heb 3: 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

Heb 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God fresh, and put him to an open shame.
Heb 6:10,15 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:. .. . so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
Heb 10: 26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowdge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

Here Hebrews says that some who are called brethren could depart form the living God and have their heart hardened by sin after it was softened. But Hebrews says we need to hold stedfast unto the end and not procrastinate the day of our provocation or probation while it is yet today. Here Hebrews says that it is possible to be enlightened and taste of the heavenly gift and the Holy Ghost and have fallen away. Also, Hebews says the promise is dependent on diligence, endurance, patience, faith and a work and labor of love.

Heb 10: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace ... 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Hebrews seems to warn those who sin knowingly and willfully after receiving the Spirit of grace, Hebrews calls this falling away to "draw back" unto perdition instead of having patience in faith unto salvation of the soul.Heb 11:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us Chrsit is the author and finisher of our faith but Accepting Christ and being born again is not the end of the race but the beginning. And after being Justified we must endure the chastening and purifying process of sanctification.

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