Itâ€™s interesting you mentioned the Gnostics because they believed some of the same doctrines that are popular today. For instance they believed in total depravity and that repentance was not part of salvation. But they also believed that the world was created by a lesser evil god and other really strange stuff. 1 John 4:3 was actually talking about this group and he called them the antichrist because they denied Jesus divinity. Ironically Augustine has roots in Gnosticism which explains where he got his strange ideas. If you donâ€™t know, the reformers built on the ideas of Augustine.
Dr. Tim wrote: The â€śearly churchâ€ť contained scads of heretics with nutty notions just like the modern church does. Ever heard of Mani? Gnosticism? Ebionites (sounds like worshippers of bowling balls)? The EC had the same hodgepodge of beliefs we see almost two millennia later. Believe the Bible. Not what Joe, Moe and Flo say about the Bible, but the BIBLE.
Everyone agrees, Tim, that we should believe the bible. But the Bible is obviously subject to interpretation. People do not always read the Bible and come to the same conclusion. For instance, the EC and Calvin interpreted the same Bible in two different ways. The reason for this is we all read it through our own lenses of past experiences and teachings.
So Tim, what do you suggest I do? Read the Bible and come to my own interpretation and have people on SA comments oppose my interpretation? Or maybe accept Calvin's interpretation? Or Dr. Tims interpretation?
What Ive been suggesting is looking at how the EC understood scripture because they would of had the best handle on it.
Of course the EC had heretics but it was very well defined what and who was part of the delivered, handed down, Apostles gospel.
You said "What I AM saying is that if you use the Holy Bible as your standard, you will be able to ascertain with relative ease, which gospel is no gospel" I agree. You said "There are many, multitudes even, who say they believe in Jesus, but when you get right down to it, they are not believing in a biblical Jesus, but one they have created from their own mind, who does not exist" I agree. You said "Now the counterfeit gospel is one which says that the work of Christ and him crucified is insufficient to save your soul." I agree, that certainly is a counterfeit gospel.
What I was saying was that the Gospel is bigger than just a way for humans to get their ticket punched to heaven. Its about Gods divine plan and will. We should serve Jesus primarily because He bought us. We owe our lives to Jesus because without Him, we would still be destined for Hell. Hes the center of the Gospel. I like how Romans 1:5 puts it. "By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name" Its for HIS name!
John, I was right that I didnt know what your beliefs. And your doctrine seems fairly close to what the EC taught.
The EC also believed that we accept Christ's saving blood by Faith and Belief. We cannot do some "works" on our own to earn it.
That being said, they would not have made as much of a distinction be between the faith and the works (or obedience) that flowed from that faith. These were very intertwined. They taught that faith and belief in Christ produced obedience. Where there was no obedience, there was no faith and belief in Christ. And where there was no faith and belief, there was no obedience. If the obedience stopped, the faith also stopped, and vice versa. Thats why in most of the encounters with unbelievers in Acts, the disciples told the story of Jesus and told them to Repent. Repentance was believing. They did not tell them to believe in the Atonement (although that is important), rather believe in Christ. And, believing in Christ and obeying Him are the same thing. That being said, they believed that works was the result of the power of God in our lives, not something we did on our own strength. But they also believed in free will. Hope that makes sense.
John UK wrote: Which, being interpreted, means, "No, I am not able to explain the meaning of this text."
All I'm saying is John 3 is not the whole NT. John 3 does not say anywhere there are no requirements for salvation. If fact, He says we must believe. Yes, He doesn't list all His commandments in that chapter, but nowhere does he negate or write off all His other teachings about obedience.
It would be like if I developed a "We are saved by hope alone" doctrine, based off of Romans 8:24. That verse says nowhere that Hope is the only aspect of salvation.
Luke 18 is clearly talking about pride and humility and how we should not trust in our own righteousness. But also doesn't negate any of Jesus' commands and His very strong warning to those who dont do them.
Like I've said before, this is historical Christianity. I am not the weird one. I believe the same Gospel that John's disciples and their disciples believed. And I would strongly attest that this is the same Gospel preached by the apostles and of Christ.
But if you got it more figured out then the those early Christians, more power to you. Thanks for the conversation John. God bless your day.
... Luther simply picked the books and verses he like and said others were just â€śstrawâ€ť. So be careful about what he said. He and the other reformers were not infallible either. But if you like their theology, thatâ€™s fine. But maybe you should tell others when explaining their theology that it is deffinetly not what Christians historically believed.
John UK wrote: DKH, are you suggesting that I "hear out" all the various and bizarre forms of Christianity throughout history, and of diverse theological trends.
No, of course not. And if you dont want to study Church history, thats totally up to you.
At the same time, if you ever get the itch to research church history, please start with writings of the EC instead of the Reformers. The EC lived in the same era as the apostles and spoke their language. It seems to me that they would have the best handle on proper biblical interpretation.
As for John 3:14-15 In that verse He tell people they have to believe in Him. But you cant build a theology off of one verse or even a select set of verses. We need to take every verse in the context of the NT. The NT also includes a few other verses. (Matthew 5:27, John 15:10, Acts 2:38, Acts 17:30, James 2:17, etc) So we need to build our theology in way that takes all of these into account and doesnt make some verses say the exact opposite of what they plainly read.
Contrarily, Martin Luther stated: "Johnâ€™s Gospel and St. Paulâ€™s epistles... are the true kernel and marrow of all the books" "Therefore St. Jamesâ€™ epistle is really an epistle of straw," "Johnâ€™s Gospel far preferred over the others"
John UK wrote: DKH, wow, whoever this EC was, he was sure mixed up in his theology. No wonder some of what you say makes no sense whatever, or is contradictory in the extreme.
The EC was not a "he", rather it was "they". People like Polycarp, a martyr who sat under the teaching of the apostle John and possibly other apostles. People like Irenaeus, who knew Polycarp and was just one link removed from the apostles. And many other Christians, from all over the known world, who suffered and died for their belief in Jesus. Still others in the 3rd century, who repeated the same theology that the 1st century Christians taught. Those guys were the ones responsible for spreading the gospel across the world and giving their lives for it.
Im not suggesting these guys were inspired or perfect at all. But shouldnt we be careful to say these guys were "mixed up"? Or that we 21st century Christians know far more about bible interpretation then they did? Shouldn't we at least hear them out?
Lurker wrote: The RCC would give a hearty amen to every point.
Last I checked the RCC obeys the pope, not Jesus. They certainly dont love their enemies anyways.
John UK wrote: Can you please tell me where I differ from the EC in mine own beliefs?
John, I dont all your beliefs and if I guessed I would get many things wrong. So I wont try. But I can try to give a very brief run down of what the EC believed on salvation. But please read their writings for yourself.
They believed... ...we all sinned and need a savior to save us from our sins. ...Jesus blood is available for all men everywhere (Acts 17:30). ...Jesus forced no one. All men have free choice to either believe Jesus or reject Him. ...we cannot save ourselves by obeying the law. We must have faith in Him and repent of our sins. ...when we have faith, He gives us grace and the HS which works in our lives and gives us the power to be obedient. ...God forgives our past sins and is faithful and just to forgive us if we sin in the future, if we repent and confess (1 John 1:9). ...we Christians have assurance of salvation, But if we walk in sin and dont continue to the end we will be cut off. ...obedience to all of Jesus commands was important and was proof of your relationship with Jesus. They took it literally when Jesus said, "Love your enemies", "Dont divorce and remarry", "Swear not at all". ...we are saved through CHRIST alone.
James, in a nutshell, the EC believed faith in Christ wasnâ€™t faith without being accompanied by obiedience to him. This obedience was made possible by the power of grace and the Holy Spirit in our lives. A lot of modern Christians say its impossible to stop sinning or obey Jesus and Jesus really doesnâ€™t even want us to obey Him.
John, Its interesting you brought up Galatians. If you read the whole book its very clear that hes talking about the old testament law given by Moses. The Galatians were starting to think that they had to obey that law to be saved. Paul said not at all, through Christ you are free from that law. I totally agree. But then in chapter 5 he goes on and in verses 13 and 16 he says: "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." He then finishes out the chapter by talking about sins which will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Im not suggesting that our works save us. That would be like saying you earned the million dollars because of you picked up three pieces of trash.
But rather we have faith in Jesus. And Jesus gives us Grace which is the power to obey Him. Furthermore James says, if we dont have those works then we have a dead faith which doesnt save anyone.
Again, you may not care, but the EC believed this. This is straightforward historical Christianity.
Also, maybe I should clarify about my response to you Lurker. I think your point is only valid if I rely on early church writings to come to my conclusions about biblical theology. But I donâ€™t. I think my interpretation is the most natural and reasonable one.
I donâ€™t think someone could read the NT from a unbiased perspective and come the the conclusion that Jesus doesnâ€™t want us to obey Him. Or that we donâ€™t need to be baptized to be saved. Or that free will doesnâ€™t exist. Etc.
Many Christians throughout history have come to the same conclusion I have without knowing what the EC believed. But now that we do now what they believed, the burden of proof falls on you to explain why Calvin got bible interpretation right, while the first century Christians have not.
The writings of the EC have been available for a lot longer to than the internet. And that is kinda irrelevant because both good and bad things have become easily accessed by the internet. You canâ€™t say that a theology must be wrong because it isnâ€™t as popular.
Lurker, Its not logical to conclude a system of belief is right because its been more commonly believed or more well known. You could make the same case for Catholicism.
John, Jesus did not mention those things in those verses but he did not say that belief did not include those things. There are many other verses where Jesus and the apostles do mention those things. (Matthew 5-7, John 15, James 2).
If Bill Gates came and offered you $1 million every month for the rest of your life as a free gift, would you be thankful? of course. But what if he required you to pick up three pieces of roadside trash in order to apply for the free money? Would he have the right to do that? Of course. It would be foolish to go out, pick up the trash, get the million dollars, then go tell your friends that you "worked" for that money.
Its the same with the gospel. Paul told the Romans not to think that they worked for the gift of Salvation but he did not say God requires nothing of us to be saved. In fact, he said quite the opposite (Romans 6)
John, if Jesus really wanted us to obey Him, what would of He said?
Dr. Tim wrote: BTW, if we canâ€™t understand scripture without reading extrabiblical material about the early church, why donâ€™t we excise I John 2:27 from our Bibles?
Tim when I read scripture I dont come to your conclusion. I dont think your interpretation is the only possible logical and straight forward way to interpret scripture.
If you want to believe your interpretation of scripture, go ahead. Your totally free to do so. But for me, Id rather understand scripture the way the early Christians understood it because they spoke the same language, lived in the same culture, and were taught by the apostles themselves.
The only I ask is that you never say that your Christianity is was Christians historically believed, taught, and lived.
John I agree with you. Jesus is God. He is also the Son of God. I believe in the Trinity. What more do I say? All the verses you quoted I agree with.
Dr. Tim wrote: Do you agree with him that baptism is essential to salvation? Apparently you do, because at least twice you have quoted Acts 2:38. Apparently you are not aware that the word â€śforâ€ť in that verse means â€śbecause of,â€ť and not â€śin order to obtain,â€ť just as it does in Mark 1:44.
Thats very convenient.
Forget what I think about baptism or what Bercot thinks about baptism. Just go straight and read the early church. And, if you dont know, they believed baptism along with obedience to rest of Christ commands was part of accepting Christs salvation.
Maybe you dont agree with them and thats fine but youll have to explain to me why the first three centuries of Christianity got it wrong.