Monday, July 29, 2013

The Start of the Church: Who, When, and What Difference Does It Make?

I mention Church of Christ in this post, and I noticed that the debate I had with Larry Hafley is available for listening online here.  We debate eternal security.  It would be worth listening to. Some of the rhetorical devices I use, by the way, are not a preference of mine, but what I believed I needed in order to match the rhetoric of Hafley, who depends greatly on technique to win his debates.  I don't think someone should depend on them, but at the same time meet the challenge of rhetoric.


What you believe about the church should come from the Bible, because what Scripture says about the church is true.  God's ministers should deal in truth.  The truth should be acceptable especially to preachers, but really to everyone who calls Himself a Christian.   One could argue that the church is second in importance in the New Testament to Jesus Himself, because the church is in fact the body of Christ.  Without Christ visibly or physically here, we have His church as the manifestation of Him on earth.  All the truth of the New Testament is obeyed in the context of the church.

We don't want to get Jesus wrong.  We don't want to get the church wrong.  We can say that Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6) and that the church is the container for truth.  Truth is protected and propagated by the church.  If you get the church wrong, the truth is also at stake.

I followed a couple of different examinations of the church recently online.  The first one was a discussion of a Kentucky billboard, one mounted by a Church of Christ member, that attacked the idea of a denomination, the Baptists, that was started by John the Baptist.  Get it?  The Church of Christ, of course, because it's in the name, you know, was the one started by Christ, because it has that name, "of Christ," and then there are the Baptists, who are tied to, you know, John the Baptist, and not Christ.  Now that shows ignorance of why we use the name Baptist, so it argues a strawman.  "Baptist" is simply a shortened version of "Anabaptist," which is not named after John the Baptist.

The short discussion mocked the idea that the church started with John the Baptist.  Most said they had never heard of it.  Some speculated that it must be the "landmarkers" or "Baptist briders."  The last thing said answered where someone got this belief:  "no one in their right mind, I would say.  Certainly, no one who rightly divides the Word."  The critics are going to find themselves in trouble when they actually do depend on scripture and not on tradition on this one.

I looked at the discussion with great curiosity, since I believe the Bible teaches that the church did start with John the Baptist.  There is no verse that says, "The church started at this moment."  I don't think it's hard to say that the church started with John the Baptist though.  It's not good enough just to ridicule the position, although that's common fare (at the link I provided above), or just resort to the pejorative without proof.  Please though, if you are going to talk about the church, know what ekklesia means, how people understood it, how it is used -- the grammar of its usage -- in the 118 uses.  Plain reading of scripture does glean a local only understanding of the church.  Learn Christ.  Learn the church.

The second article and then audio I read and listened to, which was recommended to me by a pastor friend, was by none other than Frank Turk.  I read the article and then listened to his session at a conference, while I was starting to lay a hardwood floor in our living room.  Turk was asked to teach about parachurch organizations, so he comes from Matthew 16 and he essentially says the church that Jesus builds is local.  He in part relies on the meaning of ekklesia, how people would have understood it in that day.  I said "essentially" because he is proving it is local, but he says that it is "universal" too.  Most of what he said was very good, and it only got confusing when he wanted to allow a "universal church" concept in too.

To begin, we know the church started before Pentecost, which should make easy sense to anyone reading.  In Acts 2, the converts at Pentecost were "added to the church."  That should make it an easy call.  You don't add to something that doesn't already exist.  Then Jesus talked about it like it already existed in Matthew 18 when he taught church discipline.  Various basic components that make a church to be a church were already existent before Pentecost.  Hebrews 1 says that Jesus sang in the church.  He didn't sing in the church on Pentecost or afterwards.

What about Jesus' statement, "I will build my church," using the future tense of the verb in Matthew 16.  "Build" is oikodomeo, which is translated many other places "edify."  Jesus was saying He would "edify" His church or "build up."  He wasn't going to build it as in it hasn't already been started, but that He would add to what already existed.

Some of this issue would be solved if we understood the term ekklesia like William Tyndale did.  When he went with plain meaning, he translated Matthew 16:18:

And I saye also vnto the that thou arte Peter: and apon this rocke I wyll bylde my congregacion. And the gates of hell shall not prevayle ageynst it.

Tyndale translates ekklesia, "congregation."  He never calls it "church."  How would it change many people's understanding of Ephesians 5:25 if they read this?

Husbandes love youre wyves even as Christ loved the congregacion and gave him silfe for it

People in Jesus' day understood ekklesia as "assembly" or "congregation."  

So how did John the Baptist start the church?  John prepared the way of the Lord by gathering an assembly of saved, immersed believers, who were called out of the world for a particular purpose.  I like to call it the church in embryonic form.  It didn't have everything it would have, but it was already an "assembly."  John transferred that group to Jesus' leadership when Jesus came on the scene and was baptized by John.

1 Corinthians 3 calls the church the "temple."  The church is the New Testament temple.  Israel's temple was rejected as the house of God and the church became God's house.  Jesus is God.  He inhabited the temple.  Jesus baptized the saints on Pentecost with the Holy Spirit, but that does not mean that the church didn't already house the Holy Spirit.  In John 20:22, we read:

[Jesus] breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.

The assembly had already received the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus ascended into heaven, His temple was already inhabited by God the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2 (and 8, 10, and 19) was a different happening with the baptism of the Spirit.  That authenticated the coming of the Holy Spirit for all who believe.

I don't have a problem with those who say Jesus started the church.  The idea that John the Baptist started it isn't new.  It's the belief of S. E. Anderson in his book, The First Baptist.  This was required reading at Maranatha Baptist Bible College when I was a student and it was sold in the book store.  In many cases, people don't know about it because they went to a Protestant school with Protestant, essentially Catholic, ecclesiology.  The Reformation didn't do much at all to reform ecclesiology.  I would gladly debate any universal church proponent on this issue.

In the discussion to which I above referred, the critics partly mocked the position of men who might believe what I advocate above, because they are also KJVO.  There is a reason why the local only position and KJVO often go together, especially with Baptists.  The local only people believe that God preserved His church based on biblical presuppositions.  They don't believe the true church emerged from Roman Catholicism.  They also believe God preserved His Word and used the church to do it, again based on faith in Scripture.  By the way, many believe the church preserved the original language text, not a translation.  Roman Catholicism made a translation the authority with the Latin Vulgate.  The critics were correct in their appraisal that the two positions go together, but they wrote as if they were clueless as to why they go together.

Like so many other texts and doctrines, Protestants spiritualized and allegorized.  They read into the text something that wasn't there.  They were wrong about a lot, including the huge parts of scripture on who things would end, because of their hermeneutic, which hung on to Catholic presuppositions.  A local only ecclesiology would return to a literal hermeneutic on the church, which relies on scripture to explain itself.

If you don't know the who and when, then you don't know the what.  When you don't know the what, you threaten the truth, because the church is the pillar and ground of the truth.  Obedience to the truth is in and through the church, so if you don't know what the church is, you risk losing reward, something the Apostle Paul talked about on a regular basis.

Friday, July 26, 2013

“The just shall live by faith”— A Study of the Relationship of Faith to Salvation in its Justifying, Sanctifying, and Glorifying Fulness, part 19

A note from Kent Brandenburg, before you read the Thomas Ross post.  I want to thank Jack Lamb (here is his website) for getting our Word of Truth Conference website looking much better.  The 2012 audio will all be up soon and we will talk about the 2013 conference soon.


While a rhetorical oughtness should not be excluded from the questions in Romans 6:1, 15 (Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?Ø; Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?), the questions are not simply ones of propriety, but ones of possibility—a possibility indubitably negated, Paul declares.  That is, the “God forbid” that answers Paul’s questions does not just negate the propriety of continuing in sin, but the possibility of it.  That Romans 6:1ff. teaches that the believer is certain to not continue in sin is demonstrated by a number of exegetical considerations. (If the Greek font below appears garbled, get a free copy of the trial version of accordance Bible software here.)

First, whenever Paul follows a “What shall we say” (ti÷ e˙rouvmen;) question in Romans with another question, what is negated is the possibility, not merely the propriety, of the action.  Thus, considering the examples outside of Romans 6, the answer to “What shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance?” (Romans 3:5, ti÷ e˙rouvmen; mh\ a‡dikoß oJ Qeo\ß oJ e˙pife÷rwn th\n ojrgh/n (kata» a‡nqrwpon le÷gw);—note that the “I speak as a man” is an appropriate addition to all of the following similar questions in Romans) is not, “God who takes vengeance ought not to be unrighteous, but perhaps He is unrighteous,” but “God who takes vengeance is certainly not unrighteous.”  The answer to “What shall we say then? Is the law sin?” (Romans 7:7, Ti÷ ou™n e˙rouvmen; oJ no/moß aJmarti÷a;), is not “The law ought not to be sin, but perhaps it is sin,” but “The law certainly is not sin.” The answer to the question, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, Ti÷ ou™n e˙rouvmen pro\ß tauvta; ei˙ oJ Qeo\ß uJpe«r hJmw◊n, ti÷ß kaq∆ hJmw◊n;), is not “No one ought to be effectually against us and defeat God’s purpose of grace, but it is possible that God will be defeated,” but “Certainly no one is effectually against us and can defeat God’s purpose of grace.”  The answer to the question, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?” (Romans 9:14, Ti÷ ou™n e˙rouvmen; mh\ aÓdiki÷a para» twˆ◊ Qewˆ◊;), is not, “There ought not to be unrighteousness with God, but perhaps there is,” but “There is certainly no unrighteousness with God.”  Certainty, not possibility, is also found following the “What shall we say?” constructions in Romans that are followed by a statement rather than a question (9:30).  Consequently, the questions in Romans 6 are also answered by certainties, not mere potentialities or proprieties.  “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1, Ti÷ ou™n e˙rouvmen; e˙pimenouvmen thØv aJmarti÷aˆ, iºna hJ ca¿riß pleona¿shØ;) is not answered, “we ought not, but may, continue in sin,” but “we shall certainly not continue in sin.”  “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:2, oiºtineß aÓpeqa¿nomen thØv aJmarti÷aˆ, pw◊ß e¶ti zh/somen e˙n aujthØv;) is not answered, “We that are dead ought not to be alive to and live in sin any longer, but we may,” but “We that are dead will not be alive to and live in sin any longer.”  The question, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?” (Romans 6:15, Ti÷ ou™n; aJmarth/somen, o¢ti oujk e˙sme«n uJpo\ no/mon, aÓll∆ uJpo\ ca¿rin;) is not answered, “We ought not to continue in sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace, but we might,” but “We will not continue in sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace.”  Likewise, the condition in Romans 6:8 is not merely possibile, but certain;  those that are dead with Christ will certainly, rather than only potentially, live with Him—they are eternally secure and saved from sin’s penalty and power.  The questions that parallel those of Romans 6:1, 15 demonstrate that the believer will certainly not continue in sin.

Second, leaving aside the “What shall we say?” (Romans 3:5; 4:1; 6:1; 7:7; 8:31; 9:14, 30) use of e˙rouvmen, which does not, in any case, provide any contrary evidence, Paul always uses the first plural future active indicative (the Textus Receptus properly reads e˙pimenouvmen and aJmarth/somen in Romans 6:1, 15, while the minority text’s reading of e˙pime÷nwmen and aJmarth/swmen is corrupt) of a certainty, not a mere possibility.  Believers are certain to judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3); it is certain that it is not a great thing to reap carnal things where spiritual things have been sown (1 Corinthians 9:11);  it is certain that believers will bear the image of the heavenly second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:49);  it is certain that believers who do not faint will reap (Galatians 6:9);  it is certain that those who are dead with Christ will live with Him (2 Timothy 2:11);  it is certain that those who suffer with Christ will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12);  it is certain that the audience of Hebrews will go on, if God permit (Hebrews 6:3);  it is certain that those who are in subjection to the Father of spirits shall live (Hebrews 12:9).  Consequently, it is also certain that believers will not continue in sin (Romans 6:1, 15) and will not live in sin (Romans 6:2) but will live with Christ (Romans 6:8).

            Third, in every instance where Paul negates an affirmation with “God forbid” (mh\ ge÷noito) in Romans, what is negated is not potentially possible, but certainly impossible.  It is certain that the faithfulness of God is not of none effect (Romans 3:3-4).  It is certain that God who takes vengenace is not unrighteous (Romans 3:5-6).  It is certain that the law is not sin (Romans 7:7).  It is certain that God’s good law was not made death unto Paul (Romans 7:13).  It is certain that there is no unrighteousness with God (Romans 9:14).  It is certain that God has not cast away His people (Romans 11:1).  It is certain that Israel has not stumbled so that the nation was cast off forever (Romans 11:11).  Indeed, there is no clear evidence of any instance of “God forbid” in Paul’s writings that does not deal with a certainty (Romans 3:4, 6, 31; 6:2, 15; 7:7, 13; 9:14; 11:1, 11; 1 Corinthians 6:15 (cf. 6:9-11); Galatians 2:17; 3:21; 6:14).  Consequently, it is a certainty that believers will not continue in sin (Romans 6:1-2, 15).  God forbid—He will not allow it to be so.  (Note that God is involved, and “God forbid” a proper translation, in the expression mh\ ge÷noito.  See, on the Old Testament construction with lyIlDj, Commentary on the Old Testament, C. F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, on Joshua 22:29;  also see 1 Samuel 24:6; 26:11; 1 Kings 21:3; Job 34:10; 1 Chronicles 11:19.  The LXX renders the Old Testament lyIlDj phrase with mh\ ge÷noito at times (Genesis 44:7, 17; Joshua 22:29; 24:16). A. T. Robertson notes: “In modern Greek Dr. Rouse finds people saying not mh\ ge÷noito, but oJ qeo\ß na» fula¿xhØ (pg. 940, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, A. T. Robertson).  See also pg. 94, The Epistle to the Romans, John Murray).

            Fourth, the context of Romans 6 indicates that the believer is certain not to live in sin.  His death to sin and identification with Christ (6:1-4) make a walk in newness of life certain.  He is certain to be in the holy likeness of Christ’s resurrection (6:5).  Crucifixion with Christ is certain to bring freedom from sin’s domination (6:6-7);  the believer’s new spiritual life is as certain as the resurrection of Christ to new life (6:8-10).  The believer is to reckon himself dead to sin and alive to God (6:11-13), not because it is possible that true Christians can be dominated by sin, but because God’s promise is certain:  “sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (6:14).  While his new obedience is imperfect (6:19), nonetheless the time that believers were enslaved to sin is in the past—now all have become the servants of righteousness and are free from sin’s dominion (6:17-21).  All believers have their fruit unto holiness, and their end everlasting life (6:22), while all those who still bring forth fruit unto sin receive spiritual death and eternal damnation (6:15-16, 21-23).

            Sound exegesis makes it very clear that Romans 6:1, 15 affirms that the believer not only ought not to, but certainly will not, live in sin as do the unregenerate.

This post is part of the complete study here.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sola Scriptura, the Norming Norm, and the Doctrine of Preservation

Sola Scriptura said the Bible was the only infallible authority for faith and practice, or as Protestants began calling it:  "the norming norm."  Creeds were normative.   They stated the agreed upon teachings of scripture.  The Bible is the norming norm in that it judges the creeds and statements.  As the Westminster Confession stated:  "The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be judged."  Creeds and confessions are normed by the Bible -- the norms are normed -- hence, the "norming norm."  The statements and creeds were not an infallible authority, but they were the norm, even though God's Word would finally judge them for their adequacy and truthfulness.

The creeds and confessions taught perfect, verbal preservation.  The men who wrote the creeds and confessions in their writings explained.  Every word was preserved and accessible.  Of course, all that preceded fundamentalism, even evangelicalism, and, of course, revivalism, when some think all Christian history began.  Men, who held to the Bible as final authority, wrote that every Word of Scripture was perfectly preserved.  That was the norm.  You won't see another teaching.  And then the norming norm, the Bible, says the same.

Then along came modern textual criticism.  Is textual criticism a norming norm on the doctrine of the Bible?  If the confessions and creeds taught perfect preservation, and scripture itself teaches it, which is why people believed it, can something come along and overturn the Bible?  Do we redo the confessions and creeds based upon textual criticism?

You can read the importance of the creeds and confessions in that they aren't be changed.  They weren't changed.  That wouldn't look good.  Instead, they were spun into a different meaning.  We started hearing things like "the preponderance of the manuscripts," which became the new norm.  The norm changed.  Were the confessions fallible and they were corrected by the Bible?  No.  The Bible didn't norm the new view.  The new view was normed by textual criticism.   Textual criticism was the new norming norm.  And the Bible was not sola scriptura on the doctrine of preservation.  Scripture was shucked for science.

The Charismatic movement goes outside of scripture for authority.  Roman Catholicism goes outside of the Bible for authority.  Many religions norm the Bible by either their experiences or tradition.  Evangelicalism and fundamentalism violate sola scriptura for science on the doctrine of preservation.  When you depend on science instead of the Bible for your doctrine, scripture is no longer your sola.  Could not these Protestants agree that there are really only four solas, and not five?

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Content Of Their Character: Race and Meaning

On August 28, 1963, in his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, DC, Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

MLK didn't say, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where no one will be judged for any reason, and especially for their character."  No, he had no problem with his children being judged.  It wasn't that they would be judged, but how they would be judged.  They shouldn't be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  But how does someone judge the content of someone's character?  You can't judge what you can't see, so you can only judge the things that are visible.

An issue in our culture today is that we are permitted less and less to judge anything, let alone, and perhaps especially, the content of someone's character.  In an era of cultural relativity, where there is the absence of absolute authority, specifically about character issues, how can we judge anyone's character?  Homosexuality isn't supposedly bad character any more.  An unmarried couple shacking up isn't bad character in this culture.  Can we judge this to be a bad content of character?   Today people judge you not by the content of your character, but by the content of your judging the content of someone's character.  You're in worse trouble if you make a judgment then if you have bad character.

In the case of George Zimmerman, the FBI did an in depth investigation for racism, but found none.  The case was tried and the court and the jury found no evidence of racism.  In other words, Zimmerman did not judge by the color of Martin's skin.  So that's good enough, right?  No, now we can't judge by the content of the character either.  We can't judge.  We have to assume that people are doing right, despite suspicious behavior.   We can't operate according to common sense.

And yet, of course, people still judge things.  You've got to.  If you've got 75 people applying for one job, 74 of them aren't going to get it, and all of them are going to be judged to get to that conclusion.  When you get it whittled down to 3 or 4 finalists, some very miniature personality qualities are often going to determine who gets it.

The media wanted to provoke a particular judgment from the public, so they put a thuggish, criminal looking picture of the dough-boy George Zimmerman and a cherubic photo of a 12 year old Trayvon Martin side-by-side to "explain" what happened.  It's why the prosecution in that same case didn't include certain photos of Trayvon from his cell phone from discovery for the defense to use and the jury to see, ones of Trayvon proudly blowing out marijuana smoke and brandishing a handgun.  Of course, that kind of dishonesty by the prosecution is about content of character.  Not until during the trial and defense did we see the pictures of Zimmerman with blood pouring down in streams on the back of his head and a swelled and misaligned nose.  We weren't allowed to judge those things because they may have said something about someone's character.

Let me tell you about my trip to the post office on Friday last week.  I had to mail a book, and I arrived at around 1:30pm.  I was about 7th or 8th in line with two male postal people working, one Asian and the other black.  I began to watch what everyone was doing.  While I was in there, there were six blacks, three Asians, two Hispanics, and two whites (one of these was me).  Three people ahead of me in line was a young black man, looking late teens or early twenties, wearing a dark hoodie on a warm afternoon and blue jeans with the waistline sagging mid to top buttocks.  He was glued to his cell phone and he was talking to someone fairly loud with an urban dialect.  While he was talking, a huge, older black man, who looked like a professional offensive lineman, excused himself through the middle of the line to pick up an envelope to mail some CDs, and then walked to the back.  He glanced over at the young black man with a look of curiosity, as if he didn't relate.  While the black man was talking on his cell phone, the older black postal worker glanced over at him with the same questioning look.

As the black postal worker helped a lady in front of the young black man, he talked to her in a standard American accent, what actually seemed like his normal speaking voice.  After he was done with her, he serviced the young black man while he still had the phone pinned to his head.  When he talked to the young man, he changed his entire dialect and cadence.  He went instantly into the urban pattern of the young man.  I turned around to see if there were reactions from other customers.  There weren't.  This was typical, I guess.  Why did the older black man change his accent with the younger black man?  Why did it matter?  What was the judgment there?  What prompted the behavior?

Something else happened.  Down the counter, past the Asian postal worker, an older black woman, with what looked like a young daughter and a 3 to 4 year old granddaughter, was working on filling out the paperwork for change of address.  After the young black man finished, he walked past the older grandmother and spoke to her without the urban dialect, but in a sort of higher pitched, very respectful child-like voice.  His voice totally changed.  The two acted as if they knew each other.

Now you may say that this kind of thing happens all the time, but there were several people that were judging people by something different than the content of their character.  A middle aged black man thought it necessary as part of his customer service to speak to a young black man with an urban dialect, what might be called a form of ebonics.  The young black man changed his whole demeanor and disposition toward a grandmotherly woman who acted as if she knew him.  He hadn't seen her there, I guess, and he changed his voice when she addressed him and he passed.

I was preaching at our church last Wednesday night.  We have big windows facing our parking lot on the east side of our sanctuary.  During the summer, the curtains are pulled and the windows are often open for ventilation.  We have decorative blinds that cover the windows some, but they do allow me to see out the windows as I'm speaking.  Somebody pulled their SUV into the parking lot, and a small group got out, one with a basketball, and they started walking across the lot, one of which started looking down into the cars.  He put his face right next to a car and looked in, and then moved to the next car to look at what was inside.  One of our men went out to talk to them, and they left.  They were there to play basketball on our outdoor court, but it was not acceptable to have one of them looking into the car, so one of our men went out to check out what was happening.  They were black people, by the way.  Did that matter?  Of course not.  What did matter was that they were looking suspicious by peering closely into the windows of our people's cars.

A few years ago, for several weeks we had a group of black teenagers, about 6 or 7 of them, that would walk onto our property, sit on our retaining wall and smoke and drink together.  They begin to treat the retaining wall like it was a hang out.  The girls were dressed with tight and immodest clothing.

Our church has been vandalized about 15-20 times in all the years I have pastored here.  Generally, we don't want people loitering on our property.  We let people play basketball on our court, despite the damage it might cause.  We most often let them play on our playground equipment.  Sometimes kids are on the property and they are looking suspicious.  We've had 4 or 5 robberies through the years.  Several times I have followed people on our property to make sure they weren't going to do anything.  I've also followed them so that when I call the police, I can tell the law enforcement exactly where those people are.  I don't care what color they are, but I know how it is when people act suspicious.  We have often found marijuana cigarettes and used condoms on our property.

The times that gang of teenagers showed up, I would walk right up to them and engage them in conversation.  I would begin to preach the gospel to them.  They always treated me with total disrespect, never with respect.   I always treated them with respect.   They were always angry.  They hated hearing the preaching, so they would always leave rather than sit there and listen.  I never ever told them they couldn't sit there, even though they were trespassing, but they always left rather than have to sit and listen to me preach to them.  After several occasions of preaching without fail, they stopped coming there to hang out.  I never ever told them they had to leave.

Several years ago, I knocked on every door in what is considered the most deadly neighborhood in our area in order to preach the gospel.  The area even has a name, called the iron triangle.  I didn't have any trouble there because I was dressed like a preacher and I looked like someone preaching.  I was also carrying a Bible.  If I had been dressed differently and acted differently, I'm sure I wouldn't have received the same treatment.  In other words, certain suspicious looking black people would be treated worse in the iron triangle than I would.  Look at this video from the iron triangle from 54 seconds to a minute and 10 seconds to see how a Hispanic police officer stops a young black man.  No explanation is offered as to why he does it.  To anyone watching, he's protecting the neighborhood and this is someone that is judged to be suspicious by his appearance.  Is it wrong or right?

I'm one to say that race by itself doesn't mean anything.  Like MLK said, it's just skin color, mere pigmentation.  Sometimes you don't have the luxury of waiting to find out the content of someone's character.  You have to use common sense to judge behavior, whether it is suspicious or not.  People's appearance and certain behavioral characteristics will give you information you need to do that.  That's called common sense, and you've got to use it, despite the increasing unpopularity of doing that.  It just so happens that some of the times, the people who look suspicious are black.  Can you separate the two, suspicious behavior and appearance from skin color?  Probably.  But other people might not.  They might claim that you were only looking because the people were black.


Read this excellent article by Shelby Steele.

Zimmerman wasn't acquitted on the 'Stand Your Ground' law.  It was nothing more than a self-defense case.  I also don't get how that the 'Stand Your Ground' law could be considered to be racist.  Was it really passed to target a particular race?  I can't understand that.  It didn't even apply to this case and yet based on this case it is being targeted as a racist law.  Can anyone explain that?

Friday, July 19, 2013

“The just shall live by faith”— A Study of the Relationship of Faith to Salvation in its Justifying, Sanctifying, and Glorifying Fulness, part 18

Third, Paul proves in 6:1-8:39 that those justified by faith receive a spiritual life that encompasses not justification only, but also progressive sanctification and glorification.  Entrance into the realm of righteousness and the reign of grace makes certain the possession of life in all its justifying, sanctifying, and glorifying fulness (5:21).  Indeed, all of life in its future and present aspects proceeds out of or from faith,[i] so that the Christian life is a life of faith.  Since salvation in all its aspects arises from faith,[ii] God justifies those who are of faith,[iii] crediting righteousness to them.[iv]  The spiritual life of the Christian earthly pilgrimage that proceeds from the reception of life at the moment of regeneration and justification is likewise lived by faith,[v] as the believer by faith eagerly awaits his future inheritance[vi] with a faith that is accompanied by holiness of life,[vii] since “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”[viii]  In this manner those justified by faith shall live on earth by faith, and, as God gives to them increasing measures of faith,[ix] their earthly sojourn is a life “from faith to faith,”[x] from one measure of faith to another and greater measure, and from one degree of holiness to the next, in contrast to the ungodly, whose life is a servitude to uncleanness and “to iniquity unto iniquity.”[xi]
            Nonetheless, Paul’s focus in 6:1-8:39 is not the progressive growth of Christian faith,[xii] but the sure possession and character of Christian life, specifically, the life “in Christ”[xiii] that is the product of union with Him at the moment of justification and regeneration—the just shall live by faith.[xiv]  Eternal life is the present possession of the believer because of the reign of grace through Jesus Christ (5:17-21), and the possession of this life, in conjunction with its corollary, the believer’s judicial death to sin, and progressive death to sin’s practice and growth in practical righteousness, arising out of union with Christ in His death and resurrection and the receipt of judicial righteousness in justification, guarantees that the believer will not continue in sin (6:1-14).  The “righteousness of God” is revealed in the salvation through the gospel of Christ in both judicial justifying and inward sanctifying righteousness, for the “just” or righteous are the heirs of both by grace (1:16-17).[xv]  The ability to obey is restored by the regenerating and sanctifying power of God, based on the work of Christ, through the application of the Holy Spirit—this is part of what is included in the gospel being “the power of God unto salvation” (1:16).[xvi]  Paul asks, “Is it possible for the believer to continue in sin?”  “Certainly not,” the Apostle answers, because the Christian is dead to it, and therefore cannot live in it any longer (6:1-2).  As pictured in his post-conversion immersion, the believer is identified with Christ’s death and resurrection and will therefore walk in newness of life (6:3-6), since he is judicially free from sin (6:7).  He is free from the dominion of sin and lives spiritually to God, for he is alive with Christ (6:8-10).  He is to reckon himself dead to sin and alive to God, as one who has risen from spiritual death to life, because sin will not have dominion over him, since he is under the reign of grace (6:11-14; 5:21).  So will the believer sin, because he is under God’s grace?  No, he will not, because he has been made free from sin when he was converted—he will, therefore, characteristically yield himself more and more to righteousness and holiness instead of to ever greater depths of iniquity (6:15-22).  He will not receive the wages of sin in spiritual death, but the gift of God, eternal and spiritual life through Jesus Christ—life in growing measure through the course of his Christian walk, and everlasting life to the highest extent in the coming glory (6:23).  He is dead to his old sinful servitude and the spiritual death associated with it and alive to a new master, Christ, in a manner comparable to that of a woman whose old husband has died and who now has a new lord (7:1-6).  The law, which should have been the means of life, brought death because of the power of sin, with the result that sin came to be recognized as exceedingly sinful (7:7-13).  Indeed, the contrast of the perfect standard of the law and even the believer’s obedience is very great, but Jesus Christ gives the victory and even now the believer no longer sins with his whole being, but serves God with his mind (7:14-25).  Therefore believers do not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has made them free from the law of sin and death (8:1-2).  Christ’s death has brought believers deliverance from the power of sin and death and the presence of the indwelling Spirit[xvii] with the result that the righteous requirements of the law are now partially fulfilled within and by the believer on earth as, by grace, he grows in holiness, and are totally and perfectly filled in the eschaton (8:3-4).[xviii]  Christians now have life and peace because of their possession of a spiritual mind, instead of the fleshly and rebellious mind they had before their conversion, which brings spiritual death (8:5-8).  They have spiritual life and the indwelling Holy Spirit (8:9-11).  They are led by the Spirit of God to mortify their indwelling sin and receive eternal life (8:12-14), being freed from bondage into the glory of the adopted sons of God (8:15-17), a glory that will extend to the redemption of the whole creation—indeed, all things work together for good to them, and blessings from predestination in eternity past, to present justification, to future glorification, are certain to them (8:18-39).  Judicial and practical righteousness, spiritual and eternal life, are all included in the life that believers, who are the just, receive by grace alone from their redeeming God.
            Romans 9-11 unfolds some of what is involved in the gospel being “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (1:16).[xix]  Israel received tremendous privileges (9:1-5, cf. 3:1-2), from the Scriptures to the covenants to the eternally blessed God over all, the Messiah.  Nevertheless, only a Jewish remnant believed the gospel as Paul preached it in the dispensation of grace.  This fact, however, was by no means a failure of the Word or promises of God, for under the old covenant also only a remnant was saved—despite Israel’s national election, only those who were and are of faith constituted the true seed of Abraham who received everlasting salvation (9:6-29).  In fact, the Old Testament indicated that not Jews only, but all, including Gentiles, who would believe would be saved (9:24, 30-33), and that salvation by faith, which was universally and indiscriminately offered to all men, would indeed by received by many Gentiles but rejected by many of the physical seed of Israel (10:1-21).  However, God had not cast Israel away, nor had His promises and Word failed, for a remnant would continue to come to faith throughout the dispensation of grace, and the entire Jewish nation will be converted in the future at the end of the Tribulation period as the Millenial kingdom is ushered in (11:1-36).  Whether Jews or Gentiles, those who are of faith are the just who shall live.
            Romans 12:1-15:13 exhorts the Roman church to a myriad of practical duties that should adorn the life of those who by faith are just. In light of the “mercies of God”[xx] set forth in Romans 1-11, Paul “therefore” exhorts the “brethren,” the just who live by faith, to serve God as living sacrifices (12:1ff.).  Romans 15:13, which concludes the main body of Romans that began with the thesis statement of 1:16-17, indicates, as does the “from faith to faith” of 1:16-17, that God fills the saints with all joy and peace as they believe and by means of their faith;[xxi]  faith is the human response through which God makes the believer holy, filling him with the holy attributes of hope, peace, and joy.  The increase of the saint’s inward holiness consequently results in holy actions (15:14; cf. 12:1-15:13).  The gospel of God, through the power[xxii] of the Holy Ghost, provides all the saints a judicial righteousness, practical righteousness, and a perfect ultimate righteousness, and, indeed, all spritual blessings, as necessary concomittants of union with the Son (8:32).  Paul’s preaching of the gospel was a priestly service[xxiii] that led to formerly wicked Gentiles becoming an acceptable[xxiv] sacrifice, “sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (15:16), obedient in word and deed because of the sanctifying efficacy of the Almighty Spirit of God (15:18-19).[xxvi]  Sanctification is an absolutely certain consequence of justification—Gentiles encorporated into the people of God become living and holy sacrifices[xxvii] to the God whose mercy delivered them from the penalty and power of sin (12:1-2).  Receipt of the gospel in faith leads both to justification and to the saints being established in holiness by the power of God, resulting in the “obedience of faith” (16:25-27).[xxviii]  Paul’s use of Habakkuk 2:4 in the thesis statement of his epistle to the Romans in 1:16-17 is exactly in line with the meaning of the Lord through the Old Testament prophet.  Since the just shall live by faith, justification is a free gift received by grace alone through faith alone.  Since the just shall live by faith, progressive sanctification and growth in spiritual life, faith, faithfulness, and holiness is certain for all the justified, for all those who possess faith, while faithfulness is impossible without saving faith.  Since the just shall live by faith, ultimate glorification is also certain for all the justified (cf. 8:28-39)—every one of God’s precious just ones shall receive the consummation of eternal life in a blessed eternity.  All believers continue to rely on Christ alone for the entirety of their justifying righteousness, and all believers live—they have spiritual life now, characteristically trust in Jehovah and grow in faith and other fruits of the Spirit, and will receive the consummation of the life they now enjoy in a blessed life in the eschaton.

This post is part of the complete study here.


[i]           e˙k pi÷stewß.  Note that this important Pauline expression (Romans 1:17; 3:26, 30; 4:16; 5:1; 9:30, 32; 10:6; 14:23; Galatians 2:16; 3:7–9, 11–12, 22, 24; 5:5; Hebrews 10:38) occurs only in Habakkuk 2:4 in the LXX.  It is also rare in the writings of early post-apostolic Christiandom (but cf. Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho 135:  “[T]here are two seeds of Judah, and two races, as there are two houses of Jacob: the one begotten by blood and flesh, the other by faith and the Spirit” (du/o spe÷rmata ∆Iou/da, kai« du/o ge÷nh, wJß du/o oi¶kouß ∆Iakw¿b: to\n me«n e˙x aiºmatoß kai« sarko/ß: to\n de« e˙k pi÷stewß kai« pneu/matoß gegennhme÷non).

[ii]           The believer is one who has the quality of being oJ e˙k pi÷stewß, Romans 4:16.

[iii]          oJ e˙k pi÷stewß, Romans 3:26, 30; 4:16; Galatians 3:7-9;  also Romans 5:1; Galatians 2:16; 3:22-24; contrast 3:12.

[iv]          Romans 9:30-32; 10:6.

[v]           In addition to Romans 12:3; 14:23; 15:13, note also 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 4:13; 5:7, for evidence that the entire Christian life from justification to glory is a life of faith.

[vi]          Galatians 5:5, e˙k pi÷stewß . . . aÓpekdeco/meqa.

[vii]         James 2:24.

[viii]         pa◊n de« o§ oujk e˙k pi÷stewß, aJmarti÷a e˙sti÷, Romans 14:23b.

[ix]          Romans 12:3, oJ Qeo\ß e˙me÷rise me÷tron pi÷stewß.

[x]           e˙k pi÷stewß ei˙ß pi÷stin—followed by kaqw»ß ge÷graptai, ÔO de« di÷kaioß e˙k pi÷stewß zh/setai.  The significance of the “from faith to faith” (e˙k pi÷stewß ei˙ß pi÷stin) is illuminated by “they shall go from strength to strength” (poreu/sontai e˙k duna¿mewß ei˙ß du/namin, Psalm 84:7 (83:8, LXX));  they have gone on from evil to evil” (e˙k kakw◊n ei˙ß kaka» e˙xh/lqosan, Jeremiah 9:2 (9:3, LXX));  To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life” (oi–ß me«n ojsmh\ qana¿tou ei˙ß qa¿naton, oi–ß de« ojsmh\ zwhvß ei˙ß zwh/n, 2 Corinthians 2:16);  “But we all . . . are changed into the same image from glory to glory” (hJmei√ß de« pa¿nteß . . . th\n aujth/n ei˙ko/na metamorfou/meqa aÓpo\ do/xhß ei˙ß do/xan, 2 Corinthians 3:18);  classical parallels include Suetonius, Galba 14.1, where in abandoning one imperial choice after the next after the death of Nero, “some demon” drove the soldiers “from treachery to treachery” (e˙k prodosi/aß ei˙ß prodosi/an).

[xi]          Romans 6:19;  note the contrast:  w‚sper ga»r paresth/sate ta» me÷lh uJmw◊n douvla thØv aÓkaqarsi÷aˆ kai« thØv aÓnomi÷aˆ ei˙ß th\n aÓnomi÷an, ou¢tw nuvn parasth/sate ta» me÷lh uJmw◊n douvla thØv dikaiosu/nhØ ei˙ß aJgiasmo/n, the latter being a description of the same process of progressive sanctification as 1:17’s e˙k pi÷stewß ei˙ß pi÷stin.

[xii]         Thus, pi÷stiß appears in Rom 1:5, 8, 12, 17; 3:3, 22, 25–28, 30–31; 4:5, 9, 11–14, 16, 19–20; 5:1–2, but then disappears until 9:30, after which it appears again in 9:32; 10:6, 8, 17; 11:20; 12:3, 6; 14:1, 22–23; 16:26.  The pisteu/w word group appears only in 6:8 between 5:2 and 9:30.  The gap is unmistakable when the entire group in Romans is examined:  Romans 1:5, 8, 12, 16–17; 3:2–3, 22, 25–28, 30–31; 4:3, 5, 9, 11–14, 16–20, 24; 5:1–2; 6:8; 9:30, 32–33; 10:4, 6, 8–11, 14, 16–17; 11:20, 23; 12:3, 6; 13:11; 14:1–2, 22–23; 15:13; 16:22, 26.

[xiii]         e˙n Cristwˆ◊ˆ◊ appears once in Romans 1-5 (3:24), but becomes more frequent after the idea involved in union with Adam and with Christ is set forth, although without the specific use of e˙n Cristwˆ◊ˆ◊, in 5:12-21;  thus, in the section 6:1-8:39 (where e˙n Cristwˆ◊ˆ◊ concludes the section in 8:39), and in the subsequent portions of Romans, the phraseology grows very notably in abundance (Romans 3:24; 6:11, 23; 8:1–2, 39–9:1; 12:5; 15:17; 16:3, 7, 9–10).

[xiv]         Thus, zwh/ and za¿w are central in 6-8, being found in 6:2, 4, 10–11, 13, 22–7:3; 7:9–10; 8:2, 6, 10, 12–13, 38—ÔO de« di÷kaioß e˙k pi÷stewß zh/setai.  Note the identification of Christ and His life with the believer and his life through the suza¿w of 6:8. aÓnaza¿w is also found in 7:9.  The complete list of zwh/ texts in Romans is: 2:7; 5:10, 17–18, 21; 6:4, 22–23; 7:10; 8:2, 6, 10, 38; 11:15.  za¿w appears in 1:17; 6:2, 10–11, 13; 7:1–3, 9; 8:12–13; 9:26; 10:5; 12:1; 14:7–9, 11.

[xv]         Note the transition from judicial righteousness to practical righteousness in progressive sanctification in the use of the di÷kaioß word group;  contrast the uses in Romans 3:20–22, 24–26, 28, 30; 4:2–3, 5–6, 9, 11, 13, 22; 5:1, 7, 9, 17, 19, 21 with those in Romans 6:7, 13, 16, 18–20.

[xvi]         That is, the du/namiß . . . Qeouv . . . ei˙ß swthri÷an of 1:16 includes a restoration by the Holy Spirit (8:9ff.) of the du/namiß to obey God lost in the Fall (8:7-8, du/namai), and God’s exercise of du/namiß is absolutely and unstoppably effectual in its purpose (cf. 8:38-39);  see 15:13, 14, 19; 16:25.

[xvii]        Note the plentitude of references to the pneuvma in Romans 8 (8:1–2, 4–6, 9–11, 13–16, 23, 26);  the Holy Spirit is mentioned earlier in Romans only in 1:4 and 5:5 (though the word pneuvma also appears in 1:9; 2:29; 7:6.  After Romans 8, the Holy Spirit is mentioned also in 9:1; 14:17; 15:13, 16, 19, 30; pneuvma appears also in 11:8; 12:11).  The Holy Spirit as a Product and Gift of the “in Christ” relationship, and as Producer of spiritual life, comes to the fore in Romans 8.  It should be noted that His presence and work are a blessing possessed by all those in union with Christ in Romans 8—nothing in the chapter limits His work to a minority of Christians or to, say, those who affirm that they have entered into a post-conversion second blessing or Higher Life experience.

[xviii]       The passive plhrwqhØv in to\ dikai÷wma touv no/mou plhrwqhØv e˙n hJmi√n indicates that God is the source of the fulfillment of the law—grace is the source of all in the believer’s salvation and new covenant obedience.  However, there is nothing in Romans 8:4 that indicates that the believer’s progressive sanctification is vicarious or that the believer does not himself act in the fulfillment of the law.  In the similar syntax in John 17:13 (iºna e¶cwsi th\n cara»n th\n e˙mh\n peplhrwme÷nhn e˙n aujtoi√ß), God is certainly the One who produces the fulillment, but the believers are actively joyful.  Indeed, the syntax of the passive of plhro/w + e˙n + pronoun can even be instrumental;  cf. “this was Jesus, and that the Scripture was fulfilled in/by Him,” Touvton ei•nai ∆Ihsouvn, kai« peplhrw◊sqai e˙n aujtwˆ◊ th\n Grafh/n, (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:12:8).

[xix]         ∆Ioudai÷wˆ te prw◊ton kai« ›Ellhni. ›Ellhn appears in 10:12 after being absent since early in Romans (1:14, 16; 2:9–10; 3:9), and ∆Ioudai√oß reappears also in 9:24, 10:12 after being absent since 1-3 (1:16; 2:9–10, 17, 28–3:1; 3:9, 29), while ∆Israh/l appears only in 9-11, but there very frequently (9:6, 27, 31; 10:1, 19, 21; 11:2, 7, 25–26;  note also e¶qnoß in 9:24, 30; 10:19; 11:11–13, 25, which had been absent since 1-4; e¶qnoß also reappears in 15-16 in light of the content of those chapters, after being absent in 12-14).  Since the receipt, or rejection, of salvation (swthri÷a/sw¿ˆzw, 9:27; 10:1, 9–10, 13; 11:11, 14, 26) in its juridicial, renewing, and eschatological fullness is under consideration in the chapters, the development from emphasis upon righteousness and consequently life found in the progression from 3:20-5:21 and 6:1-8:39 is no longer maintained.  Thus, pi÷stiß reappears (Romans 9:30, 32; 10:6, 8, 17; 11:20) along with pisteu/w (9:33; 10:4, 9–11, 14, 16) frequently in the company of dikaiosu/nh (9:28, 30–31; 10:3–6, 10), while the fact that receipt of righteousness brings life is assumed rather than receiving continued emphasis (hence za¿w appears only in 9:26; 10:5, in neither case of the life of the justified by faith).  Note also the reappearance of eujagge÷lion/eujaggeli÷zw in 10:15–16; 11:28, appearing earlier only in 1:1, 9, 15–16; 2:16.

[xx]         dia» tw◊n oi˙kti÷rmwn touv Qeouv in 12:1 refers back to 9:15, ∆Eleh/sw o§n a·n e˙lew◊, kai« oi˙kteirh/sw o§n a·n oi˙ktei÷rw.

[xxi]         In Romans 15:13, oJ de« Qeo\ß thvß e˙lpi÷doß plhrw◊sai uJma◊ß pa¿shß cara◊ß kai« ei˙rh/nhß e˙n twˆ◊ pisteu/ein, ei˙ß to\ perisseu/ein uJma◊ß e˙n thØv e˙lpi÷di, e˙n duna¿mei Pneu/matoß ÔAgi÷ou, the e˙n twˆ◊ pisteu/ein of Romans 15:13 indicates the means (cf. pg. 145, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. 3, Nigel Turner) by which the saints are filled with joy and peace, just as the e˙n duna¿mei Pneu/matoß ÔAgi÷ou indicates means.  Both the Divine power and the human responsibility in sanctification are seen in the parallel e˙n phrases, while Paul does not affirm that they have equal ultimacy.  While e˙n twˆ◊ + infinitive is more commonly used for contemporaneous time than for means, the parallelism with e˙n duna¿mei Pneu/matoß ÔAgi÷ou supports means (cf. also 15:19, e˙n duna¿mei Pneu/matoß Qeouv).  Furthermore, even if one wished to affirm that e˙n twˆ◊ pisteu/ein indicates contemporaneous time, the fact that the filling takes place at the time of the believing would support that belief is in some sense a condition of being filled with joy and peace.  The spiritual life of Divinely produced joy and peace received by means of faith is part of what is involved in the life that the just have by faith (Romans 1:16-17), as Romans 15:13 is the logical conclusion to the main body of the letter that began in 1:16.  Compare 1 Peter 1:8.

[xxii]        The e˙n duna¿mei Pneu/matoß ÔAgi÷ou of 15:13 also ties back to the “power of God,” the du/namiß . . . Qeouv, of 1:16;  note the references to du/namai at 15:14 and the end of the epistle in 16:25.

[xxiii]       A i˚erourge÷w of to\ eujagge÷lion touv Qeouv;  note also leitourgo/ß; cf. Hebrews 8:2; Ezra 7:24; Nehemiah 10:39; Isaiah 61:6 (LXX).

[xxiv]       eujpro/sdektoß; cf. 1 Peter 2:5, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, kai« aujtoi« wJß li÷qoi zw◊nteß oi˙kodomei√sqe oi•koß pneumatiko/ß, i˚era¿teuma a‚gion, aÓnene÷gkai pneumatika»ß qusi÷aß eujprosde÷ktouß twˆ◊ Qewˆ◊ dia» ∆Ihsouv Cristouv.

[xxvi]       Romans 15:18-19 indicates that the uJpakoh/ e˙qnw◊n, lo/gwˆ kai« e¶rgwˆ, was a product of the mediate agency of Paul’s apostolic ministry e˙n duna¿mei shmei÷wn kai« tera¿twn and the ultimate agency of the Spirit, e˙n duna¿mei Pneu/matoß Qeouv.

[xxvii]       The offering of 15:25-33 and the holy actions mentioned in the people listed in 16:1-24 are examples of the holy sacrifices that the almighty grace of God produces in those justified and regenerated;  they are specific manifestations of what the renewed life of those who have become just by faith looks like.

[xxviii]      The continuity and development from 1:16-17 to 15:13-16 (cf. 17-20) and 16:25-27 is clear.