Born sinners? The “Original Sin” doctrine on trial.

Are we born sinners?

There are many professing Christians who hold to the belief that we are all born sinners, and for this primary reason they say that God condemns us for an eternity in hell (bar receiving reconciliation through Christ). Bear in mind, they profess this to be so, not because we have done anything wrong, but for the simple reason of being born! But are we actually born sinners, and does God condemn mankind to an eternity of misery for being born?

Popular belief of “Original Sin” – being born sinners

Advocates of the “Original sin” doctrine state that when Adam sinned the just wrath and condemnation that he deserved for disobeying God was also passed down genetically / biologically to all of his descendants. Therefore, God, they believe, condemns all of mankind to hell to an eternal misery because we supposedly biologically inherited the guilt of Adam’s sin!

John Piper’s video interview of “Original Sin”

In his video, John Piper, who is one of the many strong contenders for the Original Sin doctrine, details the condemnation upon all of mankind because we are Adam’s progeny. This condemnation, he proclaims, is not because everyone is guilty of their own sin, but because they are “in him” (Adam), and therefore we “go down with him”. He says: “… we’re under the wrath of God because of it” (i.e. because we are born under Adam). He teaches that God condemns all of mankind to hell to suffer torment forever because they are of Adam’s progeny – except, of course those whom (he teaches) God predestines for salvation, apart from their own reasoning and choice!

But if we are all “born sinners” and are all condemned because of it, this would mean that babies who die in infancy are going to hell. Not only that, but by the same doctrine, God condemns aborted / miscarried babies by the same decree to an eternity without Christ. The implications are just appalling!

Calvin’s explanation of being born sinners

The doctrine goes further to say that not only does God elect some for salvation without man’s choice, but He also condemns the rest without a chance of them choosing to obey Him. Calvin, the author of their doctrine states: “Many professing a desire to defend the Deity from an invidious charge admit the doctrine of election, but deny that any one is reprobated . This they do ignorantly and childishly since there could be no election without its opposite reprobation. God is said to set apart those whom he adopts for salvation.” 1

But Mr. Piper and like advocates, obtain their teachings from Calvin who encapsulates his doctrine in his book: The Institutes of Christian Religion, by saying: “…individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction.” (Book three Chapter 23). Calvin declares: “Those, therefore, whom God passes by he reprobates, and that for no other cause but because he is pleased to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines to his children.”

Piper’s contradiction

However, faced with the reality of what he professes and believes, Mr. Piper doesn’t really like Calvin’s doctrine of babies going to hell, for when asked about it he says” I think they are all saved”. (In other words: he doesn’t really know), and contradicts his own belief and statement that “… we’re under the wrath of God because of it”.

But as the saying goes: “You can’t have your cake on the plate and eat it at the same time”.

Other peer-advocates’ comments

But Mr. Piper is not alone in his thinking and teaching. Here are some other leaders who agree with him; hear what they teach:

Chuck Swindol: “All children are born delinquent”.

R.C Sproul: “…John Calvin said that babies were as depraved as rats” Then Mr. Sproul continues in his own words: ” this was the first time I opposed the teaching of Calvin”. He went on to explain: ” …because that is terribly insulting…(he pauses for effect) to the rat!”

Paul Washer‘s teaching is more graphic and I won’t repeat all that he said for shame. But he teaches that babies are so sinful that an 18 month old baby would, without remorse, murder his own father for his watch if he had the strength to.

John MacArthur says that a man demonstrates the depth of his depravity and sinfulness through the act of procreation because the man is reproducing a sinner!

However, we will see later what God says in scripture.

The origin of the “Original Sin” (born-sinners) doctrine

In the fourth century, Augustine established the doctrine of Original Sin from an embryo doctrine of Irenaeus some two hundred years before his time. The reason he did this was, confessedly, because of his own unrepentant sin for much of his Manichaean and then self-professed Christian life. (We can presume that he contracted his concept that sin is imputed to one genetically and therefore one cannot but sin from the Manichaean view of sin). And because he would not give up his sin, through his political influence in church and state he popularized the idea that we all sin because we are born sinners. Sadly, the leaders of the Catholic (universal) church adopted the idea and made it a mandatory doctrine. (See also the Contradiction of Catholic Infant Baptism at the end of this article).

Note on Augustine’s death:

But it is interesting to note that in the last few months of Augustine’s life, he seemed convicted of his sin and led an exceptionally ascetic life in prayer, fasting and reading the Word of God. For even though he taught for years that we all continue in sin and can never give it up, and that God still covers us by His grace, he changed his heart, mostly likely through fear of conviction (and imminent death) and gave up his conscious sin anyway, contradicting his own teaching that we cannot choose to give up sin.

Augustine’s change of mind

However, even though the Roman Catholics adopted the concept of being born sinners from Augustine, it wasn’t always the case with him. From his initiation into the priesthood in 392, Augustine argued with the Manichaean Fortunas, affirming that we have freedom of choice. And a couple of years later (about 394) he writes in his Propositions from the Epistle to the Romans that God does elect by foreknowledge those who choose to exercise faith in Him. (This is precisely what Paul was teaching in Romans 8:29-30. See also 1Pet. 1:2).

Nevertheless, later when he answers Simplician’s (of Milan) questions on Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he discards his former belief that man has freedom of choice and that God elects based on foreknowledge of the merit of faith (through exercising faith – not earning merit, as some would try to suggest), to brazenly assert that grace comes before merit – even the merit of faith. This he meant then that God chooses who He wills, for reasons undisclosed to man.

“Born sinners?” – What does scripture say?

It is surprising to note that of all major doctrines in Christianity, even contradictory doctrines amongst denominations, how the doctrine of Original Sin is based on so few “proof-texts”. In essence, the doctrine is founded on only two misconstrued scriptures, which will be covered later. Yet, they do not teach doctrines like the freedom to choose to be holy according to our original design, even though there are hundreds of scriptures in the Bible to support it. (I have over 470 underlined in my Bible alone). This is largely because many want to retain their sins and want to believe that they can justifiably do so before God.

Were we born sinners and found sinning at birth?

Some, like Mr. Piper above, say that we didn’t have to learn sin, and that we were born sinning. Yet, scripture says that God made all men holy. (Ecc7:29).

“Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”
(Ecc 7:29)

Everything made by God is good (Gen 1:31). There is no exception. The testimony of the whole world of men demonstrates that everything we do is learned. This is true from our first step and our first word to the progressive cultivated state of our being at our last breath. Everything we do, we do from our own choice, whether good or bad.

God tells us in His Word that He perpetually makes men according to His likeness. God is absolutely holy, righteous and true and men, “who have been made in the likeness of God” (James 3:9), are thus born likewise.

men, “who have been made in the likeness of God” (James 3:9)

(See also Deut.32:6, 15, 18)

What are the two “supporting” scriptures predestinarians use?

There are really only two scriptures that predestinarians use that they believe support their argument. The rest of their proof-texts are just not worth pursuing at this stage. These are (Rom 5:12) and (Psa 51:5).

So let’s address each one of their misconceptions at a time to make it more clear:

Romans 5:12

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—  (Rom 5:12)

Paul says in Rom. 5:12 precisely what caused the death of all men. It was not because they were born as decedents of Adam, but “because all sinned”. He said that one man’s sin caused sin to enter the world as did death (which is the result of sin – both physically and spiritually), and therefore death spread to all men both physically and spiritually because all men sinned, causing their own death.

Note carefully what he continues to say later in verse 14:

“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come”.  (Rom 5:14)

All men sinned (vs 12) but not all sinned in the act of direct disobedience like Adam did. All men are born righteous but learn sin from their fallen parents and from sin which is universally present in the world, and by the time they are conscious of the law of conscience they discover they have sinned even though they may not have sinned against a direct law which only came through Moses (See Rom. 7: 9 in context of Rom. 7. See also The Romans 7 Scenario).

Psalm 51:5

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
(Psa 51:5)

Many believe that David in this scripture claims that he was born a sinner.

Firstly

David said that he was “brought forth in iniquity”. This by no means even hints that he himself was born a sinner. If he was brought forth in the sea would he be termed a fish? Part of one’s birthright may be his citizenship to the country of his birth, such as if he were born in America, he would be an American citizen. But we cannot use the same principle to someone who is born in a world of sin and call him a sinner. For on the one hand, citizenship is a right of birth, and on the other hand a sinner earns his title by sinning.

David, like all men, was born into the iniquity of the world. We all are. That does not make us a sinner. Scripture says explicitly that sin is the transgression of known law – whether of stated law or of the law of conscience. And we are all condemned for this reason.

Secondly

The fact that he was “conceived in sin” has nothing to do with his own moral standing at the time of conception. Here are two main trains of thought; and both are wrong:

  1. That his mother committed fornication when conceiving David.
    Yet we have no account of his mother’s moral standing in the Bible upon which we can cast judgment.
  2. That his mother was a sinner and therefore he automatically became a sinner by inheriting her sin.
    * This now loops back to the predestination doctrine that states all are sinners because we inherit a sinful nature from our parents – something that never appears in scripture. And assuming a “truth” based on unproven foundational principles is careless conjecture.
    * Inherited sin, they believe, is passed on genetically only through the father (A Catholic inculcation to save Jesus from inheriting sin from Mary).
    How then could David be a sinner because of the mother?

However, the second part of the verse simply reiterates and clarifies the first; in that it was in the world of sin that his mother conceived him. This bears no direct guilt of his mother, nor does it have any bearing of accusation towards David for being a sinner, which, at birth was impossible. For, to reiterate, scripture states that sin is the transgression of the law. Therefore, if one has not broken the law of statutes, decrees, commandments, etc. or the law against conscience, then one has not committed sin and cannot be deemed a sinner. Therefore, the innocents of infants bears no guilt.

Is the Original Sin doctrine true to reason?

If we are born sinners –

All would commit the same sins

If we are born sinners then we all would be committing the same sins. All would be murderers, robbers, liars, adulterers, etc.. After all, if we inherit sin then the essence of sin would be universally the same. All lions kill for food. No lion eats grass, or swims under water to catch fish like say a shark does. They do what God created them to do. So if we are born sinners then all would universally act in accordance with all sin. There would be no varying degrees or differences in the sin we commit.

We would have no conscience

We would also have no conscience or remorse. Conscience comes from recognizing righteousness from sin. This is exemplified after our fist sin when our conscience is at its strongest against the act. But after a while of repeated acts of the same sin, our consciences weaken as our hearts grow harder in depravity. This testifies to the fact that we are born innocent; for if we were not, then there would be no growth in depravity and all would sin to the extent that others would permit them to against their own selfishness / depravity. The strongest, or the one with the most influence would be the one to sin the most for he would have less resistance from others.

There would be no law of righteousness

If we were born depraved then there would be no law of righteousness and all would be exceedingly wicked in all things. Society would not then have their own laws to protect them; yet all civilizations throughout mankind testify to the contrary having developed their own code of law with which to protect themselves. For everyone would be doing the most evil in serving themselves to the highest degree of depravity.

Even in the prediluvian period there was a law of their own making. And mankind lived in a greater or lesser degree of righteousness according to the light he would receive. He understood concepts like justice, protection of rights, trade and industry; none of which could exist if the world of men were utterly depraved. For to be so would make islands of all men and society as a whole could never exist in any civilization. So to say that man is born utterly depraved is simply foolish speculation based on no evidence in scripture, reason, or the history of mankind.

Then where did Adam’s sin come from?

If we are born sinners by the genetic descendance from Adam, then who did Adam inherit his sin from? Eve enticed him to sin, but Eve came from him. Now if sin was inherent in Adam then God must have created Adam with sin, thus being Himself a sinner. We can go further and say that Satan caused Adam to sin transmitting his own sin onto Adam. But Adam was free to choose between righteousness and sin, but willed the enticement rather than choosing to remain faithful to the defined will of God. And again; where did Satan inherit his sin if sin is indeed hereditary? God?

The doctrine slights God’s character, because –

God would become a creator of sin. For God made man in His image and likeness, and each one is the continual creation of God (Deut. 32: 6, 15, 18; James 3:9). Therefore, if man is born a sinner, then his Maker must be of sin making God too a sinner.

It makes God to be a monster, for He made man and pre-selected from eternity those who will perish to perish and that without their having a choice in the matter.

If God made the sinner then would we not be justified in deeming God to be cruelly unreasoning? For how can God condemn someone for sin when He made the sinner?

It makes God unjust – for how can He judge one for another’s sin, particularly, when He states in His own Word that He would not (See Ezek.18:20), and that He is not a respecter of persons (Matt. 22:16)?

How can God condemn one for being born? For if we are born sinners, then we would sin as a natural and instinctive expression of our existence. We would also have no guilt, because sin is the antithesis of righteousness. Therefore, if we were born sinners there would be no knowledge of righteousness. And in the absence of the knowledge of righteousness, everything would be sin. Now, if all is sin then there is no guilt for there is no law. For the law of righteousness is based on knowledge of the law. One is only guilty of sin if one transgresses the law that God has given. This includes the innate law of conscience and the written law of Moses. (See Rom. 5:14). For sin is that which transgresses the law (1John3:4).

The word “Repent!” – A big problem for the predestinarian

The very word “Repent” is a calling to return to one’s former state. (See Dr Adam Clarke’s commentary on the word “repent”). The direct translation is compounded of two roots words meaning
a) to change our way of thinking (after hearing the truth about our state of being)
b) to return from the madness of sin
How then do we return if we were never there in the first place?

Important note on the contradictions of infant baptism

Infant baptism – a supposed cure to being born sinners

Calvin inherited “Original Sin” from the Catholics. Yet their sacrament of infant baptism contradicts their doctrine of Original Sin, refuting that man is born sinful.

Because of their belief that we inherit the original sin of Adam, they included infant baptism as a sacrament, and as a cure for infants’ supposed eternal damnation should they die as infants. This purification is meant to cleanse them not only of Adam’s sinfulness, but his guilt also.

Let me make this clearer. The Original Sin doctrine teaches that all men born into this world are born sinners. They have supposedly inherited the sin and guilt of Adam. And under this doctrine, God destines everyone to eternal damnation primarily for being born as a descendant of Adam.

Infant baptism contradicts being born sinners

However, Catholics believe that infant baptism washes away original sin (Original Sin is derived from the Roman Catholic church). This means that baptism supposedly restores one to Adam’s state before he sinned. This baptism then would also cleanse the child of the propensity to sin as was in Adam’s state. And, even though Adam was of flesh, if he had not sinned he would not have died. Yet it is universal evidence that death visits everyone sooner or later – baptized or not. The testimony of the entire human race refutes this doctrine, for all have chosen to sin and also die.

Now if we sin because all inherited a sinful nature, then the purification of baptism couldn’t have cleansed them. For if infant baptism cleanses original sin by the act of a sacrament (which is spiritual cleansing) how do they explain that sin is hereditary? For they claim that we inherit sin genetically i.e. physically transmitted. Their sacrament therefore contradicts their doctrine of Origin Sin.


  1. The Institutes of Christian Religion (Book three Chapter 23)

Jacob and Esau: God’s choice explained

Why did God choose to love Jacob and hate Esau?

Some say that because God is Sovereign He had the right to chose to love Jacob and hate Esau. But does God act upon His Sovereignty alone? And how would this demonstrate a reasonable and loving God?
(See also: Why should God get all the glory?)

Paul says that before the twins were born, or had done anything good or bad, God made His choice and picked Jacob. Now he says specifically that God did this by choice. It wasn’t an arbitrary decision, nor was it a choice made beyond the understanding of man.


for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,
(Rom 9:11)

God demonstrates His foreknowledge and His reasoning for His choice

Paul reflects the reason and method God uses in determining His choice of the two:

Even though the twins were still in the womb, God reveals His foreknowledge, knowing how they would live their lives to the end, and based on this, He made His choice. This choice based on foreknowledge does not make God unjust, as Paul reiterates in Rom 9:14; but reveals Him to be omniscient, which includes being all-knowing in time – past, present and future!

And God chooses to show mercy and compassion on whom He desires through foreknowledge (Rom 9:15). But this does not mean that God’s manifold will depends on what man wills or does. If God wants to bring about His purpose He will do so (Rom 9:16) despite man’s intentions and amidst his actions. Nevertheless, He will always do so by foreknowledge and within the bounds of righteousness and justice, borne by benevolence (for the greater good of all) in infinite love.

For more on how God uses foreknowledge see how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

But how does scripture say that God hated Esau when it also says “God is love” (1Jn 4:8)?

God hates sin with infinite hatred. For sin opposes the very essence of God, which is all good. But even though scripture says “The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works” (Ps 145:9), it doesn’t mean that He does not hate the sinner for his sin.

God loves all of mankind (John 3:16), but He hates the sinner for his treachery against infinite good, which is God and His righteousness (Ps 5:5; 11:5). The fallacy that God loves the sinner but hates his sin is unreasonable and found nowhere in scripture. Sin is inanimate. Without the sinner there is no sin. And God hates the source and cause of all sin.

The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.
(Psa 5:5)

God is justified in loving Jacob and hating Esau

Jacob and Esau were the patriarchal heads of two nations (Gen. 25:23). And God considers the actions of both as individuals and as the nations that would develop from them.

Jacob, even though he faulted during his early part of life, always acknowledged God. He greatly valued the birth right, knowing that it possessed the cherished blessing of God. Whereas Esau was a “godless man” who despised his birth right, selling it for a single meal (Heb12:16). And even though God commanded Israel (Jacob) not to detest the Edomites (Esau) “because they are your brother” (Deut. 23:7); yet, the Edomites (descendants of Esau) attacked Israel, which was God’s chosen nation, many times (Obad. 1:9-10). These were a godless nation after their patriarchal father.

A difference of 1500 years

Let’s look again at the portion of scripture to see what Paul was saying:

it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”  (Rom 9:12)

(Plus 1500 years)

Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”  (Rom 9:13)

The two verses explain what Paul is trying to convey in the method God uses to make His choice, and it is not difficult to understand.

Verse 12 is taken from Gen. 25:23 when the twins were in the womb. But verse 13 is taken from Mal.1:2-3, which occurs 1500 years later. Paul, in verse 12, demonstrates the foreknowledge of God regarding how the two will live their lives, and consequently makes His choice. Then God proclaims His blessing and cursing (condemning) as a result of their lives as individuals, and as the resulting nations. God blesses Jacob and later the nation of Israel not only because of the promise to faithful Abraham, but also because Jacob remembered God throughout his life; and curses Esau and the Edomites that stemmed from him because of his godlessness, and the Edomites godless actions against Israel (See Gen. 12: 2-3).

For one to say that God cursed Esau from birth and without cause accuses God of gross evil. We should remember that both children were immensely blessed in their lives with great wealth. For when Jacob tried to buy favor from Esau by sending caravans of livestock ahead of him, Esau refused the offer at first saying that he too had plenty (Gen. 33:9).

Now, if God had made His choice the other way round; i.e. hating Jacob and loving Esau, then predestinarians would have a case that God does indeed choose beyond our understanding. But God is righteous, thus reasonable, and He always reveals His reason to those who will seek Him for truth.

Let me know your thoughts on the above at hugh@removingveils.com

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Fully man and fully God? Can Jesus be both?

Can Jesus be fully man and fully God?

Many say that Jesus is “fully man and fully God”. But does scripture and reason support such a notion? The truth of the matter sheds light on the What of Who we hope in as our eternal Savior. Reading the whole of this post with an honest heart is bound to change your way of thinking on this matter.

Origin of the term “fully man and fully God”

In the fourth century, the Catholic church (initially, Apollinaris of Laodicea) borrowed a Greek philosophical (Stoicism) term in the attempts to understand and come up with a description of the essence of Christ’s incarnation. But just because one has difficulty understanding the truth of a doctrine of God, it does not give them the right to make theoretical assumptions as policy. Nevertheless, this is precisely what they did. (Those who shout the loudest are the ones more likely to be heard, and not because they are necessarily right). Consequently, the term “hypostatic union” was adopted, and the phrase “fully man (human) and fully God (deity)” was born. I will answer this difficulty of theirs later.

Is Jesus “Fully Man and Fully God” According to Reason?

Fully man fully God
Fully man and fully God?

Here is a full cup of Cappuccino coffee. If it was half full, the other half would consist of air. Reason dictates that if the cup is full of coffee, then it would be void of anything else. Consequently, if it is full of air it would be deemed empty of coffee. However, it cannot be filled with coffee and air. For the statement of it being so would be a contradiction, making it an absurdity. And this example goes for anything in the natural and spiritual.

The teaching that the body of Christ is fully man through Mary and fully God through the Holy Spirit is not reasonable in the common sense of the word. For that would make Him only half human and half God in body at best.

For if Jesus was “fully man” (human) –

1. Then Jesus would be a sinner

According to the “born sinners” advocates, the original sin doctrine would put Jesus as having inherited a sinful nature (on His “human” side), making Him a sinner through birth. But scripture explicitly declares that there is no darkness (sin) found in Christ (1John 1:5). Therefore, to cover this difficulty, Catholic Church Fathers (initiated by Augustine) contrived the idea of the Immaculate Conception. They purport that sin is genetically passed on through the males only, freeing Jesus from inborn sin, as He never had an earthly father. But for those who choose not to believe the absurdity of males-only sin-carriers, Mary was a sinner also according to scripture (Rom. 3:23). No one is exempt from the guilt of sin.

2. Then He would be barred from heaven

He would not have been allowed into heaven in the state of humanity because scripture says that flesh and blood (of humans) cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1Co 15:50). And seeing that He rose from the dead in the same fleshly body that He died with, then ascended into heaven, the notion of Jesus having a human body is therefore nullified by His ascension.

3. Then He couldn’t have appeared to Abraham

Whose flesh and blood did He have when He appeared to Abraham? For Abraham rejoiced when he saw Jesus in the flesh (Joh 8:56). If Jesus had a human body only because of His incarnation, inheriting His humanity from Mary, then how did He appear in bodily form to Abraham hundreds of years before His incarnation?

Scripture tells us that He also ate and drank with Abraham (Gen. 18:8) before He went on His way to condemn the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, just as He ate and drank before and after His resurrection with the disciples (Luke 24:41-43).

Further; scripture tells us that we must be careful to welcome strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Heb.13:2) The angels that came with the Lord when He visited Abraham also sat at the table and ate.

Therefore, if angels can appear as men of flesh, and without having to be partakers of the flesh of men, then certainly God almighty through Christ can!

4. Then Scripture would have told us

If Jesus inherited humanity then scripture would have stated such a signal doctrine plainly, and with multiple texts. For any doctrine to be true, it must be true to scripture which will therefore have a number of texts reinforcing the truth of which it intends for us to believe and follow. Example doctrines:
– God is infinitely holy, lovely, gracious, etc.
– We are to follow suit and be likewise.
– All have sinned and need a Savior.
– Jesus is infinite and absolute deity.

However, scripture is silent on any hint of Jesus being fully man and fully God in combined essence (hypostatic union), or in any way human at all. And the scriptures that have been used to support their claims require a far stretch of the imagination to make them fit. I will demonstrate this with their favorite scriptures further on.

5. Then God is not almighty

But scripture tells us that God prepared a body for Jesus (Heb 10:5). And Jesus said that God can even raise the stones up to praise Him. After all, didn’t He make man out of dust?

God does not need the medium of man (or a woman) to create a body for His Word. Nor did He choose to do so. It was His Word that created all things in the first place! In fact scripture specifically says that ” apart from Him (Jesus), nothing came into being that has come into being”. (John 1:3) . How then do some say that the Christ could only be incarnate by necessitating the assistance of that which He Himself created?

Jesus appeared to Abraham in human form just as easily as He did to mankind through the incarnation. God is not limited in power. Not only did Jesus appear “as a man” in the incarnation, but He also appeared and disappeared at will before His disciples after His resurrection. Scripture never said that the risen Christ walked through walls, or travelled through space at the speed of light. It said that He simply appeared (Luk 24:36) or disappeared (Luk 24:31). His ability ascends far above the laws of nature.

6. Then Christians have no hope in Christ as the eternal atonement

Then we have no eternal sacrifice / atonement paid on our behalf and therefore have no hope of salvation.

Sin causes eternal separation from God, but through His grace, He offered up Himself as the Eternal Word of God, incarnated in “the appearance of a man” (Phil 2:8) to become the atoning eternal sacrifice in order to win our reconciliation – those who come to the obedience of faith in Christ (Rom. 1:5; 16:26).

An eternal debt (through sin) can only be atoned for by an eternal propitiation (like exchange). Therefore, if Christ died in His “humanity”, which He would have had He descended from Mary genetically / biologically, then no eternal propitiation was made, and we are left unreconciled to God and without hope of eternal life.

However, scripture plainly states:

“yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach”  (Col 1:22)

This fleshly body is of eternal not human substance!

Please note:

I do not suggest Gnosticism, Docetism (Phantomists) or Marcionism, Unitarianism, etc. These false doctrines advanced the false notion that Jesus did not exist in bodily form, but rather as an illusion. In Docetism particularly, He supposedly appeared as a phantom / ghost. (Hence the word’s literary translation – phantom). This is unbiblical and contrary to reason. The chief purpose of John’s for writing his first epistle was to refute and silence such doctrines. (See also A license to sin? for further details).

7. Then God would have to break His word and share His glory

To become part of man, God would have to share His glory with man. For if God was part (or “fully man”) this would mean that man was part of God (or ‘fully God”), thus God would be sharing His glory with His creation. This is contrary to scripture where He says that He will not share His glory with another (Is. 42:8; 48:11); and it simply defies reason.

To appear as a man does not necessitate Him being a human.

  • He appeared as the flint Rock that followed the Israelites for forty years in the wilderness to give more than two million people water to drink and in which to wash every day (See 1Cor. 10:4). But He did not become a rock to do so!
  • He appeared as a burning bush to Moses, yet He was not fire and the bush never burned.

Is Jesus “Fully Man and Fully God” According to Scripture?

For a Christian doctrine to be true it must be supported by a number of scriptures. (See also Discerning truth by the Principles of Truth)

As mentioned above; there is no place in scripture, either Old or New Testament, that portrays Jesus as having a body of humanity. But scripture does explicitly say what the essence of Jesus is, so that we can understand upon Whom it is that we have cast our hope.

Scripture says that Jesus was and remains:

  • The Word of Life (1John 1:1-2). This is the incarnate Word of Life, through which all things came into being (John 1:3) He is the Word of God – again in incarnate form. This Word of life not only caused all things to be, but also upholds / maintains all things in existence (Heb. 1: 3; Col. Col. 1:17).
  • He is God. This is a difficult one to understand based on many people’s understanding through poor doctrine. However, He is God in the flesh – the express image of the omnipresent God. (Heb. 1:3 KJV) (Col. 1:15)
  • The fullness of deity dwelling in bodily form (Col. 2:9). Did you see that?
    Scripture says Jesus is the fullness of deity (God) dwelling in bodily form. It DID NOT SAY that the fullness of deity dwells in a body; but that the bodily form was itself the “express image” (Heb 1:3KJV) of  God – the fullness of deity!!! And I do not mean that the omnipresent God dwelt in a body, but that the bodily form of Christ was the express substance of God alone (fullness of deity). There is no place for the notion of human substance / essence to be mixed with the eternal Christ.
  • He was found in appearance only as a man. (Phil 2:8) See later why He had to be found in the appearance as a man.

    For one to apply the reasoning that the terms “appearance as a man”, “the form of a bond-servant”, “the likeness of men”, “bodily form”, “like the son of man”, etc., means that He was of human flesh, one would then by that same line of reasoning, call Jesus a sinner, because scripture said that Jesus “appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3). 

What Jesus said about John the Baptist:

It is interesting to note what Jesus said about John the Baptist:

“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  (Mat 11:11)

Jesus here is speaking about the natural birth of man from woman and of woman (humanity). If Jesus was of woman then He would be saying that John was greater than Him, and therefore He would not be of God. However, He states that John was the greatest of all humans because of his ministry. This excludes Jesus from humanity.

Could the infinite Christ come through the finite “seed” of man?

Here is a scripture that is often used as a “proof-text” that Jesus had a human body:

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Gen 3:15)

However, the above scripture is not referring to the seeds or progeny of men, but referring singularly to that which is to come. It is figurative speech. For Satan is spirit and therefore cannot be from the seeds / progeny of the serpent. In like fashion, Jesus was not the natural progeny of man. (Read on to see what Jesus said later).

Further; Jesus bruising the serpent on the head and him bruising Christ on the heel demonstrates the figure of speech in discussion. The portion of scripture was prophesying the incarnation of Christ; not suggesting that Jesus was going to be a “fully man and fully God” manifestation.

Paul used a similar line of speech

Paul said: Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.  (Gal 3:16) Here he does not talk about the progeny of man, which he would have referred to as “seeds” as in many, but to the one seed, i.e. Christ, and to those who would be in Christ, through the likeness of Abraham’s faith. (See Dr. Adam Clarke on Gal. 3:16) Paul demonstrates that scripture is talking spiritually of the coming Christ and those who will be renewed in Him.

The lineage of Christ “according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3)

Firstly; the term: “according to the flesh” does not necessitate that one is human, but of fleshly substance. But the term has several other meanings too: It also means

  • of the same tribe / nation (Rom. 9:3)
  • physical strength as opposed to spiritual strength of God (2Cor. 10:2)
  • the will of man as opposed to the will of God through the Spirit (Gal. 4:23; 4:29)
  • according to man’s perspective (1Cor. 1:26) (John 8:15)
  • carnal / sinful inclination (“nature”) (Rom. 8:5)
  • human descendancy

  “…GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, (Act 2:30)

Scripture talks of the genealogy through which the Christ would enter the world, but it never mentions a ” blood-line” as some like to claim. Jesus came “as a man” (Php_2:8 ) and as far as men were concerned, His father was Joseph (Joh_6:42; Luk 3:23 ). For this reason He came as the “Son of Man”. Joseph took Mary (already with child) as his wife to sanctify the Child according to the flesh (according to men) (see 1Cor 7:14 ). However, scripture is very clear that the so-called “blood-line” (or lineage) of Jesus has no beginning, nor has it an end. I will demonstrate this scripturally further on.

Jesus nullifies this fallacy of being “fully man and fully God” as a descendant of David

Jesus asked them whose son they thought He was, and they said the son of David. But He said to them,

“Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET”‘? “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” (Mat 22:43-45)

But what about Revelations 22:16?

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”  (Rev 22:16)

It says that Jesus was the root of David as well as the descendant. If He was the root (originator, foundation, support – see Rom. 11:18) of David, and according to scripture is the originator of all things, then how could He be more than a descendant as to the flesh (i.e. that He came through the flesh of man)? For He cannot be the originator of Himself!

Jesus had no genealogy

Jesus, the man, had no genealogy. He was made like the son of man (Heb 7:3) for the sake of man’s reconciliation with God. Jesus said that Abraham rejoiced to see His day (John 8:56). This was recorded in Gen 14:18 and explained in Heb. 7:1 regarding Melchizedek.

But was Melchizedek really Christ?

Now some people say that Hebrews was certainly not referring to Jesus as being Melchizedek. But the writer of Hebrews says that it was hard to explain to them the truth of the matter because they were “dull of hearing” (Heb 5:11). But let the writer of Hebrews speak for himself:

  • God said that Jesus was a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (“to the order of” = in the same way) (Heb 5:6; 5:10), and not of Levi (according to human priesthood).
  • Melchizedek was king of Salem (which means King of peace) (Heb 7:1-2). (Remember that God will not share His glory with another and therefore no other than God in Christ would be “King of Peace”).
  • His name was translated King of righteousness (Heb 7:2). There is only One who is righteous.
  • He was without father and mother, (Heb 7:3) i.e. no genealogy!(Heb 7:6)
  • He had no beginning or end of days (Heb 7:3)
  • He (still talking about Melchizedek) was made like the Son of man (Heb 7:3)
  • Melchizedek is (remaining to be) a high priest forever (Heb 7:3). And He lives on (Heb 7:8).
  • Melchizedek being Christ, who appeared in the form of man and for the sake of man, did not come to being by the law of nature / physical means (i.e. human), but “according to the power of an indestructible life” (Heb 7:16)!

Please note: When I emboldened the “like” in the sixth description it was because Jesus came as a Son. Before His incarnation He existed as the eternal Word of God. But He came in the form of a man for the sake of the atonement (as explained above).


Understanding Mary’s conception

Mary was a sinner like the rest of us (Rom 3:23), and therefore she was also in need of redemption as the rest of us. God chose her for her faithfulness and humility to bear the incarnate Word (John 1:14), as was Elizabeth to bear the forerunner of Christ, i.e. John the Baptist (“the greatest man born of woman”). The difference was that the birth of John the Baptist’s occurred through blessed nature. Whereas, with the eternal Christ, scripture said that the Word of Life, which was with the Father (1John 1:1-2), became flesh… as of the ONLY BEGOTTEN FROM THE FATHER (John 1:14). Mary is not a contributing factor other than being a surrogate mother.

Look again at John 1:14. It says that the Word became flesh. It did not say that the Word “took on flesh” or enjoined itself to the flesh of Mary in any way to make her conceive. The conception was miraculous; (not half miraculous and half natural), in that God did not need the body of Mary for her to conceive. The notion that God could miraculously overshadow Mary and make her conceive, yet could not do it alone and without taking upon His Word her flesh, is without reason, and belittles God’s power.

What did Jesus think of Mary as His natural / human mother?

The law said that one was to honour one’s parents. Paul continued this law as a law of righteousness to always be followed and reminded us that the fulfilment of that particular law came with a promise:

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise),  (Eph 6:2)

Now Jesus obeyed the law completely, being found not a transgressor of it. However, the scriptures that detail Jesus’ regard for Mary as His “mother” can be seen in the following verses:

  • … “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.”  (Luk 11:27)
    But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”  (Luk 11:28)
  • … the mother of Jesus *said to Him, “They have no wine.”  (Joh 2:3)
    And Jesus *said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”  (Joh 2:4)
  • Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.”  (Mat 12:47)
    But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  (Mat 12:48)
    And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!  (Mat 12:49)

There is not one instant that Jesus regards Mary as His mother in the flesh; but there are several that reveal that He regards her as a woman. He cared for her as He cared for others, and not noticeably more.

God is not a respecter of persons

The Bible is clear on the fact that God is not a respecter of persons. He regards all of equal intrinsic human value. And even though Mary was of all women ever to live the most blessed, it was only because she bore the Messiah, and definitely not because she was the “mother of God” in the spiritual or biological sense. And definitely not because she was innocent of sin, because scripture reveals that no one is without the guilt of sin.

Why did Jesus claim to be the “Son of Man”?

Multiple times in the gospels Jesus states that He was the “Son of Man.” However, this does not mean that He is of the essence of man, as the many points above explain.

Daniel said that he beheld “One like a Son of Man” coming to be presented before the “Ancient of Days” (God). (Dan 7:13) This was the Christ as a man for the sake of being the atonement appearing before God to justify those who would turn their hearts to God through Him.

And in the gospels He confesses to be this Son of Man who came from God (John 16:30). But this was

a) to conceal from the depraved that He was God revealed in the flesh

b) to give the true reason for His appearing

Why did Jesus need to be incarnated in the form of man?

To be the representative of man

Jesus had to come in the form of man so that He could become man’s eternal high priest. For the high priest by necessity is a member for that which he is priest (Heb 2:17). He could not come as an animal or inanimate object but had to come as that for which He represented.

To show the way to God through faith

The Word of God came to earth to dwell among men. He could only partake of the life of man by becoming like a man. But He had to do it completely as the last Adam (1Cor 15:45). The first Adam was a created soul; but the last Adam was an eternal life-giving Spirit. He was without sin so that His eternal atonement could be worthy to pay for our eternal debt by decree. Therefore, He had to enter the world as a man. Nonetheless, not as human, (as the many scriptures and reasoning above demonstrate) but in His eternal essence, so that He may be the perfect (as a man) and eternal (being God in the flesh) propitiation. An eternal price of God paid for an eternal debt of man.

Incarnated in the form of man, He was subject to live as man:

He came as man for the sake of man. This included Him coming in the form of “sinful flesh” even though He had no sin. This was so that He could be the perfect propitiation for mankind.

  • This likeness included the limited ability of natural man; albeit faith to move mountains, and walk on water, healing, etc. is available “to all who believe” (Mark 11:23).
  • He grew in wisdom and stature.
  • He possessed the five senses of man.
  • The natural emotions of men were also His.
  • Jesus lived by faith that was available to all men should they exercise it with holiness of heart. (Peter demonstrated the latter by walking on water, healing the sick, announcing judgement causing death, raising up the dead etc.)

Christ’s limited ability explained

  • Like a man, He was limited in knowledge. The things that were not pertaining to His ministry He did not need to know at that time on earth. (Mar 13:32). He said that He spoke what He heard from the Father, and did what He saw the Father doing. He did nothing apart from God’s eternal purpose for Him. This accounts for not knowing what day of His return. It was beyond the need to know at the time because it wasn’t given to Him to share. (This specific case was because God wants us all to be ready for His return at all times and not just before He comes. Hence the parable about the ten virgins).
  • Because He walked in faith He would need to maintain His faith by the same power that was available to man. That is why He prayed and fasted often alone. He loved the presence of His Father, even though He was of the Father. The Father’s love for righteousness was Jesus’ love also.
  • He said that the Father was greater than He was as concerning His representative state as man. An ambassador for a country is of that country, yet is not the whole of the country. So too, Jesus was the ambassador of God while on earth, yet was not manifest as the whole of God in His omnipresent form. This in no way makes Jesus inferior to the Father in essence.

In the likeness of sinful flesh

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,(Rom 8:3) 

It was because we exist as flesh and blood that Jesus had to partake of the same (Heb. 2:14). This was so that He could be the eternal atonement for man. Some religions have hideous animal-like creatures as their gods, but reason dictates that these could never atone for man, not being in the likeness of man. But we were made in the image of our God and therefore by that image He had to atone for us.   Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb 2:14).

But we were made in the image of our God and therefore by that image He had to atone for us.


Jesus wasn’t just the atonement for our reconciliation; He was the eternal SOURCE of our salvation. The flesh of man can not be the source of our salvation, for the source of salvation is God. (Heb 5:9)

Christ entered the holy place once for all through His blood, having obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb 9:12).  The blood of human origin coupled with the eternal origin of God (as in “fully man and fully God”) can never suffice to cover our eternal judgement. The flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus is eternal in essence. It has to be, for through it He inaugurated our access to the Father forever ( Heb 10:20) which, human sacrifice in any part could never do.

Conclusion

So what substance was the bodily form of Christ?

The essence / substance of the bodily form of Christ was eternal. It was the same form as seen by Abraham. And the form that man saw in Jesus will continue to be forever. For it was this bodily form with which He lived, died, rose and entered into heaven. It was the bodily form of God coming as a Son to live among us (Lev 26:12) for the purpose of being the suitable eternal atonement. Scripture teaches that the person of the bodily form was absolutely infinite (John 1:1 & 14) . Therefore, there was nothing finite / human about it.

A note of caution

If those who advocate that Jesus was “fully man” and fully God are right, even though scripture does not hint at the fact, then those who believe that Jesus was “the fullness of deity dwelling in bodily form” and appearing only “as a man”, yet in a fleshly body, as scripture clearly states, then no harm would come of the latter.

But if Jesus is what I clearly define above, which is according to scripture and reason, then those who believe and confess that Jesus is “fully man” even though also “fully God”, have diminished the ability of God, and maligned scripture. Would this not be tantamount to blasphemy?

I look forward to any questions you may have on the above. Send me an email to: hugh@removingveils.com

“Talking in tongues” – The truth unveiled.

Talking in “tongues” – My own sad experience

I was introduced to Christ in a Charismatic church, so I adopted the “talking in tongues” doctrine by default. But I wasn’t happy with what I heard in others, including my leaders, seeing that much of it was just a few repeated sounds / words over and over again. So I would spend hours by myself developing a vast range of sounds (or words). After 24 years my “tongues” vocabulary was larger than anyone else’s I had heard, and I have attended many Charismatic / Pentecostal / Apostolic – based churches. However, after nearly a quarter of a century of “tongue-talking” I put my doubts about the truth of it to the test. Here are my findings based on the Three Principles of Discerning Truth.

1) Is talking in “tongues” true according to scripture?

We know about tongues from biblical accounts only through a few portions of scripture; yet many have made it one of the defining characteristics of Christianity. This, God never intended. Some even go as far as to say that without the “evidence” of speaking in “tongues”, one is not baptized by the Holy Spirit. And being baptized by the Holy Spirit is the initiation of our sanctification, without which no one will see the Lord in peace (Heb. 12:14). The result therefore would mean that without tongues there is no salvation, which is just bad doctrine.

The signal purpose for speaking in tongues was to be a demonstration of power from God. But, so too were miracles, casting out demons, prophesy, healings, and the word of knowledge, etc. They all testified to the fact that God was certainly with the early Christians, His people, glorifying the name of Jesus as the key to redemption and God’s purpose for mankind.

What did talking in tongues sound like?

But what did biblical tongues sound like? Did it sound anything like what we hear in churches today?

Scripture expressly says that the tongues heard as recorded in Acts in the account of the day of Pentecost, was different languages of men. Fifteen languages to be exact! But the amazing thing was not so much that so many languages were heard, but that they were being spoken by local people who didn’t know the languages. (Expositors’ commentaries are still in conflict: some say that the languages were actually spoken, while others say that those gathered in the Lord spoke their own language but that the visitors of the various nations heard their own language spoken).

The other major accounts in Acts were Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:46); and at Ephesus where about twelve men received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6) demonstrated by talking in tongues. Neither account says that the tongues spoken were languages of men; but Peter stated that the Holy Spirit demonstrated His anointing / baptism just as they experienced it on the day of Pentecost (Acts 10: 47; 11: 15). So, one can presume that the tongues spoken were of existing human language.

Who received tongues in the Biblical times?

Many seemed to have spoken in tongues in the first churches. However, other than Paul, the New Testament makes no mention of any other apostle actually speaking in tongues. They were there on the day of Pentecost. And I will not argue that they did not speak in tongues. I am merely saying that nowhere in scripture does it mention any of the twelve speaking in it. Even on the day of Pentecost Peter says:

“For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day;  (Act 2:15)

  1. He does not mention women; he did not say: ” For these people…”
  2. nor does he include himself with those that spoke in tongues. Otherwise he would have said something like: ” For WE are not drunk, as you suppose…”

Many say that all those gathered spoke in tongues. But read the portion carefully, and with unbiased eyes. Even verse 4 does not say all spoke in tongues. It says:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.  (Act 2:4)

Acts 2:3 says that each one of the disciples gathered had the appearance of tongues resting on them. However, it does not say that they all began to speak, but that those gathered began to speak as the Spirit gave them utterance. According to scripture, this would have been in order.

Paul’s teaching on tongues

Remember Paul said to the Corinthians that they are not to speak all together but to speak one at a time. He said that God is not a God of confusion. The fifteen languages that were spoken (or heard) was over a period of time on that day. So, to say that all fifteen languages were spoken at the same time by everyone present, would have made none of them audible in the chaos.

Paul also said that not all would receive the gift of tongues (1Cor. 12:30). But it would be distributed to those as the Holy Spirit saw fit.

2) Is talking in “tongues” true according to reason?

Paul counsels us to be mature in our thinking! (1Cor.14:20)

God’s reasonings of righteousness are a common, universal standard to man and the angels. And He made every moral agent (mankind and angelic hosts) to be able to comprehend those reasonings. Therefore, if something does not seem reasonable according to the universal understanding of righteousness then it is not true.

When one asks “tongue-talkers” what language they speak they will tell you that “tongues” are of men and angels. They take this course of thinking from just one misconstrued scripture (1Cor. 13:1). So let’s pursue this course of thinking:

1) If they are of man, then what earthly language?

2) If of angels, then why the diversity in those who possess the “gift”?

Is my tongues of men?

Test it and see! It is easy these days to test the authenticity of any language of men through the internet.

But in earlier days, before the advent of the internet, there have been those so enthusiastic in their belief that they have a new tongue, that they have travelled to various countries around the world looking for the language that they could “speak”, and that, without having gone through the pains of studying any language. This is something God would never do.

Firstly; if they could not understand what they were saying (because they were supposedly “speaking mysteries to God” taken from 1Cor. 14:2), then how could they possibly think they could understand the tribe of the tongue they thought they possessed when spoken to?

Secondly; God expects us to work for what we receive. Paul knew various languages and dialects, but he was a man of great learning (Acts 26:24). Nothing is for free in this world or the next. Even salvation is not for free. It cost Christ His life. And it costs us the same (Matt 10:39; 16:25).

The purpose of tongues

God did not give tongues as a ministering tool. Talking in tongues in Acts was for the demonstration of power by the Holy Spirit, and as a witness to the truth of what the apostles were teaching. And the tongues Paul speaks of in Corinthians were for self-edification, and to glorify and have spiritual communion with God, unless coupled with interpretation if spoken in public.

The sophistication of the languages of men is great. And the tongue of angels is far greater. If the “tongues” that we hear in church are indeed from either origin, then why do we hear such limited and unclear sounds; and especially from those who profess the Holy Spirit has baptized, and who have been “talking in tongues” for years? One would reasonably think that if it is the Holy Spirit, then surely they would have a larger vocabulary.

But if my tongues is not of men then isn’t it of angels?

I have heard that tongues is the language of men and angels. Many state that those who talk in “tongues,” which are not identified as a human language, talk with tongues of angels. As evidence, they will jump to the only scripture that mentions tongues being of men AND (or) angels (1Co 13:1).

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  (1Co 13:1)

However, they fail to read it in context of what Paul was saying. From verse 1 to 3, Paul was demonstrating a comparison of the extreme against true love. He states that if he speaks with tongues of men (human languages) AND angels (the spiritual language that God speaks to the angels – the universal pure language of heaven), and if he knew ALL mysteries, ALL knowledge, ALL faith, and gave away ALL his possessions etc. and did not have love, he would have nothing of eternal worth. Nowhere in scripture does it mention that men speak the language of angels. That is reserved only for those who walk with God and who are eventually accepted into heaven. Man’s language was divided into many because of sin. But the angels in heaven have no sin, therefore the language in heaven has no reason to be divided.

So, if your tongues is discovered as not being of any earthly language; and reason and scripture demonstrate that it is not of angels, then what is its source? A hard question. But the honest mind will want the answer.

3) Is “talking in tongues” true according to the testimony of life?

Where is talking in tongues found in church history?

None of the evangelical greats of the eras prior to the 1900’s spoke in tongues. These include such men as John and Charles Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, Charles Finney, etc. Neither did our Protestant Fathers speak in so-called “tongues”. Zwigly, Calvin, Hus, and Luther never did. Going further back we see than none of the early Fathers of the church spoke in “tongues” either.

Irenaeus and Tertullian both mention tongues and interpretation in their day, but it is unclear if the tongues were languages of men or the incoherent sounds heard today. And neither spoke it themselves. Other than these two scant examples, none of the other church Fathers mention talking in tongues as a Christian practice. This includes Clement to Augustine, and those who came after.

Talking in tongues is a gift from God

Paul also clearly states that only some would receive the gift of tongues 91Cor. 12:10, 28, & 30). The “all” spoken of in 1Cor. 14:23 is a hypothetical case used to demonstrate a fact. However, the scenario of everyone speaking in tongues never existed, because, and as Paul stated, God gave only some the gift.

Those that teach that one who does not speak in “tongues” has not been baptised in the Holy Spirit teaches in gross error. It is anti-scriptural and against reason.

I have known wonderful Christians who never “spoke in tongues”. I have also known plenty who broke out in so-called “tongues” at the drop of a hat, and there lives were as the worst unbelievers I have met.

Tongues is a gift from God, Who gives it to those who are trustworthy of His gift. That is; they walked in loving obedience to the Spirit of God in holy conduct of life. How many do you know who “speak in tongues” and walk with purity of heart, mind, mouth and life?

So where did “tongues” of today come from?

It is not my intention to repeat the 19th /20th century history of the Charismatic / Pentecostal movement in this post. I am simply putting the “tongues” that we often witness today to the test by the Principles of Discerning Truth.

The Azusa Street “Revival” wasn’t the birth of the Pentecostal movement (which in turn came from the holiness movement), but it certainly crowned it and gave it momentum. For those who wish to pursue the history of this movement I suggest doing your own research. But if you do, do not follow the grave mistake of many by reading only that which backs your viewpoint. Reading with integrity and honesty to one’s self is the only way to get to the truth of a matter. (Preconceived ideas and doctrines of men should not interfere with the pursuit of truth – if one really wants it).

What does it mean to be “filled with the Holy Spirit”?

This is the language of Luke only, and it appears in the gospel of Luke and Acts (most likely written by Luke). It appears nowhere else.

Luke simply means that those who have completely yielded themselves to the workings of the Holy Spirit will be more conscious of Him and will therefore exhibit His presence and workings in greater strength.

“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His…” 2Ch 16:9

God works greater in those who sanctify their hearts the more for Him. Those who receive this baptism of the Holy Spirit know it. They have the witness in their consciousness as the initiation of God’s Spirit quickened within them (Rom 8:16).

What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? (Acts 19:2)

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the specific anointing God gives to believers who have purified / sanctified their hearts towards Him. (See 1Pet 3:15 & James 4:8). It is the consciousness of the new birth, or “being born again”.

As we are baptized into Christ (Rom 6:2), so too are we baptized by the Holy Spirit. In fact, they both happen at the same time. Some might say that the consciousness of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is separate from being born again, but it is not. Many believe in Christ for years but still have not given themselves over to Him in their hearts. Hence, their belief that sanctification is a process. (See Justification vs Sanctification for more details). These are believers only. But it was also believers who wanted to kill Jesus, according to His own words. Did you ever read the incident? (See John 8:30 – 59 in context; especially verses 30 & 31).

Paul said to the Ephesian disciples: “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (Acts 19:2). This was not a separate act in their salvation. They had been baptized into John’s baptism for repentance of sin; not for life in Christ yet (Acts 19:4). But they were obedient to Paul’s teaching and exercised faith in Christ; and received as an external witness of their conversion the gift of talking in tongues during their baptism by the Holy Spirit; i.e. being born again!

For clarification of the type of belief that begets salvation, see Confess and Believe – does it = Salvation?

What is it to “pray in the Holy Spirit”?

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,  (Jud 1:20)

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;  (Rom 8:26)


and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  (Rom 8:27

Above are some scriptures often used by those who supposedly speak in tongues. But none of these are talking about speaking in tongues.

When we truly pray in the Spirit, we become totally absorbed by the consciousness of His presence. This is the state we are to always be in when in prayer. (Actually, it is the expected perpetual state that all true believers are to walk in (Rom. 8:14; See also Gal. 5: 16).

Often, those who pray in the Spirit do not utter words, for words become limited for such close communication with God at these times. Our hearts are filled with wonder, love, and a knowing that we are in the humbling presence of Almighty God. And it is at this time that the quickened Holy Spirit within us takes over, interceding on behalf of the saints. This is not a mindless exercise of “tongue-talking”, but a sober meditation and communion with God.

“Intercessory Prayer Meeting” example

I have been in many “intercessory prayer” meetings where believers were “praying in the Spirit”. At one of these meetings a woman who was sitting in front of me was “tut-tutting” away while being totally absorbed in a magazine she was reading. My description of her “tongues” is not an exaggeration. Her total “tongues” vocabulary, after many years of “talking in tongues”, consisted of one double word – “tut-tut”. She was the wife of our intercessory leader, who was an elder of the large and established church I attended, and she was recognized as having been “baptized by the Holy Spirit”. Just because authority in the church accepts something as truth this does not necessarily make it so.

Why do people “talk in tongues” if it is not true?

Not many want to know the truth of this question. But for those who do:

“Prosperity” and “Word of Faith” teachings are deemed to be truthful mostly to the leaders and some of the well-known teachers, but look at the members of their congregation. I spent a quarter of a century under these teachings and they never proved successful to me until I applied myself to my career like any successful person would do in or out of the Lord.

People love to believe in “tongues” because it is tangible. What I mean here is that it is something they can hold on to, to support their belief – even though it is mist. These need something other than true saving faith to assure themselves that what they believe is right. But it is not. The very fact that they will become angry should one try to prove to them their folly, is testimony to the true spirit that they walk in. But those honest with themselves will want to test what they believe under the scrutiny of the Principles of Discerning Truth.

Conclusion of talking in tongues

After many years of “talking in tongues” I began asking lots of questions and conducted extensive research. I have discovered, that even though my “tongues” had more vocabulary than any I have heard, it was all my work. When I “spoke in tongues” I never had a consciousness of God’s presence. I still had sin in my life, yet I could go for hours “talking in tongues”, at times even with evil thoughts. This just didn’t make sense to me. If I was so advanced in “praying in the Spirit”, then should I not surely be better than most in walking in the Spirit? I was not. This was a huge contradiction to me, and drove me to seek the truth of the matter.

For more on “talking in tongues” also see Dr. Thomas Schreiner’s video:

I look forward to any questions you may have on the above. Send me an email to: hugh@removingveils.com

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. (Predestination refuted).

God harden Pharaoh’s heart; so is God unjust?

Is God unjust? We need to understand why and how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. And why is it necessary to discover the truth in this matter? What follows will change the way many honest Christians think regarding the predestination of God, and take comfort in the truth of the matter.

  • God demands and expects us to trust Him in all things. For God to be completely trustworthy, He cannot conduct His life with double standards. So, God is all good or He is not. He is absolutely trustworthy or He is not. And if God is not trustworthy in all things, according to our understanding, then how can we know in what we can trust Him? For if God conceals any facet of His nature from us that pertains to us, then our trust in Him would be incomplete. Consequently, there would then be no solid foundation upon which to base our hope of eternal life. So, understanding the truth of this matter is paramount to understanding how we should trust God explicitly in all things.
  • It is also imperative to know the truth regarding the doctrine of predestination, for if one persists in assuming that God hardens or predestines arbitrarily, and without reason that is given to man, then one will be found being a judge of God and that, without cause. Not only that, but how can those who rest their faith on predestination based on the sovereignty of God alone ever have the assurance of faith in Christ that they are saved? Such a method is impossible scripturally and reasonably. One must pursue the Biblical way of obtaining eternal life.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart – a stumbling block to many

The passages concerning the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is a stumbling block to many. To the predestinarians (those who teach that God predestines some for salvation and others for damnation, regardless of their moral conduct), God condemns Pharaoh to further His reasons, which are mostly hidden from man and based (supposedly) on His Sovereignty; i.e. largely because He can. (See Why should God get all the glory to discover why this cannot be so). But with this mindset, one can only perceive God to be unjust. Contrarily, others understand that this cannot be true if we maintain that God is absolutely good.

The danger of isolating scripture

It is always dangerous to read passages in isolation. For it then becomes an island in a sea of little meaning. The problem with some doctrines of men is that whenever their advocates read the Word of Truth for truth, all they see are those “truths” that reinforce their preconceived doctrines.

Isolating Scripture
Isolating Scripture

I will demonstrate the folly of this by first giving you some favorite scriptures that predestinarians use, regardless of context, to support their doctrine of predestination – and in most cases – double predestination; which states that not only does God select some for salvation, regardless of their moral conduct, but also selects others for damnation in the same manner. And for what reason? They say: because God is Sovereign, and therefore He can do what He wants according to His own standard of justice, apart from that standard or moral understanding given to man. Would this not then mean that God has double standards of righteousness? Yes, one for mankind, and a different one, unbeknown to man, for Himself.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart -A false “proof-text” for the predestinarians.

Read the following passages in isolation and it is easy to see how the the doctrine of predestination without man’s conduct of life taken into consideration was developed:

For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.”
(Rom 9:15-17)

Then Paul continues…

So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
(Rom 9:18-21)

But let us reason together

“Let us reason together”, invites the Lord (Isa 1:18). Scripture must be reasonable, or else how can we justifiably obey it? I will explain this text in its context later. But first, here are some pertinent questions of foundational principles to help you understand the passage, but which are difficult for predestinarians to answer reasonably, and according to scripture.

Crucial foundational principles

  1. Is Paul a hypocrite and can the Word of God contradict itself?
  2. Is God unjust and therefore evil according to the understandings of man?
  3. Can God have a double standard of righteousness according to the reasoning power given to man?

1) Is Paul a hypocrite and can the Word of God contradict itself?

Paul wrote more of the New Testament than any other. If we can find Paul faulty in what he says, or if he is guilty of hypocrisy then we have the right not to trust anything he says. For this is true for all of scripture. But, according to Peter, Paul’s writing is inspired scripture (See 2Pet. 3:16). Therefore, it is imperative to understand that Paul’s writing, as well as the rest of scripture, cannot contradict. (For more, see Finding the Foundation of Truth)

Peter says that God desires all to come to the knowledge of God and for none to perish (2Pe 3:9). The difference is in the choice of man! If God desires all to come to the knowledge of God to be saved, then why would He predestine some for damnation without due cause? The Word of God cannot contradict itself.

2) Is God unjust and therefore evil according to the understandings of man?

We cannot divide God’s character. He does not suffer from a “Jekyll and Hyde” syndrome, and is not therefore, a god of multiple personalities. God is good, and everything He does is done in universally understood goodness.

But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged (1Co 11:31). We can only judge ourselves rightly and escape the judgement of God if we understand His standard of righteousness and justice. If He has not communicated His standard of righteousness / justice to mankind then how can we judge ourselves so that we will not be judged by Him? It would be impossible, leaving us with nothing whereby we could have a hope for eternal salvation.

Again…

May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written; “THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.”  (Rom 3:4)

What we need to ask here is: ” Who is it that will judge God? And by what standard?

Any moral being, good or evil that looks upon the actions of God will judge (as in assess and not as in condemnation) Him as just. And He is judged by the standard of His own universally communicated law of justice. God loves righteousness and He lives by what He loves. Therefore, He would never act apart from that universal understanding of the law of righteousness by which His moral beings know Him.

3) Can God have a double standard of righteousness according to the reasoning power given to man?

“Come now, and let us reason together, ” Says the LORD…(Isa 1:18)

God can only invite us to reason with Him on the basis of a universally understood standard of reasoning. If God had one standard of reasoning for Himself and another for man, then how could He invite man to reason with Him?

God is not a god of confusion. The reasonings of God are based on the universally understood standard of righteousness. To say that God will act one way with reasoning above the understanding of man when it pertains to man, is gross foolishness. God’s reasonings are based on His righteousness, and He made man to follow that righteousness with the same reasoning. Therefore, God would never be yes, yes, and no, no at the same time. (See Mat 5:37 in conjunction with 2Co 1:17). God’s sense of reasoning is known to man and He expects man to walk in it. Therefore, to say that God has double standards based on His Sovereignty is an insult to Him and makes Him out to be evil in the eyes of man and the angels.

Christians particularly ought to know the mind of God (and therefore His reasonings)

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  (1Co 2:11)

This is another favourite of predestinarians to supposedly demonstrate that no one can understand God, releasing Him to act as He will apart from universally understood reasoning. But read it in the context from verse 1Cor 2:11-16.

For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.  (1Co 2:16)

Not only does God have a common standard of justice as known to every moral being, good or evil (like the fallen angels and depraved men); but God has given those who have come to the obedience of faith in Christ “the mind of Christ,” by which to know Him more intimately than those who don’t know Him personally. How then do some say that God has a standard of justice different to that of man’s?

Difficult questions for predestinarians to answer:

* Was God the cause of Pharaoh’s disobedience?

If God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to disobey Him, then God would have been the cause of his disobedience and his sin against God’s commandment to “let My people go”. How then can one think God to be good, righteous and just if it was God who caused Pharaoh to sin against Him?

  • Either one has not understood the passage in discussion;
  • Or one must regard God to be unjust and therefore evil.

* Did God predestine Pharaoh for total depravity?

If God hardened Pharaoh’s heart for perdition, he would have been totally depraved. Then his heart could not grow in goodness, but would have been completely hardened. But if God had to harden his heart to a worse condition than his previous state, then it demonstrates that his heart would not have been altogether hardened. This would reveal then that his heart was softer, which would have been impossible if he was predestined for total depravity.

* Was God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart superfluous?

If Pharaoh had let the people go it would have shown that his heart was not totally depraved. However, scripture says that God knew that Pharaoh would not let His people go. Bear in mind that this was before God “hardened” his heart:

“But I know (foreknowledge) that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion.  (Exo 3:19) Read it in context with the next verse 20.

If Pharaoh would not let God’s people go, then hardening his heart not to let them go would have been superfluous.

* How could God lay blame for Pharaoh’s disobedience if it was God who hardened his heart to disobey?

God blamed pharaoh for his repeated disobedience to God, and as a result of his disobedience, God cursed the land. But if God hardened him to disobey and further cursed the land because of it, would it not demonstrate that God is monstrously unjust?

Hear what scripture says:

“Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go. “Behold, about this time tomorrow, I will send a very heavy hail, such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now.
(Exo 9:17-18)

However, God demonstrates His mercy even in the curse, and warns Egypt to bring in their livestock, and what they can gather, and for them to stay under shelter from the oncoming hail (Exo 9:19 ). This is not a God who would condemn someone just to show Himself sovereign.

* Is God’s Sovereignty unjust?

Predestinarians teach that God could harden Pharaoh’s heart because He is Sovereign. We have covered the fact that God always acts with perfect justice, and that this very standard of justice is communicated to man to follow suite. Therefore, to put the excuse for an act of injustice upon the Lord God’s sovereignty, claiming that because He is Sovereign over all that He can do what He wants, still makes the One who is Sovereign guilty of injustice according to the universal understanding of justice.

* Is God a respecter of persons?

That is: Does He show partiality to some and not to others?

As I have established above; God is perfectly just and therefore would never judge one without due cause. Scripture in the Old and New Testament both claim that God is not a respecter of persons. He is not partial to any and therefore would never judge one apart from another for any reason. Therefore, to say that God predestines some for salvation and leaves others condemned; or even worse, that He predestines others for damnation, and both are predestined regardless of their conduct of life, is a horrific accusation against God.

“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.  (Deu 10:17)

Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,  (Act 10:34)

For there is no partiality with God.  (Rom 2:11)

* And of a personal problem: If God selects some for salvation based on His Sovereignty how can I ever know if I am one of the elected?

There are masses of believers who consider themselves members of the chosen of God. But if you ask them how they know, they will tell you:
1) Because they go to church – one that believes in predestination by Sovereign choice alone. i.e. they are found being members of such a church and by that membership they consider themselves chosen of God.

2) They have been baptized by the same type of church above mentioned.

3) Because “they just know” regardless of their conduct of life.

None of the three points above are a criteria to know if one is saved. I have lived long enough to have known believers who “loved” Christ and followed Him as their Savior; only to see them fall away years later and die reprobates. The problematic question remains:
If I am sitting in the pew of a church who teach predestination by God’s Sovereignty alone (i.e. I have no choice in the matter), then what real assurance can I have that I am of that saved lot and that I will remain so? To see more on this subject visit: How do I know if I am saved?

* Why the need for the gospel, Christ and the rest of the Word of God?

Scripture was given to mankind for the sole purpose of turning the hearts of men back to God through persuasion. It was through His Word that He laid out His eternal plan for those who would repent of their sins and be reconciled to God. This unfolded to produce the atonement through Christ, which was recorded and conveyed to men so that they may choose to believe upon Christ. For “whoever believes”, as scripture specifies, will be saved (John 3:15, 16; Rom. 10:11; 1John 5:1).

Now, if it requires the faith of man then how could it be the pre-determined will of God alone? For to exercise faith requires a volition – a free-willed act to believe. But some try to evade this difficulty and attempt to suggest that those that believe have been given their ability to believe by God. But their proof-text is a solitary scripture which they have taken out of context:

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.  (Rom 12:3 KJV)

Yet, this same scripture actually disproves their case, for it says that “God hath dealt to every man the (or a)1 measure of faith. This means that God has given everyone the ability to believe. Universally, the lives of the generated and unregenerated prove this. For it is universal experience that all can exercise faith.

God gives everyone the ability to believe

Every child is born with faith and exercises it free-willingly towards their parents. The whole human race goes to bed at night with the general belief that they will wake up the following day, etc. So, to say that mankind can exercise faith by volition in every thought they have and action they make, but can’t exercise the same ability to choose to escape from eternal condemnation and run to a given Savior in Christ after hearing the truth of the gospel (if indeed it is preached in truth) is beyond comprehension and scripture.

The main purpose for the Word of God

If God is the one to grant the power to believe for salvation to some without their choice, then why the need of the Word of God (OT and NT)? God gave us the Word to persuade us to return to Him. The volumes of Old and New Testament are filled with God’s persuasions in the form of promises, warnings, declarations, callings, testimonies of the righteous, examples of the wicked, admonishings and consolations, etc., to invoke the action of faith in those who will listen to the truth. If God could and would give faith without the consent of man, then why the bother of scripture? For if He can and will grant faith and reconciliation without man’s choice then why the countless persuasions? Why then the need of preachers?

We can extend the above to the honest conclusion of why would God then need to send His Son Jesus to live, show the way to God, and die for us if He can predestine some to faith and eternal life without our choice? The whole of it; the Word of God, the promises, beckonings, the gospel message, atonement, etc. are then superfluous to His so-called predetermining who will be saved and who won’t.

Faith is regarded by God as a virtue

Abraham was regarded by God as a “friend of God’s” because of his faithfulness. And God considered all righteous (virtuous) in His Word who applied faith. Faithfulness without free choice cannot be virtuous. For if the faith of Abraham and the other righteous men in scripture was given to them, then why would God look upon them with favor because of faith, if their faith was not of their own but of God’s? Faith begets righteousness (Rom. 4:3). Righteousness is virtue. And virtue can only exist in free moral agents. It is through the free-willed choice of man to follow after God that makes faith virtuous. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart because he refused to exercise faith in God, even though the evidence of God’s presence was so overwhelming. It was because of his total lack of virtue that God cursed him and the land of Egypt.

Explaining why and how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart

We must read Romans Chapter 9 in the context of the whole of the epistle. Therefore, what precedes the ninth chapter must be taken into consideration also.

The context of chapter 9 is talking about Israel both as a natural and spiritual people. But both are different entities. Paul describes how the spiritual Israel comes about from the natural. He compares the promise of God in the natural, through the seed of Abraham (see Gen 5:15, and fulfilled in Deut. 1:10-11), to the ultimate purpose of Him creating an eternal people for Himself. This was to produce a spiritual people of the likeness of the faith of Abraham, which is after God’s own heart of righteousness. Paul says: nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.”  (Rom 9:7). That is; through the promise of a spiritual people, not one of flesh alone (Rom 9:8-9).

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart through foreknowledge

In the previous chapter (Chapter 8) Paul painstakingly explains the process of God’s selection of people so that we could understand the principle that God employs for His choice. This is what he says:

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  (Rom 8:29)
and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.  (Rom 8:30)

So He predestines us according to His foreknowledge of how we conduct our lives. Those who will come to the obedience of faith in Him through Christ (Rom.1:5; 16:26) will be called. For His word does not return to Him void (Is 55:11 KJV). These he also justifies as righteous, and they consequently will be glorified.

Nothing has the power to change the eternal purpose of God

God raised Pharaoh through His foreknowledge that Pharaoh would rebel against Him (Rom 9:17). But God waited patiently for 400 years to do so. Through universal providence coupled with direct intervention, God brings about His purpose, showing mercy to those who will walk with Him, and confirming others in their sin (Rom 9:18). Nothing has the power to change or upset the eternal purposes of God.

But some seeing God’s actions from an isolated position may say that if God hardens who He will, and beyond their will, then how can He find fault with one? (See Rom 9:19)

But Paul says that we can’t ask God why He made us so

Paul says that we cannot answer back to God and ask why He made us so (Rom 9:20)? But this certainly does not mean that God does what He will without man’s choice of that which is offered to him, i.e. to choose obedience or not. One cannot look back upon one’s life and ask God why He made us the way we are. For we are the total product of how we have chosen to live our lives. And God knowing all things, works His plan confirming that which we choose. This Paul demonstrates a few verses later.

However, God’s eternal purposes are beyond sinful man’s understanding. For He works His purposes by love not selfishness (as predestinarians inadvertently accuse Him of); and as a species, we are like clay in His hands. He produces from the same clay some for honorable use, while others He destines for common use (Rom 9:21-22). However, He does not do this by arbitrary choice based on His Sovereignty, but acts with foreknowledge of all things, and conducts all that He does accordingly. Each person is being molded by God through providence and direct intervention amidst their own free will. This is based on His foreknowledge of what we as free-moral agents will do. Nothing, not even our free will can alter the course of His intentions. For if it could, then God would not be almighty, but would be limited by man’s freedom of choice.

Here is a (secret) verse that predestinarians often leave out

What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?  (Rom 9:22)

Paul opens our minds to the underlying current of God’s purpose in preserving Pharaoh despite his evil. He says that God “endured with much patience” vessels of wrath. That is; those who would become vessels of wrath because of their choices to practice evil in their lives. God endures all evil on earth, but in spite of it, He brings about His purposes through time, patience, providence, and personal intervention where He deems fit.

The God of justice, righteousness and all good could have condemned Pharaoh to death at any time He chose to, and He would have been justified in doing so according to the universal understanding of justice. Nonetheless, He says to Pharaoh:

“But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain (raise you up), in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.  (Exo 9:16)

The reason why God persisted with Pharaoh

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart only after suffering Pharaoh’s rebellion against Himself. But He did this in order to reveal Himself to mankind, and for separating a people for Himself. Through this He would bring forth the eternal purpose in mankind, which is to win (save) a people for His eternal possession; i.e. those who will love Him from the heart; who will be forever thankful for His wonderful kindness in redeeming them through His own sacrifice in the Person of Christ.

But please note:

God did not want to proclaim His name throughout the earth for selfish or vain reasons. Mankind had fallen away from God and had become darkened in their depravity. God’s precious creation chose to reject Him more and more since the time of Noah, and consequently perished. But God, through His living kindness raised up a people to proclaim His name great again in all the earth as the only true and good God, and to win back a people – those that would come to Him in loving obedience and thereby escape their due condemnation.

God is love. He predestines no one to perdition for any reason other than that they have chosen to live their lives in evil, driven by their supreme choice of self over the glory of God and His righteousness. God’s intention for man is for them to be partakers of His love, leading to eternal happiness in Him. However, they choose to harden their hearts against the truth of God and live in disregard to His persuasions to righteousness. And they have no excuse, because all have the evidence of God’s existence within them, put there by God Himself (Rom 1:19-20). This means that we are all born with the self-evident reality of God and His nature, and trying to deny this is denying our own consciousness within.

Conclusion to why God hardened Pharaoh’s heart:

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart according to His foreknowledge. He knows those who will or will not be His. So, according to this knowledge He predestines / confirms us to salvation and hardens / confirms others in their depravity.

Those who continue in sin and reject God in their lives He leaves alone to carry on in their wickedness. Scripture says that He “hands them over” to a depraved mind, just like He did with Pharaoh. That is; He confirms them in their own choice to live life in unrighteousness.

See Rom 1:24; Rom 1:26; Rom 1:28 

But for those who will choose Him and repent of their sin to follow after Christ; these He also foreknew, and based on this foreknowledge, He predestines them for salvation.

God is omnipresent and available for all to enter into fellowship with Him. Those who do, enter into a personal relationship with Him. Therefore, they experience more than just His providential care. God actively gets involved with their lives. He blessing them and protects them from things, most of which they are not even aware, and brings them into the eternal peace with Himself as Lord, Savior and Father.

But what about God predestining Jacob and Esau?

Many read Rom. 9:11-13 with a view that God pre-elects according to His Sovereignty alone and for reasons unbeknown to man. But Paul refutes this idea in these verses regarding Jacob and Esau. God always chooses according to the laws of justice and righteousness.

To see the truth of God’s election in the case of Jacob and Esau visit: Jacob and Esau: God’s choice explained

Let me know your thoughts on the above at hugh@removingveils.com

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  1. However, there is no indefinite article in Ancient Greek

“Confess and believe”- does it = salvation? (Rom. 10:9)

Can we obtain salvation by the “confess and believe” doctrine?

Understanding this often misquoted scripture may very well save your soul. Herein lies the truth about the ” confess-and-believe”-for-your-salvation doctrine.

You may have heard it taught that all you need to do to obtain salvation is to:

  • confess Jesus as Lord and,
  • believe in the testimonies of Christ as laid out in the gospels

“Confess and believe” are two lofty ideas that need clarity. For demons also believe in Christ …and shudder (Jam 2:19). They too will be confessing Him as Lord, but it won’t do them any good.

If your Christian walk bears little true fruit of righteousness and resulting peace, then you need to consider the pitfalls of the “confess and believe” doctrine. For we live according to our beliefs. And if we believe right, we will live right.

As a consideration:

How do some regard the gift of salvation? Have they not understood the great price God paid through Christ to atone for their sins? And do they dare to think that the Bible teaches that all we need to do is to confess Him as Lord, and believe in the testimonies of Christ to obtain eternal life? The glory of God, for who He is and what He has done on our part, deserves more than what these advocates teach.

Taking scripture out of context to justify our lives is like feeding on cardboard. We might satisfy a hunger initially, but it will do us more harm than good. So is it with God’s Word. We ought not think that we can use parts of God’s Word that suit us and discard the rest.

The same Paul, who wrote Romans 10:9, also said: For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God (Act 20:27 KJV). He means here that he has not kept back any part of God’s Word from his hearers. It is for your soul’s security and your assurance that you are of Him, if you will only receive the full counsel of God’s Word.

The context of Paul’s “Confess and believe” Romans 10:9

The context begins in Rom. 10:5 and reads through to the end of the chapter.

The foundation to Rom. 10:9

Look at this carefully:

But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down),  (Rom 10:6)
or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”  (Rom 10:7)
But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,  (Rom 10:8)

The portion above was inspired by Moses’ words in Deut. 30; particularly Deut. 30: 11-14. Here Moses was speaking to Israel, telling them that the Word they need to believe and adhere to is not out of reach. It isn’t in heaven, or across the seas; but it is with us. All we need to do is to believe and act upon that belief.

However, Israel never benefitted as a people from the Word because they did not unite it with faith, i.e. adhere to it. And as a result did not enter into the promises of God. (See Heb. 3:19- Compare this scripture with Heb. 4:6 and you will notice that their disbelief (lack of saving faith) caused their disobedience).

And here lies the problem

How many try to claim the promise of eternal life by a simple “confess and believe” (which they call “faith”)? And how many do you know of that have been claiming these promises for years and yet their lives are no better than those in the world? And many of them are worse? I have seen this problem over and over for over 40 years now. The results are usually conclusive: This type of “faith” does not work! But why not?

True, working faith is not a cliché; nor is it a belief system. If you bear with me and understand the workings of exercising true faith it will change your heart, then your whole life!

True, working faith is not a cliché; nor is it a belief system.

The process of receiving the blessings of God

Moses told the people how to receive the blessings. The aim was in walking by the moral law of God. The method was to believe in God with sufficient faith to love Him for who He is with our whole heart. (Deut. 30: 10)

Now, immediately people will defend their non-working belief by saying: “we are not to keep the law because we are not under it, but under Christ”. But their misunderstanding in this is also hypocritical. I will show you why. But first:

Israel was given not only the written moral law of God on mount Sinai, but also the ceremonial law, which came later through the establishment of the Levitical priesthood. The ceremonial law of God was for the foreshadowing of things to come.(Heb. 10:1) But the moral law of God will always remain.
Peter said to the council that no one was able to bear the law. But this was the ceremonial law (Acts 15:10); in particular, circumcision (See Acts 15:5). Paul said that he was not under the law (this was the ceremonial law of the Jews), but he was certainly under the law of God in Christ. (This is the moral law) (1Cor. 9:21).

Here is their hypocritical part:

How many choose to believe that they are not under the whole law including the eternal moral law? Answer: Many! (If not most). Now, how many of them would like other Christians sinning against them through murder, stealing, adultery, slander, hate, etc. Are they not hypocrites? In reality, they don’t want to walk in righteousness because it means forgoing their selfishness; but they most definitely do want others to keep the moral law when it comes to dealing with them!

The moral law of God is the matrix of God’s kingdom. It never changes. It produces the peace and safety of perfect benevolence. The method of living in that benevolence is to love God and His righteousness through faith. And, unless we walk in the Spirit of holiness i.e. being sanctified, we will not see heaven or eternal life. (Heb. 12:14) The way to salvation is learning how to walk in loving obedience through saving faith.

The way to salvation is learning how to walk in loving obedience through saving faith.

The difference between the old and new covenant

The difference between the old covenant of the Jews and the new covenant of Christians is vast.

The Old Covenant

In the old covenant, Moses said that the law he was counselling them in was “not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach”. That is; it was possible to walk in all the counsel of God. If it wasn’t then God would not have commanded it (Deut. 30:11). After all, Moses and Joshua did, bar Moses’ hitting the Rock twice. So why did the people not walk in it? Because it was not done in true, saving faith (Heb. 4:2).

Moses tried to explain to the Jews how to obtain the method of walking in faith to receive God’s blessings. He said:

“It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’  (Deut 30:12)
“Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’  (Deut 30:13)
“But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.  (Deut 30:14)

This means that the word of faith was already within them. God has given every free-moral agent the gift of faith and the Word of righteousness (our consciences) to believe and walk in Him. (Rom.12:3) But for them it was more difficult to exercise faith in an unseen person of God.

The New Covenant

But in the new covenant, we have better promises (Heb. 8:6) based on the tangible presence of God having appeared in Person, through Christ. Jesus came to us to show the way to God. He is the Word of God made flesh (John 1: 1 &14).

We can now identify with God through Christ, making following after Him more simple. Further, He has given us the powerful presence of His Holy Spirit to live in us, and to keep us in the will and blessing of God. Therefore, it is by knowing God through Christ that we can exercise faith in the Person of God living in us by the Holy Spirit.

This presence of Christ within is what makes our covenant so much better than believing in the God who never manifested Himself in person to the Israelites before. Through this living way we are more than able to walk pleasing to God for salvation. His commandments now are not burdensome (1John 5:3) because our relationship with Him is real. No one can walk in the conscious presence of God and sin (1John 3:6). Therefore, it is this consciousness of Him that keeps us in Him. Those who do not have this consciousness have no part in Him, nor He in them (Acts 8:21; Rom. 8:9).

Paul’s meaning of Rom. 10:9

Paul was saying that this Word of faith (nothing to do with the erroneous “Word of Faith” movement started by Kenneth Hagin) is not far from us, and he paraphrased Moses words by saying that we don’t have to send up to heaven to bring this Word of faith down to us; nor go to the depths of the earth (Abyss – Moses says “across the sea”) to bring it up. But what is this Word of faith? It is Christ in the heart, the manifest Word of God within us, which is acquired by true faith. Not by a cheap “confess and believe” doctrine.

The secret to walking in true saving faith

This faith in God’s Word is now manifest not just as God’s spoken commandments, but as the real Person of God. Therefore, we do not have to bring Christ down from heaven again, or raise Him from the dead (Rom. 10:6-7). All we need to do is exercise the faith (which we all have been born with) in the Person of Christ, through the Holy Spirit who is given to us. (Rom. 10:8)

  • We are to believe the testimonies of Christ in the gospel as to what has been done for us. And like faith, receiving the Spirit of Christ is a choice.
  • Then we walk in that choice of having received Him through faith.
  • We choose to believe that He resides within us because we trust His word that says He will. By doing this we walk in His revealed will, which is a life of sanctification, which is a life lived in righteousness – the revealed will of God. (See Heb. 12:14)
  • Then, and only then, we will be given the assurance by the Spirit of God that we are in Him and have eternal life (See Rom. 8:16). Any other belief is mere speculation and empty assumption.

The revelation of true faith in Rom. 10:9

The assurance that we are in Christ, or have the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8: 9) is if we find ourselves loving to walk in His righteousness. This will be the result of true saving faith.

Rom. 10:10 explains verse 9

“…for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”  (Rom 10:10)

Faith is not a mental consent to, or belief in the testimonies of Christ. Rather, it is a quickening of the spirit – a consciousness of the reality of Christ received within. This consciousness in the heart, (or saving faith) produces a natural tendency to live pleasing to God, producing righteousness as a way of life. Then with our hearts, being filled with Christ, we will love what He loves and hate what He hates. As a result we will acknowledge / confess Jesus as Lord. For what the heart is filled with the mouth will confess (Matt. 12:24). And the final result of this is our salvation.

When we truly believe in Christ, it is because we have received Him to abide within. Hence, Christ lives His life through us. This faith is sincere and from the heart (1Pet. 1:22) and naturally purifies the soul. Therefore, when we walk in the conscious reality of Christ within us, the result will always be righteousness, which is the holy conduct of life (or as Hebrews puts it – our sanctification (Heb. 12:14)). And if anyone lives otherwise and calls himself a Christian that one is a liar (1John 2:4).

The promises of God

God promised a good life on earth and an eternal life in the world to come if we walk in Him and according to the laws of righteousness that governs His holy kingdom (Deut. 30: 8-9). However, those to whom the promises were initially given did not hear the Word united with faith (Heb. 4:2).

Let us then, while the promises of God remain, turn to Him in real saving faith, and walk in that conscious presence of Christ (See Heb. 4:1). Our assurance of salvation will not be based on assumption, but God will quicken our spirits with that knowing that we are indeed children of God.

Peter said that we are to make sure of our calling to salvation (2Pet. 1:10). For many are called, but few are chosen. This is because they refuse to exercise a living faith in the present Person of Christ. Those who call on Him in all sincerity of heart, exercising faith will not be disappointed (Rom. 10: 11 -13).

Do not harden your heart

Today, if you hear His call on your life to repent and walk in the presence of Christ, do not harden your heart against the truth. He will walk with you to accomplish that which He has begun in you if you will exercise the kind of faith that is conscious of His abiding presence to produce righteousness of heart.

for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  (Rom 10:10)

To learn more about this subject see How do I know if I am saved?

Let me know your thoughts on the above at hugh@removingveils.com

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How can I find happiness God’s way?

Everybody wants to find happiness for themselves regardless of race, wealth and social standing. The poor man wants it as badly as the rich man. So does the hermit and the film star. Yet with all our yearnings to be happy, very few discover the secret to it. So how do we find happiness?

What is happiness?

Synonyms of happiness are joy, gaiety, satisfaction, pleasure, cheerfulness, merriment, etc. But such like experiences are usually temporal and we can obtain these readily through what the world offers. New clothes, a new car, success at work or play, even a newly wed spouse, all portray the promise of happiness. And even though we may seek such things, true happiness retreats like a desert mirage.

True happiness is not an emotional feeling invoked by external influence. It is rather a consciousness of joy that is one’s core and constant state of being regardless of our emotions. Those who possess true happiness have the assurance of peace that fills their heart in spite of contrary circumstances that may surround them.

The Source of Happiness

Tabloids are full of the healthy, rich and famous who are desperate for happiness. They have most of what the world can offer, yet they are not satisfied with life. The heart of man has infinite capacity, therefore, it can never find happiness with anything that has a finite value. Temporal pleasures and good health may ease many burdens of life, but they cannot supply true happiness.

The heart of man has infinite capacity, therefore, it can never find happiness with anything that has a finite value.

The focus of self

Others try and look for it in religion and the focus of self. Eastern religious thought has infiltrated the church, teaching that to find happiness we are to “connect with ourselves, (or inner spiritual identity)”. Yet they are quick to refer you to teachings that promote various forms of worship, external activities and influences; not to glorify God in love, but to promote self well-being.

Aristotle says that “happiness depends on ourselves”. But if we could find happiness within ourselves, why would we need to search for it? Jesus said, what the heart (spirit) is filled with, the mouth will confess (Matt. 12:34). Hence, our lives will demonstrate the substance of our spirit. Therefore, if happiness existed innately then one would not need to “search within” for it, because we would already be conscious of its existence. And our very lives would demonstrate that fact.


Happiness is a product of goodness

God is eternally happy and infinitely good. He has no want because He is absolutely self-sufficient, and is perfectly content at all times. There is nothing that opposes His state of being, as He created and governs all things. He has no rival, and cannot be influenced by any external persuasion. His goodness is the cause of His happiness, and there is nothing that can be added to, or deducted from His happy state of being. God is the source of all true happiness. Therefore, without God the state of happiness cannot exist.

Man was created to be happy

God made man a moral being, and clothed him in a physical body. His creation in man was with eternal intent. That is; God made man to fellowship with Himself in His blissful, eternal kingdom.

We were not designed to be independent spiritual islands.

He created man in His image and His likeness (Gen. 1:26). But He did not make us with unique happiness apart from Himself. We were not designed to be independent spiritual islands. He constructed us to live, and move, and have our being solely in Him (Acts 17:28 KJV). Hence, we do not have life within ourselves; but He has breathed and maintains the breath of life within each one of us. It is His Spirit of life within us that gives us our existence.

Now we not only obtain and maintain our lives through Him, but, because God is infinitely happy within Himself, we also, being created in Him, share His happiness. This is His intention for all of His created moral beings. Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy (happiness) may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11).

Man’s fall from happiness

But man fell from God’s fellowship through sin, and subsequently forfeited his infinite state of happiness.

Fallen Man
Man fell from happiness

Even though God lives in eternal bliss in Himself, He does not exist in a universal state of goodness, but rather, the universal state of His kingdom derives its goodness from Him. Everything He does is governed by His laws of righteousness. It is therefore, from this state of righteousness that all moral beings live in perfect benevolence and partake of God’s infinitely happy state.

Free will to choose

Now all moral beings possess a free will to choose. For, without the power of choice, there can be no virtue. (For what virtue would there be in any being serving God in loving obedience, if they never had the power of choice?)

Therefore, it is man’s privilege and obligation to choose right from wrong; benevolence from selfishness; faithfulness to God’s word from disobedience. Nevertheless, man chose to disobey God’s word in favor of his own selfishness, and through this, fell from God’s eternal state of happiness, incurring as a result, just and eternal condemnation.

How to find the way back to happiness

But, in God’s foreknowledge, He anticipated man’s fall, and in His eternal plan He made provision to restore the fallen to Himself. And even though transgression of His infinitely holy laws of righteousness deserves eternal retribution, He made a way through the atonement of the eternal Christ to pay for our sins and that, without transgressing His own laws of righteousness.

(For more on the foreknowledge of God see: how God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.)

Because all other beings were created, none but God in Christ could be the appropriate eternal propitiation for man. 1. This was the only way to atone for man’s eternal offences.

Therefore, those who exercise faith in Christ alone are the ones reconciled to God. And through this reconciliation we are reinstated to be partakers of His divine nature (2Pet. 1:4), and consequently, sharers of His infinite happiness.

For more on exercising the faith that leads to repentance and reconciliation with God visit Grow Your Faith – 7 Principles.

…to the measure that we walk in true saving faith in Him, to that measure we will be partakers of His happiness.

Our happiness is the direct result of the reality of our faith in the Person of Jesus Christ. (Or as Paul says: “Spirit of Christ”(Rom. 8:9)). And to the measure that we walk in true saving faith in Him, to that measure we will be partakers of His happiness.

This is because when we exercise true saving faith in Christ, our spirit within that was once dead, becomes quickened to life in Him. His Spirit that is now quickened in us becomes us – to that measure that we walk in Him. Now to have the Spirit of Christ within is to have the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy (happiness), peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; (Gal 5:22-23). This is the only way that we can find true and lasting happiness.

But what about bad times?

Times of sadness, being forsaken or forgotten (or both) will always be there. Troubles may be on every side at times. No one is immune to these. Not even our Lord Jesus was when He walked among us.

He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him .


(Isa 53:3)

I do not say that we will not get tempted to become despondent, or feel rejected, or have sad moments. But whatever our situation, if we continue to walk in Christ we will have the peace that surpasses understanding (Php 4:7). Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world (1John 4:4).

The happiness that we have through God cannot diminish. Despondency cannot become desperation when our faith assures us that God is with us.

This is not wishful thinking from vain imaginations. We do not simply quote a scripture verse, or declare a bold statement of triumph and all troubles disappear. That is what foolish religiosity does, but it has no power. It only leaves you doubtful of everything you hear from the pulpit and read in God’s Word. Nevertheless, many will still continue in false religiosity despite there being no power manifested by it.

The answer

The answer lies in becoming acquainted with the reality of God in our lives. This changes us. God makes His presence known to us and gives us boldness to resist sin and the world, and to walk in unity with Him, knowing that we live according to His will, whatever it may be for us.

Joy inexpressible and full of glory fills our hearts. (1Pet. 1:8). It therefore becomes impossible for the enemy to subdue us and pull us into the vortex of sin and consequent despair. But it takes learning how to exercise true faith in Christ. (See also How to grow your faith)

Conclusion

We cannot find happiness by any means, either externally or internally if it is by our own doing. We were created to be happy, but that happiness is not our own. It is God’s. Our faithful walk in Him therefore, is the only way that we can truly be happy. Apart from this, we will be left having to be content with false beliefs and temporal external influences to obtain any fleeting self-gratification. For the religions and offerings of this world can never produce a lasting happiness for man.

But God offers happiness to everyone who repents of their life and comes to the knowledge of the truth in Christ (1Tim. 2:4). His infinite happiness is available for the sharing.

Testimony of Dr. William Lane Craig

Dr. William Lane Craig shares his excellent testimony about how he found true happiness only in God.

Let me know your thoughts on the above at hugh@removingveils.com

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  1. To fully grasp the weight of this doctrine one requires an in depth knowledge of the essence of Christ and the nature and relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Is it if or when we sin? (1John 2:1)

Is it if or when we sin? What’s in a word?

Often, those professing Christianity will go along with what leaders teach, and that, without reading the Word of God for themselves. 1John 2:1 is such a case. Many teachers use this scripture to support their doctrine of continued sin in the life of the Christian. And, instead of admonishing their listeners to repent of their sins, and warning them of their grave danger of continuing in them, they inadvertently pacify them to remain in their sinful state. But then what is in a word? Does it really matter if we say if or when I sin?

In my last post I unveiled the false doctrine of teachers who say that John proclaimed in 1John 1:8 that we all sin continually. Furthermore, they claim that he tells us in this verse that should anyone disagree with this statement they would be liars and the truth would not be in them. I refute this claim of such teachers in my previous post  A license to sin?(1John 1:8) Now these same teachers use 1John 2:1 to further this false doctrine.

What they say-

Here is what they say: “When anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”.

What they intend us to believe is that we all sin everyday, so it’s just a matter of time when we sin. But when we do, we have an advocate who perpetually gets our sins forgiven. This in essence is what they intend for us to believe. However, I will demonstrate the harm and the falseness of this claim through the principles of discerning truth.

Here is what John says in the first part of 1John 2:1: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin“.

It was John’s supreme intention in writing the letter of 1John to expose false doctrine that taught that Christians everywhere could sin without God having recourse against them. He understood very well, and taught that those who believe this false doctrine and continue in sin and, claim to be Christians, are the liars and the truth is not in them (1John 2:4)

Escape from condemnation

Nevertheless, he also understood that even though walking in the Spirit of Christ removes the propensity to sin, it does not remove the possibility of sinning. For those who might slip in their walk, succumb to temptation and temporarily fall into sin, should have remorse for offending the supreme love of their lives, namely God. But, they should also not despair of not having the opportunity to be reconciled with God again.

So John continues in the same verse to say: “And IF anyone sins …” This is a far cry from what these teachers proclaim. John is saying that should anyone fall into sin they have an advocate. He definitely is not saying that we will fall into sin as a matter of course!

And Paul goes further to say that anyone who says that he promotes walking in sin will have God’s just condemnation. (Read in context Rom 3:8)

Christians do not habitually sin

As I mentioned above, we might fall into temporary sin if we let our guard down and permit temptation to take hold. Nevertheless we do not have to. If we can exercise faith in the presence of Christ and walk in His Spirit for five minutes, can we not do it for ten? How about half an hour? An hour? Five hours? A day? Forever?

For any Christian to be able to sin, he first has to cease exercising faith in the conscious presence of Christ. The very moment we halt our faith in the presence of Christ, we open ourselves up to fall. If we claim that we abide in Him we ought to walk in the light that Christ has given us through His Word. (See 1John 2:6).

John leaves no room for doubt

The letter of 1John admonishes and counsels to walk pure before God. Sin has no place in the true Christian. Those who choose to believe the false doctrine of continued sin in the believer’s life will shrink away from Christ’s appearing (1John 2:28). Their unrepentant sin will have separated them from Him (Is 59:2).

Everyone who chooses to believe in Christ for salvation and have a life in Him, purifies himself (1John 3:3). For we can’t have one without the other. No one who abides in Him sins; and adversely, no one who lives in continued sin has experienced Him let alone knows Him (1John 3:6). Christians are born of God and do not practice a life of sin (1John 3:9).

Don’t let them deceive you

The one who practices righteousness (i.e. lives a pure life in conduct, speech and thought) is righteous (1John 3: 7). Everyone who does not, is not! Do not allow yourself to be deceived by this awful doctrine of theirs . It is contrary to the essence of God, and negates the purpose of Christ.

  • The life of Christ was to demonstrate His deity and the way to salvation, that is; having a life in God now and  forever.
  • The death of Christ was the eternal atonement for our sins which were eternal offenses against an infinitely holy God.
  • The resurrection of Christ was the proof not only of His deity, but also the foundation of our hope for eternal life. The fact that He rose from the grave gives us hope of being resurrected through faith in loving obedience to Him.
  • The Holy Spirit sent by Christ was so that He (Christ) could consciously live in us through faith, to keep us (save us) from sin and its power over our lives.

Christians are those people only who have Christ living in them consciously. Their hearts are sanctified through faith in His living presence. Therefore, they overcome temptation and sin because the consciousness of His presence is a greater attraction than that which the world can ever offer (1John 4:4). They do not love the world of temporal sinful pleasures. They know that such love for the world only separates them from God (1John 2: 15-17).

True Christians know

We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He (Christ) who was born of God keeps him (the Christian), and the evil one does not touch him. (1Jn 5:18)

Let me know your thoughts on the above at hugh@removingveils.com

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A license to sin?(1John 1:8)

We all have sin!” Is this belief a license to sin?

Very few want to take the pains of actually describing the prevailing doctrine they choose to believe regarding 1John1:8. And even though they would not confess it, they do use it as a license to sin – or at least to justify their sin.

Their belief concerning this much used scripture, when committed to confession, goes along these lines:
“John says in verse 8 that all of us have perpetual sin in our lives. Furthermore, if we dare say that we do not continue in daily transgressions against God and the revealed knowledge of righteousness, we lie and therefore the truth is not in us”.

And if they are wrong…?

Generations of professing Christians have used this scripture to justify sin in their lives. I am not talking about sin of human weakness like forgetfulness, calculating errors, omissions due to absent-mindedness, lack of knowledge, etc.. I am talking about the deliberate, willful acts of conscious disobedience to the revealed will of God through the conscience and His Word. But if what they say is true, then they have nothing to fear other than living a defeatist life with a license to sin. But if God’s Word finds them to be wrong, then what will become of them?

The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?  (Jer 5:31)

The reason John wrote the letter

False doctrine started appearing not long after the early church began on the day of Pentecost. These doctrines subtly included the appearance of Christianity but denied its essence.

Gnosticism grew and soon ran rife, stealing believers away by appealing to the flesh. One of these sects was the Docetes, or as the Greek interpretation – phantomists (doketai). It was against this wide-spreading teaching, and that was so detrimental to the early church, that caused John to write this letter1. In  particular, John addressed their doctrine of dualism, which, in a nut shell, stated that man existed in a dualist form of spirit / soul and body. And, even though they co-existed in one being, each state of being was independent of the other as legal entities .

Dr. Scott Calef says: “The most basic form of dualism is substance dualism, which requires that mind and body be composed of two ontologically distinct substances”. See his posted article on Dualism

 Gnostics’ doctrine vs John’s gospel

The following are some of the doctrines of the Gnostics as opposed by John’s gospel and teaching. The specific doctrines John was refuting were:

  1. Jesus was not the incarnate Son of God, i.e. He did not appear in the flesh.
  2. The gospels of the apostles were not original.
  3. There was no sin in their lives. They could not sin in the spirit only in the flesh, which didn’t count.
  4. There had never been sin in their lives.

I submit their doctrines and give John’s refutations below each as follows:

1) “Jesus was not the incarnate Son of God

They believed that Jesus never was incarnate; that He only appeared as a man. This is particularly true of the Docetes sect of Gnosticism, who derived their name from the Greek word, doketai, meaning phantom. These were the phantomists.

But John said that he and the other apostles saw, heard and experienced the substance of Christ’s fleshly body (1John 1:1). And anyone that said that He had not come in the flesh was not of God (1John 4:2).

2) “The gospels of apostles not original

They taught that the apostles added to (altered) the true gospel, and that they, the Gnostics, were the only ones who had been entrusted with the original gospel. They assumed sole and universal authority of the only and original gospel.

John makes claim that the apostles (“we”) were the original ones who had the life manifested to them, and thus were the ones who had the authority to proclaim the truth of Christ to the church (1John 1:2-5).

3) “No sin in their life

Their principles dictated that:
a) Man’s real substance was spirit / soul. It was only the spirit that was saved and not the body, which, according to them, would perish.
b) Because only the soul was saved, it did not matter that they sinned in the body. Their sin would not hinder their salvation or contaminate their soul. Therefore, they could sin perpetually sin in the body with no affect to their souls or their relationship with God. This in essence reduces the holiness of God to the level of man’s carnality. It supposition is that God will fellowship with man in spite of him sinning against Him and all that He is – i.e. His infinite righteousness.

But John says that if we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness (i.e. sin), we lie and do not practice the truth (1John 1:6). This means that we cannot sin and think that we have fellowship with God. This is contrary to what the phantomists believed.

He went on to say: ” but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin”. John is saying here that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin only if we walk in God’s righteousness (i.e. cease from perpetual sin)! This is the state of true repentance.

Please note: This does not mean that we will never sin again; but it does mean that we will not continue living in besetting sin. Salvation does not remove the possibility of sinning; it removes the propensity.

Please also see the post on 1John 2:1 that deals with the occasion if we sin again.

4) “They never sinned

Their phantom (spirit) doctrine also meant that if the soul was “saved” (through belief in their doctrines) that it was as if they never sinned; i.e. that they didn’t have sin in our lives.

However, John strongly contested this when he said: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us”. That is to say that we confess to never having sinned.

Protest: But that is not what John was saying!!!

Many people will say: But that is not what John is saying!

Indeed it is. And  it can only be what he is saying. In fact, two verses later he reiterates and elaborates his meaning by saying: “If we say that we have not sinned (past tense), we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. He was refuting the Gnostics’ doctrine of denying that we had sin in our lives or ever had sin, because we only could sin  in the flesh while the spirit (phantom) remained untouched by sin.

License to sin

Those who profess that John purports that we all have continued sin in our lives, perpetuate the doctrine of the Gnostics. They take one verse of scripture out of context and purposely misconstrue it to justify their continued sin. Therefore giving themselves a license to sin.

Scripture was not originally written in chapter and verse. Therefore the thoughts of the writer pervade the whole of their works.

To strengthen the case at hand we only need to read the very next verse to understand that John could never mean what these license-to-sin advocates choose to believe: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin” 1John 2:1).

Let me know your thoughts on the above at hugh@removingveils.com

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  1. 1John is not considered an epistle by most biblical scholars, but rather a letter or treatise

Salvation in our final hour – is it possible?

Is it possible to receive salvation in our final hour?

In short, the answer is – yes, it is possible. All we have to do to receive salvation in our final hour is believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, and exercise faith in His Person to the degree that causes us to be born again. But is it probable?

Story of a condemned man

John Wesley once accompanied a man who was condemned to be hung for his crimes. He volunteered to join the convict in his caged wagon to the gallows in the hopes that he might share the gospel of Christ with him in his last hour. Bystanders took turns in jeering and throwing refuse at the two as they passed by. Their shouts of condemnation rose in waves to the passing of the wagon, only to settle to murmurs again in its wake. Upon their arrival, the condemned man turned to Mr. Wesley and said that he felt peace, and was happy with an assurance that in his final hour he was able to acquire salvation.

True stories like this are rare. And even though it is possible for anyone to receive Christ’s atonement and forgiveness in their final moments, history proves that it is not probable. There are various reasons for this such as:

  1. Will one have the time?
  2. What is the state of their mind at the time?
  3. What is the state of their heart at the time?
  4. Will the gospel be preached in truth to enable faith for salvation?
  5. What do they expect from salvation?
  6. What does it take to be saved?

1) Will one have the time?

Time to repent
Will we have time?

Many find their end suddenly. Heart attack, car accident, even dying in your sleep are examples of numerous possibilities of sudden death. People often dupe themselves into believing that they will live their lives as they please and give their last moments to secure their salvation. This is an illusion. We cannot predict how we will meet our end in this life.

2) What is the state of their mind at the time?

We also cannot guarantee that we will be in a fit state of mind to receive salvation.

I remember a man with whom I had tried to share the gospel, and who fought against the truth of it vehemently. A few weeks later he was stung in the neck by a wasp. His throat swelled preventing him from breathing. He soon lost consciousness and never recovered- dying days later in his coma. Some might argue that he could have received Christ in his comatose state. We will never know. But it is standard testimony through the age of the gospel that one who obtains mercy from God will glorify God before men as a result.

Some lose their minds in old age and others are so sick that they cannot comprehend sufficiently to be able to receive the gospel of Christ and consequential salvation in their final hour.

And because we all are responsible for our own repentance, faith and salvation, it is impossible for another, or even a priest to pray to save us. Salvation can only be obtained by ourselves, and to obtain it we must be able to apprehend the gospel message sufficiently enough to fulfill its conditions, which I will cover later.

3) What is the state of their heart at the time?

Would a son who has hated and rebelled against his good father all his life suddenly, in his last hour, come to the realization of his father’s loving kindness and become a faithful son? It is not impossible for he may be able. But it is highly unlikely.

I have known of some who are so lost in self that they just cannot listen to the truth. God has handed them over to a depraved mind to continue in their sinful life (Rom 1:28). Everything about their Maker and His righteousness is offensive to them. The power of their selfishness, arrogance and pride simply will not permit them to grasp the principles of the goodness of God to obtain eternal life. It is not because He is unwilling to receive them, but simply that they will not surrender their hearts to the obedience of faith in Christ (Rom 1:5), nor love God for who He is.

Many only know the Words: “Jesus Christ” as a term for blasphemy. How can one who has used the Name of Christ with dishonor all their life suddenly, at the end of their life, regard it as the Name to be honored and revered above all names to the point where they surrender their life to willful obedience and exercise faith in the Name for eternal life?

God will not be mocked?

God will not be mocked(Gal 6:7). Nor will His Word return to Him void (Isa 55:11 KJV). A person who has lived his life not wanting to know God, invariably finds it impossible to want to know Him in his final hour.

There are various accounts of the last moments of illustrious men who hated the truth of God and His Christ in their lives. Their last words are pitiful, but reveal most assuredly the reality of their lost estate. Voltaire, Sir Francis Newport, Sir Thomas Scott are among those who came to see their life of falsehood but could not receive salvation in their final hour.

4) Will the gospel be preached in truth?

Using the example of Voltaire, Mr. François-Marie Arouet, (his real name); the leading factor to his intense hatred of Christians, the gospel and Christ, was the hypocrisy and false doctrine taught as God’s Word.

But what does  the Bible say? For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written (Rom 2:24). People cannot respond to the gospel in the absence of truth. And how can they receive Christ from hypocrisy?

The Word of God is true: “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom 10:13). However, Paul continues: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Rom 10:14). And it is only reasonable to understand that the preaching needs to be in truth of God’s Word and without hypocrisy.

If one does not hear the Word of God taught in truth, then on what basis can he build his faith? For faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God(Rom 10:17). Now, how likely will a person, in his final hour, have the opportunity of hearing the gospel taught in truth to obtain salvation?

A minister’s tale

Salvation in our final hour
Salvation in our final hour

One minister related an account of one of his hospital visitations to me: He said that after he was “ministering” to an elderly woman who was in hospital, another called for him to minister to her.  Apparently, she had  been awakened to her need of a Savior and reached out to the minister to hear the gospel. But this minister was proud to say that he refused the woman, saying that God sent him to minister to the one only. His belief was that God chooses you for salvation or He doesn’t. (Apparently, he believed that God gave him the authority to choose on God’s behalf as minister). With such hypocrisy evident, what chance was there for that woman to receive the word of God’s love in truth, believe it, build up enough faith to receive the gospel in truth to result in her salvation?

For more on how to discern truth from falsehood (lies) go here.

5) What do they expect from salvation?

Most people I have talked with about salvation and the hereafter, want salvation only to escape an eternity in hell. They don’t desire the benevolence of righteousness and love that is the matrix of heaven. If they did they would live it on earth! They expect it to be a utopia of eternal pleasures for self, but do not realize that to benefit from universal benevolence one needs to become part of it, i.e. to be whole-hearted contributors also.

Eternal life is given to those whose supreme love is God, and who desire to live serving Him as an expression of that love. There is no room for selfishness in heaven. For if there were, it would soon ruin the holy matrix of love by which all heaven’s citizens live. Heaven is a place of rejoicing, not over self-gain, but for the opportunity of living with our Savior forever. Jesus is the life of all saints and heavenly beings. He is the glory of heaven and the joy of all the righteous.

Those who live for self-gratification make themselves desert islands in the sea of love. The Bible calls them “stains and blemishes” (2Pe 2:13). They are just out of place in heaven. Those who love their lives of sin cannot receive Christ as they should. For to do so they would need to forsake sin – as it is in heaven. In short, the reality of heaven, other than an escape of hell, would be intolerable to them.

6) What does it take to be saved?

Salvation is free, but it does not come easy.

God paid the infinite price of dying for the sins of the world through Christ His Son. Jesus bore the hardships of the world, shame and final death at the hands of those He came to save. Do we dare to think that a simple belief and heartless confession of His existence and testimony will save us?

(More on the truth of Rom. 10:9 regarding the “confess and belief” doctrine).

Further reading on ” How do I know if I am saved?”.

Salvation is not just an escape from hell

So many people look at salvation as the escape from eternal damnation. But this is not how it should be. Salvation is the process of being set free from sin which is, in itself, the cause of our judgement. It is the transformed state of our being that now lives for the love of God rather than the love of self. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that Christ came to free us from hell. Rather it teaches that He came to free us from sin – the very thing that was sending us to eternal damnation in the first place (Mat 1:21).

When Christ sets us free from sin, He transforms us into new creatures. This also includes the foremost sin of rejecting God in our lives. These new creations have a mind for God. They take hold of Christ as their supreme love, and with thankful hearts for His grace reflected in His great atonement, receive Him to dwell within them forever, which is through faith. But it is a process of hearing the truth, perceiving and then acknowledging it, and finally receiving it to the extent of causing the transformation within.

Jesus preaches to Nicodemus

Nicodemus, the learned Pharisee, came to Jesus to seek the word of truth about eternal life and how to get it. After Jesus’ discourse about being born again, it is apparent that Nicodemus still didn’t understand until much later. Understanding the gospel takes time – even when preached by the Lord Jesus Himself! It is a dawning upon the soul that persuades us to reach out for the Person of Christ, through faith, and to have Him live and exercise His will within us.

Obtaining salvation is based on an instantaneous decision. But being converted to a life in Christ is not just a head consent, but a heart submission to have the Lord Jesus reign within. And to get to the state of making that decision involves a process in time.

But, what about the man on the cross?

The other man
The other man.

Some people point to the man on the cross receiving salvation in his last moments (Luk 23:42-43). They say that this proves that it is not difficult to receive salvation in our final hour. But scripture shows very clearly that this did not happen as many of these advocates propose.

The factors involved in the mind of the the man on that day

  • The  saved man’s only chance of listening to Christ and seeing His witness was on his last day. And even though he knew of Him, he had not witnessed His teachings or experienced His righteousness. He had only hearsay to go on. However, everyone in Jerusalem knew of Jesus, and even more so on the day of His crucifixion. And these included the incarcerated like the robbers being crucified alongside Him.
  • He still had a fear of God in his final hour, as opposed to the stark depravity of the other man who had abandoned all fear of God (Luk 23:40).
    When one dies with a conscience one becomes extremely fearful of meeting God in the hereafter. But to those who despise all attempts of their consciences trying to prick them towards repentance, the fear of God is absent. Some have been so depraved in their final hour, that they would even curse God with their last breath, forsaking any chance of salvation. Joseph Stalin is a good example of this, allegedly having died waving a clenched fist to God.
  • His agony increased his torment and frustration, and he joined the other man for a little while in hurling abuse at Christ. But as he hung there from morning to the time of his repentance, he had plenty of time to contemplate his sinfulness and just deserts. This was particularly so in contrast to the witness of Christ dying silently next to him.
  • The way Christ conducted Himself in His own agony (Luk 23:34) would have helped to invoke his faith in Jesus.

The working of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit will not move on the heart of the reprobate mind (one handed over to complete and irreversible depravity). But to those who He foreknows will receive His grace, He gives understanding. (See the account of Lydia in Acts 16:14). This is undoubtedly the result of the man who received salvation. There was a huge passage of time for him to process the truth of God’s Son. Not only did he witness Christ personally over the course of the day, but the Holy Spirit would also have given him the witness that Christ was who He claimed to be. (Continue reading to see why).

So to claim the example that the man on the cross received his salvation in his “final hour” as many suppose is just not true to scripture, nor is it reasonable. The Holy Spirit had obviously been at work in his heart for an elongated period of time, foreknowing that the man would respond favorably to truth (See Rom.8:29-30). And no one can believe Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit (1Co 12:3).

The process of salvation

Salvation is a process of internal regeneration. Being born again of the Spirit of God requires a number of factors:

  1. We need to hear the truth of God’s Word in such a manner as to be able to comprehend it.
  2. God’s Word must be desirable to us to enable us to want to change. What we hear and understand we need to apply to our lives so that we can be  transformed from within. As in the case of Lydia ( Acts 16:14), God opened her ears to understand because He knew she would be obedient to the truth she heard. (See Rom 8:29-30)
  3. We need to recognize the truth and realize our fallen state from God’s favor and grace. No one gets to heaven by their own merit. All of us are helpless and need to recognize our need of Christ as the only Savior.
  4. We need to repent of our sins, and that with remorse. We have led a life at enmity to the wonderful, loving God who made us. Yet, even while we sinned against Him, He continued to sustain us and give us life. True repentance can only be conducted by a contrite heart, which is not just from fear, but from godly sorrow for the life of offense to God that we have led (2Co 7:11).
  5. We need to be able to exercise faith sufficient to receive pardon for our sins; and surrender our hearts to the Person of Christ as our personal Savior. This faith is to be real, living within us. We will then have God’s translated peace made known to us. For He gives all who truly turn to Him a consciousness of belonging. That is, an assurance that we belong to Him, and He to us (Rom 8:16). This is the time when Christ becomes the love of our lives.

The truth of the matter

All of the above does not take a moment in life; especially when one is trying to deal with the fears and pains of impending death. The truth of the matter is that if a person has denied coming to the obedience of faith and love of the Lord Jesus during his life, he is highly unlikely to be able to receive salvation in his final hour of life either.

God’s Word counsels us to come to Him when we hear Him call  “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS…”” (Heb 3:7-8). God gives salvation freely. However, it is up to us to change the way we think to be able to receive it. And this is a process that rarely takes a moment.

Let me know your thoughts on the above at hugh@removingveils.com

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