It’s a rule, and Christians don’t have to obey rules – all they have to do is love. That’s the message that comes across. Why doesn’t that kind of thinking lead to things like antimasking? Consciences still need to be informed.
So let me get this straight … you think that a Christian is being loving to their neighbors by not subjecting themselves to the rules of governing authorities? Our neighbors pay taxes, don’t steal from us, drive safe speeds so that you don’t have to fear quite so much when you are on the road … and yet you want to violate all those things? Does any of that sound like a loving way to live? How do you possibly get any of that from anything I’ve written?
I suspect that a stubbornly rampant legalism may be part of the problem here. Legalists have a lot of trouble with the concept of love: for them rules are an “all-or-nothing” affair. If anyone suggests that maybe life and love is not all about the letter of the law, the legalist can’t help but see this as a “total abandonment of law”. After all, they say, to break even the smallest part of any law is to break all of it - and they happily supply a scripture reference that in fact says as much. For them, with regard to law they only see two possibilities: 0% and 100%. They are blind to the entire real world that lives between those two numbers. While is it true enough that in the end, at the culmination of God’s work on us, and our own responding obedience we will all be at 100% eventually before we can be in full communion with God, nonetheless, God will work on us exactly where we’re at … even those ostensibly (especially!) at 0% - think of the thief on the cross, all the way to those who appear (to the world) to be over 100% (like Mother Theresa). She would have been the first to inform you she wasn’t even close. But that doesn’t mean God’s work through her and on her is for naught. We aspire toward that 100% even as we will always fall short - even the 'Mother Theresa’s among us. And our grace extended to others in this regard is not at all an invitation to excuse yourself from the general responsibility to love your neighbor by following the local and national laws that your neighbor too is obliged to follow on your behalf. In fact, love will have you doing much more than the law asks.
A young man, hoping for the reward of his fiancée’s smile, hands her a bouquet when she comes to the door. He is obeying the ‘laws of love’ because he loves, not because he is concentrating on the rules. Is that legalism? Obeying the rules is loving, and you have to know what they are. When entering a town on a highway, the speed limit goes down. It is unloving not to know the rules. Why do I feel like you are characterizing me as the young man shoving the bouquet in his fiancée’s face, saying, “Here, I have to do this because it’s a law of love!”?
There are indeed laws of love, the moral law, which is elaborated on extensively in the NT and that we need to be cognizant of and obey because we love, like the speed limit, not because they are rules that we are checking off. The antinomian seems to pretend that they are not even there and have been cut out à la T. Jefferson, not even being willing to recognize the labels. I reject the label of legalist.
Good. And sorry that my response to you had condescending tones. I don’t want to label others in ways they don’t already own for themselves.
I agree that we do need to know what the rules are - precisely because (as I think you say), we want to love others - we want to give that fiancée reason to smile. So we do attend to the expectations of any given culture we’re in. God gave us brains to do that, and we also suppose (usually correctly) that the rules are there for good reason and that we neglect them at our own and others’ peril.
[exceptions lurk in all our extreme situations in life, of course, when our Spirit-attentive minds are aware of systemic injustices, perhaps requiring civil disobedience against a government’s demands on us - or when outlier circumstances might dictate that me breaking the speed limit for a bit might actually be a temporary requirement of me to fulfill a higher duty of love. It is in those moments that it should become crystal clear to us that we serve a higher master that is Lord of all those rules, just as Christ is Lord of the Sabbath and will use it on behalf of a neighbor however He sees fit.]
When I was called for jury duty and during voir dire, one attorney as me if civil disobedience was ever permissible. I don’t remember exactly what I said (over three decades ago) – it might not have been “absolutely”, but it was firm enough to indicate that I would not be easily dissuaded. Whereupon I was excused. I was actually a little disappointed, because it would have been interesting.
Agreed. He was Lord of the Sabbath in the OT as well, however, and never disobeyed it in the New. He was, however, justifiably distressed with the Pharisees when they interpreted picking grain for a
snack as labor (“harvesting”), and that healing was too, neglecting mercy. “Mercy trumps law” as it did in the Old Testament, as well. (Interestingly, the OT was more liberal than many in our culture when it comes to eating an apple for a snack from a neighbor’s tree. Just don’t bring a bushel basket.)
When working with or for a neighbor demonstrates mercy (which would include pointing them to the Lord), no problem. Routine causal commerce – including eating out or ordering in – is another discussion. I did buy ice for a church dinner, though (gasp ), when someone else had forgotten, and have more than once bought gas for extended drives that had come up unexpectedly. And when traveling with or meeting others (not necessarily Christians) and eating out, legalistic protestations are not appropriate (and never are). Routine blatant and wanton disobedience might call for some discipline, though, as it would for any other of the ‘Big Ten’?
Those questions are merely hostile challenges and argumentative and I’m not interested in playing that game. If you had seriously read anything of mine above, I’ve been pretty clear. But you have had your mind made up since the beginning and I have nothing to add.
Why did you quote me Paul’s reference to a “test” if you aren’t prepared to discuss it?
Well, since you don’t want to finish what you started, I will have to guess at what you believe about the “test”.
If you pass the “test” - say, one week after you become a believer - Jesus sends you your irrevocable ticket to Heaven. Is that correct? If so, that would mean that, if later on in life, you don’t pass the test, you still get to keep your ticket to Heaven, wouldn’t it?
Even from the point of view of common sense, that doesn’t make any sense - why should you get your ticket to Heaven for initially passing the test, but failing the test later on?
It also doesn’t make sense scripturally: For example, Paul considered the road to eternal life as a “race”, and he did not consider that “race” finished until just before his death (2Tim 4:6-8) – meaning Paul considered the “race” to be last his entire life and finishes only at death. He also urged believers to run their “race” with “perseverance” (Heb 12:1), which makes sense only if they need to finish the “race”. And Paul believed that even he could be “disqualified” from the “race” (1Cor 9:27), which again, makes sense only if he believed he needed to finish the “race”. Matt 42:13 says, those who “endure to the end will be saved”.
A more apt metaphor than your “ticket to heaven” and one that is more biblically supported would be that of an adoption certificate. And not just any adoption certificate – one that is personally signed by a loving adoptive Father, indelibly and irrevocably.
About testing ourselves, I don’t know why you inferred it was a one time thing. We need to have tender consciences that are informed, among other things. The ‘test’ is a continuing one, not unlike being aware of the speed limit and looking at the speedometer. If you don’t care about the speed limit and you are not watching the speedometer (or willfully disobeying the speed limit), you are not passing the test and are you are on the broad road leading to destruction and not heading toward the narrow gate, to mix two wayfaring metaphors. Keep in mind that speed limits themselves are laws of love, as are many if not most civil laws, so the metaphor is not totally an abstraction, and we are talking about ‘works’ and ‘deeds’, not just faith. So testing our deeds (including the behaviors of our minds) is important. We are saved by works, if you will (and I know you will ), because we have to be on the right road… by faith.
Again, tax collectors were widely seen as cheats and frauds. So by paying 4 times the amount Zaccheus would have nothing left.
Yes he did walk away from salvation. He was asking about eternal life and Jesus told him to sell everything. You are amazing, btw. You represent typical evangelical Christians who are fighting tooth and nail passages they don’t like.
No way someone could be rich and follow Jesus who clearly said ”woe to you who are rich”.
What you are doing is very similar to how LGBTQ Christians looks at Scripture.
To Jesus, being perfect and saves are synonyms.
Why would the rich young man walk away sad if he could be saved, the very thing he was seeking, and keep his wealth? Your explanation makes no sense of the text but you need it to work for obvious reasons. Well, it doesn’t work.
Matthew absolutely preaches works salvation. Look at Matthew 25 about sheep and goats. You are saved by what you do, not by what you believe. Sermon on the Mount is where Jesus said: “be perfect as Heavenly Father is perfect “.
Make it even more interesting … Here’s an anecdote from an Internal Revenue Agent training class I attended in my early days as a new I.R.S. employee:
An I.R.S. agent was assigned the 1040 tax return of a fellow who had deducted a substantial amount of cash donations to his church, which happened to be a hefty portion of his net income.
Auditing the taxpayer’s paper records documenting the donation, the agent confirmed that the taxpayer had checks drawn on his personal bank account, totaling the claimed deduction amount, made payable to and deposited in his bona-fide church’s bank account: all checks appeared to be in order and seemed to be legal donations.
Exercising due diligence, the agent approached the church’s pastor and inquired whether or not the taxpayer was a member of the church and his function(s) in the church. The pastor reported that the individual in question was the most esteemed member of the church: an elder, a bible-study teacher, a role model for all, … ready to serve in any capacity at any time, … even as head usher.
“Head usher??? What’s that?” asked the agent. "The person who trains new ushers, who is available to serve as an usher if a scheduled usher doesn’t show up, who oversees the collection and count of the offerings; and who deposits the offerings in the bank.
The agent’s further investigation confirmed that the total offerings received in the church were, in fact, timely deposited … in the taxpayer’s bank account and a check was written that transferred the funds from the taxpayer’s account into the church’s account.
The taxpayer had claimed a deduction for the church’s total offerings received on his tax return, and had the checks “to prove” it. No money was stolen … from the church.
It’s a little difficult to put a ‘like’ on that. But it does exemplify someone who has not been testing themselves (honestly, anyway) and who should have serious doubts about the legitimacy of their adoption!
It wasn’t about wealth, it was about looking for guarantees. The problem with your interpretation is that it doesn’t jibe with how the disciples understood what Jesus was saying. When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” Were the disciples rich? Were most of the people in Israel rich? Of course not. So why wasn’t their reaction one of, “it is a good thing all of us are poor.” But that is not what they said. And how did Jesus answer the question the disciples asked? He said, “with men this is impossible.” And here we see why the man went away disappointed. The guarantee the man was looking for was impossible. There is no enough. There is no way of “getting it done.” Not by obeying the commandments and not by giving everything you have away. “With men this is impossible.”
Jesus and Paul both taught a gospel of salvation by the grace of God. Not by what you do, nor by what you believe.
This is only one of many such anecdotes and if you take them as absolute in the way you do here, then they will contradict each other. So what is given here is not some absolute rule by which people will be saved. The point of the anecdote is that salvation is about a personal relationship with God and yes that relationship is not what many of the religious might think. It is not about regular attendance at church or praying a lot because God will see our relationship with other people as part of and representing our relationship with Him. So you are only correct to the degree that you cannot say what you do has no bearing on salvation. But to say that Jesus is teaching salvation by works is even more incorrect. What we hear Jesus asking of people over and over again is faith, which is part of a gospel of salvation by the grace of God. But you are correct in saying that faith doesn’t mean the belief in some set of religious dogmas. Nothing Jesus says supports that idea. Faith is indeed very much about doing what is good and right, but not because it will earn you anything, but for its own sake, because it is good and right. Without that, any claim to faith is nothing but empty words.