Spinoff: Law vs. Grace?

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Which part of, “you will keep my commandments”, don’t you understand?

Are you aware that “keep my commandments” is just another way of saying “keep my rules”?

Yet Hebrews 12:14 says “Strive … for holiness without which no one will see the Lord .”

And in Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus repeatedly judges believers according to their “works” (mentioned ten times).
In Rev 3:4, Jesus judges certain believers “worthy” of eternal life on account of their “works”.

We are commanded to love God and to love our neighbour – in other words, love is a rule .

Do you equate keeping God’s commandments with pride? Keeping God’s commandments (albeit never perfectly) is an expression of our love for God, not an expression of pride.

I have only a very basic understanding of the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, so instead of offering you my very limited knowledge on the subject, I will defer first of all to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
Catechism of the Catholic Church - IntraText (vatican.va)

You might also be interesting in the following articles:
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Purgatory (newadvent.org)
Is Purgatory in the Bible? | Catholic Answers
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Purgatory? | Catholic Answers

Firstly, you seemed to have missed the point of me citing that passage (Heb 6:4-6) – that believers who had “become partakers of the Holy Spirit” – ie, had “sonship” - can fall away and lose their salvation.

Secondly, kindly stop misrepresenting my position - I never said someone who falls away cannot later repent and come back to God. A justified person can lose his justification (“fall away”), but if that person repents and comes back to God, he can fully regain his justification and the hope of eternal life.

Firstly, the fact remains that you have not one shred of evidence to support your claim that Paul’s warnings in Gal 5 and 1Cor6 are addressed to “unbelievers”. Paul calls the Galatians “sons of God”, but you claim that in Gal 5:16-21 he is talking to “unbelievers”!
But I completely understand why you needed to pull that narrative out of thin air, for without it, Paul contradicts your once-justified-always-justified doctrine.

Secondly, Paul is certainly generalizing and has no need to make exceptions, because his warning applies to all Christians, not just to “those who think they are Christians” (as you call them).

I think this one statement shows you are beginning to understand what I’m trying to say. In fact … I would strengthen this statement to declare (with Paul, and with Christ himself) that love is the only Rule. (Romans 13:8-10):

Owe no one anything except to love one another. For the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not murder; you shall not steal; you shall not covet”; and any other commandment are summed up in this word: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And once that “Rule” reigns in your heart, you will no longer see it as a mere ‘rule’.

Or as I saw it well-put at Chrisitanity.com, “Works are a fruit, not a foundation of our standing before God.” They are important - as you correctly insist. Indeed, without them our faith is dead, since a tree is known by its fruit. But the source of such fruit is Christ, and our rootedness in Him.

Neither of those (love and obedience) should be pitted against the other. Yet, one of them has a primacy that leads to the other. There is a reason (I suggest) that Jesus gives that in the order he does: The true (and only) commandment there is: “Love me” - and what must follow from (the evidence of) any such love is the keeping of all his commandments. Love is presupposed as being present and operational there. In fact, apart from that love, there will be no “keeping of any commandments.” Brackish springs cannot produce fresh water or good fruit.

Let’s not pit James against Christ and Paul. Take a look at the whole verse, (and surrounding thoughts) to see what James is really saying here, beginning with verse 22 - and with some of my own emphasis added:

You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

So you can see that James is in no way dismissing the operating faith. He is instead giving us the way in which we can evaluate whether or not our faith is actually alive (operational).

You are correct that holiness is important - more than important - essential (God have mercy on us all!) The source of that holiness for us is Christ and Christ alone. He will make us holy, and our obedience to his one commandment of Love: love in our hearts for God and for neighbor, will provide the fruit of that holiness.

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I am not. I am just presenting the logical result of the Hebrew 6 passage using your misinterpretation:

It is impossible, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance.

That does not mean they went away, though, does it? I forget, did we come up with a label you would consider appropriate for all the other very specific and articulate ‘laws of love’ (e.g., submit to civil authority) that are enumerated in the epistles (as well as from Jesus in the gospels)?

No more than a teacher negates everything they have just taught in class when they say at the end: "…so in summary … "

But on the other hand, the character of it all changes significantly when the Spirit is operating instead of “the letter”. And that is a significance not captured in the little “teacher summary” example I just gave. That significance is something I’ve been going on about here for a while now in many long posts above. See them for details.

I don’t think I have really disagreed with that, since I have been going on about the necessity of a changed heart in multiple posts above (see them for details :slightly_smiling_face:).
 

Okay, but what do we call the specifics that have been summarized? Rules are out, commandments have been discarded, mandates won’t work, either, not even ‘laws of love’ will meet the standard* you have set.

Please give me a label for the very explicit whatever it is, “Submit to civil authority.”

 


*[We probably can’t call them standards, either, right?]

I think I have also said, regarding Jesus and the moral law, “Jesus raised the bar”, e.g., with regard to adultery and lust. It’s the heart that is the root of the matter. You cannot disagree with that, surely. But what is a bar? It is a measuring device, a ‘rule’.

Call them whatever you want … “Rules” … “Commandments” … “legalistic demands” … why would I want to call them anything better than what they actually are in the minds of the most enthusiastic practitioners? I just don’t trust those who wish to make their spiritual homes there while having their eyes on everybody else.

Why isn’t that evading the question? Maybe because there is no better term than what Jesus, Paul and John called them, recognizing them for what they are.
 

That isn’t something we should do?

Why shouldn’t we? Unless to do so violates the conscience inhabited by love.

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.

There really are people like this:

image

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.

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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.

Loving God means keeping his commandments [there are more than just two], and his commandments are not burdensome [the bouquet is not a burden].
1 John 5:3

He who is having my commands, and is keeping them, that one it is who is loving me, and he who is loving me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.*
John 14:21 YLT

 


*The young man is hoping for future grace, the reward of his fiancée’s smile, and not because she owes it to him.

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. :grin: 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, too. (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 :grin:), 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’?

Please tell me more about the “test”. First of all, what is it, exactly?

When is the test conducted?

If you pass the test, does that mean Jesus sends you your ticket to Heaven?

What happens if you pass the test today, but fail the test later on in life?

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.

You’ve been struggling to reply for 37 minutes, but why don’t you just let it be and give it a rest.

Shalom.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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