Freedom to Obey

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Herald, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. Herald

    Herald
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    1 John 2:3-6 3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

    I was listening to a message earlier this evening, from a preacher who is considered controversial by some, that touched on the subject of obedience to Christ as a mark of genuine salvation.

    I have talked with people who believe that Christians are free from all commandments. They equate commandments with the Law, and since we are no longer under the Law, ergo we are not bound to any commandments. I find this belief interesting in light of the Apostle John's words in 1 John 2. John says that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. John creates a condition (keep His commandments) to knowing Christ. John is not saying that we can keep Christ's commandments perfectly (c.f. 1 John 1:8-9). John is describing a general description of what a believer's life should be like.

    Is there anyone who disagrees with this? If so, why?
     
  2. The Biblicist

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    Are you sure he is creating a "condition" or only making a declaration to what manifests a saved person? If he were creating a "condition" then works would be essential to be justified as justification ultimately permits entrance into heaven. However, if he is merely declaring this is how Christians can be known by others then he is simply declaring a manifestation of the saved rather than a condition to be saved.
     
  3. Herald

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    Both, actually. Now, John could have wrote, "The child of God will keep His commandments", which is certainly true, but I think he was not giving the professed believer an easy way out. Note that I already wrote, "John is not saying that we can keep Christ's commandments perfectly (c.f. 1 John 1:8-9). John is describing a general description of what a believer's life should be like." This gives deference to your comment, "or only making a declaration to what manifests a saved person".

    Christians are to act like Christians. We are to act like children of the King. Our lives should display evidence of an organic change at the most basic level. If there is no change, if there is no obedience to Christ, has salvation taken place? It is a valid question. Indeed, it is a necessary question. I am not saying as Christians we do not struggle against sin. We do. Christians not only sin but they can commit grievous sin. What separates the truly regenerate person and the false professor is "a broken and contrite heart" (Psalm 51:17) when confronted with our sin. In short, genuine repentance.

    This is hard message to preach in modern evangelical churches. People do not want to hear this message. What people want is what Michael Horton describes as "therapeutic deism". People want to be assured that they are okay without the radical organic change that scripture commands. That is a false gospel that may lead people to hell.

    I am not trying to destroy the genuine Christian's assurance. In the same letter John writes, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). Not that you may think that you have eternal life, but that you may know that you have eternal life. But what are the "things" that John has written that will provide this wonderful assurance? Everything that preceded 1 John 5:13. Namely the call to obedience to God's commands.

    Brother, I ask you to hear me on this. I struggle with assurance at times. I do not suffer from lack of knowledge. "for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day" (2 Timothy 1:12). I know that truth and cling to it. But when I sin (and to my shame, I do sin) I hear the nagging doubts in the back of my mind. I know that I am not unique in this. What comforts my heart and strengthens my assurance is the Spirit's call to repentance. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
     
  4. The Biblicist

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    I appreciate your candid honesty. I used first John to help a friend out on this very issue of assurance. Look at 1 Jn 1:1-4. Note that John had visibly seen, touched and heard Jesus Christ and wrote for the specific purpose to "declare" how his readers could share in this same kind of personal tangible "fellowship" with Christ and His Father (v. 3) so that their "joy may be full."

    The key word here is "fellowship" (Gr. koinonia). It means to "share in common" or to "participate with" or "commonality."

    First, we can experientially "participate with the apostles" in hearing Christ's words through the apostles sharing his words to us through inspiration (1 Jn. 4:5-6). The term "inspiration" conveys the idea that the words written down by apostles are so directly from Christ as though the apostles are not even being used, as it conveys the idea that the diaphram is pressing air over the vocal chords as Christ speaks to us directly.

    Second, we can experientially "participate with the apostles" in walking with Christ if we walk where he walks - "in the light" (righteousness/truth). God is light and in him is no darkness at all and so as we experientially walk in the light as He is in the light we share in common the same light - righteousness/truth and by doing so we are experientially walking with the apostles and Christ. Do you experientially partipate with Christ and the apostles in seeking, living and rejoicing in righteousness and truth?

    Third, we can experientially "participate with the apostles" in sharing the same moral taste bud with Christ toward sin. Are we sin sensitive? (I Jn. 1:8-2:2). Does sin bother us? Do we feel the need of cleansing from sin? Do we strive against sin? Do we take sides against sin? Are we honest about our sinfulness and sins?

    Fourth, we can experientially "particpate with the apostles" if we "love" the brethren. Do we share a common spirit and attitude toward these very experiential virtues? Are we committed to doing what is right toward one another?

    These four themes are simply repeated over and over throughout the five chapters of first John. (1) Hearing His word (perceiving and obeying); (2) walking in the light/truth; (3) Sin sensitivity; (4) loving our brethren.

    These things are the bases of experiential knowledge ("might know") that one has a personal experiential tangible fellowship (participation) with Christ and the apostles. This is how we can "know" our own salvation experience is genuine as well as experientially "know" who is not experiencing this same tangible participation with Christ and the apostles.

    Therefore, do you hear (perceive and obey) His words? Do you walk characteristically where Christ walks? In the light (truth/righteousness)? Do you seek truth? Does darkness bother you? Are you sin sensitive? Does sin bother you enough to seek cleansing? Do you love the brethren? Do you share a common spirit, common cause, common love, common committment with those who manifest the same characteristics?

    The lost professor cannot experientially identify with these things. There is no delight,love, joy in seeking, knowing, living in the truth (walk). They often oppose essential truths (1 Jn. 4:1-6) and especially the essential truths of salvathion and thereby oppose those who embrace those truths and this opposition is the Biblical definition of "hate" toward God and the brethren.Those who deny they are sinful or claim to live above sin or profess no struggle with sin have no experiential knowledge of real salvation.

    However, all those who participate in these experientials will also struggle in the degree of their experience according to whether they are a "child" or a "young man" or a "father" in spiritual growth in these experiential things. Hence, the very fact that you identify and struggle in these areas is evidence you are a child of God as the lost man does not "walk in the light" or is "sin sensitive" and seek cleansing or share the moral taste buds of Christ or identifies with others who do and is committed to treating them right.

    This brings me to my last point. These things are written that WE might "know" (experiential knowledge) through the same tangible experiential things that are common with the aposltes and their relationship with Christ. We see, touch and hear Christ by the ability to experientially share in these tangible experiences. First John was not written that God might know who are the saved or lost but that "we" might know. If you are participating in these experiential things then you are seeing, touching and hearing and thus walking with Christ as did the apostles.
     
    #4 The Biblicist, Sep 3, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 3, 2013
  5. The Biblicist

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    The only sense in which these are "conditions" is for experiential knowledge - that "ye might know" experientially. They are not "conditions" to be saved but only to know you are saved.
     
  6. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Now your going back to a Puritans thinking process.
     
  7. The Biblicist

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    Well, the Puritans were not wrong about everything!:wavey:
     
  8. Iconoclast

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    Good healthy questions for a proper self examination
     
  9. Van

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    Great Topic!!

    I agree with this view completely. At the end of the gospel of Matthew we (believers) are told to make disciples, teaching them all Christ has commanded.

    If you study just the gospel of Matthew you will find about 75 commands or instructions. How many of us, out of love for our Christ, have made it a point to try to know "all Christ taught us."

    Does our love of Christ control us, or are we like so many others, lip service Christians.
     
  10. Herald

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    There is more than experiential knowledge at work here. John writes, "By this we know that we have come to know Him..." "By this" John means the fact that "if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins..." Grammatically "if we keep His commandments" is the condition of "By this we know that we have come to know Him".

    I concur that this passage of scripture is not a condition to be saved. That is not what John is writing about. You brought up fellowship, and certainly that is contained in 1 John. But while conditions are not being placed on salvation, conditions are placed on our claim to know Him (Christ) based on our obedience.

    What is the consequence of not keeping His commandments? I am not talking about the times when we break God's commandments and then repent. I mean what is the consequence of a systemic rejection of following Christ's commandments? I think what we have is John balancing tenderness ("My little children"; 2:1) with a stern warning ([The one who] "does not keep His commandments, is a liar; 2:4).
     
  11. The Biblicist

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    If this is not a condition to be saved (and we agree it is not) then it is a conditon to "know" we are saved. What would be the consequence of not keeping his commandments? It would be the reverse - the lack of knowing we are saved. If you demand that the consequence would be lack of salvation than you have made it a condition for salvation.
     
  12. Herald

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    So, you believe the passage in question is all about assurance?
     
  13. The Biblicist

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    It is about personal assurance and from a strictly human point of observation how you can distinguish a lost from a saved person.
     

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