The Competing Word of God


In my last post ‘Two Face the Gospel’ we looked at the two different gospels coming from scripture. One gospel says our salvation is by grace only and has nothing to do with our behavior, before or after conversion. The other side of this two faced gospel is the opposite extreme. It says that our behavior after being saved does matter. This side of the Two Face Gospel says if we do not obey God we will not be saved. These two opposing doctrines, each presented as the truth of the gospel, are completely supported by scripture. Paul is used as the champion of the grace only crowd and James as the champion of the works crowd. Those who have Paul as their champion say that the gospel has evolved during the first century church. Concluding that James’ gospel is a lesser gospel based on works than Paul’s that came latter through special revelation of Jesus Christ. In ‘Two Face the Gospel’ I debunk this unbiblical idea of Paul’s special revelation. I show through the testimony of scripture that Paul’s revelation was a new revelation of the gospel found in the Law of Moses and the Prophets. Not some new extra-biblical revelation that many use to support the evolution of the gospel. So where does this leave this ‘Competing Word of God’? Is it as some say, James gospel is lesser revelation so we can ignore the works gospel? Even if the evolution of the gospel were true, which it is not, we would still have a problem. Not all of the works gospel is found in the book of James. Sad to say for the grace only crowd, Paul speaks a lot about works and how it is those who do, as apposed to those who do not do what the word of God says, will be saved. Many who have fallen into the grace only crowd have no idea that Paul spoke in this way when he wrote his gospel so full of the grace of God. They are content to let others tell them that works in a believers life is only found in the so called “lesser gospel” of James. Who said in scripture that God will not be mocked. Each one of us will be reap what we sow. If we live righteously we will reap eternal life. If we live unrighteously we will reap death? The Law of Moses or Paul? This is Paul’s words. Gal 6:7-8 KJV Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Who said in scripture that only those who do righteousness are righteous as He is righteous? This goes against the teaching of the church which teaches that we have the righteousness of Christ apart from our behavior, so does this come from the James or Paul? Neither, it comes from John. 1Jn 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. John even gives a warning to the church. Do not be deceived. What deception? That we can are righteous apart from doing righteousness. Who said that by our obedience, Christ has become the author of eternal salvation to us who obey? Wow! Was this James or Paul. Again this type of speech is not isolated in the book of James. This is found in Hebrews. Heb 5:9 KJV And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; These are only some of those so called verses concerning the importance of works found not in the book of James, but rather in other parts of the gospel. This doesn’t include those many verses that warn believers not to fall away. So what can we conclude, there are two competing gospels found in the scriptures and we get to chose the one we like? There does appear on the surfice to be two contridictory gospels. Until I do my next post, what do you think is the answer to the competing gospel syndrome? What gospel do you follow? Which gospel do you put more emphasis on?

20 thoughts on “The Competing Word of God

  1. There, of course is only one Gospel. It is the one Christ began preaching immediately after the beheading of John the Baptist.

    Mt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

    It is the Gospel Christ referred to as he conversed with Peter saying, Mt 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

    The ‘rock’ on which the church sits is Divine Revelation through ‘oneness’..f..tjhrough llowship… through ‘knowing’ the Father by way of intimate relationship through Christ the mediator.

    Joh 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me..

    The one Gospel includes both the Calvinism and Arminianism principals. Grace is all God and deeds of obedience are the ‘fruit’ of oneness with the Father. Christ paid for all sins that are ‘past’ and when we acccept Him the slate of fallenness is wiped clean. And we are told ‘sin not.’ But our traditions and doctrines insist that sin is inescapable. And we believe it. The Gospel remains as it has from the foundation of the world. It has never changed. The whole Word is the Gospel….rightly divided via divine revelation through the Holy Spirit who teaches us. It knows no disunity. It is One. Only as we accept its Author into our heart can we have fellowship with its Truth.

    • Carolyn,

      A couple of things. You say the gospel was first preached after John was beheaded. Do you think the writer of Hebrews was wrong for saying those in the desert at Mnt. Sinai had the same gospel preached to them as the believers to whom he was writing did? He makes this comment twice so he ment to say it. Was he wrong for saying this?

      I agree with you there is one gospel and Christ paid for our sins past. As believers we are to have our old man crucified on the cross and buried with Christ and raised to new life in Christ by the Holy Spirit were by we take on the nature of the new Adam who said we are to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. If we show the fruit of one who is saved by the renewing of the Holy Spirit (Titus) then we are His. If we do not show the fruit of one who is saved by the renewing of the Holy Spirit our fruit (deeds, works) show we are not His.

      But please give me your thoughts on Hebrews.

  2. You are presenting a false dichotomy from out of a shewed understanding of so-called “Calvinism”! Calvin, as Calvinism, taught that how the said believer lived his life (behavior), manifested, whether he was in reality one of God’s “elect” > according to grace! This is in fact the last point of the ‘Tulip’, i.e. P, for “Perseverance”.

    It seems your reaction is toward the “Once saved always saved”, statement. Which can be antinomian – without obedience to the moral law. And this btw, is simply not Calvin, or real Calvinism!

    • As I have said before and I am sure I will have to say again. Your brand of Calvinism is not the only brand out there. There is at least this other brand. Such examples are the works of Tony Evans in his book ‘Totally Saved’ and John McArthur on his teaching of salvation. So the point isn’t you always having to reminding me this is not real Calvinism as if it adds to the conversation. Additionally I am not trying to address what you are teaching, I am addressing a real teaching in the church done in the name of the doctrine of Calvin. This gives me every right to address what I consider false doctrine of those who claim the doctrine of Calvin, whether you think it is true Calvinism or not.

      I have asked before and I ask again. Make a post in your own words about the differences between false Calvinism and true Calvinism. As I said before I will say again, when you do post in your own words, instead of linking to someone else or quoting someone else, your post are much more interesting. I enjoy reading what you think, not what someone else thinks. I know you have a problem with what you call “so-called Calvinist” so tell us what it is.

      • Dave: You keep evading my statements with this so-called, “my own words”, well these are my own words! It just happens that since I am always a perpetual student type, since I have a theological education (D.Phil.,Th.D. And not just yesterday I might add.) I worked hard, and still do, (yes I love books and reading). In fact, one cannot really be a decent pastor and teacher if one does not study, certainly the Holy Scripture, but especially historically, theologically! But then I am an old teacher and professor myself. So in reality the pastor-teacher must always be a student of history! The historical method works in every area of mental discipline. So whether a Christian pastor is from the so-called “underground”, or above ground, in the visible church, he simply MUST do his homework! This has always been my challenge to you! And so, if your going to speak of Calvin and so-called Calvinism, one does not look at John MacArthur, etc., but at Calvin, and the history of Calvinism itself.

        Btw, if you read at least some of my posts, you would see that I don’t preach “Calvinism”, but seek and even struggle (pressing), to preach & teach the historical Gospel, and this does include the man John Calvin, as too Martin Luther, etc. Yes, I am a Reformational and Reformed Christian!

        • Btw, Dave, let an old “theolog” and always a pastor first, recommend a wee book, only 129 pages: John Calvin, Man of God’s Word, Written And Preached, by Peter Barnes, – Banner of Truth Trust, 2011. (Barnes is a Brit, btw, and in Sydney I believe these days.)

          • PS..However, if you can handle one of the mother load of the best historical bio’s on Calvin? it is Bruce Gordon’s, simply: Calvin! (398 pages, Yale University Press, 2009). Now in paperback 2010. I have the hardback, but I also buy and give to my choice students, the paperback version. :)

            Here is the New York Times statement on the book: ‘Gordon’s detailed portrait of Calvin as a man in constant motion, beleagured by poltical and religious turmoil, a leader who “never controlled his agenda”… has special value.’

            St. Paul, from Acts 26:26…”For the king (Agrippa), before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing (Judeo-Christianity) was not done in a corner.”

            • Dave: I should send you some of my old sermon, and even classroom tapes! The theological challenge of Calvin is being renewed today, with new scholarship on Calvin: Calvin’s Christology (2004 Cambridge), by Stephen Edmondson, who is or was? an Assistant Professor of Church History, Virginia Theological Seminary. Then, also: Calvin’s Theology of the Psalms, (2007), by Herman Selderhuis (Professor of church history and church polity at the Theologische Universiteit Apeldoorn in the Netherlands). This is in English, from Baker. But even closer today, there is.. J.Todd Billings book: Calvin, Participation, and the Gift, The Activity of Believers in Union with Christ (Oxford 2007/2009). And also Julie Canlis’s newer book (2010)…Calvin’s Ladder, A Spiritual Theology Of Ascent And Ascension. I say all of this not just for you, but for whoever might read this, and take note? Indeed God has people that are awake and engaged in the search, both historically and theologically, for the truth of God and His Word, and for and with the People of God!

            • I enjoyed my reading on Luther so I would like to try the mother load book. I will look for it on Amazon. BTW I read that short essay from you about Calvin and I told you I didn’t like him as person. It will be interesting if I dislike him more for reading more about him.

              • Dave: There are actually many good bio’s on Calvin, I have my share! Another I like is by a Frenchman today: Bernard Cottret’s book: Calvin, A Biography. I have the 2000 hardback by Eerdman’s, but I know it is also out in paperback now. And Cottret is also a so-called ‘layman’. But a real historian!

                Btw, if you approach Calvin on his terms and history, you will learn to like this man, that’s my feeling anyway. And I would be the first to admit that Calvin has weak areas, like his version of the Trinity, in which he really rejects the Anthanasian Creed. He just did not like anything that came close to Catholicism! (To his mind) Though the Athanasian Creed is just pristine to my mind, but the authorship is really unknown. And Athanasius was an Eastern Christian, but a great one for sure!

  3. Glasseyedave and others,
    The question I have is why do we have to define the gospel through the eyes of Calvin or Arminius? Were they crucified for you or was it in their name that you were baptised? It seems to me that we should seek to follow the words of our Pastor (the True Shepherd and our High Priest). It seems to me that we cannot leave Him out of the equation since it was He (the Messiah – Messenger) who brought the good news of the gospel to us and it is He who is the author and finisher of our faith. When we look at the teachings of Jesus Christ (as outlined in Synoptic Gospels) all this debate about works vs Grace will dissovle and we will realise there is no dispute or competition between what James said and what Paul said.

    Jesus said here:

    Matt 16
    27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

    John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
    ——————————————————————————–
    John 14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
    ——————————————————————————–
    John 15:10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

    We should also take heed of Christ’s words to the 7 churches that are in Asia. Whilst 1 or 2 of the churches met with Christ’s approval there were other churches that Christ said He would spew out of His mouth if they did not do the things He required of them to do. Were these not churches having the grace of God – why else would they be called church?

    • Henry I agree with you. But the average person will hear two or more gospels out there and there is only one. So I try to bring these gospels up in order to show how they do not go together. Then I wish to expose anybody who is will to the real gospel.

      I do this is my last post ‘The Living Dead Chruch’ which speaks of the true imputed grace of God in the believers life. Not the grace of God that we get preached to us every Sunday.

  4. @ irishanglican aka Fr Robert

    Do you think you are being disobedient to Christ by appropriating/appending the title of “father” to your name? Are your congregants (those who you pastor) being disobenient to our Lord when they call you “father”?

    Allow me therefore to remind you of the words of our Lord Jesus in Matt 23:

    8But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

    The title of “father” sets you apart as a priest from the laity, a title you may very well feel you have earned from your seminal education, but are not all Christians priests according to the scriptures (1 Pet 2:5)?

    Whilst seminal education have its merits it does not qualify you for salvation, obedience to Christ commands does.

    Glasseyedave,
    Forgive me if it seems I am distracting away from this post and perhaps these question might be for another post. But the truth must be said.

    • Henry: You have no idea how often I get this question from Christian Fundamentalists! I wish really that these “fundamentalists” would look at the verses here in the context of the Jewish, and do some historical homework, in Matthew 23.

      The critique of titles is carefully set in Matthew 23, and are Jesus whole verdict on Jerusalem and its leadership, the “Woe’s..to the scribes and Pharisees..” (verse 13). This whole chapter is the Lord’s collective rejection of Jerusalem, and the Jewish leadership, (23: 26-37-39). But we should note that Jesus never changes or altars the position of Jewish authority, (Matt. 23:2-3). Rabbi (lit.”my great one”), but the meaning in the fuction is “teacher” or “master”. It had become a technical term for the then authorized Jewish teacher-sage. It appears this is a rejection however by the Lord, but no doubt more of the rejection of the spirit and excess. Mary Magdalene herself called the risen Jesus, Rabboni (Rabbi, or my teacher),
      (John 20:16).

      As to the use and term in the Anglican Communion, “Father”, this is a pastoral term, used also by St. Paul in his own personal ministry toward the Corinthians, (1 Cor. 4:15). Here “pater” also evokes the responsibilities of the Roman “paterfamilias,” and includes the moral and spiritual instruction among a father’s duties. We can also see the Jewish teaching of Torah, to like fathering a child. This could have also been in the mind of the Apostle Paul. The point is, that Paul saw his ministry as that of a “Father” figure, but always in the full sense of the pastoral, and not just as an instructor, or “guardian”, in the lowest Jewish sense.

      Finally, I am a Low Church Anglican, I don’t see myself as like to a Roman Catholic priest, or even to an Anglo-Catholic (Anglican High Church), priest. The term “presbyter” is also used in the Anglican Communion, and I follow that usage. And so the term “Father” is again another pastoral term, as per Paul himself. I hope this helps, and you have learned something?

      • PS…Henry: Note, this is really more about how we approach the Bible, and how we interpret and exegete Scripture. The point is, if we take this one phrase overt and literally: “And call no man father upon the earth”, then we could not call even our “earthly Fathers”, Father, and this is just not the meaning here. (Jesus surely called Joseph his “Father” on earth, though he was technically only his step-father.) Again, the whole thematic here is about both Jersusalem, and her leaders, and how Jesus was going to reject them, in the whole collective and spiritual sense. But certainly not in her, or Jersusalem’s full earthly and final historical sense! (Matt. 23: 39)

  5. Btw, let me recommend the HCSB Study Bible – Holman Christian Standard Bible. I have it, and it is generally Biblically Calvinistic. I love the Greek and Hebrew Word studies, along with the general notes. Not infallible of course, as nothing is, save the Word of God itself, but a nice tool!

    From the note on Romans 9: 16…”Salvation does not depend on human will or effort. Salvation is based on God’s mercy. The situation is not that people want to be saved but cannot be (2 Tim. 2:25-26), or that they are running after God but cannot find Him. Apart from God’s drawing them, none are seeking the one true God – not a single one (Rom. 3:11-12).”

  6. Irishanglican,

    I think I am fully congnisant of what Jesus meant in Matt 23:5-12. The context clearly shows that Jesus meant call no man father in the titular sense such that such a person is exalted over you. This therefore does not in anyway discount our biological fathers as we refer to them as such not as a title of exaltation but in their “pastoral” role in nurturing and bring you up. It was in this same sense that Paul used the word father in 1 Cor 4:15. Paul did not however append the title “Father” to his name nor do we append it as a title to our own fathers.

    I appreciate that you are saying that your usaged of it denotes your pastoral role but at the same time you are still using it in the titular sense by appending it to your name contrary to what Christ taught.

    • Henry: In the apostolic time and history we don’t see men being called “pastor”, but of course we know there were elders (“presbuteroi”), and “bishop’s” / overseerers (“episkopos”). So the so-called office does have a certain theological deveopment, which is simply normal, as we also see in the idea of church buildings (as the synagogue), etc. I think you are nit-picking myself, which is a common problem with a fundamentalist approach to scripture interpretation. And again, you are not really seeing fully (in my opinion) the context and real “thematic” point in Matt. 23, etc.

      We has pressed this about as far as we can go, I believe. :)

      • Btw Henry, There is a difference between “fundamentalism” and “biblicism”. Let me recommend a fine book, by a one time fine “biblicist” and Anglican “presbyter”, the book: Figures of Speech Used In The Bible, Explained and Illustrated, by E. W. Bullinger. Just a grand book, at 1104 pages. It is yes encyclopedic, I have it, and used to recommend it, and even gave copies away to choice students. This work with also Bullinger’s other book: A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, are simply “must” haves for the pastor-teacher! I also have Bullinger’s Study Bible in the KJV, The Companion Bible. > And don’t let Bullinger’s dispensational lines and teaching keep you away from his profound word knowledge of the Bible! Even so, he is just a solid “Biblicist”!

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