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University of Truth Emails

Hello.  And welcome to our new page, as of March 10, 2010.  Here, you will find interesting questions posed by listeners and readers.  We provide answers to these questions for edification, and for a type of FAQ.  The posting of any e-mail is not for ridicule, but for serious consideration.  Have any question or comment?  If we think it's useful to the furtherance of Truth, we will display it here.

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But before you contact us, listen to this 20-minute recording on some considerations of standards, which are not about decorum as much as thoughtfulness and care.

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1. Our first letter comes from a Christian who offers her take on various concerns.

From: Katlyn
Date: 3/8/10

Have you read Galatians? 

Galatians 2:  We know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires...For no one is put right with God by doing what the law requires.

Galatians 3:  You foolish Galatians!  Who put a spell on you?  Before your very eyes you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross!  Tell me this one thing:  did you receive God's Spirit by doing what the law requires or by hearing the gospel and believing it?  how can you be so foolish!  You began by God's Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own power?  Did all your experience means nothing at all?  Surely it meant something!  Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you because you do what the Law requires or because you hear the gospel and believe it?

But before the time for faith came, the Law kept us all locked up as prisoners until his coming faith should be revealed.  And so the Law was in charge of us until Christ came, in order that we might then be put right with god through faith.  Now that the time for faith is here, the Law is no longer in charge of us.

Galatians 5:  If the Spirit leads you then you are not subject to the Law.

 What about these?

Ephesians 2:  For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith.  It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.

Romans 8: Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  But if Christ lives in you, the Spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin.  If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then he who raised Christ form death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of his Spirit in you.

Romans 6:  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5: But God has shown us how much he loves us-it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!  By his sacrificial death we are now put right with God; how much more, then will we be saved by him from God's anger!

Romans 3 and 4!

Leviticus 17:11

Matthew 1:21, 10: 32-33

The Law was necessary in the Old Testament times for people to become right with God, but God sent Jesus so that by His death, we can be saved.  Just curious, do you sacrifice animals in order to follow the law??  If the law is the way you become right with God, I would imagine that you would have to do these things.  Jesus sacrificed His life for us so those practices would no longer be necessary. 

Christians do ask for forgiveness after being saved because we are not perfect.  We still sin and ask for forgiveness for our wrongs.  Sure, there are hypocrites out there, but are they not sinners also who need God's forgiveness?  If a person is a hypocrite but has been saved, they are growing in the faith.  The Holy Spirit can convict them of their hypocracy.  Christians are not perfect once saved.  We do works and good deeds once we have accepted Jesus as our savior because the Holy Spirit indwelling in us guides us and convicts us of our sins.  Faith without actions is dead- this is true!  A truly saved individual will have the help of the Holy Spirit to convict them of sins and to help them to do the good works and good deeds which we should do as Christians.  Christians will be rewarded for our work done here on earth.  (Rev. 22:12)- Was Jesus not speaking to the Churches here? not to those who don't believe that He died for His sins.  Christians are laying up treasures in heaven and rewards here on earth for obedience and by seekng to please God. 

Why would Jesus die on the cross if He could not cover our sins?  Looks like you want to finish by your own power, so you can boast of your salvation on your own without the need of Jesus' death.   Please correct me if I am wrong.

Response from Tommy:

Dear Katlyn,

To your points:

You asked me to correct you if you were wrong, so I will if need be.

(1) Galatians in general: Paul's first book, or so it seems.  He would change his stance on many of these points.  Romans is a reversal in some cases.  Keep in mind that Paul is a commentator, not the Son of God.

(2) Galatians 2: You said: "We know that a person is put right with God only through faith in Jesus Christ, never by doing what the Law requires...For no one is put right with God by doing what the law requires."

As to "right with God through faith in Jesus Christ" - correct.  Faith in Christ, which is faith in what He stood for, which is proper application of Law.  His "amazing doctrine" had nothing to do with adding or subtracting from God's Law.

As to "no one is put right with God by doing what the law requires" - somewhat correct.  You don't keep the Law for salvation, you keep the law for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16).  But the Law itself is the birthplace of repentance (sacrifices, Yom Kippur, et al).  Jesus invented nothing new, but strengthened that which is true and ancient.

(3) Galatians 3:  You said: "You foolish Galatians!  Who put a spell on you?  Before your very eyes you had a clear description of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross!  Tell me this one thing:  did you receive God's Spirit by doing what the law requires or by hearing the gospel and believing it?  how can you be so foolish!  You began by God's Spirit; do you now want to finish by your own power?  Did all your experience means nothing at all?  Surely it meant something!  Does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you because you do what the Law requires or because you hear the gospel and believe it.  But before the time for faith came, the Law kept us all locked up as prisoners until his coming faith should be revealed.  And so the Law was in charge of us until Christ came, in order that we might then be put right with god through faith.  Now that the time for faith is here, the Law is no longer in charge of us."

As to this - two things.  1.  Paul is speaking to non-Jews.  There is a difference between requirements for Jews and non-Jews (Acts 15, Acts 21).  2. Where Paul says "there is no Jew nor Greek," he contradicts himself in Romans 1:16 by saying that the power of God to salvation is "to the Jew first, then the Greek."  Obviously, Paul at Galatia was a bit immature in his learning (unless you want to take Galatians as more precise than Romans, but I believe Romans is the more mature and accurate writing).

(4) Galatians 5: You said: "If the Spirit leads you then you are not subject to the Law."

As to this - You must ask yourself if living by the Spirit without a Law of God is possible.  Do you make your own Ten Commandments?  Do you make your own moral code on sexuality?  Do you disown that God said His commandments are eternal?  It is difficult to reconcile hearing someone say he or she believes every word of the Bible as from God, and yet says that the eternal Law is no longer valid, necessary, or existent.

(5) Ephesians 2:  You said "For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith.  It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it."

 As to this - correct.  No one said that "Grace" was earned.  But you must admit that your own code involves "keeping" that Grace by remaining righteous.  Otherwise, a person was "never saved to begin."  So it is actually more important to "keep" the Grace than to get it, if it can be lost.  But if you say it can't be lost, then you ought not place demands for keeping it.  Matthew 25:31-46, however, makes it clear how eternal life is gained - by charity.  Revelation 22:12 tells us that reward is dependent on works and 22:14 says that the right to even enter the gate is based on doing God's commandments.  Even if you say that Jesus is God, you must equate this the same way.  There is no escape here.

 (6) Romans 8: You said: "Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  But if Christ lives in you, the Spirit is life for you because you have been put right with God, even though your bodies are going to die because of sin.  If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from death, lives in you, then he who raised Christ form death will also give life to your mortal bodies by the presence of his Spirit in you."

 As to this - Again, this was to non-Jews.  "The spirit of adoption" in Rom. 8:15 is your clue.  The "bondage" Paul speaks of is not to God's Law, but to laws of men.  And when non-Jews adhere to laws of men, they are generally pagan laws.  Or, do you say that the Ten Commandments is not valid by this saying?  It's no use giving the Decalogue validity "because Jesus cites them" - Jesus cites them because they're the Law of God, not because He made a different law.  You ought to also be aware that your argument is a Jewish argument - the Law performed without a certain spirit is considered invalidly performed (not everyone believes this either, but I do).

 (7) Romans 6:  You said: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

 As to this - correct.  There is no life without Torah (Christ).  Life in Christ (Torah) is the most godly.  The wages of sin are death, and no one disputes that.

(8) Romans 5: You said: "But God has shown us how much he loves us-it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!  By his sacrificial death we are now put right with God; how much more, then will we be saved by him from God's anger!"

As to this - I am not here to tell you what to believe.  I am here to tell you where there are false doctrines.  You are not only free, but encouraged, to believe in the help of Christ to your salvation.  But then, you must live.  You must live righteously.  As Paul said, "Run the whole race."  There is no purpose to running a race if you aren't competing.  And there is no race without a start, a finish, lanes, and rules.  Unless your idea of a "race" is somehow different than the normal meaning.  So, by all means, lean on Jesus for many things.  But you cannot merely lean on Him to run the race for you - by the Christian doctrine, there must be a race run and completed.  Now, can you get partial credit for stumbling along the way?  I believe yes.  I think this is where we differ.

(9) You cited Leviticus 17:11 towards the atonement with blood.  First, note that you have cited Law to make your point - but logically, you cannot make this point if you invalidate the Law.  Paul makes this very clear: "Do we invalidate the Law by faith?  God forbid!  We establish it!"  (Rom 3:31).  You don't establish a new law - to do so would be to invalidate the old law.  Second, you know of course that this portion of the Law (Lev. 17:11) refers to animals, not people, so I won't bore you with that argument.  Interestingly, the book of Hebrews makes the case that the blood of bulls and goats could never pay for sin in the first place!  Odd - since Jesus is supposedly the vicarious sacrifice for those animal sacrifices.  So, is Hebrews saying that such a vicarious sacrifice is not valid either? Third, remember that the Council at Jerusalem outlawed the use of blood for non-Jews who wanted to be Christians.  And note also that the Law outlaws the drinking of blood, the taking of human blood, and various other uses of blood.  There are some things you will need to sort out here, I think.

 (10) You said: "The Law was necessary in the Old Testament times for people to become right with God, but God sent Jesus so that by His death, we can be saved.  Just curious, do you sacrifice animals in order to follow the law??  If the law is the way you become right with God, I would imagine that you would have to do these things.  Jesus sacrificed His life for us so those practices would no longer be necessary."

 As to this - "do you sacrifice animals in order to follow the law?? " - Your argument is not based on knowledge.  Sacrificing animals was outlawed by Jewish leadership after the Temple fell, not for any other reason.

 As to this - "Jesus sacrificed His life for us so those practices would no longer be necessary." - incorrect.  After Jesus was ascended, the Church in Jerusalem followed every commandment of God.  As it says in Acts 21, many Christian Jews zealous for the Law were there, and were considered to be the essential members of the Church.  The "Judaizers" were evangelists - teaching the religion.   In sum, the early Church was entirely Jewish, and non-Jews were only allowed after Peter's Pentecostal sermon.  Paul was the one who changed things for the non-Jews.  You'll  have to ask yourself - did the apostles and the early Church have it wrong and Paul have it right?  There is no reconciling this one, because we know that the early Church (before Paul) followed every commandment of Torah.

 (11) You said: "Christians do ask for forgiveness after being saved because we are not perfect.  We still sin and ask for forgiveness for our wrongs.  Sure, there are hypocrites out there, but are they not sinners also who need God's forgiveness?  If a person is a hypocrite but has been saved, they are growing in the faith.  The Holy Spirit can convict them of their hypocracy.  Christians are not perfect once saved.  We do works and good deeds once we have accepted Jesus as our savior because the Holy Spirit indwelling in us guides us and convicts us of our sins."

 As to this - you have invented circular reasoning to justify your righteous behavior.  You have it backwards.  You do not do good works because you were saved; you retain your salvation by doing good works.  My proof?  Any preacher will tell you that when a person who was thought to be born-again habitually and deliberately keeps sinning, he was "never saved to begin with."  This is faulty doctrine - if you're saved by your sincerity, you are always saved.  But if a clergy or doctrine can deem you "not saved" by virtue of your actions, then it is actions which determine your status and not sincerity alone.  As James said, "Faith without works is dead."  A prayer does not fill an empty belly.  Works are essential.  Christ stated very clearly that if you give a cup of cold water to one of God's least children you shall in no wise lose your salvation - in other words, there are stipulations.

 (12) You said "Faith without actions is dead- this is true!  A truly saved individual will have the help of the Holy Spirit to convict them of sins and to help them to do the good works and good deeds which we should do as Christians.  Christians will be rewarded for our work done here on earth.  (Rev. 22:12)- Was Jesus not speaking to the Churches here? not to those who don't believe that He died for His sins.  Christians are laying up treasures in heaven and rewards here on earth for obedience and by seekng to please God. "

 As to this - you have gone to the section of doctrine which displeases me most: double-speak.  On the one hand, you want to say that salvation is a gift, not earned, even unable to be lost.  On the other hand, you want to receive extra additional rewards for good works.  Which is it?  Either works do nothing at all or they are extraordinarily necessary.  You cannot prove the futility of works by promising glistening crowns and other rewards for fulfillment of commandments.  But if charity is what you're referring to, then you are correct, for this is more important than faith (1 Cor. 13:2).  Charity, however, is only humanism unless you are following some Torah principle, i.e., doing it for God.  Charity of your own volition is important, but without proper aim (to please God) it is not "righteousness."

 The other part of this which bothers me is that Isaiah tells us our righteousness is as filthy rags ("good for nothing") yet you display that righteousness has high value. I do not dispute this, neither the principle nor the seeming contradiction.  Nevertheless, the righteousness of works having value (retains your salvation) is not against the principle of Isaiah because the prophet was not demeaning sincere works but those works of rote.  Again, sincerity and proper intention are key.  But if Christian doctrine does not give proper estimation to works as it concerns entrance into God's kingdom, then it has no business assigning "crowns" and such for good works either.

 (13) You said: "Why would Jesus die on the cross if He could not cover our sins?  Looks like you want to finish by your own power, so you can boast of your salvation on your own without the need of Jesus' death.   Please correct me if I am wrong."

 As to this - "Why would Jesus die on the cross if He could not cover our sins?" - I will answer.  He died for the blood of the prophets, who also were vilified and killed the same way.  He died for the cause of Christ, for His lost sheep, that they would find a better Jerusalem, not filled with hypocrisy but with Truth.  Your assumption is that the Law is inadequate for our needs.  The truth is that the Law tells us that the Law itself is sufficient for men.  If you believe the Bible is inerrant, you have to account for that.  This is why I give first hierarchy to God, second to Jesus, and third to everyone else.  This is what Jesus did also (John 10:37-38).  You should not be surprised that Christ believed Himself below the station of God.  He did not die to absolve you - He died protecting God's Law.  To follow Christ is to get in the mix and fight corruption, not hide in the world.  Recall that Peter assured Jesus that He would not have to die and Christ told him, "Get away from me, Satan!"

 As to this - "Looks like you want to finish by your own power, so you can boast of your salvation on your own without the need of Jesus' death" - you have done yourself a disservice.  How is it that I can finish by my own power if, as you say, I cannot?  The reason you give, so I can boast, is not valid either.  No one will see God without repenting in humility, whether they believe in a doctrine of Jesus or not.  The key will be humility, since God stays far from the arrogant.  So, which is it?  Am I able to reach the finish by my own power or not?  and will I boast or not?  I know your answer is no.  But I have not said it was by my own power, only my own will.  Have you not received Christ by your own will?  Do you not stay the course by your own will?  Do you not do good works by your own will?  As you may be aware, an entire doctrine is built on the idea that we do nothing by our own will but only that of a new spirit.  An extension is that you cannot even ask Christ to save you unless you were pre-ordained to that (Presbyterian).  As you can see, each denomination has a little twist on the entire action of this "coming to Christ" so that eventually you reach the point that you never came to Christ at all.  This idea of no free will is against the Law of God and the Bible in general.

 Finally, concerning Jesus and the Law, He said, "Whoever breaks the least commandment and teaches others to do so is called the lowest in heaven, but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called the highest in heaven."  Since Jesus is rightly known as "highest in heaven," I think we can make the right connection.

 All the best,

Tommy

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