The Gospel for Real Life

Jesus Satisfies People’s Hunger

Have you ever really wanted something to eat so bad, you could almost taste it? Maybe you’ve gone out to a restaurant and you order a steak or a burger or a salad that you’ve been craving all day. Finally, the food arrives. You eat it. You’re satisfied. Your meal was a success!

Have you ever had a similar situation with trials? Think about it. You placed your order in with God.  You ask for relief and satisfaction.  You just want them to be over. The hunger pains for God (and relief) are getting stronger, and yet God doesn’t seem to be coming to you. You may be learning some from His Word, but for some reason God is making you wait.

Mark 8 brings some particularly helpful insights for the hungry soul.

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” (Mark 8:1-3)

A couple of truths jumped out to me. The first of which is this: Jesus cares about people.  This shouldn’t come as a shock, but many times I can get a thought that Jesus just wants me to buck up, try harder, and work for God’s approval. Obviously I often feel weak when these thoughts control me. So, in the margin of my Bible, I wrote, “Jesus cares when you’re exasperated.” The reason I wrote it that way is because Jesus was concerned not only that the people hadn’t eaten food, but he was concerned at the consequences of not eating. In other words, if those people didn’t eat on that day, they would faint. Their physical bodies would “give up.”

The second truth I saw was that Jesus could have fed the people on the first or second day. He could have fed them all of the days. But, He didn’t feed them until the third day.

The third truth I saw was that Jesus gave more than enough food to satisfy each person. “And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.”

Listen carefully here. If you have trusted in Jesus, you are one of God’s children (Rom. 8:17).  Therefore, if you find yourself in a dry season, know that God knows what you can bear. You may be in the first day and your hunger for God is known through growling. You may be in the third day and you are getting worried about the spiritual journey ahead. You may not be growling for food, but you feel weak and you know if you take too many more steps, you’ll faint. Be confident about this: Jesus cares. He cares that you’re exasperated. He doesn’t want you to faint on your walk with Him. He knows how many “days” you can bear. While you might feel hungry now, there’s going to be a time when he feeds you to the full and you will be satisfied with more than enough food. Then, one day in Heaven, you will say, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

Believers, keep looking to the Savior who truly cares for you and entrust yourself to the faithful Creator (1 Pet. 4:19)!  If you have never trusted in the sacrifice and resurrection of the Messiah, my encouragement is basically the same.  Stop leaning on your own ways to save you and entrust yourself to God and His salvation plan (1 Pet. 4:19, Jas. 1:7-10).

For all who have been saved by God, His promise stands:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5 b).

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22 responses

  1. I remain unclear, perhaps you can still edify me. I would like to know how you believe God functions, so one may decide if his ways are worthy of worship, as this is one of the aims of your blog. You intimate God’s promise of never forsaking anyone only pertains to believers, and specifically to those who sustain belief. Yet you say His commitment is unconditional. This is confusing. Ultimately you are saying God’s commitment to you is conditional on sustained belief, is that accurate to say of your chosen theology? Those who do not believe, and those who have stopped believing burn eternally in hell, is that correct? Please be straightforward with your answer so the truth of Jesus’s ways are clear.

    This comment is on topic, and your answers would serve to edify me. As I imagine your answers spea day of hunger, many of whom are Muslim and Hindi and non-believers. Does Jesus satisfy either their spiritual or physical hunger? It seems these infants and children suffer (is Adam to blame for their suffering?) horrible existences only to die and have their suffering and torment infinitely worsened. Can you say with me that Jesus does not alleviate the hunger or spiritual suffering of these infants and children (and other people) who die at a rate of 16,000 a day?

    One many certainly discus the problem of suffering ad nauseum. I don’t care to. But it seems truth requires one to say Jesus does not assuage the majority of either spiritual or physical hunger in this world.k to the truth (as perceived by you) of Christ, it would serve only to glorify Him. Additionally I would suspect others have similar questions regarding your understanding of scripture. Perhaps they can chime in.

    I am pressed to address also, and ask, as it pertains to the topic of this post, how does God satisfy either the physical hunger or spiritual hunger of the upwards of 16,000 children who die every. So it seems your blog title “Jesus Satisfies People’s Hunger” requires an asterisk that explains it’s conditionality, yes?

    Cheers.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    • As stated in a previous blog post’s comment: “I don’t believe apart from God first taking the step towards me. So, my salvation is not conditional on my belief. I need to believe, yes. But, that is a result of the Son granting me the ability to see the Father.” My belief does not keep me saved. Jesus keeps me saved. Hence, Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:28). However, salvation is not merely a free ticket out of hell or a last-minute entrance into Heaven. For sure, salvation includes entrance into God’s Kingdom, but it’s more than that. When Jesus gives His command to the disciples after His resurrection, He then says, “I am with you always. . . .” The import is that Jesus will be with us to enable us to do what He has commanded us to do. Hence, we have passages like this, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13). God is working in Christians to bring about greater obedience, therefore we ought to obey. Even our obedience in glorifying God is enabled by God Himself. Therefore, my salvation is conditional upon me. It’s conditional upon God keeping His promises.

      Regarding some of your comments about physical suffering, I’m not sure how to answer since you said we could discuss this ad nauseum yet you don’t care to discuss it. There were also some grammatical errors in your comment which kept me from understanding fully what you were trying to say. But, I think I have the gist. I’m going to try to briefly answer your questions at hand:

      1. Does Jesus satisfy either their spiritual or physical hunger? – He satisfies both. The Bible says that everything comes from Him. Therefore, the food you eat today is because God allowed you to eat it. The lack of food that some do not have is definitely a result of living in a fallen world and is the consequences of sin, in general.

      2. Can you say with me that Jesus does not alleviate the hunger or spiritual suffering of these infants and children (and other people) who die at a rate of 16,000 a day? – I’m assuming you meant “of” instead of “or” in this question. In answer to this, I know Jesus has alleviated the spiritual suffering of many people who die everyday. There have been four friends of mine who have had family members die. I think, although I can’t be sure, that these people have been saved by Christ and have had their spiritual hunger satisfied – as evidenced by their repentant faith.

      From the Bible’s perspective, we’re not ultimately punished because of actions (although our actions will accuse us in the judgment). We are ultimately punished because we are sinners. People have chosen to be defined by anything other than God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Sinners are inherently against God’s glory. Hence, sinners think it’s unjust for an infinitely perfect and holy God who created them to be angered when that creation defies the perfect One.

      In the end, people need God’s grace to transform them so that they will be declared righteous in Christ – because of what He has done. John 3 is clear, the world was condemned from the first sin. Jesus didn’t have to come and suffer an excruciating death on the cross so that people could be saved. But, He did choose to do so. It seems to me that it’s heightened arrogance to look in the face of Jesus’ death and then say, “Well, God should do more than that.”

      If my answer does not lead you to worship God, and if it does not edify you, consider this and plead with God: “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Cor. 2:15-16a).

      I pray for you enenennx – not in a stupid, pithy, “I-look-down-on-you” sort of way. I pray for you because I hope that you find great joy in Christ and that you see the beauties that God offers to you in Him – turning away from a mindset that seems so hostile to Him. That may sound rude or arrogant to you, but I sincerely do not mean it that way. May God bless You with Himself!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm

  2. [I always appreciate someone who grants me the charity of seeing through my grammatical errors and typos. Like most of us I squeeze my thoughts into comment boxes during the busy day and I cannot type as fast as I think. Upon rereading, it looks like a backspace bomb went off somewhere in the 3rd paragraph. Plus I generally don’t know how to spell.]

    You say, “So, my salvation is not conditional on my belief. I need to believe, yes. But, that is a result of the Son granting me the ability to see the Father.”

    And also you say “Therefore, my salvation is conditional upon me. It’s conditional upon God keeping His promises.”

    Forgive me if I remain flummoxed. Combined, your chosen theology has you saying that salvation is conditional upon you, but not upon your belief. [Side note: in a previous blog post you were insistent that we are our beliefs.] We agree your salvation is conditional. That is, God’s love and grace in the form of ensuring salvation is conditional; emphatically it is not unconditional. But I can’t seem to see what you are saying it is conditional upon. [Unless you are going full-bore Calvin here, but that comes with a whole slew of doctrines that are extra-biblical.] If it is conditional on God keeping his promise, then perhaps you might list exactly what you believe his promises regarding salvation are, and forgive me if I missed it in your post. Additionally, are his promises granted to everyone, or must you do (be?, believe?) something to be among those who receive the promise? I am sure you see that these are core, foundational issues, and therefore important to elucidate, even if it requires effort.

    It is obviously not just that I am not satisfied with your answer (as it shows internal inconsistency thus far) – it’s also that I can’t see how you are confident in such a response (it really does appear as if you are struggling with Calvinism).

    [Inter-comment note: We have progress! We agree that your chosen theology states that your salvation is unequivocally conditional.]

    Does Hebrews 6:4-6 trump your John 10:28? There are more New Testament verses that state people can fall away from Christ than say they can’t. This is one area where apologists actually seems split about 50/50 and evangelicalism doesn’t present a united front (in my reading of the literature, anyway). So before “context” is invoked, I believe I know in advance which camp you will pre-choose to be in and therefore which responses you are likely to solely study up on, or already have in your pocket.

    Your paragraph about your friends having friends who died does not address my question (which is understandable because of the previously mentioned backspace bomb that wrecked havoc within my earlier comment). Does Jesus alleviate the physical and spiritual suffering of famine-stricken devout Muslims who suffer the physical horrors of starvation before allowing them to enter a place of eternal torture and suffering. Did God’s promises ever extend to them (whatever those promises are, see above)? Please answer more directly, because your post suggests that Jesus alleviates all physical and spiritual hunger, and if this is the theology you are supporting, I find it attractive. Unbiblical, but attractive.

    I am being edified by sticking on this topic, and I see the truth of Christ as perceived by you (culled from your sin-soaked senses via your [originally culturally introduced, and then chosen] influences) is being expressed to His glory, in your eyes.

    You also say “From the Bible’s perspective, we’re not ultimately punished because of actions (although our actions will accuse us in the judgment). We are ultimately punished because we are sinners.” This is yet another example of seeming double-speak.

    Let me rephrase:
    We are not punished for our actions.
    We are punished because we are sinners.
    Being a sinner means we sin.
    Sin is an action (even thoughts are actions).
    Therefore we are punished for our actions.
    We are [ultimately] not punished for our actions.

    I would understand your chosen theology more clearly if you could highlight where I’ve gone wrong in my rephrasing. Additionally, curiously, you say our actions will accuse us in the judgment, where apparently a record of our wrongs will accuse us, even though according to Paul, Love keeps no record of wrongs? I remain flummoxed. I desire your exposition of your understanding of your chosen theology about Christ that makes your statements consistent.

    Finally, you say asking why God doesn’t alleviate more suffering seems highly arrogant. It might be, so I’m glad that is not what I was asking. I’m just trying to define the limits your theology places on God. I would venture my chosen theology is much grander than yours in the love and grace and mercy it allows God to demonstrate, but I make no assertion about my theology’s truth. One must also consider that the whole sacrifice-an-innocent-for-the-forgiveness-of-all was done so that God may acquire what he desires (in your chosen theology) – worship and praise. Without humans, His desires (natural to his character and therefore good, according to your theology, I’m assuming) are left unfulfilled.

    Anyway, I appreciate that you are inclined to pray for me. I would never suspect such prayers were pithy or arrogant. I have no reason to suspect they are anything but sincere. I am certainly not worried about any dearth of joys or beauty in my life; such pleasures seem bountiful. It is that devout Muslim/Hindu/non-believer/ wrong-believer (according to your chosen theology) who lives and dies a life of starvation and enters into eternal suffering upon death (again, according to your theology) that worries me. But I do not have a hostile mindset, by any stretch. I will ask that you see that (and consider reviewing any of my comments and try to understand why you might erroneously perceive it so uncharitably). It is hoped that you see such conversations usually do not come from a place of hostility or anger (it is merely a theist canard that they do).

    As always, cheers.

    September 21, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    • enenennx – I hope to take more time to respond to this post in the near future. As of right now, I want to apologize and change my wording. You quoted a major typo that definitely leads to confusion. It shouldn’t read, ” Therefore, my salvation is conditional upon me. It’s conditional upon God keeping His promises.” It should read, “. . .my salvation is not conditional upon me.” The “therefore” sentence at the end of the paragraph should be similar to the first sentences of that same paragraph.

      Hopefully I’ll get a chance soon to respond more fully to your comments.

      September 22, 2011 at 8:55 am

    • enenennx – I’m not exactly sure where to begin with your post, but the issues revolve around salvation being conditional or unconditional. I believe that my salvation is not conditional upon myself. I believe passages like James 1:18 or even John 10 where Jesus says that no man can pluck people out of His hands clearly display that God does not let go of His children. Passages like Ephesians 2:8-9 reveal that it’s not even my faith that saves me. It is God’s grace that saves me. I can’t even boast in my faith because no “work” saves – God’s grace saves. You ask for passages that teach that God keeps His promises towards His children and I’ve already listed some in previous comments. I also have just listed two in this paragraph and there are two more listed at the end of this reply.

      Here’s your statement:

      “We are not punished for our actions.
      We are punished because we are sinners.
      Being a sinner means we sin.
      Sin is an action (even thoughts are actions).
      Therefore we are punished for our actions.
      We are [ultimately] not punished for our actions.”

      Outside of Christ, everyone is punished for being a sinner. Being a sinner is not an action. It is who we are apart from the Messiah. As a result, sinners commit sins. Therefore, they’ll be judged for their actions as well. Hence Jesus makes statements that certain people will incur stricter judgments than others will (Matt. 11:24). I also agree that there are those who experience salvation in the Son. Those people receive mercy (Ps. 2, Jn. 3:16-17).

      When you talk about God keeping no records of wrongs, I have to reiterate that God’s covenant love is on His children. This world experiences many aspects of God’s grace, but the world needs to know that they are going to face God’s judgment as sinners, if they continue to seek satisfaction in temporal things – as opposed to experiencing satisfaction in God (Ps. 7:11, Lk. 19:10). God keeps a record of wrong towards the world that is hostile to him. Jesus says that sinners are of their father, the devil. Yet, you seem to indicate that anyone (even people who do not turn to the Messiah) are God’s children (Jn. 8:44). I wonder how you work through the very first of the ten commandments. Does God not hold people to that one? People can have any god before them and God’s “love” will allow them to break his law that can lead to greater liberty for people (Jas. 1:25)?

      Final thoughts: God desires that we worship Him, but He does not desire it in a sense that He is unfulfilled if we don’t worship Him. God doesn’t need me or my works (Eph. 2:8-9). Throughout all eternity past, He has been communal and enjoyed perfect community as the Three-in-One. He created humans purely because He wanted to – not because He needed to. Much like salvation. He doesn’t need to save humans. However, He does save based purely on His mercy. As a result, there are those whom He’s saved that then believe on Jesus and find greater growth in holiness.

      I hope this at least clarifies where I’m at. I’m still convinced that the Bible teaches that God keeps those whom He has saved (1 Thess. 5:24, Phil 1:6).

      September 25, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    • Also, thanks for your clarification on your thoughts about me praying for you.

      September 25, 2011 at 10:42 pm

  3. Hey, take your time. No worries.

    September 22, 2011 at 5:20 pm

  4. Thank you for your reply, and for your clarifications. A quick question comes to mind after a brief lunch-time perusal of your comment. I imagine I will have additional thoughts after mulling over what you’ve contributed.

    You say your salvation is not conditional on yourself.
    Is an individual’s salvation conditional on that individual’s belief?
    Regardless of whether belief is a requirement for salvation, is belief conditional on oneself?

    It appears you are confronted with a paradox here, I’d enjoy hearing how you’ve chosen to extricate yourself from it. Calvinism is one way. (One may have Calvinist beliefs and not be Calvinist, in my opinion, so feel free to admit to such beliefs, if you so choose.)

    Thank you (I think) for recognizing that people can converse about, and even question the core issues of, your chosen theology, and that such questions often do not come from a place of anger or (in your opinion) from a mindset that is hostile to God. Believing such a canard betrays your (chosen) apologetic readings, and your response suggests your opinion on this issue has changed.

    September 26, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    • Regarding your three questions, I think I can answer those by quoting what I’ve written in previous comments, and adding one or two additional thoughts.

      – “Passages like Ephesians 2:8-9 reveal that it’s not even my faith that saves me. It is God’s grace that saves me. I can’t even boast in my faith because no “work” saves – God’s grace saves.”
      – John 1:12-13 reveal that process as well. People believe on Jesus do so because of God birthing him. They are saved, not because of man’s will, but because of God’s will.
      – “As a result, there are those whom He’s saved that then believe on Jesus and find greater growth in holiness.”

      I refer to James 1:18 because that passage says that God brought people forth by His own will to be a firstfruit offering. The phrase, “Of his own will” is more literally translated, “Having made His decision.” The fact that He made His decision so that we would be firstfruit offerings solidifies our salvation because He made the decision to do this. This coincides with other passages I’ve already mentioned in previous comments talking about God’s faithfulness to do what He has promised to do in the lives of those whom He has saved.

      September 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

  5. Regarding James 1:18 – how does that address a question about whether or not salvation is conditional on an individual?

    September 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm

  6. 1) If it is true that salvation is not conditional on the individual (as you assert), then does it follow that it does not matter what one believes?

    It would seem the answer for most Christians is that it matters what an individual believes, and therefore salvation is conditional on the individual, yes?

    2) To whom does God grant his promise of salvation? Do you believe God extends his promise of salvation only to a select group (for purposes of this discussion, we’ll call those to whom God extends the promise of salvation “the elect”)? If so, who are the elect? If you are one of the elect, can you denounce God and become unelect? If you cannot (let us say, for the purposes of this conversation, that if you are elect, you find God irresistible, and hence it is impossible to denounce God), — if you cannot, then in what way are you freely choosing God? It seems that if something is irresistible, the concept of free-will is moot, yes?

    Also, it would seem that Hebrews 6:4, 2 Peter 2:20, and the episode of Demas in 2 Timothy 4:10 provide a different route for the interpretation of scriptures regarding whether or not one may lose the promise of salvation. Each camp has apologetic’s to bring each others verses “in line” with their interpretation. But a reasonable person can see that Hebrews 6:4-6 seems in place to argue against whatever the “no true Christian” argument of the time would have been.

    This feels like progress. The narrative of your belief is emerging from the fog, in my understanding. If it is shown to be supported, I’ll give it a further look-see.

    I hope to answer your questions to me about the first commandment soon, but please don’t let my delay with those answers slow you to answer this and the above two comments. I am eager. But also please don’t let it interfere with family or business. Cheers.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    • 1) It definitely matters what one believes. In one other response, I said that everything God does to save is necessary. If the Scriptures say that we must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and we will be saved, God would not keep such a wonderful gift from someone who is saved (Acts 16:31). To say one does not need to believe is almost like a doctor celebrating a still-birth. Yes, there was a delivery, but the baby isn’t breathing.

      2) I don’t know who God grants salvation to (specifically).
      a) Jesus can say the following and agree that both are true: 25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:25-30)
      b) Regarding election. This is a mysterious doctrine which I think is primarily meant to comfort believers because it promises them that it’s God performance/work that ultimately matters, not their own performance.
      c) Regarding free will. Many times the term free will brings connotations, at least with me, of having the ability to make decisions that are absolutely free from outside agents. In other words, nothing impacts my decisions except for me. I don’t believe that’s true. Others may say that because things around us impact our decisions, then we’re not responsible for our decisions. I don’t believe that either. I believe that I am responsible to make the right decisions, but I think that my decisions are impacted by many things around me. Therefore, to use the term “free-will” with regards to God – the creator and sustainer of all – really makes no sense to me. Yet, I believe the sustainer of all has created people as real human beings making real responsible choices. How that all plays together is an amazing mystery (Rom. 9-11).

      October 5, 2011 at 10:34 am

  7. Was Jesus’s death on the cross sufficient for God to have the ability to grant salvation?

    October 2, 2011 at 1:01 am

  8. Is there a difference between saying, as you do, “It is God’s grace that saves me.”; and the idea that it is God’s grace that makes possible your salvation?

    For example, are the following activities separate, and are each an aspect of God’s grace:

    1) Jesus dies on the cross (allowing the mechanistic possibility for the forgiveness of sins).
    2) This Jesus story becoming understood by you.
    3) You choosing to believe this Jesus story.

    Are all three required for salvation?

    October 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    • I’m not exactly sure I understand the totality of your question. To put it in a different scenario, are you saying something like this, “In order to get an SR-71 Blackbird up in the air, you need the following: 1) skilled people, 2) parts, 3) plans, 4) oil, 5) gas (and on and on). If you are missing any of these things then you won’t get the SR-71 Blackbird in the correct functionality. Is that at least a similar analogy?

      If so, using that analogy, I would probably say yes. But, just in case that analogy isn’t clear, I’ll state it more clearly here: Salvation comes because of God’s working before and throughout time. Everything that God does is necessary.

      October 5, 2011 at 10:13 am

  9. I apologize for the delay in answering your questions. I will list them here and attempt to answer them to my understanding.

    You ask:
    “I wonder how you work through the very first of the ten commandments. Does God not hold people to that one? People can have any god before them and God’s “love” will allow them to break his law that can lead to greater liberty for people (Jas. 1:25)?”

    How do I work through the first of the ten commandments?
    I presume you mean the one that reads “Thou shalt have none other gods before me.” I’m not sure I really “work through it.” Often my thoughts upon reflection of it revolve around the idea that so many evangelical Christians make a god or idol out of the Bible, or more accurately, their interpretation of the Bible, thus forcing them to additional make a god out of their grand narrative imaginings and decisions about how to manipulate bible passages to conform to their previously chosen bible scheme. Additionally, I often contemplate the greatness of America for embodying the exact opposite in the Constitution and founding documents of the land. That Congress shall make no law respecting any establishment of religion is fundamentally opposed to Yahweh’s and Jesus’s edict in the first commandment.

    Additional thoughts might be that God seems rather egocentric in these passages. A little more “thou shall not own slaves” and “thou shall not molest children or rape women” would likely have went a long way; but instead we have a “you better worship Me” mentality. Oh well.

    Additionally when god says “you shall no other gods before be Me”, this seems an iteration of God’s exclusivity with his chosen people, believed by the Ancient Hebrews to refer to them. It is a verse reflective of national identity, not unlike some neighboring Canaanite peoples. Hence my previous comments about God later whoring after other peoples (at least according to Christian and Muslim theologies) when those peoples claim Yahweh is broadening his salvific plan to include them.

    Your second part of this question is “Does God not hold people to that one?”
    I don’t know exactly what you mean here. Are you asking that to whom God was speaking (the ancient Hebrews) there was an understanding that there would be resultant detrimental consequences if they didn’t worship God? I believe that was the understanding of the ancient Hebrew peoples. But I believe it likely arose out of the concept that intra-community commitment was solidified in ancient times by agreeing to worship to same God (community cohesion), and thus made communities less susceptible to foreign invasion and decreased food stores, and other assorted maladies.

    Your part 3 “People can have any god before them and God’s “love” will allow them to break his law that can lead to greater liberty for people (Jas. 1:25)?”

    You are hinting at the idea that God’s “love” doesn’t prevent human free will. This seems a tired apologetic, if indeed it is what you are expressing. If a child picks up a loaded gun and places it to their face, do you as a caring, kind, compassionate person not intervene to prevent their free will?

    You verse-drop Jas.1:25.
    Let me quote James 1:25-27

    1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

    1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

    1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

    I agree with your chosen passage by James. Pure (i.e. true) religion is not dogma or belief. Such things are vanity.

    Thank you for asking these questions. It gave me the opportunity to review some passages in light of what you have contributed to your blog. Your continued thoughts would be appreciated, as would our continued discovery of what you actually believe about salvation. Cheers.

    October 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    • Your response is helpful with regards to the 10 Commandments – at least in the area of knowing that you do not subscribe wholeheartedly to the Bible.

      Your concern for God being egocentric is a concern that I can understand yet completely disagree with your conclusion. The question I would encourage you to ask is this, “If God really is good, beautiful and best (and all things were made by Him and flow from Him because He owns everything) then why would He command people to worship anything other than Him?” To add to that, “If falling short of God’s glory leads to decay, then why wouldn’t God punish people for not worshipping Him?”

      Regarding human free will – I don’t prefer that term. I prefer to say that all humans are responsible agents. God is in control of everything. People are responsible (see Acts 2:23 for the seeming paradox).

      Regarding pure religion – keep in mind what “religion” refers to primarily. The word religion had more to do with outward conformity of worship to a deity. James is probably using that term sarcastically, but he is seeking to drive the point home to the readers. Their life needs to portray the inner wholeness they say they have. Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy are both necessary. Hence just a few verses later, James says that we are to “show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” There’s belief and practice.

      October 5, 2011 at 10:01 am

  10. Oh boy. Your seeming assessment that I don’t “subscribe wholeheartedly to the Bible” is interesting. I may not subscribe to your chosen interpretation of scripture, but with what appears to me to be a presentation of seemingly contradictory assertions regarding core topics, who would? I may subscribe wholeheartedly to the Bible in a manner different than your seemingly narrow 19th century Protestantism Bible-idolizing way. I find your assessment of my views severely uncharitable. One may subscribe to the Word of God (e.g. “The Heavens declare the glory of God”) and not fall prey to Bible-worship. Cheers.

    You say “The word religion had more to do with outward conformity of worship to a deity.” This is emphatically not what the plain-text reading of James says. When James writes that pure religion is tending to the needs of orphans and widows, as well as upright living, are you saying that James is being sarcastic?

    Please support your appearing distortion of James by more that just saying “he is probably speaking sarcastically.” What evidence can you provide that allows for such a contrary reading of the plain text of James? You seem to be confusing eisigesis with exegesis, yes? (We are all vulnerable to this. Please consider that in doing so one may be vainly placing their narrative prowess above scripture.)

    Also, please be specific about this: you say “Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy are both necessary.” Both are necessary for what? Are both necessary for salvation? That is, are Orthodoxy (correct belief) and Orthopraxy (correct practice/works) necessary for salvation? If so, you have said orthopraxy is a responsibility of the individual, and therefore that orthopraxy is conditional upon the individual. It wound then seem to follow that if orthopraxy is necessary (for salvation) as you proclaim, and it is also the responsibility of the individual (as you proclaim), then if follows that salvation (in part) is conditional upon the individual.

    In regards to your verse-drop of Acts 2:23, I don’t know how verse-drops can be helpful if you do not graciously offer an interpretation.

    Please toss me a bone, and at least recognize why a reasonable person would find your expression of your chosen theological principles at least mildly confusing, if not wholly post-hoc and outright contradictory (as I feel I’ve demonstrated above). Cheers, as always.

    [P.S. am I right to think your desire to not really use the term “free-will” hint at your Calvinist leanings?]

    October 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    • I’m sorry you feel as though I’m being uncharitable for saying that you do not subscribe wholeheartedly to the Bible. In order to clarify, let me ask a few questions. Based on what the Scriptures say in worshipping God alone, is that your desire to do so or do you believe that God allows for worship of many gods and still you can be considered one of His? I’ll leave the 10 commandments in the OT at this point and just go off of the passage I mentioned in a previous comment and ask, “Have you gone to Jesus for rest?” If not, what do you do with John 3:16-18 (primarily verse 18)?

      Also, you’ve mentioned this “19th century protestantism” in the past. Are you saying that people like Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Martin Luther, and William Tyndale did not believe all of the Scriptures were God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16)? Also, would you say that they didn’t believe in salvation by grace alone through faith alone? Granted, they had their differences, but they were clear on these two points I mention.

      Re: James and the word “religion.” I wonder if you misunderstand my point. But, let me quote an outside source regarding the word “religious”: “The words ‘religious’ (v. 26) and ‘religion’ (v. 27) are rare in the NT (Acts 26:5; Col. 2:18); and for much the same reason that many Christians avoid them. For they are very general in meaning, referring to worship in general, and especially often to the outward practice of ceremonies in honor of a god. Among Jewish writers, the words often referred to the cultic worship of the temple. Perhaps James deliberately chooses such broad terms in order to sharpen his point: anyone who has a claim to genuine religious experience must submit those claims to these tests” (The Letter of James, Moo, p. 96). Nowhere do I deny the importance of action. The point of James is to get people to move forward and live out of their faith in the Lord. What I was trying to state was that belief must not be short-circuited, but necessarily flow into actions so that the person would experience greater, practical wholeness (Jas. 1:4). Hence orthodoxy and orthopraxy are necessary for a growing godly life.

      Regarding my “verse dropping” – I put verses after my sentences to back up the statement I just made. Therefore, I put James 1:4 right after the last sentence in the previous paragraph to show the concept of wholeness/completeness that God desires. I put 2 Timothy 3:16 to show you the verse that talks about Scripture being God-breathed. I put John 3:18 to show you where it’s written that those who do not believe do not have eternal life. Acts 2:23 said that God ordained the crucifixion yet the people were responsible for killing Him (hence my statement of God being in control yet also preserving man’s responsibility). In my “Guideline” section I mention the need for us to be turning to Scripture as the final say. That’s why I’m putting verses at the end of certain sentences.

      About worshipping the Scriptures as an idol: I definitely see that in people. That’s an obvious idol in many people’s hearts. I agree with you. Yet, that does not deny the importance of the Bible and the importance to adhere to what it says. If I get a letter from my kids, I treasure it – not because I love paper with words on it, but because I love my kids. In a MUCH grander fashion, since I have God’s Word, I love those words and seek to live by them – not because I love Arial Font on thin paper that is leather bound. I love those words because I love God.

      Re: your P.S. – Maybe. “Calvinism” is such a broad term – just like so many other termonologies (like Baptist, Presbyterian, Doctor – medical, scientific, theological, chiropractic). At least sometimes, terms and phrases are only as helpful as one understands those terms and phrases.

      October 5, 2011 at 1:26 pm

  11. Good thoughts.

    You didn’t seem to address this part of my comment:

    Also, please be specific about this: you say “Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy are both necessary.” Both are necessary for what? Are both necessary for salvation? That is, are Orthodoxy (correct belief) and Orthopraxy (correct practice/works) necessary for salvation? If so, you have said orthopraxy is a responsibility of the individual, and therefore that orthopraxy is conditional upon the individual. It wound then seem to follow that if orthopraxy is necessary (for salvation) as you proclaim, and it is also the responsibility of the individual (as you proclaim), then it follows that salvation (in part) is conditional upon the individual.

    Thanks in advance.

    October 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm

  12. Remaining on topic, since the ultimate satisfying of hunger comes in the form of salvation, I have another thought about which I would enjoy your thoughts. It appears that to whom salvation is granted, as well as what is required for it’s being granted and how it even works, is an issue your thoughts are evolving on – and perhaps deserves attention, for it is the core of Christianity, is it not?

    Calvinists like to uses terms like “irresistible grace”, which is contrary to free-will, so it seems.

    You admit to drifting toward Calvinism.

    You also use language like: there will be those at the judgment who will have accepted or rejected Jesus. (My paraphrase.)

    Are you able to reconcile such assertions? Cognitive dissonance would seem to arise from holding such seemingly conflicting ideas simultaneously. If Grace is irresistible, it is neither freely accepted nor can it be rejected (it would not be irresistible if it could be). On this issue, Evangelical beliefs seem irreconcilable with Calvinism.

    This would seem to suggest that one of the properties that the Word of God does not have is universal correct interpretation. What guides you to choose a particular interpretation? Is your choice guided by Holy Spirit, and other’s not? How can you be sure? Is your method of determining assuredness better than other’s?

    October 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    • enenennx, I at least want to respond to this before closing down my “blogging” for the time being.

      I personally don’t see my thoughts on justification (or how it is granted) as evolving. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that it’s by grace through faith. Jesus says that the Father has given to him will come to him (John 6:37).

      Regarding Calvinism and the phrase irresistible grace – these can be very unhelpful terms. Hence my desire to stay away from certain terminologies. I think John 6:37 and Ephesians 2:8-9 apply to this question as well.

      In regards to acceptance or rejection of Jesus. I think the previous verses speak on this as well. In addition to this, I think Matthew 11:25 and Matthew 23:37 speak to the conundrum to which you are referring. How God’s sovereignty and man’s willing choice work in harmony, I do not know. That God is able to be sovereign and create a world in which people are completely dependent on him for life and breath and movement, etc, and also grant the ability to make willing choice; I believe.

      In the guiding of a correct interpretation, I pray and read the Scriptures – trusting that I’m reading the Scriptures accurate for what they are saying. If I’m wrong and I’m preaching another gospel, may I be anathema (Gal. 1:8).

      I hope these is at least minimally sufficient in answering the questions you’ve raised. I trust that if you have more soul-pressing questions, you are raising those questions with other individuals to seek the truth. Praying for grace for both of us!

      October 19, 2011 at 11:01 am

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