Friday, October 30, 2015

10 30 15

10 28 15 Jean Paul Sartre

.Sartre’s unique atheism
.Objects or subjects?
.Useless passion?

MY OLD POSTS [below]
VERSES [below]
 NEW STUFF- Sartre is one of the most famous 20th century philosophers- also described as the father of existentialism.
 I say ‘also’ because when we covered Kierkegaard- I said the same of him.
How can this be?
Well- Kierkegaard was a Christian- Sartre an atheist.
So you can divide existentialism between ‘Christian existentialists- and atheistic’.
Ok- it would be a lot to try and cover all of his ideas- but what I want to do is sort of contrast the thinkers who trended away from God  with those who continued to believe in a creator- while at the same time engage in the intellectual world [many I could name- Descartes- Kant- etc.].
Though Sartre- like Camus- was indeed an intelligent man- when they tried to develop philosophies- ways to explain man- his purpose- what ‘it’s’ all about.
They have difficulty giving any real purpose or meaning to man.
Because if you believe [and teach] that man is really some sort of a cosmic accident- with no creator who made him- then how do you teach ‘that man’ that he has a purpose?
This would apply to all the great thinkers- who rejected God.
In the end- if you were born without a preceding purpose [which Christians teach is to glorify God] and when you die- there is no after life- then it’s common sense to see your life ‘without purpose’.
Sartre's most famous work ‘being and nothingness’ says it all in the title.
Some of his most famous ideas are ‘no essence before existence’.
Now- Christians usually criticize him for this [which I just did in a way].
But he sort of tried to apply this idea- and say ‘because we are not predetermined- then we are indeed responsible for our actions- we are ‘left alone- without excuse’.
When you study Philosophy- along with Theology [the study of God]. A big thing that is debated is predestination.
Many misunderstand the historic reformation doctrine of Predestination –and they see it as a form of fatalism- meaning ‘whatever will be- was meant to be’.
You can do a whole debate on this subject- in studying theology alone.
Yet it also ‘bleeds’ into philosophy- because many thinkers were trying to figure out the problems of man- and some thought the doctrine of original sin taught a form of fatalism.
Actually- it does not.
But that’s why you see these ideas pop up – that we can act without our past having power over us.
So- in a sense- though Sartre was an atheist- this was an attempt [I think] to try and give man the ‘freedom’ to act on his own will.
But without belief in God- there really is no grounding authority to values- ethics.
Where would they come from? [that’s a long debate- but if in effect ethics- right and wrong- were simply some sort of value system that was majority rule- then when the majority gets it wrong- slavery- abortion- etc.- then these values do not really ‘mean’ anything].
From the Christian view [they do debate between predestination by the way] Values- worth- purpose- do indeed ‘precede’ existence.
God had a purpose for us before we were born- and values are the revealed ‘rules’ that God gave to man.
The Nihilistic thinkers [those who admit that there really is no purpose] in the end have a hard time teaching their ideas- and at the same time instilling self-worth in people.
Camus summed it up when he said-“There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide” (MS, 3).Oct 27, 2011
Sartre [like Kierkegaard] wrote plays- poetry- etc.
One of Sartre’s dramas was called ‘NO EXIT’
He depicted Hell as a place where people are forever ‘observing’ one another- with no way out [obviously he did not really believe in Hell].
But why would he see it this way?
Sartre had a unique insight [though an atheist- he was indeed smart].
One of the things that Sartre believed- was subjectivity- he taught that if man were to be truly Free- he could not be an Object [lots has been said in the last few years on objectifying people- seeing them as objects degrades them].
So in Sartre's mind- belief in God objectifies people.
If there is an ‘all seeing’ creator who is always looking/seeing into people’s lives [and intents- hearts] then they are not truly free.
All the thinkers who rejected God- did not do so for the same reasons.
Freud- and those who taught Hedonism- said it was the moral constraints on man [from God and the church] that was the problem.
So in Freud’s mind- we should deny God- and man should live out all of his most base desires.
It was a failed idea for sure- but that was the Hedonists view.
Sartre did not espouse unrestrained passion- actually even though he was an atheist- he believed that men should live with some type of ethic.
So his rejection of God was based on the idea that God is always ‘watching you’ and a man cannot truly be free- if someone is always watching him. It was an interesting idea [and yes- God is always watching- but from the Christian view he is not watching as some type of cosmic voyeur- but as a Father watches over his children.
Or- as the bible says ‘as a mother hen watches over her chicks’. So Sartre was right about God always seeing us- but he disagreed with the Christian view of omniscience [all knowing God] and said this ‘constant watching’ makes us an object- and to Sartre- the basic attribute of human character is subjectivity- if he is not a subject- with no previous ‘essence’ [remember- his other famous idea was ‘existence precedes essence’] he is not truly free.
So to Sartre- man and reality are simply things- and we develop life from this materialistic view.
He rejected universals- there is not a universal category of ‘mankind’ but simply individual people.
Another famous atheist thinker was Camus [‘there is only one really serious question left- suicide’].
Even though some of the atheistic thinkers ‘meant well’ yet- in the end- as Kant said- if there is no God- then society cannot function without the basic understanding that we are all accountable- and will someday give an account.
In Kant’s view- he rejected the classical idea that you could ‘prove God’ from reason and nature.
But some said he ‘let God in the back door’.
Because for Kant- if you reject God outright- then society cannot function.
For instance- if there is some type of injustice- maybe framed for murder and you sit in jail your whole life- never being vindicated.
For Kant- the person can survive- because he knows- in the end- the truth will come out [if there is a God].
And not only will it come out- but those who wronged the man will give an account.
So Kant saw the need for there not only to be an ‘all seeing God/judge’.
But that Judge had to also have all power- so he could carry out justice in the end.
But for Sartre- and Camus- and the other atheists- they grappled with the problem of where moral laws come from [or if there is even such a thing].
How can we really define ethics if there is no real meaning to our existence?
If ‘nothing matters’ [no essence before existence] then in the end- WE don’t matter.
And you come to the same conclusion as Camus.
The question of suicide has been pondered for centuries- it has made it into the plays of Shakespeare [below]
Many are familiar with this famous line- but read it carefully- it’s Hamlet’s struggle- whether it’s nobler to ‘go thru stuff’ or- end it.
That’s why I think the Camus’ and Sartres of the world don’t help- in the end.

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there's the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th'oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of dispriz'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.
TELOS [What’s your purpose?]
A telos (from the Greek τέλος for "end", "purpose", or "goal") is an end or purpose, in a fairly constrained sense used by philosophers such as Aristotle. It is the root of the term "teleology," roughly the study of purposiveness, or the study of objects with a view to their aims, purposes, or intentions. Teleology figures centrally in Aristotle's biology and in his theory of causes. It is central to nearly all philosophical theories of history, such as those of Hegel and Marx. One running debate in contemporary philosophy of biology is to what extent teleological language (as in the "purposes" of various organs or life-processes) is unavoidable, or is simply a shorthand for ideas that can ultimately be spelled out nonteleologically. Philosophy of action also makes essential use of teleological vocabulary: on Davidson's account, an action is just something an agent does with an intention--that is, looking forward to some end to be achieved by the action.
In contrast to telos, techne is the rational method involved in producing an object or accomplishing a goal or objective; however, the two methods are not mutually exclusive in principle.
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God,
[1] and to enjoy him forever.[2]
1Peter 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil speakings,
1Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
1Peter 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
1Peter 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
1Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1Peter 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
1Peter 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
1Peter 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which

Stuff I mention on the video

 (1360) Lets do a little Catholic/Protestant stuff. First, those of you who have read this site for any period of time know that as a Protestant I am ‘pro Catholic’ that is I read and study Catholic scholars, believe in the ECT statement [Evangelicals and Catholics together]  and for the most part am pro Catholic in that sense. I have offended more Protestants because of this stance than Catholics. But sometimes I need to state the differences and be honest about them, true ecumenical unity should never be achieved on the altar of doctrine, we should not sacrifice sincerely held beliefs while seeking unity for Christ’s church. Last night I caught the journey home show with Marcus Grodi as well as Catholic scholar Scott Hahn [EWTN- the Catholic network]. Scott was doing a teaching on the sacraments of the church and shared a common belief in the ‘incarnational’ aspect of matter. Some theologians believe [both Catholic and Protestant] that since God became man in Jesus, that this united/sanctified matter in a way that never occurred before. They will carry this thought into sacramental theology and teach a kind of ‘connection’ with God thru material things; both Baptism and the Eucharist would be major examples. I believe the historic church was well intended when they developed this idea, they were combating the popular Greek/Gnostic belief that matter is inherently evil, not a biblical doctrine. As Scott Hahn made the argument I simply felt that he gave too much weight to the idea that because of the incarnation [God becoming man] that now there is a special ‘sanctity’ to material things when connected with the sacraments. Does the bible teach that there are actual physical things in this world that carry out the truth of the incarnation in a material way? Actually it does, the bible teaches that the bodies of believers have this special aspect because Gods Spirit lives in us. In essence the idea of ‘special matter’ that is often taught by well meaning scholars can be applied to the physical church in the earth, all who believe. I do not totally dismiss sacramental theology, many Protestants who dismiss it out of hand are not aware of the strong beliefs that the reformers held too in these areas. Luther is often misunderstood when it comes to his disagreement with Calvin, many teach and think that he split with Calvin over the doctrine of Predestination, he did not- Luther’s written views on the doctrine were just as strong [if not stronger] on the subject. Calvin never wrote a book dedicated solely to the doctrine, Luther did [bondage of the will]. But they did split on the sacrament of the Eucharist, Luther’s view [consubstantiation] was much closer to the Catholic view than Calvin, and Zwingli [the Swiss reformer] was further away than both Calvin and Luther. Lutheranism would eventually be developed by a protégé of Luther, Philip Melanchthon, and the Lutheran church would bear the image of Melanchthon more than Luther. The point being many good men have held to very strong views on these matters. I believe the biblical doctrine leans more heavily on the ‘material body’ of the believer as being the major material change since the incarnation, I do not hold to the idea that ‘God becoming man’ fundamentally changed the nature of matter when dealing with the sacraments. Matter is not [nor ever was] intrinsically evil, Greek dualism got it wrong from the start- we do not need a strong sacramental theology to refute this, scripture itself will do.

. He had a few theological battles in his day. With Pelagianism and Donatism- these were early Christian movements that broke away from the standard teaching of the church- they derive their names form the Bishops/priests who espoused these ideas.

Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin- and he taught that men were indeed capable of obeying Gods law- out of their own moral integrity- and thus ‘save themselves’. Augustine rejected this view and taught that men were saved only by the grace of God- that men were indeed sinful and corrupt- and if left to their own designs would end up in hell.

There were various adherents to Pelagius’ view- and his ideas have carried down thru the centuries to varying degrees- sometimes you will hear [read] the term ‘Semi- Pelagian’ this refers to those who have various ideas about man’s ability to save himself through good works.

Some in the Reformed church [the original Protestant belief system that came out from the 16th century Reformation] accuse the Catholic Church of this very thing- yet the Catholic Church has made it clear that they do reject Pelagianism- and they agree with Augustine on the matter.

The Donatists taught that the Sacraments were dependent upon the ‘holiness’ of the Priest who ministers them. That if you were in a Parish where the priests were bad- lived in sin- rejected a holy life- then if you were Baptized by these men- that the Baptism didn’t ‘stick’.

The Donatists formed there own break away church in the 3rd century- and a few very influential men would join the group. A well respected early church father- Tertullian- eventually joined their ranks.

Augustine argued against the Donatists teaching- and taught that Gods grace- and the grace given to believers thru the sacraments were not derived from the holiness of any priest or preacher- but if a believer in good conscience received the sacraments- that that’s what really counted.

Saint Augustine is one of the titans of church history- he is loved by Protestants and Catholics alike. He is famous for his belief in the doctrine of Predestination [that those who are saved were chosen by God before they were born] and for this reason he is loved by the original protestant theologians [Luther, Calvin, etc.]

He also taught a very ‘Catholic’ form of Ecclesiology [church govt.] and is well loved by many Catholics as well.

The Catholic Church refers to him  as the Doctor of Grace- later on in the 13th century we will meet Saint Thomas Aquinas- who the church refers to as the Angelic Doctor.

Both of these men played a major role in the development of western thought and Augustine made an effort to distinguish true Christian thought from the philosophy of Neo Platonism which was very strong in his day.

When reading Augustine [he wrote a lot] you need to be careful to distinguish some of his earlier writings from his later ones.

Early on you still see forms of Platonic thought in Augustine- but as the years rolled by his thinking
. HEBREWS 10-13
There’s more on the video- Kant, John Mill- Moral Theory- Utilitarianism, Kantianism. Dead Sea Scroll-s ‘Lost Books’ of the bible- Septuagint- Jerome- Alexander the Great- Ptolemy- Seleucids- Essenes- Qumran community- Ecclesiology- Local Church  etc.

Judaism in transition.
Did they ‘move on’ ?
Who was Elazar ben Yair?

End notes of chapter-


 ‘For the law having a SHADOW of good things to come, AND NOT the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshipers once purged should have no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year’. Paul shows how the simple fact of ongoing sacrifices in and of itself testifies of the insufficiency of the law. The on going sacrifices were a reminder that the peoples sins were still there. If the sacrifices really worked, then why do it over and over again every year? He will contrast this with the singular sacrifice of Christ. The fact that Jesus did it once shows the superiority of his sacrifice over the law.

 ‘Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. THEN SAID HE, lo, I come to do thy will O God. ABOVE WHEN HE SAID sacrifice and offering…THEN HE SAID, lo, I come to do thy will O God. He taketh away the first that he may establish the second’ Here Paul uses the actual order of the verses in Psalms to prove that the Old law will pass away and a New covenant will replace it. The fact that David [Psalms] says ‘sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared for me’ in this order shows that God always planned on taking away the sacrificial system and replacing it with Christ [or fulfilling it!] So even in the simple prophetic order of these statements Paul sees the Old law passing away and a new one being instituted. Wow again!

 ‘By the which will we are sanctified thru the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every high priest STANDETH daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, SAT DOWN on the right hand of God’ The comparison here is that the priests under the law stood, showing their sacrifices were never sufficient, they could never say ‘it is finished’. The fact that they stood while offering sacrifices showed the incompleteness of the system. Jesus sat down. This showed that his sacrifice was once and for all. Now, no where does scripture teach this concept between ‘sitting and standing’. Where does Paul get this stuff from? From ‘revelation’, that is God is supernaturally showing this stuff to Paul as he writes. This is the prophetic element of scripture. While we don’t ‘write scripture’ any more today, there are still lots of hidden meanings that we don’t fully see yet. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to ‘bring to our remembrance all the things that Jesus taught us’ [also all the things about Jesus!] So when you read the Old Testament, look for Jesus! He is there in more ways than you realize.

 ‘For by ONE offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us [of what? Of the singularity of Christ’s offering. The fact that the Holy Spirit thru Jeremiah prophesied that God would never remember our sins any more speaks to the truth of the one offering of Christ, we will read ‘if there is no more remembrance, then there is no more sacrifice’] this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
. Both of the above books/movies became favorites of mine- till this day I’ll watch them when they pop up on the classic channel. I actually have the Grapes of Wrath book sitting right here.

But the movie- Old man and the Sea- enthralled me. The struggle of the old man- his fight with the great fish- his arm wrestling bouts with the younger guys- the whole mystique was my thing.

The author- Hemingway- was himself a ‘mans man’ he lived large- took in all the experiences of life- and embraced a philosophy of life called Nihilism. This world view was popularized by men like Sartre, Camus and Freud. It basically is atheistic and says ‘there is no real meaning to life- man is a ‘useless passion’- he exists, only for the purpose of experiencing life- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- that the responsible thing to do is check out’. Yes- this philosophy advocates suicide.

Sartre [John Paul Sartre] actually said that the only philosophical question left is suicide- that we need to ask ourselves- as a society- should we allow ourselves to check out- for the good of the whole- when the pain exceeds the pleasure.

Another great work of Hemingway is titled ‘the Sun also rises’. He took the title from the biblical book of Ecclesiastes- written by Solomon [you know- to everything there is a season]. Solomon also embraces a sort of nihilistic view in this book- though it is in the bible- it is a form of literature called ‘pessimistic wisdom literature’. Sort of the philosophy Hemingway embraced.

Hemingway spoke about this view all thru out his life- though he was a brilliant writer- he had no hope ‘in the world’ [Apostle Paul]. One night, after he went to bed with his wife- he woke up- went downstairs and rigged up his favorite hunting rifle- and blew his head off. His daughter followed him a few years later.

I don’t know what’s down the road for our world right now- there are many people feeling hopeless today because they have lost- yes once again- a big portion of their wealth. As Christians we can say ‘yes- life is hard- we struggle at times- but in the end our struggles are working out a higher purpose- we have meaning in life’ but the atheist/nihilist- to them there is no redemptive purpose to the struggle- when the pain exceeds the pleasure- well yes- they check out.

Over the next few weeks- wherever you are at- think for yourself. If all the professional investors take their money out of stocks- and at the same time they advise you different- then stop listening to them. If your mad at the right [or left] then don’t keep watching people who are coming up with diagnosis’ that say the country is being run by actual Oslo killers- that’s just not true- no matter how much you might hate their point of view.

And at the end of the day- we as believers- we do have hope in the world. Mr. Steinberg wore that star of David- proudly. And in a recent post [Last?] I spoke about the promise that God made to king David- that he would raise up one of his sons and this Son would rule on the throne for ever. Yes- today this promise has been fulfilled through Christ- who sits at the right hand of God.

I don’t know- maybe I’ll rent the Old man and the Sea later [I tried in the past but couldn’t find it] and I’ll see the struggle of the old man [played excellently by Spencer Tracy] but instead of embracing his creators view [that is his earthly creator- Hemingway] I’ll ‘give’ my sufferings up- as the Catholics say- I’ll offer them to the Lord. Hemingway took the cowards way out- at the end of the day- he wasn’t the man we thought he was- he copped out.

. For Aristotle- knowledge is more A-Posteriori- that is we obtain knowledge about a thing- from the very thing itself. We see/touch and experience that thing- and by our senses interacting with the substance- we get knowledge- after the fact.

Okay- to Aristotle all substance has both Form and Matter. Then what he called substance- had 2 categories as well. The ‘substance’ [actual thing it is] and the Accidens [not accidents- not a typo].

The Accidens was simply the outward appearance- what we see on the outside. It might not be what the substance really is- or it might.

This teaching would eventually become a major way that our Catholic friends would come to define the doctrine of Transubstantiation- during the 13the century the great thinker Thomas Aquinas would re-discover [and introduce] Aristotle’s teaching back into the church.

In his theological works [Summa Theologica] he would use Aristotelian thought to explain how the Bread and Wine become the actual Flesh and Blood of Christ. Thomas explained that the actual substance of the thing was Flesh and Blood- but the Accidens- what you’re seeing on the outside- looks like Bread and Wine.

Catholic scholars have debated for centuries on whether or not they should stick to the hard line teaching from Thomas on this. They are not challenging the belief in the Real Presence [that Jesus is really there at the Eucharist] they simply wonder whether or not explaining it this way is right.

Finally- after many years of certain Catholic scholars asking this question- in 1965 the Pope [I think it was Paul the 6th?] put out a Papal Encyclical [an official Vatican teaching] and he stated clearly that the way Aquinas taught it is the official doctrine of the church- so that settled that.

Okay- Plato was an Idealist [Dualist] and Aristotle was a Realist. That’s the major difference.

I will note that Aristotle’s most famous student was Alexander the Great. And during the great conquests of Alexander he took with him a whole team of scientists who brought back all types of specimens of things and he gave them to his famous teacher Aristotle- to advance the cause of learning at the Lyceum school.

It has been said that Alexander’s efforts at collecting and bringing these things back after their victories- that this was probably the most expensive scientific endeavor of all time- right up until the  modern space Era.

Note- I try to avoid too many ‘big words’ in these posts. Not because people don’t understand them- but because I forget how to spell them! And in this post- there are around 10 words that my spell check has no idea how to spell- so just a warning- there might be a few misspelled words in this one.

. (846)ROMANS 8:29-30 ‘for whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: whom he justified, them he also glorified’. Let’s talk a little. When I first became a Christian I began a lifelong study of scripture, where I continually read a certain amount of scripture every day for many years. Over the years I have varied on how fast I should read [that is how many chapters per day and so forth]. But during the early stages I always took these verses to teach predestination in the classical sense. Simply put, that God ‘pre chose’ me [and all whom come to him] before we ‘chose him’. The Fundamental Baptist church I began to attend [a great church with great people!] taught that ‘classic Calvinism’ [predestination] was false doctrine, and they labeled it ‘Hyper Calvinism’. I simply accepted this as fact. But I never forgot the early understanding that I first gleaned thru my own study. I also was very limited in my other readings outside of the scripture. I did study the Great awakenings and Charles Finney. I read some biographies on John Wesley and other great men of God. These men were not Calvinistic in their doctrine [which is fine], as a matter of fact Wesley would eventually disassociate from George Whitefield over this issue. Whitefield was a staunch Calvinist! Over time I came to believe the doctrine again, simply as I focused on the scriptures that teach it. Eventually I picked up some books on church history and realized that Calvinism was [and is] a mainstream belief among many great believers. I personally believe that most of the great theologians in history have accepted this doctrine. Now, for those who reject it, they honestly struggle with these portions of scripture. Just like there are portions of scripture that Calvinists struggle with. To deny this is to be less than honest. The Arminians [Those who deny classic predestination- the term comes from Jacob Arminias, a Calvinist who was writing and studying on the ‘errors’ of ‘arminianism’ and came to embrace the doctrine of free will/choice] usually approach the verses that say ‘he predestined us’ by teaching that Gods predestination speaks only of his foreknowledge of those who would choose him. This is an honest effort to come to terms with the doctrine. To be ‘more honest’ I think this doesn’t adequately deal with the issue. In the above text, as well as many other places in scripture, the idea of ‘Gods foreknowledge and pre choosing’ speak specifically about Gods choice to save us, as opposed to him simply knowing that we would ‘choose right’. The texts that teach predestination teach it in this context. Now the passage above does say ‘those whom he foreknew, he also did predestinate to be conformed into the image of Christ’ here this passage actually does say ‘God predestinated us to be like his Son’. If you left the ‘foreknowledge’ part out, you could read this passage in an Arminian way. But we do have the ‘foreknowledge’ part. So I believe Paul is saying ‘God chose us before we were born, he ‘knew’ ahead of time that he would bring us into his Kingdom. Those whom he foreknew he also predestinated to become like his Son.’ Why? So his Son would be the firstborn among many. God wanted a whole new race of ‘children of God’. Those he predestinated he ‘called’. He drew them to himself. Jesus said ‘all that the Father give to me will come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no way cast out’. Those who ‘come’ are justified, those who are justified are [present tense] glorified. Gods design and sovereignty speak of it as a ‘finished task’ like it already happened. God lives outside of the dimension of time. I believe in the doctrine of predestination. Many others do as well. You don’t have to believe it if you don’t want to, but I believe scripture teaches it.

(847)ROMANS 8: 31-39 ‘What shall we say then to these things? [what things? The fact that God predestined us and has guaranteed completion of the purpose he has designed us for!] If God be for us, who can be against us?’ Paul teaches that Christ is the only one with the ‘right’ or authority to pass judgment. If the only person in existence who can ‘officially’ condemn and pass legal judgment has actually died for us for the purpose of ‘freeing us from a state of condemnation’, then who ‘gives a rip’ about others opinions and views of us? Most of us struggle with how others view us.
. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Prvb. 4:3
. Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun. Ecc. 8
. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. Jesus
. Acts 10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
. Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
Galatians 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Galatians 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Galatians 3:4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
Galatians 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Galatians 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
Galatians 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
. Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Ephesians 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
. John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that isbegotten of him. 1st John 5

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10 29 15 Out here in the Fields see my carnival too!

Monday, October 26, 2015

10 22 15 Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling

.Why study the classics?
.C.S. Lewis too
.Was he depressed?
.Why write in the dirt?
.Leave by faith
.The 3 stages of life
.Sproul liked him!
.What was the city?
NOTE- I just walked outside from one of the spots where I work on my laptop- and sure enough there is a homeless guy- originally from NYC.
I also have become friends with another new ‘street guy’ named Vince [in another new spot where I go- to be alone].
I gave Vince the ministry card- so he could check out the site [I always tell these guys I do a homeless ministry- but at first they see me – often dressed in black- and they are suspicious].
So- I went to one of the new spots the other day- sure enough Vince says ‘Hi John’ [I forgot his name- had to ask for it again].
It seemed like he checked out the site- and saw I was telling the truth [Vince is homeless- but I could tell he is organized to a degree- able to survive pretty well- Like my friend Tim you saw on the last video].
I always find it ‘strange’ when I run into these guys [like just now] because these are areas where you normally do not see the homeless.
So- just wanted to mention this.
Kierkegaard was a 19th century Danish philosopher- thinker- theologian and social critic [poet too!].
I’ve done philosophy posts in the past- and think I might have covered him before-
But these recent posts [Nietzsche] are simply covering the classics of literature-
So we will talk about his best known work ‘fear and Trembling’.
He covers different perspectives on the story of Abraham found in genesis 22- when God told him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice.
He gives different scenarios of how Abraham might have struggled deeply with this command.
Kierkegaard wrote at a time when many scholars were defending the Christian faith from the standpoint of reason and proofs for the existence of God.
Many defenders of the faith were trying to give an intellectual defense for the reality of God.
They sought to show that truth is objective [which it is by the way] and they gave very strong cases for the argument of the existence of God thru reason and history [for instance- faith is not ‘blind faith’ where you reject the mind- and simply believe in God as some blind act of a leap into the dark].
But- Kierkegaard responded to these intellectuals [Hegel- etc.] and said that faith is the 3rd stage of the journey of life.
The first stage people are spectators- they enjoy the arts- poets- even the study of deep theological truths [the so called Ivory Tower intellectuals].
But to him- this was not actually engaging in the reality of life- and God.
The 2nd stage was the Ethical stage- where you see the reality of right and wrong [natural law] the truth about the ‘fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man’ [some scholars reduced the faith to this].
But to Kierkegaard- this too was not ‘true faith’.
The 3rd stage he saw as ‘the religious stage’ of man- but to him religion was indeed a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ [sounds very evangelical for his day].
He criticized organized religion [the church state of Denmark] and stressed the need for the individual to experience God- even beyond the point of reason.
Now- in the scholarly debates that have raged over the centuries- a big one is whether truth is objective- or relative [or subjective].
Kierkegaard does seem to teach – at least in part- that truth [and our relationship with God] can be subjective.
I think he was not trying to embrace what some Relativists do- that there is no ‘real truth’.
But more in the line of showing us that we can’t reduce ‘religion’ to simple ethical standards- or reasoning-
Because- like in the story of Abraham- he was asked- by God- to do something that did indeed violate ethics- and the actual command of God to not kill.
So in fear and trembling he shows that Abrahams faith went beyond a simple head knowledge of right and wrong- but he had heard the voice of God- who by a lifetime of walking with him- he understood because he had a relationship with God.
In genesis 22 we read that Abraham went to offer his son- and told the servants ‘we will be back’.
In Hebrews 11 we read that Abraham simply convinced himself that if he offered Isaac on the altar- that God would raise him up.
Because Isaac was the child that God promised would be the father of many generations- God made this promise to Abraham.
Then how could Isaac be this promised child- and yet at the same time- be the child that God said to ‘kill’.
See- to Kierkegaard- the faith of Abraham was not reduced to an intellectual reality of right and wrong- but it was a passionate embrace of God- even to the point where others would never understand it.
In the end- God told Abraham it was simply a test- and he did not let Abraham go thru with the act.
Kierkegaard tried to show the struggles of man-
He also used the example of Job- where he was in great stress- to the point of seeking death- and yet he would still serve God.
He spoke about severe loneliness- and depression- the example he gave was solitary confinement- where even if the prisoner wanted to die- he could not ‘find death’.
Why was he so ‘negative’?
Some think the book fear and Trembling’ was actually his own experience.
He broke off the engagement to the love of his life- Regine Olson- because he felt God wanted him to ‘sacrifice’ this love- for a higher calling.
Much like Abraham being willing to give up his son- though he loved him so much.
Kierkegaard probably suffered from depression most of his life- and he died at the young age of 42.

(820)  . ROMANS 3:19-31 ‘Now we know that what things the law says, it says to those who are under the law… that every mouth may be stopped and all the world becomes guilty before God’. One of the questions that arise as a response to Paul’s gospel is ‘if the law cannot make us righteous, then why even have it’? Paul will consistently teach the concept that Gods intention for the law was simply to reveal mans sin to him. Man would have this ‘form’ of the law written on stone tablets and as he tried to live up to God’s standards he would come to the proper diagnosis that all men are sinners. This diagnosis would then lead him to a place of faith in Jesus. After he believes in Jesus he then fulfills the law naturally, out of having a new nature ‘yea, we establish the law’ [3:31]. I have found it interesting over the years to teach people this. To explain to sincere people, church goers. To say ‘did you know the bible says that no man can be saved by trying to obey Gods Ten Commandments’? I will always explain that this doesn't mean that God wants us to break them! But when we come to the Cross we by nature keep them. These verses lay down the foundation of ‘justification by faith’. He that believes is righteous. To declare Jesus righteousness for the remission of sins that are past. Having faith ‘in His Blood’. Both Jews and Gentiles need to be made righteous thru faith/belief in Jesus. I want to establish this fact in your mind. Paul without a doubt describes this experience as being ‘justified by faith’. This is the same as saying ‘believing with the heart unto righteousness’. Later on [chapter 10] this needs to be understood when parsing the verses that say ‘with the heart a man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation’ many are confused about this, to get it right you need to see that Paul spends much time early on establishing the fact that ‘those who believe unto righteousness’ are justified by faith already!

Below are just a few clips from Romans 1-3- I hope to hit on these in the video.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Romans 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Romans 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Romans 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Romans 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

  ROMANS 4-7
Video This is an old radio show I made years ago- thought it fit well with what I’m teaching now- you’ll need to use Internet Explorer browser to hear it.

The apostle Paul quotes a lot of Old Testament scriptures in this letter- I hope to cover some of them on the video- but as you read these chapters- it would be helpful to read Genesis 12- 13- 15-and 17- these are the main chapters Paul uses in the life of Abraham to show Abrahams faith- and how he was justified by faith- before he was circumcised [Gen 15].
He will describe the faith of Abraham by using the story of Abraham and Sarah having a son in their old age [Gen. 17] - and talk about how the heirs of the promise- that Abraham would be ‘heir of the world’ was made to ALL THE SEED- meaning not just to his Jewish brothers who would believe- but also to the Gentiles- who were never granted the ‘right of the covenant’ [circumcision].
Paul explains that Abraham was justified BEFORE he was circumcised- so- he is the father of all the kids- even the Gentile believers who were never circumcised- but had the faith of Abraham.
Now- there’s’ a lot I am trying to cover in this Romans study- for those who watch the videos- you will see that I’m also covering the divisions within Christianity- primarily those that arose out of the 16th century Protestant Reformation. I quote the book of James- and show how James says ‘was not Abraham our father JUSTIFIED BY WORKS when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar’. It’s important to see- that these words JUSTIFIED BY WORKS- are indeed used in our New Testament- in the videos I’m explaining this- but the point I’m making is James uses the account of Abraham- in Genesis 22- and shows us that the progressive work of ‘Justification’ can- and is- applied to the act of Abrahams obedience- and when God saw Abraham DO A JUST THING [a work] James says ‘he was then justified’- the same word used in the initial act of our Justification- seen in Genesis 15- ok- this might be a bit much to take in now- but over time when we get a better grasp on this- I believe it will help to foster unity in the Body of Christ.

James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
NOTE- As I do this study- I’m copying/pasting an old commentary I wrote years ago- I guess I should read the commentary first- after I penned the above- I read it- I basically covered the same thing- at least I’m consistent!

 ROMANS 4: 1-12  Now, Paul will use one of his most frequent arguments to prove that all men, both Jews and Gentiles, need to be justified by faith and not ‘by works’. The most famous singular figure that natural Israel looked to as the ‘identifier’ of them being a special people was ‘Father Abraham’. Paul does a masterful job at showing how Abraham was indeed justified by faith and not by works. The ‘work’ of circumcision came before the law. It would later become synonymous with law keeping [Ten Commandments] and Paul can certainly use it here as implying ‘the whole law’. But to be accurate this work of circumcision was a national identifying factor that Israel looked to as saying ‘we are better than you [Gentiles]’. Paul is showing Israel that God in fact ‘made Abraham righteous’ before he circumcised him! [Gen. 15] And the sign of this righteousness was circumcision. This meaning that Abrahams faith in Gods promise [a purely ‘passive’ act! This is very important to see. Later on as we deal with the famous ‘conversion texts’ we need to keep this in mind] justified him without respect to the law. God simply took Abraham outside and said ‘look at the stars, your children will be this abundant’ and Abraham simply believed this promise to be true. Much like the passive belief of Cornelius house at their conversion [Acts 10]. The simple belief in the promise of Jesus justifies the sinner! Now this fact of Abraham believing and being made righteous, before being circumcised, is proof [according to Paul] that Abraham is the father of ‘many nations’ not just natural Israel. All ethnic groups who HAVE THE SAME FAITH AS ABRAHAM are qualified to be ‘sons of Abraham/ heirs of God’. The fact that Abraham carried this justification along with him as he became circumcised, shows that all Jewish people as well can partake of this ‘righteousness by faith’ if they have the same faith as Abraham had. Jesus did say ‘Abraham rejoiced to see my day’[ John’s gospel]. In Gods promise to Abraham of a future dynasty of children, this included the promised Messiah. So indirectly Abraham’s belief in the promise of being the father of ‘many nations’ included belief in the coming Messiah. So according to Paul, all ethnic groups who have faith in Jesus are justified/made righteous. The very example Israel used to justify ‘ethnic/national pride’ [Father Abraham] was taught in a way that showed the truth of the gospel and how God is no respecter of persons.

(820)  ROMANS 4:13-14 ‘Now the promise that Abraham would become the inheritor of the world was not going to be fulfilled thru the law [natural Israel] but thru faith [all who believe, both Jew and Gentile]’. I have spoken on this before [see note at bottom] and will hit on it a little now. The historic church can be defined for the most part as ‘a-millennial’, that is they interpreted the parables on the Kingdom of God and the promise of ‘inheriting the world [which includes the Promised Land]’ as being fulfilled thru the church. That Jesus established Gods kingdom and the church basically fulfills these promises by expanding Christ’s ‘rule’ thru the earth. Some historians saw the 4th century ‘marriage’ of Rome and Christianity as a fulfillment of this. During the 19th and 20th century you had the rise of Dispensationalism, a ‘new/different’ way of interpreting these land promises. Many good men showed the reality of Christ’s literal coming and pointed to a future time where Jesus literally sits on a throne in Jerusalem and rules all nations. These brothers are called ‘Pre-millennial’, they believe that Jesus comes back first [pre] and then establishes his ‘millennial rule’ on earth. The Premillennialists would see the Amillennialists as ‘replacement theologians’. They said that these brothers were taking the actual promises that God made to Israel and ‘replacing’ Israel with the church. In essence they accused the Amillennialists of spiritualizing the promises to Israel and saying the church would be the recipients of the promises. Now, both sides have truth to them, I personally believe the Amillennialists have a lot more truth! But I do see some of the good points that the Premillenialists made. I want you to simply read these verses [Romans 4:13-14, Galatians 3:18] and see for yourself how Paul does teach the reality that the promises to Abraham are to be fulfilled thru the church [spiritual Israel]. This does not mean that there is no future physical return of Jesus. But the body of scripture leans heavily on the Amillinnialists side. [see entry 703] NOTE- To be fair, some historic thinkers held to the Premillennial position. The majority were Amillennial.

(821)  ROMANS 4:15-25 ‘For the law worketh wrath, for where there is no law there is no transgression’. I simply want to touch on the concept of ‘wrath’ being a very real part of judgment. One of the ways the gospel ‘saves us’ is by promising a future [and present!] deliverance from wrath. While death ‘reigned’ before the law was given, it wasn’t until the law where you had a clear picture of transgression and atonement. We will deal with this later in Romans. Now Paul once again hits on the theme of Abraham being the ‘spiritual father’ of many nations [all who believe] and how the promises of God to Abraham were to be fulfilled thru this ‘new race of people’ [the church]. Paul is careful to not demean Israel; he couches his terms in a way that says ‘God will fulfill these things thru the circumcision who believes [Jews] and the un-circumcision who believe’ [Gentiles]. I want to stress the very plain language Paul uses to show us that we should not be seeing Gods ‘covenant promises’ thru a natural lens. Christians need to be careful when they support [exalt!] natural Israel in a way that the New Testament doesn’t do. ‘To the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is the faith of Abraham’. Now Paul tells us that when God made promises to Abraham that Abraham believed against hope. When all things looked really bad, he still believed. When he was 100 years old and Sarah around 90, he held to the promise [read my commentaries on Genesis 15-18 and Hebrews 11] and therefore God imputed righteousness to him. How closely are you paying attention to Paul’s free use of Abraham and Genesis? If you carefully read this chapter you see Paul ‘intermingle’ the story of Abraham being ‘made righteous upon initial belief’ [Gen. 15] and the later story of Sarah having Isaac [Gen. 17]. I think Paul was simply using the description of Abrahams faith, as seen in the Gen. 17 [and 22!] accounts of his life, to show the type of faith he initially ‘exercised’ [I don’t like using this term to be honest. God actually imputes faith to the believer at the initial act of regeneration]. The important chapters from Genesis that we all need to have a ‘working knowledge’ of are Chapters 12 [the initial promise], 15 [the oft mentioned ‘imputed righteousness’ verse], 17 [the receiving of the promised seed- Isaac], and 22 [the ultimate act of obedience that Abraham showed in offering up Isaac. This will be described in James epistle as ‘righteousness being fulfilled’. James, who is concerned about ‘works’, will say that when Abraham offered Isaac he was fulfilling the ‘imputed righteousness’ that God gave him earlier. James actually describes this as ‘being justified by works’{James 2:21} and James says ‘the scripture was fulfilled that saith Abraham believed God and it was imputed to him for righteousness’… ‘see how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only’. The classic view taken by many confuses the ‘justified’ part with the initial act of justification that Paul centers on. James uses ‘see how he was justified by works’ in a future ‘judicial decree’ sense; that is God having the ongoing ‘freedom’ to continually say ‘good job son, you did well’. The word justification is used in a fluid sense much like salvation. Christians need to be more ‘secure’ in their own assurance to be able to see these truths. When we approach all these seemingly ‘difficult passages’ in a defensive mode, then we never arrive at the actual meaning]. When we see the overall work of God in Abraham’s life we see the purpose of God in ‘declaring people just’ [initially ‘getting saved’]. The purpose is for them to eventually ‘act just’ [obey!] ‘Jesus was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification’ thank God that this process is dependant on the work of the Cross! [see # 758]

Romans 5:1-9 ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God thru our Lord Jesus Christ’. There are certain benefits ‘results’ of being ‘made righteous by faith’, peace being one of them. Paul goes on and says we glory in hope and also trials, because we realize that thru the difficulties we gain experience and patience. Things that are needed for the journey, we can’t substitute talent and motivation and ‘success principles’ for them. We need maturity and God produces it this way. Those who teach otherwise have a ‘self inflicted wound’ their teachings are very immature! That is there was a ‘strain’ of teaching in the church that said ‘we don’t learn thru difficulty and suffering, we learn only thru Gods word!’ [that is reading it].  Those who grasped onto this false idea have produced some of the most unbalanced teaching in the church, stuff that even the younger generation is saying ‘what in the heck are these guys preaching’?  If you by pass the difficult road, you will be shallow. Now Paul says ‘God commended his love toward us, that when we were sinners Christ died for us’ ‘being now justified by his death, we shall be saved thru his life’ [saved from wrath thru him]. Once again this theme pops up; ‘since we are justified, made righteous by believing with the heart, we shall be saved [continual, future deliverance] from wrath thru him’. I don’t know if you ever realized what a major theme this is in Romans? The ongoing, future ‘being saved’ is a result of ‘being made righteous’. Later on in chapter 10, when we read that the righteous call for salvation, we need to understand this context. Remember, when the two are linked together
CHAPTER 11: [see commentary on Acts 21]

 ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, FOR BY IT THE ELDERS OBTAINED A GOOD REPORT [JUSTIFIED]’ This is the key verse to the chapter. Paul will go on to prove that all the Old Testament figures that ‘pleased God’ did it by faith, and not by works! ‘Through faith WE UNDERSTAND that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear’ Faith is not ‘blind’. It informs and gives understanding. This understanding is real! Let me show you what I mean. All of the universe and creation had a beginning point. Science did not always know or believe this. Today science teaches this. It is called ‘the point of singularity/density’. Science has traced back the origins of all things and has found scientific evidence to prove that all things had a ‘beginning point’. Now if you were to ask science ‘what did you have right before the beginning point’? They are stumped. Some of course believe in God and will boldly proclaim him at this point. To the others they can not answer this question. Why? Because they realize, thru science, that matter is not infinite.

Some have theorized that either all things always existed [which science has now disproved] or that at one point nothing existed [which science also teaches that if this were true then you would have nothing today. You can not get something from nothing!] So all true science has gone back to this ‘point of singularity’ and can not see what is right before ‘the point’. The Christian ‘sees’ God at this point! He ‘understands’ that by necessity there has to have been something that existed before creation, science teaches this. This something can not have been created also, because then where did the ‘being’ who created ‘it’ come from? So science teaches us that whoever got the ball rolling [Saint Thomas Aquinas calls this the ‘prime mover’] had to have been preexistent/ self existent in order to have done it. And we know that creation couldn’t have done it by itself, so therefore all reasoning and understanding leave us at the philosophical point of ‘there had to have been something/someone who existed forever  in order for anything to be today’. So now you see how ‘by faith we understand that all things that now exist were brought into existence by someone who we can not see’. FAITH UNDERSTANDS!

 As we go thru the rest of this chapter I want you to focus in on all the references of justification by faith. You will be surprised [I think?] on how many examples Paul gives to Israel from their own history [his too!] on God justifying people by faith. I will also try and show you [if I remember] how this chapter links the division between Paul’s epistles to the gentiles [Romans, Galatians] with James letter to the Jews. James was one of the lead Apostles at Jerusalem [Acts 15] and the Judaizers who were always accusing Paul of preaching grace in a way that justified sin, they came out of Jerusalem. James and Paul were rivals in a sense. James had the difficult job of overseeing the Church at Jerusalem, who had all the Pharisees who believed, while Paul was preaching this radical message of grace. This is why James’s letter [book of James] focused so much on faith and works. James was seeing the Genesis 22 account of Abraham’s justification when he offered Isaac on the altar. James will say ‘see how Abraham was justified by his works’. While in Paul’s letters he focuses on the Genesis 15 account of Abraham believing God and being made righteous. James was not contradicting Paul; he was showing the actual outcome of the life of a person who was previously justified by faith. James was saying ‘When God made Abraham righteous [Gen 15] he later actually became what God made him!’ [Gen. 22].

 Now when Abraham would later do righteous things, he only did them because he previously had faith in Gods promise. But the fact still remains that when Abraham did a righteous act, God still justified him [in a sense, God has the prerogative to say ‘good job son, I am pleased with you’ so this can be described as an act/function of justification]. Well, now that I already showed you all this, I guess I wont have to remember telling it to you later. The point is in this chapter Paul will go down and show all these examples of Jewish leaders acting by faith and doing righteous deeds. This sort of bridges the gap between the strong emphasis on faith in Paul’s letters, with the strong emphasis on works in James letter. Paul is telling Israel ‘yes, all the old saints did do good works that pleased God, but they did them by faith!’ ‘Faith without works is dead’ [James]. So in a sense this single chapter bridges one of the key divisions in the early church between Jerusalem and Antioch [Acts 13 and 15]. Note; I believe all the chapter references above are correct, I write all this from memory so you might want to go back and double check the references. I know all the stories are right.

 ‘By FAITH Able offered …by which he obtained witness that he was RIGHTEOUS…by FAITH Enoch was translated…he had this testimony that he PLEASED GOD…without FAITH it is impossible to PLEASE HIM [all these ‘please him’ references are like saying ‘being justified’ when a person is justified by God, God sees him as acceptable, pleasing. ‘Thou art my beloved son in whom I am well PLEASED’ God to Jesus!] By faith Noah… prepared an ark to the SAVING of his house…and became heir to the RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY FAITH [wow, he makes this one real plain] By faith Abraham…went out into a strange land…and sojourned’ interesting, both the aspect of ‘going out to a new land’ and ‘staying in it when you get there’ are both functions of faith. Let me throw in some practical stuff here. Over the years of ‘doing ministry’ I have seen and been a partaker of both of these experiences. Sometimes it takes an act of faith to uproot us from familiar territory and move on to the next level. And do you know what can happen next? The enemy will try to intimidate you once you get in the land of promise, and tell you ‘you cant stay here, look at all the people who hate you. Look at all the mistakes you made’ and it often takes an act of faith to STAY IN THE LAND. Don’t leave the land of your destiny; all true leaders will go thru both of these dealings.

‘For he looked for a city which hath foundations [Jesus is the foundation of this city!] whose builder and maker is God’ All of these great heroes of the faith were looking forward towards a future promise of being in Gods true church, the ‘City of God’ the Bride, the Lambs wife. Paul shows Israel that this 1st century appearing of Messiah was for the purpose of Israel coming into the ‘new land’ the Body of Christ. It is important to see this. There are many preachers today who are treating natural Israel as in if everything is just fine. It isn’t! They need Christ as much as the Muslim does. God was telling Israel ‘come into this new city’ [New Jerusalem versus Old Jerusalem] he wasn’t appealing for them to stay in ‘old Jerusalem’ and be a ‘completed Jew’. [I know this sounds harsh, but I want to emphasize to all my evangelical friends that Jews need Jesus, they play a special role in Gods plan, but ultimately they need Christ!]

 ‘Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed’ it takes faith to produce spiritual offspring! It might look impossible, but with God all things are possible. ‘Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky and the sand by the shore’ sometimes God will allow you to bring forth one ‘seed’ [person or act of ministry] and you will be surprised how much fruit can come forth from this singular effort. This is why it’s so important to simply hear and obey God. Often times in ministry we do tons of ‘leg work’ which is OK. But when God gives you an idea or mode of function that you weren’t even thinking of, go with it. These are usually the ‘little seeds’ that produce the great harvest! ‘THESE ALL DIED IN FAITH, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES’ I want to emphasize here that it is possible to live your whole life in faith without actually seeing the fulfillment of all that God has told you.

 Now faith does obtain promises [verse 33] but sometimes we also see things many years down the road and we must realize that the measurement of faith is not whether or not you are currently getting the actual promise. In the above [and below] verse’s we see Abraham and Sara being told that their offspring would number in the millions. They believed these promises, but it is obvious that they didn’t live to see it fulfilled, but they sure knew that after they were gone it would come to pass. So I want to exhort you to believe to see certain things fulfilled in your life time, but have some greater goals that you initiate while here on earth, knowing that after you depart they will be fulfilled. ‘And truly if they had been MINDFUL of the country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned’ what is Paul saying here? The greatest threat to the gospel taking root in the Hebrew community was the desire to go back to old law and culture. How many believers ‘revert’ back to an older form of church simply because they missed the old culture and ‘feelings’ that they had when they were younger? Many of the Jews would not go all the way with the gospel because they were ‘mindful’ of the good old days of law and sacrifice.

 I just watched a show the other day that told how even some gentile believers began celebrating certain feasts of Israel with their Jewish neighbors. While it is good to understand and see the significance of the feasts, yet we know Paul wrote the early believers and said ‘you observe days and times and feasts, and I am concerned about it’. So when we [or 1st century Israel] are ‘mindful’ of the ‘good old days’ then there is always a danger of going back! ‘By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…of whom it was said in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure’ Abraham exhibited characteristics of the Father [God] as well as Isaac being a type of the Son [Jesus]. It’s interesting that these verses show that Abraham knew for a fact that God was going to give Isaac millions of children, Abraham also knew the voice of God so well that when he ‘thought’ he heard God say ‘offer up this boy’ that in the mind of Abraham, the only way these 2 things could be reconciled, is he came to the conclusion ‘I guess God will have to raise him up, being he has told me this boy will have millions of children, plus he is telling me to kill him’. Most of us would not have come to this conclusion! We would have doubted either the original promise, or said ‘surely this can’t be God telling me to offer Isaac’ [most likely we would have doubted the latter!].

There is a real important reason for Abraham to have been a real man of faith. God wanted this ‘picture’ of the offering up of Isaac for a type of the Cross and Resurrection. The only way he could have shown this example was to have had someone so radically filled with faith, that he would have come to this conclusion of ‘well, I guess God will just raise him’. It was necessary for the figure to have been truly fulfilled. It took Abraham many years of hearing and believing God before he would get to this stage. The part of Abraham’s mind that said ‘God will just have to raise him up’ was important for the figure to truly work. God knew he could only bring someone to this conclusion by arranging the whole scenario around a person of faith. It truly took a real person of faith to have come to the conclusion of resurrection as being inevitable! [For Abraham to fulfill the type of God, he had to have been convinced beyond all doubt that after he offered up his son, that he would be raised again. This is exactly what the Father [God] believed and knew about his own Sons death. So not only did Isaac fulfill the type of Jesus in this story, but Abraham also fulfilled a type of God!] [NOTE; Today is September 22, 2007. Israel’s Day of Atonement. I just heard a brother preach on the feasts of the Lord [I have done this also] but he preached it in a way that said ‘because God said you were to observe these feasts perpetually, therefore all gentile believers need to start observing these days’ he added ‘I know Paul taught the law passed and all, but these feasts are supposed to be forever because God said so’.

 How are the feasts ‘perpetual’? Thru the fulfilling of them in Christ! Paul makes this plain all thru the New Testament [as well as this letter!] I was surprised to hear the brother preach that the first 2 feasts [out of the 3 main ones] were fulfilled and memorialized, but the 3rd one [Atonement/tabernacles] has yet to be fulfilled! What? Jesus fulfilled Passover and Pentecost for sure, and they are still being ‘fulfilled’ God is still bringing people in thru the blood of Christ and the Spirit is continually being poured out on people, and of course the ultimate reality of our atonement thru our high priest is a daily reality [he ever lives to make intercession] that is ‘fulfilled’ all the time[ I understand what the brother meant, that both Passover and Pentecost were fulfilled at the Cross and the day of Pentecost, and Tabernacles still has a future fulfillment. That Jesus will ‘ingather’ all peoples to himself at the end. The way he said it was in a way that he said Atonement, the beginning of Tabernacles/booths, still has to be fulfilled. It really came out badly!] I just thought it worth noting that today is natural Israel’s feast day, and we hold this feast in reality 24/7!]

‘By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of pharaohs daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, then to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward…by faith the harlot Rahab perished not…’ I want you to see that faith in Moses situation caused him to forsake great riches and leave a successful future. This is in keeping with all the times Jesus called people in the Gospels ‘forsake all and follow me’ mentality. We too often equate the ‘treasures of Egypt’ with following Jesus; the scripture puts a different spin on it! Also Rahab ‘perished not’ because she ‘believed’. Paul teaches in Corinthians that those who believe are ‘being saved’ and those who don’t believe are ‘perishing’. I want you to see that Paul is really making a theological argument for ‘being saved by faith’ in this chapter. Even a harlot can be saved! Wow. The law seemed to have no mercy on someone like that!

 ‘Who thru faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions…women received their dead raised to life…others were TORTURED not accepting deliverance…others had mocking and scourging and bonds and imprisonment, they were stoned, cut in half, were slain with the sword… being destitute, afflicted, tormented…they wandered in deserts and mountains and dens and caves of the earth, ALL THESE [both the ones who shut the mouths of lions as well as the one’s who were tortured without deliverance] OBTAINED A GOOD REPORT THRU FAITH, AND RECEIVED NOT THE PROMISE’ Faith does not always cause you to be better off in this life. I am very familiar with all the verses of God blessing us and providing for us ‘the blessing of the Lord it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow to it’. I believe and claim these verses just like the next guy. I also don’t want to tell people ‘give your life to Christ and all will go well’ did it go well for the ones who were tortured not getting delivered? Sure did. It went well the moment they saw the face of God. The same for those who were cut in half. It also went well for the women who received their dead raised to life. The point is ‘going well’ is not always defined by your outward circumstance.

We must see the overall biblical worldview of all things here being temporary, while all true spiritual riches are eternal. Moses actually was ‘less rich’ by the choice to follow Christ. But he was ‘more rich’ in that he fulfilled Gods purpose. It is important to see that many of these great heroes of the faith died without fully seeing the promise in this life. Now the last verse does say ‘that they without us should not be made perfect’ and this does show that the promise is now fulfilled thru Christ. We have all become recipients of eternal salvation thru Christ. The Old Testament patriarchs have ‘found that city’ in that we are all now members of the great ‘City that comes down from God out of heaven’ we are all in Christ today, even our Old Testament brothers who had faith. The point is don’t always measure a persons faith by their outward wealth and condition. James rebuked this idea in his epistle, he taught us not to show partiality to people who were rich while despising the poor.

 When believers see faith only from the standpoint of outward things, they are missing the true riches. Jesus taught that all these outward things were not the true riches; I am surprised how many believers spend so much time hoarding and storing things that will all pass away some day. Let’s close this chapter on a good note. Paul has offered Israel all of their Old Testament heroes as an example of being justified by faith. He is saying ‘look, all the great fathers of the faith pleased God, just like you have said and taught for ages. I am declaring unto you they were all ‘justified/pleasing to God’ by faith, not law’. Therefore if you want to follow the example of Abraham and Moses and all the other wonderful fathers, then you too MUST BELIEVE!
This chapter is loaded with the history of the Jewish people-
I could teach on each story- but that would be a bit much-
So I pasted the verses below to show that the writer is saying ‘see- all of our forefathers were justified- received a GOOD REPORT- by faith’.
Wait a minute- they DID THINGS- in these stories-
Isn’t that WORKS?
If you read the letter of James- and the letters of Paul- some scholars says there is a disagreement-
Paul says a man is justified by faith- and not by works.
James says ‘see how a man is justified by works- and not faith only’.
If this letter [Hebrews] was written by Paul- then it’s a true masterpiece- because he is combining the examples that James uses [Rahab- and Abrahams Genesis 22 experience- which James uses to say ‘see how works justifies’].
So- to me- Paul would be saying ‘no- I’m not contradicting James- we both believe/teach the same thing’.
If the letter was written by Barnabus- then it also is a masterpiece- because Barnabus might be trying to bridge the gap between Paul and James.
We read about this tension in Acts chapters 13 and 15.
This chapter is certainly not showing us how to obtain stuff [money- etc.] thru faith- because look at the examples- ‘Moses chose to suffer- and reject the wealth of Egypt- BY FAITH’-
‘SOME WERE TORTURED- SUFFERED- CUT IN HALF- by faith’- ‘CHOOSING TO not be delivered- because they had faith’.
We also see the heavenly city- as the goal of the patriarchs- they were all waiting for THE CHURCH- the city that the apostle John spoke about in the book of revelation.
The writer says ‘if they were mindful of the city they came out of [a reference to the law covenant- meaning if the Jews kept clinging to the law- the ‘city they came out from’- they will have a hard time moving on- into the New Covenant revelation of Messiah].
I didn’t quote verse 2- but we could teach modern physics from that one [the bible says all things were made from something invisible- modern physics has come to that reality in the 20th century- yet this verse was penned 2 millennia ago]!
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
So yeah- lots of good stuff in this chapter- but the main point is these ancients were justified by faith- the example of Noah and Abraham actually use that very language- salvation/righteousness [it’s a bit clearer in the King James Version- the above verses are from the NIV].
Yes- the writer is saying ‘everything is based on faith- and even our ancestors were justified by faith- they did all these things because they believed God- and God saw their faith- in action- and they too were made righteous- by faith’.
By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.
And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.


Genesis 15, 22.
Romans 4.
Galatians 3.
My view on Justification by Works.

James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
James 2:2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
James 2:3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
James 2:4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
James 2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
James 2:7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
James 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
James 2:11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
James 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
James 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
James 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Genesis 15, 22.
Romans 4.
Galatians 3.
My view on Justification by Works.
Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
Genesis 15:2 And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
Genesis 15:3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
Genesis 15:4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
Genesis 15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
Genesis 22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
Genesis 22:3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
Genesis 22:4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
Genesis 22:5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
Genesis 22:6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
Genesis 22:7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Genesis 22:9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
Genesis 22:10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
Genesis 22:11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
Galatians 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Galatians 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Galatians 3:4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
Galatians 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Galatians 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
Galatians 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
Galatians 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
Galatians 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Galatians 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
 Understand that the letters of Paul were circulating among the early believers- and without a doubt his writings were the most influential in the early church.
Both critics of Paul- as well as other believers [including Peter] were reading his stuff.
Now- seeing the controversy that was taking place- especially that the people Paul was writing against- these were believing Jews- under the ministry of James [he was the leader at the church of Jerusalem- where the Judiazers worshipped].
With this in mind- knowing how Paul was using the story of Abraham [quoted above- Romans and Galatians] to teach Justification by Faith.
When James finally enters the fray with his own letter- to the Jewish believers.
And reading James saying ‘do you not see how Abraham was JUSTIFIED BY WORKS when he offered his son on the altar’!
It’s in a way a strong rebuke- not of the reality of what Paul taught- per se- but of the confusion going on between the Jewish believers and the gentile ones.
In the first 2 chapters of Galatians- which I posted last-
We see Paul rebuking Peter- and saying ‘when some came- FROM JAMES- Peter stopped eating with the gentiles’.
These guys are not teaching different theologies [Paul and James]-
But it’s easy to see that James is making a bold statement- and setting the record straight [for those who were misreading Paul].
Because he uses the same person- Father Abraham- to teach Justification by works.
Now- Many attempts have been made to harmonize James’ statement ‘see how a man is JUSITFIED BY WORKS’ and Paul ‘A man is justified by faith- not works’.
These attempts are noble and have a degree of truth to them.
But when they are done trying to reconcile these verses- they say ‘works does not justify- only faith’.
The problem with that explanation is the actual verse says ‘see how a man is justified by works’.
I think the best way to explain it is like this-
Paul uses- primarily- the example from Genesis 15- when Abraham simply believed God- and God declared him righteous.
James uses the example from Genesis 22- many years after Abraham was ‘initially justified’ by faith.
And James says when Abraham obeyed- did a work of obedience- God then ‘justified him’.
James says ‘see how the scripture was fulfilled- which said he believed God and was justified’ [Genesis 15].
You can say the actual obedient deeds we do- after the initial act of Justification by faith- can be looked upon as works being produced in the believer- as a result of the initial justification by faith.
Now- I’m not saying ‘we get saved by faith- then sanctified by works’.
Paul refuted this in Galatians 3.
But- James is indeed saying this act of obedience- in Genesis 22- is the fulfillment of the act of believing- in Genesis 15.
And he does describe this as being JUSTIFIED BY WORKS.
The terms ‘Justification- Salvation- Born of God’.
All these words are both static [they describe one time events- like the initial salvation of a believer].
And fluent- they also describe the progressive Acts of God thru out the life of the believer.
So- in short- When God looks down from heaven- and sees us doing a just act- he can say ‘good job- I’m pleased with you’.
And James simply applies the term ‘Justification’ to this response of God.
It’s the same term [in the Greek] that Paul uses when speaking about the initial act of justification upon belief.
But it’s the context that shows us the difference.
James is not saying that Abraham was not justified by faith in Genesis 15- but he is saying that he ‘too’ was declared just- by God- when he did the work of obedience in offering up his son.
And this work- in the bible- is called ‘justification by works’.
The language is in there- and James also uses it to describe Rahab receiving the spies with peace.
So- instead of rejecting the letter of James- like the Reformer Martin Luther did in a way when he called it ‘an epistle of straw’.
We simply need to see that the debate revolves around the use of language-
When James says Abraham- and Rahab- were justified by works- he is simply saying that God was pleased with the acts they did [by faith mind you- Hebrews 11].
And when he saw them do these acts of obedience- he ‘justified them’- meaning- he said ‘you are righteous- you are doing a right act- I still continue to make decrees of acceptance over you- many years after I made the initial decree- when you first believed’-
NOTE- Remember a few things-
James actually uses the phrase ‘justified by works’.
Over the years I have read many good scholars try and explain this verse- and some of their ideas have merit- like ‘James is saying the faith that saves is a real faith’.
All of these things are true- and James even says that in this chapter.
These explanations are referring to the initial act of justification- like saying ‘when Abraham believed God [Genesis 15] he had real/ working faith’.
Ok- I get it.
But- these explanations – in the end- still leave the ‘justified by works’ verse without a clear understanding.
In these other explanations [by Protestants] they are ‘stuck’ on the initial act of justification- and are unable to see that this term- like salvation- and righteousness- can- and does speak not only to the initial ‘getting saved’ but also speaks about things that we do- and ways God responds to those things- thru out our lives.
And God himself is not ‘limited’ to the ‘original Greek’- meaning if he wants to declare us righteous- or just- all thru out our lives- yes- even when we ‘do right things’ he can!
After all- he is God.
James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
James 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Galatians 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
Galatians 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
Galatians 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
Galatians 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
Note- It’s important to understand when Paul says ‘the works of the law do not save’-
He is not saying we can break the 10 commandments- live a sinful life- and still be saved.
The works of the law entail circumcision- and coming under the Old Covenant.
This was the big debate we read about in these chapters I have been posting.
You’ll notice that James himself- at the Jerusalem council- agreed that the gentiles did not need to ‘become Jews’- that is- to convert into Judaism to become saved.
So part of the problem is we read Paul say ‘you are not saved by works’- and we tend to associate that with ‘all good works’.
Then we read James say ‘see how a man is justified by works- and not faith only’.
And this too [not understanding Paul’s full meaning of ‘works/law’] adds to the confusion.
NOTE- If you carefully read the letters of Paul- even some of the above quotes- you will see that he also taught a ‘justification’ - that was sort of an ongoing process.
The words ‘salvation- righteousness- justification’ are also used by Paul to describe things God is doing in us- in a progressive way.
It’s funny- but when you come across these verses- and read the various study notes in good reference bibles- you see a sort of preoccupation in trying- at times- to make them fit the reductionist idea that focuses too much on the initial conversion experience- to the point where believers [yes- even scholars who wrote the notes!] try to make the verses that show a sort of progressive salvation- they try to ‘explain’ them away.
In scripture- justification is God’s declaration over us- ‘not guilty’- that does indeed take place when we believe in Jesus.
But it is also a progressive work [often called sanctification- but not limited to this word].
So- when we read Paul saying ‘while we seek to be justified’. Galatians 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

Or- Philipians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Philipians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Philipians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
We tend to want to make these verses fit the one time act of justification that took place upon belief [initial conversion- yes this word too is fluent!]
So- some of the problems with interpreting these verses are actually a language problem [down the road I will discuss the philosophy of Gilbert Ryle- an Ordinary language philosopher from the 20th century- he thought the whole field of philosophy and the debates were simply a problem of language! I don’t agree with him by the way].
Note verse 13- Paul said this in the letter to the Romans. Here he is talking about a future justification that comes to those who DO THE LAW- see- he and James agree.
Romans 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;
Romans 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law SHALL BE JUSTIFIED.
Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:
Romans 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
By the way- did you notice the view of James about money? How he speaks about the poor and the rich? I did not comment on all the good verses in this chapter- I want you guys to simply read thru the chapter- it’s really self-explanatory.

JAMES 3-5 [I’ll be in New Jersey June 19th-21- with my daughters- won’t have
VERSES- [I usually add verses here- but as I reposted past posts above- I realized most of the verses are already there].