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Is a "Correct" View of Jesus Christ Central to Salvation?

October 9, 2008

I was having a conversation with an LDS blogger regarding whether one’s view of Christ is central to salvation. She said she didn’t think it is possible to have a “perfect” understanding of anything and that Christ saves us even if our understanding of Him is limited by the frailties of mortality.

I completely agree that our understanding is limited and we may never have a “perfect” understanding of anything, but I think some basic understandings are essential for saving faith in the true Christ.

Jesus said, “If ye believe not that I AM, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). He declares again in John 8:58 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM” (claiming the Divine name of YHWH as used in Ex. 3:14)

So, we see from John 8:24 that a belief in Christ as the eternal YHWH of the Old Testament is central to our salvation.

Now, Mormonism teaches that Jesus = YHWH and God the Father = Elohim.

Jews, who faithfully study the OT, and Christians who study OT and NT do not see YHWH and Elohim as different gods. They are both divine names for one God.

“Hear, O Israel: YHWH our Elohim is one YHWH” (Deut. 6:4).

“Thus saith YHWH the King of Israel, and his redeemer YHWH of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no Elohim” (Isaiah 44:6).

“I am YHWH, and there is none else, there is no Elohim beside me” (Isaiah 45:5)

“For thy Maker is thine husband; YHWH of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the Elohim of the whole earth shall he be called” (Isaiah 54:5).

God said to the Son “Thy throne, O Elohim, is for ever and ever” (Psalm 45:6; Hebrews 1:8-9)

“Therefore Elohim, thy Elohim , hath anointed thee…” (Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9)

YHWH is God’s personal name and was revealed after His name Elohim according to His nature of progressive self-revelation. Jews who do not believe in Jesus still hold to a firm belief in one God as declared throughout the Old Testament. This is part of their reason for not believing that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. However, Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be called “the mighty God” and “the everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6).

Those who believe Jesus fulfilled the OT Messianic prophecies are left with how to reconcile the fact that He claimed to be the one true God of the OT. I do not see how Mormonism reconciles the one God doctrine taught throughout the scriptures (Isaiah 44:6-8; Deut 4:35, 39; Mark 12:29; Rom. 3:30; Eph. 4:5-7; I Tim. 2:5; James 2:19).

Maybe someone could shed some light on this for me.

Based on John 8:24, it appears our salvation IS dependent on whether or not we believe what Jesus has declared concerning Himself or if reject what He Himself has declared as the truth because of an allegiance to the teachings of men.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2008 12:39 pm

    I am not really sure if you want light.

    Mormonism believes that Jesus of the New Testament is Jehovah of the Old Testament. A list of scriptures to support this can be found here.

    The Mormon belief in the one god is that this oneness is an external unity, and not some mystical internal oneness where two being loose their ontological independence. This is a reasonable reading of the scriptures.

    How do people like you reconcile Stephen seeing Jesus standing on the right side of God after his resurrection?

    Who did Jesus pray to all those times?

    Who forsook Jesus on the cross?

    Whose will did Jesus submit to in the garden?

    Who spoke from heaven during Jesus’ baptism?

    A rational reading of the scriptures can lead to an understanding of the identity of Jesus and the Father. Of course this truth is only available to those who read the Bible without an allegiance to manmade creeds.

  2. hokiefan33 permalink
    October 9, 2008 4:52 pm

    I am not really sure if you want light.

    I’m not sure what you’ve provided is light…

    Mormonism believes that Jesus of the New Testament is Jehovah of the Old Testament. A list of scriptures to support this can be found here.

    No it doesn’t, unfortunately. Jesus hasn’t changed throughout the Bible, so if the Trinity has always existed, then an understanding of Jesus outside a Trinitarian view is incorrect, and isn’t in line with the Bible.

    The Mormon belief in the one god is that this oneness is an external unity, and not some mystical internal oneness where two being loose their ontological independence. This is a reasonable reading of the scriptures.

    Actually, it’s a poor reading of the Scriptures, that doesn’t fully take the whole of the Bible into account.

    How do people like you reconcile Stephen seeing Jesus standing on the right side of God after his resurrection?

    God in 3 Persons, Blessed Trinity.

    Who did Jesus pray to all those times?

    God the Father.

    Who forsook Jesus on the cross?

    God the Father.

    Whose will did Jesus submit to in the garden?

    God the Father.

    Who spoke from heaven during Jesus’ baptism?

    God the Father.

    A rational reading of the scriptures can lead to an understanding of the identity of Jesus and the Father.

    Define rational, Eric. What you really mean is “one that makes sense to our human minds.” Nowhere in the Bible are we promised that God, or anything about His nature, will always make “sense” to our human minds. In fact, in several places, we’re told just the opposite. Yet Mormons (and other religions) often are insistent that unless it makes “sense” to us, it can’t be true. Amazing.

    Of course this truth is only available to those who read the Bible without an allegiance to manmade creeds.

    I have no allegiance to man-made creeds, Eric – do you? You don’t need a creedal allegiance to believe in the Trinity – you need a proper understanding of Scripture. I assume by your beliefs that you don’t have that.

  3. October 9, 2008 6:15 pm

    Eric,

    None of the verses you mentioned contradict the Bible’s teaching that God is one in 3 persons. The persons of the Godhead socially inter-relate with one another because they are 3 persons.

    You shared the verses from the OT where God’s name YHWH is used, although you are using the name Jehovah (the German translation of YHWH). How do you interpret the scriptures I provided in my post where YHWH (Jehovah) is synonymous with Elohim?

    I looked up and used the Hebrew names in those verses to demonstrate how the names are used synonymously and in Hebrew parallelisms demonstrating that they are referring to one and the same God.

  4. October 9, 2008 6:40 pm

    Perhaps I have misunderstood the purpose of this. One explanation is found here

    John 17 is also good.

    Sorry for my grouchiness.

  5. October 10, 2008 1:24 am

    Eric, you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Trinity. There is one God in three distinct persons. Clearly God the Father is distinct from God the Son or God the Spirit. The Baptism of Jesus clearly demonstrates this. Christ even submits to the will of the Father in order to fulfill all righteousness on behalf of His sheep. It is called the hypostatic union, Christ as fully God and fully man and nothing you have thrown out contradicts that.

    In response to your question Jessica, yes a correct understanding of Jesus is required for salvation. We must recognize that there is but one God, not that we only worship one God but that there is no other god in existance like Him. He exists in three persons, and Christ is one of those eternal members of the trinity. Only God could pefectly atone for the sins of imperfect humans, and only a man could suffer the penalty of those sins. Therefore the Triune God made a covenant of redemption in eternity past before the world was created to save a remnant when Christ took on flesh and lived and was made propitiation for His people on the cross. If you do not recognize Christ as God and that there is but one God, you cannot be saved.

  6. October 10, 2008 1:55 am

    Eric,

    Thank you for providing the link to the FAIRMormon site that tries to address this problem in Mormon doctrine. I read the article and noticed that there was no reference to most of the verses I cited here in my post. The only one mentioned was Deut. 6:4 and it was only mentioned in the section citing some of the verses that contradict Mormon doctrine. There was no meaningful interaction with the verse and the problem it poses for Mormon doctrine.

    What do Mormons do with Psalm 45:6 where God the Father calls God the Son “Elohim”?

    God said to the Son “Thy throne, O Elohim, is for ever and ever…Therefore Elohim, thy Elohim, hath anointed thee…” (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9)

    Also, I didn’t go to any of the “creeds” for the Biblical doctrines I am defending here. I am using only my Bible and a SwordSearcher program that allows me to see the Hebrew and Greek words. Jesus wants us to believe “all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24:25).

  7. katielangston permalink
    October 25, 2008 6:32 pm

    I have a question, not necessarily related to the topic of a correct understanding of God, but related to the nature of salvation, so I thought I’d ask it here.

    Does a true commitment to Christ necessarily extract a willingness to obey Him?

    Does a saved person really ask the question, “What sins can I get away with and still be okay?” OR “How few good works do I have to do and still be okay?”

    And if someone DOES ask that question, are they really saved?

  8. katielangston permalink
    October 25, 2008 6:34 pm

    P.S. This is not a rhetorical question intended to “trap” anyone. I have had some confusion on this question and am really looking for some insights.

  9. October 26, 2008 1:25 am

    Hi Katie,

    It seems to me that a person who would ask these kinds of questions that you mention does not understand the gospel and therefore does not appear to be saved.

    I believe when a person is truly born again by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit after placing their faith in Christ alone to save them, their conversion should be evident by a changed life which demonstrates the change that has occurred inside of them (II Cor. 5:17). However, they should be trusting in Christ alone as their righteousness, not their own works (Phil. 3:9, Titus 3:5).

    Those who are trying to earn salvation by works have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God (Rom. 10:3) which is by faith in Christ alone (Rom. 3:21-28, Gal. 2:16). The Bible describes these persons as under the curse of the law and fallen from grace (Gal. 3:10-12, Gal. 5:4). I, for one, don’t want to be judged by the law since, according to James 2:10, “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” I would rather accept the free gift of Christ’s righteousness (Rom. 5:15-21) since “by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified (Heb. 10:14). By receiving His righteousness, I die to myself and any boasting that I would have if I could be saved by my works. If someone rejects His free gift of righteousness and, instead, tries to make themselves righteous, they will be judged according to their works and Christ shall profit them nothing (Acts 17:31, Rom. 6:23, Gal. 5:2).

    They may be very religious (like the Pharisees) and demonstrate outward signs of righteousness, but if they refuse to receive the righteousness of Christ they are not justified by God (Rom. 4:4-5). They might appear righteous on the outside, but inwardly they are filled with evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (Matt. 15:19), and their ability to overcome sin is impossible because they have never been truly born again by the Spirit of God.

    Was this your question or did I totally misunderstand it? Also, is this similar to your view on salvation or different?

  10. katielangston permalink
    October 26, 2008 5:25 am

    Jessica,

    You answered my question perfectly. And what you have described is pretty much my view of salvation to a T.

    My confusion came from a conversation I had with someone who said that OF COURSE Christ requires obedience in order to save us.

    I replied that I felt as though obedience flows naturally from a converted heart, and isn’t so much a “requirement” as an inevitability.

    Then of course they said, “So you can do whatever you want and be okay?”

    And that’s where my confusion came in.

    Your answer helped clear things up, so thanks.

    It’s kind of a flawed question, I guess. Because a person who will ask if they can do whatever they want is NOT a person whose heart is really changed. It’s like saying, “Jesus, thank you for saving me. Now how much can I hurt you and still get away with it?”

    Not cool.

    Anyway, one other thing you said interests me. “The Bible describes these persons as under the curse of the law and fallen from grace.”

    So you think a person who is fallen from grace is a person who rejects Christ by seeking to save themselves, as opposed to someone who commits some major “sin” after they’ve been saved?

  11. October 26, 2008 8:26 pm

    Hi Katie,

    Right. The “fallen from grace” passage is in the context of those who were seeking to be justified by the law – in particular circumcision, but they were also observing Jewish religious days (Gal. 4:9-10) and teaching that a justified believer is made perfect by observing the law (Gal. 3:2-3).

    Paul said “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).

    and “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:2-3)

    The whole book of Galatians was written to address this heresy and Paul used very strong language in response to those who taught that obedience to the ceremonial laws was necessary for salvation or sanctification. He describes the dispensation of the law as a covenant that resulted in bondage (Gal. 4:24-31), and contrasts the old covenant with the new covenant which is one of freedom. As we walk in the Spirit, Christ fulfills the righteousness of the law in us that we can never fulfill on our own. We get out of the way and abide in Him and He lives His life in and through us. According to Romans 6-8, this is the only way we can gain victory over sin.

    Is this similar to your view or different? Also, Romans 6-8 are key passages used in evangelical circles for teaching believers how to “reckon” themselves to be dead to sin and alive unto God. Are these passages emphasized much in your circles?

    In answer to the second half of your question, no, I don’t believe a person falls from grace for committing a “major” sin.

    I John 2:1 says,

    “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1). And I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    What’s your view on this?

  12. katielangston permalink
    October 27, 2008 5:16 am

    Jessica,

    To be completely honest with you, I have never considered these questions before. I will study Romans 6-8 in depth this week.

    Gut reaction: I agree that a person can’t fall from grace just by sinning. We all sin, after all, even after we have accepted the Lord.

    But what happens when someone refuses to repent after they’ve been saved (to use the evangelical term)?

    To use an extreme example, if I accept Jesus and then, a few years down the road, commit adultery, refuse to abandon my sin, break up my family, and move in with the new guy…would I no longer be saved?

    I’m trying to understand all this and would appreciate your thoughts.

  13. October 29, 2008 3:55 am

    Katie,

    I think there are several possible explanations in scripture for the scenario you have described, but first of all I want to make sure I understand this hypothetical scenario. I am assuming that the person in your example is continuing to live in a state of unrepentant sin, not that they committed adultery and had a man murdered (like King David), but then immediately repented in sorrow and remorse.

    If the person shows no sign of remorse and is continuing in a state of unrepentant sin, I believe there are three possible explanations that evangelicals would give: (1) the person was never truly saved, (2) they are saved, but living in a state of sin of which they have not yet repented, or (3) they were saved and have lost their salvation.

    I lean toward options #1 and #2 for the scenario you described. I especially lean toward option #1 because the Word says, “whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him” (I John 3:6) and “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24). I don’t lean toward #3 because John 10:27-29 says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

    I see too many passages in scripture that talk about God drawing and keeping believers so it’s hard for me to see how He could somehow lose one (“elect,” “kept by the power of God” I Peter 1:2, 5, “predestinated” Eph. 1:5, etc.), but I know there are some scriptures that seem to indicate it is possible for a person to turn from the faith. This is an area of doctrine that evangelicals arrive at different conclusions on. I think I have either studied both sides of the issue too much or not enough as I can’t seem to come down emphatically either way! I feel there are some good arguments on both sides, although I feel the stronger weight of scripture favors eternal security. I guess I am a pretty firm believer in eternal security based on John 10:27-29, I John 5:13, Romans 8:9-10 and related passages, while leaving open the possibility that I could be wrong. I am daily thankful to God for His keeping power of me and I also seek to keep myself from evil, sin, idols, and false teaching as His Word commands (I John 5:18-21).

    Are you just seeking to learn what evangelicals believe on this or were you trying to determine what you believe on this issue? What are your thoughts?

  14. katielangston permalink
    October 29, 2008 5:43 am

    Jessica,

    I’m actually trying to determine what I believe on this issue. I appreciate your listening ear, as I don’t have many people I can ask these kinds of questions.

    Here is my conundrum. On the one hand, I really dislike the idea that a person can “lose” their salvation at any time.

    On the other hand, it seems like God would not be honoring our free will if He didn’t allow us to leave Him. Also, it would seem like He was mocking the atonement if someone could claim to be “saved” and then do whatever they wanted.

    I am particularly interested by what you listed as #2–that someone can be saved, but remain living in a state of sin of which they have not yet repented.

    How is this possible? Isn’t the ACT of repentance (i.e. turning your heart to Christ) necessary to be saved?

    I’m certain I need to study the scriptures more to understand it and ask for some enlightenment from the Lord. Am finding your answers helpful, though, so any other thoughts you have will be appreciated. 🙂

  15. October 30, 2008 3:53 am

    Ah…. Free will vs. the sovereignty of God. This is one of my favorite topics. It’s so deep, feels like you can never exhaust the depths of this topic or any other topic on the nature of God for that matter! 🙂

    Does God choose believers or do believers choose Him? This is really the crux of the issue. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). And a little earlier in the passage Jesus said “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). These and many other scriptures like them (especially Romans 9!) indicate that God does all the choosing, but there are other verses that indicate we choose.

    Jesus said in Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

    Also, even if we cannot come to Jesus except we are drawn, isn’t He drawing everyone to Himself according to John 12:32? “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

    So, which is it? Does God foreknow those who will believe and these are the ones referred to as the “elect” or “predestined”? Or, does He choose who will be saved and draw them to Himself and the others are hardened by their sinful nature and are not given an extra special measure of His grace in order to be drawn to Him?

    These are things I don’t think we will ever know the final answer to on this side of heaven, but I love discussing the topic and searching the scriptures on the sovereignty of God because these enlarge my view of God. I think sometimes we get to thinking way too highly of ourselves and we forget that we are but dust, we are nothing. God is high and holy and perfect and all light. He does not need wicked, filthy sinners, but He chooses to redeem us because He is full of love and grace. He is perfectly just in condemning us all to hell for one wicked thought, but with great patience He desires us and draws us to Himself because of His great love.

    As far as your question about the act of repentance being necessary for salvation – I think we are going to have to unpack what we mean by the terms “repentance” and “salvation” – maybe you could elaborate on your view of these terms.

    I think it might have to do with a difference in how we view sin. I believe we have a sin nature as a result of the fall (Romans 5:12). Romans 7 details the Apostle Paul’s struggle with the sin nature vs. his new nature. I believe when we are born again God gives us a new nature that never sins (2 Cor. 5:17). We sin in our flesh, but when we reckon ourselves to be dead to the flesh and alive to God we are able to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

    “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9). “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).

    So, I think this helps explain why my view is a little different when I think of someone caught in sin. I think option #2 is possible if they are living in the flesh and not feeding “the new man” inside of them. They might still be saved and have the Spirit of God inside of them (in their new man), but they are presently living in the flesh and not pleasing God. I think if a person continues in this state God may either take them home (and they shall be saved “so as by fire” with not a lot of rewards) as they were being unfruitful here, or they may be drawn to repentance by the prayers of the saints (I John 5:16-17).

    What are your thoughts on this? Also, how is your study of Romans 6-8 going?

  16. katielangston permalink
    October 31, 2008 5:14 am

    Jessica,

    You’re blowing my mind with this “sovereignty of God” stuff. 🙂 I attended a debate on that topic a couple years ago and thought it was pretty cool, but also very confusing.

    I am very intrigued by this idea of a new, sinless nature. Please elaborate on this if you can. Obviously, there are still times when we sin, even after we accept Christ. Are you saying God gives us this new nature, changes us into a new being, but the “flesh” still exists in the background, trying to trip us up?

    I was actually talking to a friend the other day about how it seems like man is such a conflicted entity, with two natures constantly dueling.

    Does the new nature ever TOTALLY overtake the old in mortality? (In other words, does a person ever reach the point where they don’t sin in the flesh?)

    Yes, perhaps we have a few terms to define. I will tell you what I understand certain words to mean, and you can tell me what I’m missing. 🙂

    1)–SIN. An action (or state of being) which is against the will of God. I would agree with you that because of the Fall, we are all born into a sinful state and are naturally this way. Only Christ can remove us from our natural state of sin.

    2)–REPENTANCE. The turning of the heart from sin to Christ. I do believe repentance is a decision a person makes of their own free will–but as you so aptly point out, it is most likely because God is calling. I grew up thinking repentance was a 4-step process you had to do over and over again for every bad thing you do. I have come to change my view on this issue and now see repentance as a state of being where one constantly seeks Christ’s will as opposed to a single “event” or series of events. I believe repentance has more to do with the fact that you have given your heart to Christ and as a result try to do His will, and less to do with how frequently you give in to the flesh.

    3)–SALVATION. To be honest with you, I don’t know what this means. I’m not sure what the afterlife is like or what rewards God has in store. I’ve decided to hold off on pursuing this question until I can get a better handle on basic things like FAITH. Suffice it to say, I trust God to have something pretty cool in store for us even if I’m a little vague on the details right now. 🙂

    Having said that, I do believe that salvation comes by being cleansed from our sins through the grace and atonement of Jesus Christ. Exactly HOW that cleansing happens is I guess what we’re talking about now.

    Finally, I must confess, I read Romans 6-8 but didn’t understand it very well. I am re-reading it. Hopefully I will have something more intelligent to say about it in a few more days.

    Lots to think about. Thanks for your dialoguing with me. I’m learning a bunch.

    Best,
    Katie

  17. November 2, 2008 1:28 am

    Hi Katie,

    Hope you are having a good week. Wow, we are getting into some deep stuff here. You’ve got me thinking and studying! 🙂 I love it!

    I am very intrigued by this idea of a new, sinless nature. Please elaborate on this if you can. Obviously, there are still times when we sin, even after we accept Christ. Are you saying God gives us this new nature, changes us into a new being, but the “flesh” still exists in the background, trying to trip us up?

    Yes, almost. I’m not sure if the flesh exists in the background or in the foreground (seems to be the foreground since its referred to as the outer man and the new nature as the inner man), but by faith believers are to consider that the old man died when they were born again. However, it seems to be like a chicken running around with its head cut off. 🙂 It’s technically dead but appears very much alive and kicking. I think the human person is so incredibly complex and I am still trying to understand it. I’m not really sure how to Biblically support my statement about the new nature being “sinless.” I can’t remember where I got that so I’m going to have to do some more studying to make sure I’m not thinking something heretical! 🙂

    I was actually talking to a friend the other day about how it seems like man is such a conflicted entity, with two natures constantly dueling.

    Well, yes, I think that is definitely true, and I think that is the point Paul is making in Romans 7, but I think in some ways people are a mess of conflicted thoughts and emotions so unbelievers might feel like they have two (or more!) natures dueling within them as well. Also, everyone has the law of God written on their hearts so I think even unbelievers who are seeking to earn their salvation by good works could be self-deceived into thinking this apparent battle with their God-given conscience proves they are born again. The difference for the Christian, is that the Christian has the power to overcome the flesh and to walk in the Spirit. Even if an unbeliever makes right choices and lives a moral life, they are doing this in the flesh and it’s just “filthy rags” of righteousness.

    Does the new nature ever TOTALLY overtake the old in mortality? (In other words, does a person ever reach the point where they don’t sin in the flesh?)

    I think it is possible to always walk in the Spirit, yes. And I think that is the exhortation of the NT. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above…for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God…mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry..lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him” (Col. 3:1-10).

    Okay, terms:
    SIN: Your definition appears about the same as mine. I thought LDS did not believe in a sin nature – do you disagree with the traditional LDS position on this or did I mis-understand their (or your) view?

    REPENTANCE: I believe repentance is a change of mind that is closely connected with faith. Conversion occurs when we change our mind concerning our sin and acknowledge our inability to save ourselves and we agree with what God has declared in His Word – that only He can make us righteous when we trust in Him for our salvation. Repentance is described as a gift that God grants (Acts 5:31, 11:18, Rom. 2:4, II Tim. 2:25).

    SALVATION: I believe there are several different aspects of salvation referred to in scripture including: justification, sanctification, and glorification. We are justified (declared righteous before God) based on faith alone. We work out our sanctification (becoming like Christ) as we seek to walk in the Spirit and reckon ourselves to be dead to sin (Rom. 6-8) believing that it is God who works in us both “to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Glorification refers to that final state of eternal bliss where we are given joint-heir status with Christ (Rom. 8:17-18).

    In His Grace,

    Jessica

  18. katielangston permalink
    November 2, 2008 6:01 am

    Okay, wow. Lots of really great stuff here…

    I’m really trying to wrap my mind (and heart) around this “new man” concept. I have heard the terminology before, but never took the time to ponder what it means.

    I’m hearing you speak about being “in the flesh,” and Paul seems to talk about this a lot, too. It is an unfamiliar term for me. So let me ask you: does “in the flesh” refer to man’s naturally fallen state?

    Is it like, we accept Christ, and we are no longer “in the flesh,” but in the Spirit–because we have now “accessed” His righteousness?

    It’s a beautiful concept.

    Here’s how I’ve started to come to picture it. Tell me what you think.

    I think it’s like, as mortals, we constantly fall short of the glory of God. And recognizing how broken we are, we turn to Jesus Christ to save us from ourselves. He does, and in so doing, makes us whole.

    Of course, because we are mortal, we will *still* sin and fall short of the glory of God. But because we have entered into this relationship with Him, our sins are swallowed up in His righteousness.

    I was telling my husband it’s like we’re entering into a relationship with Infinity. Any number times infinity is still infinity. No matter where we are in our “progression” (i.e. our understanding of spiritual things or our ability to keep the flesh at bay)–whether it’s one or 1 million–as long as we have hooked our wagons to Christ’s (to mix metaphors), we are “Infinite” through Him.

    I sure hope that made sense.

    I thought LDS did not believe in a sin nature – do you disagree with the traditional LDS position on this or did I mis-understand their (or your) view?

    Talk about a loaded question. 😉

    We’ve touched briefly on how difficult it is to pin down Mormon doctrine.

    I don’t want to veer off our very wonderful discussion on grace and salvation too much. (Of course, what discussion of salvation would be complete without a discussion of the Fall, right?) Suffice it to say, I believe the scriptures (especially the Bible and the Book of Mormon) back me up with my view that we are born into a sinful world and have a sinful nature–and only Christ can heal us of that.

    There are Mormons who disagree with me, but I believe they are wrong. To be fair, I know many Mormons who agree with me, too.

    Repentance is described as a gift that God grants (Acts 5:31, 11:18, Rom. 2:4, II Tim. 2:25).

    Love the idea that repentance is a gift that God grants. LOVE IT!!!! As I’ve shared with you, I spent many years thinking of repentance as a “burden” I had to bear–a “task” I had to complete. But as you say it, *of course* it makes sense that if repentance is truly a change of heart, *HE* is the one who will change it! We just have to let Him. Thanks for this distinction.

    I believe there are several different aspects of salvation referred to in scripture including: justification, sanctification, and glorification.

    I agree with these, too. Though I always thought that sanctification was being PURIFIED (as opposed to justification, which is being declared righteous, or blameless). Is this the same as “reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin,” do you think?

    Also, that language strikes me as very interesting: “reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin.” That DOES make it sound like it’s kind of a process, doesn’t it? Kind of like, we receive Christ, who justifies us and puts us on the path, and afterwards, we continue to progress as we work out our sanctification with Him and through Him to do His works.

    Okay. This is the LONGEST COMMENT EVER. Sorry about that. But I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this topic. I thank you again and wish you a very happy Sunday!

    Katie

  19. November 3, 2008 5:11 am

    Hi Katie! 🙂

    Okay, lots to discuss…

    does “in the flesh” refer to man’s naturally fallen state?

    Yes, and it appears to be synonymous with “the old man.” Here’s a verse that spells it out and describes the struggle against the flesh that we were talking about:
    “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…” (Galatians 5:16-21)

    I did a word study on the old man/new man today and here are some verses relating to this topic if you want to study it further: Gal. 6:15, 2:20, 4:19; Eph. 2:10, 4:22-24; Rom. 6:6; II Peter 1:3-4, 9-10; Col. 1:27, 3:10; 2 Cor. 5:17 (I hope all of those apply…I made a list earlier today, but I have another topic on the list also and some of those verses might be mixed in) 🙂

    I found the passage that had influenced my belief that the “new man” never sins. I’m still not sure it can be totally supported by this, but Eph. 4:24 says our new man is “created in righteousness and true holiness.” Since sin is defined as “the works of the flesh” I don’t think it can be the “new man” that is sinning. In this passage we are told to put off the old man/flesh, be renewed in the spirit of our mind, and put on the new man.

    Is it like, we accept Christ, and we are no longer “in the flesh,” but in the Spirit–because we have now “accessed” His righteousness?

    Yes, although I’m not familiar with the term “accessed.” I’m more familiar with the term “received” (Rom. 5), which might be what you meant?

    It’s a beautiful concept.

    I agree!! The gospel IS beautiful!

    Here’s how I’ve started to come to picture it. Tell me what you think….

    I LOVE how you are grappling to understand and describe these Infinite concepts! This conversation is so refreshing!

    I think I see things a little differently here, but I think it’s because you are using analogies and I’m thinking in legal terms. I will describe how I see what happens and see what you think. I believe you are right in stating that God swallows up our sins, but I’m thinking that, legally speaking, He could not do this based on Christ’s righteousness alone as this would mar His perfect righteousness and justice. I think you would agree with this. He cannot “overlook” any of our sins and still be perfect. His holiness demands righteous wrath against sin. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

    The scriptures say, “whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). So how is this remission accomplished if God cannot overlook sin? Hebrews 9:22 says, “without shedding of blood is no remission.” In context, of course, this is referring to the Old Testament animal sacrifices where a spotless lamb or other animal was killed as a type of the final and complete sacrifice of Christ that these foreshadowed. So this is why the Lamb of God died the death that we deserve and thereby shed His blood to atone for our sins. “In whom we have redemption through His blood” (Col. 1:14). “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins” (Rom. 3:24-25). “[Thou] hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation…” (Rev. 5:9-10). “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes ye were healed” (I Peter 2:24). Is this your understanding of the atonement or different?

    I always thought that sanctification was being PURIFIED… Is this the same as “reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin,” do you think? Also, that language strikes me as very interesting: “reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin.” That DOES make it sound like it’s kind of a process, doesn’t it? Kind of like, we receive Christ, who justifies us and puts us on the path, and afterwards, we continue to progress as we work out our sanctification with Him and through Him to do His works.

    Yes, sanctification is definitely a process (I Peter 1:4-11), but it appears God is doing the sanctification too! It’s still not us (if we will let Him).

    For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13)

    “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

    “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That He might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27)

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this topic

    Oh good! Because so do I!!! 🙂 Thank you for having this wonderfully deep, thought-provoking, most highly important conversation with me!

    Jessica

  20. Katie permalink
    November 14, 2008 5:42 am

    Hey Jessica,

    Just wanted to check in and say hi. 🙂 I haven’t forgotten about our discussion and I have still been going over Romans 6-8. But my computer crashed this week and I’ve been extremely busy with work. I promise I’ll get back to this soon.

    Hope you’re well,
    Katie

  21. November 14, 2008 6:48 pm

    Hi Katie, 🙂

    Sorry to hear your computer crashed! 😦 That’s a bummer! I look forward to continuing our discussion.

    Take care,

    Jessica

  22. katielangston permalink
    January 3, 2009 8:59 pm

    Hey Jessica!

    I’m finally getting back to this discussion. I’m sorry it took so long. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Mine was GREAT! 🙂

    I wasn’t sure if I should be doing this here or what, but I figured this was as good a place as any. Let me know if you want to move the discussion elsewhere.

    The main thing I have been thinking about is this new man/old man concept.

    I love the imagery associated with it–you become a new person, a new creature, literally born again in Christ. I am trying to understand what the new creature “looks” like–and how the good can still be mixed in with the bad. Or IS it?

    I guess where my confusion comes in is that even after people are saved, they still sin…right? Or is the sign of someone who has been saved is that they don’t sin? I don’t think that’s possible–and certainly isn’t true for any of the people I know who have accepted the Savior, LDS, Evangelical, or otherwise. 🙂

    So what do you think it means that the “body of sin” is destroyed (Romans 6:6)? How can a “new” body commit sin?

    I have a vague inkling or thought that the difference is probably the status of the heart–but as you can tell, I have been unable to adequately articulate precisely what I mean by that. Would appreciate your thoughts and insight.

    Have a wonderful day!
    Katie

  23. January 4, 2009 6:23 am

    Hi Katie! 🙂

    I had a very nice Christmas, thank you! I took a trip to California and got a little break from the cold weather here in S. Idaho. Since coming back we’ve had much milder weather so it worked out well. I really have no preference where we continue our discussion. This is fine, we can email if you want. Whatever works for you is fine with me. I’m glad to be back on this topic, though, as I think an understanding of the deeper truths in Romans are the real secret to true victory and power in the Christian life and I’m not saying this from a position of much experiential knowledge! But from what I’ve studied in Scripture and from great saints who’ve gone before. I long to make these truths more real in my own life.

    You said, “I love the imagery associated with it–you become a new person, a new creature, literally born again in Christ. I am trying to understand what the new creature “looks” like–and how the good can still be mixed in with the bad. Or IS it?

    I think the 2 natures are separate and that the old man has literally, in truth, been crucified with Christ. God no longer condemns the justified believer for their sin nature. He accepts, instead, the substitutionary death of Christ on their behalf and gives them a new nature created “in righteousness and true holiness” when they put their faith and trust in Christ alone for salvation. However, the flesh is still “hanging around” so to speak until the final redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:21-23), but the sin nature has “positionally” become dead when the old man was crucified with Christ. The believer is set free from the penalty of sin and given the will (and power of the Holy Spirit) to walk in “newness of life” and not in the flesh. Prior to salvation, all a person has is the old man and even if he desires and performs good works his motives are corrupted with selfish ambition and none of his works can please God (Rom. 7:5). Paul explains man’s hopeless condition in the first 3 chapters of the book before moving into the truths about justification (4-5) and sanctification (6-8), demonstrating that until a person really understands their sinful, hopeless condition they cannot appreciate the significance of God’s offer.

    I guess where my confusion comes in is that even after people are saved, they still sin…right? Or is the sign of someone who has been saved is that they don’t sin? I don’t think that’s possible…So what do you think it means that the “body of sin” is destroyed (Romans 6:6)? How can a “new” body commit sin?

    I think Romans 6:12-19 (as well as many other passages) make clear that justified believers still have the potential to choose whether or not to sin (walk in the flesh) or walk in the Spirit. I’m not sure all Evangelicals would agree with me on this one, but I do believe it is possible to walk in the Spirit at all times and I think this should be the goal of every Christian. I hate false teaching that says “I believe in grace which means I can do whatever I want” – Paul speaks directly against this in Rom. 6:15: “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body…” (Rom. 6:12) and we are admonished of the consequences for allowing sin to reign in our lives (Rom. 6:16). If we continue in sin we become slaves to sin which can lead to addictions/demonic strongholds that become increasingly hard to break the more one yields themselves to sin’s power. Even more tragic, we can become a hindrance to the spread of the gospel by being such a poor testimony.

    Incredibly, God has made the way for a believer to be sanctified (transformed into the image of Christ) similar to his plan for unbelievers to be justified: by faith alone (Rom. 4:4-5, 5:1, Gal. 3:14). I say this because the process by which we are able to walk in the Spirit is by faith (Rom. 6:11, Gal. 3:2-9). The word “reckon” makes this clear. Paul doesn’t say “die to your old self” – he tells believers that when they received Christ they already died to their old self. He exhorts them to consider, by faith, that this is the truth and to conform their minds to believe what God has declared. Just as in justification, God declares that we must conform our minds to His plan of salvation and not our own. Man’s natural, prideful inclination is to want to work to earn his own way and every religion in the world (outside of Biblical Christianity) teaches some form of work that is required for salvation. God’s plan of salvation runs contrary to the natural instincts of the old man which is why one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world “of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8) so that people who are “dead in trespasses and sins” can be saved. The plan of salvation is so utterly contrary to our natural, fallen state. I think it is the same with sanctification. We are often drawn by our natural inclination (from our flesh) to try to do works to gain favor with God (for selfish motivations). I think any works done out of these urges and motivations that spring from our flesh do not please God (Rom. 8:8 “they that are in the flesh cannot please God”). The new nature does not have these prideful, selfish ambitions. We are only able to walk in this new nature, however, by the power of the Spirit and with the Spirit’s enablement. This is an ongoing, moment-by-moment walk that must be appropriated by faith.

    I’ve just recently been reading an awesome little Christian Classic called “Principles of Spiritual Growth” by Miles J. Stanford (which I highly recommend, by the way!). In one of the chapters, he quotes from many Christian leaders from the past century or two who taught on the Rom. 6 doctrines we are discussing. I just googled and found the chapter online so I will paste it here if you are interested in reading it: http://withchrist.org/MJS/identification.htm As for myself, I am daily grappling to appropriate this “head knowledge” into experiential reality. Only by faith and in the power of His Spirit! I cannot do it in on my own. But ahhh, it’s really true what Jesus said, “His yoke is easy and His burden light” – He really does do it ALL. We simply believe and obey.

    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on all of this when you have time,

    Jessica

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