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Christ removes all barriers to catholicity of His church through faith

JeffLogan's picture

Thinking about Christ and how He breaks down all barriers and spoils all principalities and powers which prevent true universality, true catholicity, of His body, the church...

Has anyone ever considered that a living faith is not achieved by adding our works to our faith but rather, that faith is a gift from God which being quickened by the Holy Spirit produces obedience (good works)? (The keyword here is "quickened". It would serve you well to consult your Strong's Concordance.)

Think about this verse and tell me what it means:

    And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. -Acts 5:32 (KJV)

But first, before you answer, tell me what this means to demonstrate your wisdom:

    "Love means never having to say you're sorry." (Love Story, The movie.)

Does it mean...

    1) Love does nothing to warrant an apology

    2) Love takes no account of injury

    3) Other (explain)

Now answer the verse in question:

    And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. -Acts 5:32 (KJV)

Does it mean...

    1) God only gives His Holy Spirit to those who obey Him

    2) God gives His Holy Spirit to men so they might obey Him

    3) Other (explain)

This is a discovery exercise and not a theological debate. Opinions are welcomed but scriptural support would be even better. Be sure to interpret your scriptures so we can understand how you are using them. Commentaries may be insightful but a paraphrase in your own words would be appreciated and would demonstrate you understand your subject matter.

JeffLogan's picture

Right on target! Hi

Right on target!

Hi Noshic,

You wrote, "The way I read that line is that perfect love 'intends' no wrong - something that's understood by both the one who loves and the one who's loved."

That is a very good assessment, I believe. No wrong intended and no wrong taken. Love is very forgiving as well as giving. But, of course, I am not saying that God overlooks sin and doesn't count it against us. He does and that is what repentance and forgiveness are all about. Sin is an intruder that must be dealt with. Since God is more loving and forgiving than we what does that say about sin?

You wrote, "Now my opinion is that we show our obedience when we come to repentence, and acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Saviour; when we accept through faith the gift that's freely given to us. This is when, if our faith is true, we will also "delight in God's law in our inner beings" (Romans 7:22). We have the desire now to do what is good, but cannot carry it out (Romans 7:18) left to ourselves. But God who sees our hearts does not leave us helpless and blesses us with the Holy Spirit to HELP us obey what our heart now delights in and what we intend to obey."

I would say that is a very good "opinion" to hold to.

However, a bit later you wrote, "However even after recieving the gift of the Holy Spirit, man still retains the choice - to submit to it (which he would if his faith is alive) or to reject it and go back to the deeds of his sinful nature (a dead faith). Which is why, again and again believers are exhorted to live in accordance with the Spirit which is within them - this means that free will is pretty much active here- and can be used to either obey or disobey."

But you qualified this when you wrote, "Having said all that, I myself have a few questions (about free will and God's work within us)"

Maybe our two directions will dove-tail into each other nicely. I hope I am not running ahead of you but am walking right beside you in what I say next.

You made a distinction between a faith that is alive and a dead faith. My original post alluded to the relationship between a living faith and good works by highlighting the fact that it is the Holy Spirit which quickens us. The word translated "quickeneth" means "to make alive." The implication is that God gives each of us a measure of faith and also the Holy Spirit as an earnest. If you add the "quickening" agent, the Holy Spirit, to the gift of faith wouldn't you get a "quickened," or an alive faith?

This would dove-tail nicely with Acts 5:32 if understood the very way you explained it. We are not able to obey God. We may desire to obey Him and even choose to obey Him but our human natures are so incorrigible that we are not even capable of obedience to God's law (Romans 8:7). But, as you alluded to, when we choose to obey God then God gives us His Holy Spirit to help us obey. Thus, we end up with the requirements of perfect faith described in James. God draws us to Him through the wooing of the Holy Spirit which plants in us the desire to obey Him. Then when we make up our minds to obey God He gives the Holy Spirit to help us obey. So it is God who is working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. It has nothing to do with us perfecting our faith before God counts our faith as a living faith, but rather it has everything to do with God giving us a measure of faith, the desire to obey, and when we choose to obey (accept God as Lord) He gives the Holy Spirit which help us obey--thus producing the fruit of the Spirit. Viola! Good works coupled with faith resulting in a living faith.

Now if I tie this back to the topic title I arrive at the following conclusion. People erect many barriers which, though represented as leading to Christ, actually serve to bar the way to Christ. One such barrier is the idea that a person must clean up their act before they can come to Christ. Or, that they must in some way prove themselves worthy in order to be accepted of Christ. It has happened with baptism, with faith, with works, with many things. But the reality is that Christ alone knows our true condition and He alone has the remedy. He stands ever ready to take all comers into His care and to freely forgive all who ask. But without Him we would not even know our need and so would not know to ask.

Well, let me stop here and allow you or others to comment.

“The path of true piety is so plain as to require
but little political direction.” --George Washington,
re: absence of "Jesus Christ" in U.S. Constitution.

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. -Proverbs 18:2 NIV