Scriptures speaks of faith as such: "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb.11:1).
Faith, as can be learned from this scripture, pertains to things not seen. It is the EVIDENCE of things unseen. This means, that, faith comes, when there is nothing with which man may see with his eyes, nor touch, smell, hear, or taste, that he may believe. As such, the man may have faith, which is the very substance of the things that he can't see, touch, smell, hear, and taste - the evidence of such things.
Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom.10:17). Not by anything else.
Now, faith COMES, it says. Here are some questions:
1. Where do you think it comes from?
2. Does it come from you, from someone else, or from God?
3. If you say faith comes from you, can you expound on that?
4. If you say faith comes from someone else, can you expound on that?
5. If you say faith comes from God, can you expound on that?
Scriptures clearly say, faith comes by hearing the word of God. By hearing the the word OF God, it says. As such faith comes from God. And if it comes from God, we need to hear God. And we can hear God through His words. And His words are written, in scriptures. If you can't read, faith can come to you by having somebody read it for you, or by listening to one who reads scriptures. If you can read, read scriptures and faith can come to you.
If somebody tells you that, you are not to read scriptures, then he is a deceiver and is against God.
If somebody tells you that, you can read scriptures, but must not interpret it, then he is a deceiver and is against God.
Here are some scriptures. May faith come to you by reading the word of God. If you have a Bible, read them from there.
And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Have faith, by reading or by listening to the reading of the word of God, in Jesus and be saved!
Yes, faith comes to us by hearing or reading about the gospel in the Bible.
So faith does not come to us from someone, but from something, namely the words in the Bible. It is the gift of God, because God has inspired the Bible.
You believe that faith does not come from someone, but from something.
And so you don't believe that faith comes from God. Very well then for you. As for me, it comes from God. As I have explained, by hearing the the word OF God, it says. As such faith comes not from hearing just anybody else. It must be God that one hears, who is the truth.
One can hear somebody by reading what he has written, say a letter. It is the author that one hears when one reads his words in the letter he wrote. It's not the letter that speaks to him, but the author, speaks to him, through his words in the letter. And so when one reads his letter, it is like the author speaks to the reader. If God were the author, then when one reads, it then means that God speaks to the reader. And the reader could either believe or not what it is that God says, and could have faith. So, faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of not just anybody, but of God.
In my OP, I said:
"If somebody tells you that, you are not to read scriptures, then he is a deceiver and is against God."
Do you agree?
"If somebody tells you that, you can read scriptures, but must not interpret it, then he is a deceiver and is against God."
Do you agree?
Faith in a way comes from God, because he has inspired his word. So God speaks to us with his word.
"If somebody tells you that you are not to read scriptures, then he is a deceiver and is against God." I don't agree, one can be saved from just hearing the word of God proclaimed by someone. Still, it would be a foolish thing to say, the idea like what many Catholics believed, that only priests and monks can read scriptures, others would be confused and come up with heresies, that is wrong. Of course it can happen, but often does not happen. But Catholics tend to think that any deviation from the Catholic faith is a heresy, even though nowadays they prefer to use nicer words like 'separated brethren'.
"If somebody tells you that you can read scriptures, but must not interpret it, then he is a deceiver and is against God." I don't agree. Some churches claim that only the leadership of their church has the right to decide on what is the right interpretation, that there should not be a private interpretation, based on a misreading of a verse about prophecies. It is not correct, it is a wrong teaching, but it is not a deception, much less being against God. I can understand why some churches think so, the principle of sola scriptura, without the leaders being guided by God into the correct interpretation, it naturally leads to a great diversity of doctrines, since many verses are difficult to understand. But that is really a virtue, Christians can have many interesting and even fruitful discussions of verses, and if we are not too stubborn, we can learn from each other. After all, God wants us to be humble and not claim that we are infallible, that we can understand everything in the Bible. But I can see how some are turned off by all the diversity and just want to hear one interpretation, with authority, with no dissent, so there is unity. Well different strokes for different folks. Some prefer one, some prefer another.
So, if you don't agree that faith in God comes from God, though you at least admit that faith in a way comes from God, from whom does it comes from?
You said you don't agree that "If somebody tells you that you are not to read scriptures, then he is a deceiver and is against God.". So, it is like you saying that, "if somebody tells you that you are not to read scriptures, that he is for God and not against God".
You said you don't agree that "If somebody tells you that you can read scriptures, but must not interpret it, then he is a deceiver and is against God.". So, it is like saying that, "if somebody tells you that you can read scriptures, but must not interpret it, that he is for God and not against God".
Well, what could I say, but that I respect your opinion. In my opinion, those who prohibits one to read scriptures, or seemingly allows them but in fact put a condition which in effect is tantamount to really be not hearing what it is they read, such a one is against God, and not for God.
Faith comes from us hearing the word of God, so ultimately it does come from God, since God inspired his word for us.
If someone tells me that I am not to read scriptures, more commonly he would be against God, he might be a communist or a Muslim or something. But if he was an ancient Catholic, worried that we might misunderstand the Bible and go into heresy, then he meant well, he was for God.
Likewise if someone tells me that I can read scriptures, but must not interpret it, then he could be evil, or he could be for God, just wanting me to accept the interpretations of his church, believing that somebody in his church, like past popes, past church councils, holy traditions, were inspired by God to interpret some verses correctly, or in case of INC, then FYM, Erano Manalo, Eduardo Manalo were inspired to interpret verses correctly, or similarly in case of some other churches. It is not correct, God does not tell anyone how to interpret a verse, since the Bible tells us not to go beyond what is written. So it is better for us to study the Bible for ourselves, God will not give us any interpretations except interpretations written in the Bible. That is the principle of sola scriptura. But many do not believe it. And it seems like fewer and fewer believe it, Pentecostalism or Charismatic Christianity have become so popular, and many Pentecostals and Charismatics believe in messages from dreams, visions, interpretation of tongues. I am not saying there can't be miraculous interpretation of tongues, but those would be like prayers of believers, they would not be messages from God, so they would not be inspired, inerrant. So in such prayers we can encourage each other, or say other things, but we should not expect them to be inerrant. So it is wrong to think that I have received a message from God, and so you should believe it, but if I were wrongly to believe it, I would not be against God, I would just be in error on this. So to be more correct, people should not listen to my interpretations or your interpretations or anyone else's interpretations, as if they are inspired by God, because they are not.
And so we believe differently. You believe that faith comes from you, while I don't believe that faith comes from me.
You believe that man is saved by his good works and faith, faith in God, am I right? If I got your belief right, then perhaps, you believe that it is man that basically saves himself. Why do I say that? Let me start with good works. Is not good works coming from you, that is, you are the one who cause it and made it happen? Next on faith. You say that faith comes from you, that is, you are the one who cause it that you have faith, by reading scriptures. So, clearly it's you who basically caused it all, and that by it, God will save you.
No one, ancient or not, who forbids one to read the words of God in scriptures, could never be said to be for God, no matter what his intentions are. And further, ancient or not, no one who tells you that you can read the words of God scriptures, but must not interpret it, could never be said to be for God, no matter what his intentions are. That is what I believe. For such a man, by doing so, denies the power of God, that God could grant even the most unlearned man to understand His words in scriptures?
Ultimately, faith is a gift from God. God offers us this gift, if we recognize it, if we know the gospel, we have accepted the gift of faith. If we keep rejecting the gift, by not believing the gospel, we have not accepted that gift. God will not force the gift on us, he lets us have free will. So as we read the Bible, which is inspired by God, and we become convinced about the gospel, we accept the gospel, we have accepted the gift of faith, and also we have read that we need to repent, so we repent of the sins we know of, so God saves us, justifies us, adds us to the church, forgives our sins. We also find out in the Bible that some things are sinful, so we try to avoid such sins. We don't become sinless, we can slip up, but then we repent. But if we decide to rebel against God, refuse to repent any more, start living in sin, doing bad works continually rather than good works, then like Heb. 10:26 says, there is no more sacrifice for sins. So Christ's sacrifice no longer applies to us, we have lost salvation. But it is not like some churches claim, that whenever we sin, we have lost salvation, that is based on a mistranslation of Heb. 10:26. Many modern translations have corrected that error. Now who gave us the information what works are good and what works are sinful? God, through his word, the Bible. And since we are saved, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us helps us resist temptation, avoid sins. But we still have free will, we can still rebel against the HS and start living in sin, and lose salvation. Though normally we could slip up and commit a sin, and we feel terrible, we repent of the sin, so we remain saved. We have free choice to do good works, or do bad works, we have not lost free will when we became saved. Though ultimately even good works come from God, because God tells us in the Bible, what are some good works, like prayer, giving to the church, giving to the poor, helping people in need, discussing the Bible, trying to persuade unbelievers, studying the Bible. But we have free will to do the good works or not. God does not force us into good works.
Now if some saved Christian is misguided enough to forbid us from reading the Bible, he is still for God, because he is saved. Salvation does not depend on believing correctly that one should not forbid reading the Bible.
Likewise in some churches, people are misguided enough to claim, based on misreading a verse, that there should not be private interpretations of any verses, that you should instead accept the interpretation of the church leadership. We see that for example in the Catholic church, the Eastern Orthodox church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, the INC, the New Apostolic Church, and some others. Now plenty of people in such churches are saved Christians, so they are not against God, they are for God, but have the wrong interpretation of this. So they don't like a diversity of beliefs in their church.
But it is not a matter of denying the power of God, that God could grant even the most unlearned man to understand His words in scriptures. No, Christians in general are aware that God is omnipotent, that He has the power to grant even the most unlearned man to understand His words, if that is what He were to want. He could grant all saved Christians to understand every verse in the Bible, so that all Christians would have the same beliefs on every doctrine, like pacifism, oaths, eating blood, women obeying husbands, slaves obeying masters, women speaking in church, women being elders, masturbation, holy pictures or statues, Mary remaining a virgin or not, Mary being sinless, infant baptism, water baptism by sprinkling or pouring instead of always immersing, the words used during water baptism, how many persons is God, and various other beliefs that Christians disagree with each other. Sure God has the power to reveal to us the correct interpretation of each verse. But He does not do it, he wants us to feel humble and not feel infallible, so he inspired Paul to write the commandment not to go beyond what is written. So we should not feel disgusted by the diversity of beliefs among Christians. It is a natural result of many verses being difficult to interpret, and our minds being so limited, that we can't possibly be infallible, and after all, God does not give us the correct interpretation of any verse. So we should be happy about the diversity of beliefs, we can then debate with each other, and we can learn from each other. Yes, God has arranged it wonderfully.
It seems to me that what you take here as faith refers to a set of doctrines or beliefs, which in this case, those that are found in scriptures, or to which you refer, I suppose, as what makes up the gospel. But if you'll get back to the OP, the faith in view is clearly not referring to a set of doctrines or beliefs, but refers to such a thing as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb.11:1). It is that by which we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible (Heb.11:2). So, I hope you'll take faith as referring to that in our discussion here. And as I said, up there in the message title, the ultimate is that faith comes from God, a gift from God, and not coming from us.
Regarding good works, are you saying then, and of course, in the ultimate and final analysis, that good works comes from God?
Yes, ultimately good works come from God, we were saved to do good works, and God tells us in the Bible what works are good and what are bad.
I would presume now that you'll take faith as I have pointed out in my post above, in our discussion under this thread.
I'm glad you finally come to realize that, regarding good works, that the Christian was saved to do good works, rather than, the Christian is saved by doing good works.
Yes, initial salvation is by faith, including repentance of sins. But to remain saved, we have to be doing good works, and not live in sin, bad works, refusing to repent. After all, faith without works is dead.
I don't want to start another issue in this segment Tomas.
So let me just post here what has been settled under this segment:
1. Faith comes from God.
2. The Christian was saved to do good works.
Could you please answer my questions in my posts, so I would not get lost along the way? I kind of find it difficult sometimes to follow the point of our discussion if you don't. Thanks.
Yes, that is what I am doing now, based on your request.
You said "Now who gave us the information what works are good and what works are sinful? God, through his word, the Bible."
That's right. But what has that got to do with the point that if you believe that you are the one responsible for the good work, so that, you believe that you earned the right to be saved by God?
I don't want to take the credit for earning the right to be saved due to my faith, the credit belongs only to God and his wonderful Bible. And we are not saved by good works, but if we are saved we will do good works and repent of any bad works, or else we lose salvation.
I'm glad to hear from you now, having waited fro a long while now, that salvation is not by good works, and that we are saved to do good works.
You said "I don't want to take the credit for earning the right to be saved due to my faith, the credit belongs only to God and his wonderful Bible."
Am I right in my understanding of your statement, that it is you who earn the right to be saved because of having faith, except that, you just don't want to take credit for it, and give the credit to God? That's a virtuous and admirable thing indeed. But don't you agree that, one does not earn such right? And instead, those who received Him who was in the beginning with God, the Word, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name?
I have heard there is a verse saying we don't earn the right to be saved, though I can't find it in the Bible. So if it is there, we have not earned it, after all, even though we came to faith by our free will, the credit goes to God, who has inspired the scriptures, so that by reading or hearing them we can receive the right to be saved.
It's good that you admit now that the right to become children of God is not a thing that is earned. That's right, for the right to become children of God is given to those who receives Him who was in the beginning with God, the Word, to those who believe in His name, the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Please consider this Tomas. This is the situation, man sinned, and so he will be punished with death in the lake of fire.
Now, put your focus on man and not on God, and let's go back to the time of Adam. Can man save himself from going to the lake of fire? What can man do, by himself or with the help of other men, to save himself or themselves from going to the lake of fire? Can he do any work that would save himself?
If your answer is none, would you agree that man is helpless by himself? That there is nothing he can do, nor he can do with the help of other men, so that he would not suffer death in the lake of fire? That his only hope of salvation is God's mercy, to whom he sinned against and who will punish him? That only God would be able to save him?
Of course a man cannot save himself from the lake of fire. But that does not mean he cannot do anything. He can learn about the gospel, he can gain faith, and he can repent. And then God saves him. So I agree, his only hope of salvation is God's mercy, only God can save him.
Good that you agree that man cannot save himself from the penalty of sin, and that the only way is that God will have mercy on him and save him. Now, God knows them who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit and seek His mercy. And surely, God will bring about their salvation, according to His way of salvation, which He purposed in Christ Jesus.
I think this segment comes to a close here.
You say "We have free choice to do good works, or do bad works, we have not lost free will when we became saved."
But what does free will got to do with the point that if you believe that you are the one responsible for the good work, you believe that you earned the right to be saved by God? Or are you implying that, since you are making the choice, that by choosing to do good work have given you the right to be saved by God?
See my comment above.
See my comments above.
You said "God does not force us into good works."
That's right. God never forces anyone to do anything, Tomas. Did I say God forces us, that you are pointing this here now?
You did not say it. So I guess you agree that we have free will to do good works or not.
I don't know why you say "Salvation does not depend on believing correctly that one should not forbid reading the Bible.", when salvation is not really the issue on this matter. Please stick to the issue. This is what I posted:
"No one, ancient or not, who forbids one to read the words of God in scriptures, could never be said to be for God, no matter what his intentions are. And further, ancient or not, no one who tells you that you can read the words of God scriptures, but must not interpret it, could never be said to be for God, no matter what his intentions are. That is what I believe. For such a man, by doing so, denies the power of God, that God could grant even the most unlearned man to understand His words in scriptures?"
The issue is, whether such people who forbids one to read the words of God in scriptures, or if they allow but forbids one to interpret what he reads, are for God or not. Wherein I say, that I would not say they are for God. For if they are for God, they would encourage the reading and study of the words of God, for by reading and reading the words of God, is good and so is pleasing to God. Why forbid, if you are for God? And the sad thing is, most of these people are leaders of a religious organization, which affect tens, hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people under their authority. This certainly is a serious concern.
I guess to me, when I hear someone saying that a person is for God, I think he means the person is saved. And when I hear someone saying that a person is not for God, then I think he means the person is unsaved. So that is why I was talking about salvation requirement. But if you feel a person can be not for God but still be saved, then OK. It just seems strange semantically.
Ok. I understand now why you talk about salvation.
On my side, "a person is for God" means he is not against God, and "a person is not for God" means he is against God.
Anyway, I understand that you agree with me on the issue on this segment.
Forbidding reading the words of God in scriptures, or permitting yet forbidding interpreting what is read in scriptures, or the discouraging of private reading and study of scriptures, certainly are man made rules by some religious organization, and are also not supported nor found in scriptures, and are rules that clearly keeps the members far from God and the truth, rather than keeping them close. This thing clearly is a thing that is not for God, but is against God.
If people can't do their own private interpretations of verses, or even can't read the Bible, they can still be saved, by hearing the gospel from others, like from priests or ministers.
But that is not the issue here Tomas.
It is a big part of the issue. So while telling people not to have private interpretations of verses is not God's doctrine, it is wrong doctrine, still it is not against God, because people can be saved in such a church anyway.
The issue is not if people can be saved Tomas, but that, forbidding reading the words of God in scriptures, or permitting yet forbidding interpreting what is read in scriptures, or the discouraging of private reading and study of scriptures, is something that is not for God, but is against God.
I guess in a way, any wrong doctrine can be considered against God. So in that respect all saved people would have doctrines against God. But that is a strange meaning of being against God. After all, saved people are said to be for God, no matter how many bad doctrines they have.
Forbidding reading the words of God in scriptures, or permitting yet forbidding interpreting what is read in scriptures, is leading a believer away from God. Away from God means away from the truth. If that is not against God, then that would only mean the opposite, that is, it is for God. This thing shots one's eyes and ears, if not his spirit, to what God have caused to be written and be read and heard by him in scriptures, and enslave him to the extent that he is only to believe what they have to say to him.
It is true that it can be harder to get saved that way. So it is bad doctrine. But it is a well meaning doctrine, to protect the person from what the church believes is error. Still, when a person is saved, he is for God, no matter his bad doctrine against reading the Bible, or against private interpretations.
The issue here is not whether the person is saved or not, but that forbidding reading the words of God in scriptures, or permitting yet forbidding interpreting what is read in scriptures, regardless of the intent one says why he commands it on the person, is ungodly. This is against God and not for God, even while, one says he does it to protect the person from what the church believes is error. Each person must not be denied the freedom, as God have given every man, to hear the preacher, any preacher for that matter, and examine what it is he preach, whether it is in keeping with God's words in scriptures or not.
It is ungodly, but then any sin is ungodly. For example fornication, it is ungodly. But if a Christian does not know it is a sin, and has premarital sex with his fiancee, his sin is forgiven due to his ignorance, Romans 14. So likewise if he does not believe in reading the Bible, or in private interpretation of verses, it is sinful, but since it is a sin of ignorance, his sin is forgiven if he is saved, Romans 14. So he is not against God. But for God.
So, you agree that forbidding reading the words of God in scriptures, or permitting yet forbidding interpreting what is read in scriptures, is ungodly.
I can agree with that, in the sense that every sin is really ungodly. Even a sin committed out of ignorance, is ungodly, because it is still a sin. But if a saved person commits a sin out of ignorance, he is forgiven and remains saved, Romans 14.
Even today, there are quite a number of churches that forbid private interpretation of verses that you read, that tell you to follow the intepretation of the church instead, based on a faulty understanding of 2 Peter 1:20. But even preachers in such churches can be already saved, even though they believe that faulty understanding and forbid private interpretation of verses. The sin is ungodly, but being committed in ignorance of the correct understanding of 1:20, the sin is forgiven to the person who is saved.
So, you agree that it is ungodly, and is sin. Now, if itis ungodly and is sin, is that not something against God? You may say, if they are ignorant of it being a sin, that they will be forgiven of it. It seems to me that you are saying that their ignorance, if they are, excuses them of such wrong doing as you say it will be forgiven them. If they are not ignorant, will they not be forgiven?
As it is, such man, almost always in the category of one such as FYM, the topmost leader of a church organization, who forbids reading the words of God in scriptures, or permitting yet forbidding interpreting what is read in scriptures, does an ungodly thing, as to teach and commands the members of something that is false and ungodly.
Now, of course, there is the possibility that he is ignorant of it. But to them who knows the truth, specially the church members, it is their duty to rebuke him of this wrong. And this must alarm them to the point of reconsidering putting to the test, the spirit in the man.
If they are not ignorant, they will not be forgiven for their sin, unless they repent.
Now as far as FYM, he did not forbid reading the Bible. I am not aware of any modern church that forbids reading the Bible. I am aware just that some centuries ago, Catholics discouraged the laity from reading the Bible, fearing that could lead to heresy, due to alleged misunderstanding the Bible. And they banned reading Bible translations done by alleged heretics, thinking those translations were biased and dangerous. Though certainly at the time of early Reformation, Catholics themselves started producing their own translations of the Bible, and allowed already laity to read those translations, while banning Protestant translations. And certainly with the invention of the printing press, Bibles were no longer rare, lots of people could buy a Bible, and read the Bible for themselves.
But certainly it is true that INC interprets 2 Peter 1:20 as forbidding us from having private interpretations of Bible verses. And they are not the only ones with that interpretation. Catholics have the same interpretation, I have debated with Catholics about that. And such an interpretation of the verse is found in a number of other churches, especially churches that believe they are the true biblical church. So one can see such an interpretation for example in the New Apostolic Church, in the Way International, in the True Jesus Church, in the Philadelphia Church of God and also many other offshoots of the former Worldwide Church of God, which had the same belief about this verse. Simply such churches believe that their leader was guided by God into the true doctrine, so then if you disagree with that leader on any doctrine, you are disagreeing with God too. Therefore you should not have private interpretation of any verse and teach that, you should just follow what your church teaches.
And I can see how that verse can be misunderstood this way, the meaning is not so obvious, that it could not be misunderstood this way.
You say INC members should know better, and should correct their leaders, tell them that private interpretations are OK. But the average faithful INC member really believes, that God guided FYM into the right doctrines and has been guiding the subsequent Executive Ministers. And so since God guided them, then disagreeing with them would be disagreeing with the one who guided them, God. And so that is why there should be no private interpretation, you need to agree instead with what the church teaches.
And similarly I have discussed with faithful Catholics, they are convinced that God has guided their holy traditions, church councils, and popes, into the right doctrines. So to disagree with the church on any doctrine, would be to disagree with the one who guided the traditions, church councils, and popes, namely to disagree with God.
And they point out the alleged chaos that has resulted from private interpretations, in Protestantism, with many thousands of denominations, disagreeing with each other on various doctrines. Like some Protestants believe in baptizing babies, others don't. Some believe that only immersion baptism is valid, others say it can be done in other ways, like sprinkling or pouring water. Some believe water baptism is necessary for salvation, others believe water baptism saves but one can be saved without it, others believe water baptism is just symbolic and has no connection with salvation. Some believe in pacifism, some allow both pacifism and non-pacifism, some reject pacifism. Etc., there are many doctrines on which Protestant churches disagree with each other.
So to Catholics, to INC members, to New Apostolic Church members, etc. it looks like chaos caused by private interpretations. While to us, God allows this diversity of doctrines on secondary issues, allows private interpretations, as long as we believe the gospel, otherwise we are not saved.
And in fact, just like Catholics believe God is guiding the church, INC members believe God is guiding the church to correct doctrines, etc., one can find even some Protestants believing similarly, that God is guiding the Christians into correct doctrines. I have seen that in your own beliefs. Of course then when such Protestants disagree on some doctrine, each one can believe he was guided right and the other one was not guided. So one Protestant can say God has guided him to understand that babies ought to be baptized, another Protestant can say that God has guided him to understand that infant baptism is invalid, and only believers ought to be baptized. Obviously they can't be both right. But when we apply the principle of sola scriptura, based on 1 Cor. 4:6, we can see that when the Bible was finished, that ended further guidance, so only the Bible guides us, and no one guides us to understand the Bible. So we just need to study the Bible and try to figure out from that, whether infant baptisms are valid or not. God does not give the guidance about it to the church, or to anyone of us.
And concerning churches that do not believe in private interpretation, one can see especially in the Catholic church, that many Catholics are not obedient to that, they come up with their own interpretations. So for example the Catholic church teaches, that their holy tradition forbids contraceptives, yet certainly here in the US most Catholics do not believe like that, they use contraceptives anyway. Now in this case, no harm is done, since the Bible does not forbid contraceptives. Though of course some Catholics don't use contraceptives only in marriage, some are unmarried, they fornicate, and use contraceptives, they are of course guilty of fornication.
My father was even more rebellious against his Catholic church, he did not even believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, so he violated Rev. 22:19, so he was unsaved. He was certainly very influenced by religious liberalism, so he differed from the Catholic church on various doctrines, he believed in pacifism, he believed everybody is deep down really a good person, nobody is damned, so like one day I was discussing Hitler with him, he told me that yes, Hitler did some bad things, but it was not his fault, he just was not shown enough love, had he been shown enough love, he too would have been doing mainly good things, because everybody is really good. And he believed that women should be priests just as much as men are allowed to be priests, total equality of men and women in church offices. He believed that the Catholic church should allow people of all beliefs, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists etc. to join the Catholic church, and not tell them what to believe, he told me if everybody became Catholic there would be no wars of religion. So everybody in the Catholic church should believe whatever he wants. He did not believe in the need to go to church. So I never saw him attend any church services. He did not believe in the need to bring us, his children, up in Christianity, after all, nobody is damned, everybody is actually good, so he was just bringing us up to be moral people, obedient to our parents. So I did not even learn that he believed in God, and considered himself Catholic, until we came to America, when I was 15 years old.
So in his case, had he remained faithful Catholic, as he was brought up in his childhood, and had he believed in no private interpretations, he could have died saved, but he died unsaved. Surely he won't find it difficult, when he is resurrected and taught correctly, to repent and be saved. But still, he died without God, even though he believed in God, so he won't be resurrected to eternal life, he will be resurrected to mortal life and not get saved until later.
So it is better to believe in no private interpretations, rather than not believe in the gospel at all. My father's liberal humanistic interpretations led him too far astray.
I said "It seems to me that you are saying that their ignorance, if they are, excuses them of such wrong doing as you say it will be forgiven them. If they are not ignorant, will they not be forgiven?"
You said "If they are not ignorant, they will not be forgiven for their sin, unless they repent."
Clearly now, I understand you as meaning that sins committed in ignorance will be forgiven. It seems then that ignorance automatically absolves the sinner. And in your previous post, you cited Rom. 14 as to teach us this matter. Can you tell me where in particular in Rom.14 teaches that?
FYM and INC does forbid reading the Bible. Of course not that one who can read words is not allowed to read words in the Bible. But we know that reading goes hand in hand with understanding what he reads. Or putting it another way, FYM and INC forbids its members to read and interpret what he reads in scriptures.
Now, I was shocked by your statement here:
" So we should not feel disgusted by the diversity of beliefs among Christians. It is a natural result of many verses being difficult to interpret, and our minds being so limited, that we can't possibly be infallible, and after all, God does not give us the correct interpretation of any verse. So we should be happy about the diversity of beliefs, we can then debate with each other, and we can learn from each other."
Why would I be happy about that? And how could I agree that God does not give us the correct interpretation of any verse? Are you truly happy debating with other Christians? Preposterous and silly, I would say.
You are now talking like a Catholic, or an INC member, insisting that all Christians agree on every doctrine, that the diversity is no good. When I said we can debate with each other, I do not mean angry arguments, I mean brotherly discussions among Christians. And that I am happy to be doing. I am happy to be discussing with you and with other Christians. After all, discussing issues in the wonderful book, the Bible, should fill us with happiness. It is the best book in the world, it is the word of God. And so, since we should not expect any of us to be infallible, we can exchange ideas, learn from each other, and show to each other, where in the Bible our beliefs come from. If neither one is too stubborn and unwilling to change, then at least one can learn from the other. Like I have learned from you.
If God gave us the correct interpretation of any verse, then of course we would agree with each other, we would be infallible on that verse. But that is not God's intention, so God has told us not to go beyond what is written (1 Cor. 4:6). What is written in the Bible of course. So no new revelation of any interpretations. Sola scriptura. So no inspired interpretations by ecumenical Catholic councils or by popes or by executive ministers or anyone else. We are all in the same boat, no inspired interpretations, so we can know we are not infallible in our interpretations, so we will not be proud, but properly humble, as God wants us to be. And we will not be angrily arguing about interpretations, but happily discussing our interpretations, in a loving fraternal manner. So please, don't be shocked about it, be happy about it. Now we are not to go beyond what is written, so now is not the time for perfect doctrinal unity, like some churches, like Catholic, INC, New Apostolic Church, Philadelphia Church of God, and others who insist we have to be united, we get interpretations from God, so we better agree, or else we are outside the church or something. But when Jesus comes back, and we are resurrected, the Bible says we will be going to Jerusalem to learn from God, so God will then give us correct interpretations, and all the saved people will be in one denomination. Sola scriptura will no longer be true. We will be given new laws, as some of these laws are described in Ezekiel, Zechariah, etc. For example the Feast of Tabernacles will be required for all, not just Israelites, as was true in the Law of Moses. And all, not just males, will have to go to Jerusalem for that feast. So then we will have doctrinal unity. But now it is impossible, it is not in God's plan for us.
Did I say that the diversity is no good? What I said is that I am not happy about such. For scriptures says "There is one body and one Spirit", that Paul beseech of the Christians, to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. And so I see that it's not diversity that scriptures calls for, but unity.
You said "If God gave us the correct interpretation of any verse, then of course we would agree with each other, we would be infallible on that verse. But that is not God's intention, so God has told us not to go beyond what is written (1 Cor. 4:6)."
Certainly God gives us the correct interpretation of His words in scriptures, according to His will and in His time. Only He could help and make us understand His words in scriptures which are about the things of God.
And certainly, God's intention is for us to be united, as I have discussed above. And this includes being one in understanding God's words in scriptures. What Paul said in 1 Cor.4:6 is really not about the matter of unity, but about the matter of pride. The verse says "Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.". What Paul wants us to understand here is that we learn in them (Paul and Apollos), not to think beyond what is written. Why is that? So that, we may not be puffed up or take pride in one over another. This is about pride and arrogance, and not about false teachings as a result of interpretations that goes beyond what is written.
Of course we are one body, and we are united in the eyes of God, even though many of us can be unhappy about the divisions into denominations, or also differences in beliefs among Christians regardless of denominations or being non-denominational. These differences are on secondary doctrines, not on gospel doctrines. So we have one faith, in the sense of faith in the gospel.
And concerning 1 Cor. 4:6, yes, pride would be involved if we were to go beyond what is written, we could be puffed up, thinking we know more than other Christians, that we got some special interpretations that others did not get.
How can we be united in the eyes of God, when we are not in reality and practically united? That is not at all what being united is Tomas. For example, you say the INC is part of the church of God, and the RCC as well. Now are they united? Obviously not. Do they believe in the same Christ, that is, Savior? INC's Christ is not God, while RCC's Christ is God.
Concerning 1 Cor. 4:6, as I said, what Paul said in 1 Cor.4:6 is really not about the matter of unity, but about the matter of pride. Read again my previous post on this. 1 Cor. 4:6 is about pride and arrogance, and not about false teachings as a result of some special interpretations that others get and others did not.
INC and RCC don't consider themselves to be united, but in God's eyes they are united, because people from both churches are in God's own church. They do believe in the same Christ, that is Savior, that it is Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, etc. Sure some think he is God and others think that he is not God, but that is just what they think, in reality they can't know.
Concerning 1 Cor. 4:6, yes, it is a matter of not being proud, not thinking like I have a special interpretation from God while another Christian does not. We are all equal, none of us get special interpretations from God, we can't be infallible.
Well, if you believe that, in God's eyes, INC and RCC are united, even while in reality and practice, are hostile to each other, in that, one condemns the other, and says of each other as anti-Christ, then so be it for you then.
And while for you, you believe that you can't know if Christ is God or is not, that has nothing to do with their unity or disunity.
And we are all equal Tomas, whether one knows and understands much or less of what is revealed in scriptures. And sure we are not infallible in so many ways. But relative to 1 Cor.4:6, let me quote what Paul says in v.7 "For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?"
Well, I guess you don't feel united with either INC or RCC, since you dislike that they believe in the saving power of water baptism. But I believe that in spite of such dislike, in God's eyes, you are united with them, at least actually with the saved people in those denominations. Not with the unsaved. Still, I believe God loves all denominations that preach the gospel, no matter what percentage of members is saved in each. But only the saved are in the church.
As far as 1 Cor. 4:7, I am not sure how to understand it. Having something you did not receive, that looks like theft. But that does not seem to fit the rest of the verse. It looks to me like a very difficult verse. Maybe you have some idea of what it means.
For sure I could not feel united in the spirit with INC, much as I want to. How can I when their messiah is a man, named Jesus, while my Messiah is God, who incarnated, revealed in scriptures as to be the person of Jesus Christ.
Regarding 1 Cor. 4:7, the verse says "For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?"
There is nothing in there that speaks of having something one did not receive that looks like theft Tomas. I don't know what version you are reading. But I checked other versions, and found not one which speaks of such. So, I suggest you read it again.
As to what the verse means, is plain. You are intelligent and could easily understand what the verse means.
You say your Messiah is God, who incarnated. So then you too believe your Messiah is a man, even though you happen to believe he is both God and man. And you both believe he is revealed in scriptures as to be the person of Jesus Christ. So not much difference. Just a little difference in you having the theory he is God, while they have the theory that he is not God.
Regarding 1 Cor. 4:7, I guess sometimes intelligence is not enough. For example let's say you have a book. Now you have received the book, maybe from a bookstore, or from somebody. Or if you have not received the book, then I see no other choice except you stole it. With some objects there is a third choice, let's say you have an orange. You have received it, from a store or from somebody, or you stole it, or maybe you planted an orange tree years ago, and it had flowers, and the flowers got transformed into orange fruit. So now you have an orange. But with books, this third choice does not apply, you cannot grow books in your garden. So yes, the text looks plain, but the deep meaning behind it escapes me.
Ask the INC, I'm pretty sure, they'll tell you of a great deal of difference concerning this. Ask any Christian who believes that Christ is God, and they certainly would tell you a great deal of difference. If you don't see much of a difference, that I don't know why you do. Perhaps, there is really not much difference for you in Christ being God or not, or perhaps, because of your different perspective of the revelations about the person of God.
You said regarding 1 Cor. 4:7, "I guess sometimes intelligence is not enough". What then do you think it is you need more than intelligence?
As I said, there is nothing in 1 Cor.4:7 that speaks of having something one did not receive that looks like theft Tomas. So, I strongly suggest that you do away with such thought and move on and try to understand the verse.
1 Cor. 4:7, "For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?"
Of course INC considers this to be very important, so important it is necessary for salvation, John 17:3, that we believe Christ is not God. But I believe that is a misinterpretation of that verse. Sure the Father is the only true God, but this God could well include other persons.
Similarly some trinitarians believe it is necessary for salvation to believe Christ is God.
But I say we can't know, so God does not make a big deal of whether one believes Christ is God or not God. I am not saying it is unimportant to God, but it is not revealed to us, so God does not make it important to us.
Concerning 1 Cor. 4:7, I am stuck, clearly there is something you have thought of that I haven't. I mean, if you have a book, and you haven't received it, but you haven't stolen it, then how did you obtain it?
Not revealed to you, not us, Tomas. Nothing further.
Regarding 1 Cor.4:7, you have not answered my question relative to your statement "I guess sometimes intelligence is not enough". My question is "What then do you think it is you need more than intelligence?"
Now, you are so into the matter of having something one did not receive that looks like theft, for which I say, the verse does not speak about. I can't understand why you are so into that with regards 1 Cor. 4:7.
Let's take the statements in 1 Cor. 4:7, one by one.
First statement "For who makes you differ from another?". Is there anything about having something here? None.
Second statement "And what do you have that you did not receive?". Does this speak of something you have by theft?
Third statement "Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?". There is likewise nothing here that speaks of the matter you are so concerned about.
So, I suggest that you do away with such thought and move on and try to understand the verse instead.
I am sure trying to understand the verse. But I guess I need more insight, maybe you have thought of something I have not thought of.
So far I see only two possibilities of how to have something you have not received. One is by getting it by theft, another is by having grown it for yourself, like you might grow tomatoes or oranges etc. So maybe if you received a tomato, you can boast as if you have not received the tomato, but claim you have grown it yourself. That would be a sinful boast, it would be a lie.
I have thought of relating it to the previous verse, like if you claim you have a message from God that you did not receive. But then the third part would not make sense, who has received a message from God and boast as if he did not receive it? That would not make sense.
But if it is about growing food like tomatoes etc., then why does it follow verse 6, as if it is related to it? After all, verse 7 begins with 'for'. So I think I have not thought of something, I don't have enough imagination when dealing with this verse. Clearly you think you have it figured out, but you are not telling me what then is your interpretation.
1 Cor. 4:7
7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?
You said "So far I see only two possibilities of how to have something you have not received".
I can't see why you have such a problem with regards to understanding the verse Tomas. The question "For who makes you differ from another?" can be understood from the context in v.6 , and far back even to chapter 1. And in relation to this, Paul asked the questions "And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?". Paul, by way of these questions, reminds the Corinthians that they were not intrinsically "superior" to anyone else, an attitude that judging others presupposes. That God had given them everything they had, and as a consequence, they should be grateful, not boastful.
OK, I see now better how you interpret it, and your interpretation seems to make sense. It is true, that whatever we have, is ultimately from God, regardless of who gave it to us. So like the Bible tells us, to receive food with thanksgiving, so clearly we should pray to God and thank him for the food, before we eat. Regardless of how we got the food, it is ultimately from God. Without him, the food would not exist and we would not exist.
So I guess, when Paul asked "And what do you have that you did not receive?", apparently Paul meant that we have nothing that we did not receive, since everything we have we received from God. So then in the next question, which confused me so much, Paul apparently meant by asking "Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?", he apparently meant, you did receive everything you have from God, so then why do you boast, as if you did not receive it from God, but it is your achievement? So you boast about your achievements, but really you are all equal before God, none of you is superior to others.
Yes, I had not thought of the issue of receiving everything we have from God. So I was thinking of things like receiving food from the store, etc. God was not mentioned in that verse, not explicitly. So I was really confused. But you have helped me to understand the verse much better, for which I am thankful to you.
So I now want to make sure, does my new understanding now agree totally with your understanding?
What Paul says there and meant in those verses is with regards to the mysteries of God, and it does not speak really of other things such as food and drink. These things Paul said, they received, from God who gave it. So, Paul reasoned, that if they indeed receive it, they should not boast as if they had not received it.