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Firm Foundation

Feeling Misrepresented

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4 hours ago, GandalfTheWise said:

The deepest problem I see is that most people on both sides have been so deeply indoctrinated that this is a critical issue and that their side is right that they cannot in good conscience let it go.  Christians have been arguing about it for literally centuries and have not resolved this except to take sides and kick out Christians who disagree with them.  People on both sides seem to be completely convinced in deep in their hearts that the other side is unbiblical and is too spiritually dangerous to be allowed near new believers to contaminate them with false teaching.

I'm sick and tired of this unhealthy and unChristlike bickering from both sides.  Here is a simplification of the main points I'm seeing that are being argued.

1. The bible clearly teaches all believers should have assurance that they are saved.

2. The bible clearly teaches that holiness in increasing measure should be obvious in a believer.

3. Complete assurance and complete holiness are incompatible.  You can only have one or the other therefore one or there other must be rejected.

OSAS choose 1 and 3 and proceed to argue that one sin (or 100) should not impact one's assurance that they are saved.  Non-OSAS choose 2 and 3 and proceed to argue that absence of holiness should raise questions about whether or not one is in Christ.   As the arguments proceed, OSAS backs themselves into a corner that a lack of holiness should not affect one's assurance and non-OSAS backs themselves into a corner that any amount of sin casts doubt if one is in Christ.  OSAS takes Bible verses dealing with assurance as absolute and rejects verses dealing with holiness as not absolute.  Non-OSAS takes Bible verses dealing with holiness as absolute and rejects verses dealing with assurance as not absolute.  

I respectfully suggest that we should choose 1 and 2 and reject 3.  If 1 and 2 are correct, and we treat both assurance and holiness as fruit that grows in a believer's life, we do not have to reject one or the other.  If assurance and holiness both grow over time, it means that the presence of doubts and sin are normal in young believers and both decrease as one grows and matures.  To try to shortcut that process and tell a young believer that no real Christian should have a doubt or that no real Christian should sin does not properly tell a young believer that spiritual growth reduces both doubts and sins.  I think the most biblical approach is that the Bible does teach both assurance and holiness and that both should be growing in a believer's life.  God works the same way in all Christians' lives.    It's just that both sides disagree on their description and explanation of how He does it.

I've spent many years in ministries and churches on both sides of this issue.  My observation is that I've seen no fundamental difference in Christian living on either side.  Verbally, they sound worlds apart at times but behaviorally, I cannot see any real difference.  I've seen both immature and mature Christians on both sides.  I've seen solid mature gray-haired saints on both sides that would swear on a stack of Bibles that believing their side was a key part of their spiritual life.  The only thing the two sides seems to agree on is that the other side is unbiblical and that new believers should immediately join the right side before they can be corrupted.  If this is as critical as it is made out to be, I'd have expected to see a fairly large difference between the two sides after centuries.  I know both sides claim that the other side are deficient Christians in some way, but I've not seen it.  My take on the matter is that OSAS people are hypersensitive to any deficiency in assurance and non-OSAS people are hypersensitive to any deficiency in holiness.

I'm not mad at people on either side.  I was one of those sincere zealots for many years myself.  It's that when I honestly looked at Christians I had known for years on both sides as well as church history, I could not say there was any significant difference in fruit on either side.  In addition, as I looked at scripture, it's fairly plain that it teaches that both assurance and holiness are meant to be part of a believer's life in increasing measure.  As I started reading the NT in Greek, one of the first things that jumped out at me that I had missed in English was the similarities between I John 2:1 and 5:13 in Greek.  Both verses were structured in much the same way regarding both holiness and assurance.   I realized I had to treat John's view toward holiness and assurance at the same level.  I couldn't treat one as absolute and complete and treat the other as a hypothetical impossibility.  As far as I could tell, the best way of understanding 2:1 and 5:13 was that both assurance and holiness were both desirable and possible to some degree in a Christian's life.

Anyway, it took me years to leave this fight behind and view both sides as having an incomplete view of scripture.  Both holiness and assurance are to be part of a believer's life.  As we grow and mature, both do become a greater part of our lives.  Fruit, good works, and holiness expand and grow and push out sin as we are transformed and grow.  Trust, confidence, faith, and assurance increase as we see more and more of God's hand in our lives and others' lives.   We need to recognize that spiritual growth is really the ultimate solution to both doubts and sins.

Sadly, I can look back and see bridges I burned with solid mature Christians because they disagreed with me on this.  I can look back and see times I probably left a bad taste in someone's mouth over this.  I can look back and see much wasted time and effort I cannot retrieve.   I rejected Christians I could have learned much from and ministered with because of a difference over this issue.  That's a loss I can never retrieve for both me and them.   That's what I'm seeing happening on this site right now.  Hopefully, if one person can learn from my mistake and how to correct it, this is worth the time writing this.
 

Gandalf, I am not sure I agree fully with your solution, but you make a lot of sense and have the situation pretty much pegged right.  Thanks for that thoughtful reply.

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3 minutes ago, PromisesPromises! said:

I did.  That's what you said, but if that's not what you meant, I'm glad.  :)  

 

I am sorry for the misunderstanding.  That was a continuation of the accusation, not my opinion.  I see why you took it that way.  

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9 hours ago, ayin jade said:

 

Just kidding on the little jab pat. But you know Im teasing by now. 

Oh i know. I can take a joke. after all the grief ive given you over the years id better be able to take it lol

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11 hours ago, Firm Foundation said:

Nobody likes to feel like their beliefs are being misrepresented, and that is especially true on both sides of the OSAS debate.  Those who don't believe in OSAS are accused of being prideful, legalists, not trusting in Jesus, and preaching another gospel.  Those on the OSAS side are said to be saying they can sin all they want, and be okay.  That is because they love to sin.  

If you are on either side, try to make your arguments without the accusations.  Just stick to the scriptures and the topic, and see what happens.  If one side refuses to stop, the other side will continue as well.  How tired are you really of these tactics?

Just post what the Bible states. Then let it go. 

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9 hours ago, Firm Foundation said:

Gandalf, I am not sure I agree fully with your solution, but you make a lot of sense and have the situation pretty much pegged right.  Thanks for that thoughtful reply.

:)  It took years for my head to start going in this direction that there was a third option other than picking sides.  It was probably just as many years for my heart to follow.  At first I intellectually realized I shouldn't be fighting and that there was a good reason not to, but it took quite awhile for my attitudes and feelings and gut spiritual instinct to fully and truly be comfortable with Christians on the other side.  My gut instincts kept telling me something was wrong with the other side.   It's hard to break decades of habit all at once.  That coupled with a change in my outlook on the balance between our effort and God's empowerment changing our lives brought me to a point where I could comfortably see both assurance and holiness as natural consequences of spiritual growth and doubts and sin as works of the old nature that gradually die out as the new nature grows and thrives.

To be honest, this all came out of the bigger question of calvinism versus wesleyanism  or sovereignty versus free will that Christians have been split on for centuries.  I was reading a theology book where the author laid out this whole debate and summed it up as this.  (I don't have the quote handy so here's my paraphrase.)  The entire question can be framed as does the Bible teach God chooses each individual's eternal destination or does the Bible teach that each individual decides for themselves?  Many doctrinal arguments (including OSAS/non-OSAS and whether humans are totally depraved and evil or just irreparably corrupted but still retain vestiges of the original image of God) are rooted in this theological choice.  Is it God's sovereignty or human free will that determines one's eternal future?   This seemed to me an absolutely critical doctrine with far reaching consequences.  I remember mulling this over for years trying to weigh which side had better biblical evidence and which side produced better fruit in their lives.  After centuries, I would have expected the right side to have markedly better fruit and spiritual development than the wrong side but I couldn't see any difference.  This more than anything else affected my thinking the most.  If this was that important and serious, one side or the other should have started to show some serious negative consequences for being wrong.   I remember at some point just thinking, what if the Bible teaches both sovereignty and free-will equally alongside of each other?  I started to weight three options in my mind, the Bible teaches only sovereignty, the Bible teaches only free-will, or the Bible teaches both.   The third option definitely explained why the fruit on each side was at the same level because each side was accepting part of scripture and rejecting part of scripture. At some point, I just decided to accept this as biblical in the same way as the humanity and deity of Christ and the personhood and unity of God in the Trinity are accepted as biblical.   Church history shows that definite debates occurred where some groups would disagree whether the Bible taught Jesus was human or divine (assuming the Bible could not teach both).  Rather than taking verses that clearly support one side to explain away the verses that clearly support the other side, I decided to take both at their face value and not worry about it.  In a nutshell, this is the process of how I ended up where I am today on this issue.

I recognize that I've taken a position that is outside centuries of the mainstream of most evangelical Christians who pretty much accept either one side or the other.  I also recognize that I usually need to be fairly careful about how I discuss this in real life because it can put me at direct odds with churches and ministries that make being on one side or the other an important point of membership.  Over the years, I've been finding that this position is not that unique and there are others who hold similar views, but like me remain cautious about sharing them because of potentially negative reactions.

 

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Personally, realizing the Truth that "being saved" is only the beginning, not the end, of our journey in the wilderness and discipleship, has helped me tremendously and made the whole of Scripture clearer. 

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