A friend knows of salvation and “believes”, but continues to find & defend verses that support works & conditional salvation. How can I help? Frank
This sort of thing really used to baffle me, too, but somehow it makes perfect sense now. Even though I was always the one taking strong stances and explaining verses of which I had no idea as to their meaning it turns out that I did the very same thing those who do as your friend did. In other words, I had my favorites, and stayed away from those places that seemed to contradict it (except to present a canned objection) mostly for this reason: I wanted to build a sense of validation so that my position was the true one.
You see, there’s something behind what we will defend or contradict … and it’s often, or even mostly, not because of truth itself, but because of our need for validating our real beliefs. I suspect that your friend is still working against many real gut-level fears in his own life, and that he is simply defending that which seems more real to him in view of what those fears demand of him (or her). There is something he or she is finding difficult to swallow in view of what seems right or wrong. Maybe it is a sense of insufficiency or low self-esteem based upon failures, or perhaps it comes from seeing the defects in others … or maybe it’s both. It often is.
The verses that are found and defended most certainly reflect this person’s deep fears that nothing could be offered so freely … and the truth is that the amazing reality of Christ STILL doesn’t make sense to every bit of logic we learned in this world. These verses merely harbor those fears … and seem to validate the fact that God agrees with that natural perspective. Even if a good Biblical perspective was shown so that the verse in question clearly does not validate that conditional view … there are always MORE verses that would have to be dealt with.
How can you help? By being real with your friend. Don’t let those surface objections cloud the true conflicts within. Don’t be afraid to get down to the real stuff behind your friend’s defenses, and by all means, don’t be afraid to realize that your friend’s problem is not found in the Bible itself. That is entirely bogus. If your friend is truly alive then the good news of Christ freedom is the only reality that can break through. By this I’m not referring to more Bible verses, but instead to the very reality that is testified to by it, which is Christ, the one who was crucified and raised to new life. For the truth is that your friend needs to have his eyes opened to the real deliverance in Christ by which we have been delivered from the very stuff of those fears.
Hello again, Frank!
Thanks for being so open with me in this troubling situation. Consider that the best stance against such a defense may be simply to rest in the reality of Christ. We have so long been entrenched in what’s called standing that we assume it must be a desperate struggle, when instead it is a place of rest, a place of finally laying it all down in full confidence that nothing can stand against HIM.
Your friend also understands that struggle called standing firm as she has learned it well from those who in fact HAVE made THEIR grace into nothing more than a license to sin … which is what Paul referred to as perverting grace into a license to sin. After all, the natural mind is always searching for a loophole by which it may justify itself. Religion, ESPECIALLY the one with the best credentials, is the perfect medium one can use to justify oneself.
This is why Biblical authority is so desperately sought after in every religious institution or movement. It’s the same mindset found in the popular Hebrew National slogan: “Because we answer to the highest authority”. It’s one thing to seek the approval of man, and even better if the highest authority seems to have put its stamp of approval upon YOUR authority.
Your friend is obviously at the place where she recognizes the hypocrisy of those who pervert grace to their own means, but I doubt she realizes how deceptive that whole ruse really is. For the same ones who have presented grace in this manner also make the demands on her regarding that bogus form of obedience, through concepts of confession and repentance. The deception is similar to the boy who purposely broke his neighbor’s window and then innocently volunteered to help her clean it up, for he would appear quite noble and would never be suspected of having done the deed. The religious leadership was little more than a gang of such little boys that had been unmasked by Jesus when he visited Israel. Many who appear to stand upon God’s forgiveness and freedom merely huff and puff to create their own little systems of justification … for most don’t really believe what they preach. That much should be obvious by what they’re heaping upon those who have appealed to their freedom.
I imagine that what your friend needs most from you is reality and life in the face of everything thrown against it by the whole world, especially the religious world. When you are communicating don’t get caught up in the war of words, but listen with those ears of the Spirit that have been given to you! Before you try to defend anything ask yourself what it is that you are REALLY hearing … and then address that. Perhaps you will get past the strong woman who is standing firm so that you can really communicate to the little girl who is still so afraid despite the fact that she has recognized another’s hypocrisy.