11 Aug 2001

Believed in Vain ... Worthless Faith?

Submitted by theshovel
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Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

This makes being "saved" sound kind of conditional, wouldn't you say?

Does this teach that one can lose their salvation? If not, why do the arguments to the contrary usually sound so lame? I propose that both sides of the argument suffer from the same basic flaw in logic - which is that they have the exact same focus. But I'll get back to that.

First, these verses suggest nothing about LOSING something, because Paul's argument puts the EXISTENCE of salvation in the balances of the Corinthians' logic, not the DURATION of it. And this leads me to my next point: Paul IS presenting salvation as CONDITIONAL. Do I have your attention? :)

Okay then, the flawed focus: ME. I got thrown off by the "believed in vain" comment because it tapped into MY fear that something was wrong with MY faith. I wondered if I had enough faith to satisfy the technical demands of God. My questions sounded like this:

  • "Did I believe the right things?"
  • "Did I believe enough of the gospel?"
  • "Was I sincere enough?"
  • "Is my faith strong enough?"
  • "Will I be able to hold out long enough?"
  • "Was my faith Biblical?"
  • "Could it be real faith if I still sin?"

MY fear revolves around ME, and it is so strong that even reading the context clouded the obvious STATED reality that "vain faith" had NOTHING to do with ME, but ONLY with JESUS. His grace took the blinders off my eyes to see what had been written so clearly:

IF Christ has NOT been raised, THEN our preaching is vain, YOUR FAITH ALSO IS VAIN. 1 Corinthians 15:14

IF Christ has NOT been raised, YOUR FAITH IS WORTHLESS; you are still in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15:17

There's the condition! Paul never examined the "believing" to suggest IT might be "vain", he laid it ALL on the reality of Christ's being raised from the dead.

So, why did he say, "if you hold fast the word which I preached to you"? For the same reason he said the same basic thing in almost all his letters: HIS message came from God, so to hell with anything that contradicted it! Paul wanted them to consider the contrary message they were hearing so they would see for themselves that it offered a WORTHLESS faith. In other words, if the message of the false teachers was true then Jesus had NOT been raised and faith itself would be absurd since faith is our dependence upon HIS life.

Because deliverance all rests on CHRIST your faith is NOT worthless. Take those "new" teachings that keep popping up to put it back on YOU and shove 'em where the sun don't shine. So, what kind of a worthless faith have you been offered lately?

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In my humble opinion this has got to be one of the biggest splinters in the understanding of our miraculous standing in the Son of God. Reading this phrase laced all throughout the new testament can constantly bring up images of human effort in our minds that serves only to : a] kill us B]stifle any joy in us c]confuse us d]eventually make us crazy[literally] Again from my own experience and from my own perspective, those of us who were brought to Him and are completely dependent on Him, do not know what to do with ourselves when we read things that according to modern language, could only point to a clear cut message of human effort. This forces our minds back into that FORMER existence of death and then begins to offer up the thoughts and impressions of the mind that CAN NOT submit to God! NO WONDER we start to see the doubts of our former existence begin to be stirred up again for no apparent reason. They are connected to the elemental mind. Nothing else. Wow these invaders, these thoughts are running free reign in the sanctified minds turf and it is civil war because the one is opposed to the other! No wonder some turn to drugs and counselors and endless aids to escape the all out battles in ones head. That is so sad. For all those thoughts cause feelings, and all those feelings cause bodily responses and all those bodily responses can cause damage which i turn can cause more thoughts![and the circle just recycles right back to the start again..but gets deeper and more severe] It is the war we are in. It’s the battle ground on which we walk that stimulated Paul to encourage them/us to put on the armor of God.

yes and to add to what I was saying here above..I found a nice quote from another post you had written Jim. Here it is: “Then re-entered the flesh’s viewpoint - and with it, an incredible conflict. It’s one thing to have a perception shift, it’s another to have the dead attempt to re-interpret what can only be understood by the life that emerged on the other side of death. But that sure doesn’t hinder the flesh from trying anyway! And the very best attempt of the fleshly religious mind merely converts Christ into a program based on that same old psycho-babble. Should it come as a surprise when something within us doubts a Christianity that must be created and maintained by trying to believe it? Could it be that faith has absolutely nothing in common with the flesh’s reinterpretation of it? Oh, maybe you’ll disagree with my assessment - and that’s okay by me - but if Christ is in you then the REAL you will still have a problem with such a fleshly excuse for the new miraculous life we have in Christ.”-JM
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Posted: August 11, 2001 by Michael Daniel

Hey Jim,

Well once again God does it through you. Ain't no such thing as worthless faith as long as we realize we don't have any. It's all HIS FAITH! If we had a seperate faith apart from The Father then that would mean WE are apart from The Father. That would nullify our unity in death in Jesus! That would, in turn, mean we were not buried in Christ, and that would mean no resurrection IN MESSIAH JESUS!!! Well praise God we know The Truth! Death, buriel, and resurrection In Christ REALLY HAPPENED!!!!!!! This ain't no fairy tale! JESUS IS OUR LIFE!!!!!!!

We don't have to feebly attempt to manufacture faith. CHRIST IS OUR FAITH!!! Just couldn't be simpler could it! Just Jesus!

In Our Jesus, Michael Daniel


Michael,

Thanks for such an excellent response on the reality of faith!! We have butchered the whole meaning of "faith" for so long by making it something we do or something we think or something we choose or something we decide. But, as you have so wonderfully put it in its proper understanding, faith itself is MIRACULOUS for it defines our union, our connection with the living God through Christ. :)

Jim


Posted: August 11, 2001 by Roger

Brother,
In 1 Cor. 4:14, Paul says that he is writing to them not to shame them but to warn them. If as you say there is no condition other than the one you set forth then why didn't Paul say the reverse? I write to you not as a warning but to shame you. I'm interested on your thoughts on Romans 8:9-15, Colossians 1:22-23, 2 Tim. 2:11-13, Hebrews 3:14, 6:4-6, and 10:26. That little word IF really means what it says.
Roger

«If as you say there is no condition other than the one you set forth then why didn't Paul say the reverse? I write to you not as a warning but to shame you.»


Now, maybe that logic makes sense to you, but it sounds rather bogus to me. :) I say this in all seriousness, for how could I respond to something so ridiculous?

As to the warning. If I read you correctly, you seem to assume that if our salvation is secure in Christ by what HE has done that there would be no possible explanation for Paul to warn them about anything. Or to put it the other way, that since "Paul says that he is writing to them not to shame them but to warn them" that he MUST mean that this could ONLY apply to the possible loss of their salvation? Is this the reasoning here? Please tell me you wouldn't be suggesting NO ALTERNATIVE as what his warning is about. If not, then you are only forcing Paul's words to comply with a doctrine instead of the other way around.

« That little word IF really means what it says.»

What you mean by this seems to be connected to a particular teaching rather than to a true communication by Paul to this specific group of believers. I say this because I presented the "if" as a real "if" and yet it appears that since it didn't fit the "if" of your teaching (based on your grouping of out-of -context verses) that you made your statement as you did. In other words, I believe the little word "if" really means what it says and it has to fit the whole context of the whole letter, not just a forced logic upon a verse here or there.

Now, the passages you have asked my thoughts on are wonderful and filled with the grace of this undeserved, freely given, and secure grace of Christ ... in context, that is. :) I will address them, but not all at the same time, and not tonight, since I go to bed at 8 pm. Actually, there are a couple of them that I've been planning on writing about for a while now so this will be a great opportunity. I'll probably start with the Colossians 1 passage. I don't think you've heard it dealt with the way I view it, and no, I still don't think you will agree with it, but you'll get to see it anyhow.

Jim Minker :)


Posted: August 11, 2001 by the shovel

To consider a sentence or a paragraph of a letter you must consider the whole letter and not just the selected portion. Sure, there are certain statements in a letter that can almost stand by themselves, but even these were not written independently and, therefore, do not find their meaning apart from the rest.

If a line is quoted from one of my favorite stories I do not for a moment view it in isolation from its relation to the whole thing, including many intricate details and related characters. Those who are unfamiliar with the story merely hear a quote, and have no idea what is behind it, and therefore can only speculate its meaning. Unfortunately, the latter is how most read, study and interpret the Bible.

You say you are interested in my thoughts on Colossians 1:22-23, but I cannot tell you my thoughts on those statements as if they sit by themselves, for they do not sit by themselves and cannot be explained by themselves.

I'm including a piece I wrote on Colossians 1:9-10 because it's part of what leads up to the verses you asked about.

"For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects (literal - "unto all pleasing"), bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;" (Colossians 1:9-10)

This is a very much used passage in "Finding the Will of God" teachings. But it's been pulled out of context so many times that no one seems to notice the obvious fact that nothing Paul says fits into the formulas ... NOTHING. Take a look. Nowhere in the whole context does he make any mention of "finding God's specific will for your life". Instead, Paul expressed a greater desire, which was to BE FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL. This is also my desire for all of you.

What is this will? It's not a secret plan that you must discover ... it's much, much better than that! He has "willed" something. "that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom GOD WILLED TO MAKE KNOWN what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY." (Colossians 1:26&27)

From the beginning of Colossians 1 all the way to the end of it Paul wrote about CHRIST ... and he continues the whole letter in the same manner. Christ in YOU is the thing God has willed. Read it again and simply observe the obvious. It is so cool.

But shouldn't it follow that Paul wouldn't tell the Colossian believers anything different than what he told the others?

To the Corinthians he said, "For I determined to know NOTHING among you except CHRIST, AND HIM CRUCIFIED" (1 Cor 2:2).
To the Romans, "For I am not ashamed of the GOSPEL, for IT is the power of God for salvation (deliverance) to every one who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (1:16).
To the Galatians, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me." (2:20)
To the Ephesians, "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe ..." (1:17&18)
To the Philippians, "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord ... that I may know HIM, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;" (3:8,10)
The message is the same. It is the knowledge of Christ Jesus, the One who was crucified and raised again. It is everything involved in the reality of what He accomplished on the cross. Through Him we have been made alive to God! To be filled with this knowledge is what causes us to walk in a worthy manner! Why "worthy"? Knowing this will of CHRIST IN US is the ONLY thing that causes us to walk as those who are raised from the dead ... and THIS what is pleasing in His sight. Otherwise, we spend our days living like everybody else, DESPERATELY TRYING to achieve. This is the very thing He has delivered us from, and it is not worthy of God! Didn't we exist long enough in the dead zone? Aren't you sick of that old life of failure?

Let the truth of this miraculous life of Christ be the only reality that you consider worthy. Live your life in view of His work on your behalf. It is "the word of truth, the gospel, which has come to you, just as in all the world IT IS CONSTANTLY BEARING FRUIT AND INCREASING." (Col 1:6) Yep! It does the work. And you'd better be glad of it.

So, which "will" are you trying to get filled with? Yours or His?

I will continue with more tomorrow. It's 7pm and I'm tired. :)

Jim (the shovel)


Posted: August 11, 2001 by Gregg

Thanks, Jim! All of this affirms what is recently beginning to be revealed to me in Galatians1:15-16, "When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, TO REVEAL HIS SON IN ME, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles."

God calls each of His children for one reason: TO REVEAL THE LIFE OF HIS SON IN THEM! Many talk about the call to ministry (to do something), but God's heart is about THE CALL TO HIS SON (to know Someone)! It is only after THIS CALL is revealed to us by God that our lives minister the life of Christ (preach Him) to others in all that we do!

So, was Paul called to be a preacher? Was Paul called to be that pioneer missionary we have all heard about and seen maps about? Was Paul called to be entrusted with the Holy Scriptures? According to Galatians 1:15-16, Paul was first and foremost called by God to have Christ revealed in him, and then and only then did the preaching, missionaring, writing, etc occur to the glory of Christ!

Blessings,


Posted: August 11, 2001 by Richard

Gregg,
God calls each of His children for one reason: TO REVEAL THE LIFE OF HIS SON IN THEM! Many talk about the call to ministry (to do something), but God's heart is about THE CALL TO HIS SON (to know Someone)! It is only after THIS CALL is revealed to us by God that our lives minister the life of Christ (preach Him) to others in all that we do!

---------------------------------------------------------
I loved what you shared here(see above) as well as your questions!
His weakness is so strong!
His foolishness is so wise!
Richard


Posted: August 11, 2001 by Roger

Jim,
Excuse me, you say that I am trying to force Paul's words to comply with a doctrine instead of the other way around. That my friend is exactly what you have done. That little word IF is the Greek word ei which is a primary particle to a condition that immediately proceeds that word. The passages you sited starting with verse 14 have their own if and are not connected to the if in verse 2. The wonderful thing about the Greek language is that it has specific grammatical rules and no matter how you try to twist them to meet your forced logic or doctrine they will stand the test of time. I think that is why God used the Greek language.
Roger


Posted: August 11, 2001 by the shovel

Roger,

If I expect to find problems when I go home that is what I will find and that is what "home" will be to me. If I expect to find a place of love then that is what I will find ... and that is what "home" is to me, even though problems may exist.

If I read the Bible expecting to find fear and rules and condemnation that is what I will find. If I read the Bible expecting to find Christ then Christ is what I will find. Well, my friend, Christ is what I expect to find ... and I see him on every single page and behind every letter.

I will not play the technical Greek game with you because it is as fruitless as arguing what kind of cheese the moon is made of. Friend, the life of Christ oozes from Paul in his letter to the Colossians, and the whole context of the letter can only give a better understanding to anyone who cares to see it. If you are happy with a determination built upon technicalities that contradicts the whole message Paul wrote to this particular group of believers then I am not the least bit interested in discussing it with you.

Jim Minker


Posted: August 11, 2001 by the shovel

Gregg and Richard,

What an incredible reality this is indeed!!! Thanks for sharing the insights God has given you.

"When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, TO REVEAL HIS SON IN ME, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles."

Love,
Jim


Posted: August 11, 2001 by Roger

How convenient it must be to simply ignore sound logic because it contradicts your doctrine. What in my reponse and questions leads you to believe that I do not see Christ in every letter and word? By examining the Greek in CONTEXT I find the Truth of Christ. To choose to ignore that TRUTH because it challenges my beliefs would make me quilty of denying my Lord. Like the Bereans, I will continue to examine the Scriptures that yes were written in the Greek Language to see what men say is true or not. Since you have already told me that you refuse to observe basic rules of grammer and thought, then like the Bereans I have tested what you have said and found it to be a false teaching.
Roger


Posted: August 11, 2001 by the shovel

Hello Roger,

« What in my reponse and questions leads you to believe that I do not see Christ in every letter and word?»

Simply that you never came close to mentioning Him in any of your posts.

« Since you have already told me that you refuse to observe basic rules of grammer and thought, then like the Bereans I have tested what you have said and found it to be a false teaching.»

This does not surprise me. :)

Jim


Posted: August 11, 2001 by Becki

Jim, this week's shoveletter was so much fun to read. I had to run to my Bible and draw arrows, so I don't forget what you said the next time someone pulls this particular verse out and queries, "conditional...?" what clarity you brought this morning. Thanks. And what a grabber-subject line! Worthless Faith? haha.


Posted: August 11, 2001 by oceanwaves

Hi, great message. It's a painful, boring path trying to "do" or "not do" or "give" or "pray more" or "believe more" or "build your faith". You know it is all so empty. And always leaves you feeling either superior/smug (self righteous) or depressed, defeated and like a failure. What a blessed relief to find out that this stuff is NOT the GOSPEL. The Gospel is His life in me and what He has done. Not, me impressing Him or others responding to it. This explains why I feel closer to God walking in the forest or just walking through the Mall, not doing ANYTHING "spiritual" (big relief) than at church. I got so tired of my spiritual exercies and of church and all the stuff with it. What a relief to find out I hadn't "backslidden" but come to rest in the reality of Him. At least HE isn't religious. Thankfully.

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