Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The meaning of the "elect" in the OT & 1st Clement

Jimmy Akin has a fascinating series on the 'original' meaning of the theological term known as the "elect". Over the centuries since the time of the Apostles, the term has come to mean something along the lines of "those predestined for Heaven," those who cannot lose their salvation, those chosen unconditionally, etc. But since this isn't the 'original' Biblical meaning, I think this is an unfortunate case of misusing key Biblical terminology and thus should be corrected. Catholicism has no problem with theology developing in a manner in which no Dogma or Divine Revelation is undermined, but really we should try to stick with the original understandings of key Biblical terms. I think this is especially crucial when it comes to reading the Bible, so we know what is being said rather than projecting our own assumptions immediately onto the text. And with that, I will dive right into Jimmy's three 11/17 articles (and will update this post when he makes a fourth), summarizing what he said, and I encourage you to read them yourself. 

Jimmy begins with looking into the Epistle of 1 Clement, which is a good place to start, because it shows what the earliest Christians thought about certain key terms. This Epistle is traditionally attributed to St Clement, one of the earliest Popes, and personal friend of Peter and Paul (Philippians 4:3), and there is no good reason to doubt this. The Epistle is staid to have been written around AD96, but Jimmy says it could be even as early as AD70. 

Jimmy points out how Clement consistently uses the term "elect" to refer to the whole body of Christian believers, not specific individuals predestined for heaven. In fact, Clement speaks of members of this this "elect" community as liable to fall away if they turn to sin, which certainly doesn't fit the conventional notion of election. 

Some noteworthy quotes from the article:

Clement writes: Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, for it says, “Woe to that person, it would be better for him if he had not been born than to cause one of my elect to sin. It would have been better for him to be tied to a millstone and to sink into the sea than to turn away one of my elect” (Matt. 26:24 with Luke 17:1-2). Your schism has turned many away . . . ! (46:7-9).
Here Clement envisions it being possible for the elect to sin and to “turn away”—something he says the Corinthian schism has accomplished. Clement also says that the Roman church will make “earnest prayer and supplication, that the number of those who are counted among his elect throughout the whole world, the Creator of everything may guard unharmed through his beloved child Jesus Christ” (59:2). The elect thus need to be guarded from harm.

What, then, can be said about 1 Clement’s understanding of the elect? It appears that 1 Clement’s understanding of “the elect” is based on Old Testament passages (e.g., Deut. 7:6, 14:2, 32:9, 1 Chr. 16:13, Ps. 105:6, Is. 65:9) that conceive of Israel as God’s elect or chosen people.

And onto Jimmy's second article. In this second article, Jimmy notes how in the OT there is often a reason for why something is chosen (meaning election isn't unconditional) and that something can lose its elect status

He first looks into how Jerusalem was 'chosen', and why it was chosen, and that it (temporarily) lost its elect status due to sin (Zech. 1:17, 2:12). Jimmy then looks at how God chose certain individuals, such as Abraham, Aaron, Moses, Saul, David, et al, for certain purposes.

A brief selection of key quotes: 
It is clear that many of these elections are not unconditional, for reasons behind them are stated. Aaron is chosen as priest because he is the head of the tribe of Levi (Num. 17:1-3), as a result of its actions during the golden calf incident (Ex. 32:29). The fact that Saul’s election was not unconditional is indicated in Samuel’s announcement of him as king, when he declared, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people” (1 Sam. 10:24). The statement there is none like him is a reference to Saul’s impressive stature and charismatic qualities (1 Sam. 9:2, 10:23).

David’s election as king also is not unconditional. When Samuel is sent to anoint him as king, he initially thinks that David’s older brother Eliab is the chosen one, but God tells Samuel: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). David’s election is thus based on qualities God sees in his heart—qualities which he did not see in Eliab.

Solomon’s election to build the temple is not unconditional. David was specifically rejected for this role because of a quality he had: he was a “man of blood.” David was told: “You have shed much blood and have waged great wars” (1 Chron. 22:8). Conversely, Solomon was elected to this task because he was a “man of peace.” Thus David was told: “Behold, a son shall be born to you; he shall be a man of peace. He shall build a house for my name” (1 Chron. 22:9-10).
Election to the kingship could be withdrawn due to sin. We see this in the case of Saul (1 Sam. 15:11). Samuel consequently tells Saul: “The Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel” (1 Sam. 15:26). Despite this loss of election, Saul continued to function as king of Israel until his death, and he was regarded by David as still “the Lord’s anointed” (1 Sam. 24:6, 26:9, 11, 16, 23, 2 Sam. 1:14, 16). We will see further examples of loss of kingly election in our next post.

And his third and latest article. This article focuses on how election is seen as "corporate," that is a group is said to be chosen by God, rather than just individuals. The most important of these groups are the Israelites and the kings of Judah. Jimmy shows that these groups were chosen because of certain things about them, so it was not 'unconditional', and that this election could be lost by sin. 

The Levites were chosen because they stood up for God's holiness with the golden calf incident (Ex. 32:29), but we also know certain priests were killed because of their sin (Lev. 10:1-2; 1 Sam. 2:12-17). “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me” (Hos. 4:6). 

Some key quotes:
By far the most common subject of corporate election, however, is Israel itself. Its election is stressed in numerous passages. Israel was chosen “because the Lord loves you, and is keeping the oath which he swore to your fathers” (Deut. 7:8). Here two factors are cited: The Lord’s love and his oath to the patriarchs. Deuteronomy elsewhere links God’s choosing of Israel to his love for the patriarchs (Deut. 4:37, 10:15). In the New Testament, Israel’s election is directly stated to be based on God’s love for the patriarchs (“as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers,” Rom. 11:28).
God makes the initial oath concerning Abraham’s descendants specifically as a reward for what Abraham has done. After rescuing his kinsman Lot, Abraham receives the promise of a reward from God. He is specifically told, “your reward shall be very great” (Gen. 15:1). God makes a covenant with him, promising numerous descendants who will have a glorious destiny (Gen. 15:4-21). It is when he believes the promise regarding his numerous descendants that God “reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6), which the New Testament links to him being called “the friend of God” (Jas. 2:23), a designation elsewhere given him in the Old Testament (2 Chron. 20:7, Isa. 41:8). The patriarchal promise electing Israel thus is not an arbitrary choice but is based on the fact Abraham—God’s friend—pleased the Lord by his actions, as did the other patriarchs.

The choice of Judah to lead the tribes (Gen. 49:8, 10) is based on the fact that Reuben disqualified himself (Gen. 49:3-4; cf. 35:22), while Simeon and Levi disqualified themselves (Gen. 49:5-7; cf. 34:25-31).

Many say that God’s covenant with David was “unconditional,” but this is manifestly not true. It was based on the fact David pleased God (2 Sam. 7:16 cf. 2 Sam. 13:13, 1 Kings 11:38), and his descendants were only guaranteed the kingship on condition they obeyed God (1 Kings 2:4, 8:25, 9:4-5, Ps. 132:12). Otherwise, the Davidic line would fail—as it eventually did (Jer. 36:30).
The same is true of individual Israelites. They also can lose their place in the chosen people. Numerous passages indicate that an offending Israelite is to be “cut off from his people”. Eventually, the sins of the nation grew to such proportions that God would declare, “you are not my people and I am not your God” (Hos. 1:9), though he prophesied that he would take them back (Hos. 1:10, 2:1, 23).
If one thing is sure, the Old Testament does not have a “once righteous, always righteous” viewpoint.

Still awaiting his New Testament article, which I don't see published yet (six month later!). But based upon the above information, as I do a word search for terms like "elect" and "chosen," it seems there is a very similar theme in the New Testament. The language of "chosen" and "elect" and "called" often comes in the introductory verses of an Epistle, typically referring to the whole church body in that city, and thus a corporate election. Of course, with the Epistle full of warnings and such, it thus fits Jimmy's theme above and indicates that "election" doesn't necessarily correspond to making it to Heaven. For example, Galatians 1:6 (Gal 5:7-8) speaks of the congregation deserting God who "called" them and turning instead to another Gospel.

Paul is frequently said to be "chosen" to be an apostle, which not all Christians are, and thus showing God can call but doesn't have to mean to salvation. This is especially true when the Judas passages are chosen, for it says Jesus "chose twelve" (Lk 6:13), yet we know Judas would betray despite being "chosen" (Jn 6:70; 13:18). Judas proves a "chosen" one can be lost (cf Jn 17:12).
That's all I will say for now, but I could compile a better list, unless Jimmy beats me to it.

I think this is a fascinating "discovery," and it should help people greatly improve both their understanding of Scripture and their apologetics - since good Biblical arguments shouldn't be based upon improper use of terms. This series also caught my attention because I recently came to see that 1 Clement uses the Greek word "justify" multiple times, yet not in a manner feasible to the Protestant position, so I hope to finish that up soon as well.


jack mills said...

The word "election" in Scripture only relates to Jews, but it does NOT mean that all Jews are saved. It seems you are under the impression (as so many are, even some evangelicals,) that the Church is an extension of Israel or a replacement due to the nation's failure, which it is not. Israel is God's elect and the promises made concerning them are still valid and will be fulfilled. The church (not Catholic, not protestant, not any one group) is parenthetical in the Bible. It had its beginning on Pentecost and will end at the rapture of the saints. The church is made up of all persons (Jews and gentiles), who have received Christ as Savior and are trusting in Him that he has paid the penalty for their sins. The saints (believers) are not the elect.

It appears that you still have animus towards "protestants" instead of humbly relying on God's word for truth. It may be helpful to know Clement's views on issues, the same as any of the other early Christians, but his writings in no way hold the same force of authority as the Scriptures.

You also seem to confuse "election" with "calling" and assume that all believers in Christ are Calvinists. Catholics are sincere and wonderful people (at least the ones that I have met). However, their allegiance is to the Catholic Church ONLY and not to the Lord Jesus. They believe in Jesus and many of the Biblical doctrines, but refuse to keep Him preeminent. Herein is their great error. Jesus is made to share His Glory with Mary, the angels, the "Saints", the tradition of the church fathers and a long list of things that are foreign to Scripture. I don't blame the Catholic people as this is what they have been taught from youth. As a result they have no assurance of Heaven because of the false teaching of men. They are blind to the reality of Jesus in much the same way as the Jewish leaders and people of His day.

Unless someone (anyone) comes to the understanding that they are a hopeless sinner and cannot be justified before God except by grace, through faith, he or she is doomed to the enslavement of works in order to gain God's favor by self righteousness. This self righteousness is utterly and completely rejected by God.

I don't mean to offend you Nick. It is only out of love and concern for you that I write to you. Your devotion is to the Catholic Church and its teaching - my devotion is to the Lord Jesus Christ. You have a religion, I have a relationship. May the Lord open your eyes to see Him for who He really is and what He has for you personally.

Anonymous said...


your devotion is, rather, to teachings of men concerning scripture.

your Christianity is man made, not of God. case in point, your teachings come from the scriptural interpretations of men, who pick and choose what scriptures to use-ignoring others that give us the correct overall understanding-in order to prove their false doctrines.

and I will say, that the reason you must understand election as individual, and an election to heaven apart from works (unconditional) is because of your presupposition based on a badly interpreted and misapplied understanding of "we are saved by grace through faith apart from works of the Law".

you see these words and ignore what faith is tied to, which is Baptism. you cannot acknowledge the role of Baptism in salvation because that destroys salvation by faith alone. see Titus 3:5-7, John 3:5, and 1 Pet 3:21 as to how we were saved, and how baptism and faith are tied together, Gal 3:26-27. This is initial salvation, justification, and sanctification, which must be followed by keeping the Commandments (see 1 Cor 7:19).

its important to identify the error in interpreting Paul, because it is the error that is the foundation for all the other errors of "faith alone", "unconditional election", "total depravity", and "perseverance of the saints", and to be relative to this discussion, especially "unconditional election"-which is always understood as, "to heaven".

Paul did not mean salvation was by faith alone, or that God grants heaven apart from deeds.

please read Romans 2:4-11, which eliminates the possibility of unconditional election to heaven apart from deeds.

God Bless

Nick said...

Hi Jack,

I think a good question to ask to see which of us is dedicated to Scripture and which of us is following Traditions of Men is the following: Where is the Rapture taught in the Bible?

Please give me your top three Biblical texts that you believe most clearly teach the Rapture as you claim it to be. I know of no such texts, and so I can confidently say I am being faithful to God's Word by not accepting it.

If the Rapture isn't Biblical, then the rest of your position falls apart.

jack mills said...

I will address "Anonymous" first. You mention the misinterpretation of Paul and subsequent errors such as "total depravity", "perseverance of the saints", and "unconditional election". These are 3 of the 5 points of Calvinism, which I reject in the strongest terms. Please let's not confuse my position with those of false teaching. I'm not a Protestant, I'm not an Evangelical, I am not a Pentecostal - I am a simple disciple of Jesus, Who said very clearly that the foundation of the church is built on the teaching of the prophets and the Apostles.

The teaching of these two groups constitute all of Scripture. This includes Paul as he was/is an apostle. No, Paul did not use the term "faith alone" but he did state heaven was granted (salvation) apart from good deeds. "For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8

James teaches, "Show me your works and I'll show you my faith". Catholics usually use this verse as a contradiction to Paul's declaration of salvation by grace. However, a careful reading of James Chapter 2 indicates that he is writing to those who profess to be saved but lack any evidence in their lives. He gives Rehab and Abraham as examples of those saved by faith, who had demonstrable evidence in their lives after salvation.

Paul is explaining to saved people how they were saved and James is explaining to people who claim to be saved what the outcome of salvation by grace should produce. Just because a person says that they are "... saved by grace, through faith..." is of little value unless it is matched by a complete change in his/her view of Christ and their behavior exhibited.

Scripture does not teach that a person has only to make a profession of faith and then they are free to live their life in any manner they wish. Jesus said that His true followers must "... deny themselves and pick up their cross and follow Me." The life of a believer in the Lord Jesus is a very difficult life to live. Are good works of no value? Of course not! But good works to gain God's favor and win salvation are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) because they are based on self-righteousness (a thing God hates).

jack mills said...

With regard to the word "Rapture" the actual word is not found in Scripture. However, the word "Trinity is not mentioned in Scripture either." So, you see the absence of a word in Scripture is not a license to disregard the clear teaching of both the Trinity and the Rapture. There is ample teaching to support both. Abortion is not mentioned in Scripture either, but I am fairly certain that you and "Anonymous" would not reject its abhorrence to God.

Regarding Romans 2:4-11, it could be interpreted that salvation is based on good deeds. However, in order to have this interpretation is to reject the 150 or so other passages deny such a reading. The loudest proponents against the authenticity of the Bible quote isolated verses to support a false claim. I am not saying Anonymous is doing this, but such a practice by even well-meaning people can lead to erroneous and very damaging doctrines. For instance, there is a sect of Christianity that handle poisonous snakes as ritual simply because Paul was bitten by a snake in Acts and did not die. When Jesus was asked in John Chapter 6, "What shall we do that we may work the works of God", He replied: "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

Anonymous charged me with picking and choosing Scripture to suit my beliefs. This assertion is false. I do not look for Scripture to support my beliefs. I allow Scripture (all of it) to define my beliefs and give me direction for how I am to live my life. You don't know me, so please do not make such charges against me without evidence.

I pray God's richest blessings on both you and Anonymous and your families as I perceive that neither of you are insincere in your beliefs.

Nick said...


I asked for your top 3 passages for proving the Rapture, and you gave ZERO. I consider this the most effective question to ask Protestants, as it always seems to result in the same kind of dodgy response. I rest even more sure upon my assertion that you are the one blatantly following Traditions of Men and not the Bible.

If you want to discuss Faith Alone, I have discussed it MANY times, and I've only posted about James 2:24 ONCE. The rest of my posts are using PAUL to refute Sola Fide.

jack mills said...

I'm sorry Nick, I thought you would have grasped my quick reference to the Trinity and the Rapture as two doctrines that appear vague in a cursory reading of the Scriptures, but, nonetheless, are sound teachings in Scripture.

There is quite a bit of debate about the rapture among true born-again believers and there are some who dismiss the doctrine completely. Having said this, belief in the rapture is not vital for salvation. However, salvation by grace alone is very much central to salvation.

So that you do not think I am evading your question, here are my 3 references substantiating the rapture: 1Cor 15:51-53, 1Thess 4:13-18, Rev 3:10. There are more but you only asked for three. The problem of the rapture arises from a misunderstanding of Scripture regarding the 2nd Coming of Christ, the resurrection, and a true understanding of the Bride of Christ (the church). I'm sure you already have counter arguments for my references.

As I said, one's belief about the Rapture is not a doctrine that will keep anyone from Heaven. I only mentioned the term as reference. The greater question is, How do I gain entrance to Heaven? The Lord Jesus laid this out for Nicodemus in very clear terms without any mention of good works. The thief on the cross also was assured of Heaven without any good works or even being baptized. It is based on "belief" (pistueo in Greek), which means an unfailing belief that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on the cross. Read Genesis 15 and see how Abraham's belief was imputed to him as righteousness. The same is said of Noah. Paul too was saved before he did any works.

Nick, I have studied the Bible for 36 years. I have seen the transformation in my own life to one of loving God esteeming the Son as the Lamb of God who took my place and bore the judgement of God for my sins. You can argue about Catholicism and Protestantism all you want, but it will never give you the assurance that you are reconciled before a Holy God on the merits of His Son and not on the merits of our feeble attempts to please Him with our works.

Paul had the same transformation, albeit more dramatic than mine, when meeting the Lord Jesus he turned his back on the religion that was central to his very existence. Do you have the eyes to see and the ears to hear?

Nick said...


The proof texts that you gave fall woefully short of proving the Rapture. The 1 Cor 15 and 1 Thess 4 texts are both speaking of the Second/Final Coming, wherein both texts make it clear the dead will also be raised at this point. There is no Third Coming, there is no snatching away *living* believers up to heaven to avoid a Tribulation. As for the Rev 3:10 quote, it is speaking to a congregation living at that time (and now long gone), so it's ironic that Jesus would promise to Rapture them when the Rapture is something at the end of the world. I have written before how Revelation was written prior to AD70 and is foreseeing the destruction of Jerusalem/Temple. It is also ironic that the text is saying that Christians are the new/true Jews, while Dispy's generally advocate a break between Jew and Church.

That these are your strongest texts shows me and others that you've committed yourself to a doctrine upfront before actually finding it in Scripture, which makes it a textbook case of Traditions of Men. Comparing the Rapture to the Trinity is misleading for many reasons, including that the Early Church was very much concerned with proving/defending the Trinity and yet they did not see in Scripture the Rapture or its companion doctrines.

My main emphasis on this blog is disproving Faith Alone using Paul's writings. Given this, I suggest you read some of my posts. The things you are saying here are pretty easily debunked when you know the Catholic perspective on these things. For example, you bring up Nicodeums, saying there is no mention of any works. Well, that wasn't really the point of their dialog in John 3:1ff, but it is worth noting that Jesus said you must "be born of water and Spirit," which is a reference to Baptism, though Protestants have to twist those words into something metaphorical for faith alone. In reality, there is no faith/works dichotomy there.

The thief on the Cross is not some magic bullet proof text to all the New Testament teaching. The thief is the only example in the Bible that I'm aware of where there was a deathbed conversion. Everyone else was basically Judged according to how they lived their life. The thief merely shows us that God can save those who don't have the full picture of the Gospel, but he is not a model of the Gospel being preached and embraced. The thief did not know about the Resurrection, nor the Holy Spirit, nor many other things. There is no mention of forgiveness of sins, faith, etc. The thief also had to suffer for his sins, as Jesus did not take him off the cross, showing that the Rapture is highly unlikely since the thief was not spared suffering, nor does this suggest faith alone. As for Genesis 15:6, I have discussed this many times on my blog. It in no way suggests faith alone, for various reasons. Abraham believed in God long before Gn15, and the language the Bible uses does not at all suggest faith alone (e.g. Gen 26:4-5). Hebrews 11:7-8 does not describe Noah or Abraham as saved by faith alone, but rather "faithfulness" (Gal 3:9 KJV).

You might have studied the Bible for 36 years, but in my dedicated Bible study of around 12 years I have been honest enough with God's Word that I refuse to accept things which aren't actually in the text. The Lamb of God did not "take your place and bore your judgement of God" nor "pay the penalty". That's one theme I've blogged a lot about (Penal Substitution). It's an unbiblical myth, and doesn't speak well for your 36 years of study when you say this and the other things you've already advocated.

Anonymous said...


Paul speaks about initial salvation, when he talks about being justified by faith and not of works. Countless times he puts conditions on reaching heaven, you must persevere in the faith, and NOT draw back from it, lest you perish. Col 1:23, Heb 10:39. Countless times he warns believers not to commit deadly sins, lest they disinherit the Kingdom of God.

Since there is an initial salvation through sanctification, 2 Thess 2:13, we can understand how Romans 2:4-11 is not contradicting the others things Paul said. The Christian is put in an much better position that other people to reach heaven, because of the grace merited by Christ for the baptized believer. But because he still has free will, this cannot prevent him from committing grave sins that will disqualify him. Gal 5:19. There is no assurance of entering heaven unless you end your walk in a state of grace.

God Bless,


jack mills said...

Hello Nick,

Thank you for your response. I disagree that my references "fall woefully short" of proving the Rapture. They do not represent the 2nd coming of Christ as the Lord does not come to the earth, specifically the Mount of Olives. He comes to the clouds only. In the 2nd advent, he comes in the clouds to the earth. In Matthew Chap. 24, the Lord Jesus gives great detail about the 2nd advent and the events leading to its fulfillment. The church is not even mentioned because at this time the church has been removed from the earth prior to the Tribulation. I already stated that this doctrine is debatable by very sincere believers and that it does not affect one's salvation. I could discuss this in detail, but it is not germane to the more critical subject of salvation.

You and Anonymous like to charge me with following the traditions of men. I have mentioned no man in support of my understanding other than the Lord Himself and the writers of the NT. Why is it that you cannot have a discussion without unfounded charges? Your tone is always hostile as if you cannot bear any challenge to your beliefs, most of which are borne from the traditions of men. As you can see, I have not brought up any of the many non-biblical dogmas of Catholicism and neither do I intend to do so.

I am happy that you have been studying God's word for 12 years. However, I must ask; are you studying to learn God's truth or are you only studying to be able to refute "Protestants"? Your very short assumptions based on mostly singular verses indicates the latter. I hope for your sake I am wrong.

You cite Gal 3:9 in the KJV in your dispute against Abraham and Rehab's salvation by grace through faith. This is a misuse of Scripture. If you had read verse 6 of this same chapter you would see clearly that the author is not speaking of faithfulness but simply "believing God." If this is not enough, you have this same theme repeated over and over in Hebrews 11. And, of course, you have Genesis 15, which gives indisputable proof of Abraham being declared righteous based on faith.

I have read your blogs Nick, particularly those refuting "penal substitution". The more correct term is the Doctrine of Imputation, which begins in Genesis 3:21. An animal or animals had to be sacrificed in order to provide “proper covering” for our parents’ sin. They attempted to use fig leaves, but God rejected their attempt for sin covering and provided the shed blood of an innocent substitute. This same doctrine was reinforced in the account of Cain and Able. Abel’s sacrifice was accepted (shed blood of an innocent substitute) while Cain’s offering of works without the required blood of the innocent substitute was rejected (Hebrews 9:22).

Throughout the entire history of the ancient Israelites this theme of blood atonement by an innocent substitute was central to their relationship with God. It is no accident that John the Baptist, at the Jordan, proclaimed Jesus as: “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

In the case of the pagan prostitute Rehab, she actually committed treason because she so believed in the God of the Israelites as the one true God. She was hardly a faithful person before God, but she believed the word of God as told her regarding the incredible exodus out of Egypt.

Anonymous said...


Its always, believe and act. or hear and act. never believe and nothing else.

the man who built his house on the rock is like the one who hears and acts (obeys). His house stands strong against the storms. the man who hears and doesn't obey, building his house on the sand, will perish in the storm, as his house collapses and is destroyed. the doer will be justified, not the hearer.

and previously, in Mat 7:21-23 it is the lawlessness that disqualifies a believer (the one who says, Lord, Lord) from the Kingdom of God. often people cite "I never knew you" instead of lawlessness. but remember what Ez 18 says? the Righteous man who turns to wickedness will die because of his sins, and his previous righteous works will not be considered. "Didn't we do great works in your name? I never knew you. Depart from me you evildoers."

jack mills said...

Hello Duane,

I'm glad you gave me your name. It is much easier than spelling Anonymous every time I refer to you.

No one can experience "initial salvation". That is like being almost pregnant. Either a person is saved or they are not. The doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is throughout the entirety of Scripture. You're correct, the opportunity to sin is always with the believer after salvation. This was the thesis of Paul when he exclaimed in Romans 8 that, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus." Your very reference of Galatians 5 supports the two natures.

In order to fully understand Chapter 8 one has to experience the dilemma of chapter 7 that Paul describes about himself and the two natures. I may be mistaken, but I don't think Catholics believe or understand the doctrine of the two natures. This is the whole point Jesus was making to Nicodemus when He told him he must be born again. We are all born of Adam (the Adamic nature) but we must be born with a new nature by the Spirit in order to be saved. The old nature cannot be improved or redeemed. God creates us anew when we receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior (John 3:16).

There is no such thing as the "state of grace" in the Bible. Grace (charis in the Greek) is unmerited favor. You can't buy it or earn it. Otherwise you defy the definition. The only way to experience this grace in one's life is to receive the Lord Jesus as Savior by believing what the Father declares about His Son: That He came to earth to be the sacrificial Lamb (propitiation) for God's wrath against sin. The Jews could not accept this as they were awaiting a different kind of messiah (which will be fulfilled at the 2nd advent of the Lord.) They thought they were saved by obeying the Law, but they failed miserably at this as does everyone else who attempts the same path to salvation.

Now to your point about sin after salvation. Jesus addressed this when Peter objected strongly to Him washing his feet. If you remember after Jesus corrected him, Peter wanted a whole bath. Jesus told him you do not need this, just your feet. The message here was this. In those days when people bathed in a public bath, they would walk back to their home and then have dirty feet only. Jesus was giving Peter the picture of a person being saved (completely washed clean) but still walking through this world. At times, the believer would be dirtied by sin (Romans 7). The remedy was only to confess the sin to God (1 John 1:9). "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

jack mills said...

The 1st epistle of John is written to those who are already saved. A true believer in Jesus can never lose his/her salvation. Jesus taught this clearly in the parable of the prodigal son. Though the son sinned greatly he never lost the position as a child of his father. I should point out that someone who is truly saved does not want to sin because it vexes their new nature and offends the Beloved Savior who paid for his/her liberty.

Romans 2:4-11 is not a book written to believers, but to the whole world. The import of the book, especially in the earliest chapters, is a warning to the world that willingly denies the reality of God despite the immense evidence in nature alone. Our current era certainly needs to hear this. These verses are not speaking about salvation. "To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life." does not mean salvation by works. No human being can attain to honor, immortality, or eternal life by works. Only someone who is already saved by grace, through faith, can look forward to these blessings. These things are the very hope for which I live, but it is an assured hope not a hope that I may or may not attain to.

Prior to my salvation, I sought to live a "good life" because I feared the consequences of not doing so. Now I seek to live as Christ's wants me to not because of fear, but because of my love for Him. To sin now grieves me. To sin before just made me guilty and fearful. It is like when we were children, we hated to disappoint our loving parents by disobedience. Yes, we may have been disciplined but we were not condemned or abandoned. It's the same with our Father in Heaven when we sin. He may discipline us, but He will not condemn us (John 3:18). However, we must first become His children. This is not automatic by the first birth, but only by the second birth.

Have a great day.


jack mills said...

Yes Duane, it is always believe and act. That is the very point of James Chapter 2, but acting cannot precede belief and it is belief that saves, not action. True salvation produces action of a sort that please God (good works.) However, this does not mean that we can be saved by our actions. This is not found in Scripture. I gave the example of the thief on the cross. He was incapable of action. He only relied completely on the mercy of Christ. He received this mercy (grace) because he believed. If you remember, he earlier was mocking Christ the same as all the other people at the foot of the cross. But somewhere in the course of his time on the cross he came to believe that Jesus was the messiah and had the power to save.

jack mills said...

To me, there is no passage more sad in Scripture than Matthew 7:21-23. There are many in this world who believe in Jesus, but do not receive Him as their Savior. They know His history, His miracles, even some of His teaching. They even believe He is God and that He rose from the dead. They about Him, but they don't know Him. I was like that for 30 years and then began to study the Bible to find out to my horror that I never knew Him.

I too believed as you do that I could live my life to the best I can and by God's love He will accept me because I was sincere and trying. I never even knew that Jesus paid the penalty for my sins. I thought I had to pay the penalty, which could be mitigated somewhat by my good deeds.

I never understood that God's perfection and righteousness could never tolerate sin in His presence. As a sinner, I, therefore, was disqualified no matter how good I tried to be. My effort to be good had a certain arrogance about it. In other words there was some way that I could please God. After all, I was not like the unbelievers who dismissed God outright or those who only lived a nominal life of faith. Of course I didn't have this understanding until after I was saved and studied what God really demanded of man: Perfect Righteousness. Well, that disqualified me as good as I thought I was.

But then I learned that I could have this perfect righteousness, but it would not be something I produced. It would be the perfect righteousness of Christ. When my sins were imputed to Christ and I believed, His righteousness was imputed (accounted) to me. Please read 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24, Isaiah 53.

Duane, this is what is at stake here. You believe that you can attain your salvation by good actions or works. Yes, you believe in Jesus too. However, you reject the notion that you cannot please God and, therefore, reject the very remedy for salvation. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him." Chapter 2:3

By those who heard Him refers to the teaching of the Apostles. Peter says, we did not follow cunningly devised fables (2 Peter 1:16).

No Duane, I do not blatantly follow the traditions of men. I did that for 32 years of my life and never had the peace that passes understanding, but I have it now because my life is secure in Christ. Paul and Silas had this same peace when they were heard singing hymns in a Philippian jail after being flogged for preaching Christ.

Anonymous said...


we read that "therefore there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but after the spirit." Rom 8:1 "...those who are in the flesh cannot please God." To be in the flesh is to be sinning with the body (and mind)and offending God. Those not "in Christ" anymore, who have drawn back (Heb 10:39) are again under condemnation and are dead in their sins.

We also read "whoever does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into the fire and they will be burned."

this means they were "in Him" for a time, doesn't it?

Romans 2:4-11 is not for Christians? It says everyone, Jack.

God Bless,


Anonymous said...


the faithful Catholic has peace. He believes the priest can absolve sins because Jesus said so. John 20:23. also, that the Eucharist is truly His body and blood, and that our souls are nourished and strengthened by it.

the fallen away Catholic has always lacked faith in the promises of Christ in His Church, and look for another path to heaven, where deeds don't matter. Or, they just quit believing in God altogether.
perhaps they worry that they are never good enough, because of their lack of faith in the sacraments. or, they cannot agree with the teachings of the Church because of liberalism. there are many reasons a person might leave the Church.

but you don't see a protestant leaving their assembly as often. why? because they are not taught that their works will condemn them. they are blissfully unaware of the state of their soul, until the Holy Spirit comes upon them with conviction.

the fallen away Catholic, if he comes back, will go straight to confession, and afterwards will feel like he is on cloud-nine.

Every day I pray for a happiness like that for them.

God Bless,


jack mills said...

Hello Duane,

Yes, the book of Romans was written to the believers, who are called saints, in Rome (1:7). However, the book is a treatise (at least the first four chapters) on man’s responsibility to acknowledge the existence of God and things He has done to prove His existence to the unbeliever. It has some dire warnings for humans in terms of rejecting or being indifferent to the God of the Bible. Believers have nothing to fear in reading this book, but Paul does lay out the some of the most theological principles of Scripture. I apologize for not being clearer on this point.

I have already addressed Romans 8:1 regarding no condemnation for those ‘in Christ’, which cannot be understood correctly without the context of Chapter 7. “In Christ” is synonymous with “born-again”, believer, child of God, saint, etc.

I understand your confusion because you have a misunderstanding of being “saved by grace” or you outright reject it (Ephesians 2:8). You think that a believer’s life on this earth is a continual falling in and out of Christ or as some have put it falling from grace. I already addressed this in my response to Nick.

When Jesus said to those at the Judgement, who will assert that they were saved, “Depart from me I never knew you”, He was referring to those who were never “in Him.” This is unrelated to those who are saved and then fall into sin. I already explained this above in detail. See my comments regarding the washing of the disciples’ feet and the Lord’s words to Peter, together with 1John 1:9.

This verse has to do with those people who profess to be Jesus’ disciples, but who have never received Him as their personal Savior. They are religious people who pursue a life of holiness based on their own merit and reject the grace (gift of unmerited favor) that the Father offers them in His Son. I am concerned that you may fall into this category, which is why I am appealing to you to consider the truth of the Bible. Again, I beg of you to consider the words in Hebrews 2:

For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

It would also be helpful if you read the passages in Luke 8 where Jesus gives the parable (and the full explanation) of the sower and the seed.

jack mills said...

You mentioned Hebrews 10:39 and John 15:2 as examples of those “in Christ”. Who have lost their salvation. In Hebrews 10:39 the term “shrink back” is related to an apostate. An apostate is someone who has never been saved. You need to read the context starting in verse 26. Someone who professes to be saved and continues in sin is not truly saved. There is the committing of a sin and then there is continuing in sin.

Everyone who is born-again will sin because they still have the old nature (see Paul’s dilemma in Roman’s 7). But, to continue in a sin is evidence to one’s self that he or she may have never made a true profession of faith in Christ. It may also be that that person is saved but has allowed himself/herself to be in bondage to a particular sin. This is a serious matter for the local church which must be dealt with in the prescribed Scriptural manner (1Cor 5).

Regarding John 15:2-10 and particularly the words “He takes away” are really interpreted as “He raises up” or “He lifts up”. The picture is one of a branch which is bent down with the weight of dirt (sin) and which the Lord cleans and raises up to the sunlight where it can bear fruit. Again I refer you to 1John 1:9.

In case you were referring to John 15:6, as an example of losing salvation, the key words are If anyone does not abide in me…”, which again refers to someone who makes a false profession of faith and produces no fruit. Such a person cannot be saved because they do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the One who produces fruit in the life of a believer (Galatians 5:22).

Lastly you mention John: 20:23 regarding the forgiving or retaining of sins in reference to my statement about the peace of Christ which passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Let me first point out that your understanding of this verse cannot be correct because it is a direct contradiction to Luke 5:21 whereby Jesus is about to forgive the sins of the paraclete and the Pharisees object because they know that no one can forgive sins but God. They were absolutely correct in this assertion but they were wrong for claiming that Jesus was blaspheming because Jesus is God.

Jesus never corrected the Pharisees in their assertion. Instead He confirmed this truth. My second point is concerning your claim that, “The priest can absolve sins because Jesus said so in John 20:23.” This verse does not say anything about priests. In fact, priests are not even mentioned in the new testament with exception of peter’s announcement that believers in Christ are a “…priesthood of believers.”

jack mills said...

There are many things that Catholics believe, which have no basis in Scripture. The division into clergy and laity is but one. Both you and Nick falsely accused me of following the traditions and/or teachings of men. You can search my comments above and you will not find one reference to tradition and teaching of men apart from the Bible. It is surprising that you are now going to introduce teaching which is outside of Scripture. Again, you as well as Nick take one isolated verse in the Bible and create a whole dogma around it.

Now I ask you, where exactly in Scripture does God ordain men to be priests, apart from the tribe of Levi and the few references about chief priest(s)? You are equally guilty of misinterpreting Christ’s words about His body and blood. I won’t say any more about these things as I have deliberately stayed away from mentioning the religious beliefs in Catholicism, which have no basis in Scripture or are a interpretation of Scripture. Our dialogue, so far, has centered on the Word of God only and I would like it to stay there so as not to offend anyone for their personal religious beliefs. While I reject Catholic teaching that strays from God’s revealed Word, I fully respect your right to believe such things. And, please don’t tell me that Jesus gave His disciples authority to forgive sins and through apostolic succession it found its way to a body of priests which have no mention in Scripture.

The disciples were not priests, and neither were the Apostles. There is no instance in Scripture where we find Peter, John, James, Paul or any other follower of Jesus forgiving someone’s sins. The verse in question finds itself in the context of Jesus initiating the Great Commission of the Gospel. He is proclaiming to all believers that they are to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

The verse simply means when I share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone, who receives Him as Savior, I have the right to declare to the person that his/her sins are forgiven. If the person rejects the Gospel of Jesus Christ I have the right to declare to the person that his/her sins are not forgiven. It is no more complicated than that. But, in no way, do I have the authority to forgive the sins of any person.

Anonymous said...


God Bless you. but everything you said is a desperate attempt to salvage a heretical and false doctrine of salvation by faith alone.

again. to be saved by grace through faith, or the faith, or the faith of Jesus Christ is synonymous with being saved through the washing of regeneration. Gal 3:26-27 shows us how faith and baptism are connected. but this is initial salvation. this is not some one-moment, end and be all, apart from any future deeds salvation. this is the beginning of a Christians walk with Jesus. This doesn't deny grace at all. It confirms it. But it doesn't allow grace to become some cheap thing that continues to justify a person who falls into grave sins. This is a repudiation of Gods justice. Christ did not suffer and die so that any baptized individual could trample on the blood that sanctified him and enter heaven. Do not abuse the work of Christ and add to it what is not attributed to it.

further, you keep saying such a person was never saved to start with. this is error.

Baptism gives us an assurance that we were in fact born again, John 3:5, regenerated, Titus 3:5-7. If such a person falls into grave sin, he is no longer justified and must repent. I am sorry you don't like this, but any other way is an abuse of Christs work and a repudiation of God's justice.

Anonymous said...


Titus 1:5

"For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee:..."

the apostles were the first priests of the New Covenant. "do this (sacrifice/offering) in remembrance of Me." "whose sins you forgive are forgiven".

Judaism had priests, and Jesus didn't repudiate their priesthood. One cured of leprosy went to the priest to be purified.

"When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "LORD, if you are willing, you can make me clean." 3Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

your statement, "when I share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with someone, who receives Him as Savior, I have the right to declare to the person that his/her sins are forgiven."

no. you do not. priests have been doing this since the beginning.


"In addition to these [kinds of forgiveness of sins], albeit hard and laborious: the remission of sins through penance…when he [the sinner] does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine….In this way there is fulfilled that too, which the Apostle James says: “If, then, there is anyone sick, let him call the presbyters [where we get priests] of the Church, and let them impose hands upon him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him [James 5:14-15].”

God Bless,

jack mills said...

I already acknowledged the Levitical priesthood, so why do you say that Jesus did not repudiate priesthood? Of course He did not repudiate priesthood, I never said He did. All references to priests in the NT are Jewish priests, including the one you refer to in the account of the cleansed leper. How is that an argument against my claim that there are no priests in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ?

The Greek word for priest is “hiereus”. Nowhere in the NT is it used in relation to a Christian. Your reference in Titus does not state “priests”, it uses the word “elders”, which comes from the Greek word “presbuteros”. Even my Catholic Bible uses the word “elders”.

I am trying to be fair and honest in our discussion, but you continue to make statements without any support. You said the Apostles were the first priests of the New Covenant. The Bible does not say this, anywhere.

You also reference Galatians and the mention of baptism. Again, you talk about initial salvation as if it is doctrine, but nowhere in the Bible do you find such a term. Baptism is just a public symbolic act (for believers) of our identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Paul refers to the Israelites being baptized into Moses (1Cor 10:2) signifying that they were obliged to receive Moses as their authority and his teaching as their walk. So too, is the believer to acknowledge Jesus as his head and walk in the fulness of His teaching. Nothing magical happens when one is baptized, as you can see in the case of the Philippian jailer, the Ethiopian eunuch, and Lydia.

No Duane, I am not desperate to salvage the doctrine of salvation by grace, through faith. I rejoice that my Father in Heaven made such provision for me by the sacrifice of His Son. As a hopeless sinner, I am filled with gratitude towards my Heavenly Father and embrace My Savior who has achieved reconciliation with the Father for me – something I was incapable of doing through my own efforts. I don’t make the grace of God to be cheap. I received and continue to receive it with open arms ever mindful of the enormous price paid on my behalf.

My motives are pure. I seek only for you and Nick to partake of Christ and bask in the rays of His light. I mean you no harm, but only have the best of intentions towards you. For I gain nothing if you two come to Christ, but I would be remiss if I held back from you the Pearl of great price. God wants you to know the message of salvation so that you can live for Him now and come into His eternal rest when this life passes.

God gave us free will with the hope that we will receive the gift of His benevolence. If the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary is not sufficient for you to humble yourself and gladly receive His unconditional love and kindness, then you will stand before Him in judgement someday. Then, it will be too late.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

How does the simplicity of the Savior’s words become so objectionable to you that you would exchange them for cold religion that only offers the possibility of Heaven, provided you measure up to the unattainable standard of God? Truly, there are none so blind as those that cannot see.

Anonymous said...


you did not refute my statement about the connection of faith and baptism in Gal 3:26-27

you say that water baptism doesn't really do anything. the patristic evidence is that the "washing of regeneration" refers to water baptism (see Justin Martyr on regeneration/baptism), and this renews us by the work of the Holy Spirit, who God poured into us for our justification.

"unless a man be born again (regenerated), he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
"no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the spirit".

furthermore, protestants are in error because they have misunderstood how we are justified, which is through the infusing (pouring-in) of the righteousness of God. Water baptism is the instrument to apply Christs merits and therefore the formal cause which is righteousness of God. Our soul is sanctified and justified in the washing of regeneration (water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ). Protestantism would not have this as justification because it means one has to live ones life to remain justified, since the inner man was changed and can be defiled once again through sin. Luther had to reject that.

"we ought to give thanks to God...because God chose you as first-fruits for salvation through sanctification" 2 Thes 2:13

"but now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life."

initial salvation:
"In him also, who have heard the word of truth...were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment (arrabon) or "earnest" of our inheritance toward redemption..." Eph 1:13-14

God Bless

Anonymous said...


the greek word used in Titus 1:5 is "presbuteros". these men were ordained by the "laying on of hands", they preached and taught the flock, and they administered sacraments (James 5:13-15). sounds like a continuation of the Jewish priesthood to me. I acknowledge your support for the Jewish priesthood. However, we never hear Jesus say there will be no New Covenant priesthood. He had the opportunity, but never did.

"do this in memory of Me". protestants don't understand what this command means. Christ was offering up his body and blood in the appearance of bread and wine to the Father. This would be the perpetual sacrifice that fulfilled all the Jewish sacrifices, and fulfilled the prophecy of Mal 1:11. "from the rising of the sun to its setting, incense and a pure offering in my name...". You cannot point back to calvary and say that this fulfills Mal 1:11 which is a perpetual sacrifice/offering.

therefore, to make a sacrifice or offering, a priest is needed. its as simple as that.

I realize you mean well, but you are in great error, sir. You know your scriptures, but do not apply them or interpret them correctly.

the teaching Church is here for a reason. "teach them all that I have commanded you".

I am sure you want to be following what the apostles taught.

They then are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. . . . The reason for this we have received from the Apostles.” (Chapter 61)

therefore, of this laver of repentance and knowledge of God, which has been ordained on account of the transgression of God’s people, as Isaiah cries, we have believed, and testify that that very baptism which he announced is alone able to purify those who have repented; and this is the water of life.

Justin Martyr

jack mills said...

Hello Duane,

I thought I had addressed your comments about Galatians 3:26-27. Let me expand what I said. You brought up, again, the statement about “initial salvation” and added that “…this is not some one-moment, end and be all, apart from any future deeds salvation.” You need to read Ephesians 1:13, which makes it very clear that salvation is a one-time occurrence. It would be helpful if you gave a reference about “future deeds of salvation”. There is no doubt about the reality of works after salvation (Ephesians 2:10). I already addressed this when I spoke about James 2 and the “evidence” of salvation. You can read my comments above in an earlier post to you or Nick.

If you read about the Philippian jailer (Acts 16), you will see that before his salvation he didn’t give a hoot about Paul and Silas’ wounds. But, after salvation he immediately attended to their needs. There is a stark contrast in the jailer’s view of things before and after salvation. And, it was immediate. You should also note that he was baptized after the cleansing of the wounds. In answering the jailer’s question about being saved, there is no mention of baptism. He was told that he must believe (pisteuo) in the Lord Jesus, then they went to the Scriptures.

When someone is truly saved and has received the Holy Spirit (at the same moment), the new nature begins to appear. In the jailer’s case it was the cleansing of the wounds. It was small evidence, but evidence nonetheless. You may think that I do not value baptism. If so, you are wrong. It is a clear command from the Savior that a new believer is to be baptized. I in no way minimize its importance. I am just saying that it is not a requirement for salvation.

It was no coincidence that the Lord Jesus used born again as a metaphor for salvation. Our first birth is not a continuing event, and neither is it when we are born again. Both are singular events. But like when we were first born, we must grow and mature physically. We must also grow and mature spiritually in Christ when we are born again. The growing and maturing is the sanctifying process performed by Holy Spirit, with our cooperation, throughout this life.

jack mills said...

You also stated, “Christ did not suffer and die so that any baptized individual could trample on the blood that sanctified him and enter heaven.” Your statement refers to a portion of Hebrews 10:29. As usual you give your conclusion without consideration for the context and as a result, you draw the wrong conclusion.

The pivotal verse to 29 is verse 26: “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, …” The significance of this verse is in the words, “… go on sinning willfully.” So, if I profess Christ as my Savior and I willfully continue in sin I am indeed trampling on the precious blood of Christ. Either one of two things are happening. I am truly saved but am living a carnal life in which case I will be disciplined by God - even to extent of death (1 Cor 11:30). The other possibility is that I am not truly saved.

The true born-again individual will not trample on the blood of Christ but will submit to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and live a life worthy of his/her calling.

The unsaved person sins because it is his nature to sin. He is in bondage to sin. But, the born-again believer is not in bondage to sin and can only sin by a conscious act of the will. Here is the proof of this: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Cor 10:13)

The born-again believer is always provided a way out from falling to the temptation. In order to submit to the temptation, the believer must willfully do it. Saved or unsaved God never supersedes our free will.

Paul identifies three kinds of persons in 1 Cor 2&3: The natural man (unsaved), the spiritual man, and the carnal man. It is sad to say that many true believers live carnal lives. Oftentimes, they are indistinguishable from the natural man. Nevertheless, they are saved and will go to heaven. They all but destroy any hope of heavenly reward.

I think this is where you may go off track in your theology about salvation. You believe salvation is the result of Christ’s sacrifice and good deeds. In reality, salvation is only by Christ’s sacrifice. The good deeds have to do with heavenly rewards (Rev 22:12, 2Cor 5:9-10).

jack mills said...

I am not sure you are reading my posts as you start off your reply today telling me that the Greek word used in Titus 1:5 is “presbuteros”, which I already stated to you in yesterday’s post. Nevertheless, this still does not substantiate your claim that it means “priest”.

Further, you continue to reference non-canonical authors such as Justin Martyr, Origen, and others. I acknowledge that these men provide important historical information, but there is much controversy between them and more importantly, with the Scriptures. In contrast, there is no disagreement between the Spirit-inspired writers of the NT. Therefore, I don’t know why you continue to reference them.

Tremendous heresies were already infiltrating the local assemblies during the time of John, Peter and Paul. So, it’s not unlikely that the so called “Apostolic Fathers” of the 2nd and 3rd centuries were influenced by some of these heresies as well as new ones.

By the time of Constantine, the entire teaching of the NT was being adulterated. We have great Bible teachers today, as we have had down through the centuries, but many of them were and are in error. Therefore, it is vital not to stray from the teaching of the NT writers.

I agree with you when you say, “…we are justified through the infusing (pouring-in) of the righteousness of God.” More accurate would be the term imputation as righteousness is not being “poured in”, but rather credited to the believer. To be infused with righteousness could be interpreted that the “infusion” is happening to the Adamic nature, when in-fact there is a whole new creation with this righteousness of God applied. This teaching is the very centerpiece of being born-again with a new nature, which is in perfect harmony with God. Unfortunately, the old nature (the flesh) remains with the believer until he/she is home in Heaven.

I disagree that the agent of this imputation is water baptism, when, in reality, the Agent is the Holy Spirit. I am not wrong in my understanding of baptism or the bread and the cup for that matter. These are symbols given to us by the Lord as instruments of teaching and distinction. I already explained the symbolic meaning of baptism above. The act has no supernatural power. It is simply a public testimony before men and the angelic hosts.

The same is true of the Lord’s Supper. He took ordinary bread and ordinary wine to symbolize the Body and Blood which He offered up for our salvation. He simply said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” He knew the feeble nature of His disciples and that they would need a vivid reminder of His work on the cross. It is preposterous to think that the bread and wine are transformed into His literal body and blood, much less that one of His creatures has the power to effect such a change. To believe such as thing is to sanction cannibalism.

The Lord Jesus also said that He was “the door”. I doubt if you believe He is an actual door. You most likely understand that the Lord frequently used figurative language as an aid for us to understand His teaching. There is no evidence anywhere in the NT of any apostle or disciple of the Lord Jesus participating or leading in any activity relative to the Catholic Mass.

jack mills said...

This brings me to your gross misinterpretation of James 5. The elders were not to be summoned to administer “sacraments”. They simply were called to pray for the “sick” person. The administration of “oil” has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. It was common practice among the Jews, as well as Egyptians, to carry oil with them for medicinal purposes. Indeed, many of the salves and ointments that are prescribed today have an oil base of one kind or another.

There is no miracle suggested or occurring when the elders make such a visit. Their visit and prayers are intercessory. Neither is the rite of confession and forgiveness occurring. It was unusual then, as today, that sin is the root cause of many an infirmity. It specifically states that, “The Lord will raise him up and if he has committed sins they will be forgiven.” (verse 15)

The Lord is the One doing the healing and forgiving, not the elders. Any other interpretation is the result of “reading in” to the text. Where you see the continuation of the Jewish priesthood in this is beyond me. You seem to dismiss the Biblical requirement that to be a Jewish priest you must be of the tribe of Levi. Do you not know what happened to King Saul when he took it upon himself to adopt the role of priest and sacrificed the burnt offering? I suggest you look it up in 1 Samuel.

I realize the Catholic church evolves regarding its rules and regulations. Was it not recently when Pope Francis announced to a reporter that no one will go to Hell. In contrast, God’s word never changes. What was true yesterday is true today with God – you can count on Him.

Duane, if you believe that the Lord extended the Levitical priesthood to the Church you are more confused than I thought. I challenge you to provide even a scintilla of Biblical evidence for such a belief. Do you not know of the Lord’s teaching about pouring new wine into old wineskins or sewing new cloth to patch old cloth (Luke 5)? The church is not an extension of Judaism. The Church is the bride of Christ. It is totally unrelated to Israel, except for one major connection. The saints of the OT and the saints of the NT serve the One and only living God.

The Church is not the fulfilment of Malachi 1:11. Here again you are not paying attention to the context. The first verse of the Chapter states, “The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.” Do you see this? The message is to Israel. Please show me where God’s name is great among the nations. God is hated by the nations of this world. Christians are persecuted and marginalized throughout the world and society seeks to drive God out of every facet of life.

This verse is a prophecy concerning the millennium reign of Christ, when the Hebrew temple will be restored, and the King of Israel will sit upon His throne in Jerusalem. Psalm 86:9 states further that all nations will come and worship in Jerusalem. Are you watching the news? Is the church bringing this about? No, the majority of the world wants to destroy the Jews and Israel.

jack mills said...

Duane, I am not trying to offend you. But, your understanding of Scripture is plain wrong. I know you know Catholic Church history and all its teaching. I believe you are sincere. I’m sure you are a good man and strive to live a good life. But you do not know the love of God and what He has done for you. You and Nick in all your writing hardly mention the Lord Jesus, let alone look to Him as the Savior.

What do you think was the specific purpose of the Son coming to this earth? Do you think it was to give us good teaching and provide a good example for us to follow? That’s what the Mormons, the Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Muslims, and just about every religion believes. Every one of these religions follows a works-based program to win God’s favor and enter eternal bliss.

I don’t see any real difference with you and Nick. You are steeped in religious ritual and deny the very fact that Jesus came to save you. The whole nation of Israel and particularly, their religious leaders, failed to recognize the Promised One when He stood in their midst. They loved His miracles and were very impressed with His teaching, but they never knew Him.

He came for the specific purpose of going to the cross. This was His mission from the Father. He was to go to the cross, bear our sins, and receive God’s judgement for those sins. He was the innocent substitute, who shed His blood for sin. Either you accept this and receive eternal life or reject this and suffer the consequences.

Jesus said that He was “the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the father except by Him.” This is not deep theology. We don’t need Clement, Origen, or Justin Martyr to explain this. A child can understand it. Why can’t you?

Jesus told the parable of the pharisee and the publican who went up to the temple to pray. The pharisee told God about his tithes, his fasting, and so forth and how glad he was that he was not like the publican. He was a true religionist extolling his virtues and secure in the illusion that he was right before God.

The publican only beats his breast and called on God to have mercy on him, THE sinner. Jesus asked His listeners which of the two went down to his house justified. The publican did not say he was A sinner. He said he was THE sinner. He approached God in total humility, without any sacraments, baptism, communion, etc. as if he was the only sinner on earth. He made no excuses, quoted no Scripture, bragged about nothing. However, he was the one justified.

It was the same with the thief on the cross. He confessed his crime and made no excuse for it, he recognized that Jesus was totally innocent of any crime, he addressed Him as Lord, and believed that Jesus had the power to save him.
These two men had three things in common. Both were hopeless, neither one was religious, and both were saved by God’s grace through faith. I ask you again Duane, how is this beyond your comprehension? Who do you identify more with? The thief or the religious leaders at the foot of the cross? The publican or the self-righteous pharisee?

Anonymous said...


thanks for your response.

I see no explanation why Paul compares faith and baptism in Gal 3:26-27, connecting them together to explain how one "puts on Christ". I am not asking you to refute initial justification, only how faith and baptism both justify. So please clarify.

Protestants focus exclusively on the command of Christ to be baptized. they do not acknowledge what baptism really does, because that doesnt help them defend salvation by faith alone. Eph 5:26-27 tells us that Christ sanctified us, cleansing us with the bath of water and the word, that He might present to himself the church, in splendor, without any wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." This supports baptismal regeneration and sanctification. The "word" here is to be understood as the "spoken word", the invocation of the Trinity.

John came to prefigure Christs baptism. It was only a symbol of repentance, nothing supernatural involved. But once Christ died and rose, He merited a Baptism that saves by the infusion of Gods righteousness-a new heart and new spirit, meant to help us keep the Commandments (Ez 36:25). It is true that this righteousness was not ours (Phil 3:9, Titus 3:5). But once received, it became ours, inherent to us. Our soul appears pure and deified. Not like a whitewashed tomb-Matthew 23. The righteousness by which we were saved is not Gods own righteousness, but that by which He has made us righteous (Romans 5:19, 2 Cor 5:21).

How can the invocation of the name of the Holy Trinity in water baptism accomplish nothing? you really need to meditate on that. Regeneration/rebirth through baptism is a work of God (Col 2:12) through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

there is no judicial crediting of Gods (Christs, specifically) righteousness that justifies without cleansing and deifying the soul. I repeat, God will not justify the whitewashed tomb. The claim is we are given this righteousness, Christs personal perfection, through a fiduciary faith, a passive faith that "takes hold" of this righteousness. Some even claim this means Christ "kept the Commandments for us". This contradicts Christ who said, "if you would enter into life, keep the Commandments." This is a fabrication in the minds of the reformers to create a new idea, never mentioned in Christianity before, of a justification external to man, where he remains filthy inside and clean on the outside. This is truly a blasphemous idea if there ever was one. I pray that you reconsider this dangerous man-made doctrine. It truly creates a scenario where man can have his sin and heaven too. Not going to happen!

This is an abuse of Christs work on the cross, as i said before. God will not be mocked. A man will reap exactly what he sows.


jack mills said...

Hello Duane,
Regarding Galatians 3:27-28, you state that faith and baptism provide salvation. I explained, I thought quite thoroughly, that baptism is not the essence of salvation no more than a wedding band is the essence of marriage. I am married and wear a wedding band. If I remove the wedding band I am just as married as when I wear it. The wedding band is just a tangible symbol of the internal commitment I have made to my wife. Baptism is just a symbol of what has taken place in me spiritually. It does not wash or cleanse me from anything.
When we submit to baptism, we are putting on Christ. We are making visible to the world what has taken place internally.

If baptism was vital for salvation, then one would expect that the Lord Jesus would have performed the rite for everyone who demonstrated faith in Him. However, there is NO record of Jesus baptizing anyone – not even His own disciples. He is never heard to say, “Go in peace your faith and baptism has saved you” or words to that effect.

I then went on to prove this with the example of the thief on the cross and the order of events with the Philippian jailer. Have you even read what I wrote?

I have had conversations with many Jehovah Witnesses about the deity of Christ (they believe Jesus is a created being of the highest order). Regardless of given them the volumes of evidence in Scripture confirming this fact, they stubbornly refuse to believe. Why? Because they stand by what their religion teaches and only use selective Scripture to reinforce their heresy. They are not seeking truth from God’s word.

Duane, I believe you are guilty of the same approach to the Bible. The explanations that I have given you for salvation by grace, through faith are based on the totality of God’s word and not selected verses. I have shown you from Genesis to Revelation the pattern of God’s redemptive plan and you reject it outright despite the proof.

You are a religionist and can’t seem to grasp even the fact that it was the religious leaders of His own country and religion that handed Him over to death. In fact, they even chose the release of murdering insurrectionist over Him. So much for man’s religion.
I have warned you about interpreting a verse of Scripture without considering the context, yet you continue to do so. Any person can propose any belief system, based on verses in the Bible. And, many cult leaders have done just that and ensnared many a gullible follower. You can accept, literally, that Jesus meant a person would have to consume His actual body and blood to be saved on the basis of only one verse and you reject the grace of God as the only way of salvation despite the innumerable verses provided in the Old and NT.
God never required us to believe in Him on the basis of “blind faith”. He gave us the ability to believe on all that is around us, that which is within us (our reasoning and mind), and the infallibility of His written word.

jack mills said...

You say without any basis in fact that John came to “prefigure” Christ’s baptism. Where in the Bible does it make such an assertion? Jesus does not have a baptism. John came to “prepare” the way for the Savior. He called his fellow Jews to repentance in preparation to receive their Messiah. Baptism, again, was just an outward symbol of their repentance. It did not save them.

You refer to Romans 5:5, which does not even mention baptism. Ironically that chose this chapter. It is a profound treatise on God saving us while we are yet sinners, by faith only. No mention of “deeds to salvation”, baptism or any other source other than His FREE Gift. Again, context is everything. Your own references to Scripture continue to demolish your argument. I am not trying to be harsh with you, but you demonstrate the lack of reverence for His Word by your continuous failure to “…rightly divide His truth.” (2 Tim 2:15)

Col 2:12 is more of the same. It’s as if you looked up baptism in a concordance and use it as your evidence without any determination of context or the possibility of another meaning.

How can you say that I believe in a man-made religion, when I have provided you with more than sufficient proof that I am following exactly what God’s word teaches? You’re not making any sense Duane.

I prayed for you before I slept last night that God would open your heart and mind to the truth of His declared word before it is too late.

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Anonymous said...


thanks for the prayers. it will merit much grace.

please friend me on FB, and message me. we can talk there.

i dont think Nicks blog is the place for what we are doing.

Duane T. Busch

jack mills said...

I friended who I think was you. Please check and let me know.

Patrick S. Lee said...

Hi, I'm a former Jehovah's Witness, presently a Nazarene. And I would be interested in emailing a bit, as I have some questions. I've read many - but not most, as of yet - of your blog posts. Most are very interesting, and well argued. As of yet, I don't you're always as convincing as you think, but are often more so than most protestants would care to admit.

Sometimes I think, to paraphrase Herod, 'Would you in so short a time make me a Catholic.' Maybe eventually.

Anyway, if you're up to this, you can use this email:


Nick said...

Patrick, I just emailed you.