letter to an open air preacher

[I wrote this last January]

Sir,
I had the good fortune of meeting you last night (Saturday the 8th). More specifically, I met the man holding the large sign listing sins. We had a short conversation concerning salvation by faith or by works, before I was handed your card and left.

I thank you for your love for Christ, and your willingness to stand up for God and save the lost. Such passion is non-existent in the modern church.

I had similar pleasure this morning when reviewing your website. In your list of references you prominently list Did God Know by Roy Elseth. This is the best book on Open Theism in existence. Your listing of that book is a clear sign you care about God’s word and understand that modern Christianity is plagued with Platonism. I would argue that the modern works-salvation movement is an extension of the platonic Greek Mystery Cults (Gnosticism), but more on that later.

With that being stated, I wish to admonish you, with brotherly love, for erring concerning the truth of the gospel. This is the same mistake Peter had made in Galatians:

Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
Gal 2:15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Gal 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

If you object that the works of the law stated here are a reference to the Old Testament symbolic law (and I do recognize that sometimes “law” refers only to the OT symbolic law), I would counter with Paul’s follow-up in Gal 2:16-17 as well as his elaboration further in Galatians. Paul creates a contrast between sin/works and faith. Why in 2:17 would Paul start talking about sin, if the works to which he was referring in 2:16 (notice he brings up sin also in Gal 2:15) was only symbolic law? Is it sin to not follow symbolic law? If one is a gentile, furthermore?

Galatians is all about OT moral and symbolic law, which Paul also links with flesh. If that contextual evidence was not enough, Paul specifically lists the sins ascribing them to law:

Gal 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Gal 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Gal 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Gal 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Sir, I suspect after reading this passage, you might try to claim victory. It looks at first glance that this quoted block of verses says those who commit these sins will not go to heaven. But then what does the phrase “against such there is no law” mean? Especially when sandwiched between verse 18 which states that we are not under the law? This is because we are not under the law, when we are not under the law we cannot be defined by our sins. Contrawise, we can be defined by the fruit of the Spirit, because this definition is not of the law. Paul makes this clear in the very next verse:

Gal 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

We are no longer slaves to sin, but that does not mean we should take advantage of salvation with sin. We should subjugate ourselves to Christ, in spite of the gift of salvation:

Gal 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

This verse suggests that we could be in the Spirit yet not walk in the Spirit. But we should walk in the spirit. “Should” and “must” mean different things and it is dangerous to confuse the two. This “work to please God although it is not required” is a consistent theme in the writings of Paul:

1Co 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. [note in this verse Paul had just finished listing all manner of vice]

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? [not only does this suggest that we CAN sin and still be covered by grace, but Paul also follows this verse up with the reason we should not continue to sin. It is not because we will lose our salvation]

Sir, you had made the strange claim last night that I call Christ a liar when Christ preaches salvation by faith-works. I would point you to your own writings on women in the church to draw a parallel:

“For instance, I can’t write a corrective letter to the church in Harrisville, addressing problems some uneducated, rowdy female members are inciting there, and then expect the counsel to apply to the entire Christian assembly of all females everywhere in every city until the end of time, even though the women in other churches are educated, self-controlled, and not at all responsible for the problems that the women in Harrisville were creating.”

When reading someone else’s mail, one can easily become confused. I am not currently constructing an ark because I understand when God says “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch” that God is not speaking to me. Christ’s ministry, likewise, was not to me:

Mat 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Mat 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
Mat 10:6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

When looking at the books written by those teaching works-faith it is evident that they too were talking to Israel:

Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

1Pe 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, [here he is talking about the diaspora]

Of course, the book of Hebrews was written to the Hebrews.

As you stated about the unruly women, it is wrong to take someone else’s mail and apply it directly to ourselves. To do so creates contradiction in the Bible and also makes us a mockery to atheists:

Jas 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

Jas 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Also see: [link]

If you want to understand why there are two gospel salvation messages and why we are saved by faith alone, the book of Romans is crucial, specifically chapters 9-13. In short, Israel rejected their risen savior, God wished to make the Jews jealous, gave Gentiles equal status with free salvation, and hopes for Israel to return to him. We Gentiles are a pawn in God’s love affair with Israel. I, for one, thank God for this because this makes my salvation much more easy than it would have been otherwise.

Please consider my words. Search the Bible to ensure what I say is accurate, and follow up with me. I wish for the truth alone, and, as such, am willing to be wrong. What good is believing a lie to my own destruction?

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
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