04 February 2010

Faith v. faux humility: a parting philippic plea

by Dan Phillips

After his conversion, Paul says that he was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea. Then he adds:
[Christians] only were hearing it said, "He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."  And they glorified God because of me.  (Galatians 1:23-24)
Were this passage written of the big noises in the 1800s and 1900s, and their "bold" and "daring" and "questioning" mirror images today, we would have to make some changes:
[Despisers] only were hearing it said, "He who used to persecute us is now trying to destroy the faith he once preached."  And they glorified me at the expense of God.  (2 Nuances  0:0-0)
 Leaving me only to attempt a few parting pithicisms:
  1. There is a reason the faith is called the faith (cf. Acts 6:7; 13:8; 14:22; 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 1:23; Jude 1:3, etc.).
  2. There is a reason Christians — saints, the people of God — are called believers (cf. Acts 5:14; 10:45; 19:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2:10; 2:13; 1 Timothy 4:12, etc.).
  3. There is a reason why God the Holy Spirit often moved men to write positively of growing in the faith, progress in the faith, continuing in the faith, building up in the faith, and the like (cf. Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 1:25; Colossians 1:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Timothy 3:13).
  4. There is a reason why God the Holy Spirit often moved men to write terrible warnings against denying the faith, wandering from the faith, abandoning the faith, swerving from the faith, upsetting the faith of some, being disqualified concerning the faith, and the like (1 Timothy 4:1; 5:8; 6:10, 21; 2 Timothy 2:18; 3:8; Revelation 2:13)
All that (and much more) being the case, it seems wiser to devote one's energies to promulgating truths which lead to faith that brings life (John 20:31) — truths of God's Word, which "is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:32) — rather than pushing away the full authority of God's Word (1 Timothy 6:3), and ending up "conceited, understanding nothing, but having a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words" (1 Timothy 6:4 CSB).

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J♥Yce said...

Yes, Dan ~ was prayerfully thinking on the following before reading your post...

Let your speech [be] alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

† Colossians 4:6♥

4:6 with grace: To speak what is spiritual, wholesome, fitting, kind, sensitive, purposeful, complimentary, gentle, truthful, loving, and thoughtful. seasoned with salt: Just as salt not only flavors, but prevents corruption, the Christian's speech should act not only as a blessing to others, but as a purifying influence within the decaying society of the world.

John MacArthur
The MacArthur Study Bible


Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

† Ephesians 4:29-32♥

4:29 corrupt word: The word for "corrupt" refers to that which is foul or rotten, such as spoiled fruit or putrid meat. Foul language of any sort should never pass a Christian's lips, because it is totally out of character with his new life in Christ(see Colossians 3:8; James 3:6-8; cf. Psalm 141:3). good for necessary edification: The Christian's speech should be instructive, encouraging, uplifting, (even when it must be corrective), and suited for the moment(cf. † Proverbs 15:23♥; 25:11; 24:26.). grace to the hearers: Cf. Colossians 4:6. Because believers have been saved by grace and kept by grace, they should live and speak with grace. Our Lord set the standard(Luke 4:22).

4:30 do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. God is grieved when His children refuse to change the old ways of sin for those righteous ways of the new life. It should be noted that such responses by the Holy Spirit indicate He is a person. His personhood is also indicated by personal pronouns(John 14:17; 16:13), His personal care of believers(John 14:16,26; 15:26), His intellect(1 Corinthians 2:11), feelings(Romans 8:27; 15:30), will(1 Corinthians 12:11), speaking(Acts 13:2), convicting(John 16:8-11), interceding(Romans 8:26), guiding(John 16:13), glorifying Christ(John 16:14), and serving God(Acts 16:6,7). sealed for the day of redemption. The Holy Spirit is the guarantor of eternal redemption in Christ for those who believe in Him.

4:31,32 These verses summarize the changes in the life of a believer mentioned in vv. 17-30. "Bitterness" reflects a smoldering resentment. "Wrath" has to do with rage, the passion of a moment. "Anger" is a more internal, deep hostility. "Clamor" is the outcry of strife out of control. "Evil speaking" is slander. "Malice" is the general Gr. term for evil, the root of all vices.

John MacArthur
The MacArthur Study Bible

J♥Yce said...

4:32 even as God in Christ forgave you. Those who have been forgiven so much by God should of all people forgive the relatively small offenses against them by others. The most graphic illustration of this truth is the parable of Matt. 18: 21-35.

DJP said...

And the relation of those comments to this post is...?

donsands said...

Those are some good reasons.

As Jude said we need to contend for the faith, the one true faith. For there are many faiths out there.

And it's more than believing in Christ.
It's faith in the Christ of the Word, and believing Him, and trusting Him as my Savior and Lord, who became my sin, and gives me His righteousness.

Nice post. I am amazed at the technology how we can read all these Scriptures so easily. It's astounding the days we live in. I wonder what Pastor Spurgeon would think, or even James M Boice?

Strong Tower said...

I think it is just a sign of arrogance and unreasonableness to expect that there are discoverable objective truths that constitute THE FAITH. After all, if faith can be reasoned as something that can be known without doubt, it wouldn't be called faith.

David said...

That's your problem. You think.

Solameanie said...


Brief and laser beam to the point. Although I think the late Mr. Derrida and his acolytes would squeal at you trying to restrict their fun in haggling over words.

Isn't that too bad?

DJP said...

Yes, I'm all to' up about it.

Strong Tower said...

Sorry, my responses are limited. I am running low on toner.

David said...


Robert said...

I don't understand how people can look at the Bible and the examples of those who defended the truth in it and say that it is arrogant for us to do so today. Peter even exhorts us to do so by saying we need to be ready to give a defense of our faith. Or maybe that is watered down in "The Message" or some other comfy and cozy version for the pomo society we live in.

J♥Yce said...

Dovetails perfectly to me, Dan. And with what Phil later posted.

Truth presented with grace seasoned with salt(having many properties/characteristics including that it can sting while cleansing/healing) matters. Yet we sheep too easily avoidance sidetrack to messengers and word and tone kerfuffles foolishly pushing away Who/What is paramount. Best to heed those positive writings and terrible warnings.

You have a sense of what I was seeing as working together(and convicting/challenging to me in the blogosphere orbit)? :-) My miserly hit/miss interaction leaves much to be desired. :-( Bread baking and stuffed peppers cooking smell good, though. Should probably stick to that calling ~ ;-)

SamWise said...

The WLC is ever for informative on questions like these:

Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?

A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.

Galatians 3:11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

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

Romans 4:5. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Romans 10:10. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

John 1:12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

Philippians 3:9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

Galatians 1:16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.

truth mission said...

Much enjoyed this post.I love robust christianity expressed with sanctified straight talking.
Glenn Christopherson

Anonymous said...

Hi. I have never been to your blog before but I like what I have read because God needs men like you who will stand up and contend for THE FAITH...yes, THE FAITH.

God bless and continue giving you wisdom to win back the wayward.


DJP said...

truth missionrobust [C]hristianity expressed with sanctified straight talking

That would work as a blog motto, at least in terms of our aim.

lawrence said...


Anonymous said...

Interested in a Valentine's getaway? I see that our very own hometown twister of Scripture, Rob Bell, will be in Portland at the Roseland Theater on February 14th - I see tickets are $63-$335/seat for this "concert".

Orlando Wedding Photographer said...

alot of poeple using verses in 2010, we can see the change nowadays where we can speak in our own tongues

trogdor said...

"Peter even exhorts us to do so by saying we need to be ready to give a defense of our faith."

Indeed. The wider context of that command shows pretty clearly the weakness of the doubt peddlers. Let's take a gander, shall we?

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

The command comes in the context of persecution. When they're taking your possessions, beating you, threatening to kill you because you're a Christian; when they tell you they'll stop if you just recant your faith and denounce Christ; when you would rather lose all that you have and even die rather than deny Jesus - in that situation, when they can't understand why you'd be willing to lose your head, be 'prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you'.

What kind of person will make the choice to die rather than recant? How certain would you need to be? I can guarantee that if/when I'm facing significant loss if I cling to Jesus, if there is even a shred of doubt whether it's true, perseverance ain't gonna happen. Who would willingly suffer for something he isn't sure about?

The doubt peddlers should just be honest and admit they're promoting an unenduring quasi-faith that cannot save. They're intentionally keeping the soil rocky, training people to have their love grow cold as lawlessness increases rather than enduring to the end to be saved. It's not the wishy-washy spineless doubters who will persevere, and those who train them to fall away will have much to answer for.